Sorry! We got home last night but a flurry of activity kept me from posting. Hurrah! We're back together again, all under the same roof, all happy, all in one piece, all good.
Wow. I never thought this day would come!!! I'm glad Brent's training is only 6 months, and not years and years like some occupations!! (I put 'only' but really it didn't feel like 'only' --it felt like an eternity).
I had prayed for fair weather because Saskatchewan weather is not generally moderate this time of year, and my children and myself do not own snowsuits and down jackets as would be appropriate for true Prairie winter weather. We own rain gear. We live in a rainforest. SO, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter -2 degree weather when we arrived. The first thing the boys did when we arrived at the house we rented for the weekend (there were eleven of our extended family there so we just rented a whole house for the weekend instead of paying big bucks for a hotel room) was put on mitts and hats and run out in the backyard to play in the snow. What fun! I have pix but not digital, so I'll have to scan them in later.
We enjoyed a pleasant afternoon together and a good dinner out, and the next day was moderate weather as well: an unheard of PLUS 2 degrees and sunshine! There were some family events and a church service in the base chapel (which was built in 1885 and is the oldest building in Regina, AND which has no bathroom as we discovered when Ayden decided he finally had to go for the first time that day at around noon) that day, and a wine and cheese event that evening. Brent had to return to base that night for his weekend curfew of 11:00, and to prepare his uniform for graduation the next day, so we had to say goodbye that night. :-(
The next morning was a huge scuffle with eleven people and two bathrooms and a fancy grad ceremony to get ready for!! We managed. But the night before sometime after midnight the weather took a bit of a turn: a storm blew in with a fury: 44 kph winds, -25 degrees, and blowing snow. The boys were not well equipped. They both screamed their heads off every time we had to venture outside for the smallest thing. What a change! Definitely the coldest weather either of them had ever been in, and a far cry from Thailand, I tell you.
The ceremony itself lasted at least 3 hours! There was a swearing in ceremony, some food, an hour long parade with fancy red serge (handsome, handsome, handsome is my husband in that red uniform, I tell you), lots of shouting and stomping and swords and music, and then the badge ceremony. Brent was valedictorian, and voted winner of the comradeship award by his classmates, and mentioned most frequently as recipient of 'Superior' rating (highest mark possible) in all his exams. I cried when he received the comradeship award, which is awarded to the troop member who most exemplifies discipline, honesty, compassion, and integrity. Finally, finally, other people are recognizing what I've seen go unrecognized in Brent's character for years and years (especially in his vocation: his friends would agree how exceptional he is, but at work he has rarely been recognized). I couldn't be prouder. I told him when he left that he had to work hard while he was away, to make my extra work at home worthwhile, but I need not have bothered. He's found his niche, and he does well because he throws himself into it and because he is an exceptional person. I am so proud of him that when I write 'I feel proud' it doesn't seem to quite say what I mean. It seems trite.
There was a formal banquet that night with all the who's who of whoever giving speeches and taking photos. It was a bit stiff, but the keynote speaker was my kind of guy, poo-pooing his credentials and telling funny war stories and poking fun at himself and the graduates. Ayden and I danced afterwards, while everyone was milling around taking photos and telling stories, and it was a good end to a very full day.
We braced ourselves to re-enter the storm: the wind was still going 44 kph, and the temperature had dropped to -29 degrees: that makes for a whopping minus 45 degrees with wind chill!! THAT is colder than anything I experienced in Russia, which is saying quite a lot. It was so rediculously cold that the car heater couldn't get warm. It was survivable inside the car, but even after 40 minutes the air coming out of the vents was still only coolish.
The storm shut down the airport that day.
That meant that Cherilyn's flight the next morning at seven was cancelled, and her next available flight out was Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. It also meant that our flights were all delayed, Brent wasn't even in their computer as on our flight (a quick call to Brent's school and presto, he was back on again...whew...), and all our flights were overbooked with 10 or more standbys as people tried to fly out whose flights had been cancelled the day before. What a gong show. Once we were on the plane everything was fine: my mom, Brent's parents, Brent's brother and sister in law and baby Ella, AND the four of us were on the same flight (we take up half the plane!) for the first leg of the trip home, and Brent sat with the boys while I relaxed in the row behind him.
I'm officially off duty.
I'll be checking into the spa for a month or so.
You won't be able to reach me.
As a side note: hooray for individual TVs on airplanes. The boys were TV stoned watching satellite Treehouse all the way to Saskatchewan and all the way back, so it was actually relaxing once we were in the air. It's the getting ON the plane that is hairy, with two bags of toys, one bag of 'supplies' like sweatshirts, pullups, wipes, snacks, my purse, my big fancy camera, two preschool aged boys who want to touch EVERYTHING and talk to EVERYONE, and two carseats. I love having a carseat once we're on, but getting it on is a hassle. Especially getting two on! Anyways, we made it!! And all ten of us made our connecting flights (my mom had ten minutes in Calgary to get from flight to flight), despite having been delayed in Regina.
AND and and...funny story...
The morning that we left my cat got locked outside, away from her food and water, but she ran away and I couldn't catch her so i called a friend of mine who has a house key and asked her to run by and let my cat in. She was more than happy to help. However, once I got myself and the two boys and the four suitcases and the two carseats safely on the plane at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, I realized with trepidation that I had parked in the long term parking lot in Abbotsford but forgot to actually pay for parking.
So I phoned my wonderful, fantastic, above-and-beyond friend who had let in my cat, and asked her to drive back to my house to pick up my extra car key, then drive out to Abbotsford airport, find my car in the parking lot, pay for parking, put the ticket on my dash, and drive home again. She did.
200% thanks, hoorays, and wahoos for awesome friends!!!
When we returned to Abbotsford I wasn't sure if the car would still be there, as it had spent some time in long term parking without a ticket, but it was, covered in a foot of snow, thanks to my wonderful friend (her name is Rowenna and if you see her, tell her she's wonderful).
THEN we arrived home, expecting a terrific mess, and discovered that some mysterious fairies had CLEANED OUR HOUSE!! Hello? You think you have great friends? Check out mine. Believe me, the kitchen was AWEFUL when I left. Every plate, dish, pot, piece of cutlery, and cup that we own was dirty and not a single item was in the empty dishwasher. The garbage stank, the floor was nasty, and toys littered the livingroom floor.
It was ALL CLEAN!!!!!!! Now THAT was the gift of the century, I tell you. I suspect Rowenna was involved, because she has my house key. I also suspect my friend Melissa Wyville, as I had lent her a fondu pot and this was back in my house. I suspect they may have had help from other amazing friends of ours, and for all of them I'd like to say thank you.
For everyone who prayed, supported, looked after my kids, comforted, listened, sympathized, cleaned my house, fixed my car, fed me meals, took my kids to daycare or preschool, and helped me pay for things I had trouble affording:
Thank you. I can't tell you enough how grateful I am for what you have done. The big things and the small. I couldn't have done this without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I think I'll go cuddle my family now.
You're the best.