Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Glass That Halted Christmas

My mom always asks me in November or early December what I want for Christmas. This year I was at a total loss. After some thought, I came up with the idea of red wine glasses. I grew up on red wine, and after a white phase that lasted a few years, I'm back onto my reds. My favourites are Trius Merlot and the Merlot by Yellow Tail. My "frugal favourite" (ie. the one that I almost always drink) is Cono Sur, a Chilean Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Let me know if you have any other favourites. I'm always open to suggestions!

Anyhow, as one of our many wedding gifts, over 11 years ago, we received a set of wine glasses. Nice glasses, yes, but a little skimpy on size, particularly for reds. I had seen some nice big glasses over the past year, and decided it was my turn to get me some.

A sample of our first, rather modestly-sized wine glasses...

When I opened up a very large box on Christmas Eve at my parents' house, I was not thinking wine glasses. The box was simply too large. Especially for only six glasses. But as I opened the box, I saw that they were indeed wine glasses. Six red wine glasses. Six gargantuantly-sized red wine glasses. Shock and awe were felt all around the living room.

Witness the shock and awe:
Go ahead. Click on the picture. I know you want to.

And more shock and awe being interrupted by uproarious laughter:
(Dagmar and I should be on TV, don't you think? We're so dramatic. ;) )

On second glace, I just noticed that the glass is the size of Dagmar's head!

Anyways... the glasses literally stopped the show. The gift-giving, if but for a minute, came to a crashing halt. I believe my first comment was: "I didn't mean that I wanted to be able to pour a whole BOTTLE into one of them!!!"

Now, you may be thinking: Oh poor, uneducated Kathy. Don't you know that red wine glasses are supposed to be large for _________________ (insert reasons here. I haven't got a clue. I just like how they looked, and the fact that if one night I wanted to, I could get totally smashed off of only one glass.)

In response to your wine snobbery, I will simply appeal to my lowly standard of comparison. Remember the "modestly-sized" wine glass above? Well, check it out in comparison to the new bigger brother:


Ya, it'll take me a while to get used to these new babies. But I think I'm up to the challenge! :)

Happy New Year's everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

I love Christmas so much! And even more now that Kaiya is at the age to recognize it and get super-excited about it! We had such a fabulous day today. We always celebrate Christmas Eve at my parents' house. We managed to get there before noon today and had a wonderful day full of food, family, and lots and lots of gifts! I think Kaiya was overwhelmed by how much she was spoiled. I certainly was. Her first gift (a cash register) was enough to keep her busy the entire night. But the gifts just kept right on coming. There seemed to be no end. And she did so well today. What a trooper. I thought there was absolutely no chance she would nap, but sometime around 2 she said to me, "Nap time." I took her cue and led her to my parents' room for a nap. I don't think she slept much (she loves to play with all her stuffed toys at nap time) but at least she had a good hour and a bit of quiet time. She fell asleep on the car ride home, and Jeff carried her up to bed. The start of many good Christmas memories for her, I'm sure.

It's been a tough 2009, with many ups and downs. I'm glad to say I'm finally starting to feel rested and hopeful. Jeff and I have had some good, deep talks, and I sense a vision for our future as a family, and my hope is being slowly restored that perhaps there may come to be more than three of us. One day at a time. The holidays have been an emotional time for me, but also a really good time. Praise God for his goodness to us! He will restore us and renew our hope.

Thank you all for your friendship, encouragement and love. It is the support of our community of friends and family that keeps us looking forward and getting back up when we fall. I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas. I hope that God renews your faith and hope in him during this wonderful time, as he has for me.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Life Through Pictures

Some time at the end of November, in the midst of the mind-numbing exhaustion that was colouring every aspect of life, I looked through our photo albums on Picasa. Our endless, disorganized photo albums, where hundreds and hundreds of pictures have been stored since Kaiya was born. I saw photo after photo of sweetness and bliss, happy smiles, close cuddles, cherished moments. And I realized that I was half-baked in many of those photos, longing for a nap or just a few moments of peace. And I thought, "Man, we parents need to keep taking lots and lots and lots of pictures." It just hit me that this thing we call LIFE is what happens in the midst of everything else: the stress of balancing work and life, of dealing with yet another childhood sickness, of not knowing what the job situation is going to look like in just a few months time, of wishing for just one more hour -please!- of sleep in the morning. And with a little one at home, that wonderful thing called LIFE can become such a blur. What day is it? Time is it? When do I have to be where? And for goodness sake, would you just let me change your stinky diaper already??!!!

