Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

We hope you all can take some time in this busy season to just pause and enjoy the simple things around you.

Merry Christmas and God bless you in 2009!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Happy Snow

I figure if we're gonna have to have winter, then let's have it! Forget the gray, dreary days with zero-ish temperatures. Let's just go all out: snow, wind, and super freezing cold!

Friday I got my wish. We were dumped on and it was wonderful. It made me giddy and giggly again. Friday night I decided (even though it was still snowing a bit) to clear off the car and go Christmas shopping. It took a while to get there, but I did. Too bad most of the malls at the store were closed! That's okay, I still had fun.

Jeff started sneaking some pictures without my knowledge and caught my magnificent fall...

But eventually everything was cleared off and dug out. Mission accomplished! After a quick change of clothes, I hit the lonely malls. Best time to go shopping, in my humble opinion.

Enjoy it while it lasts, folks! I hear rain is in the forecast. Yuck!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yes she is... Eleven Months Old!

Wow. She's almost one. Where did the year go? So many changes... so much growth! Here are a few favourites from the last bit.

Maria and Mikayla were down for 12 days. Just left yesterday. It was a wonderful, early Christmas treat to have them down and to see, once again, how vastly different our two babies are in terms of personality! I think Kaiya scared Mikayla off a bit! Here are the two darlings (not to mention the two hot moms...ahem!) opening up some Christmas goodies.
Here's my little monkey (notice the Christmas bib). We've taken to calling her every variation of "monkey" lately. The most common is "monkey brains," but Jeff sometimes calls her "monkey guts" too. (!) Only dads can get away with these things. Although it could be argued that monkey brains aren't a heck of a lot better than monkey guts. What do you think?
And here's the sweet darling tonight, when Jeff was putting her to bed. There are three little teeth in that beautiful mouth of hers now. I just never get tired of that sweet little smile.

By the way, dear readers, I'm well aware of my lack of blogging inspiration as of late. Sadly, it happens to the best of us... ;) While I always fear losing my committed audience, I unfortunately can't promise any good posts in the near future. Call it the blogging blues, if you will. But who knows... maybe having Jeff home for two weeks will somehow revitalize my verbosity. We shall see! But thanks, always, for checking in.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ten-Month Tot

Okay, so these pictures weren't taken today... But they were all taken in the past couple of days. Admittedly, I spent most of today fighting with a sewing machine, threading and re-threading, dropping bobbins on the floor, forgetting to drop the foot before starting, wondering why my fabric was pulled too tight, why the stitch was muddled, etc. etc. I'm glad to say that I think the worst of my learning curve is over. My aspirations aren't too high, really. I'd just like to be able to hem my pants and sew a basic pair of curtains! Sheesh. At least the sound of the machine excites and entertains Kaiya.

Ten month highlights: more and more PERSONALITY! Lots of ape noises, wide open mouths, unfortunately high-pitched screams (yes, still), wildly flapping arms, sweet smiles, waves "bye-bye", games of peekaboo and the ever-favourite chasing game.

Kaiya spends a lot more time on her belly these days, usually by her own choice, and she's starting to scooch backwards a bit. Unfortunately, this just ticks her off because it gets her farther and farther from her toys. She's eating a wider variety of foods now, and often prefers feeding herself. Cheerios are a particular favourite. I've been having a lot of fun bundling her up in sweet sweaters, hats, and scarves. Luckily, Kaiya usually humours me.

... And if we're not eating socks, we're definitely eating shoes!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall Fun

I miss last week! We had absolutely gorgeous, warm weather for a few days in a row. I knew it was probably the last we'd see of it till next year, so I tried to take full advantage of it, going for lots of walks with Kaiya.

On Wednesday I decided to tackle raking the leaves that had fallen from our maple tree in the front yard. So, similarly to before, I plunked Kaiya down on a blanket under the tree with Mr. Panda while I went to work. She was highly amused by all the leaves and the noise of the construction on our street. I spent my time alternating between raking and pulling leaves out of her little hands before they made their way into her mouth. I got most of them in time. Oh hey, we've always said a little dirt's good for the immune system...

After seeing Mikayla's "one-sock" pictures, I had to add one of my own. We always call Kaiya our "one-sock wonder." She loves pulling her socks off and either sucking on them or flinging them around.

Poor Mr. Panda has been tossed in favour of a leaf. Kids these days... so fickle... ;) I like this picture because you can see her two little teeth!

