Throwback Thursday: A Zoey Story

Hey everyone!

For this weeks Throwback Thursday I took inspiration from a drawing that my my niece, Zoey, made for me. Zoey is less than a month away from turning 8 years old and is an awesome little artist, the featured photo above is a portait of me that she drew just last Saturday! 

She’s always had such an amazing imagination that has made me laugh, especially when we do art or play together. There are two stories I’ll tell today that are favourites of mine as they involve two favourite people of mine: Zoey and my husband Chris!


A Zoey Story 

After a year or two together with Chris, Zoey began opening up her trust to him and it was fun to watch them interact! Zoey would have been about 5 or so and was visiting us for a sleepover (us being my mom and I [pre-moving in with Chris]).

Something that I love doing for Zoey is painting her nails, I’ve been painting them since she was about 2 years old and she has come to get so used to it that she sometimes makes the most ridiculous demands that even her aunt Cassy can’t quite figure out (“draw this on this nail, and then this other animal on this nail” etc. Her nails are tiny canvases that don’t always stay still). On this particular day, Chris was over as well and when Zoey excitedly asked me if I could paint her nails, he jumped in and answered her first! Chris, thinking that he would be funny and get a flat no in response, asked Zoey in a slightly exargerated voice, “Hey Zoey! Want ME to paint your nails?!” To Chris’ surprise the often shy five year old said “okay!” and he was committed to his spa service proposal.

From there, he got kind of into it and started advocating for a colourful set of paws, using a different colour for each finger across all ten fingers! Zoey and I didn’t jump on board right away, but I think that even Zoey could tell her future uncle Chris wanted to have fun with it so she agreed to his wacky taste. She let him paint her nails while the three of us sat on the couch.

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This is one of my very favourite memories I have with Zoey because it was like she accepted Chris, who I had already fallen in love with. It’s also mainly one of my favourite memories because it was EXTREMELY cute and I loved every second of him painting those tiny nails with delicate care (kind of).

I love them both and I hope you enjoyed the story… now it’s back to 2017! 

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A Photo Essay: Walking in Oshawa’s Winter Wonderland

collage-1I present you with a brief photo essay:

We love living near the dog park, but we never appreciate it as much as we do after a fresh snowfall. The Oshawa Harmony Valley Dog Park looks surreally beautiful when the trees are dusted with powder and the fields are blanketed in white sheets. I asked Chris to bring his camera for our walk on what was a truly beautiful day.

Summit, our approximately two-year-old Saint Berdoodle, loves running around in the off-leash zones at the park. She’s the first non-black dog that I’ve ever owned and I still haven’t gotten used to having a dog that doesn’t appear to suffer from severe dandruff during snowy days. Her smiles are just as big as my past dog’s though, and I enjoy watching her bounce around in a deer-like manor.

Chris and I put on our big winter boots and almost over dressed as the temperature was surprisingly warm for a snowy day. We trudged along the paths and took a lesser known route by one of the streams. We carefully crossed the ankle-deep water by stepping on dscf9234snow covered rocks (luckily, we didn’t fall in [our mothers would have told us not to do it, but like most adults we make stupid decisions sometimes]). Summit bounded across the newly frozen ice and her back legs broke through a thin patch. She quickly made it to the ‘safety’ of the nearby ground after getting some ice-cold motivation!

Before walking to the open field where Summit likes to play, we stopped to take photos with her by our favourite bridge. The entire walk, including twenty minutes of playtime, lasted for forty minutes and I could feel tiny drops of sweat beneath my scarf. We came home with rosy cheeks, runny noses, and new winter memories.

 

Check out our photos here:

Talking (Quickly) About Gilmore Girls: Reviving Relationships of Old and New

DISCLAIMER: You must read the following blog post twice as fast as other blog posts.

 

tumblr_mf3zy3jtqe1rbumi6I was just hitting double digits when Gilmore Girls first aired in the year 2000. My sister and I watched the show regularly and I found myself looking to Rory as a bit of a teenage role model. She was 16, smart, kind, genuine, and a brunette – all things that I looked for in someone to admire at that age and exactly what I hoped to be at her age. Of course, Rory’s character became less admirable as the seasons went on (her character was pretty annoying sometimes), but I wasn’t any less interested in who she dated as I vicariously lived through her love life.

