Thursday, December 31, 2009

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Happy New Year everyone!

And what a year it's been! Thank you all for your patience as things shut down around here for a while so that I could deal with life and stuff - your notes and encouragement throughout have meant the world to me :) Life is still crazy, but I think that's just going to be the norm from now on and that's perfectly okay. It's also fun (most of the time)!

Did you notice the new look? I'm hoping to take this blog in a slightly different direction this year. A few weeks ago, TC and I were really challenged* to shift our focus from what we want to what we already have, choosing to be grateful for the many blessings already in our lives instead of falling into that sense of not quite being there yet, wherever "there" happens to be. So here's my plan:

Each day in 2010, I will post about one thing that happened in the previous 24 hours for which I am thankful.

I'm looking forward to the journey, and to sharing it with all of you!

Here's to a joyful, fulfilling 2010!

*If you want to hear the sermon that did the challenging, click here, select the series "Get Over Yourself" and either watch or listen to the one called "Entitlement: The Culture of Special". It's good stuff :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We now pause for station identification...

Hi folks. Serious lack of posting here lately, I know. And it's not going to change for quite a while I'm afraid. It's a major struggle right now to maintain some semblance of a work/life balance, and at the moment work is definitely winning. We're talking working overtime almost every day, being on call 24/7, working several weekends, not being able to fall asleep because my brain won't shut off, waking up in the middle of the night to remember something that needs to go on my to-do list ... you get the idea.

Anyhoo, I haven't even really had time to do anything interesting worth blogging about - hence the lack of posts :) And please forgive me for not commenting on all your sites. I have been reading, I promise - it's often the highlight of my day!

All of this to say, I'll be taking a blogging break, probably until December when I hope to reach the end of this nightmarish work-laden tunnel. But I will be back! And I'll still be dropping by to visit all of you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monkey see...

Today's laugh:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I know it's been a while. Life has exploded since September started. I don't even really have time to be writing this, but I'm going to anyway! Here's a quick run down of what's been going on:
  • We had a great time visiting with a couple friends from university who came up to attend the U2 concert last week. It's fun being a tourist in your own city!
  • Work has gone absolutely crazy. My boss is steps away from having a breakdown, and the rest of us aren't too far behind. There's just too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. But we have to get it done anyway.
  • I now have to carry a blackberry around with me wherever I go, so that I'm always available should a work-related emergency come up. Boy am I thrilled about that.
  • My brother is getting married in less than 2 weeks. Last week he sent me an email asking me to play the piano for the wedding. We still haven't picked the music :)
  • TC has started back at school, and will be teaching a Shakespeare course for the winter semester. Which means he's now Professor TC. At least for 3 months.
  • It's been so busy that I haven't gotten groceries in over 3 weeks, other than picking up a necessity here and there.
  • I'm almost done the mystery crochet project that I've been working on, which means I'll hopefully be able to post pictures of it soon.
  • Our home church has started up for the year, so we've been attending various elders' meetings, training sessions, and kick-off events. It's good to get back into things though.

Right now the pace of our life has picked up to the point where I'm starting to feel like all I can do is dig in and hang on for dear life. The good thing is that I know this will pass, so I'm not as stressed out as I would have been a few years ago. In the meantime, I'm going to keep trying to laugh at life and enjoy the ride.

A little something to help with the laughter:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I haven't been posting too much lately, for no particular reason other than that not too much has been going on. It feels like we're in a kind of limbo, waiting for the effects of the actions that we've taken over the past couple of months.

We're now finished the home study process in our ongoing adoption saga, and have been approved as adoptive parents (yay!). We've decided that our first choice is to adopt through our local children's aid society, and I contacted them a few weeks ago to get things rolling only to run into a bit of a brick wall. Apparently, before we can be considered as adoptive parents, we have to attend an information session, which isn't too big a deal as it's a one-night thing. Then, because we've already done our training and home study, we can meet with the social worker right away and start being matched with potential children. Except that the next information session isn't until October 19th. So we wait.

In the meantime, because we did our home study and training through a private adoption agency, we also have the option of submitting a profile for that agency to use. What that means is that we need to put together a little book with pictures and a brief rundown of our life story, explaining why we'd be good parents, and give it to the agency. Then, when a birth mother comes to the agency, they provide her with the profiles of couples that meet whatever criteria she's set out, and she chooses which couple(s) she wants to meet with, and eventually which couple she wants to give her baby to. So we're currently sorting through our pictures, and waiting for some to come in from our folks (turns out we don't have to many pictures of ourselves, since we're always the ones behind the camera!), and trying to decide which ones should go in the profile.

