Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back To Reality

Well, this shall be my last entry written from the depths of BC for a good long while. I’m not expecting to make it back this way until around July since that is when my sister is expecting to get married. Sucks living so far away from my home province, but I have to admit that I’ve learned a lot and experiences much as well being so far away. The PEI language and accent alone was an experience all in itself. Plus I have overcome my fear of flying which has proven to be extremely helpful considering how much I have to travel and plan to travel in the future.

So back to PEI tomorrow. Ugh. I shouldn’t say “ugh”, but we’ve been watching the Weather Network while I’ve been away and the weather over there makes me DREAD going back. I was hoping that my last winter on the island would be nice and mild and enjoyable to get through. I’m thinking that my dreams have been dashed considering the 100+ km winds happening the past couple weeks. I think my New Year’s resolution this year should be to shop complaining about PEI weather and just come to terms that it sucks all of the time. I’m being dramatic again…but we got the most beautiful snowfall last night and I woke up to the world being covered in a white blanket of loveliness and I love opening the blinds to my bedroom and automatically smiling. Walking Rizzo this morning was so calm, peaceful and white and it upsets me that in less than 24hours I will be leaving. I also woke up with a head-cold this morning which is quite unfavourable considering the amount of traveling I have to do the next 2 days. I was really hoping that I had avoided the plagues going around the area but alas, one found me. I was so close! Plus my lifestyle the past 2 weeks has been lovely. Sleeping in “late”, long walks with the dogs, eating copious amounts of food which is bad for me, reading novels… life is good when you have no responsibilities. Too bad it has to come to an end. Back to reality!

All I want is to be able to stay here and kick my dad’s butt in Yahtzee until I make enough money to pay off my student loans. Yes, you read that right. We play games for money in this household and yes, we make change if you’re short of pocket change.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Life's Funny Like That

There’s this thing about growing up which can be startling at some times but also very eye-opening and educational. As we get older we learn more and more facts and stories about our family which were hidden from us as we were kids. Obviously there are tons and tons of things that our parents have to keep from us when we’re young because it’s just so out of our scope of understanding. I think that every time I come home to BC I learn some new things about my parent’s or family’s past that just makes me change my view of them slightly. 99.99% of the time it makes me think just that more highly of them. Tonight was one of those nights for sure. I can’t tell the world what it is that I learned tonight because my mom made me promise to keep my mouth shut, but I can say that my head was down on the kitchen table because I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t hold the weight of my head upright. In fact, it's been a long time since I laughed as hard as I did tonight. Plus the things coming out of Cadance’s mouth was so funny that I nearly had to leave the room at a couple points because it was just too funny to handle. That little girl is getting quite the personality. Oh man. Good luck to her parents.

What made tonight so great is that everyone, for the first time I have been home, was feeling good. We postponed our Christmas dinner yesterday because Amy and Jer ended up coming down with that evil stomach bug that was going around. This also meant that neither of them attended the first round of gift opening or the big Christmas Eve event at the Kotyk house. It was sad not having them around. The night just wasn’t the same. Then on Christmas morning only Amy was able to come over because Jer was still not well, and Pam and Graham went to Kamloops to spend the holiday with his family, so it was just the five of us that morning. Nearly 50% of our clan wasn’t there on Christmas morning (including Splash) so it was a quiet and mellow day for all of us. By the time Amy and Cadance left around noon, it was just me and my parents around the house. I went for a good run and got a lot of reading done, which in my opinion is a great way to spend Christmas day. I think that people go way overboard with Christmas day when really, it should be a day of visiting and relaxation.

Today is Boxing Day and for the first time ever in my life, I went shopping. I was very optimistic and hoped for finding great sales. And yeah, there were great sales, but everything was so picked over in terms on sizes for clothing. Generally the stores had every style in stock, but only in sizes XS, XL or XXL. Crap. But I did get a cute new coat and a shirt. Unfortunately when I got home and showed my mom she said I looked like Peter Pan. Thanks mom. I now have no desire to wear this shirt ever again.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eve of Christmas Eve

One more day and then it is Christmas Eve! It's hard to believe I've been home for over a week already...didn't I just get here? Another thing that sucks about the holiday season is that you're so busy all of the time that time goes by incredibly quickly and before you know it, it's all over and time to go back to the real world again. I'm lucky that I'm able to take time off work to come home to my family this Christmas. Last year I will probably not be able to afford going home so I'd better enjoy it as much as possible this year.