And here Kaiya is doing her latest and greatest: putting her hands above her head. I know, I know, we must be new parents... but it's exciting to us! She's only been doing that for the past week or so.

Oh, and I may have spoken too soon about the "death of nursing." While she skipped Saturday altogether, she has nursed each day since then. One or two feedings, and with less "gusto!" than she used to have, but that's okay. We hang on to whatever we can get!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Some Saturday Night Musings...

My sweetie decided to stop nursing today. Just like that. It's made me kind of sad. I guess I knew it was coming, but I didn't think it would happen so suddenly. I'm not sure exactly why it happened. Her two bottom teeth have come in, and she's bitten me a couple of times (not so pleasant). And I know that I startled her when I said, "Ow!" But that strong reaction only really happened once, so I don't think that explains it. And then, I've been introducing her to a number of different foods. This week she's tried raisins and cheese and yogurt and Cheerios all for the first time. Doesn't like the cheese, but loves everything else. Especially the Cheerios. Maybe she's starting to dig the "adult food" more.

I don't know.

All week she was funny with nursing, but the last two days there was no biting, so I was hoping to still hold on to two feedings a day. But this morning, when I brought her into bed, she would have nothing to do with it. And it continued that way all day. So I think we're done.

Every woman feels differently about nursing. I personally really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the time spent snuggled together in our cozy cocoon, the time spent staring into one another's eyes. I know we can still do that with a bottle, but somehow it's not the same.

Yes, I'm sad.

Honestly, Jeff and I joked today that someone must have swapped our baby for another one when we weren't looking. She was just so different and independent today. I went to Tim Horton's with a friend, and when we left, Kaiya threw an embarrassing fit as I tried to put her back in her stroller. We had the back arch and the WAIL. And then later, when I fed her dinner, she didn't want anything to do with yogurt or applesauce, two former favourites. She only wanted food she could feed herself, like her Cheerios. Jeff said, "It's like we now have just a regular kid instead of the super-content sweetheart baby of the past 9 months."

Yikes. I want my sweetheart back!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween etc.

Our little munchkin was a panda for her first Halloween. The poor sweetie was a good sport as I made her wear her costume for the better part of the day, even taking her shopping at Walmart in it. There was this very odd man at Walmart who I saw on three separate occasions as I cruised the aisles. Each time he smiled at me and Kaiya, looked into my eyes, and said, "You'll never forget this."

You'll never forget this.
You'll never forget this.
You'll never forget this.

He's right. I won't.


A serious, contemplative pose.

And a not so serious one! (She's probably screaming here...)

Here's our sweet softie Saturday morning concentrating on her toys. I think this is the day Jeff first discovered her "dancing." It turns out our girl really loves music. She can't walk or even crawl, but put on some tunes, and she starts bobbing up and down and swaying her arms. So cute!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Days

Fall is in its glory here. This past weekend we ended up at St. John's Conservation Area not once, but twice. We went on Saturday simply to get out of the house and go for a nice walk amongst the leaves. And then on Sunday we went there again, as Jeff was giving a couple of friends a "photog" lesson, and Kaiya and I came along for the ride.
The leaf photos are not as glorious as they could be... once we got there on Saturday, Jeff was very disappointed that I had only brought along the "point and shoot" and had disallowed the big boy camera. He did, however, bring it along on Sunday. Some new photos should be coming to his Flickr site soon (scroll down and look left). Although he is getting a lot more busy these days. Ah, look at the site anyhow. ;)

Kaiya has been continuing with her screaming phase, and I had to keep her busy on Sunday in order to keep from entirely disrupting the photog lesson. We walked around the little pond many many times. In the midst of her screaming we met another mom who sympathized, saying her son is presently going through the same phase. Let's hope it's a short one.

Oh, and I discovered, somewhere in the midst of entertaining her, that she actually has two teeth coming in! How exciting!

And here's the munchkin looking tired but curious, as she watches some kids walk by. When did my baby turn into such a big girl??

Friday, October 17, 2008

9-Month Photo Fun

I know, there are so many pictures. But how could I possibly choose?! This is the dilemma of the digital era. Today's babies are very well documented. But I'm not complaining!

Kaiya and I spent a bit of time out in the front "yard" today, her sitting on a blanket, and me lying around, snapping these shots. I'm sure people driving by found us to be an interesting sight. But I didn't care. These are the things we do to get the good pictures!

