Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Really Great Day!

Well, it feels like it happened ages ago, when it was really just on December 14th. Now that I'm done work, everything feels to be moving in slow motion and hyperspeed all at the same time, especially since it's been the Christmas season. But I wanted to blog about it, in a sense to commemorate the end of a very memorable semester at Mohawk.

So here we go! Please enjoy some pictures and commentary on the Mohawk College ESL program graduation.

There are two groups that graduate and receive certificates at the ceremony: College Entrance English 3 and LINC 6 (my class!) These two classes are equivalent in level. The only difference is that LINC is a government-sponsored program for immigrants. However, all students are invited to come and participate in the ceremony. As a result, it was one of the most diverse and interesting ceremonies I've attended. We had classes sing Christmas carols, an international fashion show, a Latin dance demonstration, speeches, a flute/piano duet, and even a teacher's skit.

Here are our lovely and talented MCs: Holly, from China, and Duki, from Slovenia. They did a really fantastic, professional job.

My favourite part of the ceremony was the fashion show. Students were encouraged to come to the stage wearing traditional outfits from their host countries. They came in groups by country and explained the function/purpose of their outfits. This was a beautiful, spectacular part of the ceremony, with groups from China, Korea, Germany, Serbia, Sudan, Chad, Colombia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc! At the end, all the students formed a line on stage, grasped hands, and took a deep bow. Again, I was so impressed by the multiculturalism of Canada. Truly beautiful.

Due to students' privacy, I can't show many pictures. But here's just a taste. This group is from Korea.

And this group is from Colombia. Daniel, on the left, is wearing, as he put it, "traditional coffee farmer's clothing." No kidding... I thought I was looking at Juan Valdez himself!

And kudos to MaryAnne, the LINC 7 instructor who came dressed as a Canadian. I love it! We all had a good laugh as she explained that she had just witnessed her neighbour leave for work that morning dressed in a similar fashion.

After the ceremony, we all went to the Mandarin for lunch.



And then, as suddenly as the semester had started, it was all done. We hugged, promised to stay in touch, and I drove back to sleepy St. Catharines.

The last few weeks have been very different for me. First, the Christmas rush, and now lots of reading and puzzle-solving as we await the arrival of Peanut. But we'll save that for another post.

Thanks for a great semester, everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Am Having a Baby!

Ok, no, no, not at this very minute, so don't get all in a panic or anything.

I guess it just hit me, like, TODAY.

I finally finished work on Friday. It was a great day, and I'm hoping to publish a post with pictures from graduation soon (just waiting for permission to post the pics).

But I noticed that even with work being done, my anxiety persisted. A feeling of needing to do something, but not being sure what. Every morning I wake up with a tight chest (my body's favourite way of expressing anxiety) and I lie there wondering, "WHY am I anxious?" And then I get up and kind of spin in circles all day, feeling frustrated, like I'm not doing something I should be doing, but not sure what that something is.

Our weekend was busy with Christmas shopping and friends, and so yesterday was the first day I had all to myself. I just worked myself into a state, cleaning, writing Christmas cards, applying for EI, all with that nagging feeling that I needed to do more NOW. Very frustrating.

And then, today, it started to all make sense. I went to the midwife, by myself for the first time in months as Jeff was working, and I noticed the mood had shifted. Suddenly, she was talking about the "home stretch." I got my "binder" full of all my medical info as well as stimulating reading material on topics such as perineal massage ("massage" being a bit of a misnomer, methinks). I was told about preparing my "hospital bag" and other necessary supplies. And I was informed that this was the last bi-weekly appointment. From here on in, it's once a week. YIKES! Both the midwife and I wondered where all the time had gone.

Then she measured me and felt around for the baby (still posterior, but at least not breech!) And then she suddenly said, "Oh, you're having a Braxton Hicks contraction." And I said, "WHAT are you talking about?" And she said, "See how you're all tight right now? That's a Braxton Hicks contraction." And I was like, "Really? It is? That happens all the time!"

