How does one sum up a year? Especially how does one sum up a year in nine photographs? I did the “best nine” on Instagram but that is based on the number of likes each photo gets so it was mostly me and my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I have great hair – now that it has grown back – but it doesn’t represent moments.
So here is a brief summary of the year that was.
1. Mum and I in Iceland. It was a wonderful, magical trip. Not only did I get to learn more about writing and meet some truly fabulous writers at the Iceland Writer’s Retreat (both giving the workshops and attending them) I also got to go on vacation with my mom – I think the last time we did that was when I lived with my parents in Scotland in 2000. I feel pretty blessed to have the mom I have – we are great travel companions and always have a good time no matter where we go. I truly hope we can do another trip together again soon.
2. Taking Moira out to our favourite vegetarian restaurant (The Coup). It isn’t so much that single moment that sticks out but it was a good one and illustrates how much our girl has grown and matured over the last year. This photo also represents playing PokemonGo together. The broken arm sucked but didn’t hold her back at all.
3. Family road trip to Salt Spring Island, BC. We loved it so much in 2016 we went back for a longer stay. I really love it there and friends from Victoria came and stayed with us over the long weekend which made it extra special.
4. Kelowna, BC. Mister’s brother and his wife live within spitting distance of Knox Mountain and we try to visit them once a year.I was feeling so good at that time that I was hiking and running up the mountain. The weather was beautiful (although the lake was flooding and we did end up coming home a bit early). One of the things I love to do on vacations is take lots of photos of snails and moss – which were in abundance in Salt Spring and Kelowna. Our road trip this year was shorter than in 2016 but it is still great that we can pull the kids out of school and just take off for a while. I’m pretty sure they learn more on these trips than they do at school.
5. Moira and I visiting Kerry Clare and family in Toronto. Initially I had thought it would be fun to travel to Toronto by myself and have a couple days break from my children but then when I stopped to think about it I realized that I didn’t want to travel by myself when I could travel with sidekick #1. Moira and I took the bus from Kingston (we were visiting my parents), the two younger girls stayed with my parents, and we had a great time. Moira was a wonderful traveling companion and was up for anything and was fine when I wasn’t up for anything. We walked and walked and walked instead of me trying to figure out transit and consequently really got to see pockets of the city. Moira and Kerry’s daughter Harriet have been pen pals since before they could write and it was fun for them to get together. Harriet passed on her love of Archie comics to Moira. We also got to have lunch with Teva Harrision and see my friend Chris in his studio and it was a couple days of pure artist inspiration.
6. Family. My sister, her husband and youngest son Thomas moved to Ottawa shortly before we arrived in Ontario and so for the first time in a while we were (mostly) all able to get together. Her middle son Sam came down from Toronto and the girls got to have some cousin time (and the boys got to experience what life is like with a bunch of little girls around – my sister only had sons – I’m pretty sure they were exhausted afterwards). The girls loooooooved seeing their Uncle Mano and Auntie Amanda but mostly wanted to spend all their time with their cousins.
7. Fionnuala. This is my favourite photo of Fionnuala from this year. She is such a funny kid. She’s playing PokemonGo here which she would do all day long if we let her. The other photo that didn’t make the cut was of Fionnuala in her soccer uniform after getting herself put on the team after we told her she wasn’t playing soccer this year. Fionnuala is many things and is definitely my most challenging child but one thing we always say about her is that she Gets Things Done!
8. Oonagh and her violin. Oonagh fell in love with music this year. She asked to learn to play the violin and while I think she likes the idea of playing the violin more than actually playing it she is only four and it is early days yet. This summer we listened to the Hamilton musical Non Stop (that’s a Hamilton joke for those who are in the know). Every morning in Ontario Oonagh would put on her headphones and listening to all of disk one before doing anything else. I have great memories of driving around this summer (and Fall and Winter) listening to Hamilton and singing along.
9. Moira. This was a great night. During the last hazy, and extremely hot, days of summer we had a family potluck with all the cousins (Mister’s side of the family) over. Because this was such a great night I was inspired to volunteer for us to host Christmas dinner this year (also a potluck). That night was so much fun I had one of the worst “fun hangovers” I’ve ever had the next day. (We call them fun hangovers because I don’t actually drink alcohol but still suffer when I stay up too late or socialize too much.) It was worth it. I picked this photo because I look at it and I am in awe that I helped create someone so beautiful.
2016 was a year full of fun and travel – at least according to this small sample of photos. Of course there are things that can’t be seen. At the beginning of the year I was feeling quite sick and tired and sore a lot. I hurt my back in June and spent months in pain – some days being unable to walk properly. Even though my cancer is stable it is still Stage IV and still very much present in our lives. Some of my fondest memories of the year were never captured in photos. Date nights with the Mister where we would just walk around the city playing PokemonGo and laughing and talking are probably my favourite part of the past year. I feel so extremely grateful to be married to my best friend that we don’t need to go out for a fancy dinner or even spend money to be together (except for a babysitter). We often joke that even time spent in the Emergency Room (which seems to happen at least once or twice a year) is also a date night for us. Any child-free time together is a date! If there is one thing this cancer has made me focus on it is finding ways to spend quality time with my family. I hope when my time with them is up they have fond memories of me: nature walks, playing PokemonGo, reading stories, driving them crazy with my singing, passing on a love of musicals (or maybe instilling a hatred of musical in them), and just being present. I think I can work harder on being present for them in 2018 (can’t we all?) but I think I did a pretty good job of it in 2017.