It's been an interesting trip so far. Things aren't going as smoothly as we all would hope for but we're making due. First of all, everyone is sick! Amy's been sick for a long time and working full-time at the hospital so she's worn out whenever I get the chance to see her. My other sister Pam has also been incredibly sick and has been spending her time off from work home alone trying not to infect the rest of us with her disease, and she also has not much energy to do much of anything anyway. Cadance was puking her little guts out a few nights ago which was awesome! Nothing like a projectile vomiting toddler to make the season nice. Of course we were babysitting when it all went down...or 'up' I should say. Also my friend's and cousins kids all have the same stomach flu which means that friend and family visiting is quite minimal at the moment. PLUS, my poor aunt had emergency intestinal surgery the day I got back and was in the ICU for a few days (she's ok now) so we've been steering clear of her because we don't want to get her sick in case we've picked up this nasty flu virus the kids are all getting.

This is also the first year where everyone won't be together for Christmas. Bummer. Pam and Graham are going to Kamloops early Christmas morning so we're all opening our gifts to and from them tomorrow morning instead of Christmas morning. Plus we always do a big family get together on Christmas Eve and Amy works until 9pm so she will basically miss the whole thing, which is unfortunate. I mean, we always keep it going until about midnight but I'm sure a lot of family will have gone home by then. Either way, it's sad that we won't all be together this Christmas.

This has also been the trip of appointments. Last Friday it was the optometrist (my eyes are still good!) and yesterday it was the dentist (my teeth are great as well!) Sure it's good to get the news saying that my body is still in good working order and all, but the bills that come along with these appointments are just really uncool. I'm really hoping that the school reimburses me some of this. Oh, and I have a doctor's appointment today. Yipee.

Since Pam has been sick and working as well, I've had Splash for the past week which has been lovely. I've been going out on lots of long walks in the snow which we've both been really enjoying. We don't have a lot of snow but it's been consistently falling lightly for the past few days which makes morning and afternoon walks nice and winter-wonderlandy. One bad thing about constant snow fall is that things get buried quickly. Yesterday when we were out walking, I was throwing a stick for Splash, and on about the 50th throw it broke. This was sad. But luckily Splash found a new stick buried in the snow and came out running full speed happy that she found a new one. Unfortunately when I bent over to pick it up to throw I realized that this was not a stick but actually some guy's underwear that had frozen solid. Why they were outside in the middle of nowhere, one can only guess. I had a good laugh about that one anyway.

When I got home from the walk, Amy and Cadance had showed up at the house and Cadance greeted me at the door asking if I could take her outside to play in the snow. I had already been outside for well over an hour but it's just impossible to say no to such a little cutie. So Cadance, Splash and I all went for a walk. Well, I pulled Cadance up and down a large hill on the toboggan while Splash played around us with her doggy friend Billy. It was a fun morning to say the least.

As I continue to write this post I am realizing that I cannot possibly blog about everything I've been up to. Just take it to heart that I've been really busy considering that everyone is getting healthier (except my dad who came down with a head cold last night) and I've been enjoying the company of my friends and family very much. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December is for the Dogs

It has been brought to my attention that the Kotyk family has a history of adopting dogs in the month of December and in fact, all of our dogs became family members during this month. So why do we tend to open our home to the canine community this time of year? Perhaps we are feeling extra giving during the holiday season. Maybe it’s just fate. Who knows. In the end, we’ve gotten some great friends to call our own.

In December of 1992 we got Sam. My parents knew the people who had the mother so we all went up there in November to go meet the pups. A few weeks later we brought home Sam who, within only a few days after arriving here, proved to be a lot of work. How could such a teeny tiny little creature escape from such a tall pen?? Sam had a mind of her own and there was no way we could ever contain that dog. Ok, I'm beng nice here. Sam was the biggest pain in the ass to ever live. She had the spirit and ego of a Rottweiler but was in the pint-sized package of a Shit-zu. She barked at everything that moved and the only thing we could ever do was just accept her for what she was and try not to shake the living daylights out of her when she rebelled against our every command. Proof of how tough this dog was is that the vet had to wear leather gloves when she was on his table and she survived being attacked by a coyote. She may have been a handful but she was ours. Sam was put down at the ripe old age of 18 (nearly 2 years ago) and will never be forgotten.