Now I know, Braxton Hicks is not the real thing. It's just you're body getting ready. But somehow this little revelation changed everything. I mean, I've been experiencing these tightening sensations very regularly. I never thought they were Braxton Hicks. I just didn't really think at all. I thought those would at least hurt a little bit.

So all day, I've been walking around thinking, "oh, there's another one." And then, "oh my goodness... this is for real." I picked up Jeff from work, told him all about the appointment and said, "So, we're really having a baby. Like, in ONE MONTH, we'll be holding our little Peanut! This is CRAZY!" He just smiled. And then I came home and checked my email. And there was my weekly email update about the pregnancy. The quotes couldn't have been more timely...

'For many women, the last weeks of pregnancy are when "reality hits." It's taken this long, says Alford, for it to really sink in that she's actually having a baby.'

'As you make the journey from pregnancy into motherhood, you're bound to have some mixed feelings. Not only is your body becoming cumbersome, but you've got a lot on your mind. You may feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do and think about.'

Um, ya. I would say that about sums it up.

So tomorrow, when I wake up to the all-too-familiar chest pains, I'll know what it's all about:

I'M HAVING A BABY!!!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lovely LINC 6

So, I've been promising a post about my students for quite some time. Some of you have asked where this post is. And finally, here it is! Kathy finally got around to lugging Jeff's massive camera to Mohawk (after informing Jeff that no, I did not want to bring the fancy flash, and yes, please just put it on automatic; I'm not into the fancy-are-you-done-taking-pictures-yet poses, just basic snapshots, thank you very much!)

For your information, LINC stands for "Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada." In all my years teaching ESL, this is the first time I have had the privilege of teaching LINC. And yes, it has been an immense privilege. I find that many ESL instructors, and sadly, I have to include myself in this grouping, have, at one time or another, turned up their noses at LINC programs. They think LINC is "touch feely" and not nearly as rigorous as academic preparation programs designed for international students.

My experience has been different. For a number of reasons, really. Mohawk College simply has an excellent LINC program with a strong history and a very caring and compassionate coordinator who believes in the program with all her heart. I could go on about this for awhile, but I'll save it...

Also, I've been teaching LINC 6, which differs from the other levels of LINC in the program. It's a semester-long course, unlike the other levels, which are continuous intake and allow students to move up levels at the beginning of each month (if they're ready, of course.) Additionally, it's an equivalent course to College Entrance English 3, the highest-level "academic English" course offered in the ESL program to international, fee-paying students. As such, it's considered preparation for regular college courses, and it's very similar to any other high-level course I've previously taught.

So why the excitement? I've taught for many years, and I've rarely, if ever, wanted to blog about my students... well, at least in a positive way... ;)

This is the difference: they are immigrants. They need English to succeed in their new country. And they love and are proud of their new country. They are adults, with real-life experiences. They have a depth and kindness and maturity I have not previously experienced in students. Unlike many of my former international students, they want to know about Canada. You should have seen them at Halloween! Last year, I had one student tell me, "I don't care about Canadian traditions; I just want to study grammar. That's what's important." This attitude angered me to no end. This year, I wasn't planning to take my students to the Pumpkin Carving Contest, because, after last year's experience, I figured that we "had more important things to do." Well, I couldn't keep them away! I had grown men, rushing to the scene, digital cameras in hand, giddy with excitement. I had students dressing up in costume (and totally disrupting class!) All my plans for a serious and productive day of study vanished. And I was thrilled.

Besides their eagerness for all things Canadian, I am deeply impressed by their personal stories. Around midterm, I decided to conference with each of them, one-on-one, to get to know them better, and give them a chance to express any concerns they might have about the course or otherwise. I wasn't fully prepared for the experience. I cried or at least got very teary-eyed with a good quarter of them. These are people who know sacrifice and pain. They have experienced the full range of life... from divorce, war, death, to leaving family, security, and everything familiar and comfortable, for the chance at a better life. Their stories are too personal to share. But look closely at their faces. This is the new Canada. I'm deeply touched and excited. These individuals have truly enriched my life.

