The Most Unusual Christmas

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What an interesting Christmas day I had!

I have worked in a job that requires shift work for at least the last 10 years.  As a result, I usually end up choosing to work on Christmas Day so that someone who values spending December 25th with their family can have the day off.

My family has always done our big family dinner on Boxing Day (December 26), which I wasn’t able to get off this year (but yet I could have had Christmas Day off if I wanted).  I’m a little disappointed that I have to head into work here shortly, but I am sure that it will be a much better day than yesterday.

The people that I encountered yesterday for the most part were super nice, but there was at least one person every hour that was a definite grinch.  It made for a pretty long day, but at the end of it I survived and came home to my nice warm bed safe and sound.

Today is going to be a completely different challenge though as we move from all the stores being closed yesterday to everyone crashing down the doors for the sales today.  Personally, I haven’t yet seen any sales advertised that I am willing to go and endure the lineups in the stores.

If you are planning on going out shopping today, here are my survival tips:

  1. Make A Plan:  Look on-line to see what stores are selling the items you actually need to purchase and see where has the best price.  That way you can figure out the best route and avoid back tracking in the congested traffic.
  2. Check the Original Price:  A lot of sales happening today are only a $150 off, if not less.  It could be worth the convenience of paying the regular price tomorrow to avoid the headache of Boxing Day Shopping today.
  3. Order Online:  If you can be patient for a few days, you can certainly save some money today by taking advantage of the online boxing week sales.  It will of course mean you’re likely going to be waiting until after the New Year before you get to start enjoying your exciting new purchase.
  4. Make Sure You Can Afford It:  Christmas just happened and for most people that means burning a hole in your wallet.  Don’t make any purchases for a great price that are going to mean going without food for the next three months while you try to pay it off.
  5. Have Fun and Be Polite:  This one should come without saying, but I am sure that we will hear of all sorts of huge battles going down in the stores over the last sale items on the news tonight.

I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas (or whatever holiday your family chooses to celebrate) with your friends and families.  I’m looking forward to seeing my family later this evening.

Until then, have an amazing day and go be kind out there!  Don’t forget to checkout my YouTube Video for more fun adventures:

What an Awesome Year

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I bet that none of you are going to be able to guess what today’s blog post is going to be about…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

…pretty original right?

Yesterday, as I scrolled through my friend’s book of face pages I noticed a very common theme.  I came across comment after comment from people saying how 2014 wasn’t a great year, but it wasn’t bad either.  It made me stop to reflect on my year and I began wondering what my overall feelings of the past year.  There were a lot of changes in my world, and since I have the memory of a gold fish, I decided to go through my massive collection of photos to recall all the crazy things that happened.

January

WP_20140113_12_57_17_ProThis always seems to be a pretty quiet month for me following the busy Christmas Season. I was working for WestJet as a flight dispatcher.  WP_20140202_13_27_16_ProI also was filling all my free time with driving motor coach for TRAXX. We were still in the process of filling the house with furniture after having moved into our rented home overlooking Elliston Park on the eastern edge of Calgary, Alberta.  I have no idea what my New Years Resolutions even were last year, but I am sure I wrote them in a blog post some where if I actually wanted to put the research into figuring out if I managed to accomplish any of them, but I am kind of scared to realize the areas where I failed to meet my goals, perhaps I’ll leave that until another day.

February

SavedPicture-201424122815.jpg February brought with it a lot more bus tours into the mountains taking passengers up for ski trip after ski trip.  WP_20140225_001It seemed like I didn’t get a single day off between working full time in dispatch and driving bus, but the money sure was nice to be able to make bill payments.  However, my stress levels with dispatching started to get higher and higher and my satisfaction level of working for WestJet was quickly decreasing.  My love of driving buses started to get larger and larger as the month went on.  WP_20140214_20_33_29_ProFebruary also brought with it the celebration of my “Mama’s” 50th birthday celebration.  It was a pretty huge honour to be asked to help put together the video memoir to celebrate on of my closest friend’s life.

March

WP_20140305_18_11_47_ProMarch continued with a few more bus charters, but they started to slow down.  I was lucky enough to find myself up at Lake Louise Ski Area for the first time ever.  I really enjoyed being able to see all sorts of destinations that I may not have otherwise seen if I wasn’t driving motor coach.  WP_20140329_16_40_15_ProHowever, I am not very well suited for highway driving.  I find that I get bored as there isn’t enough traffic to keep my mind engaged.  I was really missing driving transit buses.  Luckily, Mike was offered a position as a flight attendant back in Winnipeg.  This put the wheels into motion for us to start moving back.  Our house in Calgary was also joined by one of Mike’s friends as a room mate.  It was fun having a second room mate that was good at cooking and enjoying some libations.

April

WP_20140403_16_14_14_ProApril started with a road trip across the prairies to move Mike back to Winnipeg just in time to start his new job with another airline.  WP_20140429_15_42_08_ProI was glad that I was two provinces away from him while he was studying for yet another initial course, because listening to him complain from that far away was still pretty exhausting.  April also brought with it the offer of new employment for me back home in Winnipeg.  WP_20140418_001I would soon resume driving transit bus for the City of Winnipeg.  I was so incredibly excited for this opportunity to move home and started packing almost immediately.

May

WP_20140508_002I’m not going to lie, May was probably the most stressful month of the year.  I knew that starting my new job was going to cause a 4-week delay in getting my first pay cheque.  WP_20140509_22_55_24_ProAs a result, I did lots of shift trades with my co-workers at WestJet to move my scheduled hours for June into May so that I would have worked sufficient hours to still get paid long enough to cover the gap until I got my first cheque from the new job.  Matt Phone_20140529_002As a result, I worked 12 hours nearly every day of the month, and then came home to continue packing everything to get ready to move.  Any days off that I had were spent flying back to Winnipeg to visit Mike.  WP_20140531_13_09_52_ProAs the month came to an end, I worked my last shift at WestJet, went and picked up the U-Haul to start loading all of our belongings into it.  Thankfully, I was rescued by my friend Gavin and together we managed to make it all fit.  I hit the highway with my car in tow and was making my way towards yet another new adventure.

June


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June is definitely one of my favourite months of the year.  Mostly because it means that there is a celebration all to do with me.  Unfortunately, this year there was no celebration since we were unloading the U-Haul on my Birthday.  June marked my official end of employment with WestJet as I started re-training with the city.  I still remembered most of the policies and procedures, but the most difficult part was the process of breaking all the bad bus driving habits that I had formed since leaving transit bus driving several years ago.  Matt Phone_20140621_19_08_05_ProThe people in my class were really awesome and I have made some incredible new friends.  We also got to celebrate the marriage of two of very good friends up at Winnipeg Beach.  The weather was co-operative long enough for the ceremony to finish, and then the skies opened up and dumped half of the lake onto our heads.  Matt Phone_20140621_002It was great to be back in Winnipeg.  It wasn’t the warmest summer that I have ever experienced, but every afternoon was enjoyed relaxing outside in the yard lounging beside the pool that refused to warm up.  We temporarily moved in with Mike’s parents who graciously enough allowed us to destroy the lawn by setting up the Adult Kiddie Pool.

July

Matt Phone_20140707_002Summer was in full swing by the time July rolled around.  The weather had finally warmed up enough to start enjoying the pool.  Matt Phone_20140713_011I had finished my training and was now driving bus full time on my own.  It was so nice to be driving and not have to worry about the stress of the corporate world anymore.  Matt Phone_20140730_11_09_46_Pro July’s warm weather also meant a lot of time to catch up with friends doing some of my favourite Winnipeg summer activities like going to VJ’s and the BDI for burgers and ice cream.

