Half Year Review - Four More Months


We went from being a two car family to a one car family around this time — technically nearer to the end of April, but the real ramifications did not stick until a week or two in. I had to switch to busses and we didn't have money for me to just take Uber everywhere I actually needed to be. It was NOT fun. At all. I got so lost trying to meet a friend at Boston Pizza I actually gave up entirely and ate by myself, lost and lonely and almost in tears at the wrong BPs, after which I went shopping as a form of therapy and to kill time so Paul could pick me up after he was done work. It was the worst of bad days.

Turns out that it's a lot easier to compensate for a handicap that makes everything seem backwards in a car — when you go on the bus backwards, you take the wrong bus and go the opposite direction to where you intended to go — thereby making the trip to where you want to go longer... Painful. I took a lot of Ubers those first couple of months. Unintentional, embarrassing Uber rides are not my idea of a good time. (Things have gotten marginally better, just still not fantastic.)

Speaking of bad days, there was a massive storm in May, with a lot of wet and a lot of wind and a lot of noise and light-show... and I had an event shoot — indoors so it was still happening... Which I definitely should not have driven to... because wow. It was dangerous. Not just generally dangerous, but the fan was broken in the car so it was all fogged up in addition to the bad visibility I drove the car with the windows partly open getting wet back to Paul's office and we left it parked there and took transit home the rest of the way, because better wet than dead. That was a very interesting day.

Inadvertently, I ended up in a band in the Catholic youth group we're a part of through St. Theresa's Parish in south Edmonton. The band eventually got named Veritas, and I was the lead singer, with electric guitar and drums. We did mostly worship music and a little secular. It was a really interesting experience performing live again — my voice got a little tired actually. Empathy for the stars who have to sing all the time like my favourite singer Adele for sure.

On May 8th, I finished a HUGE project — I did a mural in my backyard of a sunset with some primer that I had sitting around and some of the paints I had purchased to work on Janta's dress tests plus a little more money I spent to make it amazing... It turned out totally fabulous:

I shot my first ever super last minute wedding (I had 20 minutes to get there) and also my first ever Catholic African wedding! What an interesting time that was!

One of our friends from youth group who loves to cook started an event he called "The Bruncheoning" which is basically everyone he knows (usually about 8-12 people) getting together around 10am for a massive breakfast of every breakfast food imaginable, most especially pancakes. I think our first time going to this was in May and every time since has been my favourite thing. It makes me feel like I have a real honest-to-goodness social group... But actually I have several! Including the Reddit Board gaming group which is not only going strong, but starting to bleed into general friendships.

In March to May I spent a ton of time editing the videos for the Pilgrimage Project, in fact the last video of eight videos is finally finished around the beginning of June. I have told a few people that in terms of hours spent, it's the largest project, by far, of any project I've ever tackled. So much respect for videographers who do this for a living! 


So if you're wondering how I remember this stuff, it's because I have To Do lists and Calendars that I check back to jog my memory. June is like one massive list of appointments and events — everything from massage and doctor appointments to the PokemonGo Fire and Ice event to taking the car in to fix the fan so we could drive it in the rain...

The bigger events were having my sister in law and brother in law come with the kids to visit us! I painted my niece's toenails for the first time and spent a lot of fun times with them.

Near the end of the month was an awesome year-end BBQ for youth group at my favourite-est park, Emily Murphy. What a great place to spend with friends...

Work was really starting to pick up around this time. Like really starting to pick up the pace to just on the edge of too busy...

Then, just as the month was ending and we were about to go to an event at the lake for the weekend, we had the car in the shop. And after we had okayed a repair for about a thousand dollars, when they were about to start working on it, the transmission fried. Providence at work, breaking our car at the MOST opportune time imaginable. They called us back and told us we should donate the car to science the Kidney Foundation.

I had been trying out the car sharing service in Edmonton so after a little consideration we used it instead of a rental car — because renting a rental car for the Canada Day long weekend was not going to be very cheap, especially for the express purpose of taking it out of town. A great weekend, thanks to POGO car share and our friend who lent us the tent!


The Catholic Family Life Conference, which we got to go to for the price of my providing photography for them, was awesome. I'll eventually blog about it for work. It was a little exhausting photographing for so many days while camping and also while spending time with Paul, but in general I really appreciated the experience of recognizing how big the scope was with all the different age groups having their own experience. It was a different experience than the last time we went, that's for sure.

It's a good thing we were surrounded by peace for a few days, because upon our return, everything went a little nuts. I mean, in looking at my calendar, it is THICK with text. 

It's also when I decided to buy a dog-walk attachment for my bike. This decision has actually been pretty life changing... because I survived a crazy month without driving me and the dog mad and without completely locking myself in.

Murphy and I go out into the world a lot more. Murphy is happy because we're actually going fast instead of slow, like we do on a walk. He trots super fast when we're out walking and laps me three or four times, whereas a nice leisurely bike ride both makes me break into a sweat and makes him feel excited about the world. 

I would have gone out into the world a lot more, had I not gotten a cold in July that has resulted in a really, really nasty rattling cough, exacerbated by the fires in B.C. and the resulting smoke in the air... (I'm literally going to the doctor tomorrow because I've been sick for 6 weeks. Super not fun.)