Ricardo, from Colombia.

Abul, from Bangladesh; Yang, from China, and Altug, from Turkey.

My three Romanian women: Elisabeta, Felicia, and Monica.

Andy, from Cuba.

Shayan, from Iran; Daniel, from Colombia, and Akhmet, from Kazakhstan.

Akhmet again, and Andrea, from Hungary.

Monica again, and Marija, from Macedonia.

Arta, from Kosova; Deroni, from Sri Lanka; Lena, from Iraq.

Lena again, and Elena, from Russia, and Sima, from Iran.

Holly, from China.

Echo, from China; Najva, from Iran, and you've already met the rest.

And to my students: I looked up the spelling of two words in the dictionary while writing this blog. See? Even native speakers have to do that sometimes! And yes, I began many sentences with coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS), and I even included some sentence fragments. But remember, a blog is not academic writing; it's more personal and informal. So I'm allowed to break the rules, but you're NOT! ;)

To the rest of my readers: Sorry for the "teacher talk!" Although I'm sure Joanne appreciated the dictionary reference! ;)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Little Break Away...

So today Jeff and I headed down to Webster's Falls in Dundas. We meandered all the way along Highway 8, driving through lots of little towns and downtown Hamilton. It was a perfect day for it, crisp and cool but with lots of sunlight. We even packed a picnic lunch.

I asked Jeff to please take a picture of us together. He's always the one behind the camera now, and I find we don't have a lot of pictures of the two of us together. He obliged, and I like the result, don't you? It's by Tews Falls.

After checking out Tews Falls, we slowly headed over to Webster's, with me huffing and puffing along the way. I sat on a rock and enjoyed the sun while Jeff took some more shots.

In case you're wondering, baby's doing well. The belly is growing steadily. I'm now at 29 weeks. Crazy eh? One of my favourite things to do now is just spend quiet time with "Peanut" as Jeff always calls the belly. In the craziness of the day, as I drive to and from Hamilton and teach, I don't always notice Peanut's movements. But in the evenings, or on the weekends, I like to just be quiet and read, and enjoy every sensation. Peanut's been moving a lot today. While we were walking, I had the distinct sensation that an elbow was trying to push out my belly button. So far, my innie has stubbornly (but just barely) remained an innie. Peanut was definitely trying to change that today! I don't feel kicks as much anymore as I do glides and rolls. At my last midwife's appointment, she felt around and pointed out all the different positions of different baby parts: the head, back, butt and feet. It made a lot of the sensations I've been feeling make more sense. Peanut's feet seem to usually be up high, under my right ribs. Sometimes I feel movement under my ribs and way down on the left in my groin at the same time. There's just baby spread everywhere now! I find myself wishing time would simultaneously speed up and slow down. The emotions can be overwhelming at times.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Eyes Are Open Wide, the Breath I Inhale is Deep, and the Air Is Very Fresh

I've been thinking a lot about cynicism lately. When I say lately, I mean the past few months. (I like to let thoughts rinse and spin for a while before hanging them to dry). I think the reason for these thoughts is because as an expectant mother, I'm thinking a lot about what kind of "legacy" I want to pass on to my child. And I'm realizing that I don't want my legacy to include cynicism. The ability to think critically, yes, but not cynicism. A fine line indeed.

This may be more easily said than done. Jeff and I definitely lean towards an attitude of cynicism, especially with regards to certain areas of life, and I'd have to say that we certainly embraced it quite fully as a means of dealing with the shock of resuming our Canadian lives a year and a half ago.

But I find that as the months have gone by, I've grown tired... ridiculously tired of this former ally. Frankly speaking, it's begun to bore me. I hear it in myself, I hear it in Jeff, I hear it in friends and family around me, and I think, "This is really getting old."

