Family Matters

Family Matters

The Perfect Storm: Story of How We Met

Chris & Jenn-1st Meeting

We often joke about turning how Chris and I met into a movie. Trust me, we have the rough draft already started.

Those who have known us over the years, know this story well but as I write my next post for our writer’s challenge, there is some relevance to see us from the beginning.

The email below was one I sent out the Monday after a freak ice storm/harried weekend trying to get back home to Winnipeg for a bestie’s wedding. We met, had our second date a month later, were engaged at 3 months in and got married in 2004.

10 years strong and it all started here.

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: 8 April 2003 11:13
Subject: Stranded

Hey all!

As I sit here I still can’t believe what this weekend entailed…below is an excerpt of what happened in the “journey” of trying to get there!…To everyone I was supposed to see please forgive me..I am SOOOOOO sorry…..had I come in when I was supposed to it would have been fine but I only ended having 36 hrs in total there!
Hope you’re all well and enjoy the story below…I think its going to turn into a screenplay…
  • UP at 6:15am Friday morning to head to the airport
  • 8 am arrival to GTAA, only to discover flight is cancelled
  • 8:45am Plea with Air Canada Personnel to get on stand-by for 11:50AM flight
  • 9:00am Requisite Happy Dance and journey to breakfast
  • 9:05am Meet Kathryn and Waanita. Kathyrn heading to Winnipeg as a Maid of Honour for a wedding. Waanita off to Cape Breton for her parents 50th wedding anniversary.
  • 9:10 Enjoy the antics of VERY entertaining Russian waitress who…even if you asked for scrambled eggs and toast decided to bring you waffles and a fruit cup…You vant eggs…Ho-kay…I bring you sausage!
  • 9:40am 11:50 flight cancelled
  • 10:00am In line with Air Canada pleading for a new flight…currently 120 people on stand-by to the Peg for the next flight (Dude tells me there might be no flights out today at all)
  • 10:05am First cry of the day
  • 10:20am Meet Joe Flaherty from SCTV…gives me an autograph that includes his requisite JACKASS line…love it..renewed sense of optimism
  • 10:25am 2:50 flight cancelled
  • 10:30am Second cry of the day…
  • 10:35 am Back in line with AC…trying for the 5pm flight…NOW 405 people on stand-by for the flight
  • 11:00 am 5:00 flight cancelled
  • 11:30 am Re-booked for the 7:55 pm
  • 12:00 pm Totally frustrated- The entire airport is packed, and rumours are floating that all flights Friday were to be cancelled because of GTAA dumbass mistake of no de-icer fluid in existence at the airport….nasty evil people who didn’t realize that its NOBODY’s fault who are around them and yet they’re lashing out at anyone close …Try mentioning that thinking good karmic thoughts might be helpful…Almost get punched out..Allllllllllrighty then!
  • 12:05pm Meet some wonderfully friendly folk (Kathryn and Waanita both still hanging out)…Meet Rob, flying down to Washington to spend the weekend with a potential romance…Meet Wade, who hadn’t seen his kids in 14 months and it was his birthday the day before and he JUST wanted to go home…Met Chris, who was heading to Vancouver to go skiing for the weekend
  • 12:30pm Alright …Decide its past the yard-arm …might as well dig in cause we’re going to be here for hours!
  • 12:30pm-4:30pm Turn Lemons into Lemonade….Decide to have a party in the Second City Departure Lounge…Kathyrn, Waanita, Wade, Rob, Chris in for the count…meet up with Marilyn, Bryan, Oscar, Andrew and many others…who all are just the most fantastic people ever!
This is a couple of hours after we met. Destiny at its finest.
This is a couple of hours after we met. Destiny at its finest.
  • 5:00pm Go to check the departure board…absolute devastation washes over…7:55pm flight is cancelled…Biggest tears of the day…Chris who was also checking his flight convinces me to go talk to AC personnel (which of course I deem as helpless at this point)
