Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Excitement in moderation

I happen to belong to a forum that has two main sections: weddings and babies. After our wedding, I stopped visiting the forum for a long time, since I really didn't need to look at other people's grand wedding plans for inspiration or anything. But since finding out about the baby (I need a catchy name for this. Babywatch 09? Wee One Countdown?) I've gone back to the forum to have a look at all the baby talk. And I have discovered that I am way behind. The women on this forum are nothing if not incredibly organized and prepared for their babies. Many of them have been wanting babies for ages so I suppose their eager anticipation is understandable. You should see the nursery pictures. People deck out their babies' rooms like nothing I've ever seen. Plush crib bedding sets at over $150 (this is just the baby bedding! not the mattress or crib!) Rocker/glider chairs and ottomans that cost around $400. Matching crib and furniture sets. Neatly organized shelves and baby names plastered across the walls in big wooden letters.

There's no real point to comparing myself to others, I know, but I can't really help it. When I look at what others are doing, I feel like an amateur at this baby thing. Let's talk about the "nursery", or as I will call it, the baby's room. We painted the baby's room back in the summer when we first moved, so I have no desire to paint it again. It's just a neutral brown/beige colour. We don't know if we are having a boy or a girl so there is no point painting blue or pink stripes into the room decor. We haven't purchased a crib yet although there is one I'm eyeing which will convert into a toddler bed and one day, a double bed. But paying hundreds for matching dressers or change tables just seems wasteful. And crib bedding sets? I want the baby to be comfortable, but does s/he really need some sort of fancy "set" when all s/he is going to do is sleep and/or pee on it?

Here's what we have done so far to prepare for the baby's arrival:

  • purchased a stroller. Why so early? I don't know. I like the idea of strolling around the neighbourhood with the baby and the dog. We got a good price on a fully decked out stroller, but one day I'd like to get one with air-filled tires so we can take it to the dog park.
  • purchased a glider chair on Craigslist. I scored a good deal and got it for $20. Unfortunately it doesn't have an ottoman. I'll have to keep looking.
  • purchased cloth diapers. Do not freak out. I am trying to be environmentally friendly but also realistic in that I doubt I can exclusively cloth diaper this baby. Also, do not freak out but I bought used diapers. They're extremely clean though.
  • debated car seats. I do not plan to buy a used car seat in case it's been in an accident or something, and given my line of work, you can see how nervous I am about stuff like that.
  • Ummm... is that all? Pretty much.
Oh my.

**January 2009 update: we bought a car seat! And C, I rejected your comment b/c I try not to publish our real names too often on this blog :) Sorry!**

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I quite enjoy Christmas, but I could do without all of the snow right now. Snow is such a pain. And I haven't even shovelled a tiny bit this year!

The hubs and I aren't getting each other anything for Christmas. We bought some small items for family but that is mostly just out of appreciation for all that our families do for us. Along the lines of what Jr. said in her recent post, I feel like I've moved past the point where Christmas is about giving and receiving (Joey! haha) gifts... although I still firmly believe that we can always do more to give to those who are in need. But as for myself, our house is full of things, things, and more things. We don't really need any more things.

Last night, we went to the Canucks game and I opened up one of those pull-tab games they give you at the door. We had two, one of them was a loser, but the other one said "Congratulations! You have won a $50 gift card to the Canucks Team Store!" I was thrilled because I can't even remember the last time I won something. I think it might have been in elementary school, when I won a ticket to some children's festival for my excellent book report. We decided that rather than me getting a new hoodie or him getting some new item, we would get something for the baby and for the dog. We also had a 40% off coupon (it's "Boxing Week" at the Canucks Team Store). So Kodi's getting a new Canucks shirt, and the baby has a shiny tracksuit to wear when s/he is somewhere between 6-9 months. Too bad the tracksuit isn't velour :) No doubt the dog will really love wearing a shirt. I am not really in favour of dogs wearing clothing, but if it's just at home and for a few pictures, I guess it's okay. Kodi hates her Santa hat though. Probably because she knows Santa isn't real.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Week 23

