Thursday, April 21, 2016

Three years

When we opened our front door this morning we were greeted by a package wrapped in floral wrap - we brought it inside to find a beautiful plant with an anonymous card which simply states "She is never forgotten".

It's been three years and of course for us and so many people who knew Karen that brief note on a card is so true.  It's also true that in many ways, parts of Karen are here with us every day - whether its the way we go about doing our Christmas baking or packing for a trip or decorating for a holiday or any one of the other habits, practices and rituals we follow in our daily lives.  The kids are growing up fast (too fast some days) but they show their mother's influence in so many things they do.

Often when people ask how we are doing, my first response is we are busy.  For those who check this blog that shows itself in the growing gaps between posts but trust me we are always on the go.  In just the last couple of weeks Jen's high school presented it's big Arts show (a great performance by all the various arts programs in the school), she performed at the neighbourhood family of schools concert, Kris and a classmate manned the sound board for his school's Grade 8 drama production, we've had the usual choir rehearsals and percussion lessons and attended a meeting for Kris' upcoming trip to Quebec this spring.  Besides that I've had a few evening client meetings and of course I've been at work and the kids have been at school.

Many things are so different than they were three years ago - Jen has settled in to high school life with new friends and different experiences and a new kind of independence in a school Kris and I aren't really a part of (certainly not compared to the old school).  Kris has also settled into middle school apart from his sister and particularly embraces the sports and social aspects and the independence those activities bring to him.  I find myself not needed in the same ways but somehow don't seem to have much more free time for myself (they may not need me, but they still seem to need me).  I haven't really embarked on any new activities or friendships but it is easier to get out with friends from time to time without having too worry as much about what the kids will do.

Spring is upon us and with that will come a whole raft of new activities - there will be more concerts, that trip to Quebec, exams and of course yard work, opening the cottage and a couple more busy months at work.

That's about all for today, we will keep moving forward and experiencing new people and things, while not forgetting those from the past.  We'll keep working on that balance among all the things we want and need to do.  We'll keep trying to keep in touch with all our family and friends.  And we'll try and keep you up to date on this blog, but in all honesty the current updates are found on Instagram or for a couple of the younger people in this house, Snap Chat (apparently my age is hindering my adoption of that one!)

Thanks for checking in and thinking of us today
Take care and keep in touch!
Doug, Jen and Kris

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Catching up

As promised here's that update on what we've been up to since we last posted:

In July, the kids convinced me to go to Toronto for an extended weekend during the Pan Am Games in July (Aeroplan points and Air Miles are great things!)  Anyway, we took in some beach volleyball and soccer and also spent a day exploring Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake, as well and some time out and about in Toronto.

Of course, we also spent most weekends from May to October at the lake, along with a couple of weeks mid summer.  We spent lots of time in the boat, with the kids skiing and wake boarding – Kris improving his skills, and Jen achieving her goal of dropping a ski.  And it’s always good to be close by with Bob and Cathy while we are there.  This summer seemed to fly by and before we knew it we were closing things up for the year.

That’s been a common theme this year – time flying by – as we always seem to be on the go!
Jen headed off to high school in September.  It’s been a big change but she seems to have embraced the high school life and settled in pretty well, making new friends and trying new things.  Music is still a big part of her life - at PTV she’s moved to the senior choir where she’s just finished Christmas concerts with the MB Chamber Orchestra and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.  At school she’s joined the Concert Choir as well as the Vocal Jazz group.  In November, Jen got to participate in Take Your Kid to Work Day.  She went to St B with Lise, which she really enjoyed.  She is still curling, skipping her team.
Kris is enjoying some new space at school now that his sister has moved on!  He has continued his focus on music and sports.  On the music front he continues in the Band as the sole percussionist.  Sports wise he’s continued with volleyball this year and basketball is just starting.  Kris is once again a class rep for the Student Leadership Team, where he’s played a big role in organizing events for the school.  This past summer he went to camp and had a great time (and came home with a nice cut under his chin – a souvenir from the skatepark!).  Kris is also continuing with curling.

That’s about it but as you can likely imagine these are only the highlights.  As always it’s great to visit with friends and family so if we haven’t seen you in a while, hopefully we’ll catch up in 2016!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Prairie Christmas

It's hard to believe it's December and the Christmas season is upon us (especially given the weather we've been enjoying!) but it certainly is here and as this weekend winds down it seemed like a good time for a post (yes, it's been a long time and we'll catch you up on the last few months in a separate post in the next few days, I promise).