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Image from season one.

I was eager to rewatch the series when Netflix put Gilmore Girls online. It was funny how different my viewing perspective had become as I was now more interested in Lorelai’s love life (team Max forever) and Rory’s boyfriends seemed a lot less perfect than I had remembered them being. Jess was actually a terrible boyfriend, Dean was a bit obsessive, and Logan, who I used to hate, wasn’t actually that bad of a guy – all conclusions that I never would have come to at the young age that I had originally watched the show. Amazingly, Netflix announced the upcoming Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life mini-series while I was in the middle of the rewatch which made my excitement for the new productions even greater!

 

If you’re also a mega-fan, then you’ve been researching, reading, and watching the Gilmore Girls revival updates like I have been (Check out the subReddit I follow here). Tomorrow, November 25th, the four 90 minute episodes will be released on Netflix and the binging will begin.

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So what do you need to know before midnight tonight?

Luckily one of my good friends Harley Pageot, founder of the independent record label Fallen Love, has documented some of his age calculations that he made during his rewatching process! Here are the ages of some important characters that we hope to see back in Stars Hollow:

Our leading ladies and one cute canine:

  • Lorelei – 48  (will turn 49 in April)
  • Rory – 32
  • Paul Anka – unknown; at least 12 (his breed usually lives 12-15 years)

And what about all the kids that were born in the GG universe?

  • Luke’s daughter April – 23
  • Lane & Zack’s twin sons
    • Steve – 9 (will turn 10 in March)
    • Kwan – 9 (will turn 10 in March)
  • Rory’s dad Chris’ daughter Gigi – 13 (will turn 14 in February)
  • Sookie & Jackson’s:
    • son Davey – 13
    • daughter Martha – 11
    • unnamed third child – 9
  • Luke’s sister & brother-in-law Liz & TJ’s daughter Doula – 10
  • Gil’s daughter and son – 20 and 19

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These ages could be central to new plotlines; I’m really hoping that the show gives us a glimpse of some of the firsts that we got to see with Rory for these youthful characters. Part of the Gilmore Girls charm is the presentation of relatable life experiences through the eyes of different generations. Netflix’s accessibility has already introduced the series to a new younger audience that missed the show originally air on television. I’m hoping that the creators feature a few of these younger characters in their own version of 16-year-old-Rory-like-innocence, experiencing the ups and downs that come with coming of age.

What else do I hope to see?

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Remember this awesome Destiny’s Child video?

 A lot of fans are team Jess, team Dean, or team Logan, but Rory will likely be a reflection of Lorelai in the original first season – single, independent, and strong. #TeamIndependentWoman #TeamDestinysChildSongTitles

I have less specific hopes and a more general desire for the four mini-movies to feel like home. Gilmore Girls always had Stars Hollow at it’s heart of the story and the town felt immersive – who wouldn’t want to imagine living there? The seven seasons allowed us to feel right at home as we became overly familiar with the quirky town residents who seemed lovely on TV, but you’d likely want to kill in real life.

I’d like the new episodes to have a similar feel with Amy Sherman-Palladino’s amazing writing style, use of pop culture references, sense of humour, and warmth that originally drew ten-year-old-Cassy to keep watching each week.

I haven’t set my expectations too high in terms of wanting exact plot outcomes because I know that the creator and writers of the show will provide viewers with what we need: more mother-daughter moments that seem almost too good to be true, romance, character closure, some mistakes, some tears, a lot of hugging, Kirk and Taylor getting on Luke’s nerves, and small town nosy neighbours. We will get answers and like anything in life, not everyone will be pleased, but TV would be boring if we always got what we wanted.

Therefore, my expectations are that Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will be what us fans need rather than what we want, but maybe…just maybe… it will be both!

gg

 

Remembrance Day in Canada: Intergenerational Storytelling

(Photo in the Header image provided by Sam’s great-uncle from WWII)

Tomorrow is November 11th and Remembrance Day is important, but many of us (young people especially, including myself) don’t truly understand and appreciate this day of memorialization. We learn a moderate amount from textbook stories in secondary school history classes, but how impactful are facts without personal connections?

