Thursday, December 31, 2009

Decade in Review

I am shamelessly stealing this idea from Beth.

2000 began at a random bar with Di in Markham (before she and Mike got together!), involved spending the day with Katie and her Michigan girls, then attending a Hip concert with Dave and the Georgetown boys. Dave and I were not together, but I'd just broken up with Josh and the Mac/Mc reunion took place just over 1 week later. That year, we both finished our undergrad degrees, graduating the same week that Leah was born. In May, I went to Thailand, Korea and Japan for my 2nd study abroad through Michigan State (this time for grad school credit). Dave moved back to Georgetown, Ben moved to Chicago, Beth to Vancouver. I visited East Lansing, MI several times and went to Cooperstown. Leanne (not my maid of honour, the other one) moved in with me and I started grad school, once again at Guelph. Dave started working for the company he still calls his employer.

In 2001, NYE was spent in Montreal with Sarah (before she was with Kevin), Dave and assorted Guelph friends. I was still in graduate school, working as a research assistant and TA and receiving some great scholarships. I was done classes, though, so my schedule was my own. As a result, I travelled A LOT! In February, Dan and I visited Ben in Chicago. In March, I went to Paris with my folks. In April, Dave, roommate Leanne and I went to DisneyWorld (my first time). And that summer, Katie and I embarked on an amazing road trip - NY, DC and Boston - visiting friends and playing tourist. We spent time at the WTC (in line at the TKTS booth) and a couple weeks later, I was a mess when I watched the towers fall. In November, Dan and I headed back to Chicago for Ben's birthday. And at Christmas, Beth and her then husband came back to Ontario. They were with us when we got the call that Dave's grandfather had died after a battle with Alzheimer's.

2002 did not have an auspicious start. Dave and I spend NYE on the couch in my parents' basement, suffering from strep throat and getting psyched up for his Poppy's funeral. The year improved, though. In March, I went to Belgium with my parents. Dave and I went to Michigan several times. I submitted my thesis in June, and immediately went to the DR with Di and Dawn. I successfully defended my thesis in early August, and Sierra was born a week later. I moved back to Georgetown. In September, Dave and I went to Ottawa (I chatted with a future boss at Health Canada), and Jorge got married. In October, I celebrated my 25th birthday with my Nonna in Italy. And I spent the fall doing occasional supply teaching and applying for jobs in the government.

2003 was rung in at the apartment of Jorge and his new wife; they hosted a party. Soon after, Dave and I went on a trip to DisneyWorld. Happily, I was offered a job with the CFIA in February. I worked part of the time in Guelph and part in Ottawa. In late March, I found out that I'd been accepted into the MTP with Health Canada, and waited on details. In June, I found out that I'd start language training in Toronto in the fall, and would move to Ottawa after I finished. With details FINALLY in place, Dave was given the ok to ring shop ;). His Nanny died at the very beginning of July, though, so the ring was burning a hole in his pocket until July 6th. We set the date for the following Thanksgiving of 2004. In August, Dave and I visited Ben and Erin in Chicago. In October, my parents took us on an engagement trip to Baltimore and DC on the -1 anniversary of our wedding. I also left the CFIA and started language training in downtown Toronto. That's where I met Tania (and eventually Mark). In December, Sarah and Kevin got married.

2004 began in Woodstock at the apartment of Sarah and Kevin, who'd just returned from their honeymoon. It was a stressful year, with language training (if I didn't demonstrate proficiency at a very high level, I would have no job - a fate that awaited several of my friends). Wedding planning took place throughout the year, and I took a week of unpaid leave in March to go to Paris with my parents. In May, Blaine and Colleen were married. In June, my bridal party converged in Vancouver for a bachorette weekend; it was amazing. It was also the weekend that my maid of honour - Leanne and bridesmaid Justin started dating. It didn't work out, but it was a riot to see! In early August, my parents and I went to Quebec City, and I went through a stress-related near breakdown as I prepared for my oral interaction exam (I'd breezed through the written ones). I did very well on the exam, though, and got my level on the 20th of August. Plans to move to Ottawa were set in motion. September was a blur of finalizing wedding details and moving and job plans. Di and Mike got married on the 25th. On the 27th, movers packed my stuff. On the 28th, I moved. I started my new job on the 30th and on the 6th of October, I flew back to the GTA to get married. Talk about a crazy week! Our wedding was on October 9th, one week after my 27th birthday. The next day, we flew off to Venice for our honeymoon, a Med cruise. We got back at the end of October, and headed back to Ottawa. Dave started to work in the Ottawa office on the 1st of November. And at the end of December, my father retired.

We rang in 2005 at Tania's apartment, dragging Jen and Greg along. By early in the year, it was becoming clear that the spot I was working at Health Canada - a place I thought I'd be doing my dream job - was more of a nightmare. I spent months trying to come up with ways to improve the situation, but I was thwarted at every turn. Happily, I was on a developmental program and was able to leave without too many problems, although I stuck it out (fighting depression) until August. I started a job in another policy shop, but soon realized that policy was not for me. I did some soul searching and realized that maybe, just maybe, I'd like Human Resources. And one of my acquaintances -- also on the program - called me out of the blue because she was in an HR assignment and thought I'd be a great fit to replace her. Dave and I did some travelling, too. In April, we went to Quebec City to vouch for Jen and Greg so they could get married in that province. In July, we had a big trip to Michigan for Ben and Erin's wedding and to visit Katie. In August, we celebrated Jen and Greg's wedding in Quebec. And over Labour Day, we went to Las Vegas to celebrate Dave's 30th. I expected to tolerate Vegas, but I LOVED it! We celebrated our anniversary in Vermont. In November, we went to Nova Scotia (I went to a conference and Dave tagged along) and Beth came to visit us. Oh, and in family news, my Mom retired in March, and my parents moved to Almonte, only 45 mintues away. They love it and we are so happy for them!

2006 began in our apartment, once again celebrating with Greg and Jen. And two days later, I began my new MTP assignment, one that would change to course of my career. It was baptism by fire - running recruitment campaigns and job fairs, then taking over as coordinator of an elite recruitment program all in 6 months! My director was amazing and I clicked with the team. I was exhausted, though -- from January to May, I worked 7.5 weeks of OVERTIME (you know, in addition to my normal work week). Dave and I managed to squeeze in a trip to the Caribbean in early February. Jacob was born at the very end of that month. And then, things started to go off the rails. My Aunt Flo had what we then thought was a stroke in early March. It turned into a series of brain bleeds that completely incapacitated her and forced her to live the rest of her life in nursing homes. Beth's marriage fell apart, and her long-awaited PhD defence was blocked by a vindictive external examiner. Dave and I had booked our trip to Vancouver already, though, so we headed out to distract her. In April, I went to a conference in St. John's and my parents came out to play tourist with me. And in June, Dave, my parents and I went England and embarked on a cruise of the Baltic Sea. Russia was amazing, and my parents fell in love with cruising. In August, I flew back to Vancouver for Beth's rescheduled defence. We celebrated my 29th birthday and our anniversary on a cruise to Bermuda. And we wound down the year with the decision that we wanted to start looking for a house - in Blackburn Hamlet.

2007 began quietly in our apartment. January was my busiest time of year at work, and the overtime was nuts. As usual, I had strep and/or a sinus infection for the better part of 2 months. At the beginning of February, we headed to Vegas for a week-long getaway, including a side trip to Utah and one to urgent care for my illness. And we started looking for houses with our amazing agent, viewing everything that came on the market in the area. In early March, we were outbid on the first house we'd liked. At the end of that month, I flew out to Vancouver to see Beth. Several days later, we flew to Calgary to meet up with Dave and hang out with Justin for a week. Calgary isn't my favourite, but the Rockies are amazing and we liked Drumheller too. In May, we found the house we ended up buying and made an offer right away. We celebrated with an already-planned trip to Vermont. We spent most of June trying to pack up the homes of my Aunt Flo and Nonna - both pack rats - after my Nonna sold her houses in what had become the Queen's student ghetto. We helped her move to a much nicer neighbourhood at the end of that month, inheriting a great deal of Flo's furniture and her amazing book collection. That all went into storage as we prepared for our move in August. And right in the middle of the move, I had to go on a mandatory MTP graduation course outside of town. It was an amazing week! In July, we visited Dave's family in Newfoundland and attended Tania and Mark's wedding while in September, we went to Edmonton for Deepa and David's big day. And we celebrated my 30th birthday in Vegas with Blaine and Colleen. In November, I flew to Chicago to see Katie and for Ben's 30th birthday. And in December, I suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks. Happily, Beth came to visit us after Christmas!

