Sunday, March 3, 2013

Once a year ... REALLY?!?!

I get it.  Posting once a year does not a blogger make!  So here it is.  The end.  Stop looking.  As much as writing is a good exercise for me, and as much as I wish I could be faithful at it.  I can't.  Not as well as be the wife, parent, daughter, friend, educational assistant, community member, etc., etc. that I want to be.  But I love that I have done it, love that many of you have indicated you have enjoyed it.  You have all been patient and kind and oh so lovely. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll try to say more on Facebook about the adventures of the Symanskis, so "friend" me there for sporatic (and I do mean sporatic) updates.  Ta ta for now ;)


Thanks for "following" me on this blog ;)  And thank you for the privilege of following you!  I love you.

'til next time,


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning

For a change Lent did not sneak up on me.  And probably because embracing a time of "wilderness" is right up my alley right now.  All alone.  In the wilderness.

I read recently that Lent offers us a time to refrain from something, or add something into our lives that causes our routine to change, to cause it to become a little off balanced.  And in experiencing that discomfort, that inconvenience, we are reminded that all that we fill our lives with, does not ultimately fulfill us. Lent gives us that yearly opportunity to refocus our hearts on the One whose life can fulfill us. Spiritual spring cleaning, so to speak.  Out with the soul clutter that inevitably starts to crowd our lives and in with a renewed sense of clarity about who we are and how we will live our lives.

But here's the rub.  I'm already off balanced.  Really. I am one of those blessed people who frequently loses the plot and stumbles through life in a haphazard, topsy turvy kind of way.  Even how I talk with God is bumbling.  A long time ago I finally stopped trying to make my prayers sound intelligent and "spiritual" and asked God to just make sense of the blatherings, wanderings and wonderings I do along the way.  Thankfully, He's okay with that.

Back to Lent.

So what does an already off balanced person do to become a little more off balanced to allow more focus on God?  Wandering into the wilderness sounds good to me.  Quiet.  No meals to cook.  No house to clean. No laundry to fold.  No bills to pay.

But Ken says I can't go.  So this is what I will do instead.

  • I'll be careful with my time.  I will choose to say, "sorry, I've got a commitment" when I am asked to do A, B, C.   I'll forgo the good feelings I get from "doing" for others or by living up to what I think is expected of me. And instead maybe my commitment will be to lighting a candle to reflect and jot down my thoughts and allow my soul to be quieted so I can hear what God might be whispering in my ear.
  • I'll take time to reflect on how those who are struggling financially in H.J. are helped.  What are the practical ways I can be involved?   Taking time to focus on the poor is like hitting a spiritual reset button for me.  From my understanding of the Bible, they are God's favourites and right away I know I'm on course if I'm making them a priority.
  • I'll try to walk more than drive around town. Not only is it more kind to our planet but it causes my own internal rhythm to change.  I slow down internally when I slow down my physical pace.
Nothing big or flashy, just simple things to change it up and hopefully cause me to clean out the spiritual cobwebs.  

How about you?  How do you hit the reset button in your soul?  


You know I'm a terrible pack rat, holding onto things that only clutter my peace.  I look forward to doing some soul cleaning with you.  I love you.

'til next time,


Friday, March 2, 2012

Random Thankfulness

It's time.  Time to write.  To make good on a promise to a friend. She made me promise to write in here and that was MONTHS ago.  And so I must write because she is NOT someone you want to break a promise to...

And now is a good time.  I'm thoughtful today.  Not that that is rare. But it is rare to be in front of the computer and thoughtful at the same time.

When we came  to Haines Junction I often spoke about my life in Winnipeg as having been BIG, FAT and FULL. I wasn't leaving a life I didn't love.  On the contrary it was fabulous, with amazing people.  And now here we are over two years in H.J., and this is what I'm thoughtful about and thankful for ...
  • last year at this time I was 75 lbs heavier.  I was tired, sore and out of hope.  Today I have a cold so I'm miserable but I still walked to work because I wanted to and I have energy, no pain and hope.  I'm beyond grateful.
  • my nephew Brody, who has been living with us since the fall, just came home from the school bison hunt.  It sounds like it was an amazing time to enjoy the land and the folks he went with.  I'm grateful for this 16 year old boy who after they shot the bison, hugged it to thank it for giving it's life for us.
  • my life is full of music.  My boys, Will and Jay, play the ukulele together in ways that amaze and delight me.  I sit in awe as they play.
  • I can play C, Am, F, and G7 on the uke now.  That means I can play, "Oh, please, stay by me, Dian(n)a"! I amaze no one, but I'm tickled pink by it.
  • we just sold our house in Winnipeg and I cried.  In school. In front of a student. Just a little.  But that was the house I raised my babies in.  Who wouldn't cry?!?
  • Brenna is squishy and huggy and warm and sweet.  Occasionally the other side of her being a teen raises it's ugly head but overall she's yummy.  She babysits now so she has a fan club of preschoolers who ADORE her.
  • Ken has hearing aids now.  With a mute button.  Ha! Just let him try to mute me!!!
  • I love being a substitute teacher.  I love the staff, I love the students, I love the work.  I feel like the luckiest person.
  • God continues to capture me.  He continues to be my soft place to land, my strong tower and my dearest friend. 
Random thoughts from a snot filled brain.  But you get the point I think.  I mock complain about my crazy life at times but really I have a BIG, FAT and FULL life.  Here and now in H.J.  I am overwhelmed and downright thankful.