We started out the weekend with a pretty big and successful Christmas shopping trip and then today Kris and I sat back and enjoyed A Prairie Christmas with the WSO, which again this year included Jen's PTV choir.  We had lunch with Maria, Lisa and Sandy and they joined us at the concert.  It's the third time in 4 years that PTV has been part of this WSO tradition and it struck me part way through the performance that it's a tradition that Karen never experienced.  Jen had told me at breakfast that last night she had dreamed her mom had been here today and seen her in the long sleeved dress she now wears as part of the senior choir.  (Some of you have heard the story of how in grade 2 when Jen participated in her first PTV choir concert she told me she would one day wear the senior choir dress.)

It's an interesting evolution as time goes by - there are more and more things in our life that Karen wasn't here to be a part of  - not just WSO concerts, but high school, sports teams, travel and yes boys with facial hair and girls with make up and heels, not to mention new fashion considerations for both!  Of course Karen is a part of all of them, her mark is very clearly on both kids and her influence comes through in most everything we do, just not in that in person way we sometimes long to experience.

Last weekend we spent a night in Altona and attended Lisa's play (the Beverley Hillbillies) - it was great to spend time with good friends and share Lisa's acting accomplishments, just as it was great to have them share in Jen's choral achievements today.  In all of it we felt Karen's presence, and talked freely about her.  Tonight Jen's friend Kaden invited us to his hockey game at a nearby arena.  Again it was nice to spend time with good friends who know us well.  The kids, particularly Jen, have experienced many new things this year meeting new people along the way and sometimes its really nice to spend time with old friends who know us well and share our love of Karen.

We'll tell you more about our summer and fall in that post I promised at the beginning and we'll also tell you about what's coming up as Christmas approaches.  In the meantime, to all of you who share our love of Karen and share our good fortune of having had her be a part of your life, please know how much we love having you as part of our lives!

Take care and have fun preparing for Christmas!
Love as always
Doug, Jen and Kris

Friday, June 26, 2015


June is drawing to a close very quickly, but not without much celebration around our house!

Yesterday was Jen's grade 8 graduation with a ceremony in the afternoon followed by a dinner for the grads and families in the evening.  It was a great day and a nice way to mark the conclusion of 9 years at the school - there are 23 in the class and 8 of them (including Jen) have been there since kindergarten.

The day started with me heading across town for an early client meeting (I skipped 2 others later in the day and didn't think I could ditch 3).  Then I circled back home to get the grad and take her to get her hair done, then back home and off to the school.  I even managed to sneak in a few minutes to wrap her gift!

Kris had spent much of the previous day helping one of the teachers with preparations, helping decorate the stage and get the certificates in their folders (of course he informed his sister that there wasn't one for her!).  On grad day he was ready to go, decked out in dress shirt and tie, to sing with the choir.

Grandma and Auntie Cathy joined me in the audience and the ceremony wasn't without it's tears for me.  Jen had the solo in the choir's song and one of her closest friends (and one of those 8 "lifers") gave the valedictory address - Karen would have been so very proud and I really missed having her sitting beside me to share in the day.

It was pretty amazing to see the group all dressed up in their party dresses and suits while looking at the class pictures from their early years - they've come a long way!  Jen and her group of friends headed off to 7-11 after the ceremony for Slurpees - slightly over dressed but they had a great time.

Today the middle schoolers ran the events at the early years field day and Monday they'll head off to Birds Hill for a beach day and Tuesday the year will officially end.  The grade 8's have truly had a great wrap up month with a 3 day camp out at Spruce Woods earlier in the month and canoeing at Fort Whyte (both were part of their outdoor ed practical arts term).  There were of course some exams in the mix (which went well) but there's been a lot of fun too, mixed with the wonder about high school fast approaching.  They visited the high school for "grade 8 transition day" and met the others they will be joining in school next year and had a school tour - it will be a bit different with 150 kids instead of 23 in their grade.

This weekend we'll celebrate Jen's birthday at the lake - the boat will have to make it into the water as the kids both tell me they will be skiing/wake boarding.  It seems the weather will cooperate so it should happen.