At its heart, I believe cynicism is intellectual laziness. No, actually, pairing it with the word "intellectualism" is wrong. Because it's not. It's just laziness. It's easy for me to look and sound intelligent by merely putting down every idea put out there, and every moron who chooses to believe it. And I've walked that road. I've even perfected the smirk that goes along with it. It's easy because you can be the constant critic without actually having to become vulnerable. Without actually having to hold on to or believe in anything. And I'm not talking about religious faith here, although that's certainly one aspect of it. I'm talking the whole gamut: politics, education, employment (or lack of it), cultural differences... you name it.

I'm realizing that I don't admire cynics. In fact, I smell the fear and the disappointment that quietly lurks beneath the cynicism. We cynics have tasted defeat. And sadly, we've let it harden us. I've also realized that when we cynics start spouting off, we're more interested in impressing others with the seeming intelligence of our words than we are in actually listening to differing opinions and digging for the truth. Yes, those are hard words. And I mean each and every one of them. Whatever happened to good, honest debate?

I'm also realizing that the people I really DO admire are those that are still willing and able to become real and vulnerable. Who are willing to admit they don't have all the answers. But are able to discuss and question real life matters regardless. And in the midst of all this, they believe. And they hold to what they believe, quietly and humbly, even in the face of mockery.

Ya, that's what I want. For me and my house.

Now, as you read through this post, I'm sure some of you are saying, "Amen! Down with cynicism!" while others of you are saying, "Hey... is she directing this post at me?" Let's face it: cynical people attract cynical friends. But don't bother getting offended. Quite honestly, I thought of a number of people while writing this, not the least of which (whom?) being yours truly. But this blog is for the working out of my thoughts. Not the guilt tripping of your minds. Period. Besides, getting offended just wastes so much personal brain space and energy. So don't bother, okay? ;)

At the same time, I am certainly thinking of others who have been an amazing example to me of "purity of thought." I feel funny naming names, so I won't. But I thank you for your wonder, and awe, and simplicity. They are my goal.

A few weeks ago, at a Thanksgiving service at our church, we were encouraged to stand up and share things we're thankful for. It was a really meaningful service for me, as I publicly thanked God for "the ability to conceive" as I put it, and "the symbolism of the timing" as I also put it. I completely lost it, like I haven't done in a long time, and fully embarrassed myself in the process (although, really, this is totally cool in our church)... Anywhoooo, slight aside... sometime during that "sharing time," Jeff, who is less prone to public displays of, well, anything, leaned over and whispered to me, "I'm thankful for my wife, who keeps me honest." Yes, yes, I share his secrets, and boast about myself in the process (this post is, after all, about cynicism, not humility ;) ) but his comment was well, the best compliment I've ever received. See, we've been struggling in this muck of cynicism together for quite some time now, and what he said made me see that yes, bit by bit, I'm conquering it. And I'm pushing my nearest and dearest to conquer it as well.

And so I know there's hope for Jeff and I too. This pregnancy has brought me joy like I've never known before. And Jeff's photography expresses a beauty and gentleness that is deep within his heart. So for both of us, there are factors at work, chipping away at the layers of hardness.

And it's good.

Monday, October 01, 2007

before and after


before and after, originally uploaded by Jeff Epp.

i'm amazed that it was only two and a half months ago that we started an impossibly crazy renovation on our house. july first, we ripped out everything to the studs. we moved all our stuff into our kitchen (not being reno'd) and moved our sleeping stuff to a friends' place. twenty-one days later, i started teaching at niagara college for three weeks. that marked the end of my full-time reno time.
five days after that, our japanese homestay arrived. we were a couple days behind schedule at that point, but by the end of the week we moved back into the house. our homestay was with us for almost a month.
summer quickly rolled to a conclusion, and school started. supply work for me has been really busy lately - five days last week. today i caught a break. no supply work so i finally got some baseboard on.
it is a day to remember (for me anyways). you'll have to forgive the bad (photoshop) paint job on the trim. it's up, but as it is mdf and not painted yet, it doesn't have the same 'pop'. it will be white before christmas.
i just thought i'd reward myself with a little photoshop before and after picture. the left is today, the right is two months ago.