As I wander through the wilds of life as a mom, wife, educator and woman, I'm so glad you are with me.  Really with me.  I love you.

'til next time,


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Negligent Ninny

That's me.  Negligent Ninny.  Not at everything but certainly at some things!  The blog being one...

I'll keep it brief, but all is well here in the Junction.  Life continues to tick along at a pace that, although less "city-fied", is still brisk for my short, stubby physical legs as well as my "soul" legs.  You know what I mean, don't you?  The fitness your soul has that can carry you just so far and just so fast without it starting to gasp for air, for space, for "soul rest"? 

Well, we have been on a bit of a marathon around here, and either I'm getting better at handling it, or you caught me on a good day...

Spring Break has come and gone - two weeks!  I LOVED IT!  Not the part about the kids being home.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids - but two weeks of sibling crap makes me feel like bungee jumping without a rope.  But what I do LOVE is the break from routine!  Oh, the glory of all of us waking when we're ready and having nothing to get to by a certain time.  Mmm Mmm Mmmm.  Of course, there was the little detail about the fact that I was on my own with the kids the entire time...

A couple weeks before the break we found out that Mom Symanski was scheduled for a major surgery.  And with Mom being 81 years old, surgery of any kind poses all kinds of risks.  It wasn't a hard decision to make - Ken needed to be there.  Thankfully it was during spring break and he could go for more than a few days to help out and spend time with her and the rest of the family (he was gone three weeks).  She was doing well and to make a very long, convoluted story, short, they cancelled the surgery altogether after they looked at more of the results of further testing they did.  She has an aoertic anuerism in her abdomen that is just too risky to operate on.  Overall the best decision, although difficult.  And overall the BEST decision to have Ken go there to be with everyone.  Not only was it valuable time spent with his mom, I know he was a huge source of encouragement and laughs for his siblings.

And we survived Daddy being gone (and no, I did not do mind-altering drugs).  We laid low for a bit, went to Whitehorse for a bit, and then took a fantastic (albeit brief) trip to Skagway, Alaska where we hopped on the Alaska State Ferry to Haines, Alaska. Breathtaking. We spent the night there and then went beachcombing the next day.  Haines is a lovely place and only 2 1/2 hours from the Junction.  It's on the coast and when your heart laments that maybe spring will never come, it is just the medicine.  No jackets needed, sunny blue skies and very little snow.  And scenery that makes your heart stop.  Stunning really.  But, just in case I've lulled you into thinking it was picture perfect - remember I was travelling with three kids infected with that serious and troubling illness, "Sibling Intolerance Syndrome" (S.I.S. for short) and three dogs.  One of which gets carsick.  Need I say more...

When we left Haines we met up with friends in "the Summit" which is way up in the mountains on the way home and is a snow machiners/tobagganners paradise.  We had a hoot!  The kids sledded down these massive hills and then our friend Dave would go down and pick them up with the skidoo (they are the little specks at the bottom of the hill in the pic on the left) They loved it!  They dug and played in the snow for hours!  And then as the sun was setting we made our way home.  A good time was had by all.

The "marathon" includes more but I said I would keep this brief.  For my sake.  I need to go get some of that "soul rest" that I need in order to keep from becoming the hideous, grouchy bear that takes over my being when I start to tire out.  It's not a pretty sight.  It's the kind of thing epic horror flicks are made of. 


You sustain me, intrigue me, calm me.  I love you.