When I look at the pictures, I see what everyone else sees: the sweet moments; a happy family. And I quickly forget the mind-numbing tiredness I was feeling that day. And I think: yes, we have got to keep taking these pictures. Because it all goes by so quickly. How can it be that Kaiya is going to be two this January? Where did these little sentences popping out of her mouth come from? And when did her hair become long enough to hold a ponytail for an entire day?

The moments slip by, so quickly, undetected. Thank God the pictures will always be there, chronicling the beauty and wonder that is our journey with Kaiya.

(The photos in this post are the ones that particularly made these thoughts spring to mind, as I remember how zonkified I was on the day they were taken. But I don't look tired, do I? I just look like a really happy mom. And I am.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Bittersweet Return

I know that I'm finally ready to start writing again. I've had many moments lately where I've thought, "Oh, I have to blog about that." It's a good feeling, having these thoughts. It's been a long, dry series of months. It's always a good sign when the inspiration starts flowing again.

But before I feel I can move on, there is one post that needs to be written. A post that has been on my mind for well over a month. It's a difficult post to write, but I don't feel the freedom to move on until I write it. I'm not sure how it will go. The emotions may get in the way of the flow of the writing. But it doesn't matter. This post isn't being written to impress. It's simply being written to try to bring some small sense of closure to some of the pain that has underscored this fall.

Look at this beautiful picture. It's Jeff's artistic rendition of a small plant that we own, that holds its roost on a small shelf above our kitchen sink. If you look carefully, you will see that the plant has three distinct stems: a tall one, a medium one, and a little baby one. Perhaps you see the analogy I'm making. Jeff was given this plant by one of his students when he was teaching Adult Ed. at Westlane in Niagara Falls as a congratulations on our first pregnancy. As you all know, sweet Kaiya bear was the wonderful result of that pregnancy.

I have often looked at that plant since Kaiya's birth and wondered at the thoughtfulness of such a gift. So simple, yet so meaningful. A plant to celebrate the promise of a child. I've watched the plant grow, the "baby" getting bigger, and it's brought an extra bit of happiness to my life. This may seem strange, but it wasn't until this fall that I realized what type of plant it was: a Jade plant. And then I realized what a crazy coincidence this was. Kaiya's middle name is Jade. I'm not kidding. When I thought of the name "Jade" and considered it for Kaiya, I liked it for its connection to the gemstone so valued in Asian cultures. I never even thought of the little plant sitting on our window sill. I'm amazed at the connections that appear in our lives.

Life took a turn for the worse this October. On October 14th, I lost the baby I had been carrying for 12 weeks.

I feel like I could stop this post right now. What else is there to say? How do I possibly explain the experience, or what I feel now?

I awoke with a start around 3 in the morning to the sensation of my water breaking. I literally sat up in bed, deeply inhaling the panic. I knew immediately what was happening. But I had no idea how bad it would get. At the time, I naively thought that I could simply put a pad on and go back to bed. I even thought I might be able to make it to my 12:30 class the next day! I was very wrong. As time went on, the clotting intensified. I would lie down for a while, then feel the pressure, get up to go to the toilet, and pass more clots. After some time, we realized this might not be so simple. Jeff got up to make lesson plans and call in sick. While he was downstairs, and this is very difficult to write, I am very sure the baby passed. It was the largest "clot" I felt the entire time, and as it passed, my body let out a cry that I could not control. I was too terrified to look. I simply flushed. I'm still conflicted about that moment.

Around 7 in the morning, I thought the worst was finished. The bleeding seemed to have slowed down, and I rested, calling different people to let them know what happened. My midwives scheduled an ultrasound for me that day, around 1 or 2, and shortly before then, I had a shower. The bleeding started again. Very heavily. I managed to get dressed, and my sister arrived to go with me to the ultrasound and then a midwife appointment.

I should have gone to the hospital. I should have just cancelled all of my appointments and gone. I kept hoping and praying the bleeding would stop. I was so terrified to go to the hospital. I didn't want to have a D & C. I just wanted the bleeding to stop, and I wanted to go home. By the time Dagmar dropped me off, I knew I was screwed. I knew that I was going to go into shock soon. It was around 5, and I was surprised to be home alone, as Jeff was taking a little longer than expected to pick up Kaiya from daycare. I started to lose it. I started to completely panic. I had never seen so much blood in my life before. It just wouldn't stop. I called Nathan and Rose to ask them to come and watch Kaiya so that Jeff could take me to the hospital, and I completely lost it on Nathan. (I later read that going hysterical is one symptom of shock.) Jeff came home, Nathan and Rose came over, and my parents stopped by. I hugged both of them. I was sobbing and shaking. I was so scared.

