Friday, December 4, 2009

Not again!

Brace yourself, I know it's a shock, but yes, I'm blogging two days in a row. Crazy! But apparently there are people who do it all the time (fanatics!). I thought I'd try it for a change... Since I'm getting off my drug of choice (sugar) I have room for another addiction... oops! I mean hobby.

It's -27 here this morning and I returned about a half hour ago from driving the kids and Ken to school in my pajamas. It was still dark of course and is only now starting to brighten up. Sunrise or sunset here is so pretty as the mountains seem to make the most of whatever sunbeam they catch. I find it fascinating that I lived only an hour and a half away from here for 10 years or so during my teens and really had no idea about it other than the name! It's quite a vibrant little community. It is an undiscovered (by many) jewel of the Yukon.

One of the things that fell by the wayside while I was going through the "Plight of the Crappy Foot" is updating all of you about some of the neat things we've experienced here so ...

Halloween was a ton of fun here but I must confess I was really missing our Syndey Ave. home leading up to the date because of the fun it always is there. For the past five years we've served hot chocolate out front of our house and it's become a great tradition for our family as well as the neighbourhood. We'd become "The Hot Chocolate House" and people had begun to plan their trick or treating routes accordingly. They knew we'd have a fire going in the outdoor firepit to warm their outsides if it was particularly cold and some hot chocolate to warm their insides. And for those we knew and were our "special" friends, there was "special" hot chocolate that was particularly warming to the insides!

Here it's a different set up as everyone trick or treats til just before 8 pm and then everyone shuts up their houses and heads down to the BONFIRE. Capital letter BONFIRE because it's big enough to warm the whole town. It's made of thirty foot trees so it's big! And there's hot chocolate and hot dogs served by the Lion's Club and then the fireworks start! This year they had enough fireworks to last a full hour and they were stunning. Who would've thought?!? Smart people here to have fireworks at Halloween. When I lived in Whitehorse they insisted on doing the fireworks on Canada Day. That's fine in most places but here we have the midnight sun so fireworks really just look like puffs of smoke. Ohhh, ahhh. Look at that pretty puff!

A highlight for me was having my sister Laura and my nephew Tyler here for the night. I'm really enjoying Laura's company and getting to know my nephew. He's Will's age and is a big, sweet teddy bear. Laura and I never had the opportunity to live together as I had gone to college before she moved in with my mom and her dad (blended family), so it's been a real treat to get to know her better. She's a wonderful blend of tender and strong. I have a lot of respect for her.

Pictures of the kids in their costumes...

Brenna as a "Anne of Green Gables" kind of character.

Jay was a clone as were 4 other kids in his class (there's only 9 kids in the class!) He really looks happier than that usually!

And Will. Ever my Anakin Skywalker. My girlfriend Kate helped me make this costume three years ago and it is well loved. The last two years Will has come up with different costume ideas but when it comes down to it, he can't resist being Anakin again.

Okay that's enough. I'll tell you about the Community Potluck and Barn Dance we had last month another time. I just realized I've got to get my ass in gear and get ready to get over to the school. They're having a community potlatch in the gym at the lunch hour to say thanks to the elders for imparting aspects of the Southern Tutchone culture to the students in the school this fall. Each of the kids has to bring along a potlatch bag (bowl, plate, cutlery, cup) and a food item to share. I made a big pasta salad that I've got to run over there.
Thanks for knowing me and loving me anyway. You are my hero.
'til next time,

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Yesterday driving home from Whitehorse (after grocery and Christmas shopping) I had the most glorious time! It's hard to even put into words for fear of cheapening how wonderful it was.
So many of you have responded SO kindly to my "Plight of the Crappy Foot". Thank you all! It has been doing remarkably well. I'm sleeping great, walking around and I noticed this morning that the swelling has gone down quite a bit! Whatever that "CRACK!" was (see previous post) obviously helped in the long run. Really helped. It's what I needed to get me going in regards to looking at my health and dropping the weight I'm carrying around. I like to think of the "CRACK" moment now as a little "God ChiroCRACKtic". Whatever needed to be shifted in my foot so that I could sleep again got shifted, and whatever needed to be shifted in my soul so that I could find the strength to get healthy again got shifted.

That sets the stage for my time driving home from Whitehorse yesterday. I was listening enjoying the beautiful terrain, with the setting sun in the blue sky. Absolutely gorgeous. I'd gotten lots done in the "city", had a great visit with my Mom over coffee, was wonderfully surprised by the arrival of my nephew, Brock (he flew in from Salmon Arm to surprise the family), got help from my step Dad with all my groceries (it's a huge job!), hit the thrift store and got some fun craft supplies for CHEAP. And now I had a wonderful one and half hour drive all to myself, no kids bickering in the backseat, no dog whining at me to lower his window so he can stick his head out, and no Ken to snicker at me when I sing at the top of my lungs, off key no doubt, to whatever C.D. I want to listen to! Pure heaven!

And the C.D. of my choosing you ask? Steve Bell's Romantic and Mystics and sing I did! And then I wept. And sang. And blubbered some more. All because of this song, "Remember Me".

Remember Me - Music and Lyric by Steve Bell
adapted from Psalm 25

To You oh Lord do I lift up my soul
You are the only recourse that I know
When shame denies me a place in Your fold
In Your love remember me

Show me a road with respect to the truth
Hold not against me the sins of my youth
There’s no one to turn to if You don’t come through
In Your love remember me

In Your love remember me
In Your love remember me
All because of Your goodness Lord
In Your love remember me

Yahweh confides in the ones who have faith
And shares from the secrets of old so they say
Dare I presume He would treat me this way
In Your love remember me

Show me Your favour Yahweh
Let it never be said that I’ve trusted in vain
It is Your reputation that makes me outrageously brave
Hold out Your mercy to me
Go ahead and correct me for the sake of Your name
It’s not much of a thread but my hoping is keeping me sane

In Your love remember me
In Your love remember me
All because of Your goodness Lord
In Your love remember me

Oh, how that song met me and how He met me. Because ultimately that is my cry and the answer to my cry. He is "the only recourse that I know". And "there's no one to turn to if (He doesn't) come through". If He doesn't remember me I'm sunk. Finished. Shipwrecked. I need his mercy, his willingness to share "the secrets of old" with me. I need to be in a relationship with my God where I can be outrageously brave because of his reputation of goodness. I need his correction, I need the sanity that hoping in him provides.