(in case the above picture just looks strange to you (like it does to kathy), here's what the baseboards really look like. gettin' closer!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Belly

It has a mind of its own, really. Many days go on as normal, or what I've come to know as normal. I feel regular kicks and rolls, occasional gurgles of indigestion, and the presence of a rather demanding bladder.

And then there are days like yesterday, when the belly just decides to completely take over and command more of my attention than I generally like to give it. I woke up feeling ravenously hungry. I mean, I thought I was either going to puke or pass out, I was so hungry. As I ate the two eggs and toast Jeff had lovingly (begrudgingly?) prepared for me, the belly began its tirade:

"How dare you make me wait so long for food?! Don't you know there's an extra body in here now to account for?! You should have fed me last night before you went to bed. But you never listen, do you... Too lazy to feed me, aren't you... I've been starving all night!!"

I'm not kidding. The belly roared at me, long and loud. I had to add a bowl of All-Bran to the breakfast regimen just to shut it up. And that was just the beginning.

As the day wore on, I had the distinct impression that my feet were no longer guiding my way through the corridors of Mohawk College. No, the belly was. It seemed to be protruding much more than usual. And it was distinctly leading the way. Movements and turns were not made with the neck, or the waist. They were made with the belly.

And when I had a light nap in the afternoon, I was woken by a new sensation. It was not a kick or a roll. No, it felt more like a whole bum, or back, or head, pushing with all its might against the left side of the belly. I was suddenly lopsided.

And then when I went out for tea and dessert with Rita at night, I found myself having to re-adjust my position more than usual, and having to rub at and hold on to my stretching skin, for fear of it tearing open... (I've never been particularly rational about physical discomforts.)

Yes, it seems that yesterday the belly decided to grow.

That's one of the things I find so weird about pregnancy. It comes in fits and starts. I find I grow a bit, and feel funny for a few days, and then it all stays kinda status quo for a few weeks. I get used to the new sensations, and all is well. And then the cycle happens again, and once again for a few days I feel like I'm just going to pop open.

Good Lord! I'm only 23 weeks! Can you imagine what I'll feel like at 40??!!

(pictures are courtesy of the fine photog, Jeff Epp, and my favourite new maternity shirt... it shows off the belly so well, don't you think?)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Kanye West Stronger Video(High Quality)

I LOVE this song! (dear readers..., please keep in mind my highly varied musical taste. I know Kanye West may not be high on your list of "faves...")

"N-now th-that that don't kill me can only make me stronger."
It's become a bit of an anthem for us in terms of our work situations...HA.

The last couple of days, I've been craving this song on my new commute home from Hamilton. And 2 days in a row, my mad radio searching has paid off. Just as I drive into St. Kitts, the song comes on. Picture me, if you will, dancing as much as is humanly possible while driving. What must the other drivers I fly by be thinking? Who cares! It's a few minutes of truly uninhibited bliss.

More thoughts coming your way soon...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fun With Chipmunks...

From August 21st - 23rd, we went with our church youth group up to Bruce Peninsula National Park for some camping. While up there, we found our furry friends to be rather, well, friendly. Jeff couldn't help but try out some of his grandfather's old chipmunk tricks. A little bit of peanut butter can go a long way! We could have sat and watched for days.

Don't worry, gentle viewers... no chipmunks were hurt in this process. In fact, they just kept coming back for more!

He latches on...
He's a persistent little bugger, isn't he?
Up, up...
Up, and away!!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

All Moved Back In!

As of Sunday, we are all moved back in to our house. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. Jeff's frustration levels were reaching an all-time high as him and his dad just couldn't seem to proceed fast enough with the electrical. All the drywall was done and taped and mudded by Friday at noon, and Jeff had managed to prime and lightly sand all the walls. But in order for us to move back in (with our homestay, Keiko), we really needed to have some power and lights. Hmmm... problem.

