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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Daily Chai is....Here.

Today's Chai was your typical latte. Tasty.

I am emotionally drained, I can't think straight and my body is a little shaky. It's been a long couple of days and I'm still trying to figure out where my head is at. I am angry and heartbroken and confused. Life has a way of kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it and I'm trying to figure out how I deal with the turmoil in my head. At the same time, I look around  and I can't believe how lucky I am to be here, no matter how painful it sometimes is to live this life.

When I woke up on my last day in Vancouver, Anna was snuggled in beside me on the couch. Zoe woke up and I took her to work and we had one last chat on the bench outside the restaurant. We talked about the summer and how she might come visit after she sees her Oma in Edmonton because she's gotten so used to seeing us regularly that she doesn't think she can go a whole year before she comes again. I hugged her goodbye and walked slowly up the hill to my car. I never look back when I say goodbye, I just can't. I don't know when I will see her again and my heart hurts over it. I have faith, however, that it will happen again soon.

I got home to a full house with aunts and uncles and grandma and children (we had a daycare started by this point with seven kids) and of course, Geoff and Margriet. Margriet was getting tired and wanted to nap so I asked if I could say goodbye before she went to sleep. I hugged her thin shoulders gently and whispered to her to keep fighting. I told her I loved her and she told me she loved me too and I started to cry. I couldn't help it. I tried to be strong all week when I was with the family, but goodbyes are so hard and this one was the hardest of all. To cover up, I started to laugh and said, "I cried when I said goodbye to Zoe too, goodbyes suck shit," I didn't want her to think I was crying because I knew I would never see her again, although we both know this to be true.

Margriet is dying. My beautiful, young, brave friend is dying and I want to howl at the heavens about the unfairness of how each of our lives play out. Why rapists and murderers live full lives and mothers die painful deaths. Why this person, who gave birth to my girl Zoe and raised her to be a beautiful, wonderful person and takes no credit for it ("Zoe's just awesome Megan, she came out like that.") is having her life cut short. I went the night Zoe was born with Subway sandwiches to the hospital because Margriet was so hungry and hospital food sucks. I clearly remember her sitting up in bed, cross-legged, telling me how amazing the human body is because she was already forgetting the pain and was just so happy to have her baby girl. I can see her 22 year old self, young and strong and tired and happy in my mind's eye and it crushes me. This is a person who I've lain on the beach with, watching the waves and dipping the baby in water and laughing together at her reaction. A woman I drank with and danced with until the wee hours of the morning when we were even younger than we are now. Someone I shopped with, someone I ate dinner with, someone I got caught in the rain with, someone I did unimportant, everyday things with that don't even matter now. I have odd images of her in my head, her bowed head as she nursed Zoe unabashedly on the steps of City Hall, her hand with its long fingers as she felt the fabric of an expensive dress, her awesome green pants. Someone I didn't see for 15 years because money was always tight or the timing wasn't right, but regardless of that, she became my sister. This is a person I love and she is dying. Why is my niece losing her mother? I just want to scream and scream until my throat is raw. I want to lash out and hit things and hurt people. I want to crawl into someone's lap and cry like a child. I want so many things that will never be. I want to lie in bed and never get up, to live under the covers in that comfort and oblivion.

But I can't. I have to keep going. I hide behind a smile and I pretend I am strong for my girls and myself. I have to go to work every day and be professional even though I am simply waiting to hear the news that my friend is gone. It's a reality that I know I will face when the time comes, but right now, I don't know how it's possible that it can be true.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Daily Chai Gives You Last Day Pictures and Not Much Else

Yes, these do exist and yes, they were delicious

Zoe fell asleep on the floor, clutching her phone
A print I bought in Granville

Brunch at Yolks

Dangerous pre-schooler
Zoe at her last high school improv show

My last chai latte in Vancouver

Goodbye Vancouver :(

Hello Toronto

I drank this when I got home and then slept for four hours

And then I broke this glass. I'm blaming my ass. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Daily Chai Solves the Mystery

Today's chai was good. Back to my normal routine, woohoo. 