I can't believe Kaiya is 9 months old. The time is just flying by now. The past week has presented some new challenges, as Kaiya's first tooth decided to make its appearance Thanksgiving weekend. Great timing. Kaiya's worst day was Sunday, when she had a runny nose, spiked a fever, and generally frowned more than usual! Oh, and she developed this new, sad, soft cry that absolutely breaks your heart.

Kaiya's sounds are really changing. Unfortunately, in addition to all of her fun sounds, she's just this week developed the habit of screaming. Very loudly. And repeatedly. She thinks it's funny and doesn't get that I'm not smiling. Her cry has also changed, and I can't read it anymore. I'm not sure if it's a pain cry. It'll start as a happy sounding scream/squeal but then change and become a whine/cry. Very confusing. And frustrating, especially since it most likes to make its appearance in the late afternoon. Every parent's fun time, right? ;)

We still don't have any crawling action, but that's fine by us. She has been doing a lot of rocking and bouncing, so I don't think it's too far off. Better get those baseboards on!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

About a Month Ago...

... We spent a special weekend celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, which was September 19th. We wanted to go away somewhere, but were limited in both time and money. Being tired of the usual southern Ontario destinations, we decided to venture into the States. This was done with much trepidation. Neither of us had been to the U.S. for years. I mean, many, many years. We had no idea what to expect... how bad would the borders be? Would the natives be friendly? Would the cops pull us over at the slightest bit of speeding, attracted by our Ontario plates?

I'm happy to report it was a highly uneventful weekend, in terms of the above questions. We sailed through the border (a slightly fussy baby helped), everyone was very kind, and the cops didn't stand a chance, as Jeff carefully monitored his speed the entire trip.

We chose to go to the Finger Lakes region, about a 3 hour drive from home. We chose Skaneateles Lake, somewhat randomly. I think it was mainly because we found a hotel that looked good (just outside the town of the same name.) And then we spent the entire weekend trying to figure out how on earth to pronounce the name of said lake and town. We finally figured out that everyone made it sound something like "skinny atlas," so we tried to stick with that.

Our weekend was good, although it certainly made us appreciate our growing need for babysitters. Kaiya found it hard to settle the first night, especially since we were in the same room as her, and she was excited and just wanted to play with mom and dad. Poor little Kaiya couldn't seem to realize that mom and dad kind of wanted some of their own play time. Ahem.

During the days, we toured the town (remarkably Niagara-on-the-Lake-ish) and drove around to check out nearby towns and scenery. It was really pretty. We realized how tired we get of flat Niagara. I know, I know, we have the escarpment, and Fonthill is slightly, well, hilly, but it's just not the same.

We were also a bit perplexed and slightly disappointed at how quickly people realized we were Canadians. Only 3 hours away, and they already have a slight twang in the voice. And it didn't help that we are both shamelessly addicted to saying "eh." We had barely spoken two sentences to one couple before they said, "You're from Canada, aren't you? Ya, you said 'eh.'" What?! How could it be?

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the following pictures, all taken from our little weekend away...

Jeff and Kaiya at breakfast on Saturday morning.
Kaiya playing in a water fountain.
And a nice family picture by Skaneateles Lake, taken shortly after uttering "eh."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last of the Summer Memories...

I don't think it's right to post about the summer once it's October, so I'm squeezing this last one in. This one's more for the pictures than the commentary. As many of you know, Maria and Nathan and their little Mikayla were down for the summer. Even though we had a whole summer together, and Maria and I were both free, somehow we still just didn't see each other enough. Well, December really isn't that far away. Don't be surprised if I just come over... all the time... with very little notice!

These are some of my favourite pictures from the summer months:

Two little princesses enjoying the swings together. Note the matching outfits!

Even more fun when we're sharing a swing! Although admittedly, Mikayla looks like she's having the better time. Kaiya sure knows how to put on a convincing grumpy face. Already contemplating the deeper meanings of life. Hmmm... wonder what side of the family she gets that from... ha.

And this is the four of us the last time we all hung out together. Wow, how time flies...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hey! I'm Eight Months Old!

  So many changes the last little bit. Kaiya has become even more interactive. She loves having "conversations" with people, and she flaps her arms wildly at both cats and dogs. She is finally putting weight on her legs (no more "jelly legs"), and she rocks a lot while she's sitting. No crawling and still no teeth! That's okay. We're happy for her to take her time...