'til next time,


Monday, February 21, 2011

A Simple Task

Okay, I have the dearest friend.  I mean the DEAREST.  I have never known anyone to not absolutely LOVE this lady.  Just spending time with her makes your heart happy. Her eyes disappear when she smiles but NOTHING can hide the gleam in them.  I remember her saying to me once in our teens that when she got old she wanted to be the kind of old lady that winked at people.  And I bet she will.  She'll be this irresistable old dear in the nursing home that all the nurses dote on and adore while they push me in the corner for time out because I'm such an old crank!

Now when this person asks me to post a pic of our new pup everything in me wants to do it.  You just don't have the heart to say no.  It's like kicking, well, a puppy!  And so here is my dilemma.

This is what goes into a "simple" task like downloading a picture.

"Where the hell is that camera anyways...",
"Ken, where's the camera?"
"Okay, then who had it last?  Fine, I'll just have to find it..."

Rummage, rummage, cuss, rummage
(find camera)

"Okay, now where the hell is that cord?"

Rummage, rummage, cuss, rummage
(find cord)

Turn on camera....

"oh crap, that's right Brenna dropped it and now the lens is all screwed up.  Rats.  That's okay, maybe I can download pics anyway."

Camera turns off...

"Crap.  Batteries are dead.  &*%$ !  Where the hell are those batteries?" 

Rummage, rummage, cuss, rummage
(find batteries)

Hook up camera - it says "establishing connection"
Hope begins to rise - it says "unable to connect to computer"
Hope is dashed

Wipe tears, try new pluggy innie place (techno gargon - sorry)

Beep! -"Welcome to Scanner and Camera" pops up on the screen.  There is a God!

Sort through 534 pictures because I don't know how to delete pictures once and for all

Find a few, "where the hell are the rest of them?  These will have to do.  Grrr."  Although he is pretty cute.

Mindy and her new little one

Charlie Chub Chubs - our little HavaShitz

And now, only now, can I go to bed because I have done what any decent person could do when they are asked to do something by THE NICEST PERSON IN THE WORLD. 

And yes, I know, it wasn't that hard.  It's just that the above scenerio seems to happen only about a gazillion times a day as I try to keep track of myself (no easy task) and four other people and all their stuff (permission forms, bills, emails, volunteer requests, paycheques).  No word of a lie, I have lost three paycheques in the last three months.  I always end up finding them but not before having a break down of some sort.  And I know I'm whining but I swear sometimes there's a little gnome that follows me around moving stuff just to watch me look for it and admire the fireworks as my brain cells explode in frustration.  I would banish thee little gnome... if I could find you.

So there it is.  Pictures for my dear friend and a mini rant on the side.  Good night.


I suck at keeping track of stuff and things.  Seriously.  I could use a little divine help here. (At least banish the gnome).  I love you.

'til next time,


on and on and on and...

February is a crazy month around here. Here’s the rundown!

First, the puppy has arrived! My goodness it was so exciting! I arrived home from work on Thursday, Feb. 10 to our Mindy who was obviously in labour. The only problem was that Brenna and Will were in Whitehorse at a Hockey Day in Canada event and we wanted so badly for them to be there for the birth! Ken and I flew into action and set up the video camera and the waiting began…

But Mindy was a dear and seemed to know how important it was for our whole family to be present when she gave birth so she waited until Brenna and Will were home and within 10 minutes the pup had arrived! Our buddy Travis from across the street was there as well (our “adopted” son) and softie that he is, cried at the miracle of seeing this little life emerge. It was pure Travie and Jay followed with some tears of his own. Everyone was quite enthralled with the whole process although Will kept darting away and then back. I think it was all a bit much and easier for him to take in small doses.

Only one pup arrived and he’s a little boy we’ve dubbed “Charlie” after his charcoal colouring. His nickname is Charlie Chub Chubs because he’s a voracious eater and is growing exponentially fast! Mindy is a wonderful little mother and is her happy little self in spite of her new responsibilities. Wags, the new dad, has been great. Very concerned about Mindy throughout the whole labour and delivery, even sneaking in to lick her whole face afterwards. He’s fairly disinterested in the pup at this point in spite of Ken coaching him to NOT be a “dead beat dad”. We’ll see how that goes when the pup starts playing with him! For now everything is fairly easy but once Charlie opens his eyes and starts to explore his world more our home will shift into puppy training gear and all that entails…