To answer yesterday's great mystery:

Pickled fish and spices

In the 17th century, the Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁, Mandarin Chinese guī zhī, Cantonese gwai1 zap1) meaning the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish.[6] By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was discovered by English explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kecap (pronounced "kay-chap"). That word evolved into the English word "ketchup".[7] English settlers took ketchup with them to the American colonies.[1]

Taken from:

I know you were all dying to know. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Daily Chai - Vacation Day 8

Today's chai latte hates me. You'd think I would have a latte every day without fail in the Starbucks capital of Canada, but I never seem to get there. I suppose it was not meant to be, considering their national computer fail today.

Today, my last full day in Vancouver, was a quiet day with the family. I went for brunch at Yolks on Hastings with Zoe and the girls and had the best Eggs Benedict I've ever had in my life. In typical Megan fashion, I spilled precious maple syrup all over the table, but the kids enjoyed their waffles and pancakes regardless. After brunch we hung out with the rest of the family and I finally met Zoe's grandma and the girls got to play with Zoe's cousin one more time. Her aunt had us over for dinner and the kids were happy for the extra time together, but I was exhausted. The jet lag and the long day yesterday in Victoria have gotten into my bones and made me weary.

This has been a bittersweet vacation for me. I'm not ready to write about why, but I am very glad to be here with my extended family and these people that I love so much. I met new people that I will likely never see again, but have touched my heart. And I will be saying goodbye to someone I love for probably the last time. I am not ready.

I have often written about living life fully, but I cannot stress enough how important this philosophy has become to me. Right now, I cannot fully express what I mean, but I leave you with this:

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Chai Latte - Vacation Day 7

Today's latte was again of the Oprah variety. Not sure I liked this one so much. Oh well. Life soldiers on with good lattes and bad.

I'm sitting in the car with Kate and Anna, waiting for the ferry. I'm on my phone and Kate's on her iPad. I have completely failed as a parent by forgetting my iPad for Anna so she is currently freaking out, tears streaming down her face and screaming, "I WANT YOUR IPAD!" Her Goovey Girl doll was just catapulted in my direction. As it softly hit my lap, I'm sure she is thinking it didn't quite have the shock and awe effect she was going for. Childishly, I hurled it back in her direction and asked if she liked having things thrown at her. From the look on her face and the fact that it hasn't come back in my direction, I would say, No, she did not like that. 

And I let her cry because she will eventually stop when she realizes no one is paying attention to her tantrum. Five minutes later and she has indeed stopped. As I'm writing this, she came over and kissed my shoulder. Crisis over.

Anna also seems to have a desire for disaster. She keeps talking about how we're going to drive into the water and crash. Or get lost and miss the ferry home and never get home again. I told her I'm a grown up and know how to do stuff and that everything will be okay. Jeez. Have some faith.    

Later the same day....

What a great day wandering around Victoria. We arrived on Vancouver Island around 12:30 and went immediately to get gas and MacDonalds (Dear Big Mac for what we're about to receive, oh let us be truly thankful!) and then continued to The Butterfly Gardens about 20 minutes from Victoria. Basically the same as the Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge but with more birds. Flirty birds. The kids loved it so that was good. 

After that we went into Victoria which is just a beautiful city on the water. We shopped and went sightseeing. Kate is thrilled with her new Converse from Baggins Shoes which has the largest selection of Chucks in Canada (and possibly the world, or so the pamphlet reads). Quite fortunate that I promised Kate new Converse for the summer and that perhaps we would find a pair on our trip. Success! BEST MOM EVER! Finally, after all my fails. 

Just walking along the wharf looking at the boats is very soothing for me, perhaps because some of my fondest childhood memories were spent on Georgian Bay on our motor boat. I want to learn how to sail! We watched the seaplanes land and take off for several minutes and we all agreed that the next time we come, we're taking one of them instead of the ferry. 