It was December of 1997 when Rizzo joined the family. My mom and I went along with a neighbour to “look at” a litter of pups up in Fruitvale and when I saw that one little puppy I just picked her up and never put her down until we got home. For the first year I wasn’t sure if mom would let me keep Riz because she was such a handful (we couldn’t keep her in the yard no matter the measures we put in place) and mom was concerned that Riz would never stop growing! But Rizzo’s size and energy started to level off and she grew into the great dog we all love. Sure she has some issues...like she's obsessed with sucking on her blanket, any toys that squeak and she wants to eat any small white dog that crosses her path. She’s 13 now and it’s hard to watch her grow old. She’s gotten much older physically the past 2 years which is sad. The walks have to be shorter and we can’t play the way we used to because she gets too sore. It’s hard to believe that she used to be able to outrun any dog that she met and could pull us across the room during a game of tug-of-war. Why do dogs have to get old? It's not fair.

Then there’s Splash. I adopted Splash from the SPCA when I used to live in Nelson. It was December of 2005 and I was going through a hard time when I was volunteering at the shelter there. I think I was drawn to Splash because we were both these neglected creatures looking for a companion to share our lives with. Bringing Splash home was instant happiness. She was a lot of work in the beginning because she had some major trust issues and hated men, skateboards and baby strollers(?). We went to a dog trainer which helped some of her issues. We went everywhere together. Unless I was going to work, Splash came along with me. When I decided to move to PEI, leaving her behind with my sister was the hardest part of leaving BC. My friends and family could still talk to me over the phone or via email, but Splash would never understand where I was going and why I disappeared from her life. Plus I’m the best dog-walker in the world and I knew she’d miss our giant walks! Splash is my heart. She’s just so sweet, forgiving and patient.

Now some of you reading this may wonder why I am devoting an entire post to the dogs. I’m guessing that the same people who wonder this are also people who have never had a dog. When they get hurt or sick, there’s nothing you won’t do or price you won’t pay to make them better because they are your family and you’d do anything for your family.

So now it's December again and I have been told to steer clear of all dog shelters and pet stores. Damn.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Powered by Borscht!

I’ve been in BC for 2 whole days now and I’m pooped already. I guess it could be the jet-lag, or the mass amounts of candy I’ve been consuming, or maybe it has to do with the fact that my life took a complete 180 by coming here. In PEI my life consists of school, work, the lovely boy, my friends and any other thing that may come my way. Here it consists of family, walking dogs (who are always in my face wanting to go outside to play), a niece (who is also in my face wanting to play), Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, cooking, baking, tree decorating and game playing. So both lives sound pretty great and I am very much not complaining, but switching from one to the other can be a bit overwhelming at times!

The thing that sucks about being gone for so long is that when you get back you have this huge weight on your shoulders to make sure that you get to see all of your friends and family before you head back. Plus there’s a time window in which you should call them and go visit before it gets to the point in which they start to think that, “well, she’s been here for a week now and I’m just seeing her now?” You don’t want to be the jerk who takes too long to contact everyone. Most people are understanding though.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. My family waited to put up the tree until I came which was very nice of them. My dad, sister and I all put it together today and as I analyze it sitting here in front of me I am noticing that there is a huge gap in the lower right corner. I’m going to have to fix that in a few minutes. Mom made some borscht for dinner and I whipped up some homemade buns to go along with it. Yum yum. I think it’s become tradition for my mom to make a pot of borscht within the first two days of me getting home…although I’m quite sure she isn’t aware that she does it. Not that I mind! It’s one of my favourites.

So what else to tell? I’m hoping to get to Nelson either tomorrow or the next day. I have officially fallen in love with a local designer, Lillie and Cohoe, who makes these amazingly lovely hats. On the drive from Kelowna to Trail yesterday we stopped at this little coffee/gift shop and they sold them there and I just wanted one immediately but am too effing cheap to buy one for myself. But, I think that I will go to Nelson and get one because I am kicking myself for not stepping up and just putting out the money for such a great quality and adorable hat. Horray for hats! I tend to not buy hats anymore because of the whole issue with people calling me “sir” all of the time, but then I decided that if I buy girly looking hats then there is a much less chance of that happening. My logic is flawless!