Dear baby,

Unfortunately, your parents have (still) not taken a series of pictures of your mommy's tummy as many people would to document this pregnancy. In fact, we haven't taken a single one yet. Don't be appalled. We eagerly await your arrival, but somehow we can't get our act together long enough to bring out the camera. It'll happen, I promise.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of change, or so it feels. I am still under my pre-pregnancy weight, thanks to having no appetite at all in the first four months. I am, however, moving into the world of maternity clothing. If you are a girl, you may one day venture into this world yourself. I hope for your sake that stuff is cheaper when you're at that stage. I cannot bring myself to buy much in the way of maternity clothes when I know I'm only going to have a few more months of wearing this stuff. One store I visited had jeans for $40 - and that was the sale price. Little one, I rarely spend $40 on non-maternity jeans. Once I bought jeans for $8. Yes, I have no fashion sense. No, I am not ashamed of it. Anyway. I'm doing my best with my non-mat pants. So what if I can't do up the top button? They're still good!

I've begun to feel you move as well. As you are my first baby, I had no idea what to expect. Everyone describes the first movements as bubbles, or flutters, or something like that. In the last couple of weeks, I've started to feel movements... but I would say they aren't kicks - more like... rolling around. I'm fine with not being kicked, by the way.

In general I am feeling great, all things considered. I wake up feeling like my stomach is unbearably stretched, and I am always tired (though that might be unrelated to the pregnancy). My appetite is better now. It's almost Christmas, and that is a delight all on its own. Too bad you aren't here to see our lovely Christmas tree - we'll have to get one just as nice next year.

The dog says hi too. She's been loving the recent snowfall. Her happiest day would be if she could chase pinecones all day long in the snow, then come home to a nice meal and a warm blanket. And a treat or two. I look forward to teaching you how to be gentle with her. I won't lie - I think your father would protect the dog from you more than you from the dog. So be nice to Kodi! Heh.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Halfway point

Dear baby,

I made it to the halfway mark of my pregnancy without even realizing I was pregnant... so if you ever look up old blog posts and wonder why I didn't blog about my pregnancy earlier, that is why. I hope you don't think your mother is incompetent. I had an inkling I might be pregnant, but so many other reasons also existed for my fatigue, stress, loss of appetite, um, anyway.

The good news is, you're almost here! In less than five months we'll get to see your face. Your real face, not your scary ultrasound face. Your daddy and I are super excited. Your dog, Kodi, would be excited if she had any idea what was going on. Trust me, she's just itching for a new face to lick. She has a cough right now, but that didn't stop her from trying to eat one of the Christmas tree ornaments. Oh well. Hopefully by the time she meets you, she'll be less prone to eating things she shouldn't.

According to a pregnancy calendar site I visit sometimes, you are as big as a banana, carrot, or butternut squash. I find that last one hard to believe. Have you seen a butternut squash? Those things are gigantic. This pregnancy calendar lists a wide variety of issues that can occur to your mommy during pregnancy. None of those things have yet happened, but we've got a long way to go, so I'll keep you posted. It also says that by now I should be feeling your kicks easily, possibly even outside the belly. Hmm. Once again, I will keep you posted. The ultrasound tech said you were quite active, but darned if I could tell.

Baby, we are grateful to God that you're on your way. Can't wait to meet you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good reads

We just got back from another fabulous vacation to Mexico where once again, my main activity was lounging on the beach with a good book and a lot of sunblock. On this trip I read almost 3 books, I haven't quite finished the last book. I love reading, but in regular life I find it hard to have the time to read a book and absorb the words I am reading. So that is what vacations are for!

On this trip, I borrowed the novel "Beijing Coma" by Ma Jian from the library. I am always drawn to Chinese writers and when I read the jacket, I immediately wanted to read the entire book. Beijing Coma's protagonist is Dai Wei, a student who was shot in the Tianamen Square protests and who subsequently fell into a coma. While in the coma, he can hear and smell what is going around him, although he can't see, move, or respond in any way, although his body is surprisingly "alert". The book revolves around his memories of the weeks leading up to the massacre and alternates between those memories and what is happening presently around him.