I was also reaching the end of my tolerance, as I wasn't seeing Jeff a lot, and when we were together, well, let's just say it wasn't exactly quality time. Also, on Saturday I woke up with a nasty head cold...gotta love summer colds... so I was really NOT a happy camper.

But Sunday was d-day, and so, like it or not (Jeff), we were moving back in. Jeff and his dad were already there, working on electrical in the morning. And so Keiko and I piled into Dagmar and Dave's car... (did I mention that on Friday our car broke down? Clutch completely shot? Over $1000 later...? Do these things ever happen at a good time?) and by 11:00am, it was the great invasion.

Now on Sunday, I was pretty much dead to the world. My cold had kept me up most of the night, and all I wanted was the sleep that kept eluding me. The thought of another frustrating day in the house, spent cleaning and trying to make it live-able was not very, er, appealing.

Lucky for us, and much unbeknownst to us (love that word!) Superman Dave and Wonderwoman Dagmar were ready to spring into action. One little known fact is that Dave was an electrician in a previous life, and on that particular Sunday, Dave decided to grace our house with his toolbelt. Shortly after we arrived, Dagmar, Keiko, and I went grocery shopping, and by the time we had gotten back, all the outlets in the living room/hallway were working. And by 4:30 pm, we had lights, we had power... EVERYWHERE! It was an amazing sight to behold...how it all came together.

Meanwhile, Wonderwoman Dagmar decided to tackle the putting back together of our house, a thought that completely overwhelmed and frightened Sick Kathy. By the end of the day, all the furniture was back in our living room, CLEAN. Every knick-knack in the china cabinet had been washed (I haven't seen it that clean since before we left for Japan!), the kitchen was tidied, our bedroom was respectable; she even started putting the books back into the bookshelves in the office! Keiko was her trusty helper, and I, well, I did what I could.

So, thanks to the long, hard efforts of Jeff and his dad (and numerous people along the way), and thanks to the speedy efforts of Dagmar and Dave on Sunday, we're back in and mostly comfortable. Mind you, under the stairs it still looks like this. And there's still plywood on one window (window arrives Friday). But who cares!? We're mostly dust-free, and our bed has never felt more comfortable. And startled Keiko got to watch a wonderful clip of Do-It-Yourself Canadian culture, all within her first week of being here.

It's good to be home.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Look Ma! Drywall!

Yes, the drywall is finished. Art (my brother-in-law's friend) came by again today and by early afternoon, it was all up. Look at these beautiful pictures of drywall. Please forgive the lack of superb photojournalism... the great photog, Jeff, was busy. Alas, it was Kathy who is responsible for these mediocre shots.

But look! I know, how exciting can drywall be... We spent this afternoon cleaning out the rooms. I got to use Jeff's beloved Rigid shop vac. And then, on Tuesday, Peter the mudder comes. So our Japanese student will arrive Wednesday night to as yet unfinished rooms, but hey, we'll be close. He expects to be done mudding by Friday.

I spent a good portion of the day fighting with the jungle of weeds and small trees that have completely taken over the right side of the house. I fear that my former student will take one look at the house, and run back to Pearson Airport for the first flight back to Japan. So I'm working on what I can to make the house look a little more "friendly." But it's a fight, and this academic body of mine is not used to the physical labour.

So Robyn, anytime you need to vent some frustration by hacking at evil 4-foot high weeds, you just come on by!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

day 18 or so...

well, our company is coming in exactly one week.

i'm not ready. but i'm working like crazy and in my dreams at night i'm still working. maybe i'll get finished in my sleep....

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Day 16... and counting...

Since June 30th, Jeff has been renovating the house. A much needed renovation, for energy/safety reasons, and a very extensive renovation. The most exciting day was the first day, when a bunch of guys came over and helped Jeff totally demolish what was once our living room and hallway...all the way upstairs. I watched through the thick plastic that sealed off the kitchen from the rest of the house. The plaster dust was really thick and gross.

