Monday, March 31, 2008

Konked Out

  Oh, to be able to sleep so freely and deeply, without a care in the world...!
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vintage Footage

We've heard that some of you are waiting for video footage of Kaiya. There's been all sorts of trouble posting video from picasa - all of which I'm sure was our fault. Finally - one of the videos is up - but it's from February 8th - true vintage now that Kaiya is twice the size and actively trying to figure out where her fingers are!

Here's the link:

Remember that she is only three weeks and a day old here. We've been told that babies don't smile at three weeks... ;)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One Little Monkey, Enjoying Her Own Bed

  Jeff and I took Kaiya along with the youth group to a conference in Toronto this past weekend. We weren't sure how she would be, outside of her familiar environment and all. But I think you can see from the pictures that our little princess quite enjoyed the royal treatment, with her very own double bed!

At times all the people and noise of the conference were a bit much for her, but as soon as she got to lie on her bed, she was happy. We shared lots of coos and smiles and excited kicks.
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Monday, March 17, 2008

Daddy's Girl

Kaiya is two months old today. How time flies! Here she is with her daddy, chilling on the couch last night. Jeff was trying to relax a bit. He starts an LTO at an inner-city school in Hamilton today. He's the core teacher for Grade 8. It's at a school he's supplied at a lot and really loves, but it's a big change for him. No longer is he the 'fun' supply teacher, just coming in for a day with no responsibilities other than keeping the class from falling into complete chaos. Now he has to actually plan lessons, mark, meet parents, handle discipline, prepare report cards, etc, etc. All March Break I saw the signs of increasing stress, but every time I brought it up, I was met with Jeff's denial, "No,no, I'm fine." Ya. Right.

In other news... yesterday three of my former students from Niagara College came to visit: Shasha, Motoko, and Modar. One of their first comments was, "Wow. A year has passed since you taught us, but you look younger!" And we laughed about how much their class stressed me out. But seriously, it did. That was one of my worst semesters ever! While the three students who came yesterday were sweethearts, some of their classmates were not. And worse yet, I was responsible for teaching them both writing and grammar. Nasty combo. It's very surreal for me to look back on that semester now. Most evenings and weekends were spent marking and prepping. I remember spending reading week with Maria in Winnipeg and feeling at the end of myself, thinking that I just could not handle the stress of the workload and the personalities for much longer... and then, in typical Kathy fashion, agreeing to add four more hours of teaching to my work week. Crazy. Now, a year later, both Maria and I are in a far different place - Mommy Land! I actually have time to read novels, add new recipes to my collection, and enjoy weekends! And I have the mental space to toy with the idea of writing for real (don't get me wrong... blogging is fun, too). (Oh, and don't necessarily expect anything to come of my toying). It's amazing how one year can change everything.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Doggie Addendum

So it's not as bad as we thought it was. Jeff called. It turns out that back in 2004, when we gave Duke and Daisy away, I asked their new owner to contact us first if she ever needed to find them a new home. It turns out that although I forgot that promise, she didn't. Hence the phonecall.

In addition, her time with our pooches solidly confirmed in her mind their need to always be together. And so she's committed to finding them a home together. No pound for Duke and Daisy. Luckily, she has some good contacts to help her in the search for a new home, including a Lab breeder and a Greyhound rescue, so we're all pretty sure they'll find a good new patch of grass together.

I'm much relieved. Now we can all rest easy.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Blast from the Past

Do you remember these guys?
Duke and Daisy. They were our dogs from 2001 till we left for Japan in 2004. We loved them (although Jeff didn't always want to admit it.) I have always been a dog lover, and early in our marriage I used to be addicted to going to the Humane Society and looking at the dogs. Then, one day, our neighbour got a puppy. We asked where the puppy was from, and he informed us that the neighbours on the corner were selling their dog's puppies. I casually mentioned going to take a look. Okay, truth be told, not so casually. I was more like a little kid, jumping up and down... "Can we? Huh? Huh? Can we???" and then skipping all the way to the corner. Jeff sensed the danger. I saw the wary look in his eyes. Who knew we'd end up with two of them?? But it made sense. We were both working full-time; they would keep each other company... And besides, Jeff was immediately attracted to the independence of Daisy, while I was smitten by the sucky nature of Duke. And so suddenly we were the owners of two beautiful mutts.

The following three years were filled with absolute chaos. We bought a fixer-upper in Fenwick. (Read: a should-have-been-burned-to-the-ground "historically designated" dump in Fenwick) We lived in do-it-yourself filth and paid through the nose in heating bills, while I worked full-time and Jeff changed careers, deciding to become a teacher. Did I mention that I was also trying to complete an all-consuming and panic attack provoking Master's thesis? No, that's right, I probably didn't. That would be because I've spent the last 4 years trying to BLOCK those harrowing memories!

And all through the chaos, the dogs were there. Our faithful companions. Admittedly, they largely added to the chaos. They were full of energy, loved to chase each other around the house, and dragged in plenty of their own filth. We're well aware of how bad our house smelled. But truth be told, I'm not sure I could have gotten through those years without them. My stress levels were at their peak, and for me there was nothing better than crashing on the couch with Duke after a long, hectic day. That beast would sleep on top of me, sharing my pillow, and then not so gently nudge and eventually paw me for "breakfast." Jeff and I both have great memories of walking in the field with them, where they'd chase the coyotes and deer. It was amazing to watch them run in circles after each other, finally expending their built-up energy.

The hardest part of leaving for Japan was leaving them. It's still hard for me to think back to that time, mostly because they knew. They absolutely knew we were leaving. And even though we found a good home for them, where they could still be together, it ripped me up inside. I remember the night Jeff dropped them off at their new home. I went to my parents' place (we had just sold our house, turning a good profit, I'll have you know...and we were leaving for Japan the following week.) My mom took one look at me and the tears messing up my face and passed me a bottle of wine. "This will make you feel better." It didn't. What a horrible night.

So why bring it all up again? Why delve into these bittersweet memories? My friend Caroline always told me the best part of my storytelling was the element of suspense. I dare not disappoint you, fair readers...

Last night we got a phone call from my mom. It turns out Duke and Daisy's owner needs to find them a new home, and she thought she'd contact us first to see if we want them. Now... before I go on... KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO YOURSELF, especially if you're a non-dog lover with the family name (including maiden) of Klassen. Ahem. I think I make myself clear!

This is an interesting dilemma. I had often thought, before giving them away, that the perfect scenario would be if we could find a family that would just take the dogs while we were away, and then give them back. I've also always thought that I'd love for my kids to grow up with a dog. (Studies show, BTW, that children have fewer allergies and problems with asthma if they grow up with a dog.) I used to imagine myself pushing a stroller while also holding a dog on a leash.

Then there's the emotional attachment. I love these dogs. And I hate the thought of them possibly ending up at the pound, and then, even worse, having to be separated. It's not right, and I have to stop writing about that right now because I find the thought extremely distressing.

But after a brief conversation, it seems that Jeff and I will be saying no to this offer. Perhaps pragmatism is having its day. The house is too small, the dogs are too big. We'd have to walk them in all kinds of weather... how would we clean them and dry them on gross, sloppy days? And what of travel and dreams of living overseas again? Sure, I'm probably going to be home for a few years (yes, we'd like to have more kids) but after that, then what? What if we want to go away? I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. But I think that's how it's going to be. Jeff is the one making the phone call. I just can't.

Know anyone who wants two beautiful dogs?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Musical Memories


Our friend Joanne is home from Japan. Home after 4 years in Tokyo. When I read one of her last in-Japan postings, I felt my heart squeeze. Yes, it did actually squeeze. She expressed herself so well, and made me remember the heartache of leaving a place, albeit a quirky one, that you have come to call home. I wish the best for her as she re-adjusts to life in Canada. God knows I wouldn't want to have to repeat that first year back!

On February 19th, Jeff and I went out to a restaurant for the first time with Kaiya. We went to Real Sushi, a surprisingly good sushi restaurant considering it's nowhere near an ocean. I highly recommend it, and if you're a first-timer, and a bit nervous about the whole thing, call us! We'd gladly come with you and help you order (and help you eat whatever you can't stomach). Oh, and don't worry... there are plenty of non-raw fish items to choose from too. And it's all you can eat. So you really can't go wrong!

Anyhow, I digress...

So, while we were in the restaurant, I had some funny, as in funny-peculiar, emotional reactions. Not entirely surprising, what with being a new mom and still dealing with strange hormonal imbalances. SO... the first reaction happened as I listened to the Chinese music being pumped through the restaurant. It was cheezy Chinese pop, and I was suddenly transported back to our karaoke experience in Taiwan with Rita and her sister and some of their friends on New Year's Eve, 2005. It wasn't really a thought-out memory. More like just a visual flash, followed by an immense sense of longing. I miss you, Rita.

Then, later, the restaurant switched from Chinese pop to American pop, and we found ourselves listening to "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. Hardly music to get misty-eyed to. But I did, as I remembered Mikiko and I belting it out along with Fergie as Jeff drove us through the mountains of Japan. And as I remembered Joanne's intense dislike of the song and of my incessant need to listen to the Peas! And so I missed Mikiko and Joanne and our travels along the hairpin turns of the Japanese mountains.

It's funny how music has so many strong emotional associations. At least it does for me. A song can take me back in an instance to a time and a place buried deep within.
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