And the weeping? Because He has. He has remembered me. And He still remembers me. He remembered me 24 years ago and saved my butt in that crazy accident and He remembers me now when my ankle (broken in that accident) is bothering me. He remembers me whether I live in Winnipeg or in Haines Junction. He remembers me when I feel so full of shame about gaining back 80 lbs that I hide from people, and He remembers me when I need the strength to lose it again. My trusting in Him has not been in vain because, although I wander and stumble and struggle - He remembers me. I could go on and on in the ways I have felt "remembered" by God. But posts need to end somewhere...

Needless to say I'm in a grateful place. Grateful to all of you for your prayers and kind thoughts, grateful to Steve for the worship time he led for me in our Taurus stationwagon, and grateful to God for meeting me, loving me and mostly for remembering me.


Words fail me. You amaze me.

'til next time,

An important aside...

It's been an absolute hoot and privilege for Ken and I to get know Steve and Nancy Bell over the last number of years. So when I listen to Steve's music now it impacts me differently than before. I know that these are real people, down to earth (oh so down to earth!) and sincere, and my heart opens up to the message in the songs that much more. I have loved Steve's music for many years and can't urge you enough to get your hands on some if you don't have some already! As well as being musically fantastic, it feeds you in the deep places of your soul. Check out the website at There's a great Christmas sale on right now. And if you ever can get to one of his concerts I swear I'll slap you upside the head if you miss it! He's a marvellous storyteller and you simply have to go. Tell him the Symanskis sent you!
Cheers, Dianna

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And so it goes...

I follow a blog or two from time to time (I do nothing consistently, except inconsistency). I absolutely marvel at the way some people can post practically daily! Hats off to you, I am not that person! As soon as I hit a rough patch, I clam up, hunker down, and get through it and then can do a little writing. Maybe as time goes on I'll get better at writing in the midst of the bumpy places, but that may take a while and a lot of ALCOHOL! (kidding)

Through a gnarly few weeks I am and here I am to tell you about it! But to set the mood for today's saga let me properly introduce it with this fine title...


And now I can begin... Have you ever stepped on a pin? And not just a little one but a big honking huge church lady's hat pin? No? Okay, what about stuck your finger in an electrical outlet and it took a while to pull it out? No? Okay, then use your imagination and try to imagine going to bed each night and drifting off to sleep when all of a sudden it feels like someone has attached jumper cables to your foot and started the engine.

That's me. Hat pin, electrial outlet or jumper cables. In my foot. Every night for the last four weeks, almost every hour, sometimes every half hour. I jolt out of sleep, look at my foot and say, "Okay, I'm awake. Now what?" Sometimes I have to get up and walk around for a few minutes. Sometimes longer. I've never had my dishes clean and sink empty so consistently in almost twenty years of marriage! What else am I going to do after walking around my place two or three times a night? I also play musical beds. I've been known to kick one of my kids out of their bed just on the off chance that the magic sleeping foot fairy has alighted there and she'll sprinkled some of her damn dust on my foot.

Last week I celebrated 24 years that I've been alive since I was in a head on collision in November of '85. Long and amazing story that I'll tell another time maybe. Alive but broken up a bit. Two broken arms, whip lash, bashed out teeth, and an ankle broken in two places requiring surgery. Two screws put in. Had them taken out after a couple of years. And happily went on to live a rich and wonderful life which included a mobility that I've totally taken for granted...

And so after many nights of this ongoing drama between me and my foot these past weeks (which refused to respond to painkillers, stubborn thing!) I finally went to the health centre here to say, "HELP!" The nurse was wonderful, compassionate and thorough and took an x-ray of said appendage. Hmmm. Doesn't look good. You better go into Whitehorse and see a doctor and get xrays done there. Here's some T3's to help wth the pain. (They didn't).

Doc's apointment coming up on Wednesday. No problem, it doesn't hurt during the day and who really needs sleep anyway? And so it goes... until WHAM!

Tuesday morning I'm finally asleep (on the couch) when suddenly I'm awoken by the most awful CRACK! And the worst part is that the sound came from my foot! When I finally caught my breath (those pre-natal breathing exercises I took all those years ago came in handy!) I called Ken to come look (I was too afraid, I didn't want to see the bone sticking out!). No bone but lots of swelling and PAIN! No more walking for me! I looked at Ken and told him to call my step dad in Whitehorse (an hour and a half away) to come get me and take me to the hospital in Whitehorse NOW! Ken did and so did my step dad, bless his heart!

Long, depressing story made short: x-rays show that my dear old troubled foot is done, caput, finished. Plan the pedi-funeral. I guess I've been hobbling around with no cartilage for a while now and it's bone on bone in there. The nerves in there are putting up a fuss and let me know it at night. And the CRACK I heard was just the bones rubbing the wrong way against each other. The doc was great but didn't offer ANY hope. "Your foot's a mess." The best they can do is book an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon that I might be able to see in Feb. but probably Sept. What?! And the best an orthopedic surgeon can probably offer is that maybe they would fuse my ankle (no bendy, bendy) at some time and that would take care of the pain. (Also would take care of any activity that requires a flexed foot). In the meantime, here's stronger pain pills, stay off your foot, and that's all folks! Oh, and lose weight while your sitting around too!

Needless to say I was a little devastated! But here I am on Thursday and I'm okay. The foot's still swollen but it let me sleep last night and I didn't even bring in the big guns (painkillers). Today I was able to hobble around with very little pain and I'm thinkin' it may have a few more miles in it than the docs think. Now don't get me wrong. I've had a huge slap upside the head. I know every day I'm on borrowed time with this old girl. I need to make some major changes if I'm going to preserve the little time I have left with her! That means I've got to lighten the load that I've required both my feet to carry around. It scares me to even write that down because this is such a vulnerable area in my life and I feel like such a failure. But vulnerability be damned - I gotta do it. I've done it before, with God's help I can do it again.

And so I joke about the "magic sleeping foot fairy" and I'd like to joke about the "lose a helluva lot of weight fairy" but ultimately I need God. Desperately, achingly. I need Him and I need you. All your prayers and if you don't pray, all your good thoughts (I think he listens in to those too). Thanks...

And so that's why I haven't been writing lately. Throw in there that all five of us had the pukin' poopin' flu two weekends ago (and it wasn't just 24 hours!) and I think you get the picture! I'll try to update more often...



I love you.

'til next time,

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Inspiration from Faro, Yukon!

I've been totally shocked, surprised and dumbfounded! But I jump ahead...

We have a bit of a routine forming here which makes life seem quite normal and lulls me into forgetting from time to time that we're "living an ADVENTURE!". I could write a whole post just about that, about how in the mundane of the everyday I trudge around like a robot and I forget that LIFE is a pretty flippin' miraculous thing. But I digress..

Our routine so far looks a little like this...