  • 5:00-5:30pm…the beauty goddess AC personnel known as Lisa does the most incredible thing…she works some serious magic and gets me the LAST seat on the ONLY flight out of Pearson that night TO VANCOUVER (the flight has been given the last of the de-icing fluid rations because it was heading to Hong Kong)
  • 5:35pm…Crying for joy…get to see my family…Happy dance…kissing Lisa…she tell sme she’s not a lesbian…I tell her I’m not either but I DO think SHE is the MOST ROCKING chick I have ever met!
  • 6:00pm Rob sees that I get a flight so he heads to the US part to see if he can get one…so does Wade….BOTH come back having gotten the only flights out (persistence and patience pays off…everyone else had gone home)…Group Happy Dance!!
  • 6:05-9:00…Celebratory party that we’re all getting to go to where we planned
  • 9:50pm…Board flight…Chris and I are on same flight together, seats side by side and end up hanging out all the way to Vancouver…
  • 1:00am …Arrive into Vancouver…exhausted…spent….feeling gross…Chris helps me out by introducing me to Sean, one of the most amazing Newfoundlanders you will ever meet who ever so kindly offer a place for me to stay for a couple of hours and a shower (Once again…Thank you thank you thank you Chris)
  • 2:05am..Crying again (out of sheer joy)…having a shower..can’t believe it…the BEST feeling EVER in my entire existence
  • 5:00 am…Up and heading back to the airport
  • 7:00am …On flight to Edmonton to transfer to Winnipeg (In Seat 7B…Excellent…Wedding is at 2:30…at the front of the plane…COULD make it)
  • 9:30am..Arrive Edmonton…reboarding for Winnipeg…get bumped to last row of plane….So tired I can’t even cry anymore
  • 10:00am…Tell my neighbouring seat partner of my predicament and claim that I will trample him to get ahead of the rest of the people on the plane to get out in time)
  • 1:30pm…Touch down in Winnipeg…”Cabin crew prepare for…” Out of my seat….Doing a better sprint time than Ben Johnson…Get to 7B (where my luggage still was)..can’t get it out of the top container…saying loudly “I have 50 minutes to get to my friend’s wedding and …I can’.t…get…this…OUT!!! Lady in 8 F yells “somebody help her…she has to get to a wedding!!”…Very nice guys yank out my bag and set it down for me…am now trying to move past all folk in the aisle leisurely getting their bags…Lady in 8F (did I tell you I love her?) …yells again…”Get out of her way, she’s got to get to a wedding!!” …Everyone pushes back into their seats and lets me out…Running (Full speed) out of the airplane…out of the arrivals gate…down the escalator (clunk…ker plunk…ker plunk) my luggage trying to keep up with me…See my mom…grab her hand and get her running full out pace to the car…
  • 1:40pm…To the hairdresser’s (my hair was a good imitation of a rat’s nest by that time)…Ray (hairdresser is frantically doing my hair, my mom is helping me with my make-up…throwing on nylons and bra and everything (including dress) at the same time that all this is happening)
  • 2:25pm…Ray done…face done…dressed…boot it out of Ray’s…my dad is outside with the car running….Do a fabulous imitation of NASCAR racers as I keep saying “Go go go dad”
  • 2:33pm…Arrive at the church as Lisa is about to walk down the aisle..
  • 2:35pm…Run in, sit down AS the music starts playing the wedding march
  • Going through ALL of this, to see my friend get married…FABULOUS!
  • Head to the reception and have less than 24 hours in the Peg..stop by the St.Andrew’s Ball…do a little caliegh dancing…..see dad …see family…see a couple friends…have 2 hrs sleep and am back on a plane to Toronto Monday morning at 5am…
  • Get to the airport Monday am and they tell me I’m not on the flight…(Pardon? Did I just smoke some crack? My ticket says I’m on this flight…after verge of near tears ONE MORE TIME…they fix the problem and I head home)
Am I glad I lived for the moment…absolutely….am I ready to collapse…absolutely!! Thanks mom and dad for all your help this weekend!
Take care and I will talk to you all soon!
** Many Thanks to Susie Parker for keeping this email all these years and sending it to me on our 10th Anniversary. You are a sap and I absolutely love you. 
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Family Matters

The #CentsAbility of Sharing


Our #CentsAbility Challenge

My dad has a lot of sense when it comes to money.  He can tell you with acute clarity how much my folks have in savings, investments and the cost of running the house.

I somehow did not inherit this trait in terms of good money practice and how to save.

This is why when Manulife put out the call to try a #CentsAbility Challenge for the month of October, I was 100% totally and completely IN.

We are solid in terms of putting money aside for savings like our kids RESP and for our RRSP, but I do find myself too often surprised and asking, “where exactly did the money go?”

The #CentsAbility challenge is setting us on the right path of planning before we go out and stopping the purchase of the “Impulse Buy” in order to take back the money we work so hard to make.

But for us…there is a catch.

We had the opportunity to go to Tanzania last month to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as our way of celebrating the milestones we have met this year (10th Anniversary & 40th Birthday).

We booked our trip through Intrepid Travel (who I personally adore) and because it was important to us to do something more than just go, we got connected with the Intrepid Foundation right before we left.

The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund that helps travelers give back to the communities they visit. They are supported by Intrepid Travel, Geckos Adventures and Peregrine Adventures which means all the admin costs for the fund are covered by those companies. They also match donations dollar for dollar which for me, and this #CentsAbility challenge, makes my heart sing.

The Intrepid Foundation introduced us to the which promotes education opportunities within the Kilimanjaro area. We have a #TeamPowell fundraising campaign going (again the match people, take advantage of the match!) and plan to keep it a continued goal in our world moving forward.

You see, when we were on the trip, I had an opportunity to get to know our guides (6 days hiking on a mountain can help with that!) local villagers, children, and “business owners.” I learned about costs of living, costs of education, gas, healthcare, retirement… for them it was “what is retirement?” not “when is retirement?”.

If you ever want to get a hard knock perspective on your life compared to what life could be like in another country, check out If it were my home. It provided us a serious look at how vast life is different between Canada and Tanzania. Tanzanian’s average YEARLY salary is about $1,400.

When we came home to our bungalow in Toronto, it felt like it was a palatial mansion. The clothes in our closet, the toys, everything just made me kind of grossed out.

We just have SO MUCH STUFF and it suddenly felt like we could easily do without much of it, if it means providing dollars that can change someone’s year over in Tanzania.

So our goal in the #CentsAbility challenge is to pull back as much as possible to help raise those much needed dollars for We are totally game in ways in which we can do this and are watching all the #CentsAbility challengers to find ways we can help make a difference.

We apparently are both fans of this image AND of saving money

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Family Matters

A Fresh Approach to Autism

Autism Letterpress Type

Mom says…

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

I started blogging awhile back on a different site and for a different reason. It was a space I used to pour out my anger and heartache (and then eventually positivity and encouragement) when learning to accept and manage a new ASD diagnosis for my son. It was a site that talked about learning to run in order as we learned how to deal.

I cried daily when I ran and when I wrote.  I would talk stuff out with my awesome running partner. (Thank you forever and a day, Jen) and then I would talk it out online. For a number of years, running and writing truly became my therapy.

What I learned about blogging was that everyone has a story to tell, and surprisingly, when you tell it, people want to connect. As I wrote, I discovered my tribe. I got to know other amazing bloggers who talked through the story of Special Needs Parenting. I read and digested their blogs daily; I felt their pain, we shared our stories. I wrote the blog to spin a positive light on Autism, sharing successes and challenges but with a focus on hope and joy.

And then Autism got too much for me.

We had to fight the school board for support; we had to fight for resources and waiting lists; we had to teach our kids, our friends kids, our friends, teachers, swim instructors, hockey coaches and our families that talking about Autism did not have to feel hushed or uncomfortable (trust me, there are still friends and family who can’t seem to get over that piece). We had to learn to manage stranger stares and grocery shop glares, we had to learn to be different parents, we had to learn how to maintain our relationship in the midst of all this, and we had to learn not to turn on each other when you are so angry you are ready to tear someone apart.

I felt depressed. I walked away from the blog and we walked away from concentrating so much on Autism for a bit. We just decided to live with it. Know what? After awhile, it just kind of settled in like a member of the family. It’s funny how a change of perspective can completely redefine how you live your life.

We already know it is ever present in our lives and we SO know that we are about to enter into another phase soon of Autism awful (I see a dear friend going through it with her child in Junior High, and it kills me to see her have to deal with so much heartbreak). But we have decided that we don’t want to concentrate on the awful. Instead, we wanted to launch a new blog that provides a different perspective on Autism, on parenting, on pushing your limits, living life in the moment, travelling, adventure and everything in between from BOTH our viewpoints: Mom AND Dad.

So welcome to It may not be therapy, but we look forward to it being a lot of fun.

Dad says…

This is Dad.  Dad does not (historically) share.  Oh, I share stories, jokes, snacks and time, but feelings? Emotions? REAL stuff? No, no. But I saw how it worked for Jenn, allowing her to get some catharsis by putting herself out there and letting it go. So here we go: I will do my best to open up and give a sneak peak under the hood, I promise.

For me, the diagnosis of Autism for our son was overwhelmingly frustrating.  I don’t mind a good fight, but I couldn’t see this opponent.  I didn’t understand it, I felt guilty about the cause, and truly wondered how the hell I was going to get through it.  WAY too many I’s in that world.

So, I shifted.  I started thinking more about different life views, imagining how our guy would see the world.  I read a lot of books, and did a lot of watching.  I learned so much about how the world might not be as I viewed it. That has certainly opened up a whole new vista for me.  I broadened my horizons by experiencing different viewpoints, cultures, and religions, and I realized they all deserved an opportunity to be heard. And that is what you get today, I hope.

I am still making mistakes, but I am trying to make more honest and educated ones. We have always been told Special Needs parenting is tricky. The catch is, parenting in general is tricky. We hope you get some enjoyment from our experience along the way.

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