I had never read a book about what happened in the weeks leading up to June 4, 1989, so this was quite an eye opener (although it is fiction, the author bases his characters on real people and real stories.) In 1989, I was only 10, and my dad was quite ill, so I didn't understand what was going on China, except that it was bad. I have read that unfortunately, since China has worked so hard to propagate its own version of what happened (nothing! nothing happened!), young people in China today are barely aware of the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre. The iconic image of the "Tank Man" is not even recognized among Beijing University students. In the new world of China embracing newfound wealth, maybe this isn't surprising, just saddening. It makes me wonder whether we in the western world even realize the extent of what happened, and whether we turn a blind eye to how China censors the truth. Maybe we turn a blind eye too often, preferring the glamourized images of China while citizens lose their homes in favour of big development, choosing to buy cheaply made, potentially dangerous items made in China to save ourselves money.

Beijing Coma struck me because it presented the possibility, many possibilities, you might say, that things could have turned out differently in June 1989. If only this happened, if only that person made this decision ... thousands more would be alive today. An entire nation could have risen up against an oppressive regime. And at the same time, the book illustrated how even great intentions can go horribly out of control. I don't really know how to express how I felt about the book, but maybe you can all have a read for yourselves.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dear Kodi

Guess what, happy little dog! It's your first birthday today! Yay!

You've now been with us for about 9.5 months and what a delight it's been to have you in our lives. You and I have been through hundreds of walks, lots of doggy park time, and tons of cuddles at home. Plus, you've learned a multitude of tricks. In the last few months you have started to learn the names of your toys, so that if I ask you to go and find your monkey, you no longer stare at me like "What the heck is a monkey? Is it food?" You have also learned to walk SLIGHTLY better than you did before obedience class. The first half of our walk always involves me getting a little mad, which I know I shouldn't do. I'm sorry. It's just that you weigh almost 65 lbs and it's really difficult to hold you back when you lunge forward.

You've also become better at balancing toys and treats on your head. I have some good pictures of you doing this that I will upload later on. You do, however, drool like a faucet turned on when a treat is in the works or when your dinner is hitting the bowl or when you think we're eating something delicious. It's kind of funny, but also a little gross.

Kodi, sometimes I don't know what comes over me, but I think about how one day you'll leave us. It makes me incredibly sad and I know I shouldn't dwell on some unknown future day. I should instead think about loving you now, and giving you a good and happy life. I know God created you and part of me hopes that there's a place in some sort of heaven for you so that maybe one day, if you should pass on and I should pass on, we'll see each other again. Sounds ridiculous, I know. I try not to think about it. One night recently I was very sad because I thought about this again and I thought about how I had yelled at you that day for pulling me. The nice thing is that you always forgive and forget when I'm mad. It's part of being a dog, I guess, life just moves on and you live in the present.

Anyway. Daddy and I are very proud of the dog you've become over the last year. You are an incredibly good dog. You rarely chew on anything that isn't yours and you sleep quietly by yourself when we're not home instead of tearing the house apart. You are still scared of the hair dryer and vacuum cleaner and anything that is large and makes loud noises. You don't tear apart all of your toys, and your favourite is still the Christmas toy we got you as a baby. You will eat anything we give you, or at least you'll try it once. Whenever I come home, you run to the door with a toy in your mouth, ready to play, and you greet me like you haven't seen me in years, even if it's only been a few hours. Above all, you always listen to us and I don't think you would talk back even if you could, because you love us too. Thank you for brightening up our lives. I hope in this next year, we are as good to you as you have been to us.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More relationship stuff

I went out with a good friend recently and we had a long conversation about relationships. We always talk about relationships but this time was different. She told me a lot more than she usually does and I appreciated the open and honest nature of our discussion. One of the things she told me was that she knows a lot of eligible, single guys with many great qualities... but that many of these guys didn't want to enter into a relationship because they were afraid of losing their freedom.

I found this incredible at first - do people really see marriage and commitment as the "old ball and chain", as the great limitation upon personal freedom? I guess so!

She talked about how her pastor had listed the top five benefits to being single, and the top five benefits to being in a relationship. All of the benefits to being single amounted to freedom. All of the benefits to being in a relationship amounted to a lack of loneliness. And that is where I realized that freedom and loneliness are not so far apart. Interesting. I've never thought of that. I've never felt like getting married meant a loss of freedom. Kind of the opposite actually, since I didn't have a ton of freedom while living at home anyway.