Tip of the Day: Denial and inner reasoning will get you everywhere.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The one bad thing about going back to BC for the holidays is that flight prices always get jacked up a day or so after exams finish so there’s this huge pressure of having to book flights before the prices increase which means that I have so little time to get my life in order before I jump on a plane heading west. So the past two days have been chaotic as I have been tying up the dozens of loose ends (you know, all that stuff I’ve failed to do the past 3 months) and have already successfully boarded by first flight. Our internet hasn’t been working all that great the past 2 days so I write this from the Ottawa airport as I wait for my next flight, which goes to Vancouver. I have a 3 hour layover here and only about 45 minutes of battery time left on my laptop, which means I had better go find a good book to read. The thought of reading a book which isn’t a textbook makes me very happy. Plus I am enjoying being in an unfamiliar airport. I usually go to the Toronto or Montreal airport on my way through, but for some reason they booked me to Ottawa. All I can say is that I am happy that they offer free WI-FI and it looks really cold outside right now. Brrrrrr.

So the past couple days, as I mentioned, has been busy. Ok, so Sunday I slacked off a bit, which I think I deserve…but slacking off can keep one busy too! On Sunday I went out to breakfast with Sam and Jess, and then we went and walked around downtown for a few hours. Yeah, my original plan was to go to breakfast then head back home and get some packing and errands done, but walking around aimlessly with my friends was just so much more appealing for me. Sam (the responsible one) left us early to go home and get her life in order, so Jess and I continued to waste time with more shopping and a good hour burned away sitting at Starbucks with some coffee. Jess dropped me off at home and I headed to work for the supper rush at the restaurant. After work, Chris and I watched “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” which was actually a great movie. It’s completely ridiculous and way over the top, but it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion which is a rare find in movies these days.

But yesterday, yesterday was busy! Driving around, errands, laundry, school stuff, work stuff, grocery stuff, Christmas shopping, wrapping presents…etc…yeah. I didn’t stop from 9:30am til about 10pm. I was very fortunate enough though to go out for supper with Chris, his parents, Kelly and Ryan, at the Merchantman Pub. The company was great and the food was quite delicious as well. A successful day for sure.

Now I sit here in an airport on my way to BC and I am very happy knowing that I get to see my family in only a matter of hours. I am so excited to see everybody, plus the dogs and hopefully lots of snow! It was sad leaving my PEI family behind today but they’ll be there waiting for me when I return, which I look forward to.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

7/8 Done.

It's all over. Semester #7 of my university career has come to an end and I feel such a huge sense of relief from it's completion. I wrote my last exam yesterday morning at 9am and managed to finish it in less than an hour. Writing a final exam that quickly is always a bit frightening because you're sure that you missed a page or something since finals generally take longer to write (they give us 3 hours to write them). But no. All was done. It felt good to hand it to the prof with a smile and walk out of the gym. Real good.

But....then what?

The thing about being a student for so long is that you start to panic when you have any spare time. Spare time is this strange and foreign notion that causes me to take a step back and say, "Woah. What's going on here?" As a student, I start to over think the whole "spare time" idea as this gap in time in which I should be doing something but I just can't think of what it is! I know I must be forgetting something because it's impossible to have the extra allotted time slot for myself. And then after I check and recheck my list of things to finish and see that it's all done, I start to feel this sense of guilt for allowing myself time to do something like watch a movie or go out for a drink with a friend. But now that the semester is over and I definitely have no school work to complete, there's relief flowing through me but also this feeling of loss. Is loss even the right word? It's like I feel like I am missing something because for the past 3 1/2 months my life has been consumed by school that I forget how to be just a regular person with normal responsibilities.

You mean I can read a book that isn't a textbook? Are you sure this is allowed?

So last night after work I came home, opened a beer and watched a ridiculous movie that probably rotted an important part of my brain due to it's complete stupidness. But that's ok. It felt good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Facts and Old Wives Tales

As I cram every corner of my already overstuffed brain with more information about nutrition and all of it's glorious aspects, I am once again blow away by how amazingly simple this all is. Um, that might need more explanation or else everyone who reads this is going to think this tiny little degree I have been working so hard to get for the past 3.5 years is really just a cake walk (which it is not!).

As I read about all of these horrible diseases which humans are prone to (such as renal diseases, cancer, GI diseases) it seems that at the beginning of each chapter is states that, "risk factors include: obesity, low-fiber intake, diet low in antioxidants...etc" OR to treat every single disease, the answer is good nutrition and staying active! WAIT A SEC? Eating well and exercising is good for me? Has anyone informed the public about this amazing phenomenon?