2008 was another quiet night at home as I prepared for my busiest time at work. January was brutal and I was once again ill, but a treat was around the corner. On February 1st, Dave and I flew to Auckland for a cruise of New Zealand and Australia. It was AMAZING! We met awesome people, too, and we flew to Atlanta to meet up with them in July. By then, I was pregnant with Teddy! In August, I flew out to Vancouver to see Beth (poor Dave was out of vacation time) and my parents joined me for a cruise to Alaska. As the year wound down, it was clear that big changes were happening at my work, but I didn't feel right changing jobs with only a month or two left to work before my maternity leave. The horrible transit strike in Ottawa was the straw that broke the camel's back; I went off on leave at the very end of the year. And at Christmas I made a sad prediction - that neither Flo nor my Grandma would be with us at Christmas 2009.

2009 began quietly at home because I was VERY pregnant. I spent early January nesting and on the 20th, Teddy was born. After his tongue-tie became apparent - and the release didn't really work - I began my romance with the pump. The thrush and mastitis made that romance short-lived, but the expressing continues to this day (nearly a year!). By February, it was clear that Flo was fading; she died in early March. We brought Teddy to meet Great-Grandma Mary and Great-Grandpa Jack in April, and they weren't looking well. Grandpa died in August and Grandma in October. And our dear friend Greg - husband of Jen - fell ill in the Spring and took his own life in July. I hope that I attend far fewer funerals in 2010. In August, my job evaporated. The job functions moved elsewhere and 3 people (who make more $) are now doing the job - no wonder I was so stressed! In a positively providential turn of events, I found another interesting job - one for which I was their number one choice - 2 days later! At the end of August, Teddy was baptised. In September, we flew to Vancouver to visit Beth, Deepa and other friends. My parents joined us and the 5 of us embarked on a cruise down the coast to LA, visiting Maggie and Katie en route and celebrating my birthday and our 5th anniversary. We welcomed lots of new friends into the world. And we had a lovely Christmas.

2010 promises new challenges. I head back to work on Monday the 4th of January and Teddy will be off to Daphne's every day. We'll have several weddings - Katie and Nathan in July, my cousin Erin and Ashley in August. And we've a big trip planned in April/May. I am sure that there will be more surprises, too!

I wish all of you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Teddy's first Christmas

Teddy's first Christmas was a lot of fun. The action has dragged out over several days, so I am late in posting about it!


Our trek west began after Teddy's morning nap on the 24th. We loaded up the car and drove to my parents' place in Almonte, where we had lunch. Teddy had his afternoon nap, and we opened a few gifts. Once Teddy awoke, he opened several, too. He was mystified -- I do what with this paper? - but he generally enjoyed himself. He also spend hours toddling around holding on to Grandpa's hands and taking a few shaky steps.


My parents' parish in Almonte isn't huge, so they only have 2 masses on Christmas Eve (and one at the mission church some distance away) and one - late - on Christmas Day. The daytime mass was not an option (for reasons that will become clear later in the post) and the 11 o'clock (not midnight - lots of elderly folk), our usual haunt, would be too late for Teddy. As a result - Dave and I braved the 5 pm mass, complete with the pageant. We arrived half an hour early and had to stand in the vestry. If we'd had any other option, we'd have exercised it, but we didn't. The children were adorable (we couldn't see them acting, but we saw them processing in), and Father Lindsay was wonderful with them.

We couldn't see much or hear very well, so that was a bit of a bummer. In the entire liturgical year, though, this mass is the one that I know like the back of my hand. From the age of 4 until I was 26, I think that there was 1 year that I wasn't involved in the Christmas mass - singing in the choir for almost all those years, but I've read both the 1st and 2nd readings numerous times, have read petitions, and have proclaimed the gospel about 5 times. It started when I was 5 or so - I was one of the few children confident enough to read aloud. By the time I was 7, I was the only child who could reliably pronounce "...while Quirinius was governor of Syria". As a result, I can recite all three pieces by heart. Seeing the kids and hearing those readings, we got excited thinking that in the next few years, Teddy (and any future children) will likely be involved in the celebrations at our own parish. How fun!

Anyway, after mass we had all had dinner (pasta and meatballs), then let Teddy open a few more gifts. He headed off to bed, and we opened the rest of the gifts. My parents were incredibly generous, as usual. Thanks, guys! We headed to bed and my parents went off to the 11 pm mass.

On Christmas morning, Teddy got up around 7:45 (his 7th and 8th teeth are starting to come through, so he'd woken up in the night). We had breakfast (cinamon rolls!) and opened our stockings. Then we packed up the cars and headed to Kingston during Teddy's nap. The 25th is also my Nonna's birthday, and this year she turned 80!

We arrived in Kingston just after 11; we were the first to arrive. Within the hour, my Uncle Sergio, Sally and the kids arrived from north of Kingston, and my Aunt Pat, Fred and the girls arrived from Brampton. We had a HUGE feast - antipasto, lasagna, chicken, turkey, salads, other vegetables - the usual. Teddy ate like a champ, and we had a great time. It's not that often that all 15 of us are under the same roof, so it was wonderful. We exchanged gifts - everyone was so generous once again - and had cake. Then, we packed up and continued west.

Teddy slept for almost all of the drive to Georgetown, through the dark and rain. We arrived at 6 and headed straight to the home of Dave's Aunt Mar and Uncle Gerry, where the bulk of the family were gathered. We had some food, we waited until the end of an EPIC Texas Hold'em game, then moved over to Nanny and Poppy's house. Teddy and the nieces opened their stockings, then we all exchanged gifts. Once again, we were bowled over by the generosity displayed by the family. And my inlaws were thrilled by our surprise for them - a Wii. My mother-in-law LOVES it and has played for hours every day since Christmas. It's a hit!

We took it easy on Boxing Day, glad to be here since Ottawa was getting pounded with freezing rain. We went visiting with Nanny and Poppy, seeing other members of the family, and I popped out to pick up some essentials. That evening, some of the Aunts and Uncles came by to watch the Leafs' game (gag) and play with the Wii.

The 27th was a Sunday, so off to 8:30 mass we went for the Feast of the Holy Family. It will likely be the last Christmas in the old church (sob!) as the new one is due to open next fall, and it was lovely to see the church all decked out one last time. After mass, we came back to the house and puttered around. Barry, Wendy and the girls stopped by after lunch, and we they had a great time watching Teddy toddle around. Later in the afternoon, Dave and I headed to Toronto to visit Jorge, his lovely wife and their adorable daughter. They hosted us for dinner (thanks, guys) and cleaned up after we bailed -- we had tickets to Jersey Boys! It was a great show and we're thrilled to have seen it. Teddy was a superstar for his grandparents, too, so that as a relief.

Today is our last day in Georgetown. We'll be visiting my Aunt Pat and the crew in Brampton and seeing Blaine and Colleen. Teddy spent the morning walking from person to person - he's made amazing progress! His record was 14 steps and his balance is just so much more stable. Good work, button!

I hope that you and yours are having a wonderful Christmas season!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From our house to yours...

...we wish you a happy and blessed Christmas and a magnificent 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teddy's Big Weekend

Teddy had an action packed weekend!

On Friday, we spent the morning at his future caregiver's house, and we had a great time with Daphne and the other boys who'll be there.

On Saturday, I finally acquiesced and Teddy had his first haircut. We went to a place called 'Melonhead' at the local mall; it's a spot that specializes in haircuts for children. Chelsea, who cut his hair, has a 14 month old little guy, so is used to cutting the hairs of munchkins. Teddy sat in a Thomas the tank engine, played with a school bus during the cut and then rode a mechanical horsey as a reward. We also had an official photo taken and they gave us a certificate and his hair. Best of all - no tears. Here are the before, during and after shots. It should be noted that he HATED the cape.





Goodbye, comb over!

On Sunday, we had Dave's corporate Christmas party for kids, where Teddy held crayons for the first time (and didn't eat them) and saw Santa. Once again, no tears! Here's proof.


He said his first 'word' - Uh oh! - over and over on Sunday, too.

And why has it taken me so long to post this? Well - he got his first case of the Croup on Sunday. He woke up from his afternoon nap struggling to breathe, and with a barking cough. A stint in the steamy bathroom cleared up the stridor, but he's had a few snotty-nose and leaky-eye filled days. Poor kid. He's on the mend, though, and he had a great morning with Daphne again today -- without me this time. I spent that time running errands, which included procuring the least flattering passport photo of all time.

One final note -- it's been twenty years since I was in my one and only wedding party. Happy 20th Anniversary, Aunt Pat and Fred. I'm so glad that it's not as cold today as it was twenty years ago!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday movie FAIL (sort of)

Tonight, all I wanted to do (after mass, dinner and Teddy's bed time) was to have a rum and egg nog and to watch a holiday movie. I had hoped that one of the 'on demand' channels would feature one, but no dice. We cased our DVD collection (some of my movies still reside at my parents' place) and the only movie I have? Is 'White Christmas', which is great but needs to be watched further into Advent.