Monday - Friday everyone is in school except me (unless I sub). Ken stays at school til 5:30 most days, joins us for supper and then gets back to work for a couple of hours. Mondays Brenna and Jay go to Pioneer Club after school while Will and I hang out together. There's a few faithful saints here that do a great job running the club and Jay and Brenna really enjoy it! (Will's not a joiner and needs more "down" time than the other two). Wednesdays the kids and I go to Craft Time at the library which has been wonderful! Marty does a fantastic job coming up with activities for the kids and I must admit I'm always looking forward to seeing what she has planned.

Now this the challenge... Mondays & Wednesdays Brenna pays hockey from 6:30 - 7:30, Tuesdays & Thursdays Jay plays from 6:00 - 6:30 and Will plays from 6:30 - 7:30. The challenge is making sure we all sit down to a meal together, get homework done and leave enough time to get their hockey gear on. It's not as crazy as it sounds. Remember, we live around the corner from everything in this town. Commuting to anything is never an issue. The kids and I joke about how horrible the traffic is if we see another car! It seems we're doing more here than in Winnipeg with less effort.

Fridays are family movie night and Saturday mornings are hockey games for Will and Brenna (optional - at least that's how we see them). Every second Saturday we head into Whitehorse for visiting with Grandma, Grandpa, their dogs, the aunties, the uncle and the cousins and for getting our shopping done. While in Whitehorse we always visit the Canada Games Centre to either skate or swim. It is an amazing facility! We all love it!!! I must confess however, the highlight for me in Whitehorse is definitely seeing my family. After living away from them for twenty years I can't seem to get enough of them. I am very blessed to have these people in my life.

Sundays have so far been family days whether we're in the Junction or in Whitehorse. We haven't really figured out what we're doing for church yet which is another post completely. I'm trusting we'll get more clarity about that as I keep asking God, "Well?!?".

There, a little glimpse into our daily life. Now if only I could paint the picture with all it's colours! And add the smells and textures and sounds and tastes! It all seems rather ordinary until you add all that! I'd spray in the smell of the smoke in the air from woodstoves chugging away keeping so many families cozy, I'd paint in the mountains of course, but with the pinks that shine along them at sun up. I'd record the ravens calling, the snow crunching and the happy sounds of kids on skates. I'd add the feel off pulling so hard tying up hockey laces that you think your fingers are going to fall off or the feel of a friendly bernese mountain dog's fur that insists on being petted. I'd throw in the taste of bison and my mom's pork chops and mushroom sauce and then and only then would you begin to get a sense of what life is like here.

But back to the "I've been totally shocked, surprised and dumbfounded!" that I started this post with!

Today was one of those days we were at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse. My sister and nephew and my kids and I were hanging out at the play structure and making a little conversation with the parents around us (I do LOVE meeting people!), when a lady walked in with two little bitty ones, a baby and and toddler. Having only recently survived having little bitty ones and the delight and trauma that it is, I find myself drawn to them like a moth to a flame. As we were leaving I couldn't resist stopping to coo over these little poppets (I LOVE that word!) and a surprising conversation ensued...

Me: They are gorgeous/amazing/beautiful/edible! How old?
Her: Thanks! 6 months and this one is two(?) We've just come in from Faro (small town in the Yukon).
Me: Oh, we're in from Haines Junction.
Jay: We're from Winnipeg!
Her: Do you have a blog? Sym's City?

No kidding! I about fell over! Can you speak! Turns out she likes to follow northern blogs and was familiar with ours. What are the chances is this great big world, in this great big territory that we would meet? What are the chances that anyone other than those who know and love us (and who feel obligated to read this out of fear that I'll ask if they've been reading it) would read it?! I was flabbergasted. We went on to chat for a little bit and of course we will now be connecting on line and no doubt we'll end up in Faro sometime to visit because now we know someone there! I LOVE surprises!

And so I guess in a way this has ended up being that post about "how in the mundane of the everyday I trudge around like a robot and I forget that LIFE is a pretty flippin' miraculous thing." Because today, in the midst of my routine, as I met someone "by accident", I was reminded again that life is pretty miraculous.


You love to surprise me don't you?! I think you got a kick out of watching Kara and I meet today! Thanks for that. Bless them as they live their adventure. I love you.

'til next time,


Monday, November 2, 2009

Something to brag about...

Can I brag for a moment? Thanks. I knew you wouldn't mind. It's about Ken. You know, the man I married almost twenty years ago? I just have to say a few words about him. I have to get it off my chest. I will warn you though that this could get downright shmaltzy. Reader beware.

He's a marvel. I don't know how I won the marriage lottery but I won big time! It's overwhelming somedays when I think about how rich I am because I have him in my life. Of course there have been times we've both gone through when we were tempted to trade each other in for the price of a good cup of coffee or bottle of coke. But, overall, when I look at this man I get to be with for the rest of my life...I'm VERY pleased.

What brings on all this mushy, gushy stuff you ask? Well, because he is working his ass off here in Haines Junction! And all for us. So we could have this most excellent adventure. After 16 years of teaching, of establishing courses, getting into a fairly comfortable groove, he was willing to shake it all up and work like a first year teacher again, starting from scratch, in a strange place, in a difficult situation, with a number of challenging students. He's waded into fist fights, been told to "F#$@ off" and has worked an amazing number of hours. There's a ton of stress and a ton of work but he still looks at me very consistently and says, "It's worth it. I'm glad we're here." He often takes a few moments to gaze out at the mountains and it seems to restore him.

And then there's the fact that he willingly lives with me day in, day out. I'm not the easiest to live with. I know that's a shock for those who know and love me...but I can be YUCKY. I can be a self absorbed, spoiled baby some days and he comes along and instead of getting pissy back at me...he rubs my feet. Or helps out with this and that even tho' his "to do" list rivals some of the mountains here. He is gracious and warm and loving and just a really nice guy. Some people don't like the word "nice". They consider it a blah word. But when you've lived side by side with one person for such a long time and you still think they are "nice" I think it actually says a lot! And another thing...he makes me laugh EVERY day. Somedays it's a chuckle, somedays I almost pass out I'm laughing so hard (which usually means Ken has hurt himself).

He's not perfect (close, but I know too much) but I am so impressed. He's a gift I never deserved but I greedily accept. Today I am thankful, oh so thankful, for this man who I get to be with through it all.


Thanks again for the gift you gave me in Ken. Help him to know how much you love him and how much I love him. He's wonderful.

'til next time,


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Smokies and the Bear and Big Shoes

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted! Time truly flies when you're having fun. And we are. Not every day and not always uproariously but very consistently and many times enough to get a big, raucous laugh out of me.

Like last week when I went to put some smokies on the BBQ and we were out of propane so I cooked them in the microwave instead. I guess I cooked them a little too long. Watching my family try to bite through the leathery smokies skin was hilarious. Especially Will with his two front teeth missing! But Ken stole the show of course with his Epic Wrestle. It was something like "Ultimate Fighting" only more violent.

Or when Ken worked late one night at the school and forgot that he had to walk home. In the dark. In the Yukon. In the same town that a bear recently had been spotted. I think he probably broke a land speed record if anyone had been out there to time him. All the while trying to look at ease and comfortable to any folks that might see him and not like the scared Cheechako (newcomer) he was (it probably resembled Monty Python's "Ministry Of Silly Walks"). Needless to say, I laughed my butt off at him and he takes the car back to work in the evenings with him now.

In the midst of the giggles and snickers (mostly at Ken), we've also had a few challenges. Brenna has been struggling with stomach troubles which has resulted in us becoming aquainted with the nursing centre here. The doctor only comes in once a month so the nursing staff take care of things and advise people whether it's necessary to go the hour and a half into Whitehorse to see a doctor. The nurses we saw were wonderful and so far we're thinking it's a virus that should resolve soon.

The other challenge has been the passing of Richard Godson. Richard passed away during the first week of school and the ripple effect through the community was tsunami strength. He was an extremely well loved man in this community. He was the vice principal and taught at the school and was a driving force in the music scene here in the Junction. Richard was only 51 years old and had a wife and three children (teens and twenties). He had taken a leave of absence (that Ken was filling) to get treatment for cancer. Unfortunately it got the better of him. On Sept. 26 there was a Celebration of Life for him which was heart wrenching and heart warming. The Celebration had two parts - the memorial and then a gathering of musicians who played in honor of Richard. It was a powerful display of affection. Ken had the school band that Richard began working with last year play the song "Drift Away". They did a great job - very moving as Richard's daughter was on keyboard and did the vocals.

Thanks for the joy you've given me I want you to know I believe in your song and rhthym and rhyme and harmony. You helped me along, you're makin' me strong.

Wow. What a courageous girl.

Ken played drums for the first time in his life publically which was disconcerting for him as it was the first time he played in front of anyone here (not to mention a lot of amazing Yukon musicians!). He did well. All in all it was a very full and emotional weekend.

It was also the kind of weekend that encouraged me to look at my life and ask some hard questions. You know the kind. The "what will my legacy be?" or "how will I be remembered?" questions. The trick is to let those questions motivate and propel me into honestly being myself with all that I am, and not let them drive me into trying to be someone I'm not. I think when I am fully me I am most fully freed up to be a memorable person who is a blessing wherever I go.

It's interesting. I told Ken about a conversation I had the other day with someone here. When this person found out that my husband was the new music teacher she said, "Wow, he has big shoes to fill." Before really thinking about it I replied, "Actually he's not going to try. It would be impossible. We're going to bronze those shoes and show honor to the man who filled those shoes and Ken's just going to fill his own shoes." She and I agreed that that was probably best.

And so I too am going to work at filling my own shoes this year. All size 10 of them on a 5'3" body. They're big enough without me trying to fill anyone elses shoes! And hopefully my legacy will be more than, "Wow, did she ever have BIG feet!"


Thank you for what Richard meant to this community. Be with his family and friends. Please be their comfort. I love you.

'til next time,


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Are You?

I find people's stories so interesting. Fascinating really. I'm sure I must come off as nosy because I ask so many questions when I meet people. But truly, I can hardly help myself. I'm like the person who marvels at the cosmos in all it's glory and wonder - only for me it's people. When I start to learn the bare facts and if I'm lucky - the juicy bits -of a person's life story I find myself in a state of wonder and awe. People are just so damn resilient, so enchanting, so complex!

I love the moment when I meet someone and I wonder, "Are you my people?" (remember Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman about the baby bird who, in search of his mother, meets all sorts of creatures and things in his quest?). Sometimes the people I meet are a kitten that just looks at me (perplexed by me perhaps), or a hen that says no, or a dog who says "I'm a dog" or a cow who says, "How could I be?" (the sub text being "Are you kidding me?!?") or an old car that just couldn't be or a boat that just motors right by, or a plane that flies overhead or a big thing that says "Snort" and scares the hell out of me! And then there's that fabulous juncture when I meet someone who asks me in their own secret way, "Do you know who I am?" And my soul says happily,

Yes, I know who you are.

You are not a kitten.

You are not a hen.

You are not a dog.

You are not a cow.

You are not a car or a boat or a plane or a Snort!

You are you and you are my people.

It's a gift and it's wonderful. I have many people who are "my people". And before you get thinking I'm being elitest or something by leaving out the kittenhendogcowcarboatplaneSnort the only thing that a person really needs to be one of my people is that they can put up with me and hopefully enjoy me! If you can do that - you're in.

And when it comes to having these kinds of people in my life I AM A ROCKSTAR! I am rich beyond my wildest dreams. My life is full of such marvelous people, up close and far away. I feel overwhelmed by quality and quantity! And now I'm here in Haines Junction and I'm curious to see, "Are you my people?". I'm sure there will be some and I'm interested to see who they'll be. I'm not in a huge hurry tho' because I'm lucky enough to live with four of "my people" (Ken, Brenna, Will, Jay) with whom I find myself in a state of wonder and awe. They're just so damn resilient, so enchanting, so complex!

I'm curious. For you, what determines who "your people" are?


Thank you that you call me "your people". You enjoy me and I enjoy you. Just like the baby bird said, "You are a bird, and you are my mother", I say to you, "You are God, and you are my God." I love you.

til' next time,

Friday, September 18, 2009

The View This Morning...

This is what I see today...
And then as I took the kids to school I saw this...

Beautiful I know, but nothing is as beautiful as a boy with his lego creation!
Karla mentioned his smile in the comments, he's got a great one! He's also lost his two front teeth this summer which made my little "Alex Keaton" happy! I was afraid he was going to try and stay awake to roll the Tooth Fairy to get a little more cash!
Have a great day all and console yourself with the fact that although I am living in a little piece of heaven - I did have to scrape my windshield this morning!
Thank you for your gift to me in Will. He is fascinating. I love you.
'til next time,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ta Da!

Ta Da!!! (Loud cheering and whistles are appropriate here!) I set up a computer all by myself! I know that for many of you Tech Gods out there that is laughable. However for me to do it is pretty darn amazing. AND I also figured out how to set up the printer, the speakers and drum roll please... I found the cord to our camera and downloaded the pictures from there to the computer and then choose some to show you here!!! So what if the laundry isn't done, the dishes are piling up and I have less hair on my head from pulling it out. I am a TECH GODDESS IN TRAINING! It's the price I'm willing to pay...