Kris has been busy too with his first year of exams (his also went well).  He didn't have quite as many out of class activities as his sister but did make his acting debut when his drama class (his practical arts subject this term) presented to a middle school chapel.

The rest of spring has been full with musical performances (Jen's choir, both of them in the school choir a couple of times and Kris in the school bands - he not only played with the grade 6 band but also with the gr 7/8 band when their pieces required another percussionist).  We've done birthday parties, been to the lake a few times and I've been busy at work as well as getting the yard through the spring clean up and fixing up a few things that were needing some TLC.

That's about it for now - we'll continue celebrating this weekend and head straight into Canada Day - July always means no homework for the kids and a lot less client work for Dad so it should be fun!

Take care and thanks for checking in - maybe we'll see you soon

Love as always,
Doug, Jen and Kris

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Another April has rolled around and again it's a month of many feelings and events.  At our house we have the good feelings of hope, happiness and excitement about new beginnings that rise out of spring, longer and warmer days and Easter but of course those come along with the not as good feelings of remembering April two years ago when we watched Karen slip away from us.  It's an interesting contrast as Karen loved the longer, warmer days of spring and the chance to get out into the yard and start planning her gardens and having Easter somewhere in the weeks leading up to April 21 serves as reminder and reassurance of her place and presence now and forever.

On the Sunday before April 21 Kristjan attended a birthday party for a classmate, the same classmate at the same pool that he was at just before we got the call from Aunt Phyl to come to Riverview two years ago.  It was a strange feeling to prepare to go to the party and strange for Jen and I as we had dinner while he was there, but at the same time somehow reassuring to be doing something familiar and connected to Karen.

Jennifer needed to provide a baby picture for the school yearbook this year for the grad page and that resulted in us looking through our pictures (which are now all together on one computer for easy viewing).  It was a fun walk down memory lane but what really struck me was to look at the pictures of the kids in 2010 when Karen was diagnosed, or in 2013 when she passed away.  They were both so young in those pictures and have grown so much to now.  They are definitely growing and maturing, but it's that awkward age where they want to grow up and be treated that way but also want to hold on to being little kids and be treated that way.  I'll admit to sometimes getting mixed up and not responding the right way.  When they went for their check ups last week the doctor looked at their ages, offered me his sympathies and wished me luck (and "prescribed" that I might want to drink! :) )

We've also had lots of events this month, badminton and run club have been in full swing, choir preparations for tour this weekend and year end concert coming up, percussion lessons and lots of work and meetings for me.  We did get down to the lake for a day to check the place out now that the snow is gone and see our neighbours and we attended the musical at MBCI which the Peters kids were performing in and the kids have found time to spend with friends.

That's about it from us for now.  It's nice to see spring well underway in April this year and we're planning on enjoying it.  Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and support - we appreciate it!

Doug, Jen and Kris

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Four years - then and now

It's been a while - sorry about that, we've been busy!

It's a little over four years since we started this blog - back then Karen wrote the posts and I typed and posted them.  They came almost daily early on and when she wrote them I made sure I found the time to post them.

I've thought back to those days often over the last few months.  We've been busy, sometimes maybe too busy, this winter and I've thought back and wondered how we did all this stuff plus all the trips to CancerCare and everything else that winter.  The short answer of course is we didn't.  The kids weren't teen/pre-teen middle schoolers with all the activities that come along with that.  This winter we've been on the go with 2 basketball teams, hockey, choir that now includes some Saturday practices, yearbook for the co-editor, piano, drums and we still have curling as before and of course there was that visit to the high school open house and the high school grade 9 application to submit.  All that and I'm at work, not part-time like then but full-time, so the days fill up quickly.

The other part of the answer is a little deeper.  When Karen was sick we were in full battle mode in our war against cancer.  There was no thought of letting our guard down or taking a break and the adrenaline made sure we always had the energy to keep going.  Four years later we aren't in a battle, but just living our lives, and instead of adrenaline, we need things like sleep and quiet time to recharge our batteries.  Unless you've done both I'm not sure you can really appreciate the difference.