And she's become such a good eater too! Before, everything was spit out, but now, Kaiya just dives right in. We've tried pretty much every kind of fruit and vegetable, and now we're planning to move onto some meats. We've even started doing a bottle once a day (something that she flatly refused just a week ago). Life with Kaiya is definitely getting more fun all the time.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Giving Back

A couple of weeks ago I was reading about the Greek Festival in "Niagara This Week," a festival that sadly, we did not end up attending this year. We went last year, and the food was amazing, especially the desserts. Yum! Anyhow, I was reading about how you could donate non-perishables to Community Care at the festival. There was one paragraph that really grabbed me. It said:

Community Care serves about 1,500 families a month. Due to limited resources, each family can only visit once every two months to pick up about three-days' worth of food.
Wow. Really?

I walk by Community Care all the time, especially when Kaiya and I mosey down to Women 4 Women on Thursdays. So I guess you could say they were already in my thoughts. And then, because of different ideas I've been tossing around lately, I decided I wanted to call Community Care and find out more. I wanted to know what they're about and how I can help.

Here's some of what I learned:

There are over 5,000 households registered with Community Care in St. Catharines. Five thousand! These numbers do not include Thorold. When a household registers with Community Care, they must bring proof of their source of income. This is theoretically checked up on once a year, but realistically every 18 months. There are just so many people. Many of these people are on a fixed income, for example, senior citizens. While they can afford their housing, bills and such often send them over the edge, and they cannot afford food.

I won't go into how the food bank works. It's a point system. You can figure out the gist of it.

While Community Care primarily serves as a food bank, it also gives out clothing and household goods. People are allowed to take clothing 6 times a year, and there are limits on how much they can take.

Their greatest need, when the shelves are at their emptiest, is from mid-August to the beginning of December.

A few other interesting facts:
-the Friday before school started, 114 people lined up for backpacks
-on Monday, they gave away 84 jars of peanut butter
-they have 117 people who volunteer their time each week
-volunteers work once a week, but they take extra volunteers at Christmas time

And, most interestingly, they rely on individual donations far more than corporate donations.

I also asked about what foods are needed the most. Here's a list:
-canned meat, like ham or chicken
-canned tomatoes
-stuff for kids' lunches, like individually packaged puddings, fruit cups, and juice boxes

Also, they gladly accept fresh produce. This was a surprise to me. The produce does not work on the point system, since they want to give it away as soon as they can, while it's still good. So keep this in mind if you have a ton of leftover tomatoes and zucchini in your gardens. Don't let them go bad! Take them to 12 North Street.

The woman I talked to sputtered off an absolute wealth of information. It's like she couldn't talk fast enough. When I expressed my surprise at all of these facts, she told me that mine was a common response. She said most people don't realize all that Community Care does, and how great the need is.

So I thought I'd spread the word.

It also reminded me how important it is for churches to do their part and help out where they can. I know that our church, Westview Christian Fellowship, is always accepting donations of clothing for "Women 4 Women," the group that meets on Thursdays from 10-1. We open our doors to provide a safe place to women and their children, where they can get free clothing, haircuts, coffee, and lunch. And I know there are lots of other churches and agencies that provide help. I've only just given you two to start from.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Impromptu Photo Shoot

Ah, the summer memories will have to wait. A couple of days ago, Kaiya and I visited a neighbour baby, Hannah. Hannah had grown out of a certain hat, and so her mom passed it on to Kaiya. When Jeff and I put the hat on Kaiya, we both burst out laughing. We agreed that the hat was painfully cute.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Summer Memories: Camping

September is now here, but thankfully, the sunny skies and hot weather remain. Jeff is back to work with a new batch of Grade 8s that seem more manageable than last year's. Time will tell. I'm busying myself with painting all our trim once again (the coat I did in the summer was just primer), and Kaiya and I are settling into our new routine.

Before the summer gets too far away from all our minds, I wanted to put up a couple more posts of some of the things we did in July and August. For today, it's our eventful (and somewhat short) camping trip.

In August, Jeff and Kaiya and I joined Robyn and our youth group on the annual camping trip. The destination was Elora Gorge, and we were excited. We have great memories of tubing down the gorge, and we were looking forward to sharing the experience with a new batch of kids in our youth group. However, in the week leading up to the trip, we kept reading reports of impending rain and thunderstorms... to last all weekend. This after an already rainy summer. We were a bit concerned, but kept planning. We had no idea the rain would be the least of our worries.