Until we get all of that done, we wait. And surprisingly enough, I'm okay with that. I'm learning a lot about patience in this whole process, and trusting that just because things aren't necessarily proceeding the way I'd like them to doesn't mean that they aren't proceeding in the best way possible.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living in 40+ degree heat - a balanced perspective :)


I normally hate drinking water, but I'm so thirsty that I'm getting my 8 glasses a day.

I'm thirsty because I'm sweating buckets - yay for being stinky!


We have no a/c in our apartment, so sleep has been next to impossible.

I actually look forward to going in to work in the morning, because it's air conditioned.


It's too hot to eat anything that isn't essentially a liquid.

I've lost weight.


I'm not getting any housework done, because any prolonged movement puts you at risk of heat stroke.

I've discovered several new TV shows that I enjoy, and have caught up on my reading.


I haven't had to use moisturizer in a week, because the air is so humid it does the job for me.

I haven't had a good hair day in over a week.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obviously speaking...

I've been working in the corporate world for 3+ years now, yet the propensity for business-type people to state the obvious never ceases to amaze me. Yesterday I was in a workshop designed to help train performance managers, and one of the 'experts' delivered this line with all seriousness, as if were a pearl of great wisdom:

"To be a leader you have to get people to follow you."

Does that seem like a no-brainer to anyone else?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thoughts on Walmart

People often ask us why we've chosen not to shop at Walmart, and I've always found it difficult to articulate the reason. Not that we don't have one, it's just that I'm not an economist so my vocabulary in this area is rather limited. I came across an article the other day that summed it up pretty well, though (you can read it here). It basically comes down to 2 things:

1) Walmarts do initially create more jobs, but they're not "good" jobs, and in the long run they undermine the local economy.

2) Those low, low prices come at the expense of fair wages at almost every step in the production and distribution process.

In light of these two facts, TC and I have chosen to support local small businesses whenever we can. Things may cost a little more, but that's only because we're closer to paying the true cost for the item. As a bonus, we're a lot less likely to buy things that we don't really need. We've been doing pretty well, too. Since January, we've only purchased one thing at Walmart, and that was because it was the only place we could find it.

Please understand that I'm not condemning those who shop at Walmart. The fact that we don't is the result of a decision that TC and I made, based on our understanding of the world and the role we have in it. Not everyone would agree, and that's okay. But I am curious to know what you all think about Walmart. Is it good? Bad? Ugly? Are you completely okay with shopping there? Do you avoid it altogether? Or are you somewhere in between - shopping there but feeling slightly guilty about it?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend of Wonderful-ness :)

I had the most wonderful weekend! In fact, it was almost perfect. I got up nice and early on Saturday and headed out to our local farmer's market, where I chatted with the vendors and did some leisurely shopping before it got too crowded. The weather was perfect for it - sunny and warm with a nice fresh morning breeze - and I came home with two bags full of goodies, which included...

...blueberries that had been picked the day before, local Ontario cherries, organic sweet potatoes (and a couple of 'Oh Henry' potatoes that the vendor threw in because he thought I'd like them - I love markets!), fresh peas in the pod that I shelled when I got home, a dozen organic duck eggs, and a head of crisp leaf-y lettuce. My favourite purchase of the morning, though, was this:

A bouquet of fresh lavendar. It's now in my living room, and I spent all weekend sniffing it's lovely fragrance. It may eventually end up in some soap, but I haven't decided on that yet. For now I'm enjoying it right where it is :)

Once I'd come home and put all of my market finds away, I ran out to pick up the other groceries we'd need for this week, and started on the many loads of laundry that have been piling up because we'd been busy the past couple of weekends. By that time, it had clouded over and become ominously dark, and just after I had brought up the first load of dry clothes, the skies opened up in a torrential downpour that lasted all afternoon and most of the evening.

Have I mentioned before that I absolutely love rainstorms? I especially love them on days when all I'm doing is puttering around the house. It was perfect! I had some rolls in the oven, and a chicken ready to go in once the rolls were done, which made the house smell divinely comfortable. And between running downstairs to shift loads of laundry, I sat out on the sun-porch in my big comfy obesan chair, wrapped in an afghan and reading a good book while listening to the wind and rain. Heaven!

After supper, which included the aforementioned chicken and rolls, as well as the newly shelled peas and sweet potatoes, TC and I played a few rounds of Carcassonne. He'd found the game, with all of its pieces, at a local thrift store earlier last week for $1, and it has turned out to be one of our favourite games.

