Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Drouin Family Reunion

The Drouin side of my family is fairly large.  My father was 1 of 10 siblings, most of whom had several children, who have had children and so on.  We are all spread out across not just Canada, but some have moved to the US as well.  Add in ancient family drama, and the opportunities for us to all get together are few and far between.

My cousin  Carol, the oldest of all the cousins, decided that enough was enough and organized a family reunion for this past weekend in Niagara Falls, which made it central to the majority.  Carol travelled all the way from South Carolina, Liam and I flew in from Halifax and several people drove down from Québec.  

 Carol sharing the Drouin family history after dinner.

All together, there were 60 people in attendance, ranging in age from 2 to 96. It was fun to see cousins that I haven't seen in almost 40 years and to even meet some Aunts for the first time. Of the 10 siblings, both brothers - my father and my uncle, have died, and 3 of the sisters were ill to travel.  

5 of the sisters, plus my Mom, representing the original family.

The best part of the reunion was that it gave us a chance to dress up and take some family photos.  The Drouin family crest is royal blue, so we were all asked to dress in blue and white, which made for some nice shots.

I don't know if there is a plan for another reunion, passing the planning and organizing on to the next generation, but if there is one, I'll be sure to go.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy New Year

Yes the new year started a week ago, but for our family we are starting it today. Today everyone is healthy - and what better way to start a new year off!

2015 was not a good year for us health wise.

Hilary was diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer in June. She underwent both chemo and radiation treatments from September to November. It was a long and rough road but a road that has led to recovery.  Her oncologist declared that there was no longer any visible cancer so she is now being seen on a regular basis to make sure that it doesn't come back.

Liam managed to drop a canoe on his toe in July that caused a cut near the toenail.   It became infected and overgrew the nail. He underwent surgery this week to clean it all up, remove part of the nail and to sew a flap of skin over it. While he is still bandaged and won't have the stitches out till next Friday,  he is well on the road to recovery. At least he is no longer leaving bloody/pusy toe prints all over the house.

And me?  For the past couple of years I have been having gallbladder attacks. I saw a surgeon in September who finally realized that the frequency and intensity of the attacks warranted surgery sooner rather then late.

So what does a family who has multiple medical issues do?  Schedule 2 surgeries on the same day.

Hilary did an amazing job of keeping everything together.  She and Liam got me registered at the adult hospital before they headed down the street to the kids hospital. His surgery was over first, so he got settled at home before Hilary headed back to pick me up. 

The original plan had been for Hilary's Mum to fly in and help out for the week. But the best laid plans are always the ones that don't work out. Hours before leaving for the airport,  Rosemary came down with the flu. She couldn't leave the bathroom, let alone fly across the country. Hilary and I have some amazing friends who came to our rescue, offering drives, sitting with Liam and taxiing Hilary to the pharmacy late at night.
So now we are all on the mend and ready to start 2016. Hopefully this year is free of all things medical for our family!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I've been thinking of my 2016 word of the year choice for a couple of weeks now.  I was pretty sure that it was going to be HEALTHY, so it's very ironic that as I type this I can barely stand up due to a sore back.  I really need to be HEALTHY right now.  I also really need my family to be healthy, though thankfully, Hilary is on her way there!

To me being healthy encompasses many areas of my life.  I want to:
  • eat healthy
  • improve my physical health*
  • have healthy relationships
  • be emotionally healthy
  • improve my overall mental health
These are all areas that I don't give enough attention to.  It's easy to get caught up in the day to day requirements of life and to let things start to slip.  So for 2016 I'm going to keep being HEALTHY at the forefront of my thoughts.

*Caveat - this one starts on January 7th after my GallBladder surgery.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What did you say?

For years now my family has joked about my hearing loss. It’s not a profound loss by any means, but it does lead to a lot of frustration on everyone’s part. Too many times someone will ask me to get them a drink and I’ll respond with “Why would we build a rink?”

I’ve had my hearing tested a few times in the past, so I had a baseline when I went in a few weeks ago for another test. I was missing out on a lot more conversations lately, having to get people to repeat themselves more and just generally noticing the loss more.

Hearing loss is measured in decibels from 0-130. Normal hearing is considered anywhere in the 0-20 range and complete deafness starts around 90. It’s also measured across several different frequencies. You can have more of a loss with high pitch frequencies or low, deep frequencies.

My hearing test looks something like this:

I have a mild hearing loss in the higher frequencies. Compared to my last test from 2 years ago, I’ve lost about 10 decibels over all. My hearing also tested worse if there is any sort of back ground noise.

It was time to discuss solutions. I’m already using as many “tricks” as possible. I keep people on my right when we are walking and talking; I make sure that I can see a person’s face when we are in conversation; the phone is turned up as loud as it will go and we’ve used the close captioning on our TV for years. I’ve even used the closed captioning devices at the movie theater. After some discussion with the audiologist, I decided to try hearing aids. Since my hearing loss is fairly even in both ears, I would need 2 to keep things balance. Luckily they offer a 30 day, no money down, trial period.

They are so small!

I didn’t expect to find a lot of difference with the hearing aids in. After all, my hearing loss is minimal. But what a difference they have made! The first thing that Hilary noticed was that I wasn’t talking as loud as I usually do. When you can’t hear yourself, you naturally increase your volume. Conversations have been easier and clearer. I’m not missing key information from dialogue on TV. At work I was able to participate in a group conversation, where I would normally have just sat back, smiled, nodded occasionally and laughed when everyone else did because I couldn’t follow what was being said by everyone.

It’s been less than a week but I can already say that the trial is a success. I will see the audiologist again next week to check in on how it is going. And then I will have to make the big decision on whether or not I keep them. They are a significant financial investment, and while they are wonderful and do make a difference to how I hear, I’m not sure I’m ready to fork over that much cash right now.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


My word of the year for 2015 was DETERMINED.  I had many categories that I was determined to do well in, or improve upon.
  • Laugh more
  • Love more 
  • Eat healthier
  • Run more
  • Do well at TKD
  • Enjoy life to its fullest
  • Have a great year
Well.  2015 turned out to be a very interesting year overall.

I certainly RAN more.  I trained for and ran my first half marathon in September.  That took a lot of determination.  Of course, I haven't really run much since then.....

I did not do as well at TKD as I had hoped, mainly because I stopped going in February.  Training for a half marathon takes up a LOT of time, and I just didn't have an extra 3 hours a week to attend classes. Or so I told myself.

I didn't really eat healthier this year.... I sorta did in the first half of the year, but have fallen so far off the wagon that I can't even see it's tire tracks any more.


I've laughed and loved and enjoyed life.  And to me, those are the 3 most important points.

2015 brought so many things with it.  A great family vacation, wonderful visits from relatives, the kid growing into a teenage and of course, the dreaded cancer and the awfulness of it's treatment. But for all it's horrors, the treatments worked and we are no longer living with cancer amongst us. That alone is letting 2015 finish out as a great year.

I think that being DETERMINED has served me well for 2015.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Much Ado About Nothing

Every year the grade 7s at Liam's school study a Shakespeare comedy and then put on a stage production a a local theatre.  This year was Liam's turn to star as Conrade in Much Ado About Nothing.

The kids all worked on making the sets, but they had proper theatre costumes.  Liam was not impressed that he had to wear tights, but he managed.  Unfortunately because of his injured toe, he couldn't wear his boots.

All the kids did an amazing job, delivering their lines on time and with a lot of humour.

Liam isn't planning a career in acting, but he had a wonderful time last night!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fifteen Dollars and Thirteen Cents

I never wanted to be a landlord.  I grew up with my parents dealing with tenants and all the shenanigans that go with them.  My mother can tell you stories that would make your stomach turn and have you weeping for humanity.

Alas, I am a landlord.  When we bought our house 10 years ago, one of the deciding factors was that it had a basement apartment that we could rent out that would pretty much pay the mortgage. Having one tenant couldn't be that bad, right?  Mom and Dad had up to 36 at time.

For the most part our tenants haven't been too bad.  Sure one of the best ones we had required 2 months of cleaning and Hazmat suites when they moved out, but at least they had paid the rent on time and were friendly.  Others left too soon, and some not soon enough.  But only once have we had a tenant move out without paying their rent. 

I might have let it go.  

We knew they were moving, they just skipped out a month early, and to be honest, we were happy to see them go.  They didn't understand the concept that no smoking meant not smoking anything, not just cigarettes.  They were often late with their rent; they didn't shovel the driveway like they were supposed to, so the ice formed a damn and flooded into the apartment. One of the original people moved out and other friends moved in; in the end I think there were actually 4 people living there instead of 2.  It was hard to tell because there were always people coming and going. We lined up another tenant for when they had given notice and we were ready to move on.

Till I checked out the apartment.

They left behind bags of garbage. They left behind furniture that I had to pay to dispose of.  They broke most of the blinds.  They tried to wallpaper one wall, but didn't bother to measure and when it wouldn't stick properly they used thumb tacks to hold it up. They painted another wall, but only as high as they could reach from the ground.  They moved out and left the doors unlocked and never returned the keys.

After all of that and the general grief they had caused us over the past year, I decided to not let it go.  I would take them to small claims court, even though I thought I would never see a dime.  I knew that I would win; I had a signed lease that said I was in the right.  The problem is that if they don't offer to pay up right then and there in court, I would have to go through the hassle of hiring the sheriff and having their wages garnished.

Even then I might have let it go.

We served her with papers and went to court.  She showed up, all full of self-righteous indignation that we dared to think we were right and that she would have to pay us.  The court took one look at the lease and told her she was wrong.  An agreement was made for her to repay us over the next several months.  She was to contact us within a week to let us know her repayment plan.

She never contacted us.  I decided to not let it go.

We went to the sheriff, filed the paperwork and waited.  

And today, we finally got our first check!  $15.13  It's worth every penny!