After an uneventful drive, we arrived at a dry Elora, only to be greeted by a massive sign that said something to the effect of "NO TUBING." Due to the copious amounts of rain we'd been receiving, someone had deemed the water levels too dangerous for tubing. Arg. And then, a smaller sign advising people not to swim at the beach because of high bacteria levels. Double arg. I was starting to wonder what the point was. And if it hadn't have been a youth trip, it would have been a triple arg as my eyes next lit upon the "total alcohol ban in effect" sign. Honestly folks, why don't we all just stay home!?

But Kaiya loved Elora. As soon as I brought her out of the car, she was squealing, flapping her arms, and practically jumping out of mine. I think it was the trees. She has a thing for trees, and there were lots of them there. Big ones.

We got all set up, which took quite some time, as Jeff had decided to construct a "tarp city." If I remember correctly, we ended up having 800 square feet of tarped camping space. Crazy!

But we were ready for rain, that was for sure. I was looking forward to a weekend of Kaiya being entertained by various youts (yes, I meant to spell it that way) as I read lots of books. It was looking good.

Around 8 I put Kaiya to sleep in our tent. I was a little worried about her settling in okay, what with it being a very unfamiliar setting, but she did really well. After a bit of crying, she fell asleep and I joined the rest of the group around the fire.

I decided to join Kaiya around 10. She startled a little bit when I entered the tent, but after some soothing, I was able to coax her back to sleep. I was just settling in myself when Jeff decided to join us around 11.


Here is where the troubles began. Kaiya once again was startled. Quite badly. It was a bit odd because she didn't seem fully awake, and yet she launched herself into her full-on WAIL. If any of you have heard the WAIL, you know it's not pleasant. The WAIL makes it sound as though the world, as we know it, is ending. The WAIL will not be consoled by the usual methods of singing, belly rubbing, talking, or shushing. The WAIL demands that the child be picked up and held in said child's preferred position, upright over your right shoulder. Oh, and don't forget that you have to be at the very least standing, and preferably walking. It was a good thing we were staying in the "dome of love." Lots of head room.

You'd think things were bad enough with just the WAIL. I mean, we were already thinking that it was fortunate that we were in the group camping section, and both our group and the one next to us were still sitting by the fire. I held Kaiya for a while, seemed to calm her, and then tried laying her back down. That's when we realized it was situation critical as we witnessed that the WAIL was accompanied by the back arch. The WAIL and the back arch put together make for one very inconsolable baby and two quickly exasperated parents. As soon as one tiny fuzz on Kaiya's little head, or one itty bitty patch of Kaiya's sweet skin came anywhere close to meeting the ground, the back arch would begin, closely accompanied by the WAIL. Jeff and I shared the look. The look that says, "buckle in folks, it's gonna be a long ride." I determinedly picked her up again and went through the same "upright over your shoulder, standing up and walking" routine. Again and again. When Jeff saw that my stubborness was the only thing remaining, and that my patience had long left the tent, he demanded to take over. He did have to demand. When it comes to this point, my rational mind leaves, and I'm not easily persuaded. Jeff took her, and I lay down. After about 30-40 minutes of holding Kaiya, at which point she was so far gone that her little body was completely limp, Jeff delicately placed her back down on the ground. And we gingerly snuggled in for some much needed sleep.

Ha. Sleep. Right. How are you supposed to sleep when you're afraid that one false move, one ill-timed rustle, will cause your sweet munchkin to rouse the entire campground with her WAIL?? Oh, and did I mention that it was damn cold? Try as I might, I could not will my body into the sleep it was desiring.

And then came 2 o'clock.

I don't know if it was a rustle or a bump, but Kaiya half-awoke once again. I had been half-sleeping so tensely that as soon as I heard the WAIL escaping her lips, I swooped her into my arms and started the "upright over your shoulder, standing up and walking" routine. Two o'clock in the morning was NOT the time to let the child WAIL. Jeff and I alternated for some time, but we knew it was even more desperate a scene than the 11 o'clock situation had been. Kaiya was not really awake, but completely inconsolable. We had figured out by this time that she was terrified of the dark and her surroundings. She was so freaked out that she wouldn't even nurse. And that is a bad sign. Another bad sign was my increasingly stubborn and irrational mindset. At one point I said to Jeff, "Well, I guess we're just going to take turns holding her until the sun rises." At another point I said, "That's it. I'm taking her home. Now." (a 2+ hour drive)...