Aside: Gunther just knocked Dave's (now empty) glass off its coaster. It held rum and egg nog with a dusting of nutmeg. We'd forgotten that Gunther is NUTSO for nutmeg. His equivalent of kookoo for Cocopuffs, I guess.

We started watching 'Fan Boys' on demand (I am powerless to resist Veronica Mars aka Kristen Bell) but I realized that we have Die Hard on VHS. And I've never seen it. So I'm writing this as Dave is setting up the VCR. And boy - VHS on an HD TV is spectacle.

My parents, bless them, are bringing holiday movies with them when they visit tomorrow. Copies of 'You've Got Mail' and 'Love Actually'. I should probably break down and buy copies of 'Meet Me in St. Louis' and 'It's a Wonderful Life'.

Any other recommendations? What am I missing?

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo success!

I am wheezing to the finish line, but I've done it - posted every day for 30 days. Hooray!

I had a great day with lots of family (mine and Dave's). This afternoon, I picked up my Nonna and we headed over to my Uncle Fred's school. Fred is the principal of an elementary school (he has been for years) but this is one he just opened last year and I hadn't yet seen it. It was great to get a tour and to learn all about St. Josephine Bakhita . Most of my family are teachers in the Catholic school system (well, Mom is retired), but she's an unusual saint. It's a school in Brampton, though, and it's ethnically diverse, so she's a great patroness.

After that, my Nonna came back here and hung out with my inlaws for several hours. I am really lucky - our families get along really well, and we had a great afternoon. At around 4, Nonna, Teddy and I headed to Aunt Pat's house for dinner. We hung out there until just after 7, when I piled a sleepy Teddy into the car for the quick trip back to Georgetown. It was great; I miss being able to just hang out at my Aunt's house.

And now - I am POOPED. Congratulations to all of you other NaBloPoMo-ers who finished out the month. I will post again soon, but BOY - I think a bit of a break is in order!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent prayer

I've been praying the rosary daily for over month now. I have no idea why I didn't start sooner, but the night my grandmother was dying (the night of my Mom's birthday, actually) I felt compelled to pray it. I remember my 2nd grade teacher's admonishment that we never had any excuse to avoid praying it -- didn't we all have ten fingers with which to count the "Hail Mary"s of each decade? I cannot tell you how often my efforts (in all areas, not just prayer) have been self-sabotaged by my feeling that "it's too complicated" or "it's too much work", so Mrs. Woods's words were particularly relevant in this case. Each night, I have faithfully prayed the rosary. During various points (Isha's illness comes to mind) I have prayed more than one rosary per day, but I have prayed one at a minimum. And it's a good thing I have ten fingers - I had no rosary in my possession until two weeks into this little experiment! All of my rosaries were at my parents' house, so my Nonna gave me one of her spares until I could nab my old ones.

It's been great. Time for prayer has come more easily than I thought, and I have found difficult moments easier to bear as a result of the prayer. I am FAR from perfect, but I am trying. I plan to keep doing it!

We're into the season of Advent, though, and while one of the key reflections is preparation for the celebration of Christ's birth, the other is general preparation for His return in the fullness of time. Reconciliation and prayer are key, and so I began reflecting -- "Do I feel that I should try to spend more time in prayer?"

Last Christmas, I asked for a copy of Christian Prayer, the user-friendly version of the Liturgy of the Hours. I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I didn't delve into it -- it's confusing to start, and I was REALLY pregnant, then postpartum, then...I never really got into the habit of praying either the Morning or the Evening prayer. Advent marks the start of the new liturgical year, and this year is year C which focuses on my favourite synoptic gospel - Luke. I figured that this would be as good a time as any to start.

I began (erroneously, I might add) last night. Today, after a call to my parents (who've navigated it for years) I managed to figure out which psalms and canticles to follow in which order, and I think I am on the right track. But all along, I have wondered -- am I being called to do this?

But tonight's reading - the first one I read after doing all the prayers correctly - happened to be the NT passage that I have always found the most comforting, the one we chose for our wedding. It was Philippians 4: 4-7, which contains the following passage:

"Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus."

I figure that it is worth a shot! Even if I am not being called to do this exactly, additional time in prayer and reflection (as long as it doesn't take away from time I'd spend with my family) is in and of itself a good thing. I will let you know how it goes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another dispatch from Georgetown

I am once again on my inlaws' computer, writing a post from my hometown. Woot!

We had a leisurely day getting here. I had to do some Xmas shopping in a non-traditional way...with reward points! One of our drug stores (SDM) has a reward program that is just wicked. I shop on days when I can get bonus points (like 20x the points) and I buy loss leaders (things on sale like pop, diapers, eggs, milk) and I just rack up points. Once you have 75,000, you can redeem for $150 worth of merchandise - and it isn't that tough to get to 75,000 if you shop strategically. But today -- it was bonus redemption day. For 75,000 points, you got $200 of merchandise; all you have to pay is the tax. I had over 200,000 points (and for every redemption, I get 10,000 points back), so I redeemed 3 times. Yep - $600 worth of stuff, and I had to pay was the GST and PST. They have electronics (stuff like the Wii or the DSi, digital cameras, etc.) so I got some GREAT stuff.

I ran to the stores for an hour or so, then gassed up. We'd packed almost everything last night, so we loaded up the car just as Teddy was getting sleepy and headed out. It takes just under 2 hours to get to Kingston to my Nonna's house, our half way point. We had lunch with Nonna -- Teddy inhaled eggplant parmesan, canneloni, chicken, peas and green beans along with us. We hung out there until he was sleepy again, then the four of us headed to the GTA. After all the food, Teddy slept for almost 2.5 hours!

Our first stop was at my Aunt Pat's house, where we saw my aunt, uncle and Leah (and Fred fed us). Nonna is staying there for a few days, and we'll be seeing them. Teddy had fun with them, but was getting tired so we headed to our last stop - my inlaws' house!

We got here about half an hour before Teddy's bed time, and we played. He headed to bed, and we have been visiting with Dave's parents ever since. We had a quick visit to see Dave's brother and his family, and we'll see them again tomorrow. Dave's parents are making Newfie dinner, and I am sure everyone will be impressed by Teddy's ability to cram turkey, potatoes, stuffing and other veggies into his mouth.

I hope that you are all having a lovely weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Packing...

I toyed with the idea of doing '7 quick takes' but decided against it. At this point in NaBloPoMo, every post is a quick take, and I need to finish packing. We're off to Georgetown (via Kingston, where we're picking up my Nonna to come with us) tomorrow morning. We're paying a quick visit to my inlaws and we'll be heading back on Wednesday.

We've become adept at packing with the baby, so once that last batch of baby laundry is done (he just had a bath; I hate leaving wet towels so I'm doing one last load) I will finish it up.

It's strange, though, not to have the cats around. We dropped them off at the cat 'bed and breakfast' today. We'd considered having someone come in and feed them, but Moe developed an eye infection. I swear - he is the sickliest little guy. Weird gastrointestinal issues as a kitten, chronic osteoinfection in his jaw, strange bouts of allopecia, and now this eye infection. He needs antibiotic ointment smeared in his eye every 12 hours, so innkeeper Melanie is on it. The cats are usually photographed constantly when they're at the b&b, but I doubt that Moe will be this time. Poor squinty baby.

Boy - I am running out of gas as this month rolls along. The last few November posts will be from Georgetown. See you on the flip side.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Teddy's first Storytime at OPL

Today, we headed to our local library branch for Baby Storytime. Aimed at those 18 months and younger (and their caregivers), it was less 'Storytime' and more 'Sing songs in English and French' but it was fun.

It was great to see so many little ones from our neighbourhood. I chatted with a few other Moms and exchanged numbers with a mother/son pair who've just moved back to the area and up the street.

It doesn't look like there will be any more sessions until I am back at work, though, so Boo! Maybe I'll be able to take him when he's a little bit older (to an actual storytime where stories are read). We'll see how it shakes out once I am back in the office.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wishing my American readers...

...an amazing and blessed Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Up here in the frozen north, our Thanksgiving falls in October (our growing season is shorter!) and it's one of my favourite holidays. We got married on that weekend back in 2004.

I have always said, though, that US Thanksgiving is one of the two reasons I'd want to live in the US (the other being the sheer choice in terms of cities/places to live - you don't have to leave your country for a winter getaway!). For a proud Canuck, that's saying something. It's an amazing weekend, and families get together to celebrate and eat yummy food. How awesome is that?