I played tag with the kids and gave them piggy backs on the lawn of the Parliment buildings. Exhausting. Then we met up with a coworker of mine and Kate wanted to know if he would want to play tag too. I said I highly doubted it and she asked me if I had a pocket watch.

"What kind of question is that? No, I don't have a pocket watch. Normal people do not carry pocket watches around Kate. Why do you ask?"

"I was going to use it to hypnotize him so he will play tag."

Okay. Moving on. 

Off to dinner at the Flying Otter instead! Good fish and chips! British Columbians seem to really like the idea of flying animals because I had dinner at the Flying Pig in Gastown on Wednesday. Anyway, it was great to see him in his home province as we usually only talk on the phone or see each other when he comes for quarterly meetings at head office. Good times. 

On the drive back to the ferry, the girls were playing an elaborate game where Kate is a vlogger. Suddenly Anna howls from the back, "Kate just fired me mommy!"

"Why did you fire Anna, Kate?" 

"She wasn't doing what I wanted her to do, so I fired her." 

Okay. Awesome.

"Anna, just start your own vlog so you can't get fired. Are you guys actually recording this on your iPad?" 

"Oh...Can I do that?"

Megan hangs head. 

And still later the same day.....

Finally home, 11:00 pm and both kids have fallen asleep in the car. As I got my sweet Anna out of the back seat, she woke up and sleepily said, "This was a good day mummy" Yes it was, baby, yes it was. And hey look, I managed to get there and get home without crashing, drowning or getting lost. Wonders never cease. 

View from the ferry on route to Victoria

Well, hello there. Did you know flamingos sound just like geese?

Butterflies eating their dinner

My new boyfriend. Got pretty fresh with me for a first date

And then he cheated on me with a pretty blonde. Typical

And again with the cheating. Birds. Pfft

I love how happy these butterflies make Kate. 

Converse Heaven. 

Inner Harbour in Victoria

These beautiful painted Orcas were all over the place in Victoria

On the lawn of the parliament buildings

This guy was just wandering around loose. We named him Fred. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Daily Chai - Vacation Day 6

Today's Chai latte is waiting for me at Starbucks. Sadly, it is no longer open. I might cry. Except there are more important things in life than lattes. Hard to believe coming from a soulless latte drinker, I know, but absolutely true.

I took the girls and Zoe's other cousin to Science World today. I'm always nervous being in charge of other people's kids, but this is probably the cutest three year old since Anna that I have ever met. The kids love playing together and I only lost her once. Science World is awesome, much better than the Science Centre in Toronto (sorry Ontarians). The last time I went to the Science Centre, I found it very old and run down with a lot of the exhibits broken or missing pieces. Science World, by contrast, seemed almost brand new, possibly because of Telus' nine million dollar donation in 2005. Every exhibit was interesting, interactive and educational. Perfect. My kids may have the week off school and Kate may fall behind, but she learned stuff today. I think.

The one thing about going to museums with children is that they constantly want to show you stuff, with no regard for the fact that you are already looking at stuff. I appreciate that they are excited and interested in what they are seeing, but I'm reading about beavers here. I'm learning sciencey things and expanding my mind, leave me alone! And they keep forgetting that my name is MEGAN, not mom, so I just didn't answer them half the time. Who is this mom person?

I refused to go to the gift shop. I'm tapped out and it's Wednesday, so no. I also hate the idea of buying something for them every single place we go. I had a conversation today with Anna about how Kate has more things than she does and she wants more things. Oh my darling, sweet, innocent child of my heart, guess fucking what? Life lesson, there are always going to be people that have more than you. Some people are going to have less than you. Life isn't fair. Get used to it fast and you will be happier for your entire life. Appreciate what you do have and have sympathy for people who have less, maybe even try to help them out. Unless you like being sad about people having more stuff. Anna looked at me, burst into tears and said, "But I want as much as Kate!" *sigh*

We ended the day at Zoe's Improv Show which was hysterical, those kids all have some talent, but my niece is the queen bee. The show was set up with two teams competing by doing skits based on audience input and some audience participation. Kate was under a lot of pressure as an audience judge and took her role very seriously. She wanted Zoe's team to win, but she wasn't just giving points away. I love that I'm here again during her shows (I got to catch one last time I was here) and that I can support her dreams just by watching her perform. This girl is going to be famous one day, mark my words.