Anyway. I'm just rambling today. So here's another unrelated question for you. I'm not sure where I came up with this one, but work with me here.

Let's say you are in a relationship with A. Maybe one that is serious, maybe not that serious, it doesn't really matter. Not married, though, since that throws too much of a wrench in this problem. Let's say that sometime before you had this current relationship with A (it could be months, years even), you had feelings for B, but something just didn't work out. Let's say they were strong feelings, and you were disappointed when the potential fizzled. Let's say that B now has feelings for you and if you gave it a shot, the relationship with B could work out. It could be worse than, the same as, or better than your relationship with A... in other words you don't really know whether it will work out with B. But it could. Let's say you haven't thought about your feelings for B in a long time, but they might still be there.

Question: 1) would you want to know about B's feelings? 2) if you did know, would it affect your relationship with A?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Grandma (poh-poh)

Grandma, it's been many years since you passed away. Sixteen years, I think. I have so many memories of you and always wish we could have had more time together. God called you home in exactly the way you would have wanted, quickly and without pain, but in my opinion, it was still far too early. But I know it's okay, because now you get to spend eternity with Him.

I remember how you would come and stay with us from Seattle, taking the Greyhound by yourself even though you couldn't speak any English. You used to ask why we would buy things like French fries, since you could just make them at home instead. You made the best beef jerky - no store-bought kind can ever match up. You loved to watch Family Ties (Alex was your favourite) and I never understood how you could watch an English show or what you really thought was going on. Actually, once you surprised us by responding "I don't know" when we asked you something. I guess you must have picked up some English over the years. You taught me how to peel the roots off of bean sprouts and how to wash rice properly. You told me to marry a Chinese guy (so that his family would pay for the wedding) and although I always laughed, guess what, I ended up marrying one after all.

What I loved most about you though, Grandma, was your love and faithfulness for God. You never had the opportunity to get an education but somehow you still studied the Bible and memorized verses. You always encouraged us to do what was right and to work hard.

I think I've learned even more about you since you passed on. Now that I'm older, I'm able to grasp our family's history even better. I know that you were a hard worker all of your life, from being a street vendor to being a mother of many children. You didn't have much schooling, but your math was better than most educated people's math. I know that you made many sacrifices for your family. The family was poor, but you did not let that stop your children from being educated and working hard so that future generations would live a better life.

What would you think of how my life turned out if you were here today? Would you be proud of me? One day I'll get to ask you in person.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It could be the one...

This time, I wonder what it feels like
To find the one in this life, the one we all dream of
But dreams just aren’t enough
So I’ll be waiting for the real thing, I’ll know it by the feeling
The moment when we’re meeting, will play out like a scene
Straight off the silver screen
So I’ll be holding my own breath, right up ’til the end
Until that moment when, I find the one that I’ll spend forever with

Cause nobody wants to be the last one there
Cause everyone wants to feel like someone cares
Someone to love with my life in their hands
There’s gotta be somebody for me like that
Cause nobody wants to do it all on their own
And everyone wants to know they're not alone
There’s somebody else that feels the same somewhere
There’s gotta be somebody for me out there --Nickelback "Gotta Be Somebody"

I hear this song on the radio all the time these days. I had to look up the lyrics since I am terrible at remembering lyrics. It's a very catchy song, one of those songs that you can sing along to without even really knowing it.

Lately I've been thinking about love and life and how to get all of my single friends matched up. Just kidding. Really just kidding. I only think about matching SOME of my single friends up. Um, anyway, where were we. I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I hadn't met the hubby. Would I be out there, trying to meet people? Where would I even go to meet people? If I met someone with "potential", would I make the first move?

I have often been the nosy spectator on the sidelines of my friends' almost-relationships and have thought, "Hmm, if only s/he made some sort of first move, I bet it would all work out." And then it baffles me as to why someone doesn't make any move at all. And then I say to the hubby, "Don't you think [whoever] and [whoever else] would make a great couple?" And then he shrugs. Or says "Absolutely not." Or "I already thought of that months ago." But then nothing happens.

So I am putting this out there: GRAB THE BRASS RING, PEOPLE. Take a chance, make the first move, and see whether the person you are interested in is also interested in you. (Caveat: if you or your friends are fairly certain that the other person is NOT interested - don't jump the gun.) Be a risk taker! There's gotta be somebody out there for you. Even Nickelback says so!