I don't know how he did it, but somehow Jeff convinced me to spend the rest of the night in a motel. I don't know how he did it. I'm too cheap for words, and none of it made logical sense to me (keeping in mind my "logical sense" was somewhat skewed at the time). You want me to pack up my bags and somehow transport the WAILing child into the car and drive out of here at 2:30 in the morning? But he did it. He coaxed me out of the tent.

As soon as we were in the car, life looked up. Kaiya knows and loves her carseat, and if you can believe it, within a matter of minutes, she was smiling and blowing bubbles at me. I was not amused. (Well, to be honest, I was, but I was trying not to be). Jeff drove into town and asked a guy at a convenience store about some nearby motels. Of course, nothing was open. We kind of knew that would be the case. So there we were, at 3 in the morning, changing our daughter's diaper in the front seat of our car in a motel parking lot. Wondering what to do next, we drove to trusty Tim Horton's and took turns going inside to buy some donuts and hot drinks. We knew it was pointless to drive back to the campground. Kaiya was clearly terrified of the dark and the tent. So we resigned ourselves to somehow passing the time till sunrise. We sat in our car drinking our drinks while Kaiya fell asleep in her seat, wondering why other people were up, and who in the world the taxis were transporting in dead dead Fergus at 3:30 in the morning. Then we drove around some nearby towns just to pass the time, talking about how we would soon be able to laugh at this story. And somewhere in the middle of all this, I realized what a sweet memory this was becoming. I became incredibly glad for the safety and security of Jeff, and for the fact that he had persuaded me into the car. That he knew best and that I'd finally agreed to come along for the ride. A metaphor for our lives, really.

In the end, we both got sleepy, so we drove back to the campsite around 4 and slept in the car till sunrise. A funny scene, I know. Then we took Kaiya back into the tent with us. She startled a bit, but I nursed her back to sleep. After we got up, we stuck around for a while to share our funny(?) story. Then, just as the rain started to fall, Kaiya and I packed up and headed home. Jeff needed to stay with the group for the rest of the weekend, but one night of excitement was definitely enough for me. We all slept much better that night.

Here's a couple of pictures of our peanut before the events of the night:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Week at the Cottage

Last week we were invited to hang out at Uncle Ted and Aunt Dorothy's cottage in Coboconk. It was a good week spent lounging on the dock, touring around the Kawartha Lakes region, and watching the summer Olympics. Admittedly, as I've told a few people, vacationing is not the same as it was pre-baby. Jeff and I basically kept passing Kaiya back and forth, trying to give each other breaks. The result was often more alone time than together time. But that's okay. I really enjoyed quiet mornings on the dock, staring out at the glassy lake, finishing off my Tony Campolo book. Oh, and as an added bonus, Jeff decided I needed a break from making meals, so he took care of most of the meals for the week. It was really great!

  Here's Kaiya on our first night at the cottage. Doesn't she just think she's such a big girl, hanging out in her Muskoka chair! This is one of the pictures where I see her face changing. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but somehow she's just looking a little older...

I included this one just cause I think it's funny. Kaiya, in her pajamas, all ready for bed. Doesn't she look like she's watching a horror movie at a sleepover party? Maybe it's just me...

We went to Fenelon Falls one day, just to go for a walk and of course to give Jeff a chance to take some photos. We found it worked best for us if we took Kaiya out in the afternoons. Otherwise she became a little antsy. Our social bug needs lots of little outings! I love this picture of her. What a little person we have! She's sitting all by herself now.

And here's Kaiya with her daddy, hanging out on the dock.

Karen and Rich joined us on Thursday, and we had some fun with them (filled with Rich's super-yummy meals) before we left Friday night. Thanks Dorothy and Ted for opening up your cottage to us!
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P.S. I am planning on blogging on our less-than-successful camping trip soon. My energy levels just aren't up to par at this moment. Most of you have already heard the story, but I'm sure you'll agree it's well worth a post!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Seven Sweet Months

 Our little monkey was dedicated at church today, on her seven month birthday. She was as good as gold (due mostly to a well-timed nap) and lots of friends and family came out to see her on her special day. It was great to have so many people stand with us and share words of encouragement. Thank you all.

Here she is shortly before we left for church, "playing" her little piano and smiling up at dad.


After the service, seventeen of us went to Swiss Chalet (can we say "barely controlled chaos??") to celebrate. Kaiya sat in the middle of everyone and was most definitely the star of the show. For a long time she alternated sucking on this toy and the table. After a time, she got tired and a bit cranky, but even so, she kept trying to entertain and interact with the crowd.

I really can't get over how social she is. She would rather hang out with people any day than play with her toys. Being home with her can be exhausting because she demands attention all the time. But as soon as we're out with a crowd, she's happy, and I can relax. Funny girl.

I also can't get over how much she's changing. Sometimes when I look at pictures of her, I wonder who this sweet little girl is. She's changing and growing so much, and she's such a wonderfully unique combination of her mom and dad. It's amazing to watch her little transformations.
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Monday, August 04, 2008

It's August

The summer is just flying by... as I knew it would. We are keeping busy with all the home renos. Both bedrooms now have ceiling fans, my closet has a light, all the kitchen electrical has been redone, the back door has been replaced, lots of stuff that I have no clue about in the attics has been done, and the back roof has been replaced (a reno job that was very much unwanted and unexpected, but very much became a necessity the day it started dripping water into our kitchen!)

Whenever Kaiya sleeps, and I don't have a million other things to do, I have been putting primer on all the baseboards and trim in the house. Just five more pieces, and I can finally move on to the first coat of paint!

And Kaiya continues to grow and change. I took her to the doctor last week, and she's a whopping 20 pounds! Off the charts! But surprisingly, her head size is only in the 75th percentile. I guess they weren't measuring her cheeks... Kaiya finally started getting interested in solids last week, and we've been trying lots of yummy fruits and vegetables, and now oatmeal cereal too. Feeding Kaiya solids has brought a whole new level of commitment to our cloth diapering... ahem. Wow. Who knew?! Kaiya is finally showing more interest in sitting up on her own. She does it here and there for short periods of time. And she's getting a heck of a lot more wriggly! She's going through an incredibly social stage, and it can be frustrating at times since she doesn't want her toys; she only wants PEOPLE! I get very little done before the whining begins. Sigh. But at 8:30 every night, I put her to bed, grab my book and a beer, and enjoy some quiet time on the porch. I really can't complain.

I'm acutely aware that it's August, and I have to force myself to focus on each blissful summer day instead of thinking ahead to September and Jeff being back at work. I love having him home. Love, love, LOVE!!!

Well, that's that for now. Nothing too deep to say here. Just thought you'd all enjoy an update on the Epps. I'm continually amazed at how many of you visit us here at our humble little site, and I hope I can manage to keep y'all entertained. ;)

I also hope to add more Kaiya pics soon. In our busy-ness, we have been woefully neglectful of the camera. Who thought it could be possible?!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And More Thoughts...

I wrote the last post Friday night, but admittedly didn't publish it till Sunday night. It just didn't flow like I wanted it to. Oh well...

Since publishing, I've read a fantastic article that Erika passed my way entitled "Moving from the Ivory Tower to the Community," by Margot Fryer, and published in Academic Matters. The article discusses "how the UBC's Learning Exchange has created new community in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside."

The article discusses how UBC wanted to contribute more to the larger community, and so decided to open up a storefront, offering free computer and Internet use, and striving to build relationships and trust within the community.

There are so many amazing things said in the article. For instance: "A community had been created - not by the staff from the university but by the local residents. We made the space, but they populated it and gave it life." I love that. Fryer writes in the article about how the Learning Exchange is different from what both the university and the community had first envisioned. I love how the space was essentially co-created, with the community itself taking ownership and determining, in large part, the direction this initiative would take.

Another quote: "It is tempting to think of the Learning Exchange as a bridge between two very different communities. But this is the wrong metaphor. Neither the university nor the Downtown Eastside is a homogeneous entity. The Learning Exchange is not a hard structure between the university and the community but a fluid, changing force that resides within both." I love this quote because it goes back to my dislike of the "us" and "them" dichotomy.

And more: "The stereotypes about the Downtown Eastside evoke fear because its residents seem foreign, but one quickly discovers that most people in the neighbourhood are pretty ordinary. What then becomes unsettling is the realization that there is not that much separating those who sleep in warm, comfortable beds from those who sleep on cold, hard sidewalks."

And finally: "It is not only that being involved in a community that is struggling to overcome serious challenges can provoke reflections about how society is structured, how resources are distributed, and how government and corporate policies shape everyday life. But the engagement itself teaches that democracy and citizenship are not abstract ideals... The state of our society is not something that only elected representatives can influence. Citizenship is what is happening right here and now. Are we doing enought? Are we including people? Ensuring that everyone can contribute and feel valued?" Great ideas and great questions...