Sunday, we were off to church and lunch with friends, and then in the afternoon, while it continued to rain, I made these cookies with the left-over sweet potatoes. They're super yummy, so I have to share the recipe with all of you :)

Sweet Potato Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed sweet potato (you can also use canned pumpkin puree if that's
what you have on hand)
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1 - 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and sweet potato. Combine the remaining ingredients and add to the wet mixture. Drop by tablespoonful onto greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

I also spent quite a bit of time playing my piano and working on an afghan that is going to be absolutely gorgeous when it's done - I'm not going to post any pictures of it until then, which shouldn't take too awfully long, since I'm already about 1/6th of the way there.

All in all, it was an ideal weekend, and now it's Monday and I'm feeling wonderfully rested and refreshed :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Pain in the Neck

Do you remember way back in May '08, when I went to Washington and came back with a neck that wouldn't work? Well, I've managed to do it again, but this time without having to leave the country. I woke up on Tuesday unable to move my head without an intense burning pain shooting from my neck to my shoulder and then through to my chest. Sounds like fun, eh? I'm not quite sure what set it off this time, but it's probably a combination of stress and the fact that I had spent the entire weekend prior to that with my head turned at a 45 degree angle.

It's getting much better, thanks largely to my fabulous chiropractor, but I still don't have the full range of motion that I previously enjoyed (we're working on that). As a result, I've spent the last week having to explain to people why I couldn't turn my head to look at them. And you know what struck me as funny? Every single person - seriously, every single person - knew exactly what would make my neck better. I've been told to rest it, to make sure that I keep using it as much as possible, to ice it, to heat it, to stretch it, to massage it while stretching it, to avoid massaging it altogether, to take muscle relaxants, to take anti-inflammatory pain killers, to see an acupuncturist, to drink a particular kind of herbal tea, to get a type of electro-stimulation therapy...

I appreciate the fact that everyone was trying to help. Every bit of that advice was well intentioned and no doubt helped the person who gave it to me at some point, but the range of the remedies is just hilarious. At least to me :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Eye of the Storm

Life hasn't been completely swept up in the craziness of adoption.

This is my current crafty project. I fell in love with the yarn - it's so soft and fuzzy, and masculine enough for the men in my family who wouldn't be caught dead in something that's not an earth tone. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was destined to become a scarf. It's also the first thing I've knit (knitted?) on my new birch needles, and I don't think I'll be able to go back to metal or plastic. The yarn glides so beautifully, with just the right amount of hold so that stitches aren't slipping off.

A batch of cinnamon soap that is currently about 2 weeks into the curing process. My sunporch smells glorious! At least when the landlord's son who lives out back isn't "relaxing" in the evenings with his smouldering herb of choice.

The highlight of this past weekend, other than finishing the training course?

We went to see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame) perform an improv comedy show on Saturday night. I haven't laughed that hard in a long, long time - and did we ever need it!

And so life carries on in the midst of the whirlwind.

Slowly but surely...

Okay, so things have been a little quiet here lately. To be completely honest, life has been a little overwhelming. The process of being recommended as adoptive parents is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting - and we're still not quite there yet. The last 2 weekends have been spent at a training course, ostensibly designed to help prepare "resource families" for some of the challenges they face and make them aware of all the processes involved. I also think it's designed to scare the bejeezus out of you.

But it's done, and we have the certificate to say that we're sufficiently trained to become adoptive parents. One more hoop successfully jumped through. One more favourable judgment of our parental worthiness.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Things are looking 'Up'

I'm not a big fan of going to see movies in the theatre. You can't pause it to go pee, there's always someone who feels the need to chat with their friend, my knees start to hurt because I can't stretch my legs out, the a/c is almost always too cold ... you get the idea. I much prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my own home, so please understand that I'm not saying this lightly: if you haven't done so already,


We went last night with a bunch of friends from our home church, and I can honestly state without any exaggeration that it was one of the best movies I've seen in years. And because it's done in 3D, you really need to see it in the theatre to fully appreciate it. I don't want to tell you anything about it - I went in having no idea what it was about, other than an old man and a balloon covered house, and it completely blew me away. So go. Now. I promise you'll enjoy it :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tripping down memory lane

There's a new meme doing the rounds over on facebook - you post a comment asking your "friends" to share a memory of you, good or bad (though unless your friends are jerks, they'll probably all be good). It's been fun to revisit those events and times, though there's been an unexpected side effect. All day today random memories have been popping into my head, things I haven't thought about in years. Like...

...sitting with my friend AG on the daily trip to high school on bus #27, listening to the driver's favourite radio station that for some unknown reason always played the same 2 songs at some point on the 30 minute journey: Breakfast at Tiffany's and King of Wishful Thinking.

...driving my mum's car the wrong way up an off-ramp at 12 am (I was completely sober) on a girl's night off from camp

...watching the Captian Power movie, and the cheesiest black & white movie on the planet with CH one summer Saturday ("Darling, you've given me a reason to buy orchids again." - they just don't write dialogue like that anymore!)

...cranking the music and dancing around the kitchen with cousin KL after making stir-fry for the very first time

...TC bringing flowers to my office at university because I'd emailed him about the rough day I'd been having - and how he got in trouble with my office-mate's boyfriend for raising the bar so high by delivering them while she was there to see him do it :)

...canoeing on the ocean one night with TC, Matt & Annie, while fervently hoping that Matt wouldn't flip the canoe

...getting lost with K & S on the way to Central New Annan, NS, because the instructions said to turn right at the big red store, which had been painted blue a few days before we arrived

...playing "Shark" with all the cousins - a game where one of us had to cross from one end of my grandmother's living room to the other, while the rest of us chose positions to lay on the floor and had to try to bring that person down using only our legs. Much bruising and laughter ensued.

...spending an entire day making tiny gourmet sandwiches with CL and JW for Sherrie's pre-wedding tea

I'll stop there, but the memories keep coming! What about you folks? What's the first memory that pops into your head when you start thinking back?

Monday, July 6, 2009

The adoption saga continues...

It seems that we have entered another busy season! Work and life have gone a little crazy, but it doesn't stress me out nearly as much as it used to. I think I've finally come to the realization that the world won't end if I'm not able to get everything done on time, or at all. As long as I'm spending time with the people I care about, the rest will either get done when it gets done, or I'll realize that it's not as essential as I had thought it was :)

Part of the craziness is because of the ongoing adoption process, which is pretty time-consuming. We're finally finished our end of the paperwork, and are now waiting for all the security checks and references to come in. In the meantime we're in the interview stage of our home study, which involves a series of meetings with our adoption practitioner to talk about our families, our current situation in life, our relationships, and all our hopes/dreams/plans insofar as they relate to raising a family - essentially, everything he needs to know to get an idea of who we are and whether or not we'd be good parents. The last interview will also involve an inspection of our home, just to make sure there are no sharp pointy things sticking out of the walls or rats running around. At the same time, we have to take a 4-day training course, done over the next 2 weekends, designed to help prepare us for the issues surrounding parenting an adopted child.

The whole process is pretty intensive, and it raises a lot of questions that are kind of surreal. One of the things we have to do is determine what specifications we'd like for our children with regards to age, gender, race, and/or number. And how do you answer a question like "Are you willing to care for a physically or mentally delicate child?" If I were pregnant, it's not like we'd be choosing any of these things - they'd all be pre-determined, and we'd love them no matter what. But to be completely honest, nobody wants their child to have physical or mental difficulties. Does that mean such children are less deserving of a loving home than 'normal' kids? What level of 'willingness' is required? For what degree of 'delicacy'? How equipped are we to provide the necessary level of care?

Needless to say, there's a lot of thinking, talking and soul-searching going on in our household these days :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yummy Recipe Alert!

My folks have been up visiting this week, and it's been great! Mum flew up on Tuesday night, and then my dad, because he's a crazy person, drove the 1492 km (he counted) and arrived Wednesday night. Just in time for a heat wave and a garbage strike :)

I love it when they come visit, which doesn't happen nearly often enough. If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know that one of the things that bothers me most about living in Toronto is that my family is so very far away, so it means so much to be able to share this little bit of life with them. Unfortunately I couldn't take any time off work, for various reasons, but I have been able to leave early each day, and then there's the weekend to look forward to.

Yesterday when I came home after work, I discovered these on the kitchen counter:

One major benefit of having Mum come to visit! These are rhubarb biscuits, and they're the yummiest thing I've had in quite a while. And because she's a sweetie, Mum gave me the recipe :)

Mum's Rhubarb Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening until it's about the size of small peas. Stir in the milk, and then roll the dough out into a roughly rectangular shape (approx. 12" long). Spread entire surface with butter, being sure to get the edges too.

3 cups rhubarb, very finely chopped
3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. flour

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and flour in a bowl. Sprinkle mixture over biscuit, and roll it up. Using a sharp knife, cut it into 1" thick slices and place in a 9x13" pan.

