One Year Later

So thought I would carry on with the last post…

Belize, as I said, was amazing. My husband and I got some much needed ‘us’ time away from everything. I got my sun and he got to release mentally. Belize itself was an amazing experience. We will definitely be back!

After spending a little over 2 weeks there we hopped back to the US to the in-laws. I missed my daughter a lot, but was always at ease because she was in amazing hands, and around people she needs to get to know. Prior to the flight and right up until we walked through the door I had an old fear come back…will she remember me? I know it seems a little silly, but it goes back to something I think I talked about in a post somewhere way back…when I came out of the coma and was finally at a point where I could see my daughter she responded to my best friend…not me. When I got home she responded to my best friend…not me. It crushed me. I could tell my friend was worried about it…but we did talk and I thanked her, to which I think she was fairly surprised at first. I admitted it was hard to see that reaction from my daughter, basically seeing someone else as a mother figure, but that what it told me was that She had truly stepped in…moved a thousand miles and been there for my child…nurtured her as her own…and that is nothing short of an amazing act! None the less, I still have those moments entrained in my mind, and while I am eternally grateful for the people in my life being there in this manner, it still scares me that I have missed so much of her infancy and that fear of her bonding more with another is always present. Part of that is my relationship, or lack there of, with my own mom, and I know it is in my head…I guess it is healthy because it is a reflection of how much I want to be there for her and to be her guidance and go to person.

Anyways, we spent some more time in the southern US…even more time in the sun…YAY. His family is so great to be around. They are all VERY close and have an amazing home, and are just good people all around. I did get to see a scary dynamic though…something I have never witnessed…my husband and his brother…just…just wow! There is always tension there to some degree…I think my husband gets a little frustrated with his brother. The entire family are professionals…except the brother. He is a free spirit. His ambition is finding the next good time…hitting the beach or a party or the next woman in the sack…whatever. Anyways, out of seemingly nowhere they start fighting…and I mean fricken fighting! I have brothers…I have seen fights…but there are 2 guys who are gym nuts and no how to fight. Fists flew…stuff broke…there was blood………………it was just stunning! Still no idea on what actually started it, when I asked they just laughed…2 bloodied men just laughing….looking at each other and saying lets go golf! WOW. I really don’t know what to make of it. In one hand it was funny and kind of awesome that they could shrug it off and then hang out immediately after…on the other hand it scares me on so many levels I don’t even know where to start. Afterwards, when me and their mom were hanging out, she simply said “Yeah, they are like that. They show they care about each other with fists.” Really hard to wrap my head around, because it seems sooooo displaced for this family.

Anyways, since this we have returned home and enjoyed a super early spring. I have been progressing really well and enjoying messing around in the yard and taking kiddo out in the sunshine. Right now everything just seems perfect…tis great. I am probably in the best shape of my life. I have been going mad in the gym and have fricken stunning abs! My blood tests are showing stability for the time being, but I know we are going to have to deal with it all again soon enough. My daughter had a spinal tap (something I simply couldn’t be there for…it was too much for me) and there is nothing over the top. There are some numbers they want to watch and intend to do a couple taps a year. They are saying she is a high risk person for a Leukaemia outbreak, so we are going to monitor it all very close. If something does progress…we want to be all over it. The only thing that has been hampering me of late is that it is coming up on the one year anniversary of my sleep…and that has been causing me to miss out on some sleep…which is probably why I am writing out my thoughts. Basically 2 weeks from now is when it all happened…will be relieving when July long weekend comes and goes!

Beautiful People

When times get tough we generally anticipate, or at least hope, that those closest to us will be your supports system, as you would be theirs in their time of need. It is so true that in the darkest of hours that the brightest of lights will guide you and be your security, and further that a lot about those around you will be truly shown. you will see those that shock you with how much they offer their ear or a hand, those that are there if you really need them, those that are not their as much as you anticipated and those that you never really thought would be there but become someone special in your life when the tide eventually recesses a little.

When I awoke from the coma and started to really wrap my head around the severity of the situation I eventually started to think about a lot of things, such as the business that I had been growing. So, I had started delving into real-estate, and had jumped in full force with an initial purchase of 11 houses to work on, essentially flip. I keep a steady crew of people pretty busy…one crew (call it Crew A) working on demo on a house and getting ahead of the next crew (Crew B). Crew B works mainly on plumbing, electrical, rough-in work, etc. Crew A comes back and works more on final constructions such as dry-walling, perhaps a deck, sometimes flooring. Crew C focuses on finishing…painting, most of the flooring, yard details. This seems to keep everyone pretty happy, because there is some level of diversity, yet there is enough repetition that they get a little more efficient on every house. In the end, we are working on any given 3 houses, and the timing of interchanging the crews gives freedom of project space, plus with 3 crews they can shuffle a person from one to the other when needed, and if there is a delay on something it is very easy to shuffle people around and keep them working, and thus happy and not looking for a new job.

