Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kael'Thas in Stasis

My WarCraft subscription expired last week. I decided I'd take some time between subscriptions to earn reputation with the Wife Faction as opposed to earning reputation for, say, the Timbermaw Hold. So far we've watched a couple of movies, and gone to bed a lot earlier more than a couple of times. Man, I can't tell you how much better I feel in the daytime when I actually get more than 4 hours of sleep. It's incredible. Who'd have thought?

I'm not sure when I'll continue the subscription. I mean, I DO feel it calling me with it's beautiful siren song (what's it been, like 4 days now?) but I'm going to stave it off as long as I can, at least until I'm revered and can buy nicer items from the wife vendor (bad Warcraft joke)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Windy City

So, one of the perks of my new job at AA is... well... I guess I'm not supposed to advertise it... but anyways... Last weekend Emily, Rowan, Camden and I flew to Chicago for the best part of the Easter weekend. We flew out late Thursday night, and came back on Saturday. We got a GREAT deal on a hotel at Hotwire ($80/night for a $150/night room) and we had a lot of fun. We didn't do anything breathtakingly drastic, but we had a great time nonetheless. On Friday we went to Navy Pier and rode the "big feckoff ferris wheel" as it shall now be known, and took a few rides on the carousel.

There was a LOT of walking involved and with a 2 year old in tow that got tough at times. Yeah, we should have lugged along the stroller but we actually got by pretty well with nothing but a pair of daddy's shoulders and some good old fashioned love and logic.

In the evening we decided we couldn't leave the Windy City without trying out some authentic chicago pizza pie, so we headed to Gino's East, a highly rated pizza joint with a lot of character, on Ontario and Wells in downtown Chicago. We ordered a combo platter for an appetizer, a frosty cold one for Daddy, and decided on a medium pepperoni supreme. We were kind of taken aback when the waiter told us it would take 40 minutes to make the pizza but when we saw it (40 minutes later would you believe) we kind of understood why. It was like a friggin' casserole!

We DID manage to put it all away somehow though with a lot of help from Rowan. Man it was good.

On the way back to the hotel we found a really huge, really cool McDonalds with all this memorabilia from various decades, and tons of fancy furniture ranging from fine italian sofas to those weird egg-looking chairs from the 70s. I couldn't help but notice this in the 80's display:

Lazer Tag! Too cool. This is the exact model I had when I was a young'un. Sans the hat of course... (I was never THAT cool)

So anyways... the hotel was great, the weather was real nice, and the kids actually did a great job considering all the walking we put them through :) Overall it was a really good trip.

Now we just have to decide where to go next ;)

New Year, New Job, New Drugs

So yeah... what else has happened... Well, Christmas came and went, and 2006 rolled in. Rowan started on medication for his ADHD and after about 4 different drugs we've just (in the past month) found one that works to help him focus and control himself at school, while at the same time having no side effects (this last part has been the most tricky). I honestly can't stand the fact that my child is taking drugs for ADHD, but at the same time I see him doing so much better, he's able to achieve normal things in school that the other kids have always done, and he comes home happier, prouder, and full of confidence. His "smiley face sheet" (a half-hourly evaluation sheet I created for his teacher to give us feedback on how he's doing throughout the day) is frequently decorated with nothing but smiley faces, as opposed to frowny faces or accompanied with notes from the principal. So, so far, so good. He's doing great.

I left my job at Neiman Marcus on the 31st of March, and started work the next Monday at American Airlines. I'm on my third week there now and so far it's going well. Right now I'm beginning work on their very-near-future ATG to WebSphere migration. It's challenging, and enjoyable, and I'm honestly glad to feel once again like I'm using a much broader range of skills which I've missed using for some time.

I'll probably post more about all this stuff as I get time, but for now... that's all the information you need :)

Losing Granny

Time to fill you in on what's been happening... It's been too long since I updated.