Since that day, we've fallen into a routine, of sorts. At first we were sleeping in my friend Rita's third-floor apartment. It was very convenient, as it's so close by, but we moved at the beginning of last week. We simply could not stand the heat and humidity anymore. From that point on, we've been living at my sister's. A longer drive, for sure, but full of luxury... air conditioning, for one. And of course, the pool and hot tub at our disposal. Every day is kind of the same. Jeff gets up and goes to the house by 7:30. I sleep a little longer, and then get up and go to work. After work I get to the house, to the sacred, sealed off kitchen, where I make us dinner and do other "kitcheny" things. Shortly after dinner, I go to Dagmar and Dave's, and Jeff follows sometime later.

Throughout this experience, I've realized that I have a strong dislike of this whole process. Which is too bad, really, cause Jeff is really good at it and seems to really enjoy it. I don't like being confined to the kitchen... I'm not exactly a "domestic goddess." I don't like how the house and talk of the house consumes most of our waking hours, and I don't like feeling so completely bored and useless. What with the pregnancy and all, I'm not really supposed to do much of this kind of thing. But next week, when I'm all done work for the summer, and we're getting close to the end of this, you can be sure that I'll find a way to get in there.

And then, when it's all done, and we're moved back in, we're gonna spend a weekend doing what I like best. Road trip!!!!!

This is what is left of the "bathroom" that was once hidden under the stairs. Good riddens! The stink under the stairs is finally gone. Now if only the mysterious stink in the kitchen cupboard would go away...

And this is what was, and will one day again be, our living room. Yes, plywood for a window.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Kelly Clarkson - Sober [LIVE @ AOL Music Sessions]

This song is really meaningful to me. Not because I'm an alcoholic, but for other deep reasons. Sorry for being so cryptic.

Give it a listen the whole way through. There's a part where I like to throw my arms open and just be grateful. I think you'll know it when you hear it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just Another Ordinary Miracle...

Photo a la Jeff. Please check out his flickr site (link on the bottom left) for more amazing pictures. (shameless promo).

So, I heard the most awe-inspiring sound today. I mean, I was kind of blown away by all the emotions it made me feel. I had my first appointment with my midwife, and I heard our baby's heartbeat! Holy cow!!! It's for real!!!

The little guy's heart was going at 160 beats per minute, which is apparently very normal at this stage. Loud and clear. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face or the tears from my eyes. Incredible. When you've never been pregnant before, it's just the most amazing thing to realize that there really is a life growing inside of you. The whole drive home I was lost in a sentimental fog. The sky looked clearer and brighter, and life felt amazingly rich. And I marveled at what God has brought about, knowing the desires of my heart much more than even I myself do.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Update, of Sorts...

So, I don't know if anyone actually checks our blog anymore, or if you've all just given up. But I've been feeling like writing again, so I just might give it a go. I have a few things I want to write about and share, so let's see if this becomes a regular thing, shall we? (perhaps you shouldn't all hold your breath just yet!)

This absolutely f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s photo is from Maria and Nathan's wedding, on May 19th. Yes, my best friend Maria got married! Yay!!


And isn't this next shot just so wildly Canadiana?

The beautiful bride sipping her Tim Horton's? I love it. The funny thing is that Maria married a Nathan. Her sister Rose (on the left, above) is also married to a Nathan. But the even funnier thing is that Maria married an Epp. Can you believe that?? How crazy! She went out to Winnipeg and found an Epp. So now we really are like family. So hilarious!

And there's me and my man.

Maybe this is a good time to tell you that these are the last skinny pictures you'll be seeing of me for awhile.

The slower among you are wondering why... hee hee... I'm enjoying this.

That's cause I'm pregnant!! Ha! Ha! Yes, for real, it finally all worked! Or, as Jeff says, "I done good. I did my job!!"

Maria and Nathan's wedding was particularly sweet because we had just found out that week that "it took." And we kept that delicious secret all to ourselves all weekend. It made every moment sweeter. I'm 12 weeks now, and noticing just the slightest baby bulge. I want the belly to come, but all friends who've been previously pregnant laugh and tell me to enjoy my thinness while it lasts! So there you have it. Jeff and Kathy are finally reproducing. Watch out world. Mark January 20th on your calendars. That's the date to watch!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Day One


day one, originally uploaded by Jeff Epp.