Try not to slip into a tryptophan coma, party people!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Teddy + Cheese = True Love 4eva!

I am running on fumes tonight, so I thought I'd post about Teddy's continuing love affair with cheese. It doesn't matter what type of cheese; he loves anything from chevre to friulano to ricotta to cheddar.

We were prepping dinner tonight (it was leftovers, so we were reheating) and we'd given Teddy some cheerios to tide him over. He enjoys them and was happily eating them until he spotted me walking over with cheese in my hand. He immediately spit out the Cheerio he was chewing (well, let it fall out of his mouth) so he'd have more room in his mouth for cheese. Which he then ate with abandon.

He happily ate chicken and corn, smiling all the while. But when fresh pieces of cheese were placed in front of him, he was ecstatic. He'd feed himself a piece, then fall backwards in his high chair because he was grinning so hard, so delicious was that mouthful. He'd utter things like "Ga-rinda", which we interpreted as "Man, that's a great piece of cheese."

This kid is just so awesome.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holy crap! It's been 13 years since my first year!

I have been thrown back to the days of applying for scholarships, of prepping for my first year (which I was doing 14 years ago. EEP!)

Rachel, my Aunt Pat's oldest daughter, is in her last year of high school and heading to University next year. She's been nominated for some very competitive scholarships, and she wanted some help reviewing her responses for the application. After spending 3 years coordinating one of the GoC's elite post secondary leadership development programs (yep. That's what I did pre-maternity leave), and having graduated from one of the other programs, I am GREAT at crafting an illustrative narrative for these sorts of questions.

But wow! When I look back, I can hardly believe that she's nearly ready to go off to school.

Rachel is the last of the "14 years apart" babies - there are 14 years between my Mom and Aunt Pat, my Aunt Pat and me, and between us. And she is the first baby I had any meaningful contact with, the first one I just LOVED. She was born during a particularly rough time - my Dad and Nonna had just had heart attacks, my Nonno had just died - and she was like a ray of sunshine. She would stop crying when I sang to her, so I spent hours walking with her, singing whatever came into my head. Who says that "Hotel California" can't be a lullabye?!? She was one of the chubbiest babies I have ever seen. You'd never know it now - she's a 5 ft 11 dancer, and she looks like a mannequin. No kidding - she can tell if something will look good on her by if it looks good on a mannequin. That has never/will never happen to me.

She's always loved Dave. She was 3 when we first started dating, and she's loved him since day one. When we had our break, my Aunt Pat could not tell Rachel about it for fear she'd be crushed. She finally found out, but was beyond thrilled when we reconciled and when we got engaged. She was one of my bridesmaids when Dave and I got married.

About 10 years ago, my Aunt and I had taken the girls to a part near my childhood home. The girls played and my Aunt and I were gabbing. Rachel looked at us and said "It's funny. You are family, but you talk like you're good friends."

"That's because we are," I told her. "But wait 5 or so years, Rach, and you and I will talk like this." We reflected on that this spring - we're there. We're friends now, too.

She is an amazing person. She's sweet and generous and lots of fun. Her favourite actor is Alan Rickman (!?!?) and she'd love to spend a semester in England. She wants to be a history teacher and I have no doubt she'll succeed. She's great with Teddy. It's a total trip seeing her holding Teddy, as it wasn't that long ago that I was holding her.

Good luck with the scholarships, Rachel. I cannot wait to watch your triumphant run through University!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A sloppy Sunday update.

Boy - I am not feeling it today. It's the 22nd of the month and it's the first time I've felt this way, so I am happy about that. But I am tired and I doubt I can piece together something both weighty and coherent. As a result, you're getting an update of my day. Bated breath, I am sure you are waiting with.

Since we went to mass last night, we had little to do this morning. Sadly, Teddy got up at 6 (why? You used to be able to set a clock by his 7 am wake up. The past 3 days it has been 6. BLEARGH). Dave hauled himself out of bed to hang with the kiddo, and both Teddy and Dave went down for morning naps around 7:50. Teddy got up again at 9:30, so he and I played and got ready to go to Almonte.

At around 11, we headed over to my parents' house; our plan was to take my Dad out for part of his birthday gift. We arrived around noon and my Mom had made lunch - vegetable soup and grilled cheese. Mmm...

Then began the strangest part of the day. We were putting Teddy down for a nap after lunch, and Dave went to undo his bib. He started to cry for no real reason (undoing your bib, kid? We do that 25 times a day), and didn't really recover. He'd calm down, then end up bawling and screaming. It was so very strange. This child NEVER cries when he goes down for naps, let alone a screamy cry. It took about 30 minutes of trying to get him down before he fell asleep. Happily, he napped for almost 2 hours. It gave Mommy and Daddy enough time to have a drink.

Aside: This child was off yesterday, too - sombre, and stared into space for long periods. He's had periods of wakefulness in the night, too. According to The Wonder Weeks, week 44 is the stormiest week prior to the week 46 developmental week, and we're smack dab in the middle of week 44. Week 44 - end please!

After his nap, we tried my father's patience as the three of us tried to pose for a family shot to use in Christmas cards. He must have taken 50 shots, and it looks like we'll have something to use. When I have something to share, I will post it!

Next, we listened to music for a bit, then headed out to a local restaurant for dinner. It's one of those 'nice' places you find in small towns - broad menu, friendly staff, big portions, tasty food, and we had a nice time (though Teddy tired of the unfamiliar high chair after a while).

After dinner, we swung back to my parents' to pick up our stuff and change Teddy into PJs before we headed home. Once we got here, he handled the car seat to bed transfer well. We got organized - we always end up with stuff when we come home from my parents' house. This time it was more clothes (for all of us -- thank you, Hub) and some food from both my Mom and Nonna. Mmm...delicious food that I don't have to cook myself! Thanks, once again, for your amazing generosity, Mom and Dad!

Now, I am puttering around, banking and blogging. I am looking at books online, since I haven't burned my b-day gift from Dr. Beth (a gift card for books). I think I am going to pick up the news books from Will Ferguson and Malcolm Gladwell, as well as a Maurice Sendak collection containing Chicken Soup with Rice, our favourite book by him. Thanks, Dr. Beth!

Ok. Off to bed I go. You know, after I place my book order...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gorgeous November Weather

I am not sure what the weather has been like where you live, but here in central Canada the month of November has been gorgeous.

I am not usually a fan of this month - it's usually grey, grey, grey. All the leaves have fallen, it's cold and there's sleet and wind. And the promise of winter is just around the corner; at least with March, you know that you'll soon be seeing green shoots.

This year, however, has been unseasonably warm and sunny. Gorgeous, orange gold light has been streaming in every day and it's staying above freezing. There's barely been a hint of snow; it feels much more like late October than the 21st of November.

Winter will hit soon enough, but I'll take this extended fall. Perhaps it's mother nature making up for the fact that we had no real summer?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ten months

Dear Teddy,

Today, you turned 10 months old! Time is FLYING. Mommy will be heading back to work in just over a month, but we're not going to focus on that because she wants to enjoy every moment with you right now.

You are an absolute joy. You are the sunniest kid I've ever seen. You double over in laughter and joy when your father comes home from work, when your grandparents come to visit, or when I come into view when I've been out of your line of sight for a minute or two. You LOVE music -- the CDs Aunt Shelley brought us have been a huge hit - and you like to stand up and bounce (holding onto my hand for balance) or sit and sway to the music. You still love the Italian songs you've been hearing since you were born, but it doesn't take more than 3 seconds of singing to make you smile.

You have become so adept at feeding yourself. Mealtimes are such fun, since you are eating almost everything we do. Here you are eating chicken and potatoes (made with Bisnonna's recipe, of course). You couldn't get enough, nor of the sauteed pepper and mushroom and citrus blend. You still love corn and squash and you'll eat cereal, but you'd rather feed yourself. Especially cheese and avocado.

You still aren't crawling, but you want to spend most of the day on your feet. You try to use us to pull/push yourself upright, and you want to hold on the couch or other pieces of furniture. Your balance is excellent, kiddo, and you are starting to master the 'bum scoot'. Over the past day or two, you've been leaning over and getting into the crawling stance, and moving forward like you're in the starting blocks. We fear that our days of you staying put our over; Daddy intends to put the baby gates up tomorrow. I foresee him cursing the fact that we have so many stairs in this house!

Though you aren't yet moving, you are WAY ahead in the tooth department. You've already had 6 break through your gums (2 bottom, followed by 4 top) and I suspect the next 2 bottom will be coming along soon. How about a tiny break before the molars, ok?