1 cup brown sugar
2 cups boiling water

Stir sugar and water together until dissolved, and then pour it over the pan of biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Passive Agressiveness

As a self-confessed passive agressive, I can completely commiserate with the people who wrote the notes on my new favourite website, Passive Agressive Notes. For example:

Okay, so that's one's not so much passive agressive as funny, but if you're looking for a chuckle you should really check it out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Paris: Part 3

Okay, we're almost through - just a couple more days of photos to go! It's actually been kind of fun to relive the trip this way :)

Our third day in Paris was dedicated to 2 things: 1) Finding tickets to some kind of play/opera/show, and 2) the Louvre. We got up bright and early and started by looking around for a tourist bureau, since they tend to have information on all the happenings in the theatre world. Did you know that there is only one tourist bureau in Paris? And that it has virtually no useful information in it? We ended up traveling to every theatre icon on our map of Paris to see what was showing there, which actually turned out to be a good way to see more of the city. By noon, we'd found a play that TC wanted to attend so we bought the tickets, had some lunch, and made our way back to the Louvre.

If it isn't already there, make sure that visiting the Louvre is on your list of things to do before you die! Incredibly amazing, beautiful and overwhelming.

Even the courtyard when you first walk through the gates is beautiful, but then so is the rest of Paris, so I should have expected it. I know there are mixed opinions about the glass pyramid, which is where you enter the Louvre, but I quite like it. It's one of the few examples I've seen where modern architecture complements, and even adds to the existing structures, unlike the horrific ROM here in Toronto.

We were impressed by how efficiently the entry is run - it took no time to get our tickets and a map, and once we'd figured out what we wanted to see (because there's far too much to see everything in one visit) we set off. First up...

...the Cour Marly, a massive indoor courtyard filled with very impressive French sculpture. It was a really beautiful space, and one of the quietest sections of the museum.

This is the Code of Hammurabi, which is one of the most ancient examples of written law. We had studied about it in university, so it was quite exciting to actually see it. Can you imagine how long it took to carve all of that into the stone?

Here we have a statue of Ramses II, who is believed by some to have been the Pharoah of "Let my people go" fame.

Picture this guy, along with 35 of his friends, staring down at you from the top of a 21m high cedar beam as you entered the audience hall of Darius I of Persia. (Remember the king in the story of Daniel and the lions' den? That's him.) Methinks it might have been a little intimidating, yes?

We realized as we were climbing these stairs that they've obviously had a lot of visitors at the Louvre over the years! I wonder how long it will be before they wear through?

My favourite part was the section containing Roman sculpture. Before leaving for France, TC and I had just finished watching the BBC mini-series I, Claudius, which traces the history of the Roman imperial family from the perspective of Claudius, the emporer between Caligula and Nero. It's really quite excellent - I highly recommend it! Anyway, we were walking through the collection and lo and behold, there were the busts and statues of all the characters we'd been watching! Working clockwise from the top left, that's Claudius himself, Marcus Aurelius (who wasn't in the mini-series, but is the famous Stoic philosopher-emporer), Tiberius, and Livia (who did have a head, but the collage maker cut it off for some reason).

We visited some of the more famous exhibits as well, but as you can see in the picture above, they were quite crowded, which made it difficult to actually see whatever it was. That's as close as we were able to get to the Mona Lisa (it's behind the guy with the white shirt's head) without elbowing through the lot.

And, of course, the inverted pyramid of Davinci Code fame. I wonder how many of these people actually think the remains of Mary Magdelene are hidden below? Whatever else it may symbolize, I thought there was a nice symmetry in ending our visit to the Louvre here, since it began in the upper pyramid.

We were rather tuckered and culturally overloaded by the end of the day, but it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paris: Part 2

On a much lighter note, I finally had time to post the pics from day 2 in Paris, which also happened to be my 29th birthday :) After having breakfast at the salon du the right next to our hotel, and being highly amused by the cheeky little birds that sat on our table and took the food out of our hands, we set out to hit the major tourist attractions. First up:

L'Arc de Triomphe. It's a truly amazing monument - much larger than I had pictured it in my head. With our metro passes, we were eligible for discounted tickets to go up inside the Arc, so we decided that this would be the place we'd get our view of Paris from above. One thing we didn't consider was that there was no elevator. Just lots and lots of winding stairs. Fortunately, there are two stopping-off places on the way up - one is a display area with explanations of the various features of the Arc, and the second a gift shop - so we could take a breather. It was well worth the climb, though.

Isn't that gorgeous? The Arc is in the middle of a huge rotary, which didn't appear to have any kind of lines or guides. We had a great deal of fun watching the drivers go all over the place. One little green mini-cooper must have driven around the Arc five or six times before it figured out how to get where it wanted to go :)

We made it back down in one piece, and went for a walk up the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, where we had lunch at a little outdoor cafe, and then headed off to that most famous of Parisian landmarks:

The Eiffel Tower. That's me, standing at the Eiffel Tower, on my birthday. Pretty awesome. We didn't bother going up, since the line was the length of two or three soccer fields, but it really is a remarkable structure. The pictures don't really convey the sheer massiveness of it - I've always thought it looked almost dainty, but up close it seemed much sturdier and more substantial.