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Two posters I drew and entered into a Remembrance Day contest when I was 11 years old.

I grew up looking at the faces of soldiers or concentration camp prisoners in captioned photographs and felt incredibly bad about what they went through. I cannot, however, imagine the emotions that these photos must evoke when those faces represent one’s friends and family – it’s this special link that I find fascinating.

The thing about history books is that they often generalize or focus purely on overall facts which can dehumanize the tragedy that is war.

This is why I wanted to reach out to my peers, to see if they could share stories that have been passed down to them, share their personal experiences with Remembrance Day, and to share something about their loved one that had nothing to do with the war. I ended up only needing to talk to two friends who had expressed interest because they both provided me with a surplus of material. They are wonderful young women and I thank them for providing all of the photos in this blog as well.

Two soldier’s lives are to be featured today: one who is still alive and one who died in combat overseas.


Poppies for Poppy

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John (in the middle) and his two brothers Walter and Nick.

My friend Sam is 22 years old and she is lucky enough to have learned a lot about her grandfather John (who she calls Poppy) from the man himself as he is still alive and well at age 89.

John joined the army at 16, he was quite a bit under the age requirement, but the war was coming to an end and the Canadian army needed more men. He was to join his three older brothers who were already fighting in WWII.

“He went to basic training, and, as he tells it, he had the time of his life,” Sam comments, “he absolutely loved it.” Apparently, John really enjoyed the training schedule, the camaraderie, and the physical activity. Sam states that “he often speaks about his time in the army as the best time of his life.”

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John’s army class.

By the time that John finished training, but before he was deployed, the war had ended. He was one of the lucky ones. His three brothers Nick, Donny, and Walter all made it back home to Canada with photos depicting the innocence and youth of their fellow soldiers overseas.

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A collection of photos from WWII that one of John’s brothers took while overseas.
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Sam’s family has kept these two historical documents from the time: Ration Cards and a Prayer Book.

John’s wife Isla, Sam’s Nana, also had three brothers who fought in the war. Unfortunately, Isla’s family wasn’t as lucky as John’s – two of the three brothers died in combat. Isla’s WWII memories differ from her husband’s quite a lot. “She lived in Scotland, and had a much harder time than my Canadian-born Poppy. When she’s speaking about that time, she most often talks about rationing – and we actually still have some of her rations cards that she saved.” Sam recalls that even today, her Nana “never puts more on her plate than what she will eat, and all of her grandchildren are frowned upon when we don’t finish.”

After the war, John and two of his brothers started a moving company that they sold while Sam’s dad was still in high school.

“I can’t say that I have ever really spoken to my Poppy directly about Remembrance Day,” Sam confesses, “though when I was younger my father took me over to grab a bunch of Poppy’s war photos for me to take to school. It is around this time where he most often speaks about how much fun he had during training.”

Sam’s take on November 11th is honest and similar to what I would guess many other millennials experience. “Remembrance Day is kind of just another day to me – it’s actually my boyfriend’s birthday so it’s not exactly a focus, as bad as that may sound. I participate in the moment of silence every year, and am completely aware of what it represents, but at the same time, it doesn’t ever have a lasting impact on me.”

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John last Easter at age 88, showing everyone how it’s done!

Fun fact about John: “My poppy love love loves hockey (and being active in general)! My youngest brother is the only one in my family who still plays competitively and not in a beer league. My Poppy often goes to his games. My Poppy himself played hockey until he was 80, and I actually had a supply teacher in high school recognize my last name because he knew my Poppy and uncle for that fact.”


Descendants at Dieppe

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Hanna (one of my bridesmaids) and I at my wedding.

Hanna and I have been best friends since we were 11 years old and she’ll be turning 26 this month! She broke our childhood pact to visit Europe together, but it was for a good reason – for a life-changing university history trip! Hanna’s relation to her great-great-uncle may sound distant, but her connection to him and her family’s history is admirably strong.