Over the past little while, you have been trying to hard to imitate us when we speak to you. Trying to say 'cat' or 'Teddy'. I wonder what your first real word will be, and when you'll say it? I don't think we can count "Sha sha sha" or "gooozhe!", though you say them often.

It's been a busy month. You had to attend your third funeral (and lose a 4th loved one) when your Great Grandma Mary died at the end of October. Let's hope that this is the last you have to attend for a long time! In addition, you have a new little buddy - Rory. I am sure that he'll be your partner in crime in no time. Auntie Isha has been really sick lately, and you have been such a trooper while Mommy has been running around dropping things off and looking after Rory. You love Uncle Joe and Auntie Isha (your face just lights up when you see either of them) and you spent today's visit smiling at them and trying to hold Rory's hand and touch his face. Maybe all the requests to be 'gentle' when you're near the cats are paying off?

I am often completely overwhelmed by how incredibly blessed we are to have you in our lives. I suspected that I'd be bowled over by motherhood, but I never suspected I'd be so incredibly rewarded. These past ten months have been incredible and I cannot wait to watch you grow over the next 10,000+ months.

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Sixty-three years ago today, one of my favourite people was born in Kingston Ontario (a fact that still galls him). He was named for his father and his uncle; had he been a girl, he'd have been Linda Marie. She arrived 5 years later! He grew up in a town called Deseronto, and he attended University in Kingston...then met the girl he'd marry there. His mother-in-law still lives in Kingston, too -- he can't get away!

Over the years, he taught me many things among them:
  • what 'FAP' spells
  • how to score a baseball game
  • how to use a Bloom Gelometer (buckshot it vital)
He gladly suffered through concerts and plays, late night Calculus questions, and he transported countless carloads of stuff to and from University. He planned trips and showed me amazing places all over the world. I love that we can still travel together!

His faith has always been an inspiration to me. And his love and respect for me have helped me develop so many amazing friendships with guys and marry a wonderful man (who is similar to him in unexpected ways).

Happy birthday, Daddy! I love you very much. And Teddy is lucky to have such an amazing Grandpa.

P.S. Let Mom know that I am sorry I missed writing about her 60th because of Grandma's death -- let her know I'll make it up to her!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Glee, how I love you.

I should start with an Isha update - she is still in the hospital, but the baby is with her now. YEAH!

I have a history of loving TV shows. My obsession with Veronica Mars is probably the most prominent, but over the years (and to this day) I have loved a whole bunch of shows. And since VM, I haven't rewatched nor gotten into a show as much as Glee.

It's no real surprise. I was a musical nerd in high school and I love Journey, so I was fighting back tears watching the pilot. Though I find some of the story lines annoying (the pregnancy ones need resolution ASAP) I can't get enough of the show. I just watch and rewatch the musical numbers. And Teddy likes them, too. We'll play the music and he'll bop and sway. His favourite numbers? "Single Ladies", "Somebody to Love" and "Don't Stop Believin'". I adore the latter, and the Kristin Chenoweth/Matthew Morrison version of "Alone".

Yesterday, I spent about 5 minutes all excited because I thought it was on in the evening. And then I realized that it was only Tuesday. :(

If you are not watching it, you should be. It's adorable, and it has so much heart.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Minutiae of my day

I am not sure if I should start or end the post with another request for prayers/good thoughts. I guess 'START' is what I'll do:

Isha is still in the hospital; in addition to pneumonia, she has a non-H1N1 strain of influenza and she's back in isolation (as she was with Rory after he was born). HOPEFULLY, she will be out soon. In the interim, Rory is thriving on donated boob juice (thank you, oversupply) and everyone is holding it together. I ran errands for them today because I didn't know what else to do. I HATE that she's going through this. I remember how scared we were after Teddy was born and with his tongue-tie and subsequent scary dehydration, then the thrush and mastitis...and this is worse. I wouldn't wish this on anyone and I am so, so sad that Isha's first days as a Mom are being marred by this. Any prayers you could send her way would be greatly appreciated.

In other news - I went to the dentist today. I continue to love the dental practice that I visit in our neighbourhood. I deliberately switched to it because it seemed kid-friendly (it is), it's local and because I LOATHED the first practice I went to when we moved here. I had the same dentist from the age of 2 until 27, and I loved him, so I really wanted to find somewhere that my children (who were hypothetical at the time) would feel as comfortable. It's just such a great spot.

Teddy also had schwarma for the first time tonight. Lebanese food is ubiquitous here in Ottawa, so it was just a matter of time. He made his usual 'WHAT?!" face when he first tried the garlic sauce, but within 30 seconds he was shoving pieces of chicken and pita and vegetables into his mouth and laughing. Lebanese fast food FTW!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Double your pleasure...triple your fun?

UPDATED TO ADD: Poor Isha has pneumonia. She'll be in the hospital for at least one day. Baby Rory is back with Daddy and his Nanny Saffr*k is en route. Get well soon, Ish!

So, I am about to experience (some) of the wonder of Irish twins. Today, I have both Teddy and Rory in my care.

Poor Isha (who's recovering from a C-section) is having horrible abdominal pain and her midwife recommended that she head to Emerg. post haste. Joe called at 5 am asking if I could watch the Rorster. I have enough boob juice to spare (Rory is doing finger feeding right now, along with nursing), after all! I headed over with Teddy's car seat at around 5:30 to retrieve that baby.

He's so tiny! Teddy was never this tiny (well, he was in utero). And he's still in that super sleepy stage. He's sleeping in the pack-n-play bassinet right now and Teddy's up in his crib. Dave hasn't left for the day, so this is probably the calmest moment I will have today.

For all of you pray-ers, any prayers you could spare for Isha would be wonderful. For the rest of you - any good thoughts that you could spare would be greatly appreciated. See you on the flip side.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vignettes on a Sunday night

Behold, my day as a series of vignettes:

It might be self-injurious, but it is age appropriate

I ended up flying solo at mass this morning -- Teddy's sleep schedule was thrown off (curse you, teething and developmental spurts) so he was OUT COLD during both our parish's masses. It happened to be a baptismal Sunday, though, so there were lots of visitors, including a families with small children.

One such child was sitting right across the aisle from me. She had horny-shaped pigtails on the top of her head and several teeth. During the apostles' creed, she tossed her bottle into the aisle and I picked it up; she spent the next 5 minutes grinning at me. I started watching her behaviour - she'd grasp a necklace with both hands and shove the pendant in her mouth, she'd flap her arms, slapping her torso while simultaneously bucking. She kept trying to pull herself up on the pew in front of her. She kept saying 'Sha-sha-sha' and 'ta-ta-ta'. So - pretty much the exact behaviour I was missing at home, sans pigtails. During the 'sign' of peace (we don't shake hands during flu season), I asked the parents her age' '10 months' was the reply. A-HA!

I had an inexplicable urge to pick her up and snuggle her. Man, I love kids!

The old adage is true. At list this is a laudable trait to emulate

Isha got 'milk fever' today. I remember how much it sucked and how much like mastitis it was. To help them out, Dave, Teddy and I went by t o make them dinner tonight. I had also made chilli and had extra food to freeze, so I brought that along with some b-milk, just in case.

The past two days, I have arrived at their house with boxes and bags of food and drinks and gifts and stuff like a breast pump and supplies. And treats. You know the two people in my life who do that, without fail. My Mom, and my Nonna. I have officially, simultaneously turned into my Mom and my Nonna. Eh, there are far worse things in the world!

Parenting like it's 1963

In our rush to get out of the house with dinner, we didn't bring any toys for Teddy. He is so easygoing, though, that we figured we could keep him busy with simple things. Like the box we brought dinner supplies in. Yes, we sat our child in a bankers' box in the kitchen while we made dinner. And Uncle Joe gave him a wooden spoon and a pot lid. How quaint!

I once again felt like I was channelling my Nonna. When my Aunt Pat was a baby, my Nonna had two older, very active children (plus my teenaged Mom). Aunt Pat was easygoing, too, and was born well before the advent of playpens and bouncy chairs. So my Nonna got a cardboard box and secured it with a very heavy meat tenderizer (so my Aunt couldn't tip backward). She'd sit my Aunt Pat in it and would let her play. The best part? When she was hungry, my Aunt would be given a hotdog and a banana, which she'd grasp in each hand and of which she'd alternate bites. BLEARGH!

My Mom and my Nonna are together in Kingston tonight; they roared when they heard these stories. I don't blame them. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Still loving the 'new baby' smell.

Today was super busy. We visited my parents in Almonte, taking my Mom out for a belated birthday lunch and staying for most of the day. We got back to find out that Isha and Rory had been released from the hospital, so I was able to pop over and meet the little guy (they'd been quarantined with suspected H1N1, which they didn't have). HE'S SUPER CUTE. Teddy and Dave will get to meet him tomorrow. And I will write more later.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Seven Quick Takes - All About Teddy Edition 1

More Seven Quick Takes can be found here.