Now, enough of my bragging (although do you get how monumental this was?!?) and on with the update of the wild and crazy Symanskis. Another week in paradise. Except for the black flies that threaten to eat our dog Wags and carry him off. This week we are settled in that much more and I'm starting to see the end of the "set up" chores that come with moving. We have a phone, internet, insurance for our car, regular deliveries set up for heating fuel (oil heat here), I've made my first delivery to the dump (no garbage truck!), collected cash for our refundables (all pop and juice containers), gone to the library/liquor store/drivers licencing and got out books, wine and a drivers licence. And every morning I still look out to see if the view is still breathtaking and IT IS!

These were taken from our little front deck

Can you speak? I live in a frikkin' postcard!

Monday after school Will wanted a friend over after school but instead Dave (the dad) offered to take the kids fishing! What! On a school night? YES! I tagged along on the grounds that he might need a little help with all the kids - his two, my three - but I was the biggest kid out there. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We were at a little lake about 2 kms out of town called Pine Lake. It's right at the base of Paint Mountain - so pretty.

Dave was pretty sure we would be doing more casting practice than catching when lo and behold his son got one! And Will would want you to know that it was on HIS rod! It was a pike and just as we were pulling it out of the water the line broke.

Too much fun! I'll post more pictures once I get them emailed to me from our laptop. There's some from the Terry Fox Run they did last week. 5 K down the Haines Road! Kindergarten to Grade 12. Some of the secondary students do 10 K and even Remy, Jay's little friend from grade 1 did the 10 K with her mom! Yikes! I didn't go because I couldn't bear to listen to the whimpers, whines and wails of my soft little city kids. I warned Ken not to walk with them but he went with the boys and listened to all their woes the whole time. Brenna just went for it and had a great time. Today her class is out on a field trip picking wild berries and cranberries. The permission letter reassured us that the teacher would be taking bear spray with him. Hmmm...I don't know why but that totally amuses me! That and the fact that they had another announcement at school yesterday that there was a bear seen in the area. Hee, hee.
So that's it for this newsy little blog entry... I'll try to be more insightful and full of angst tomorrow (it makes a blog interesting doesn't it?!)
Messy beauty
Clean garbage
Tidy chaos
Disheveled joy
Cookie cut out living
creative abiding
beauty, joy, abiding
You are my peace. My rest is in you. I love you.
'til next time ,

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This morning, as I do every morning, I walked out onto our little front deck and gazed at some of the mountains that make up the St. Elias Mountain range in the Kluane National Park (a World Heritage site). They're not in the distance but "reach out and practically touch" close. There were clouds set into some of the nooks and crannies but you could see the glorious peaks. Awe inspiring and breathtaking. Now a couple hours later the clouds have come down even further and the peaks are hidden for the time being, playing hide and seek but always reappearing to capture my attention.

The leaves are turning here and rather than in the ground you find gold in the trees. It's a magnificent display of the richest color you can imagine. It's as if the landscape is saying, "You may have come here for gold but my beauty will keep you here." I feel kidnapped by my surroundings and and I'm a willing prisoner. Peace has wrapped itself around me and contentment has rested itself on my lap. Creator God has a pleased and playful grin as he sees me revel in His handiwork. This was in his heart long ago and He delights in my response.

Life in Haines Junction, Yukon. We're here and we're loving it. Just 5 short months ago Ken and I started to dream a little dream and now we're here. Those of you who know us best know how miraculous that is. We are fantastic at dreaming and lousy at following through. In an earlier post I shared all my anxiety about whether we were doing the right thing. We are. The anxiety has lifted like the clouds lift from the mountains.

We are well. We ended up getting into our place the day before school started (they started on the 31st of August) and are all set up now. It's amazing how it all came together. The house is a double wide mobile home and has an addition. It's very comfortable with lots of windows - the better to appreciated the scenery with! The kids bedrooms look like they were painted for them. Brenna's lime green room perfectly suits her and the boys' blue and red room perfectly match the new Star Wars duvet covers Auntie Kate made them. It's a little thing maybe but all the little details add up to the adjustment in being here going so smoothly.

The kids seem happy. They are enjoying having a stay at home mommy. She's a newer version and some of the bugs have been worked out of her. She's calmer and more relaxed (she does crosswords now!). She still has the occasional glitch when bedtime goes on too long and her head threatens to spin around like in a horror flick but overall she cooks yummy stuff and there is no mountain of laundry to scale in the house.

They're enthusiastic about school, they all like their teachers. The school is a great facility and proof that the territory pours a lot of money into the outlying communities. Today there was a bear spotted outside the playground a couple hours before school let out. The announcements encouraged the kids that walk home to keep their heads up and to walk in groups. Hmmm. Really?!? Yikes!

Brenna is learning Southern Tutchone (the local language) as well as French this year and has already had a friend over three times. Will is doing better than we could've imagined which is great as he's historically been the one that's expressed the most anxiety about this northern endeavour. He's going on his first play date tomorrow with his buddy Dawson. I'll get him to blog again soon - he's such an interesting writer. Jay already has a girlfriend of course - a little spark plug named Remy that he danced the night away with at a local concert we went to on Sunday night. They have a great venue here that they have musicians at twice a month. This time it was the Sophisticated Cavemen - a total hoot.

And last but not least my oldest kid - Ken. He was sooo nervous before school started. But now that we're in the second week he's having a great time, enjoying the kids and staff. Each morning he gets to sit in the music room with his students working out classic rock songs. Talk about a great fit! And as always he's making people laugh - he's a gift to the staff and students. I can see God's kindness in him being here this year as Richard Godson, the man who was on leave and that Ken was filling in for, passed away as a result of cancer this last Thursday. I didn't even know the man and I was in tears. He was obviously an amazing man who has had an incredible impact on the community. Brenna came home and said she'd seen high school boys crying in the halls. That says something about the kind of man he was.

Life is good. There's so much more to tell but supper has to be made. Now that we have internet I'll be able to blog more frequently.


You are my delight. In the midst of all this beauty I sing, "How Lovely You Are". I love you.

The clouds have lifted and the mountains show off their new coats of white. They look so proud of their new outfits. They definitely believe that it's okay to wear white after Labour Day! The air has a bit of a chill but I'm cozy and warm and grateful... oh so grateful.

'til next time,


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We're here!

We're here. I've tried to write for the last couple days but have been so muddled that I couldn't find words to describe the magnitude of the things I was feeling. Even now I feel ill equipped. I feel like I've entered the the Twilight Zone (insert theme music here).