Surprise surprise! Ok, so obviously there are some diseases that nutrition have little help with because you're doomed no matter what, but in the big scheme of things, if we just ate more fruits and veggies, drank more water and ate some All-Bran, we'd be a whole lot better off. Just think; 50% of cancers are man-made through our chosen lifestyles and 30% alone are caused by smoking. That's a pretty huge number. Did you also know that vegetarianism and low-fat diets decrease your fertility? Not as healthy as you think! The one class which really surprised me this semester was when we were talking about caffeine. People are so uncertain about caffeine and whether it's good for them or not. One factoid that shocked me was that drinking 500mg or more of caffeine a day (so about 3-4 cups of coffee) will reduce your chances of becoming pregnant by 50%. Our prof pointed out that drinking large amounts of coffee is not an effective method of birth control, so don't none of you get any ideas! They've also found no reasons for women not to drink coffee while pregnant or while breastfeeding, despite what old rumours say about it's ill effects on pregnancy. We also learned that even though most of the population believes it not to be true, your daily coffee intake does in fact go towards your daily fluid intake. Everyone in the class was skeptical I think when this conversation started up because we all know coffee as being a diuretic (makes you pee) which in turn should be a factor in dehydration. But no! Your body will get used to it's effects and cause it to not be a diuretic after some time and merely use it as just liquid. Cool eh?

I think I just created an ad for Starbucks without even realizing it. "Caffeine reduces your chance of pregnancy! But if you do get knocked up, keep drinking anyway! No harm done!"

On my last note, I just wanted to toss one more statistic your way. 10% of women drink alcohol during pregnancy and 1 in 30 have 5 or more drinks on one occasion monthly. Wow. Tsk Tsk.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Two Firsts

So today is the first day of final exams at UPEI. I completely forgot that they began today until I went to the gym this morning and saw the dreaded gymnasium filled will perfectly aligned desks and chairs, just waiting for the first wave of nervous students to enter and begin writing. I get this hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I first see the gym full of desks like that. It signals the end of the semester, which should be an exciting time for all students, but it's also a reminder of the unavoidable and immense amount of studying which I still have to accomplish in the next 5 days.

I've been trying very hard to be a good student but I feel as though I'm working so hard and yet getting nothing accomplished! There's just so many chapters to make notes for that it's just this treadmill of typing and reading which never seems to end. I haven't even looked at Psychology yet which is causing some distress but my main focus has to be my nutrition courses so I am trying to keep that in mind as I neglect that whole other course.

On a different note, today was the first time I have ever walked in 100km/hr winds. Now if you're ever looking for a good time, I highly recommend it. Or you want to get rid of anyone with a body weight of under 120lbs, bring them to PEI on a good and windy morning and watch them blow away to sea. I say this all of the time, but how do skinny or small people survive on this island? The wind was blowing me all over the place and I'm not a tiny person. This morning as I was walking to the Cari Complex, I was bracing myself so hard against the wind (I was walking directing into it) that my arms and legs ached. I figured that if I were to walk for a mile in the wind then that would easily equal an hour at the gym because you strain so hard to keep upright and walk in a straight line. Crazy island.

Tip of the Day: Don't ever wear a dress or skirt on PEI. You'll regret it the moment you walk out the door.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Obviously Not An Elephant

Last night was a bit of a personally embarrassing night for me. I had an appointment in the evening and got home around 9pm. I drove Chris to work because I had asked to use his car for the night (and of course he let me because he's so sweet) which meant in turn that I had to pick him up around 10-10:30pm. So I got home and didn't want to do homework because I didn't want to start getting into a studying groove only to have to stop and go grab him from work. Plus studying is no fun. So I decided to be a complete loser instead.

I downloaded John Denver's 1975 album Rocky Mountain Christmas and listened to it while cutting out paper snowflakes. Completely alone. And that's not the worst and most pathetic part of my story. I actually somehow managed to forget how to cut out paper snowflakes! How is that even possible?? I've made about 3 million of them in my lifetime and yes, it's been a while since I created one but I actually went through numerous pieces of paper before I was able to make one that didn't break into 5 pieces when I unfolded it. Here I thought that making snowflakes would be like riding a bike, but I was obviously mistaken.

Tip of the Day: They say that elephants never forget... I suppose this is why I lack the big floppy ears and trunk.

But I did manage to cut a few decent snowflakes by the end of it all. I'm going to cut a new one every day and tape it onto the front door of the apartment until the day I fly home to BC for the holidays. Hopefully my skills improve and the snowflakes look nicer by the end of it.