We made it to the hospital, but I passed out as soon as we stepped inside. I later had Jeff recount the events, and it seems I was out for quite a few minutes. When I came to, I was in a wheelchair, groggily giving a nurse some information. I was soon put on a bed. Jeff was beside me the whole time. All I remember is being ridiculously terrified... of the IV, of the waiting, of what I knew was happening and going to happen. When I get scared or nervous, I get really cold and shake. My whole body was shaking. Jeff kept finding ways to make me laugh and relax me. And he held my hand. That was the most important thing that I remember about my hospital stay: the sweet pressure of his hand on mine. I can't imagine having gone through the experience without him.

In the end, the dreaded occurred. I had a D & C. And it wasn't that bad. Strangely, I felt no pain...NO pain(!) throughout the entire miscarriage and after the procedure. I thank God for that small blessing.

I ended up having to stay overnight in the hospital because my hemoglobin count was so low. And then I had to endure a full day of blood transfusions. I had lost 2 liters of blood. The following week was rough. I was back to work on Monday, but I was exhausted and had splitting headaches. This continued until I started taking iron pills the following Saturday.

I'm sorry if you found the explanation graphic. I feel it's important for me to write this down. Miscarriages are still a very taboo topic, and as such, they are not well-understood. I hope to add to the understanding.

So how am I now? How have I handled the emotional aspect of losing a baby? It depends on the day. For a long time, I had no choice. I had to just put my head down and work. It was a busy semester, with me juggling three jobs. There was no time, no room for personal reflection, for serious grieving. Many nights, I lit a candle before going to sleep, and I apologized to the baby and told him how much I missed him. But once the candle burned away, I stopped. Then I found myself so tired. I can't tell you how tired I was all of November and into early December. Each day I woke up tired, dreading all that I had to do, and then dragging my weary butt through the day. I put on the face for most people, but as soon as I got home, I collapsed. Napping didn't even make a dent in the exhaustion. All I could see was my gazillion obligations, the busy, chopped-up segments of my day, and all I wanted was to be left the hell alone.

And then, work slowed down, and the past two weeks have been a gradual awakening of feeling. I've been crying more and grieving more, and that's okay. I've been remembering a lot of the details I wrote above, and that's hard, but it's okay too. And I've been hugging Kaiya more (even when she pushes me away), and feeling grateful for the family that I do have.

Every woman expresses it differently. I have a friend who has a hard time seeing pregnant women, or women with newborns at the mall. I find I'm okay with that. I may stare a little longer, or sigh a little deeper, but it doesn't hurt too much. For me, the hard part is when I look at Kaiya and desperately, desperately long for a sibling for her. She is such a little mother in how she plays with her toys, and she would make such a good big sister. We always wanted to have our kids close together.

Along with this pain is the growing fear that it will never work again. We will never have another child. This fear is new, but it's strong. I look at that Jade plant differently now. I look, and now instead of seeing the wonderful family of three, all I see is that there are only three. And I think, "Is that all there is to be, God?" And I hope that I am wrong. But I have a different understanding of pregnancy now. I have realized the true miracle of pregnancy and birth, and I have heard countless stories of the millions of things that can go wrong. And it's hard not to be scared. I've never been quick to get pregnant, and I fear that time is not on my side.

And for now, that is how this story ends. Sadness and fear, and at this point, not a lot of hope. It has been a difficult fall, and all I want now is a peaceful Christmas with time to grieve and maybe, just maybe, a renewing of hope.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

If Anyone Is Still Out There...

I just want to let you know that the blog hasn't died. I promise. I'll be writing again soon... I feel it in my bones. ;)

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Hilarious Set of Pictures

I was just looking at pictures we took of Kaiya in August, and I came across this ridiculously cute and funny set of pictures we took while at Ericka and Dave's house, playing with Hannah and Wren.

She can be such a ham when she wants to be... but I think these ones are the best ones yet! My favourite is the last one...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Just a Few Sweet Pictures

Look at those ridiculously blue eyes! The darker her tan got, the bluer her eyes became.

Me and Kaiya bear at Niagara Falls.

One of my all-time favourite pictures of her.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Funny Little Set of Pictures

We went to Charles Daley Park today. It's such a great place. A great, FREE place. Beautiful, clean facilities, and a nice little family-friendly beach on the shores of Lake Ontario. We try, on the weekends, to get out in the mornings as much as possible. Kaiya still has a solid nap every afternoon, so if we want to do something fun, it's generally best to do it in the mornings. And it's a great way for us to get out and hang together as a family, me with my thermos of tea, Kaiya with her shovel and bucket, and Jeff with a newspaper or Maclean's.

Today, on the way home, Kaiya decided she wanted to do a little reading herself. I just had to share the pictures. She's just too funny!

She pulled the Maclean's out of the bag beside her carseat.

She was particularly interested in the article on Obama.

She flipped through the magazine a bit.

She ended by scanning the back cover of the MJ issue.

She's been extremely interested in books lately, and loves to sit on our laps and point out different pictures in her books. She even enjoys paging through one of her favourites while lying on the change table! But this was definitely a new spin on her love for "reading." We had a good laugh!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I'm so tired that I'm typing this blog post while lying on the couch. It's quite relaxing actually. My headache seems to be slowly going away. I don't spend nearly enough time on the couch. I mean, I basically sit here when I give Kaiya her bottle, and that's it. Who has time for the couch when you're cleaning/marking/cooking/prepping for class/doing endless laundry/answering emails/chasing a toddler/picking up after that toddler's millions of messes... Shall I go on?

It's no wonder I've lost a lot of weight this year! Who needs to go to the gym?!

Something is not right this semester. I handled last semester really well, considering it was the winter and my first semester back to work. I was efficient, productive, and even somewhat balanced, believe it or not. But things have been "off" somehow this semester, and I just can't seem to get them back "on." I feel like I've been dragging my heels most of the term, feeling tired and sluggish. I'm on my second cold in just a matter of weeks, and just when I thought I might be getting better, I got a COLDSORE. I hate nothing more than coldsores. They're big and gross and painful and ugly, and they freak out my students and make me feel incredibly shy and insecure. YUCK. When I have a coldsore, I literally want to walk around with a paper bag over my head.

I think my "off-ness" has something to do with my schedule. Last semester I only had one 8:30 class. And Mondays-Wednesdays I didn't have to go in till about 11, so I had wonderful, long mornings alone with Kaiya. But now I have three 8:30 days, and only one morning where I really get to spend time with Kaiya: Wednesday. This means that three days a week, I'm getting up at about 6 in order to get myself ready before she wakes up. This is hard, considering I do the bulk of my marking & prepping in the evenings, after Kaiya is in bed. And of course, coming home after a day of teaching is not exactly "relaxing." As one of my colleagues used to say to me last term, "Well, now you get to go home to your other full-time job." INDEED!

I also didn't really get a break at all between semesters like I normally would because I was working that week at my other
other job, as a language assessor at the Y. Ya, I know. Like I need two (three?) jobs. It's a long story. I'll explain later.

Jeff isn't doing much better. His marks are due on Monday, but worse than that, he's made some other commitments that are making his end-of-year anything but relaxing. He's heading up the yearbook committee, and at this point, he's not exactly sure how or when that yearbook is going to be completed. He's also been involved in his school's production of "Highschool Musical." He spent hours and hours producing a practically professional poster for the production, and he has now volunteered to put together the video. I don't often see Jeff overwhelmed. He is my cool-as-a-cucumber man. But today, he wasn't fooling anyone. All day, the look on his face fluctuated between exhaustion, frustration, and annoyance.

Fun times!

Let's just say that these next two weeks can't fly by fast enough.

That's why I can hold on. I'm feeling tired and whiny, but I know that in just two weeks, life will somehow, miraculously, be better. JEFF WILL BE DONE for the summer. Oh, glorious day! And then our new, summer schedule will begin. Kaiya will go to daycare only twice a week, and Jeff will take care of her the rest of the time. The days that Kaiya goes to daycare, Jeff will do his best to finish up projects here and there on the house. His time is limited, so we've agreed that he will focus on getting the main floor done. This means we might actually have painted trim up around the windows and doors by the end of the summer. How exciting!

But the best part (for me) is that once Jeff is home, a lot of pressure will be off my shoulders. No more 6am mornings. When I have 8:30 classes, I'll be able to sleep till around 7 and go along my merry way. So I won't be quite so exhausted when I sit down to all my work in the evenings. And maybe we can start to have a social life again. There are a LOT of people I haven't seen enough of in the past while... Dan & Marie (you guys still alive?), Jason & Beth (I know you guys are alive, but not much more than that!), oh and shoot, I'm still playing phone tag with Kate, and I still haven't called back my sister-in-law Karen! And Dagmar & Dave's pool and hot tub are calling... and calling... Man, I need a beer.

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to August 14th. That's when the semester ends. I love my students, but I'm really looking forward to a proper break. And on that note....

Does anyone have any ideas for a good, relaxing, kid-friendly, close-to-some-water getaway that is within a 4-hour drive (or so) of our place? We are looking to get away mid-August for a FULL week with Kaiya. Ideally, we'd be in a small cottage (NOT a tent) very close to a beach. I know, I know... we should have booked this a long time ago. We're not very good planners. I'd appreciate ANY ideas.

Okay, not a particularly inspiring post, but at least you're all updated on "the state of the Epps!" We're almost there... just holding on!!!

Love you all, very much...

Oh... and Round 3 postings are up next week. These are the postings that Jeff can actually apply for. There is a good chance that there will be nothing. Yes, nothing. That's how bad it is. Would someone close down all those teacher's colleges already?! Anyhow, please pray for Jeff. We need him to get a full-time post. Yes, he has this contract till next March. And to be honest, we really aren't expecting anything. But it's worth a shot. He's an amazing teacher. And stress levels will definitely decrease once he gets full-time. So any support would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Really Dumb Move

So last week was eventful. We were all sick and very tired, and just generally sick and tired. Bad moods all around. Lots of unsolicited grumpiness. Not a good week for the Epp household.

One night I was trying to get some dinner together. I don't, as a rule, enjoy cooking... and I especially don't enjoy it when I'm sick. On the menu that night was a stirfry (very common in our house), and I wanted to get the rice started. I got the big huge bag of rice down from the cupboard, placed it on the stove, scooped out the rice, put it in the pot. Then, while I was adding water to the pot, I turned on the element. I was impatient. Thought I'd get it heating up.

Perhaps my more intelligent readers are already anticipating what happened next. :)

I finished putting water in the pot and went to place said pot on stove. Suddenly, I realized, "oh no! I turned on the wrong element! I didn't turn on the back one... I turned on the front one... the one that the bag of rice is sitting on!!!

Quick action was required. I turned off the element, and without giving it a second thought, snatched up the big huge bag of rice, when......


Our ENTIRE floor was covered in thousands of grains of uncooked rice. Of course. The plastic had melted onto the element, opening the bag. It was really a lose-lose situation.

"AAAAAAAAHHHH," I screamed. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!" Kaiya screamed. (I had temporarily forgotten that I have a small daughter.) I quickly picked up Kaiya, covered her with kisses, and used a very calming, reassuring voice to console her.
All the while not moving an inch. You see, we were trapped. Trapped by an endless sea of rice. (And did I mention we were all barefoot? Sticky feet and uncooked rice do not make a good match.)

But never fear, super dad was here. Jeff, fresh out of the shower, came bolting down the stairs, sure that a major catastrophe had occurred, and both wife and daughter were in need of serious rescuing. I am sure he would not want me to tell you what he was (not) wearing, but it was all an amusing sight. As soon as he saw us, he stopped dead in his tracks. "What the....???!!!"

And thus ensued about 20 minutes of sweeping and vacuuming to clean up the mess. The rice was everywhere. The stove borders on the living room, so a large part of the mess spilled into there. It was under the sofa, coffee table, kitchen table, behind the stove, inside the elements. Quite the mess. The funniest part was trying to keep Kaiya away from the cleaning process. She really likes "cleaning" lately, and we finally gave up and just let her "help." How could we resist? She had grabbed herself a cloth and was all ready to pitch in.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life is Too Short Not to Dance

I've been meaning to write for a long time. Life's been hectic. Very busy. The new term has really been swallowing up all my after-Kaiya-is-in-bed time, and then it doesn't help that we were ALL sick last week. The exhaustion is still lingering. That being said, I'm finally posting, but don't expect too much inspiration tonight. I'm just letting you all know we're still very much alive!

So today I was bound and determined to get to the Folk Arts Festival. I'm an ESL teacher, for goodness sake. All this multicultural stuff is right up my alley. And before today, believe it or not, we had never been!!! (shhhh...don't tell anyone)...

We got to Montebello Park some time after 4:30pm, went to meet the ponies, took a look around at the vendors, bought some international food, and plunked ourselves down at a picnic table. We had been looking forward to some good entertainment, but it appears our timing was unfortunate. Just as we were settling down for some dinner, a very boring CHOIR took to the stage. A CHOIR, for goodness sake! Apparently they fit the bill because they sang in 9 different languages. We, however, remained unimpressed.

At 6, the choir finally finished, and I told Jeff, "Let's wait for the next act. If they suck, we'll leave."

They didn't suck.

The next 45 minutes were absolute heaven for me. A drumming group took to the stage. They were amazing. I immediately told Jeff, "okay, let's get closer. I need to dance." And I picked up Kaiya and we danced. She loved it. We just bounced around for the whole set. It's like God saw me, in my semi-exhausted and mentally-drained state and said, "Hmmmm.... I know exactly what she needs."

I have to say, the older I get, the less self-conscious I am about self-expression. Just let it out. Be yourself. Who cares what everyone else thinks. I'm always most inspired when I see someone just letting go, free to be themselves. I envy that kind of freedom. But today it was mine. Just me and Kaiya and the music. It was so good. There is nothing I enjoy more than drums and dance. For me, heaven will be a glorious blending of all the cultures around the world. We'll all speak each other's languages, eat each other's food, share each other's beauty, and dance. Endlessly dance. I may sound cheesy, but I'm not kidding. That really would be heaven for me. Oh, and I'd belong to a fabulous taiko group like Yakudo.

So tonight, through some Internet searching, I found some info on the Muhtadi International Drumming Festival. It's on June 6th in Toronto. Thirty different drumming groups. You better believe I'll be dancing. Anyone want to come?? We'd love some company.

Here are some highlights from the day:

Did I mention Kaiya did NOT like the ponies? :)

Just hanging out, eating food and trying to enjoy the choir...

Lately Kaiya has taken to sitting on my lap a lot. It's the cutest thing. She'll be a few feet away, and she just starts backing up till she gets to my lap. I always make the sound effects: "beep, beep, beep," like a truck backing up. My goal is to get her doing the same thing! I hope she always knows that mom's lap is there for her.

And here we are, mid-dance.

(Oh, and sorry if the captions and pictures are not aligned. We're using Firefox now, but I know most of you view through Explorer. Sorry!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

It must be the end of term...

I'm not the kind of girl who's generally "into" Hollywood actors, but I have to admit, I have a thing for Jason Statham. Oh yes, I do. And when I saw the following quote on, I had to laugh.

"If we can learn anything from the career of action star Jason Statham, it's this: a receding hairline is no liability as long as you've got the six-pack abs, Cockney accent and permanent scowl to complete the package."

There's hope for you yet, hon!

(Oh dear, I think I may mysteriously die in my sleep later on tonight!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Proud Day in the Epp Home

A certain restlessness takes over me in spring and I need change... NOW. Since we're not planning on moving to an exotic locale any time in the next couple of months, the next best thing is a trip to T.O. Yes, Toronto. What can I say? We're on a budget here, folks!

So on Saturday, even though we were due at the Epp Easter celebration at 4pm, we decided to get the heck out of St. Kitts, enjoy the gorgeous sunny day and just drive. I like nothing better than a road trip.

It was perfect spontaneity. As we pulled into Hogtown, Jeff said, "Where do you want to go?" "Waterfront," said I. But as we passed by, I noticed the waterfront was particularly sparse. Too sparse for someone looking for bright lights, big city. So I changed my tune. "Chinatown." But then, as we passed by a sign for the St. Lawrence Market, I changed my tune again. "That's where I want to go."

In all our little trips to Toronto, we have sadly never been to the St. Lawrence Market. And this time we were woefully unprepared. That market is bu-u-u-sy! And there we were with mega-Graco stroller and slightly bewildered Kaiya. But the sights and the sounds were just too rich to pass up, so we soldiered on. Good music, beautiful crafts, fresh-baked goods, exotic foods... But let's face it. The main attraction was the LIFE! So many interesting people all crammed in together, jostling amongst the vegetables, vying for the best-looking piece of pie.

I think I must be a city girl at heart.

After making it through both floors of the market, we decided to grab something for lunch. The Italian place seemed the most popular, but we were not willing to stand in line for 20 minutes with the limited patience of Kaiya. And besides, I had seen something else that had caught my eye: sushi. Yes, I hear you groan, "Oh, how predictable!" But the fact is, I haven't eaten it for a while. And it just looked so good and fresh. And paired with the gyoza, we just couldn't go wrong.

While Jeff got the goods, I struggled through the crowds with Kaiya to find a place to sit and eat. Soon after, Jeff arrived with sushi, gyoza, and hot-cross buns. A strange combination indeed. We were joking about what bad parents we are, feeding our toddler a hot-cross bun for lunch, when suddenly Jeff said, "Well, why don't we try giving her some sushi?"

"Um, sure," I said. I didn't think Kaiya would have anything to do with it. She's a good eater, but I guess I figured seaweed is a somewhat acquired taste. Well, wasn't I wrong. In went the rice, in went the dried seaweed, in went the... raw fish!! And they didn't come back out. She didn't just like it; she loved it! She even loved the pickled seaweed salad with the sesame seeds. (YUM!) I soon found myself competing with my daughter for the last bits of the good stuff!

Who knew?

Yes sir, it was a proud, proud day in the Epp household.

Little Peanut just before we left. See? She's already lickin' her chops in anticipation... ;)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Just a Quick Bit of Procrastination

Oh chocolate-chippy zucchini loaf....
How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways...!

Thanks, Karen, for sharing your zucchini bread with us. Kaiya loved it oh-so-much!

And... YAY! It's April!!!! Horrible winter gone, gone, gone. Warm, sunny days coming. (Not to mention an end to the current semester of "peaches"). I'm tired from the long semester of working every night as soon as Kaiya goes to bed (yes, weekends included), but I'm also full of hope and excitement for the spring and for new things to come. I'm ready to come out of the winter cocoon, drink beer on the front porch (yes, we're rednecks at heart), and see all our neighbours again. Long, summer evenings, walks outside, bonfires, trips to the park and Charles Daley, and a new kiddie pool for Kaiya. Just a few of the things I'm eagerly anticipating. Oh, and Dagmar and Dave's POOL, of course! YAY! I am so ready!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quotable Quote?

All the teachers of a particular class at a particular college I happen to work at have been experiencing the same particular problems with particular "personalities." Unfortunately, I've been letting these personalities get me down more than they should this past week. After a bit of venting on my part, Jeff decided to help me out with his advice. Here's a little of the conversation:

Jeff: If you had worked at my Uncle Abe's farm in the summers, and a bad batch of peaches came along, you would know what to do: throw 'em in the seconds bin and forget about them.
Kathy: But they're people, Jeff.
Jeff: No, they're peaches. Throw them out and move on.

Said in true Jeff style. What would I do without him? ;)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

It's Official!

Kaiya's first word is "NO." Say something about her personality? Heh, heh. We think she picked it up at daycare. There's a little two-year old girl there who's just a tad bossy and likes to let Kaiya know all the things she shouldn't be doing. I first noticed a couple of weeks ago. Kaiya started to pick up her plate off of her highchair tray (an action usually very closely followed by a dumping of said plate), and I put the plate back down and said "no." And then she returned the favour and said "no" right back. I was surprised and amused.

Since then we've noticed various uses of the word no. Obviously, she sometimes uses it to tell us something that she doesn't like. But more commonly, and much more funny, is how she uses it with herself. She'll often mutter it while doing something she knows she shouldn't be doing. For instance, when she's booting along on her bus, she'll ever so slowly pass by the electrical outlet, touching it and softly saying "no" at the same time. She'll also point at her blanket (which we've recently restricted to bedtime use only... who knew she would get so attached to a fuzzy, ratty yellow piece of fabric?) and quietly say "" But the funniest was a couple of days ago. While I was driving her home from daycare, and watching her in the rearview mirror, she continually shoved her index finger up her nose and then pulled it out while saying, "" Too funny!

She's recently been expanding her use of "no" as well. Jeff and I can now ask her a question like, "Is it time to go to bed?" and she'll smile sweetly and vigorously shake her head back and forth. We've also caught the occasional finger wag. How do kids learn these things so quickly?

Other than "no," everything is pretty much "da." In the past couple of weeks, she has become extremely talkative, pointing out millions of objects and naming them all "da." Her desire to communicate is definitely becoming strong. Last night, when Jeff picked her up from the change table, he said, "Uppa daisy..." And suddenly, there was her little mimicking voice: "uhuh dayee" !!! So sweet! These are the moments that really warm our hearts and make us thankful for our little family.

It's been a while, so here are a couple more photos... The one above was taken by Rose last weekend when we visited her and Nathan (probably for the last time!) in their Kitchener home. But that's okay! Cause soon they'll literally live just around the corner!! YAY!

Kaiya LOVES toast, and she gets quite ornery now if I take too long buttering and jamming it. She wants my toast, and she wants it NOW!

And the sweet bear at play...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Look Who's ONE!

What a good day. I can't believe my baby girl is one. We were worried in the morning because Kaiya started the day miserable, with a cold. But we shouldn't have doubted our social little girl. As soon as family started arriving for her party at 12, she perked right up. I just can't choose from amongst the pictures. Especially because of her pretty party dress, which my mom bought for her. She's just too cute! I really couldn't get enough of her today.

This is my favourite one from the day. Me and my sweet peanut, before everyone started arriving.

"Look who's one!!" We spent a long time like this today, with her on my lap and me just taking it all in. She especially enjoyed the tissue paper that came with all of her gifts, and she became quite adept at flinging her various presents past my head as she whipped them out of their bags. Such flair! Such pizzazz!
Here she is, looking slightly bewildered. She seemed particularly confused by the strange ritual we big people have of placing flaming wax sticks on a cake and singing as a large group, all while smiling and staring... at her.
She practiced her new skill of scooching and spinning on the floor for a good chunk of time. She's become quite the contortionist, going from lying on her belly to sitting by splitting her legs and rotating her hips. I can't even imagine such flexibility.
And a birthday wouldn't be complete without the addition of yet another cute, silly hat, this one courtesy of Auntie Dagmar.

Thanks everyone for making Kaiya's first birthday such a special day!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Turkey Pot Pie

I'm so proud of myself. I don't really like cooking. But I know it's a necessity for life, and I don't like pre-packaged, super-processed foods, or at least, my tummy doesn't tend to like them, so I try to make a concerted effort. At cooking, I mean. I approach it as I do most tasks: it's on my "to-do" list, often a source of stress, but getting done. And well, of course.

I have a black recipe card box that stores all of my successes. They are organized kind of alphabetically, and kind of not, with the C section being the thickest, as chicken is a very popular meat in the Epp household. My dad has commented more than once on his amazement with my organizational system. My mother claims I certainly didn't get my organizational skills from her. Again, it's how I approach everything else in life. The royal We aim to bar all forms of disorganization and chaos. We strive for order, calm, alphabetization. You can see, perhaps, why renovations stress me so...

But back to the black box. Because let's face it, I generate more pleasure from that than from any actual cooking I do. It's such a great system, really. Any time I try a new recipe, and Jeff and I deem it a "winner," it gets written neatly on a little 3x5 card and stored in the box. If you frequent, you'll find they actually give the option of printing 3x5 card size. In these cases, I print, cut it out, and glue the recipe to a card. My, what time she must have, you say. It's all about making time for the important things in life, folks. And this is important. It's a great system. I encourage you all to follow it.

But enough about the box. You're probably wondering by now when the heck the turkey pot pie will be making its appearance. Well, get ready, here she comes!

I've been making it my goal lately (as in the past few months) to try to find clever ways to reinvent leftovers, instead of eating them once and letting them rot in the fridge for a couple of weeks, like we usually do. Sorry mom, you might as well know the truth. This is a particular conundrum at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter... prime turkey time. I don't actually really like turkey. I mean, it's okay, but honestly, I could live my entire life on this blessed earth never eating turkey, and I wouldn't actually miss it. Not for a second. But since it makes its regular appearance at these holidays, and I'm regularly offered the leftovers, I thought I should make good of this situation.

Enter turkey pot pie. I was looking around aforementioned one day when I came across the recipe. Finally, a solution to our turkey leftover woes! So I made it... three times! And finally, all the leftovers were laid to rest... in our bellies, anyhow. And I have to say, for someone who doesn't really like turkey or heavy "meat and potato" meals, it was remarkably good! And it looked pretty, too. Jeff was so visually impressed, he took a picture. Aren't you lucky... you get to see Turkey Pot Pie in all of its glory! What do you think? (Keeping in mind that I didn't make the pastry, and I doubt I ever will. No way. Not this super-practical no-nonsense I-don't-really-like-it-here-in-the-kitchen girl.) But yes, the recipe was printed out and cut out. Although I'm having trouble finding time to paste it onto one of my little 3x5 cards...