When the kids were younger, before Karen was sick, we spent a May long weekend at Clear Lake for a family reunion and on the way home stopped at an old church south of the park that had been converted into a craft and collectibles store.  I bought a cap with the caption "Life is Good" on the front.  Inside it says "Do what you like.  Like what you do".  I love that cap and grabbed it this morning when I took Jen to her rehearsal for the musical her grade 8 class is presenting in a couple of weeks.  Through all of the busy days of this winter, and the last four years for that matter, I've kept that cap handy, if not to wear, at least to read, just in case I might have been close to forgetting that life is good and to try and remember and teach the kids to do what you like and like what you are doing.  I think I'm mostly there and I think the kids are figuring it out too.

We have done a lot this winter.  After Christmas we headed to Orlando for a week of Disney, Sea World and warm weather and in February we headed off to Montreal to visit Paul and Cat and the gang and do some skiing at their chalet south of Montreal (and ended up with a day in Toronto too thanks to a snowstorm and Air Canada!).  We've done all the hockey, basketball, singing (including a PTV performance with the symphony and a school choir performance with the Philharmonic Choir), curling, yearbook, school and work I mentioned earlier.  Jen's choir competed at the Winnipeg Music Festival last week (doing well as always) and Kris wrapped up another hockey season today with another goal, a second week winning the Golden Jersey as player of the game and another year of skating and skill development.  Curling also wrapped up today with the annual wind up party - four years ago it was kind of Karen's coming out party after weeks in her bubble.  Oh yeah and yesterday was report card day and Grad picture proofs came home.  The report cards were good, Jen with another Excellence award and Kris with some pretty respectable marks despite his aversion to homework and studying!  And the proofs - they aren't baby pictures - how did that happen?

There's also been the not so good stuff.  Our friends who lost their wife/mom to cancer last year said goodbye to a friend at Riverview last week after her battle with cancer and a couple of weeks ago I learned friends of Karen's and mine were working through a marriage breakdown.  Sometimes it's hard to remember life is good.

The next couple of weeks will be full as the final rehearsals for the musical happen and the big event happens before spring break - Jen's in the cast and Kris in the chorus.  If you like Charlie Brown, this will be the event to see!

The snow is mostly melted and today was a beautiful, warm sunny day - not unlike a warm, sunny March day four years ago when Karen and I got the first good MRI results, that despite all the challenges we had with bloodwork, the tumour had shrunk!   I think we will try something this spring break that we haven't done in four years and stay close to home, hopefully we will see you soon!

That's about it for now - take care and thanks for all the good thoughts people send our way, and remember, life is good!

Oh, one last thing, if you want to find more frequent updates on what we are up to find Jen and I on Instagram (or e-mail us and we'll tell you our usernames).  If you don't have Instagram we'll try and not let so much time pass before our next blog post.

Doug, Jen and Kris

Friday, November 28, 2014


Yes we disappeared again...

So when we left you, Terry Fox Day and student elections were just around the corner.  So the big news is...Kris was elected to the Student Leadership Team and Jen, along with two of her friends, donated her hair for wigs for people with cancer.  They had been growing their hair and planning this since grade five.  The hair was donated to the place where both Karen and Lynelle got their wigs, which made it all the more special.

Since then, we have been super busy with all of our activities starting up.  Kris joined the volleyball team this year and continued with hockey, Jen is now co-editor of the yearbook team and is enjoying it.  They are both continuing with curling.  Tonight Kris had his volleyball wind up and now they're both gearing up for basketball.

We spent a nice Thanksgiving weekend at the lake and closed up.  We made a long weekend for Remembrance Day and went to Minneapolis where we did lots of shopping and drove through lots of snow.

November has had its challenges, as always.  Its now been four years since Karen was diagnosed and two years since she went to the hospital.  Some days get a little emotional, but we seem to find our way.  Doug also always seems to have a lot of meetings in November just to complicate things.

But November is also report card time (which means two days off school!) and we came home with an Honours award for Kris and an Excellence award for Jen.  Other than someone working on procrastinating a little less next term, all seems to be pretty good.

Also in November, Jen decided to change her hair a little more with a purple streak as purple was Mom's favourite colour.

Amazingly November is coming to an end and we've actually started some Christmas shopping.  There'll be more of that, along with some decorating as we get ready for Christmas.  December will bring lots of music.  There will be four concerts in one weekend along with the school concert a few days later.  Should be lots of fun!

That's about it for now.  Hopefully we'll see you soon as the holidays approach.

Love Doug, Jen and Kris