It seems to be a pretty efficient model, not sure how I came up with it with zero construction experience, but I did. I was also pretty luck because I landed a pretty darned group of trades guys right off the hop, and they seemed content to stick with me, and realized I was going to be going at this aggressive enough to keep them all going for some time. Getting a good group of construction guys here is very difficult, as the economy has been booming for over a decade. Even in the recession, it never really slowed down, and it is near impossible to find workers for anything. I have heard it can be hard to find people that even have time to bid on a job, never mind actually DO it. Some larger industrial and commercial jobs have actually been put off due to lack of work force, and the billion dollar jobs are flying people in from all over. It is rather insane.

So anyways, one of the guys, Ji, working with me is basically the foreman running all of the crews, and actually found most of the guys to work. Part way through the initial 11 houses, Ji approached me to see if I would be open/interested in some sort of a partnership. Now, he had been awesome to work with…very knowledgeable, I got along with him well, the guys respected him and worked for him, and I really liked that he kept the atmosphere at each job light yet productive…I want an environment that people like working in. What I liked in the deal was that I generally trusted Ji and that I would not have to be there near as much, which is pretty cool. He would do full over-site without me actually continuing to give him direct payment, but wanted 20% of the profit. I liked the general idea and structure, but had some unrest. At 20% of the profit it would consume about 7-8% of my profits, but the huge trade-off is of course cutting my time at the jobs probably in half, which is worth it in my opinion. However, I countered him by requesting 40% take (yes, I know, more than he requested!), but he needs to put up 20% of the costs. There was then a progression on each new house where he would have to contribute more. My thought was that this gives him a bit more motivation to manage costs and more likely keeps his numbers true. My costs ramp up, the profit goes down and my margins drop, so does his take, and I know to start looking where the money is going. It is a way that if he can come up with the initial investment that he basically gets extra take-home compared to investment to start, and once he is stabilized he has double the stake in profits than he asked for, but he also takes on part of the risk, as he is investing cash in each project between initial investment, materials, labour, etc. This is a window to grow into a true partnership where he can make a lot more money, and it is a scale that he simply did not have the finances to do on his own. I know I could simply say no, or take his offer and would line my pockets a lot more, but I like this guy, and it just seems like a good fit. To my joy he found the money for initial investment and away we go!

So yeah, I kinda had to explain that portion of the business model to explain my concerns when I started wondering about where all of that was at after I came to. Of course nobody wanted me worrying about it, and just kept saying everything was fine. Ji even came to see me when he finally could and echoed what everyone else said. It really frustrated me…I had a lot of money invested in this, and while my health was the key focus it was still important. Now, the fact that Ji actually showed up, gave me some level of reassurance.

So finally, over 7 months after going into the hospital, people finally started bringing me up to speed on what had happened. The company had slowed a little without me around, as I was the primary person securing properties, but he still had it going along, and my husband and a friend would step in to secure the odd house that he would find. Here is the crazy part…he was not receiving full payment from MY end, but he stuck with it! He understood the situation, and was patient. I mean, the guy was out a LOT of money, and I immediately took him to the bank and got him half of it, and explained I would get the books in order and go over it all and make it good within about a week. He simply replied with a polite “no rush, I know you will fix it.” Seriously, how amazing of a person is this! Here is the even crazier part. When I finally got to go home I was in a wheelchair, and had all sorts of accessibility issues. It was Ji and some of the crew who, on their own time and dime, set up my ramps and worked on stuff in the house for me to be able to have access. I never new any of this until this week…I just assumed my husband hired someone to do all of that.

You know, I don’t know how I managed to team up with such great people in this, especially from day one, and while I clearly liked Ji and the crew, I had no idea how amazing they are. The world often upsets and saddens me. I often step back and look at the world, and it brings a tear to my eye. Then you see this…it makes you see the greatness that also surrounds us…it gives one hope. All I can say is thank-you…

Beautiful People!