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Left: George Sr., Margaretta, and their children Rennie, Mac, and Jimmie. Photo take in 1927. Right: Jimmie Burnett’s picture in the paper “Those Lost at Dieppe.”

Jimmie Burnett was 19 when he was killed in combat, but he had enlisted when he was only 16. In order to do so, his dad helped him lie to the Canadian Military and said that his son was 18 years old. Private Jimmie Burnett’s tombstone at Dieppe, the Normandy beach town where he was killed, says that he was 21 when he died, but it is actually two years off.

“He was my grandfather’s uncle on my dad’s side, Papa was named after him (Jim) and was born in ’42 about a month before the family got any confirmation that he had been killed.” Jimmie Burnett was killed on August 19th, Hanna explains that “the allied forces tried to gain a stronghold and failed miserably in 1942 (trying to create a second front and alleviate the eastern front where Russia was struggling to hold off Germany).”

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The original telegraph informing Jimmie’s family of his death and a sympathy  note from Buckingham Palace.

“I first started to learn about him when I got accepted into this History class in university that studied war and memory and particularly how we memorialize Canadian efforts in WWI and WWII. Papa had started doing some family research and when I got our assignments for the class, which included a soldier biography, I hit the ground running. We got hold of his military records and chatted with his youngest sister who was just a kid when he went to war, Margie.”

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Jimmie Burnett’s military records. Left: Letter written by George Sr. confirming his son’s falsified age. Right: A list of Jimmie’s personal effects.
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One of Hanna’s photos from her trip.

On the aforementioned European university history trip, Hanna was able to discuss the battle of Dieppe with her classmates while standing on the same beach where her great-great-uncle had been killed. At this point, she was knee deep in research and very connected to Jimmie. “I just remember bawling my eyes out when one of our profs asked ‘how do you feel being here?’ Dieppe was a huge loss of life – I think the casualty rate was like 95% – and I couldn’t believe that the allies had chosen such an easily defensible place to attack the Germans.”

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Hanna was also able to visit Jimmie Burnett’s grave site the next day. Luckily, her peers were very supportive. The combination of a number of emotional moments on her trip contributed to her feeling closer to her family than ever before. Hanna admits that she felt a stronger connection to our collective history and had never felt more patriotic than she had during that time of her life. She discloses that she felt especially “patriotic because the war ended a terrible evil in the world and was fought with purpose. Jimmie, like his brother, his sisters, and mother were a part of that.”

The pride that Hanna has in her family history coexists with her general heartache over her family’s loss. “I was so proud but also endlessly sad – my brother was 19 at the time. Could I imagine him going to war?”

When I asked Hanna about how she felt about Remembrance Day before and after her research, she told me that her family had already taught her that “it was a day worth really respecting.”

“You wear the poppy and you’re told as a kid that Canada has this really great reputation as a peacekeeping nation and between that and a number of wars, many people have given their lives in service of our country. But to form that connection and to become a part of someone’s military story, that changed me. I think about Jimmie and his sacrifice every day, but particularly around Remembrance Day and August 19. I have had it memorialized on myself with a tattoo so that I never forget not only his sacrifice, but also just him. Jimmie the 16-year-old kid who protected his family and loved his siblings and was this unique person. My Papa never got to meet his uncle but feels this huge connection to that lost part of his life. I now feel the same and on Remembrance Day get to share that sense of loss, respect, admiration and support with others all across the country.”

Fun Fact about Jimmie Burnett: Hanna discovered some personal anecdotes when talking with Jimmie’s sister Margie. “We found out some amazing stuff – like how he was this devilishly charming guy with a reputation for the ladies, even as a 16-year-old and he went AWOL a whole bunch of times during basic training because he kept sneaking off to hook up with chicks.”

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Jimmie Burnett (on the right) and his two high school friends who tragically all died in combat at Dieppe.

I believe that oral story-telling and passing down personal documents is the most important part of historical education. We all get the overview of what our nation tells us happened in textbooks, but it’s the individual experiences that will further the appreciation of Remembrance Day for younger generations.

Do you have connections to anyone who has felt the harsh reality of military pursuits past and present? Let me know in the comment section, everyone’s story is important – no matter how great or how small.