Our next stop:

The Opéra Garnier. This is the opera house that inspired the Phantom of the Opera. Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, but the lighting in the place was really bizarre, and our poor little camera couldn't handle it :) The picture above is the grand staircase (obviously) leading into the auditorium.

This is the foyer. Walking through the building, we were both completely overwhelmed by the sheer opulence of the place. Everything about it was showy and grand, which I suppose was it's purpose. Who wants to go to a shabby opera house?

When we came out, there was a full brass band on the front steps of the opera house doing their thing. Not a Salvation Army type brass band, more like a swing band. They were really good, so we stopped (along with about 100 other people) and sat on the steps to listen for a while. Then we headed back across the Seine to...

...the Jardin du Luxembourg. What a beautiful garden! One of my favourite things about it was that it was full of statues like the one above, many of various influential women in France's history. Queens, saints, noblewomen - but all women. This one is Catherine de Medici.

There were also a couple of beautiful water features. This one is the Medici fountain, but in the middle of the garden was a large pond-ish affair, where kids were sailing little boats.

After all the running around we'd been doing, we were pooped! Or at least I was - TC could keep going forever if he put his mind to it. Anyhoo, we decided to head back to the vicinity of our hotel to have dinner, which was a 2+ hour affair. They really take their food seriously - no rushing it! By the time we were done, we were ready to call it a day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I wrote this post back in April, mainly because I needed somewhere to express some thoughts, but I couldn't publish it yet as it contained some things that we weren't quite ready to make public. We're finally at the point where it can be shared, though, so here it is.

TC and I are infertile. We've been trying for more than two years now to have a baby, with no success whatsoever. It's been a hard process, though a learning one. At first we were so ignorant of everything that was involved (besides the obvious), but when it seemed like things weren't happening very quickly, I went out and learned as much as I could about what needs to happen to conceive and what the best ways are to ensure that the necessary stars align. All to no avail.

We went to the doctor and did all the testing only to discover that there's nothing wrong with either of us as far as they can tell. And yet every month I suffer through symptoms that could be caused by either PMS or early pregnancy, only to discover once again that I'm not pregnant.

Once we passed the one year mark, I used to get really down for the first few days after I realized we weren't going to be parents yet. It would hurt to see someone going by with their small children, not that I begrudged anyone their ability to have children. I just couldn't help but watch them and long for one of my own.

People would ask us when we planned on having kids, not realizing the hurt they were causing by reminding us of our infertility, or the choice they were forcing us to make between lying to be polite ("Not yet, maybe later, we're not ready yet, ha ha ha...") and being brutally honest ("We've been trying for a while now, but can't seem to conceive, thanks for bringing up something that's none of your damn business..."). We've always opted to be polite, even if it meant lying, mainly because we realized that everyone who asked meant well - they just didn't know better.

Our close friends and family knew. We'd told them that we were trying, not long after we first started, and most of them are terrific. But not all of them. I think one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do was keep my mouth shut through that seemingly interminable Christmas visit to my in-laws, where no effort was spared to make us aware of the fact that they wanted grandchildren and could we please hurry up and fix whatever we were doing wrong. If we hadn't been able to vent to some of our closest friends, who lived nearby, I don't know what we would have done.

I've come to terms with the fact that we seem to be unable to conceive, though no one can tell us why. I didn't realize this before, but apparently 1/3 of all cases of infertility are unexplainable. Medical science in its current state cannot always diagnose the problem. We are part of that third. Not that that has made it any easier. In fact, it makes it harder, since there is nothing we can pin it on, no scapegoat for our childless existence, nothing we can try to fix.

There are other options, I know. We decided early on in our relationship that if we weren't able to have children, our first choice would be adoption. There are too many children without families in the world for us to justify the expense of all the different fertility treatments that are available. I was ready to start looking into adoption almost a year ago, but TC wasn't.

Many of his favourite books contain themes about family and the intangible connections of blood. In the small community that he comes from, you are judged largely by the family you're a part of. Someone will do something, good or bad, and the general commentary will be along the lines of, "Well, that's what you can expect from a Smith - his uncle/brother/cousin/grandfather/etc. was just the same way." Your blood determines who you are, how you behave, what you become. He worried about not being able to really connect or understand any child that wasn't his own flesh and blood.