On the heels of all this we had the pleasure of having James Hill here in the Junction. Now this fellow is absolutely amazing and if you don’t know who this is, you just have to get to know what this guy’s about. For our family it was like having a rock star walk into our living room! He is a Ukulele GURU! Simply mesmerizing and inspiring to watch. Ukuele has become a big thing for the Symanskis and deserves a whole post to describe the “Birth of Uke” into our family. Suffice to say we are captured by it and to have someone of James’ caliber come and do workshops and a concert was a gift and a thrill. Will was even a part of the concert, chording for James while James played a song. Will floated off the stage! Please, if you ever get a chance to see James Hill in concert RUN, don’t WALK and get yourself there. You won’t regret it and you’ll never look at a ukulele the same way…

And then to keep things at a fevered pace there was the Atom’s Hockey Tournament (Will’s) this past weekend here. Meanwhile Jay was in the NorthwesTel Soccer Championships in Whitehorse. So after making a huge pot of spaghetti sauce for the Atoms banquet and a few dozen cookies for the concession, Jay, Brenna and I were off to Whitehorse for soccer while Ken stayed to be with Will. Will played HARD in his tournament (4 or 5 games) and Ken worked at the concession, Jay played 4 games on Saturday and 2 on Sunday and came away with a Bronze medal. I played chauffeur and crazy soccer mom, cheering on our kids til my throat was hoarse!

Also this weekend, Jay and I had the pleasure of helping out some friends from the Junction who ended up having their baby in Whitehorse on Saturday. Jay and I watched their two-year-old girl while they went in for a c-section and then had the pleasure of seeing the new addition to their family! It was so exciting and such a treat that we were able to help out. And to top it all off their new little girl was born on the big sister’s birthday! How neat.

Now we’re into another week of school and gearing up for this coming weekend. Jay plays at the Novice Hockey Championship in Teslin so we’ll all be going there. It’s 4 hours away (approx.) and should be lots of fun. The weekend after that Brenna and I are heading up to Fairbanks, Alaska to take part in a festival there. Brenna is part of the First Nations Dance Group here called Dakwakada Dancers and they will be performing and I’m going to go along as a chaperone. I’ve never been to Fairbanks so I’m looking forward to discovering a new city.

Needless to say that in addition to doing more subbing than usual, attending all these great events and taking care of our new puppy, blogging has fallen by the wayside. I’ll try to get something thoughtful down soon. I have quite a bit rumbling around in me especially regarding church and what that looks like here in the Junction for us. I’d love to mooch some wisdom from you about your thoughts so keep posted for my wonderings!


In the midst of it all, you are with us and I’m glad. I’m still looking to you about this whole “church” thing. Let me know what you think. I love you!

‘til next time,


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I work as a sub in the local school here in the Junction.  We have one K-12 school, all the students harmoniously mixed together in a great facility.  I enjoy the fact that I'm not tied down to a full time job.  I can better manage a healthy balance between family and work but I get lots of time in the school getting to know and having fun with the students and enjoying the camaraderie of being a part of a staff with some really fantastic educators.

And last week I was reminded of a teacher I worked with occasionally in Winnipeg.  She was very creative, had wonderful routines and affectionately called her grade one/two kids her "little ducks".  Every Friday they shared a pancake meal together and practiced their manners and talked about their week together.  And as she would wind up her Friday with her kids they would join hands and sing the chorus to Bob Marley's song
 "Everything's Gonna Be Alright".  She knew that some of those kids were going home and things wouldn't always be alright for them over the weekend.  But at least in her classroom she could give them stability and structure and lots of care.   She was quite inspiring.

And then she had one or two of those students who valiantly struggled through even the simplest tasks required of them.  They had a hard time just getting in the door and putting their stuff in their cubbies never mind the 3 R's!  These dear ones were often on modified programs and needed lots of coaching and support.  They had a special place in their teachers heart.  To her they were her "wobbly ducks". 

"Wobbly ducks".  Something goes to mush in me when I think of it.  It's just so darn cute on one hand but on another I have to confess it strikes a deeper chord in me.  I think it's because ultimately I'm a wobbly duck. 

I'm wobbly in all kinds of ways.  But I don't want to focus on that.  What really captures my attention as I think about my "wobbliness" is how grateful I am for the kindnesses I've received from the "teachers" in my life.  People who, along the way, have shared a meal with me, teaching me valuable life lessons.  People who have held my hand and have sang "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" to me in countless ways through their hugs, their listening ears, their words of encouragement, their laughter, their prayer.  People who, knowing that at times everything was NOT alright, sang it to me anyway because they knew one day it would be. And like the teacher I described, they are really quite inspiring. 

And maybe, just maybe, as I wobble along I can inspire too.


I'm glad you have a special place in your heart for us "wobbly ducks".  In you I feel the safety to wobble through.  I love you.

'til next time,