The last month has been a glorious long holiday full of fun, family and friends. We loved Calgary with the Brandts, Tsawwassen with the grandparents (my dad and stepmom) and Victoria with Auntie Janette and Cousin Brody. We made wonderful new friends in Clint (my sisters beau) and his boys Douglas and Easton - an absolute hoot! And we visited with timeless friends Karen (KP) and the de Lestards and Becky and her family. Amazing people all and I could write endlessly about how each one has impacted me either recently or in our pasts. I'm reminded again that my greatest riches have always been found in friends and family.

But now the next part of our story has begun as well as the out of body feelings! I arrived in Whitehorse, Yukon on Wednesday the 19th after 4 days of travelling with my mom and the kids. Ken left on the 15th to get to Whitehorse in time to be a part of an orientation that he had to attend as a new teacher to the Yukon and my mom (bless her crazy heart!) graciously agreed to help me drive the Symanski clan north. We made it in spite of the moose that tried to play chicken with our car! By the time I got here I was played out from the driving, the kids fighting, the driving, the kids whining, the driving, the kids breathing. I think the first couple days here, actually I know, my mom thought I was going to crack up on her. But then she seems to think I live fairly close to the edge of insanity all the time...

Ultimately I think the glazed over look in my eye and the nervous twitching (okay, no nervous twitching, just a glum, long face as if my favorite dark roast coffee had just spilled with no hope for more) was because I was starting to wrestle with the reality of this crazy ride we're on as a family. For those of you who know me, you know that I am a woman of grandiose ideas and pitiful follow through. How on earth did our little thought of "wouldn't it be neat to spend a year in the Yukon some time?" actually come to be?!? I'm flabbergasted, overwhelmed, terrified, excited, stunned and 'wowed' that it's really happening! Can we really pull this off and maintain our fragile grip on sanity? Thankfully my family was wonderful as I stumbled through those first few days here and I eventually came to my senses. (As much as is possible for me!) Now I feel flabbergasted, overwhelmed, terrified, excited, stunned and 'wowed' as well as at peace. Whew.

Now the good part... we took a drive out to Haines Junction where we'll be living this next year. It's just what I needed. And even though it was a dreary overcast day, I loved it! What a wonderful place to spend a year. We met a few people and they didn't point at me and laugh because I have adult onset acne (what a drag!), they just seemed like genuine town folk who could have a good laugh. And I have to be honest that both Ken and I perked up even more when we visited the little local bakery. Me, because they serve a great Americano coffee and Ken because they have wireless. More first impressions? I didn't get to see the mountain peaks with the cloud cover but it is still a very lovely place. Lots of new and old mixed together, the run down places as well as the prettied up places of every small town. It's quite spread out but everything is still in walking distance. The school is very nice and proof that the government here pours a lot of money into the outlying communities. (Something Ken learned from the folks he met in the orientation he was at.) The kids were thrilled with the play structure and the gym (it's full size as it is a K to 12 school). The boys were convinced that they would never find their way around and Brenna seemed quiet as she took it all in. They're all doing remarkably considering all the new things being thrown at them. We'll be staying in Whitehorse for another week and then we'll head out to Haines Junction to start life there. We have my parents very comfortable R.V. until we get into our place on the 1st of Sept. School starts on Aug. 31 so it should be fun getting everyone off to school from a R.V.!

Today we're having church together for the first time since we left Winnipeg. Although there has been many "God moments" along the way, the kids are excited about having church here at Grandma's and Grandpa's. When I suggested it to the kids last night they dove right in suggesting all the things they wanted to do. Jay wants to provide the singing, Brenna and Will want to lead a lesson. It seems that after three years of being in a home church they really get the fact that it is a joint endeavour and everyone has something to contribute. It's neat to see.

It's time for me to wrap this up... I have more to say but I'll save it for another post. I've got to get better at finishing posts - with our busy days it's been difficult to sit down to write and I don't like dragging them out.

Thank you. For your nearness in the midst of change. I love you.

until next time,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Last night while falling asleep I was pondering this blog and trying to figure out how vulnerable I'm willing to be this next year. Ken's worried that I'm too thoughtful and that it'll made him look dumb. Hardly.

If I want this blog to reflect this year accurately I know that the internal journey is just as important as this external one that we're on. But to reveal the places my thinking goes, the struggles, the victories (but especially the struggles) is scary! I'm conscious that once posted, an entry is out there and I can't really take it back and you all suddenly have more power in my life. (Not that any of you will use it for harm!)

However frightening, there's also a part of me that loves honesty, loves vulnerablity, loves a true story. Because ultimately as we tell our story in all it's colours it gives others freedom to tell their stories in all it's colours and true community is born. Not community built on what we think we "ought" to be but built on who we really are in the here and now. The past, present and future us rolled up in an excuisite, beautiful, messy knot.

The stage is set and the story begins...

This journey has partially been born out of a restlessness in me this last winter. As Ken and I explored the possibilities of going elsewhere for a year things quickly fell into place and started to ressemble a "holy set up" and that we'd in fact stumbled into something that was in God's heart for us. Stumbled is a good word I think because I rarely feel very spiritual, I'm not some great woman of prayer, and the Bible (although an amazing book) hasn't been a part of my daily life for a while. (I wish it was).

Now here we are only 14 or so days from arriving in Yukon to start our "year of living adventurously" and I am excited, anxious, and nervous. What if we were wrong? What if this was just me wanting to add crisis to my life and not a"holy set up"? I wonder if this is just a premature midlife crisis and instead of God saying "GO!", I've missed Him saying, "NO!".

Why the self/God doubt? I think for too long I've looked to people who I perceive as spiritual to get my direction from. My fault, not theirs. And really, although we've had all kinds of positive feedback from people we love and respect about this trek, this has been a decision Ken and I have made on our own. I think I'm in a long season of learning to trust in my friendship with God and that ultimately I can trust Him to direct us not because of our great spirituality but because of His great love for us. I find that very comforting and freeing. Comforting because HE's the net under the tight rope we're walking, and freeing because HEY! We're walking on a tightrope! We can take risks and if we fall He is there. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz oh what a relief it is!

Now that the God and me anxiety issue is settled, what about the other things I'm nervous about? What about the fact that I'm going back to live by my Mom and step Dad and a couple of my sisters (and their families) for the first time in 20 years? Will our relationships grow stronger or does absence really make the heart grow fonder? What if we all drive each other crazy? I doubt it, but what if? And how about living in a town of 800 people? How do you do that? I have to admit I like my anonymity. But being the new people in town won't afford me much of that! And here's another tangled knot I have to work at undoing - I'm FAT! All of you who know me love me anyway but what about the new people I'm about to meet? Will they see that my weight is not the sum total of who I am? And frankly I'm tired of having to "tap dance" to impress people with my personality because I'm afraid they can't see past the weight issue. (That's a whole other blog entry!)