We're heading to the island tomorrow, go wander around Victoria a bit, meet one of my co-workers for dinner. Looking forward to seeing Victoria again, haven't been there for 20 years or so.

So, until then my faithful readers...

Outside Science World

I love the look of adoration on Anna's face

Inside a giant fir tree

Doesn't matter where I see a T-Rex skeleton, I'm always impressed and I always take a picture. Kind of like Niagara Falls.
You know, your average giant frog carved out of wood. 

Water fun

Air fun

Vancouver Skyline at False Creek

Roger's Arena

Anna was getting cranky about the blocks

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Daily Chai - Vacation Day 5

Today's chai was purchased by a certain nine year old who wanted to get me my daily chai. Good girl. It was tasty. And free. Free food and drinks are always appreciated, especially when purchased by your offspring. 

We had a quiet morning at Zoe's before we left for Granville Island. Granville Island is great little area in Vancouver with a farmer's market and lots of interesting shops. The kids loved it, especially the Kid Market, a building with several different toy stores. Kate spent the rest of her spending money today on the normal crap that nine year olds buy. I didn't care, after all, I got my latte out of her. We had lunch in the food court which overlooks English Bay and then we went outside to the pier to chase the pigeons. Anna was determined to pet them and pouted when they wouldn't cooperate. I find it amusing as well as irritating as hell that this kid, who can't walk two blocks without crying to be carried, can chase pigeons at full speed for ten minutes straight. 

My most exciting purchase was some lavender and goat milk soap that I bought last time that I absolutely love and I ran out of recently. I stocked up, so I'm all set. Thrilling, I'm aware. We also found delicious macaroons which Kate assured me she adored so could we get one of each flavour, pretty please? I happily obliged by purchasing half a dozen of those sweet concoctions. Kate and Anna took tiny bites of each one and told me they didn't like them. So I ate them. All six. By myself. Thanks kids. 

We left Granville Island and drove over to Gastown to meet a friend of mine I haven't seen in about ten years. I've had two babies and she's gotten married and we both finished our BAs doing it part time since we last saw each other. Life. And a large country between us. It was so good to see her and break bread and just talk about everything that is happening with us. Catching up with a long lost friend is good for the soul. I highly recommend you go out and do it right now. Who do you miss? Call them. 

I called several people on the phone today. It was weird. I really never talk on the phone anymore. I don't know how to end conversations, I've lost the skill. But to those I spoke with, thank you for being on the other end today. 

It's been four full days in the city and I'm finding it pretty easy to get around and I'm recognizing the streets I spend the most time on. Thank goodness for the GPS on my phone, but each day, I'm using it less and less. I'm planning to go a little further afield on Thursday and Friday, so I might need that GPS again, but I'm loving driving around the city. I always worry that I'll have trouble or I'll get irrevocable lost because I have a terrible sense of direction, but I drove all over Europe with only some minor mishaps (see here and here). My only real problem is I find I get easily distracted by the scenery and miss my turn ;-)

Entrance to Granville Island (duh)

Chasing pigeons

I bought a dress at this shop when I was here in November. Please note the Canucks shirts on the kids.

Gastown's Gassy Jack's statue

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Daily Chai - Vacation Day 4

If you can believe it, I haven't had time to go to Starbucks today, so today's chai was non-existent. I hope it doesn't go into existential crisis again.