I had considered this reality as well, but in a different context. I come from a family replete with adoptions, and my adopted relatives have never been treated any differently, or even talked about as being anything other than family, which is what they are as far as we are all concerned. Which isn't to say that I couldn't understand where my husband was coming from, or that I thought his concern wasn't valid. It was an issue that I'd had to work through as well, it was just taking him longer to do so.

It also took him longer to accept the reality of our infertility. Throughout this whole process, he's been content to let me do all the research. He's just not that interested in learning more about it, and that's okay. Just because I felt the need to understand everything inside and out didn't mean he had to, and it didn't mean he wasn't working through it all in his own way.

After almost two and a half years, though, we're finally on the same page and have started looking into adoption, with plans to start the process in the summer.

Well, summer is now here, and the process has begun. And it's completely over-whelming. We're in the very beginning stages, which means lots and lots of paperwork. That's one of the reasons it's taking me so long to post our France pics :)

We have a stack of forms an inch thick to fill out, plus getting police and child welfare checks done from everywhere we've lived since we were 18, and being finger-printed to make sure we're not connected to any unsolved crimes, and collecting references from people to confirm we're not wackos, and medical reports so they know we won't keel over next month - I could keep going! I'm glad the system takes such care to protect the children it's responsible for, but I wish there was some way we could just tell them that we're healthy, non-crazy people and have them believe us :)

It's going to be a long process, taking anywhere from 6 months to several years before having a child placed with us, but at least we've started. And you can probably expect to see a few more posts about it before we're through!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Paris: Part 1

Okay - on to the Paris pics! We left Nancy very early in the morning...

TC is going to love me for posting that one :) After a 2-hour train ride, the purchase of week-long metro passes and a trip on the subway, we arrived without too much ado at our hotel. It's the building on the right, just before the blue awning.

The awning, by the way, was for a little salon du the, and the yellow awning right across the street was for a book store. Could we have been any more ideally located? Methinks not! The hotel was right in the Latin Quarter, which is a wonderful spot, though pretty touristy. Lots of little windy streets to explore and get lost in. And at night, the place is party central (though we aren't partiers, we thoroughly enjoyed watching those who were).

One of the many, many bridges that cross the Seine. I've seen lots of pictures of Paris, and watched plenty of movies set in that city, but to be completely honest, they're no comparison at all to the real thing. I'm not sure I can adequately describe it. Everywhere you look, it's beautiful. Seriously - everywhere.

Since it was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel, after we checked in and dropped off our luggage, we headed onto the Ile de la Cite and went to Notre Dame.

The pictures don't do it justice, but it's breath-taking. The inside was a little less so, mainly because it was so crowded, but it was still an awe inspiring experience. Afterward, we sat in the shadow of Notre Dame and shared a sandwich that we'd bought from a little vendor across the street. Have I mentioned yet that the food in France is amazing? Even the sandwiches - I don't know what they do differently, but they're yummy!

The only thing on TC's must-see list was this bookstore: Shakespeare & Co. It's an English bookstore in the heart of Paris, and has a rather famous history.

And a raven. This is one of the 16 pictures TC took of the store (no lie). Have I mentioned that my husband is a bibliophile? And apparently a shutterbug as well!

This is me while he was running around taking pictures. The entire upper level of the store is a reading area, filled with books that aren't for sale but can be read while you're there. It's actually quite lovely. I started reading David Copperfield, which we then found a used copy of downstairs and bought so that I could continue reading it.

Oh, there was one other thing on TC's must-see list: Cafe Procope, which is the oldest restaurant in Paris. We never did eat there, as it was kind of pricey, but apparently lots of famous people have. I mean historically famous, like Robespierre, not Paris Hilton famous. (Quick aside - why is she famous anyway? I've never understood that.)

That's pretty much it for day one in Paris, but there's still more to come!

Yay - it's summer!

What a lovely weekend! It was the first one that has felt like a summer weekend, which is my favourite kind :) We were able to get outside and enjoy the warm sunshine, attend a friend's baptism, as well the birthday party for our little friend H who turns 2 today, and still manage to get some stuff done around the house.

One of the first things we did was to give TC a haircut. We recently purchased a razor for $30 so that I can cut his hair at home rather than having him go to the hairdresser every 3 weeks. The end result:

Not too bad for a first attempt, I think (though he doesn't really look all that enthused about it, does he?). We have determined that next time I'll leave it longer on the top, and I need to go a little easier around the ears, but all in all we were very pleased. And in two more cuts, we'll have paid for the razor :)

I also made some yummy apple-cinnamon muffins. I'd post the recipe, but I don't have it with me right now. It's from this book, though, which I have mixed feelings about recommending. It supposedly has 250 muffin recipes, but I've noticed that some of the recipes are actually identical. For example, there are 2 banana chocolate chip muffin recipes - one called Banana Chocolate Chip, and the other Chocolate Chip and Banana. The difference in the recipes? One uses metric measurements and the other imperial. All of the recipes that I've tried from the book have been very good, but I don't like to support that kind of sneakiness.

On Saturday morning, we went for a walk and came home with this little guy from our local florist. I have no idea what he is, but isn't he adorable? I wanted a little plant to have on my desk at work, but needed something that doesn't require a whole lot of sunlight, so the florist recommended him. I'm really hoping I manage not to kill him.

We also picked up this hanging geranium, at TC's request, to put in our sunporch. I love the bright, cheery red - geraniums are such happy looking flowers, don't you think?

Last but not least, we stopped at our local hardware store to pick up some magnetic tape so that I could finish making these fridge magnets. Aren't they cute? They're a birthday gift for my future sister-in-law, and since she lives in a different province I had the extra challenge of finding a gift that met my gift-giving resolution requirements and could be sent through the mail. These fit the bill rather nicely, I think :)

That's pretty much the weekend in review. I'm hoping to get the rest of our France pics up this week, but my land we took a lot of pictures in Paris! I don't want to subject you to 30 pictures of Notre Dame from every possible angle, so it's taking me a little while to sort through and select the highlights. They'll be coming soon!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How do you argue with that?

There are very few things that annoy me more than absolute statements: "You always do that" or "That never happens." I know that when people say such things, it's usually an exaggeration for the sake of making a point. I've even been known to do it myself on occasion. But it still bugs the crap out of me, because in the back of my head I know that it's rarely true. Exceptions exist.

My darling husband is no stranger to the absolute statement, which has often been the cause of some rather lively discussions between the two of us. Last night, however, he really outdid himself. And I quote:

"It's not like we always never think of it that way."

All I could do was laugh.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

France: Part 3 (the countryside)

The following day had been set aside for a jaunt through the countryside, which is always a priority for me. I live in a city, so when I'm on vacation, I want to see some green! At least part of the time :) I woke up that morning and walked out of the room to see...

A breakfast of champions! Do you see the pile of pastries on each plate? Mmm. So yummy. Our lovely hosts, who had been up for a little while, ran out to the local patisserie first thing and picked them up still warm from the oven. Heaven, people. Pure heaven.

Then we all piled into our little rental car. I drove while KP navigated, and the boys sat in the back and did their best to drive/navigate from there :) Our first stop...

Actually, there was nothing there except the sign but we had to stop and take a picture. How awesome would it be to be able to say that you lived in Sexey aux Forges? On to the next stop!

I've always wanted to visit a winery, so what better time than when driving through the French countryside? We found one in Lucey, and were given a tasting by the guy in the red sweatshirt. His name was David (pronounced Da-veed), and his family had run this winery for several generations. The region is best known for producing two things - a gris, which is a white wine version of a rose, and the mirabelle, a type of plum used to create various wines and liqeurs. All in all, we tried 2 different gris, a white wine, a pinot noir, a mirabelle liquer, a mirabelle brandy, and then the mirabelle liquer mixed with a sparkling wine. As the driver, I only had a very tiny bit of each, but they were all quite good. We ended up buying a bottle of the mirabelle liquer and a bottle of gris.

It was decided that before we jumped back in the car, we'd walk around a bit and try to find somewhere to have a picnic. Lucey turned out to be a very picturesque little village! The old winepress above was in a little park right next to the winery we'd visited. As we were sauntering about, David drove by and then stopped and told us about a water garden in the area. We looked, but weren't able to find it, so we sat at the first picnic table we came across and watched the local kids play soccer.

Our next stop was an abandonned abbey, which you see above. That was as close as we could get without trespassing (I took the picture through the iron gate that kept us out) - apparently it's only open to the public on Sundays.

That was a problem we ran into quite a bit in France - at least outside Paris. Things seem to be open whenever they feel like it, rather than following their posted hours, if they had any.

Everywhere we went, there were fields upon fields of canola. It was gorgeous!

Our last stop of the day was in the little town of St-Mihiel. Other than the cathedral, there wasn't much to see - at least that was open. But the cathedral was one of my favourites. You could tell while walking around that it's main purpose was to be used by an active congregation, not just to look pretty.

After having a little snack, we headed back to Nancy, driving through village after village, each with it's own little church, and flower-lined streets, and fields of canola.