I think what's so exciting to me is that these are ideas I have been mulling about recently. Living on George Street, watching Jeff struggle in his teaching job in inner city Hamilton, hanging out at Women 4 Women... these have been major influencing factors in my thought processes these past five months or so. But now I've found someone who has expressed these ideas so much better than I ever could! Exciting and inspiring all at the same time!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Have I Told You Lately... Part II

So I've been reflecting on my post from the other day, and the myriad responses I received, both via your online comments, and -shockingly enough- face-to-face conversations. I've mulled and come to a few conclusions.

First, I'm completely amazed at the variety of responses and opinions I've heard/read. It's made me see, once again, how differently people will interpret a text based on their own background and experiences. With some responses, I've had to re-read my post, searching for the trigger, for the correlation between response and post. Mysterious indeed.

And now for a few other thoughts...

Oh, man, where do I begin?


First off, I think the thing that really gets me is the "us" and "them" dichotomy. I find this in a lot of church ministries and "helping" organizations, and I don't agree with it, even as I see myself struggling with it. You could also call it the "project" mentality. (Thanks, Jeff!) To explain, it's the thinking behind the helping that goes something like this: I am helping you; therefore, I have all the answers. You're broken; I need to fix you. I've got it together, so I don't need your help. There is nothing you can do for me, thank you very much. It's very uni-directional thinking. We don't feel we can learn anything from the people we're helping. At the same time, we're trying to make them into a mini-me. So we're uncomfortable when they show up to church drunk, or smelling bad. And we get frustrated and feel our help is worthless when we don't see them "change." Do you know what I mean?

What I do believe in is a place like Women 4 Women, where I'm just as likely to snag some free clothes and benefit from a free lunch as the next person. And where it's not always clear who's doing the "giving" and who's doing the "taking." Where we each get to feel a sense of ownership for the thing that we're a part of.

I guess you could say I want life to just be a big "US" talking to and learning from each other, trying to figure out this complicated world together.

I had a hard time composing that part. I hope you get what I was trying to say...


As for the issue of what schools our kids attend...
Rose, you brought up some good points. And admittedly, my idealism falls short. I'm fine with sending Kaiya to our local school. But would I want to send her to the school where Jeff works? Absolutely not.

It seems we have a dilemma.

I guess when I hear some parents talk, I wonder about the fine line between "giving our kids the best we can give" and simply sheltering them. And I don't agree with sheltering them. That's where my line about teaching our kids street smarts came in. A line I, unfortunately, simply threw in without thinking much about it. What I really meant to say is that I think we should be trying our best to be open, honest, and humble with our kids. Teach them to ask lots of questions and be open-minded. And don't be afraid to simply say, "I don't know" when we actually don't know.


Since I wrote the post, the line that keeps popping into my head, and I apologize, it is slightly lame... is "bloom where you're planted." What I mean is, if you live on George Street, get to know the people who walk, bike, and stumble by. Connect and build your community. And the same goes for if you live in a subdivision. Meet your neighbours. Connect. Offer help. Have a barbecue. And the same if you volunteer somewhere. Don't just be a body. Connect with the people you're helping. Learn their names. Learn their stories. Let their lives affect you and change you.

Yes. Bloom where you're planted.

Oh, and I'm still frustrated by the tendency people have to want to book it to suburbia/the country once they have a bit of cash. Of course I don't think we should all live downtown. Talk about overcrowding! But why don't more people choose downtown? Why is it seen as a bad place to raise a family? Because it's busy? Because I have to take my kids to a park instead of the acre out back? Because there are "colourful" people hanging around? I'm going to keep asking it. What are we afraid of?

There you have it. My smorgasbord of thoughts. Hopefully I made some sense. It is, after all, Friday night, and I'm trying to think semi-clearly after a day of painting baseboards following a night that involved waking up 5 times to soothe my poor, teething daughter. I think a strong drink is in order.

So what are your thoughts? Go on folks, hit me. This time I'm ready for you. Even you, James.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Slovak Day!

  It was a grand day in Milton, in the pouring rain. Drinking, dancing, colourful costumes. Eating MEAT, eating raw garlic, eating poppyseed strudel, and eating more. Oh, and we can't forget the spontaneous rounds of rousing folk songs sung along with accordion accompaniment. This done after copious amounts of drinking, of course.

Nothing like getting in touch with your roots.

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