August

Matt Phone_20140822_21_00_59_Pro__highresAugust was the month of birthday’s, or at least that is the way it felt.  Mike and Shannon both celebrated their birthday’s this month.  Matt Phone_20140830_20_49_26_Pro__highresIt was awesome to have a proper birthday party for Mike with all his friends.  We went out for dinner at the Peasant Cookery in the Exchange District and had what can only be described as an amazing celebration with friends.  August also was the breaking point where we needed to move out of Mike’s parents house.  Matt Phone_20140822_001I am so incredibly fond of Mike’s parents, but we all agreed that there was no where near enough space in their house for the four of us to live.  Matt Phone_20140831_14_31_56_Pro__highresWe found a really cute house that is 112 years old in the old Ukrainian/Polish neighbourhood of north Winnipeg to purchase and moved in.  Moving this time was much more relaxed, but much more inconvenient as all of our possessions were spread between three different properties.  The house needed some much needed TLC before it was ready to call a home.  Most importantly starting with a new coat of paint to hide the awful smell of cigarette smoke.

September

Matt Phone_20140901_001September was the continuation of the massive list of projects that needed to be completed around the house.  Matt Phone_20140901_006The living room and dining room were finally painted and Mike spent a lot of his free time going from store to store trying to find the furniture pieces that were going to furnish the house.  Matt Phone_20140924_003We also annihilated the jungle that had taken over the back yard and discovered that it is actually much bigger than we originally thought.  Matt Phone_20140925_001September made me learn to hate painting more than I ever imagined possible.  Slowly though, the house began to come together as the furniture began to arrive and room after room slowly became usable.

October

IMG_0020Matt Phone_20141013_002October slowly started to bring summer to an end.  I feel like this is where I began to feel that life had become overwhelming and there were just too many projects that needed to be completed.  Of that list, there really wasn’t any that I wanted to complete.  Demolishing the basement was completed and somewhat therapeutic as all the frustrations of home renovations were able to be expressed on the incorrectly framed walls and removal of the old cup boards and sink that weren’t even hooked up since the plumbing in the house was upgraded from steel to copper.  The extent of the excitement that I remember this month was going to work.  Matt Phone_20141031_002I didn’t even get dressed up for one of my favourite holidays, Halloween.  I did stay home to hand out candy to the neighbourhood kids, but was extremely disappointed to have only had about 30 visitors that night.

November

IMG_0024As the weather started to get colder outside, the mice quickly started taking warm refuge inside our house.  This is probably the worst part of 2014 for me.  Trying to evict those little creatures was awful.  The poison worked, but only temporarily.  We finally resorted to borrowing my parents cat to evict the mice which worked rather effectively.  IMG_0032I did enjoy a wonderful pre-christmas celebration with Clif and Shannon though at the annual Santa Clause Parade.  It was bitterly cold, but we endured until the end and saw possibly the very last time that Santa will ride this float before the build a new one for next year as this old piece of tradition has reached a point of being beyond repair.  IMG_0081Mike setup the Christmas tree in an attempt to put me into the festive Christmas spirit, but it just wasn’t happening this year.  The extreme pest problem was driving me crazy and the stress of having to deal with finding the perfect gifts for people was keeping my mood quite “grinchy”.

December

WP_20141211_006By the time December arrived, I reached my breaking point due to the lack of laundry in our house.  The machines were purchased back in August, but they had never been hooked up.  I put on my handy gloves and got to work installing the “Red Green” version a functioning washer and dryer plumbing, even though I didn’t use any duct tape.  WP_20141213_006December also brought with it the gift of lower gas prices.  This was a welcome break from the high price of fuel as prices at the pump are now nearly half of what they have been for the past few years.  WP_20141214_003I also have enough seniority at work to have selected my own designated bus routes which is a great way to wrap up 2014.  Having a designated schedule makes life so much easier to plan and enjoy.  The Christmas holidays were celebrated with our amazing family and friends, and after starting Christmas shopping on December 22, I had found the perfect gift for everyone before noon on December 24.

What is to come in 2015?

…. Well you will just have to stick around and find out!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!