There, how's that for honesty? But at the end of the day although these things nag at me they aren't stopping me from moving forward. If I spend too much time dwelling on the things that scare the hell out of me I lose the ability to enjoy the moments we're having right now. And besides, with three kids (ages 6-10), and a husband (forever young!) I'm too busy helping the kids with their anxieties and parenting with Ken to spend much time on my worries. In a post coming up I'll let you know how the kids are doing with all of this (although our Will has done a better job than either of us could telling you how he feels!). It's been interesting to see how they are handling all the change.


Thank you that I can throw all my anxieties at you and you can take it. Thank you that you throw peace my way. I can take that! I love you.

until next time...


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Here I am with little time on my hands and not a clever or insightful thought in my head. I've been looking forward to having this blog as a place to record what we've been doing as a family and a place for me to process what happens this next year but I can see it's going to take me a while to get into the swing of it.

We're in Victoria now. One of my all time favorite places to be. My sister Janette has lived here for a long time and is kindly having us at her place. She is a gracious hostess and just a hoot to be with. Although my younger sister, I look up to her in all kinds of ways - she inspires me to embrace beauty, invest in friendships, and believe in the best. I'm richer having spent time with her.

Being in Tsawwassen with my Dad and step Mom was brilliant. We beachcombed lots, went swimming a couple times (my kids passion), visited Great Grandma (99 years and a beauty!), went to Fort Langley where I lived as a kid and visited with dear friends, Charles and Phyllis MacBeth. We had numerous nerf gun fights - my entire family gangs up on me! And we survived the heat wave they were having without air conditioning.

My Dad is a piece of work. He outdoes himself as a grandpa. You can see him absorb his grandchildren as if his life depended on it. It strikes a deep cord in me when I watch him with my kids. I feel very grateful for who he is and what he brings into our lives. If people want to get a good idea who I am, you need to meet him. He has a big hearty laugh and loves to entertain people. He's also more sensitive than people realize although he can take a lot of ribbing too. He and Ken are simply hilarious together and they obviously really enjoy one another. Seriously I know my dad loves me but if he had to make a choice between keeping Ken or I, Ken may just win!

And my Dad is THE BEST COOK! He absolutely spoiled us with his cooking while were there! There is something magical about the way he puts a dinner together. Eating out is offensive to him and I know why. Nothing compares to a meal made by my dad. Healthy, hearty and mouth watering. You all can't imagine.

And my step Mom. Capitalized Mom, because I hate the connotations of the word "step mom". Too many stories have an evil one. And that couldn't be farther than the truth with mine. She is an amazing lady. She is always warm and generous. There are all kinds of things about her that I love. Like no one sets a prettier table than she does. Every meal is a celebration. She loves to gather people around a meal and it's always beautiful. She also has routines that I find very settling. Each night an hour or so after supper tea was put on and enjoyed together (as together as possible with our rambunctious kids!). Every evening before bed the table is set for morning.

I love the way she enjoys the natural world around her! She sees the humming birds in the tree by their deck, she knows where to look for ocean creatures, she loves to help us see the beauty of the world around us. She was an environmentalist before I'd ever heard the word. But most of all I so appreciate how she has embraced my sister and I and our children and we know she loves us deeply and sweetly.

Now we're here in Vic having arrived just before the August long weekend. Janette and her beau (Clint) are away this weekend at a previously planned event so we're at her place on our own until Monday afternoon. We've been gone two weeks now so having some time to ourselves comes at good time. Just around the corner is Commonwealth Place, a great facility that houses a fantastic pool (wave pool, lazy river, etc.) as well as a library so the kids and Ken are at the pool and then the library - giving me some "Dianna" time. I had a glorious nap and time to blog. Tomorrow I'll take the kids a give Ken some time to himself. We both do better with the kids having had some time to ourselves.


I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the people in my life. The people I've been able to see this last little while, the people I will be seeing and for people back home in Winnipeg. Thank you for richness of relationship with you and with others. You are good.

until next time,


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Will's Post

Here's a post from Will. He's the writer and artist of the family. He has had lots of mixed feelings about this trip but he'll probably tell you all about it...

Hi my name is William but you can call me Will. My age is seven but I'll be eight in August (26th). I'm going into grade three. My forte is climbing, building, sketching and writing.

When I was in grade one me and my good pals Jacob and Justin had a student teacher named Miss Marquinson who named us three the GEORGES. The next year our friend Harrison came into our class and he became a GEORGE too. Miss Marquinson went out of the class and became a teacher. Our enemies are the GEORGIAS. They are girls (boys vs. girls)! However Jacob became King of the GEORGES. Now grief spreads through the GEORGES since I'm going to Haines Junction for a year. Email, skype, phone calls - they will help. Since I'm the only kid in our family who disagrees with this appointment in the Yukon every night I have gotten sadder. I've agreed with myself that I will shed my tears at night. I will try to go - but I've said this one time and I am willing to say it again - I will go to the Yukon but NOT for a year. I just don't feel right about going.

We have gone to Calgary. We have gone to Banff. We have gone to Lake Louise. We have gone to Salmon Arm and Kamloops. We have gone to Tsawwassen. We have gone to British Columbia. And I still don't feel right. We have stayed in millions of motels, hotels and houses.

In Banff I got my very own pocket knife with my name on it "William". I liked travelling and watching movies in the car and playing Sega. It's a really big trip. I think going from Winnipeg to Whitehorse is a very big trip and we'll spend lots of money on gas. My mom and dad say it's supposed to be a big adventure, I think it's too big. One of the cool and good things about our car is the seats fold back into a big huge bed. There are two seats in the front (Mom and Dad) and the rest is a big bunk where we slept one night. We have a bike rack, a trailer and a roof top carrier. It's looks like we're ready for an adventure!

In B.C. is a big ocean. Every living thing in the ocean scares me out of my wits. We caught a little squishy, ishy sea eel in the eel grass. "BOY THAT FREAKED ME OUT!" (That's when we went beach combing).

Our Magic Grandpa and Grandma who we're staying with in B.C. have a neighbour who has huge bike jumps. They made us one and we went off of it. I wiped out. The first time I fell off my bike my leg got torn up, my shoulder and my elbow got cut. The second time I went too fast and my bike spun ahead of me into a curb and it fell on its side. I landed with the handle stabbed into my stomach. The third time I fell, my feet went too fast on the pedal, they slipped off and the pedal went fast and kicked my leg and I lost control and fell.