The week before thanksgiving 2005, I left for the UK as Granny had gotten really sick in hospital. The doctors asked that any family be with her as they didn't expect her to last that night. I got on a plane that same day and was at her side the next afternoon. When I walked in to see her she was very lucid (the opposite from the previous day) and immediately recognized me. We joked with each other - "What are you doing here?" we both asked each other (her in the hospital, and me in the UK) and we both got a chuckle out of that. I stuck around for 10 days, and saw her most every day, her condition worsening over that period. I got to hold her hand and just be around her which I'm glad I got to do. The last time I saw her, the day before my flight back, I got to tell her goodnight, and that I'd see her in the morning. Granny died in her sleep with my mother and brother at her side, about two weeks later, on December 8th 2005. I still can't believe she's gone. Living so far away from one's family is so difficult, and I can't begin to tell you how much guilt I have for not seeing her more often, or calling her more, or that she never got to meet my youngest son. I was always very close to both my maternal grandparents, and I'll always miss them tremendously.

Since the initial trip was so costly, I couldn't afford to go back for the funeral. I wrote the following for her funeral, however, and the vicar read it during the service at the church. I wish I could've been there but I'm glad I got to be a part of the service in some way anyway.

As children, we refer to the people around us with ‘cute’ versions of their names, like “Mummy” and “Daddy”. As we grow up we start to use the more ‘mature’ versions of those names, like “Mum”, or “Dad”.

As a teenager I’d hear my friends talk about their grannies as “Grandmother” or “Grandma”, which always seemed like a much more ‘grown up’ way to refer to one’s grandmother, but somehow, I felt, if I were to any other title, I would no longer be referring to Granny. She was Granny! Not Grandma, or Grandmother. Just Granny.

As we grow up, our relationships with siblings and parents changes a lot. We see each other grow and change and become the people we all are today. Annoying brothers and sisters become good friends with common challenges like raising children and making a living. Parents who you once rebelled against become more like peers too, and you begin to notice incredible similarities in them and yourself as you mature.

My relationship with Granny though, at least from my point of view, didn’t really change much over the years. To me, she was an unchanging rock. Always there, always the same, always Granny. As a child I don’t ever remember a time when going to Granny and Grandad’s house wasn’t great. There was always something to do there, whether it was playing in the water tank outside, whacking tennis balls for six over or into the hedge, playing a board game or some cards, doing a jigsaw puzzle, or just sitting and having a cup of tea, or maybe a peanut butter sandwich with some pickled onions. It was always a pleasurable experience. We never had to make an effort to have a good time. We were just happy to be there. It felt good, and safe, and happy.

I always remember when leaving their house as a child, granny would chase the car as we drove away, making us laugh till the last minute. We’d wave out of the back window as Granny and Grandad stood outside the house, waving back. I remember continuing to wave well after we’d disappeared behind the trees on White Horse Hill, thinking that they could somehow still see us and were still standing there, waving. I was sure sometimes they’d wave to us all the way home to Rugby, or at least until until I fell asleep in the car and stopped waving back.

Losing Grandad was devastating to me, although at the time, being the age I was, I found it all very confusing and strange. How hard it must have been for Granny to lose such a great man. I remember her making beds, dusting, and staying busy immediately after he died, pressing on like the trooper that she was. And press on she did, showing us all that life goes on even after a loved one has passed. Somehow, through it all, Granny didn’t weaken, but stayed strong. She also kept his spirit alive, in my eyes. Grandad died when I was 11, yet now, 17 years later, I never stopped thinking about them both as a unit.

As I grew older I did less jigsaw puzzles and stopped playing cricket out front, and my beloved water tank disappeared… but I still loved being at Granny’s house. It always still made me feel happy and safe, and I still didn’t have to make any effort to enjoy myself there.

It’s times like these I regret being so far from the people I love. I’m sorry I’m not there today to say my final farewell to Granny in person. In some ways today would have been my way to say goodbye to both Granny AND Grandad, since I was too young to say goodbye to him when he passed. I regret that my children won’t get to enjoy Great Granny’s company, and that they did not know her better. They will, however, benefit from the legacy she has left behind in me, and that’s character, steadfastness, and love. And, like she did so well for Grandad, I will keep her spirit alive.

I’m so sorry to see Granny go today, but happy that she is being reunited with Grandad. I know they’ll be taking care of each other again, and even though I can no longer see them, I’m still waving out of the back window. I know they’re both waving back.