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: