Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Wrap-Up

Warning: This post is long. It's the end of Christmas day, and while I should be in bed sleeping beside my warm and cozy bear (that's Jeff), I'm full of warm sentiments and far too much sugar from Aunt Dorothy's baking. These pictures and thoughts simply must be shared! And who needs sleep, really? Tomorrow will be spent in comfy pjs on the floor with tea mug perpetually in hand, helping Kaiya enjoy the fifty or so new toys she just got. And a nap will surely be part of the agenda.

So indulge me, dear readers!

The highlights of Christmas 2010:

Christmas Eve

Morning at home:
Baked Blueberry-Pecan French Toast. Yum.

Afternoon/Evening at Sis':
Dave getting snuggly with Kaiya's hippo family. (Let's remember that teddy is the "daddy.")

Me and mom and dad enjoying the apps in Dagmar and Dave's swanky new living room/kitchen.

Okay, so I know it looks like I'm in pain here, but I'm actually just busting a gut telling this story about how I realized Gizmo, Dagmar's severely anti-social and neurotic dog, was hiding in the bathtub from all of us loud, obnoxious people, when I heard strange lip-smacking sounds coming from behind the shower curtain while "taking care of business." It was funny; trust me. (And slightly disturbing all at the same time!)

Kaiya and her new doll, with their matching sweaters. Seriously, how cute is this?!

Me and dad. I love this picture. It's so natural. But I also love it because it captures the ambiance in Dagmar and Dave's renovated digs. I think we all felt a little like movie stars that night. Well, I did anyway...

The highlight of our two days of festivities was probably this: Scott giving Kaiya a totally age-inappropriate gift... a Nerf gun (for ages 6+). It came with three darts. Within minutes she had learned how to cock it, and of course, pull the trigger. Then, for the rest of the evening, we were all at the mercy of trigger-happy Kaiya. She ran around like a drunk banshee, wildly waving around her weapon while the rest of us all braced ourselves and ducked. She took great delight in carefully choosing her victims. "I'm gonna get......... UNCLE DAVE!!!!" And then she'd excitedly run after her victim, sometimes firing off the gun while still flailing her little arm around, accidentally shooting someone behind her instead.

You can understand our terror, I'm sure.

But the best part was her crazy squeal/scream every time she got one of us. It had us in stitches. Here you can see our reaction just after she shot Babi:
Muaaaahahahaha... We are crazy people, yes we are.

Uncle Dave learned the hard way what happens if you try to play Kaiya's game on Kaiya. He stole her gun and sneaked in a quick shot on her butt, and he was promptly rewarded with a loud, angry "NO!! I don't like that!" and a swift smack on the arm with said gun. Thatta girl! You show him... Don't mess with Kaiya Jade!

And finally, the upholding of a long-standing family tradition. Every year, since they were wee little ones, Candice, Jasmine, and Dustin have gone to sit on Santa's lap together. Alas, being in their twenties and holding down jobs has made this tradition trickier. Weren't we lucky that Santa decided to make a special guest appearance in the middle of his busy Christmas Eve. I just want to know... why didn't any of them sit on his lap?

Christmas Day

Getting to spend time with a baby I have just NOT seen nearly enough of! I was lucky enough to hold her all through brunch before she was stolen away from me.

Jeff being Jeff.

Friends, reuniting again. Everyone's looking at the puppet that Nathan was madly waving around in an attempt to get some smiles from the girls.

Cousins opening gifts at Grandma's house.

Kaiya, in one of her rare sweet, angelic moments, enjoying a new book.

The handsome Epp boys. Let me just say right now how ridiculously rare and precious this photo is. The boys are at their best when they're all bantering together in the kitchen, telling ridiculously rude jokes while getting everything ready for a delicious turkey dinner.

Grandma and Hailey... two seconds before Hailey squirmed her way off of Grandma's lap.

Brian, most definitely being Brian. He seemed to feel a certain kinship with the turkey.

Dancing, whirling, twirling girls. Click on this one. It's worth it.

Dinner at one of the two tables. Looks cozy, huh? We always have to set up two tables to fit everyone.


This wraps it up for me. Memories, and more memories, all made more special with the knowledge of how fleeting it all is, and how different it all may be next year. I'm going up to snuggle up with my bear now. Do you think he'll appreciate my cold toes? :)

I don't know about you, but my favourite time of the holidays begins NOW. After the Christmas buzz and hype. When I get to just cocoon with my two favourite people, playing with new toys, drinking hot tea, eating tasty leftovers, and storing up all the good parts of the past two days. We'll take some walks, drink some cocoa, but mostly just be together in our snug little house.

Sending warm wishes your way.

Good night, folks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From Our Home to Yours

It's our "Christmas Eve" tonight. With two days of family celebrations coming, starting tomorrow, we're definitely getting into the swing of things. The gifts are wrapped, under the tree, the Christmas tunes are playing, the lights are lit, and final food preparations are taking place, together with some spontaneous dancing and stolen kisses.

A friend gave me a gift today, which I prematurely opened. It was Kaiya's fault, really. She had taken the box excitedly from Jeff and started bashing it up a bit. I had to intervene. ;) The gift was small and simple, but as I placed it around my neck, its meaning hit me in a funny place, and I found myself getting weepy at the silliest of things. Good gifts get you like that, I think. They go beyond the material to reach into your soft spots and make you realize that you're loved, and that it's all okay. And as I begin to pack up this year of events, and unfortunate non-events, I am reminded that yes, it's okay.

Kaiya has been so excited to have both of us home. She simply can't get enough of us, especially Jeff. Tonight, he ran out to the LCBO downtown to get the much needed bottle of red, and she screamed, yes, screamed, when we told her she couldn't go with him. I held her while she screamed, trying to be patient with her toddler rage, but I finally said (yelled?), "If you don't stop screaming, you'll need to go up to your room." She said, "No! I don't want to!" I said, "You need to calm down. Screaming is not okay." And she replied, "But screaming is part of my crying!!" (sniff, sniff)

I could eat her up.

We're having our special "just us" Christmas morning tomorrow. It's the start of some of our carefully chosen Christmas traditions. For the first time, I'm going to make a special Christmas breakfast (baked blueberry and pecan French toast), and then we're going to open our gifts together. I'm really excited. After that, we'll go to my sister's for celebrations with my side of the family, and then we'll continue with Jeff's side on the 25th.

We decided to let her open one of her gifts tonight. She chose the blue and gold star papered box, and promptly placed it in my lap. I said, "Honey, it's your gift. You go ahead and open it." And she looked a bit upset and said, "But I don't know how to open gifts yet!"

This strangely brought a flood of tears to my eyes. It must have been all the fuzzy feelings stirred by that gift hanging around my neck. We quickly had to explain to Kaiya that people have happy tears sometimes, too. All while she was patting my arm saying, "Aw, mom, cheer up. Cheer up."

After some prompting and guidance, she tore into the wrapping paper. I was a little nervous. I had gone out on a limb with this one. See, she has a ton of "stuffies," and somehow, she has managed to have two (or more) of almost everything. In Kaiya's world, everything is about "mommies and daddies and babies." So when she has a bigger stuffie, it's usually the mommy, and a smaller stuffie is the baby.

Her favourite lately has been her hippo. But poor little hippo is an orphan. No mommy, no daddy. So I took it upon myself to find this hippo a mommy. An ever-so-slightly larger version. But would she like it? Or was part of the reason she loved hippo so much the fact that he was all alone?

I think it's safe to say this momma's instinct was spot on.

It was love at first sight. She cried, "Momma! Momma!" Then she grabbed baby hippo and put them together in a warm embrace.

And then we had to take a picture with all of her favourite stuffies, of course. Don't worry. Little hippo is there, tucked in behind his momma. Somehow the white bear became "daddy." Whatever. We're all for inter-species relationships:

There's much more I could blabber on about. Musings on this time of year, on the joy and hope I feel tonight in the midst of all the other feelings. But I'll leave it at that.

So from our home to yours: Merry Christmas!! I hope you can take the time to really look around you this year and be thankful for the gazillion big and small things you have been given. He's a good God.

Love and peace,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A dad in his glory

It's no secret that Jeff and Kaiya have a strong bond.

But they took their love to a whole new level the day Kaiya decided to adorn Jeff with her hairclips.

It went something like this...
You can see it was a very serious endeavor at times.

I'm not sure what's going on here. Is she telling him off? Knowing Kaiya's personality, that's certainly a possibility. ;) Dad! Stop moving your head!