Today I phoned my friend JACOB! (The King). We had a nice long talk an ended with goodbye.

P.S. Brenna got a new diary with a secret code. We'll never get past that! Maybe my nerf guns will come in handy.

Talk to you - no wait! - write to you later!

- Will

Monday, July 20, 2009

And so it begins for me... thanks to Ken we have a place to jot down the often questionable antics of the Symanski family this next year. I'm looking forward to trying my hand at blogging - hopefully giving you something of an update of how we are doing as well as giving myself a way to process all that God has in his heart for me and my family this next year.

So here I am in Kamloops, B.C. and after I don't know how many days I have a few minutes to myself to get down a few of my thoughts. Here goes...

Observations so far...

1. Mothers always win. At least my mom does. There is just no arguing with her when you've decided to drive through the night to get to Calgary after packing all day. Ultimately it comes down to, "You are NOT driving through the night with my grandchildren!" They say never get in the way of a mother bear, well don't get in the way of a grandma bear. So laugh all you want when you read that we spent the first night in Portage la Prairie. It was a matter of life and death!

2. I think the people that God grafts into your life are simply astounding. While on our journey we were warmly received in Airdrie, AB by dear friends who recently relocated from Winnipeg. What a soft place to land after all the frenzy of packing for the year and finally getting on the road. Kate is the warmest woman with a gift for making people feel valued and loved and... well fed! Her spicy chicken pizza and her Thai wraps are to drive for! And Big Jay was amazing with our kids, teaching them to fish, and helping Will and Jay reel in their first catch! What a thrill! Brenna took to their little guy, Jude (almost 1 year old), like a real pro - they fell in love with each other. Brenna will be a wonderful babysitter someday. And their son Brodie was the best bud to our boys - introducing them to his excavation site (who needs a sandbox!) - a fun time was had by all. They will be missed...

3. Zoos are to be conquered not to be wandered through. I go through a zoo like the animals are chasing me while my dear husband is making himself one with the animal kingdom. Needless to say the Calgary Zoo, although very good, was a bit of a trial of my chronically limited patience and is a good example of one of the things you do "for the kids".

4. The mountains always amaze me. Always.

5. Children crave family. Today they saw their cousins Brock and Megan in Salmon Arm, B.C. and right away you could see they were enthralled with them. They are amazing people and I'm glad my kids get to look up to them. I'm excited that my kids will be getting know some of their family this next year.

Tomorrow will be the end of our first week on our journey. I expect some of my posts will be newsy ones like this, and some will be telling stories of what is rumbling around in my soul. And some will be my prayers... and that's how I'll close for today.

I love you. I'm so thankful for all you've done in my life. I feel overwhelmed by your goodness and not just because things are going well, but because I feel like you really are involved in all this. This isn't just a lark birthed in a premature mid life crisis, it's something you seem to have in your heart for us. Thank you for your closeness. Thank you for what a BIG God you are. I love you.

'til next time...


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day One: You are here...

...but you should be here:

So...the plan was originally to leave early on the 15th and make it to Calgary, or possibly to drive through the night and let the kidlets sleep through the boring (sorry Saskatchewan) part of the trip. Neither happened.

Final packing - despite the amazing PACKING SKILLZ of Dianna, took longer, the house needed to be put in order for the new renters, last minute errands like police checks for Ken's new job, blah, blah, blah. Bottom line, after buying some portable DVD players, a bike rack and picking up the kids' bikes we set out for midnight.

About one half hour outside of Winnipeg, Di's mom tracked us down on our cell. (By the way, we're keeping our cell account, so you can reach us at (204) 981-7211. We're on a decent plan, so don't be afraid to call). Once dear mom found out that we were planning to drive through the night while the kids slept, she put an end to that nonsense and had a motel already booked for us when we reached Portage la Prairie. Oh well. I think Brenna put it most succinctly as we pulled up to the motel when she said, "Are we at least out of Winnipeg?".

The weather in Portage was balmy and pleasant, not like the weather we left so far behind us...

Fast forward, and the pictures will help tell the story, we arrived in Airdrie, AB and stayed with our dear friends Jay and Katherine Brandt who just moved there from Winnipeg. The kids all got their own fishing rods at the coolest sporting goods store in the world (Bass Pro Shop/Outdoor World. Matt Klassen, if you're reading this, you would have sold your house and moved into this store).

The kids got to go fishing at a little stocked pond in Airdrie and Will got a nice sized rainbow trout on his first time fishing, on his first cast. He's ruined for life. Jay, not to be outdone, caught his own, slightly smaller, rainbow trout. Brenna added her two cents by naming the fish Fred and Ted. Fred and Ted were to be barbecued the next day, but we never quite got around to it. They now lanquish in the deep dark recesses of a freezer in Alberta. Oh, the humanity.

We had a day at the Calgary Zoo (outstanding) and drove through and toured Banff and Lake Louise. Will, when asked what he thought about the view at Lake Louise, said he couldn't tell me because there weren't any words for it. I think he gets it. Jay has by far been most taken with the mountain panoramas as we snaked through the Rockies. Every few minutes you heard "HOLY!!! Look out starboard!" (We got tired of left and right). We overnighted in Golden, B.C., then in Kamloops and yesterday we arrived at Magic Grandpa and Grandma's in Tsawwassen outside of Vancouver. "Magic" because Di's dad is a professional magician. He's tried to turn me into someone more suitable for his daughter a number of times, but he hasn't managed it yet - I've read too many Harry Potter books.

Today we went to the ocean and beachcombed for seashells and sand dollars. Jay of course, came back with a sea snake and a jellyfish. He simply has to outdo everyone. We just set up Jay's tent (a birthday present from Magic Grandpa and Grandma) in the backyard. Poor kid had his birthday on July 2, and got presents that we immediately packed up and mailed before he could even use them. He'll have the last laugh when we get to the Yukon though - Dianna and I bought him a drum kit. Yikes.

So, that pretty much brings everyone up to date, should you choose to follow this ongoing saga of our (mis)adventures. Feel free to add comments if you'd like - it'd be nice to open up some two way communication with friends and family.

Here's some pics of the journey so far. Check out Ken's oh-so-sexy new hat in the Lake Louise pictures. I'm reinventing myself. The old me was so....Manitoban.

Cheers for now.

Ken (on behalf of the Syms.)

First fish

Hooked on fishing

One with nature

"Been fishin' long?"

The family caravan


The last spike

Really....this is our country!

Beachcombers at the ocean:

"Magic" Grandpa and Grandma: