Open Houses Rule

Everyone should nix the idea of receptions and just have an open house. In Arizona. At my in-laws.
This is my ode to open houses.

The difference between our wedding reception and the open house, 2 months later, is astounding. The first was stressful, over-packed and freezing. The second was relaxed, low-key, beautiful (and outside, in February) and best of all, it only took that day to set up and plan. I have my wonderful in-laws to thank for everything with the wonderful open house.

The stress from the wedding reception was so much that Shawn had flash-backs and despite that it only took a couple hours to se-tup and get ready for the open house, Shawn was visibly upset about having to through anything similar to the day-we-wish-to-never-go-through-again. All the boys actually ditched the night before, trying to pretend it wasn't going to happen. But the two nights were nothing alike. I LOVED the open house.

The set-up was gorgeous, tables surrounded by twinkling lights and an orange tree with hanging tea-lights (that, luckily, did not catch on fire). Heaters provided just enough heat to enjoy the cool night air and not a wisp of breeze was felt. This just could not be possible in Alberta. The table-clothes would be whipped away by the wind and it would prob rain/snow 5 minutes before we start.

My mother-in-law's brother and wife.
They came all the way from California in a trailer.
Thanks so much!

My new Grandma and Grandpa.
His mustache is one that Tom Selleck envies. 
Kyle and Shadolyn, Shawn's sister, and their
adorable son James.
My in-laws.
So wonderful.
We opted not to wear our wedding attire, but we compromised by not going with Shawn's preference (jeans and t-shirt) and rather, just wearing a nice dress and suit and shirt. It was the perfect thing. I got to buy a gorgeous new dress from Anthropologie and do my hair and wish that I got some-what of a tan in my four days in Arizona (sadly, not even a lil bit). Good thing because the whole thing was perfectly casual and I would have felt pretty darn ridiculous dressed to the nines in a wedding gown while everyone milled around the house. 
Who doesn't love bite-sized deserts? Add the fact that they are home-made and utterly delicious and you can guess what I ate, all day (and the next day).

I seriously wish I could have my back-yard looking like this all year. It was so beautiful. I just wanted to blare "Kiss Me" by Six Pence None the Richer and dance the night away under the stars with Shawn. Why can't my life be a cheesy movie? The music always comes on at the right time with cheesy movies.

Despite the lack of cued music, the open house was a success. I was finally able to meet some of Shawn's high school friends and my in-laws ward made a strong showing. Shawn and I spent two hours mingling and nibbling and just relaxing and enjoying ourselves, which is something that was so lacking from our reception. It was perfect. Thank-you mom and dad. 

But my reception high-heel curse continues. Halfway through the open house, my high heel strap just snapped. Luckily, Chance is a whiz with tape and I was good for the rest of the night. 

High Heels
#1 & #2


Three Cheers for Airplanes!

In one more day, Shawn will finally overcome the odds, vanquish his last test and stand victorious.. Okay, I have been reading WAY too much greek god fiction over the last few days, squeezed in every second that I could during my work orientation (hurrah for working again), but sadly I finished the fifth and final book today. Just another example of a series of books I wish I could reread again for the first time, another series being "The Hunger Games". But enough of my greek mythology obsession.

Let me express my love and appreciation for the wonderful invention called an airplane. They are such wonderful things that allowed me to travel the world in such an efficient manner but more importantly, they are assisting us by shaving THIRTY-SIX hours off our drive. Don't get me wrong, I am all about road-trips. In the summer, Shawn and I have all the intentions to go on a road-trip down the west-coast. The key phrase is, "In the summer...", aka no snow, no icy roads, no freak snowstorms.

My two biggest, irrational, fears in life are as followed
1) My teeth falling out:
       Case in point. After my surfing accident, which crushed my spine and eventually ended with rods and screws in my back, the first thing I did after being drug from the surf was clasp my hands to my mouth and feel my teeth, and make my friends inspect my mouth for missing/chipped teeth. Only after they assured me they were all accounted for, then I focused on the burning lava pain in my spine.
       I have dreams nightmares about losing my teeth somewhat frequently and I always wake up in a sweat, and am so glad it was just a dream. Perhaps it's due to my hatred of going to dentists and finding a cavity, or two, every single visit despite all my impeccable teeth hygiene. I hate my cursed teeth genetics. It's just a stroke of luck that Shawn is planning on being a dentist.

2) Driving on winter roads:
       Growing up in southern alberta, you think I would be used to winter roads. I was fearless once, even going off the roads on my 16th birthday with my friends and again a couple times with different drivers, never fazed. Then, somewhere along the way, something changed. I was hesitant.
       Then, came the trip that solidified my winter driving fears. I had driven, solo, to visit my sister in Washington. It was a fantastic trip, exactly what I needed at the moment, until the biggest snowstorm to hit mid-Washington in twenty years, just happened to start two days before I had to return for the start of my final nursing practicum. The university was closed, the roads were closed, and I had to get home. After three days, the storm subsided just enough so the roads were open for one day, with reports of more snowstorm on the way the next day. Leaving that day was my only hope to get home in the next week, so I gritted my teeth and headed out really early. It was HELL. You could barely see 3 ft in front of you, cars were in the ditch everywhere I looked, the traffic was barely reaching 40 km/hr on the highway and all hopes of outdriving the storm died after 8 hrs of straight icy/snowy conditions. My usual 8 hr trip stretched to a miserable 12 hr drive. I think I aged 7 yrs that day, and lost 2 lbs water weight from all the tears I cried. Somehow I made it but it left me traumatized, thank-goodness Shawn is so good about driving because when there is ice on the road, I try not, to be.

That being said. I hate driving in the winter. And the thought of driving for 28 hrs to get to Arizona, and then have to return back to Saskatoon the same way, made my blood run cold. But, all the cheap flights to Arizona were not-so-cheap, thanks to reading week pricing. Then, a miracle, named Shadolyn, happened. Somehow, her mad searching skills discovered a roundtrip flight from Missoula, MT for $250  RT in the middle of reading week, only two days ago!!!!! No-one needed to tell us twice; we booked the tickets, congratulated ourselves on saving 3 days of driving and proceeded to celebrate by lying on the couch, watching "The Illusionist" and falling asleep with a smile on our face... Life is good, and thank goodness for airplanes.  We cannot wait to get to Arizona and see Shawn's family!! 



I Love Us

Happy Valena's Valentine's Day!

Somewhat my favorite holiday... For a wayward reason...

Growing up with an usual name, I didn't get to see my name very often so perhaps that's why I took a liking to Valentines Day. When I would be driving down the road and catch a glimpse of a sign selling some kind or other Valentines days package or treat, for a split second I got to think that the world was advertising Valena's Day. My day. How fantastic!!! But the catch was, I had to read it because when people pronounce it, it sounds nothing like my name... You would think that I would grow out of that, and I have. Sort of. I must admit, it happened again today when I saw a billboard advertising Valentines Day at Montanas...

But being newly married, it is no longer 'my' imaginary day. As a catchy little Hallmark card stated, Valentine's Day is the day to celebrate Shawn and I. To say I love us. And I do; so much. No special day is needed for this realization because everyday you feel it but, a lil bit of extra-ness never hurt... 

Like, coming home (from my FIRST DAY of work) to this lil homemade treat from my food-network-loving husband

Or visiting my hard-at-work-studying at the Uni with a heart-shaped (and v. over-priced, I found out) pizza from Boston Pizza.... 
Shawn's first time trying "Perogy Pizza"
His face shows that he was not so much
convinced when I suggested it. 

Such a sucker for a gimmick...

Now I am at home, watching "The Bachelor", and waiting for my handsome husband to finishing ace-ing his test and come home... Ooh he just called!!! Off to pick him up!!



Studying Widow

Mid-terms are upon us and I have lot my husband, Shawn, to studying. He is working so hard, and focusing 98% of his attention to school. I think part of him feels like he's abandoning me but I am so impressed with his dedication to his studies. And I figure, in one week we will be on our way to sunny Arizona... Farewell snow, cold and all things winter... 

But until then, I have ALOT of solo time on my hands... So I have been devising things to take up some of the time... What my days involve, with Shawn at school till 10 pm at night...

- sleeping in till 10 am... I don't even feel bad anymore, at this point.

- writing thank-you cards... eep, those probably should be done by now.

- cleaning... I devised a chore schedule for myself, so each day I do a general clean-up and then one main chore... Who knew I would be actually organized like that? 

- cooking and baking.. Shawn is a fantastic cook and loves to cook so he and I share cooking duties. I just made a fantastically delicious Butternut Squash & Chicken Risotto that I got from my Aunt while in Australia... Needs a couple tweaks for next time. But delicious. Baking on the other hand.... I try and do that to a minimum... I looove baking but the problem is that I also love to eat the baking... Not good.

Sadly, I'm on the last book
in the series...
- reading/going to the library to find new things to read... I am such a book-worm and I just finished a book recommended by my sister Tamara, "The Help". It is a fantastic show about southern women and their black help in the 1960's. Loved it. I have since moved on to a new book series... "Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief". You may have heard of the movie they recently made. The series are definitely geared towards a teenage audience (okay, so they have cartoon covers, sue me) but I am a sucker for all things Greek Mythology and I have become slightly addicted to the series... 

-going to the gym... Let me sing the praises of my new gym, 'Fitness for 10'. It is exactly what it sounds like; an amazing gym for, get this, $10/month! For the first time, I don't feel guilty about buying a gym membership... And for probably only the third time, I am actually going! A lot of the credit for my somewhat-dedication to going is due to Amy. She, like me, is here because of the love of her life and we both don't know many people and have a weakness for baking so we became fast friends and have a gym relationship... 

-facebook/internet... curse you facebook... You wonderful time-sucker that I both hate and love...

-eating.... Is there any better companion when watching t.v. or reading a book? Nope... thus the gym... 

-studying... Thankfully, I have been graduated from Uni for almost 3 years now but I just got a new job so I am back to studying. I am slightly nervous to start orientation on PAR (post-anesthesia recovery). I feel a little out of my league but I am very excited for the new challenge. But I am cramming before orientation so I don't appear completely out of my element. Hurrah for google search for coming up with something legit to help me study.

So those are some of the things that help to kill the time before my handsome hubby comes home/ is studying.... Only 7 more days until ARIZONA!! woot woot! and only 2 days till I start orientation for my new job... 



How I Met Your Father...

I remember when I first heard the concept of one of my now-favorite t.v. shows. "How I Met Your Mother"??? It sounded absurd, and I gave it a season before it ran it's course, he met his wife and moved on to the next show on t.v. Well, it's now six seasons in, the protagonist has dated countless girls and not one is the eventual 'mother' and I am hooked. I still think the concept is slightly ridiculous? What teenage kids haven't heard the story of how their parents met? I could recite the story by age 7. And even if you DID find kids who couldn't be bothered to ask until they were 15, what parent then proceeds to tell them the story, but only after he tells them all about girlfriends 1-39, who by the way are not their mother,  and then say it's all because you have to hear the whole story?? It's kind of hilarious because at that age, I liked to imagine my parents never dated anyone else but each other... I think I would have gone in shock.

That being sad, I am a sucker for "How did you meet" stories. Maybe that's why I keep watching the show? Partially for the humor, and partially for when he finally mets his wife (probably the last episode of the series, but I can be patient). When I was younger I would partially, and secretly, base how good a couple was by how good their story was. I still love hearing the stories, and have grown to appreciate all types of because, in the end, the result is the same- the realization that 'this is it. He/she is the one I am gonna marry.'

Judging from the beginning of our story, I would have never guessed that this was 'it'. But, unlike Ted (HIMYM), I am not gonna start 6 yrs before we met. I am going to start a month or so before.


Oh those fictional musical villains...

Having grown up with my mom consistently listening to "The Phantom of the Opera" music, I found myself knowing almost every lyric of every song off by heart all my life but having NO idea what the play was about and how could this phantom of the opera be the angel of music as well. So when Hollywood got around to making a movie years ago, I was excited to finally figure out how the songs I remember as a kid tied into a complete story.

  My sister and I went to a Saturday matinee and I loved it. I loved the story, the actors and most importantly, the music. It all made sense. It was as if a fuzzy dream had finally became clear. I was ecstatic... And then it was almost the end; the defeated phantom found himself, alone with the music box. My heart broke and I felt silent tears streaming down my face. My sister and I could not believe that I would cry in a movie, especially this part! When we were walking out of the theatre, she couldn't help but to poke fun of my tears, and I laughed, agreeing that it was silly, and I tried to remember why I cried. All of a sudden, I felt overwhelmed by the initial feeling that made me cry in the first place and I found myself, in the middle of the busy mall on a saturday afternoon,BAWLING over a fictional musical villain and a symbol crashing monkey, ten minutes after the fact. Since then, I have watched the movie countless more times and never came close to feeling a tear well up in my eye. I feel slightly ridiculous about getting so emotion over something so trivial.

The reason this story is so vivid in my very, poor memory is that this burst of tears was so rare for me. Until I went on birth control. Ah, yes, it is hard to believe the glorified sticker on my butt actually is helping to prevent a stork dropping off a package anytime soon AND is the cause for me dissolving into a emotional wreck over tiny things. Like icing on cookies. And then again, and then again, and then I realized... I needed to get a grip.

It is actually quite amusing, looking back and realizing I was so naive when I first went on the patch, thinking I would be immune to the rush of hormones that so many other girls report. Perhaps I would have been if starting the patch didn't coincide with getting married and being more emotionally invested than ever before. But it did. So I found myself crying over a simple comment my husband made. He meant it one way, I took it another way. And POOF, I dissolved into a puddle. But no more. For one reason, I recognize the extra hormones now. Sometimes it really is just black and white when Shawn says something, no need to twist it a thousand ways seeing if he meant something more. And two, we are now on a "brownie point" system... So if he DID mean something else and it upsets me, instead of getting emotional, I will just dock some points... And I make good brownies. 


Im just a man, sometimes, sorry.....

Being a man I regulary make a fool of myself. Lucky I have a wonderful wife who knows how to handle it. Well maybe she doesnt know exactly how to handle it but she does a pretty darn good job. While Im at school and studying every night till ten or eleven she cleans the house, makes the food, buys the groceries and still manages to find time to watch criminal minds. I havn't showed her how much I appreciate that but she still loves me unconditionally. Being a man I say things that I dont realize will hurt here and she still loves me after a good cry. Im writing on this blog without her knowing so that when she goes to write in it she see this and knows that I love her. Love you baby. Im just a man, sometime, sorry.


Not So Shabby...

I know the last thing I should do, while I haven't started work and Shawn is in Uni, is shop. And I can usually resist the temptation, except when I am on www.shabbyapple.com. The dresses are so adorable, so reasonably priced and, well, just have a look for yourself and you will see why these dresses are my new obsession. I have already dedicated my first Saskatchewan paycheck to ensuring my closet is the home of a few of these dresses...


Who Knew?

I have mentioned multiple times that we have moved to Saskatoon, SK. But, perhaps, I should elaborate. This blog entry is named "Who Knew" for two reasons. The first, and formost, who knew that Saskatoon, Sk is where we would end up?? This is probably the LAST place I would have named if you had asked me 5 years ago where I saw myself living in 2011, barely edging out Yellowknife, NWT.

Our new home city

My knowledge of Saskatchewan, before Shawn told me of his plans to move here, was abysmal. I liken it to the knowledge that an American, living in Texas, has of Canada. Basically I knew it was there, but why would I know care to know much more than that? It was "Gapyland" to me; the gap between the western provinces (BC, AB) and the eastern provinces (ON, QC). I knew my mom was raised there born in Saskatchewan but I had only been in Saskatchewan one time in my recollection and no plans to return. But fast forward to January 2011 and Saskatchewan is where my husband and I have made plans to be for the next 6-8 years, give or take.