Valentine’s Day, Another day for consumerism

“Holidays” generally frustrate me.  What meaning most may have actually had have generally been engulfed by marketing and the incessant need to capitalize on any possibility to make a dime. It makes me a both a little sad and a little angry that every holiday seems to now just be the next big cash grab.

Now for the part that most men out there will love and many women will cringe at…Valentine’s Day is perhaps the worst of them! Do you really need a day of the year for society’s expectations to remind your significant other that with flowers and candy and perhaps a nice dinner out that you love them? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the idea of ensuring you set aside that day to spend extra time together, but for me it is has become a day to exploit your bank account, and guilt you into spending more.

I believe I wrote about my husband’s efforts last year, with him renting a condo for the evening in out building and us spending an amazing night together. Now yes, there was a fair amount of money spent on that, but there was such amazing thought in it that it was simply amazing. Having just had our child at the start of the year, the fact that he arranged a night out alone while still being close to her to ease my mind…words can not describe how thoughtful of a gift that was. So this year I figured it was my turn to do something special. That’s right ladies…equality means doing this type of thing works BOTH ways. A wise friend “Love her as if there is someone working 24 hours to take her from you.” That to, and the expression of that love, works both ways.

So then it was off to put thought into what to do on our special lil day, without caving to all of the expected norms. Well, it starts off with the easy one…I wake up at midnight and perform, erm, happy time on him…some say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I am a firm believer it is through his cock…c’mon…you all know it is true. It was pretty cute really, I did my thing and he clearly felt obligated to reciprocate, but I simply ushered him back to sleep. He was very confused. Happy, but confused. Good start imo…selflessly bringing pleasure/happiness to my man.

So then I actually managed to wake up before him. That may sound easy, but I think it is the first time it has ever happened aside from the odd time he had a really late night. He generally wakes up to the slightest movement, but he swears he did not this time, even though I sill half think he may have been playing along to appease me. So I made him a nice little breakfast in bed…nothing crazy, because I knew he would wake up, but it is the thought that counts on this right? Then back to the easy part…more happy time.

So we got moving and I let him know that he needed to dress warm for the day, we dropped the kiddo off at friends, and headed out. My husband is pretty athletic. He is a exercise freak, even more than I am. He has played countless sports, either organized or recreational, but being originally from a warm climate he has never played hockey…he has never even skated. Well, an interesting tidbit about my husband is that he has Permanent Resident status, but is not actually a citizen here. Recently he has been talking a lot about getting his citizenship, primarily because we do have a child now, and it will make any potential legal issues easier to work with if something happens to me, but he is also doing some inner searching and evaluating if he wants to have dual citizenship, or renounce his US status and have just one..a little more to think about still. At any rate, he is actually a bit of a hockey fan, and that has grown a lot in his time in Canada, and he continually jokes that he can’t be a true Canadian because he doesn’t know how to play hockey. So, enter my gift for the day…I took him skating. Now I used to be a pretty good skater, and physio is going very well, but wow…it sure looked like 2 people that have never skated before! Of course we fell a bunch, and of course the bugger found out quickly that skating is apparently just one more damned thing he is good at, and before long he was holding me up. I am still pretty proud of my effort, and really impressed at how fast he picked it up, even though it pissed me of a little at the same time. lol

The public rink of choice here is a wonderful venue down at the riverfront. The park stretches for miles along it, and truly is amazing…stunning scenery. We walked around a bit as the light snow turned into what was eventually like a foot of snow…bloody hell…and found a little concession stand that we grabbed some hotdogs at and some yummy elephant ears….my first elephant ear will NOT be my last…yummy. We eventually settled on a nice bench overlooking the park and river, and sat there sipping on hot chocolate I brought from home until the sun set and cast a beautiful glow over our little winter wonderland. It was like a scene from one of those little snow globes…just amazing.

We eventually made it home and had a light supper and sipped on some wine from the fruit in our yard. He gave me a new painting that I had eyeballed a couple weeks back at a flee market. Then, of course, evening happy time.

My point of all of this is pretty simple really; We had a day of thought filled giving and experiences without caving to the normal expectations that the day brings. He organized the day last year, and I organized it this year. It doesn’t matter for us the physical gifts given, as the only physical gift passed on over the past 2 years was a $15 painting…a painting that he remembered me loving and went back to get. Sure, maybe next year we will end up doing a more traditional dinner out or something, maybe not. We do the evenings out, and suppers and ensure that we have lots of “us’ time, so I don’t really see that happening. For us, this is but one instance over the year that we think of something that will touch each other’s heart and soul, and create a memory that no bouquet of flowers ever can.

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