ONE

Teddy has just gone down for his afternoon nap, so I thought I'd take a moment to crank out this post. His morning nap was surprisingly short (45 minutes, which is totally unusual for him) so I am hoping that this one last a bit longer. If not, bedtime will be SUPER early tonight.

TWO

I tweeted about this yesterday, but Teddy and I have been enjoying music as we play. Snacktime by the Barenaked Ladies is a favourite, as is the CD Shelley just gave us on the weekend. It's an ecclectic mix containing songs like 'Conjunction Junction', 'Little Girls' from Annie, theme songs from The Dukes of Hazzard, The Backyardigans, and Laverne and Shirley, and classics like 'Everybody Loves the Cha Cha Cha' by Sam Cooke. He loves to bounce and sway to the music. It's super cute.

THREE

Teddy's 5th and 6th teeth are arriving; the incisors on either side of his front teeth have broken through the gum (the right more that the left). His front teeth have a gap between them - he's got a bit of a goonie smile (and a goonie laugh, too) but we figure the gap will close as more teeth come in. He's been drooling a lot and shoving his fingers into his mouth, the poor kid. But he's ahead of the curve for teething so far. I am not looking forward to the dreaded 1st year molars, though.

FOUR

One area where Teddy isn't ahead of the curve is crawling. He is not terribly interested nor terribly proficient. At first, his upper body strength would cause him to crawl backwards, away from the object he was aiming for and causing him no end of frustration. He is JUST coming to the realization that his knees need to be involved in this process. We'll see that happens in the next few weeks.

FIVE

His inability to crawl does not mean that he's not interested in locomoting, though. He'll bum scoot a bit, and his big thing is reaching for us in order to pull himself up, then take steps towards the desired object/spot. The kid would spend all day upright if he could. His balance is improving, though far from perfect. Maybe he'll be like my Dad - he'll skip crawling all together.

SIX

I know that I blogged about this yesterday, but I am super excited to meet Rory and for Teddy to see him, too. Teddy has just begun to realize that children and babies aren't just 'other people' -- they're wonderful playmates. Until a couple weeks ago, his reaction towards adults and kids was identical: "Hey! It's a person!! I love people!!" But he's clued in that kids are at his eye level and interested in similar things. It should be fun. I am also excited to get pictures of the two of them together - Godzilla and a newborn.

SEVEN

We (and the cats) look forward to the day when Teddy has more control of his arm movements. When he's excited, he flaps and grabs. When the object of the excitement is your face (or that of a cat) well - it's less fun. We get fish-hooked a lot around these parts. I am petrified that he'll end up with a fistful of whisker one of these days; 'gentle' is one of the most used words around here. He'll figure it out soon enough, but I feel for the felines. They get close to him (Gunther especially; he'd love some affection from Teddy because he really likes kids) but it's tense. I am sure that they'll be friends soon enough!

I wish all of you an amazing Friday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Welcome, Rory!

I got the call about an hour ago - our dear friends Isha and Joe's baby has arrived!

I spoke to Isha yesterday; she was en route to a flu assessment clinic because she had a fever (3 days before her due date). I didn't hear back from her...because she went into labour!

Isha was hoping for a home birth (in their new house, only 5 minutes from us!), but the fever, coupled with meconium stained amniotic fluid, led the midwives to suggest a move to the hospital. It's a good thing - the baby's heart rate dipped preciptously with each contraction and raced in between. Ultimately, Isha had a c-section...

And baby Rory was born around 6 am.

We are beyond thrilled for them and for Teddy, too. All of our friends who've had babies this year have had girls, save one pair of boy/girl twins. I'm excited for Teddy to have another little boy to play with. And I cannot wait to meet the baby.

Isha and the baby are in an isolation room at the hospital (though they don't think it's H1N1 now) and will likely be there through the weeked. But I hope that we'll get to meet the little guy ASAP.

Congratulations, Isha and Joe. May you have a speedy recovery, and may Rory be a good sleeper!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day - 11/11

Today at 11 am, we will be celebrating the 91st anniversary of the end of one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, the deadliest in Canadian history - the First World War. It's Remembrance Day here in Canada, the day we wear poppies, take a moment of silence and lay wreaths at cenotaphs all over the country in honour of those we've lost in conflicts.

This summer, I wrote about why the First World War affects me so much. The post, cataloging the heartbreak I felt at reading LM Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside can be found here.

I am finding it difficult to write about this today; I'm missing my Nonno and my Grandpa, both of whom fought in WWII though for opposite sides. Instead, I am going to post some quotes.

In Flanders Fields - by John McRae (of Guelph, ON)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
Laurence Binyon, The Fallen

Finally, I'm going to quote my entry (warning - SPOILER for RoI if you haven't read it):

"... Maud’s intention – to make the horrors and loss of war real to readers – sure resonated with me. The death of fictional Walter represented the all too real loss of tens of thousands of other young Canadians, full of potential and greatly loved. What a cruel, vicious waste. Reading about WWI is still terribly painful for me, but I feel compelled to do so in order to pay tribute to these kids. And kids they were – when I visited Ypres at the age of 24, NOT ONE person in the Ramparts cemetery was older than me when they died.

Other books have affected me, have made me sob (HPatDH, I’m looking at you for a recent example) but every time one does I think back to Rilla. And say a little prayer for all the Walters lost on both sides of conflicts."

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas Shopping - Have you started yet?

I just got off the phone with my mother-in-law, and she asked me the question in the title of this post - have I started Christmas shopping yet?

The answer is yes, but not in earnest.

I am a nerd for picking up Christmas gifts throughout the year. For the last few years, I have had everything done by the end of November at the latest. I used to let it go later, though. When I was in University, I'd have finals right up until the 19th or 20th. I'd have to clear out of residence 24 hours after my last final, so my father would pick me up and we'd head to the mall during a work day. He was always astounded at my efficiency; I'd be done shopping for 20+ people within 3 hours!

This year, I continued my nerdliness. When we went to Vermont in July, I found some AMAZING deals on children's clothes, so picked up both birthday and Christmas gifts for my younger cousins, my youngest niece, and many of the children of friends. I also nabbed a few things for my inlaws. My older cousins get cash. My Nonna (who turns 80 on Christmas Day) is IMPOSSIBLE to buy for; this year, we are all chipping in to get her digital cable and paying her cable fees so that she can watch RAI. In addition, I usually get her gift certificates to stores at which she shops and Dave buys her booze (a tradition from when we first started dating). My parents - the people who have everything AND have late fall birthdays - are also a challenge. Charitable donations, perhaps?

I figure that I put my head down and finish up the shopping over the next few weeks. Is it wrong, though, that we aren't getting Teddy much? It's not like he'll remember this Christmas! I picked up a 'Sand and Water Table' for a song during the summer clearance, so I think we'll be 'giving' him that.

Have you started your shopping? If so - how far along are you? If not - when do you usually start.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Five years and one month ago...

One month ago - the date will become significant in a minute - we were on the final day of our Pacific Coast cruise, visiting Catalina. An account of that day can be found here.

Five years and one month ago, though, I was spotted wearing this:

Exactly 7 days after my 27th birthday, and after 15 months of engagement (not to mention the fact that we first started dating in 1995 and met in 1982), Dave and I got married!

Here I am with my junior bridesmaids and flower girl. On either side of me are Hannah and Leah (from yesterday's post), while next to Leah is my then-soon-to-be niece Rachael.

Here I am with the rest of my bridal party. In order, the 'Coalition of the Wedding' are: Sarah, Justin, Leanne (maid of honour), Dr. Beth, Katie and Rachel (older sister of Hannah and Leah).

Here's Dave with his boys. In the back: Jorge, Brady, Barry (his brother), Blaine, while Kevin and Dave himself are in the front.
The ceremony took place at our parish, Holy Cross. The celebrant was the son of our high school Geography teacher who'd been ordained only 4 months before (Thanks, Father Lee!). My choir (the choir of which I'd been a member) sang. It was lovely, though I've never before knelt through an entire mass -- homily included!

Here we are with our parents after the ceremony. For those of you who don't know - can you guess which are mine and which are Dave's?


Our reception took place at an Italian Canadian banquet hall about 15 minutes away. It was lovely, the food and drink were great, the DJ was awesome, and we had an amazing time. One of our favourite moments was the father/daughter and mother/son dance. Halfway through "Love is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet, the DJ asked for everyone to come join us on the dance floor (a ploy on his part, so he didn't have to start the dance music with an empty floor). Dancing with my Dad, seeing Dave with his Mom and being surrounded by hundreds of people we loved (kids dancing together, all our aunts and uncles and friends) was overwhelming.

The next day, we headed off on our honeymoon - a Med cruise.

Once we returned to Canada, Dave moved up to Ottawa to join me; I'd moved one week before our wedding.
The past 5 years have been filled with challenges and triumphs, good times and bad. And I could not imagine spending them -- or the rest of my life -- with anyone else. Dave, I love you and I cannot wait to spend another 55+ years with you!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 8 - An anecdote

The Movie Marathon was a huge success, but boy! Are we tired. As such, I figured I'd post a little anecdote based on a gift from our friend Shelley.

Shelley went to high school with us (her childhood best friend is Dr. Beth's sister) so we've all been friends for years. She lived in Halifax for a decade (we saw her when we were out there in '05) when she wasn't in Belfast or Afghanistan. She's works in community radio, and is working on her Master's in Journalism here in Ottawa (which means we get to see her!). But for a chunk of that time, she was doing reasearch and working in Rwanda. She was back there not too long ago and she brought back a gift for Teddy. It's a gorgeous carving of a gorilla with her baby holding on to her back.

The carving instantly reminded me of a game we'd play with my Aunt Pat's two youngest girls - Hannah and Leah. The girls have always loved Dave and they would climb him like a tree. About 7 years ago, Hannah hopped on Dave's back and Dave started pretending to be a gorilla. Leah (who was 2) took one look at me and begged: "Me monkey back too!" So, I hauled her onto my back and we pretended to be apes interacting and grooming each other. We played that game for YEARS! Hannah's now almost 15 and Leah's almost 10, but they still have fond memories of it.

So, thanks Shelley. And thanks, too, for the CDs of new music. Shell makes the BEST mixes on earth, and Dave and I nearly jumped for joy when she brought ones for us - atypical lullabyes, parental tunes...we can't wait to check them out.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 7 - Dispatch from MMFive (aka our 5th Movie Marathon)

Teddy's napping, and I'm sitting in the living room with a bunch of friends, three movies in to this year's Movie Marathon. I cannot believe that it's our fifth one! The movie lineup changes, but the menu is the same every year. People still seem to come back, though. :)

Our first movie was Pumping Iron, which I missed because I was prepping food and making guacamole. Movie #2 was CanCon - Last Night, which is an awesome flick. After a quick lunch break, we're on to movie #3, Sunset Boulevard which is one of my all-time favourites.

After Teddy's nap, we'll be heading out to Almonte so he can spend the night. I'll head back to Ottawa and likely arrive in time for dinner. There aren't too many movies that I want to see this evening (the lineup can be found on Dave's site), but I want to make sure that all the spectators are fed and watered. For posterity, I should record the usual menu.

Morning:
Cookies, muffins, juice, coffee, tea (and candy, as requested. This year it was licorice and mini chocolate bars, the Halloween leftovers).

Lunch:
Chili (I make it ahead, since it tastes better after the spices have mellowed), hummus and pita, guacamole, a veggie tray and a fruit bowl.

Snacks:
The candy and baked goods, augmented with chips and party mix.

Dinner:
Pizza is usually ordered (except for the year when we got 80 cm of snow. We figured we'd be snowed in, so I did sweet and sour pork in the crock pot). Veggies and hummus, etc. come out again.

Late night snacks:
Sandwich meats and buns and a cheese plate.

Breakfast:
Eggs and bacon and toast or waffles.

Drinks:
Pop and Juice, Coffee and Tea, as well as beer, wine and mixed drinks. We aim to please.

Not the most thrilling of entries, but that's what is on my mind today. I hope that you are all having a great time this weekend.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 6 - H1N1 Vaccination Day for Teddy.

Today, Teddy received dose 1 of his H1N1 vaccination. It went FAR better than I expected.

The doses were shipped to Canadian cities at the end of October, and priority groups were identified -- pregnant women, children 6 months-5 years, caregivers of children under 6 months, the immunocompromised or those who live with them, those with chronic health conditions, and the elderly. The uptake rate was anticipated to be around 40%. HA! From day 1, all the immunization centres were overrun (in all cities, it turns out). Waits for hours and hours outside in the cold - disaster. On the 2nd day, the City of Ottawa started tweeting wait times. GONG SHOW.

So, last weekend, the City started issuing wristbands. Wristbands were given out starting at 9 a.m. on a first-come-first-served basis for clincis that ran 2:30 - 8:30. You'd have to make 2 trips, but you'd be told to come back at a certain time and would be processed quickly.

Isha, who's pregnant, hit a clinic yesterday and let me know that things ran smoothly. She was 100% correct.

Teddy and I headed off to the nearest clinic this morning, arriving just before 9. There was a line-up of over 300 people, but the line snaked around the atrium of a building so we were waiting in comfort. We were in line for about 40 minutes. He hung out in his car-seat stroller and smiled at everyone around us in line. At the front of the line, OPH workers fitted me with a wristband (I had to wear it, since unscrupulous people had been SELLING THEM earlier in the week) and told us to come back at 4 pm.

We headed back at just before 4 to find that they were running ahead of schedule. We headed up to the vaccination area, where they verified my Driver's License and Teddy's Health Card, as well as all the paperwork. Then, we stood in a 10 person line until a nurse was free.

The nurse was incredibly friendly and beamed right back at laughing Teddy. She reviewed the screening questions, then got the dose ready. She administered the shot in Teddy's left thigh. And the kid? Made a sour face for 10 seconds, then went back to smiling at the nurse. Once we finished, we headed to the waiting area for 15 minutes, hung out with some of the people we'd been in line with in the morning, then came home.

All in all, it was far less hassle than I'd anticipated. Teddy will need another shot, but it has to be at least 21 days from now. I figure that we'll take him when Dave and I go to get our shots in a few weeks.

I was so impressed with Ottawa Public Health! Their staff have been working 18 hour days for 2 weeks, dealing with the irate public. But EVERYONE I dealt with was friendly and efficient. They clearly learned from the disastrous early days and are rocking right now.

My current worry? That Teddy will be totally punky tomorrow for his first night away from us and home at the same time. He's sleeping at my Mom and Dad's tomorrow night because of the Movie Marathon at our house. If he's really rough, I will be staying there too. The house is stocked with enough food to last for a while, though, so the marathoners will be well fed!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 5 - Teddy loves to eat!

As we were having lunch today, I knew what I'd blog about -- Teddy's LOVE of food.

We've been doing a blend of baby-led weaning and a bit of baby food, primarily stuff we eat as purees (like butternut squash or oatmeal). We started when Teddy was about 6.5 months. At first, he'd gum the heck out of strips of plum or nectarine or cucumber. But as his manual dexterity got better, he began to enjoy it more and more. His pincer motion is awesome, and his aim is excellent too, so his mealtimes are far more efficient than before.

Teddy's favourite foods are cheese and avocado. He is hilarious with cheese -- when you give him pieces of it, he cannot eat them fast enough. He smiles and chuckles to himself because he's so very excited. And when there are avocado slices present? He'll ignore the cheese to cram these into his mouth and smile at you with a mushy green grin.

On the cruise, we'd have a routine at dinner. We'd arrive at the table, where he'd have some Cheerios and I might feed him a little something from a jar (squash -- his favourite jarred food, or corn that smells and tastes like corn-on-the-cob). Then, he'd have some bread from the bread basket. Next, they'd serve Teddy a freshly made puree of broccoli and carrots, which he inhaled. Finally (when our main courses would come out), he'd be presented with a plate of green peas and mashed potatoes. And the kid would shovel handfuls of peas into his mouth like it was his job! And he was so well-behaved at the table. Dinner would last 1.5 hours and he was so cheerful. Guests at all of the tables around us came by to compliment him on his good behaviour, and the waitstaff just adored him. It went far better than we'd anticipated.

We're pretty much feeding him what we eat. Last night, for example, we had butternut squash soup and my Nonna's eggplant parmesan. Teddy had pureed squash and some eggplant parmesan and cheese. Tonight, it'll be perogies and corn or peas. For lunch, he had some pureed pears, cheese and banana. It's so fun watching him discover food!

He's still having lots of breastmilk in addition to 3 meals a day, and he's thriving. I'm sure that Nanny and Poppy will be thrilled to serve him Newfie Dinner when next we visit Georgetown!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 4 - Christmas at a Funeral?

As I mentioned on Monday, the gospel reading at my Grandmother's funeral was Luke 2: 1-21, the birth of Jesus. The reasons for this are many.
  • My Grandmother LOVED Christmas. She was born just before the big day, on December 17th (my Nonna was actually born on Xmas Day) and it was her absolute favourite time of year. She'd shop for gifts all year long, tucking them away, she would bake up a storm to share with friends and family and she'd prepare an enormous spread on the day.
  • Her name was Mary. Her parents actually intended to call her Minetta Louise (after both her grandmothers). Her 8 year old brother, Howard, had other plans. "Those names are terrible!" he proclaimed. "It doesn't matter what you name her, though, because I will be calling her Mary." The other names became her middle names and Mary she was named.
  • She was born in a chicken coop (not a stable, but close). Her family were living in Scarborough and constructing a house. The only structure on the land was a chicken coop, which my great-grandfather reinforced and made habitable. And that's where Grandma was born!
The real reason, however, has to do with the incredible hardships faced by Mary and Joseph. That part of the tale is often glossed over, but holy cow - what an awful situation.

This past weekend, we helped our friends Joe (Happy Birthday!!) and Isha move into their new house (about 5 minutes away! Woot!). This was significant because Isha was 38 weeks pregnant and totally tired and uncomfortable. I remember how pooped and ungainly I was at that point in pregnancy. And Mary had to ride a donkey for days on end en route to Bethlehem in that condition?

Can you imagine the discomfort? Long days on an animal, the heat, the uncertainty with respect to food, water, and shelter? And finally, having to give birth in a barn, far from family and home? Gah!

My Grandma's family were never well off, and the Depression was particularly hard. My great-grandparents and the kids were incredibly devout, resourceful and hardworking, though, and the family survived. My Grandma was also widowed with two kids and had to run a business all on her own - it was incredibly difficult again. But just like Mary and Joseph, she persevered and immense good came from the hard times. That's why she loved the verse in Corinthians, too - it talks about how "...our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." She believed that whole-heartedly, and so do I.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day Three

We had visitors today -- my Mom and Nonna came by. My Nonna came back to my parents' place after my Grandma's funeral, so we got to see her again today. She's the baby whisperer (or the baby monopolizer!) so she and Teddy had a great time. They watched him while I ran out grocery shopping, since we're having a big party this weekend.

I'm not actually sure that party is the right word for it - it's Dave's 5th annual 24 hour movie marathon. Back in January of 2006, Dave (who'd never pulled an all nighter) hosted the first. It's been a tradition ever since, though the '09 version was technically in November '08 as I was very pregnant in January of '09. Since I'll be back at work in January '10, we're holding it in November again.

My Mom commented on the number of parties we've thrown of late and it's true. We've had one big gathering per month of late. To wit:

July - Dan and Clau's shower (though that was at their house, but Isha and I did all the food and prep)
August - Teddy's Baptism, with 30 guests
September - Dave's b-day, with only 12 guests
October - Isha and Joe's shower, with 40 guests
and now this. Not to mention parties we co-hosted in Georgetown in April (my inlaws' 40th anniversary), June (my father-in-law's birthday) and August (my mother-in-law's birthday). Whew!

There will be around 15 people at various times, but we feed them for 24 hours. Plus - I am Italian, so I cannot run the risk of running out of food! It should be a lot of fun.

In other news, I have been fighting off a cold since we were on vacation - longest, strangest illness ever. Is it wrong how excited I am at the prospect of going to bed before 9?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 2 - All Souls' Day

Today is All Souls' Day; it is also the day of my Grandmother's funeral.

The service was lovely. It took place in the funeral home and, like with my Grandpa Jack, my Dad and I did the readings (I am 3 for 3 at family funerals this year since Rachel and I read at my Aunt Flo's funeral in March). For those of you who are into this sort of thing, my Dad read two pieces - 1 John 3: 1-2 and Revelations 21: 1-7. And I had the good fortune to read my Grandma's favourite passage, 2 Corinthians 4: 7-18. I plan to write more on this when I have a clearer head, since I feel that reflecting on this passage because of her love of it was my Grandma's gift to me.

My Mom's side of the family was out in full force today - My Uncle Sergio brought my Nonna (Sally would have come but for Sierra being home sick), and Aunt Pat, Fred and Leah came all the way from the GTA. They've known my Grandma since they were kids (Serge and Pat were 12 and 9, respectively, when my parents got married) and they'd always loved her. My family - both sides - is just so awesome and I am so blessed to have them around.

I held up pretty well -- Grandma was nearly 93, after all, and she'd been really sick - but I shed a few tears as the priest shared some reflections (and as I'm writing this, if I'm being honest). My grandparents were a fun-loving pair, and one habit (that I'd forgotten about, actually) was how they'd say goodbye. They never wanted to see us go -- we lived a 3 hour drive away -- but they knew that visits couldn't last forever. To wish us fair travels and to make our final memory a happy one, they come outside and pretend to push the car to get it started. Then, they'd either stand in the driveway or (in inclement weather) in the front window and wave until they could no longer see us. I remember craning my neck as far as I could so that I could catch final glimpses of them wishing us a safe journey. It's something so simple and silly, but it was so them.

We had many, many years together and I am so very thankful. I also believe that we'll see each other again, and I am so glad that neither of them are suffering any longer. But I will still miss them very much because it's never easy to lose ones you love. They always LOVED my Aunt Flo, too, so I like to imagine that the three of them are hanging out together tonight.

It's been a really long day (and year, frankly) and I am sorry for the maudlin tone of this post. I know that loss and suffering are unavoidable and can strengthen us immeasurably, but is it wrong that I wouldn't mind a long break before losing any other close family members?

And as a final note, I will share with you the gospel passage: Luke 2: 1-20. It's a gospel passage that I can recite by heart because I have personally had to read it aloud so many times...at Christmas. It's the Birth of Jesus. I'll leave you to ponder why that was proclaimed at my Grandma's funeral. You wouldn't be the only ones puzzled - we all looked at each other when the reading started, thinking "did he hit the wrong page by accident?". There were some interesting reasons, though...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Here we go...NaBloPoMo Day 1



I've signed up for NaBloPoMo. This means that I will ostensibly be posting every day this month. Oi! I cannot promise fabulous content but content there will be. I should also warn my non-religious readers that there will be religious content this month. You can skip those posts if you so choose.

Happy All Saints' Day! We celebrated by attending the Baptism of Teddy's friend Arabella (Mommy is our friend Cat) at All Saints' Anglican church in Sandy Hill. It's a gorgeous old church right across the road from Laurier House. I'm not sure if William Lyon Mackenzie King (who lived at Laurier house after Wilfrid and Zoe left it to him) was a parishioner, but I do know that Robert Borden was one. I am such a nerd for Prime Ministers!

Today and tomorrow are Anglican Days for our family with the Baptism today and my grandmother's funeral tomorrow. For those of you who didn't know, my grandparents were Protestants. Well, Grandpa MacDonald was a Catholic and my Grandma agreed to raise her children in the Roman Catholic church; she had been raised in the United Church of Canada. She really loved the Eucharistic tradition and the creed, though, so when as a widow she married Grandpa Selby (a quintessential Englishman) she became an Anglican herself.

I always find Anglican mass...odd. It's so familiar, yet different. A bit like I've stepped into a fun house -- similar to what I'm used to but just a bit off. Today's experience was lovely, though. I am going to write about it later in the week, since I'll need blog topics!

And I'd better give my readers what they really want: photos of Teddy from Hallowe'en.

He was a polar bear. An incredibly cute one. Here's proof:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mary Minetta Louise Selby, December 17, 1916 - October 28, 2009

I'm once again writing to ask for your prayers and good thoughts.

My Grandma died this morning; she was nearly 93. It was not a surprise. She'd been fading for a while, especially since my grandfather died in August. She had been hospitalized while we were on vacation and finally diagnosed with congential heart failure. Right before we got back from California, she was moved into a nursing home, but she was there for under 3 weeks.

She'd been in and out of the hospital for the past 2 weeks; she was moved back to hospice care on Monday. My Mom was convinced that Grandma would die on her birthday, but Grandma held out for a few more hours. Her funeral will be on Monday in Napanee.

It has been a long time coming, but it's still hard to process. My Grandma was a total character, and she's always seemed...larger than life to me. I am going to want to process some of this by writing about my memories of her, so I'm sure that'll show up here.

Grandma outlived both of her husbands, and survived every member of her immediate family by at least 25 years. She nearly died of Thyphoid when she was in her early 20s; as it was, she had to relearn to walk and talk and read during her recovery. She was not afraid of hard work. She was a talker, a total extrovert (I wonder where I get that from?!?). She would never go out unless her hair was done and she'd put on 'her face' of cosmetics. She taught me to sew on an old Singer hand crank machine that had been her mother's. She beat breast cancer in her late 80s.

Her full name was Mary Minetta Louise (Hawley MacDonald) Selby. I love you, Grandma, and I'll miss you always.