That's a mirror she is holding in her hand. She's clearly pretty excited about him seeing the final product.

And of course, a picture had to be taken. Perhaps following in daddy's footsteps after all?

Monday, December 13, 2010

This is what happens...

...when you try to do a cool snowman craft with a 2-year old:

Meet "Scary Monster Snowman."

This is what happened.

I got a neat-o idea: let's make some fun winter/Christmas crafts with Kaiya. I looked online, chose a few favourites, bought the supplies, took a deep breath and dove in.

Step 1 involved painting the balls white and rolling them in glitter. I thought Kaiya would LOVE this. She loves painting and usually begs me to do so as soon as she sees the little foam brushes.

She lasted one styrofoam ball. So as she ran around the house, acting up and demanding my attention in various other ways, I was left to hurriedly paint and glitter the snowmen.

After letting them dry (and taking a nap), it was time for Step 2: decorate the snowmen. Kaiya glued on the eyes and nose, but then lost interest. I thought we were done for again, until she found the toothpicks I had used to stick the snowmen together. A mom of an almost-3-year old will take her 5 minutes of peace and quiet however she can get them, and that, my friends, is how we ended up with "Scary Monster Snowman."

But she really loves him. She even added his third arm, or, um, leg?

Here's my much more subdued and boring version of Mr. Snowman:

And here they are, united at last, having a little Snowman dance party:

Peace and blessings to you this season, however they may come your way!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A Toast to Right Here and Now

Someone who has gotten to know Jeff and I quite well this past year presented Jeff with the following today:

Ah, yes... I wonder what possibly could have inspired this purchase? ;)

There are two things that I particularly like about this wine. The first is that it is simply labelled "red wine." Is it a Cab? A Shiraz? A Merlot? Who knows, who cares. It's RED WINE. Consume sufficient quantities and desired buzz will soon follow. What else matters?

The second thing I like about this bottle is the quote on the back:
The Procrastinator is named to celebrate Wits End's patriarch, John Harvey, and his ability not to finish one task before something else more interesting arises.
I love the positive spin. It rocks. "...his ability not to finish..." It's an ability, huh? I'll have to keep that in mind next time I want to wring Jeff's neck. Clearly I need to further refine my appreciation of this keen ability. Ha!

Monday, December 06, 2010

My Favourite Thing

The best thing. The very best thing is when the weekend comes, if Jeff gives in to the tiredness that seems to be his constant companion these days, he sometimes decides to lay down the defenses, and nap with Kaiya.

And if I time it right, maybe cleaning up some lunch dishes first, I climb the stairs just to find them snug as can be, huddled in together under the softness of the blankets, fast asleep. Their bodies have already warmed the sheets, and I quietly slip in, careful not to disturb, and snuggle in close to enjoy the comfort, the quiet, the warmth.

We heal together, we three. As we sleep, our hearts are healed of the insecurities we have struggled with and the pains we have faced in the big world out there. All that matters is that we are together, we are safe. And that makes mamma bear truly happy.

A couple of weekends ago, Jeff was unable to put his work down, but I was suffering from a cold, so I gladly curled up with my Kaiya. I figure that even if I napped with her every day until she's fifteen (unlikely?), it will not be enough. There is something about her love and snuggles and hugs and kisses that fill me to overflowing.

We're holding hands here. This is heaven on earth.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Oh, a child's imagination... Today Kaiya placed the cards from her "Memory" game on the upturned lids of a variety of pots. She pulled out a couple of wooden spoons and then proceeded to inform me she was "making muffins." Later, she placed the cards, er, muffins, in the "oven" (the box the game came in). When I pulled out the camera to take a picture, she ran over to get hers. She will not be outdone!

Although she looks completely different here, this picture was taken a mere hour later. She had to change out of her sweater because it got wet while she was cleaning the bathroom with me. And her hair was bothering her, making all five hairclips a necessity. It makes sense, right? Here, we made an entire meal of noodles and Cheerios just by using her Playdough gadgets. She kept hunkering down out of annoyance with my picture taking.

I took part in many toddler conversations today that went something like this:
Kaiya: Are there tomatoes in this soup?
Me: Yes, but don't worry. You don't have to eat them if you don't want to.
Kaiya: But I like tomatoes.
Me: Okay, then go ahead and eat them.
Kaiya: But mommy, I don't like tomatoes!
Me: (a combination of exasperated sigh and smile)

It was a quiet day. A much-needed day of HOME. We've been reeling this week with a very abrupt and unexpected change in daycare that has left us all upset and out-of-sorts. Almost two years, suddenly cut short. Kaiya's been on the edge, acting out, and in need of many more cuddles and reassurances than usual. She was beyond happy to have a quiet day at home with me.

And me? Well, me too. I'd love for a few extra cuddles and reassurances too! It's been a beautiful fall in many ways, but a difficult one as well, with many "life" stresses that have come and not gone. We're strong, but we're tired and in need of a serious "life" break. A quiet day at home today was a good start.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My "Office"

In the middle of my mad rush of work today, I looked around and was inspired. Inspired to take some silly photos of my current “office space.” Yes, the living room floor. This is where I sit, at times leaning over the coffee table, madly putting together presentation marks. If you look closely, you can see that I give my students far too many comments. The perfectionist is alive and kicking. But don’t look too too closely. You may see the dust bunnies by the baseboard. I don’t usually sit on the floor. But I’m sick with a miserable cold this week, and somehow the floor, put together with a mug of tea and some miscellaneous toys, seems friendlier than the kitchen table. Especially when the kitchen is full of dishes and broken baking promises.

Here’s another favourite spot. You’ll notice the box of kleenex for my runny nose, the ubiquitous pb and honey, and the mug of coffee. I did say tea in the previous paragraph, didn’t I? Oh well, it’s usually tea.

I’ve had an odd teaching schedule this term of mostly late afternoon classes, resulting in me dropping off Kaiya around 10 or so in the morning at daycare just to return to the house for a frazzled mix of schoolwork and housework, which on good days leaves me feeling fulfilled and productive, and on bad days leaves me feeling, well, just frazzled.

I technically have an office at Brock, but it’s shared, and it’s cold, and it’s windowless. So apart from the times that I have meetings with students, or when Starbucks calls my name, I work here. In this cluttered, imperfect, but very inviting space.

I’ve been lucky this semester. I’m a girl who wants to have it all: family, friends, a satisfying job, and a clean and organized house. And this semester, I’ve gotten pretty close. Family? Double check. Satisfying job? Also double. Friends? Well, okay, they’ve been a bit neglected the past month, but that’s what Facebook is for, right? Ha. A clean and organized house? Of course! (But don’t you dare come over unless you call first!) ;) We’ve even managed to keep healthy meals on the table. And a weekly pot of homemade soup in the fridge. (Bragging rights!) And although I’ve been relying on a lot of peanut butter and honey sandwiches this term, the peanut butter’s all natural, the honey is local, unpasteurized goodness, and the bread is not white! So there. :P The only negative result I can gather is a slightly sticky mouse.

The balance is always delicate, isn’t it? And for each of us, it’s different. I could not be my authentic self without the professional outlet my teaching provides, but deny me of my morning cuddles with Kaiya, or my evening talks with Jeff, and I become a bear. While I’m thankful for the non-9-5 schedule which allows me a lot of home time, I easily become frustrated when the marking piles up and I lose my evenings.

But if you know me at all, you know I'm not going to settle. Yes, I may have weeks where the dust piles up and the invites are left unanswered. The past month has been a testament to that. But I will never stop striving for the perfect balance. Family, friends, work, and home. Each one plays a significant part in my life. And I'll keep working at finding the fit that works best for me, for Kaiya, for Jeff.

Who says you can't have it all?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A little serendipity

I bumped into a friend at Brock yesterday. Someone I've been meaning to get together with all fall, but time has somehow slipped through both of our hands, with semesters busier than either of us expected.

We chatted a bit at the Starbucks, me with my notebook open, pen in hand, and her standing, shifting her weight back and forth, leg to leg. A testimony of how busy both of us were feeling. Drained and multi-tasked to the core.

We were discussing future plans and hopes. I made a comment about our lives not working out to the "perfection" we had hoped for. Not exactly as we had planned.

She paused and looked at me with a look I know well. A look that she may not realize is classic HER. A thoughtful pause, combined with a slight pursing of the lips, shake of the fringe, eyes glancing up.

"Pff... What is perfection, really? I've come to realize perfection is having family, a roof over your head, enough money to pay the bills." And then she made some funny comment about being a grad student and having to find some satisfaction somewhere. :)

I felt something jump inside me, and I said, "YES! That's exactly it!" And it was a funny moment for me. Where I knew that I had met with something that resonated deep within. Admittedly, you kind of had to be there. It was something in the way she said it. I knew she wasn't coming at me with an agenda; she was simply communicating the conclusions she had come to, through whatever life circumstances had brought her there. Her honesty spoke volumes to me.

Life's had its shares of disappointments this year, but we remain thankful, probably more than ever, for what we have. I'm happier than ever for we three who reside in the rickety little house on George Street. I look around and I see the love, the anticipation, the excitement for the future. Letting go and opening up have somehow come together, intermingling in my morning mug of tea, and I have felt the healing deep inside.

And I'm thankful.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Frui-tea Musings...

The Tetley teas I drink, the flavoured, herbal ones, all come with interesting labels.
I almost always drink "Dream." I sometimes drink "Warmth," on occasion "Revive," and then, almost never, "Clarity."

Does this say something about me?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

"I have got to write these things down." I think that every time our precocious little girl comes up with a new phrase that astounds me and makes me smile... or laugh out loud. And then I don't write it down, and it gets lost and forgotten with a thousand other little quirks she blesses us with each day.

Today, I'm writing it down.

The scene: Sunday, noon, our kitchen
The task set before us: making chocolate-zucchini cake (more like brownie) for Thanksgiving at my parents' place

Kaiya was stirring the dry ingredients, and I was zapping two cups of the zucchini we had copiously grated and frozen in the summer.

Me: (fiddling with the microwave) I don't know what's going on with this zucchini, Kaiya. It's just taking forever to thaw.

Kaiya: Well, we'll just have to hope for the best.

Me: (stunned and bemused expression all over my face) Honestly, Kaiya where do you learn to say these things??

Just for the record, while Kaiya was stirring the wet and dry together, after many, many warnings about keeping the wooden spoon in the bowl, I turned my back for one second (to get the zucchini) and heard a distinct *splat.* I turned back to find a big blob of chocolate-zucchini batter in Kaiya's hair. I tried not to laugh. So did she. Let's just say she went to babi and dedo's house with slightly crunchy hair.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Today is the Day!

Critiquing dang 30-page paper? Check.

But, more importantly...

Staring at resume for an obsessively long time and making minor changes?

Agonizing over and finally composing semi-decent cover letter?

Hip hip hooray!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


I found out today that classes start Thursday, not next week. Suddenly, I'm strangely motivated.

Funny how that works.

Monday, September 06, 2010


It's Labour Day, the official end of summer, and I can't seem to get my butt in gear. I mean, Kaiya lies down for her nap, and Jeff says to me: "It's a holiday. You should do whatever you want to do." And I say: "Ya, but what if there is nothing I want to do?"

That's kind of been the state of affairs since our Toronto Island trip. Time to spare? Yes. Desire to do anything? No. Here's a sample of some of the things on my "to-do" list at the moment...

1. Finish digging out and mulching the garden in the back yard. This task seemed so pressing at the beginning of the summer, but now that I'm close to being done... yawn...

2. Finish critiquing that dang 30-page paper I've had looming over my head for a week. (yes, I'm paid to do that. Is that motivating me right now? Nah.)

3. Continue purging. The house. And all its contents. Normally, this is a very rewarding task for me, but apart from my bedroom closet and the bathroom closet, I haven't made much of a dent lately.

4. Email a random list of people who sent me messages sometime in the past month that I have yet to respond to.

5. Can more tomatoes and cook up massive quantities of chicken broth to freeze.

6. Blog about our trip to Toronto. (Eeek - low motivation is even affecting my desire to blog!)

I think part of the problem is that we don't have a definitive "start" to the fall this year. For the first time in a couple of years, Jeff does not have an LTO, meaning that he has no class to set up, meaning that he won't start working till the phone starts ringing with supply requests. And supply teaching does not exactly make Jeff's heart go "pitter-patter." Especially not after the success he has had in having his own classes for the last 2+ years. But don't get me started... And then there's me. Although I have a teaching job, I'm not completely sure about the start date. (Trust me, in contract ESL, that's so not a weird thing.) I know I have a meeting about it tomorrow, and I'm assuming I'll be starting in a week, but till I know for sure, what's the use in prepping? Especially since it's three sections of ONE course... and a course I already taught last fall.

Of course, there's one thing I haven't mentioned yet. And that's number 7 on my list (which is actually, silently, number 1). A huge, motivation-sucking mental block. And that's a certain resume and cover letter that I need to write and get in by September 10th. An action that could mean nothing, but that could also completely change our little family's existence. Yes, I think... I think... that it may just be time to finally apply for that job in Qatar. There is no easy way to announce this decision. But to be honest, part of our motivation (I'm talking me and Jeff right now) is our LACK of motivation as of late. It's been an amazing summer, but now the summer is over, and we keep getting this nagging feeling that it's time to move on. The job scene is hopping in Qatar, and of course, it helps that we have friends there - Darren and Larissa - and possibly, in the future, Kate.

You can blame Kate, really. It was her innocent email during our week in Toronto that started it all. "Did you check the website? Did you see the job posting? Are you applying? I think I am." Her simple letter came at just the time we were starting to look ahead to our fall and winter. And it caused just enough pause to make us say, "Oh heck, why not?"

My mind is full, but this post will stop here for now. I know that all week I'll be flip-flopping back and forth, weighing a thousand monstrous to minuscule thoughts, as I'm so good at doing. What if this? What if that? But ultimately, I'm going to apply. We'll deal with the rest later.

So ask me how I feel after September 10th. I have a feeling life will somehow feel lighter, and more motivating. Or at least I sure do hope so. Otherwise, the bathroom will never be cleaned again!

Monday, August 23, 2010

We're HOME

We had a really great time in Toronto Island. It was probably our best "family" vacation yet. I think we finally get how to mix mom & dad time with kid time. A delicate balance indeed!

More will come soon on our trip, but for now I just want to say this:
I am so very glad to be home. Our week away was fabulous, but after a couple of days of sickness and rain, combined with a very cramped cottage where we kept bonking our heads in the loft style sleeping area,... I am so very glad to be home.

Our house feels freaking HUGE. And it's so nice and clean. I tend to obsessively clean right before we go away, and although it adds to the stress before we leave, it is absolutely, 100% worth it when we come back. We literally stepped in the door, smiled at the funny note and sweet card Robyn left us, had some lunch, and slipped straight into bed for a nap. Well, okay, I slipped into bed for a nap while Jeff surfed the Internet, and Kaiya pretended to sleep. She's so excited to be home that she spent the whole time re-arranging her hordes of stuffed animals and telling them stories.

My two favourite people are off buying groceries now, and I'm going to go sit on the couch and browse through Maclean's. Or maybe I'll make a mug of tea in our massive kitchen and then stare at our soothing purple wall in our cozy yet strangely spacious (at least for today) living room.

I love HOME.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


It's a day to mark on your calendars, everyone, oh yes it is!

August 3rd, 2010.

The day we finally got to put Kaiya to bed WITHOUT singing Jingle Bells! Hooray!!

We have been singing that blasted song to her every nap and bed time since mid-December. Yes, we probably could have made this stop earlier, but who's going to argue with a bed-time routine that consists of Rock-a-bye Baby, a hug and a kiss, and Jingle Bells? Admittedly, Jingle Bells three times through... but only the chorus (?!) When you're two tired parents of a very busy two-year old, let's face it, you're just going to go with the flow. Especially when not going with the flow results in much screaming and crying.

Yet as the months dragged on, and it became June, July, and finally August, something simply had to be done. It was getting embarrassing, and I noticed we were singing extra quietly whenever guests were over.

So tonight, with much coaxing, and with Kaiya in an unusually agreeable mood, we ditched Jingle Bells.

And replaced it with... Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Here's to the next six or so months!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh my girl, she loves her ice cream

Yes, yes, she does.

It makes her contemplate the meaning of life.

It makes her smile.

But she doesn't love ice cream as much as she loves her daddy.

No, she doesn't. Daddy still wins.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Note of Frustration

I've been annoyed with Blogger for ... forever, mainly with respect to posting pictures.
I decided it was time to change up my layout, and voila! The formatting of all my old posts are now totally screwed up.

I've been meaning to look into Wordpress for some time, and I think it's time.

When I have time, of course.



Time for a little POOL fun!

My dear readers (all 8 or so of you...) yes, yes, I have been negligent. I went to Qatar, and then I seemed to have left you for good. But I'm back. And with at least 5 great post ideas. But be patient with me. There is simply not enough TIME. Summer has been hot, hot, hot! And we've been out and about, enjoying it as much as possible.

So much has shifted and changed in my "mental space" this past bit ... that deep, dark, sometimes scary but always interesting place... and I'm really feeling the need to get documenting the journey more. We've also just been having a really fantastic summer, and I want to get all that down too. It can be hard to keep up with all the pictures!

This past week we had a friend from Japan stay with us. I met Rieko long, long ago, before I was yet an ESL instructor. She came to Canada about 12 years ago to study English in a 5-week program at Brock, and I was a "language monitor..." basically, a person paid to have a ridiculously amazing time doing crazy activities all over the Niagara region with a few hundred international folk. Definitely the funnest (yes, funnest) job I've ever had. Rieko and I have managed to stay in touch over the years. We met up when I lived in Japan from '97-98, and again when Jeff and I lived there from '04-06. And finally, she made her way back to St. Catharines, too.

I love that we've kept in touch.

Anyhow, we did our usual tour guide gig, showing her the sights around the region. Well, really showing her all the changes in the sights, since she had seen them all before. Of course, our standard tour guide routine did have to be slightly modified to accommodate our rather rambunctious two and a half year old. But Rieko didn't seem to mind.

On one particular day we found ourselves in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was SWELTERING. Yet another one of those days that makes me wonder if I could actually stand to live in hot, hot Qatar (but we'll save those thoughts for another time...) We had decided that our best plan of attack was to let Rieko wander all over old town to her heart's content while we lay low in the park, enjoying the shade of the trees and the wading pool. It was a Good Idea.

You may or may not know that Kaiya was actually a dolphin in a former life. We were unaware of this fact until we started bringing her into "Auntie Dagmar's" pool. By the third time in, she was so excited that we could barely hold on to her for all of her wriggling, shrieking, and flapping. One of her favourite lines in the pool is, "Don't hold on to me!" leading to a bemused Kathy and a slightly panicked Jeff. (Don't worry; she generally wears her water wings... although she sometimes requests them to be taken off as well...)

The first time I took her - without Jeff - to Dagmar's pool, she kept requesting to jump in again and again, first with me catching her, and then with all of us (Dagmar, Candice, Kaiya and me) standing in a line, holding hands. This was particularly funny because we never knew exactly when to jump, as Kaiya always counted us in. First it was "one, two, three" (jump), but by the end of the day, it was "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, nineteen, TEN!" (giggle, jump).

And by her fourth time in the pool, she was doing starfish floats (with very dramatically spread legs... very funny), dunking her head under the water, swimming to the side, and jumping off the diving board... repeatedly. So you could say we kind of had a sense she would enjoy the wading pool, especially since it meant freedom to swim, jump and play without the water wings.

She was a little slow to warm up, not sure what to do, and wanting me in with her, playing with her. But in the last half hour or so, the pool mostly cleared, and she found a friend, a goofy kindred spirit who had jumped into the pool, dress and all. And they hammed it up big time. Jumping forward and backward, under the water, plugging their noses and dunking their heads. All the while thoroughly eating up the laughter and attention of all the adults sitting on the sidelines dipping their feet. At one point, an appreciative bystander leaned towards me and said:

"You know, you really should be charging admission."

My daughter, the ham.

Witness her antics:

The great scrunchy face she made in preparation for going under water.

Together with her like-minded friend (whose father eventually had to get in the pool and get wet in order to extract her from it).

"Dude. This rocks!" Looking a bit water-logged. We had to keep reminding her to take her time and remember to breath a little.

One of her forward dives.

Not sure what this was all about, but she did it a lot. And for a long time. To the point where we wondered if we should pull her up. But she was standing on her own two feet, for goodness sake!

A great splash backwards. Clearly she has no problems with getting her head wet.

"I have conquered this measly little pool!!!" Doesn't the look (and her belly) say it all?

Enjoying food with Rieko, once we managed to coax our little dolphin out.