Yes we started renos again!

What are we thinking? That's what I always ask myself once I'm two or three days in to a big project. I'm actually really excited about this one - but the pressure is really on. We've got company coming in three weeks and its a huge job. But I think it can work. At least I think so now :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

japanese water garden redux


japanese water garden redux, originally uploaded by Bob Jones.

today i decided that i am no longer a photographer. i am an artist.

that really just means that i've decided not to feel bad about using photoshop a bit more than to just add a bit of contrast. i still don't like really merged images (although adding a full moon here and there doesn't hurt) but i won't be afraid to over saturate, bring up shadows and down highlights, or add a layer or two of interest.

(sorry about the photoshop shop-talk).

i think i might start selling prints too. who wants a boring standard landscape? why not have some art?

as getting a full time teaching job seems more and more elusive - a career selling pictures that i love to take becomes a much more interesting alternative!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

finally some freakin' sun!


finally some freakin' sun!, originally uploaded by Bob Jones.

the sun hasn't shone here for weeks it seems. we had a warm march break and then it got stupid cold and rainy/snowy/clouding. i've been waiting for the sun. it came out this afternoon and they say the weekend should be really warm. i'll believe that when i see it.

here are some blue belles (i think) from the side of our house. we bought this place last year near the end of summer so we aren't too sure what sort of yard/gardens we have. it looks to be a lot of work.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Yep, It's Kathy Again

There's a memory that keeps popping into my head and giving me warm fuzzies. It occurred to me last night that perhaps finally, this was the "bloggable moment" I've been waiting for (in case you hadn't noticed, it's been Jeff who's been keeping you entertained the last few months, not me.)

So here goes nothing.

It's simple really. A couple of weeks ago, Jeff and I went up to Collingwood with our friends, Nathan and Rose. Jeff had been dying to go snowboarding, a "hobby" he picked up in Japan, and had not really practiced since being back in Canada. There were some things that fundamentally didn't work about the weekend (like the fact that Jeff drove all the way back to Hamilton Saturday morning, after having just arrived Friday night, for a "job" interview that wasn't really for a job, just for another f***ing list)

However, lest I digress...

I had a hard time getting into the weekend. I had a weird stomach bug, and my mind was quite simply preoccupied, as it has been since oh, December or so, with a variety of issues, ranging from the mundane to the panic-attack provoking.

And then Saturday night, we went to a pub in town. And everything just s-l-o-w-e-d right down. The pub was packed. The food was good. The beer I had made me giddy. And the beers Nathan had made him hilariously giddy. The conversation flowed, and I found myself finally tuning in and connecting (sorry, friends, I know those moments have become few and far between). And you know...one of the best parts was that there was a Leafs game on the TV. A distracting Leafs game, that caused Nathan (and many others) to randomly yell out in the middle of conversation. And it all fit together perfectly.

It was a true Canadiana moment. Yes, how horribly stereotypical. Beer and hockey. But it was really perfect.

While I was reflecting on this moment last night on the drive home from an obligatory family Easter dinner, I had another of those moments. The Hip was on. And it was Bob Cajun. Man, that song has never sounded so good. Jeff was driving, and we both just sang our little hearts out.

I'm not ready for any big conclusions. Trust me folks, I have not arrived. I still find my thoughts mostly wandering, and my mind mostly not connecting. But I'm glad for the little moments when it all comes together, and I'm really here.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring is Here (for now)!


It finally feels like spring! I've been waiting for the sunny weather and the warmer temperatures and they are finally here - for now. Next week it's supposed to get colder again, but lets enjoy it while it's here.


The birds have been singing like crazy in the maple tree in front of our house so I thought I'd grab a quick picture of one.
And as any warm and sunny day deserves - here's Kathy on the porch drinking a beer - too bad we had to wait till we got back home to open it!