My niece Zoe told me last night, while we sucked back our bubble teas, that I might want to avoid downtown today because it's 4/20 and it would be silly with pot and pot smokers. "Don't go downtown tomorrow with the kids," she says. "Don't go to Hastings," she says. So what do I do? Given the beauty day we had today (24 degrees and sunny), I decided it would be a good day to visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Classical Chinese Gardens. In Chinatown. At Hastings and Columbia. Don't know the particular area I'm talking about? Hastings is heroin central in Vancouver...but it was all good because it was 10:00 am and apparently the heroin addicts don't come out that early. Dr Sun Yat-Sen's garden is closed on Mondays (how did I miss that in this information age?), but there is a public city garden right beside it with koi and turtles in the ponds and plenty of interesting flowers and plants. Anyone looking for serenity this morning in the garden was sadly disappointed as my children ran screaming and laughing down the paths. Thank goodness for other small, loud child because mine just sort of blended in.

Afterwards, we visited several souvenir stores and I actually said (I feel like I'm going to die admitting this), "Look with your eyes, not your hands!" in an annoying sing-song voice. But seriously, if Kate touches something, Anna has to touch it too and my heart was hammering in my chest because Kate breaks stuff by just looking at it and Anna is four. A bull in a china shop has nothing on these kids. We managed to leave all items unscathed and even picked up a terribly tacky gold, sparkly fan for Anna and some strange pen for Kate. I also jumped on the band wagon and bought both of them Canucks shirts. I told Kate several months ago that she was no longer allowed to cheer for the Leafs because they just suck and told her to pick another team. That fabulous girl picked the Vancouver Canucks (based purely on Zoe living here and my bestie's Canuck love, I'm sure). They are wearing their shirts all day tomorrow in support of the Canuck/Flames game (look at me knowing what's going on in the hockey world, thank you Google).

After that, we picked up Zoe to take her to Capilano University to drop off some paperwork. What a beautiful campus! I always loved University of Waterloo, which has its pretty areas, but nothing beats ancient evergreens and mountains. I felt like I was at summer camp. I wonder how long it would take before you just take that beauty for granted? I don't know if I ever would.

We dropped Zoe back at school after a fabulous sushi lunch at Sushi Nanaimo and headed off to the Vancouver Aquarium. It was very manageable in three hours to see everything and catch a few of the demonstrations. The girls loved the Pacific White Sided dolphins and the Beluga whales of course. Even though these animals are meant to be in the wild and I feel badly for them being in cages and tanks, I can appreciate the conservation efforts of all the staff. They obviously care deeply for the animals and for educating of the public. Both dolphins were caught in fixed fishing nets and rescued. One of them had both her pectoral fins partially removed because they were so damaged by the netting, so she can't be released back into the wild. People complain that zoos and aquariums are cruel, but that animal was injured in the wild because of human beings. The aquarium is a safe place for her to live and survive, with the added bonus that her story is cautionary tale to the public.

Most of the day was spent with  yells of, "MOM! MOM! LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT THIS!" To the point that I asked them to call me Megan because I started hating the sound of the word Mom. "MEGAN! MEGAN! LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT THIS!" *sigh* At least the sound of Anna's little voice calling me Megan was mildly amusing.

When we got home, I was trying to do something for Kate and Anna was saying, "Mom, mom, mummy, MEGAN!" I looked at her and said, "I'm doing something for your sister. It's not always about you Anna." That punk looked me right in the eye, smiled and said, "Yes, it is."

Just got back from La Casa Gelato with the kids and they are finally in bed. Grown up time! Whatever shall I do...zzzz, wait, what?

Breakfast with Chaplin

Breakfast with a regular girl

We all loved this immensely 

My little rabbit

My little dog

And snakey Meg

At the entrance of the closed Dr Sun Yet-Sun Classical Chinese Garden

In the public garden

I love the traditional Chinese buildings against the backdrop the skyscrapers

Sweet sisters

Red-eared slider

My sweet girl

On her throne

Also on her throne

The koi were massive

Sushi lunch!

Slightly obsessed with jelly fish

Pacific White Sided dolphins


After our visit, complete with souvenirs 

Loving her ice cream

Also loving her ice cream :)