When we first arrived a month ago, I truly felt that it was a complete different country than Alberta.  Perhaps, I should blame the fact that I more regularly travel within Alberta, or I leave Canada completely, going to the states or further away. So the differences between the two provinces had me subconciously thinking I was in a different country. Multiple times, I found myself about to make a purchase and thinking, "Drat, I only have Canadian money".

I am a of-the-moment curious person. When I watch a movie I like, the first thing I do afterwards is research all about it. If I read a good book, I am online trying to find out everything, from who wrote it, what reviews did it get, will it become a movie, is there a sequel, etc. That's how I know the entire British Royalty line of the Tudors. I could discuss the lineage and wives of Henry VIII in my sleep thanks to my curiousity after reading "The Other Bolyen Girl". So when I moved to Saskatoon, wikipedia and fellow online encyclopedias became frequently visited by me, trying to learn about this seemingly quiet sister of Alberta. I will share some of my recently acquired knowledge... So, who knew.....

1) "Saskatchewan" comes from a Cree word "Kisiskatchewani Sipi" meaning "swift flowing river", which referred to the Saskatchewan River... Since my grandmother is full Cree AND from Saskatchewan, you would think I would have known this, but nope.

2) Saskatoon is the largest city in the province, with a population of roughly 234, 000. The capital, Regina, follows close behind with 194,000. After that, you get small cities half the size of Lethbridge and the whole population of the province just barely hits a million.

3) Saskatoon is well-beloved for it's architecture and bridges, and is named (not sure by whom, or by how many) "The Paris of the Praries"... or "The City of Bridges". The university, itself, is quite charming with the brick buildings, quite the contrast to the concrete slab called the U of L.

4) Bell Mobility does not exist here, but have no fear Sasktel does, which seems to be the choice of mobile phone providers. Alas, they do not have the iPhone so we signed with Telus.

5) There are only 2 L.D.S. stakes in the entire province. Contrast that with the fact that the town of Magrath and Raymond (2000 pop. each) each have their own stake and . But, literally, half of our ward is young marrieds, like ourselves, so it seems that moving to SK for hopes to get into dental school is the thing to do.

6) After 24 years of escaping the thievery called 'PST' we now are paying 10% tax... (5% fed/ 5% prov)... also, I am pretty sure that Saskatchewan isn't known for being rat-free like Alberta so I am dreading my first run-in with the squirm-inducing creatures.

7) SK is the leading exporter of potash (which Shawn tells me is used in fertilizer) and the world leader in the production of uranium. That means nothing to me, but hey, good job Saskatchewan!

8) Regina is the home to the RCMP Training Academy. Wonder what the crime rate is like with all those Mounties catching their man out here.

9) Some famous Saskatchewaners Saskatchewanites people from Saskatchewan are:
      a) John Diefenbaker- 13th Prime Minister of Canada
Gordie Howe
      b) Tommy Douglas- voted Greatest Canadian and considered the father of Medicare
      c) Gordie Howe- Mr. Hockey himself
      d) Hayley Wickenheiser- Women's Team Canada Hockey Captain
      e) Catriona Le May Doan- Gold Medal Olympic Speed Skater
      f) Joni Mitchell- singer/songwriter

So there are some random facts about our new home, Saskatchewan, the easiest province to draw,  home of the Roughriders, and not-so-proud owner of ridiculously badly kept highways.

Farewell Unemployment!!!

I GOT A JOB!!!! I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to finally (okay, it's only been a month but a looooooong month) have cracked my way into the Saskatoon Health Region!!!! I will now be employed on the Day Surgery Unit at the Saskatoon City Hospital!! 

After a month of waiting around, hearing nothing from all the online applications, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and went to the City Hospital, wandering aimlessly, until I found a nursing managers office. There, I sat for an hour, waiting for her to finish her interview and then she came out to meet me and as we talked, I tried to charm her and send subconscious messages that she should hire me straightaway, before I went mad from unemployment. Either my subconscious or my resume convinced her I wasn't all that bad because yesterday morning I got the call saying I would start orientation February 14, 2011! Happy Valentines Day!! So until then, I can now enjoy the next two weeks because I know that I will be starting work in 14 days!!!