We had to find and purchase a car. Paul interviewed for the management position he'd been gunning for since last year. Then I shot a pageant. Then my computer started working so poorly that it was finally the last straw, so I researched building a PC from scratch because the Apple computers I was looking at were just too expensive to buy outright.

So I got a group of gents together chatting about computer builds and ended up with a visit to a computer store that had me spending so much money my hands were actually shaking while I ordered the parts and paid the bill - and later that week an evening of building the computer with my friend Wade. I now have a basically state of the art computer that can run pretty much anything and has room for a few upgrades yet. Working on it has made life so much easier, and unexpectedly I have found that I don't miss much from having an Apple computer. It was nice to have built in video for Skype... That's basically all I can think of. I lucked out too and got a really nice keyboard for $5 at the thrift shop, one that has nice keyboard shortcuts and a number pad, which I haven't had for ages and really like. So it all feels like an upgrade, which is really exciting.

Here's what it looks like but with cool coloured lights on inside:

At the very end of July I was doing my best to get my work done before leaving for Victoria — our big vacation and also my best friend's wedding. Paul's cousin and his wife and their little girl were heading back to Victoria at the same time, so we got to visit — Paul with his cousin as they drove to Victoria together, and me with his cousin's wife, which ended up being awesome because we really connected. It was great to become close with family. Finally, just before we left, Paul and I were super excited to see The Phantom of the Opera touring show! It was so epic, and the chandelier shot sparks!! So much fun and lip syncing.


In Victoria, we hung around Spencer Castle, an architect's home from the early 1900s, which was also the wedding location. We went swimming and spent time with all of Janta's friends, who were exciting to meet since none of them had ever met me, though many of them had met each other. I ended up working on the wedding cake as part of my creative contribution to the wedding — and what a different cake it was! We made rice crispy cake, and I frosted it with white chocolate, which many of the guests with dietary issues were able to enjoy! I also decorated it with flowers. The cake turned out rather lovely! 

I had a really amazing time taking Janta's wedding photos, and all in all, a really great time in Victoria in general. It was too hot though. Sweaty, sticky, gross hot. But such a beautiful place anyway.

After the wedding we spent some more time with Paul's cousin's family and played lots of great board games as well as spent some time chatting.

Also relevant to the photo of Murphy and I that looks super wide angle above, early this month I got a 360 camera for work — which has also proven to be a pretty fun personal camera as well. I'm looking forward to taking some 360s next time I'm on vacation in a beautiful place — or maybe even just in a great spot somewhere I know well. 

I drove all the way to Calgary in the middle of my busy season just to go to a party. Not just any party — a big party thrown by some industry heroes who I knew from CPC to test out some new top-secret photo gear. I'll try to remember to post a link to the photos and video when they come out to promote the product, but it was a super fun time. I stayed overnight with a photographer I knew and went for breakfast with a friend in the morning, which was a fantastic break from life.

We also just came back from a trip to Saskatoon which was much too short, but involved sidewalk chalking a pattern on the concrete with my niece, talking about how we should probably be eating human cheese with my nerdy awesome "Fudds Friends", staying up until 4am talking about all kinds of interesting things with someone who I stay up until 4am with every time I see them, and more. Especially, it included my Grandma coming out of a necessary surgery with a great outcome! If I hadn't been so sick it would have been a completely amazing weekend... But as it was, it was pretty good. On the way there, Paul and I had some really fun and really productive conversations, on the way back I listened to podcasts and enjoyed a relaxing ride as Paul and Murphy napped.

Speaking of Murphy, I tried a little dog training with him, inspired by a dog training summit I've been tuning into for a few years. He's getting better at impulse control, but a LOT more training is necessary! I left the kitchen for a few minutes the other day and he stole a big hunk of parmesan cheese! The scoundrel.

I've read several excellent books this summer too — one called The Goblin Emperor that I was super sad to find out was a stand-alone, and another first-book-of-a-trilogy I'm in the middle of called Throne of the Crescent Moon.

In similar news, I've been watching a fair bit of TV, including continuing X-Files, which I really enjoy, watching mostly everything interesting on Netflix like The Defenders, Atypical, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Lots of interesting stuff to enjoy, but the highlight this week was finally starting the last season of Doctor Who. One episode in and I'm already thrilled!

I think that brings me to today. Wow. A lot has happened this year. So, so much. I am grateful for the incredible experiences.

The biggest thing right now is that the implications of Paul's raise and my business success have been starting to sink in. We've been buying things we needed left and right, taking advantage of the SEARS closeout sale in Lloydminster on our way to visit the hometown— a beautiful new kettle,  room fan, pencil skirt, a lovely plus size winter coat for just $60, winter gloves, a queen size blanket, and five pairs of dress pants later we were pretty late to Saskatoon...

I've also joined Amazon Prime this summer, and I've been getting all kinds of great shipments. A new printer this week, which is one of the first things I've replaced for years that wasn't completely 100% broken or about to be before I bought a replacement. It was great to feel like we could actually get things we needed without holding back. 

It feels like taking off the corset at the end of the day. This whole year has kind of felt like that, except for the pains and troubles of others, which I have been keeping in prayer, and looking for ways to make their lives easier whenever I can.

I am hoping this next third of a year will be equally as amazing.


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