Topic for discussion: why DON'T people make the first move more often?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

America the hateful

I'm not much for politics, but the American election is by far more captivating than the Canadian election ever was. I saw this video today on another blog and I couldn't turn it off despite the sickening feeling in my stomach. I know that Americans aren't all like this and neither are all Republicans, but the idea that so many can gather together and spew hatred and lies publicly, with their children nearby - that is beyond upsetting. So much vitriol toward Obama because they think he's Muslim. Even assuming he was Muslim, which he obviously is not, why would that matter? And calling him a baby-killer because of a party stance on abortion... how is that appropriate?

There's so much more to say, but it's just so upsetting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mr. Thrifty

That's actually the name of the model skeleton we have in our office...

But this post is actually about saving money.

Last week, I watched an episode of Oprah wherein she promised to show us how the thriftiest family in America could help a struggling family climb out of debt. Judging from blogs I've read, tons of people watched this episode (unsurprising.) I don't think that family offered anything too earth-shattering in terms of money-saving tips. For example, the mom talked about how she rarely ever uses her cell phone, so she managed to find some plan (probably pay-as-you-go where she only has to spend $5/month.) Fine for her, but I actually need my cell phone for more than emergencies. Another tip was to clip as many coupons as possible. Maybe it's just a problem with Canadian stores nowadays, but I find that coupon clipping is challenging. Either only brand-name products have coupons, or the coupons are instead tied to those annoying club cards they make you sign up for (so that they can spy on your shopping habits.)

So instead of rehashing those tips, here are MY money-saving tips, many of which I am still trying to put into practice.

1. Stock up on sale items that you'll need eventually. I am a bit of a hoarder of drugstore type items. Toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. There will always be TP at my house!

2. Break the Starbucks habit. This is a really obvious one that everyone and their dog mentions. Blah blah, if you get a latte a day you'll spend a gazillion dollars by the end of the year. I am not that much of an addict so my solution is to limit myself to one Starbucks visit a week; less if I can help it. In addition I am trying to bring my own cup to save on paper cups. Starbucks should really offer more than a 5 cent discount for this.

3. Force yourself to save money. We contribute to RRSPs on a monthly basis so that when the end of the year rolls around, it isn't all about scraping together a suitable lump sum for the year.

4. Always put God first. Not specifically a money-saving tip, but still important. My mom always taught me to put in my offering/tithes at the beginning of the month, not with the idea that God will bless you more if you are faithful with your offering, but in recognition of all He has done for you. In so doing, I have found that God always provides just what we need. And in times when I have forgotten, things just don't feel right. Hard to explain. But there you go.

5. Cell phones - look for retention plans if you want more minutes but don't want to spend more. I spent days researching better plans when I wanted to get out of my Bell plan and then poor hubby had to spend at least an hour or two on the phone negotiating new plans. But we came out of that with a great plan with a ridiculous amount of minutes and a low, low price. If you don't use your phone much, try a pay-as-you-go plan like 7-11's Speakout Wireless where your minutes last up to one year.

6. Borrow movies from the library instead of renting. Our library has lots of almost-new releases and older movies. Bonus - a cool DVD dispenser with a little man inside who shoves your DVD at you. No, not really.

7. Borrow books instead of buying. Okay, this is just me - I cannot stand to buy books because I find that I read them quickly and then I don't often read them again. (Exception: my Harry Potter books.) I much prefer borrowing books at the library, reading them, then ditching them. My only concern is that the books are probably covered in germs. Yuck. Wash your hands!

8. Wear more sweaters. Every year we hold out as long as we can before turning on the heat, preferring to keep the house at a cool 16 degrees. This year we have turned the heat on about three times, and then only to 18 degrees. Why would you turn on the heat when you can put on an extra sweatshirt and some warm slippers?

9. Change your lightbulbs to CFLs or LED bulbs. Actually I haven't seen many LED bulbs for sale but CFLs are plentiful. They are often on sale; we bought boxes of 6 for $9 at Canadian Tire in the summer. Saving energy is always a challenge, since it's so much more convenient not to!

10. Eat less. Heh.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mrs. Poburko

You were my kindergarten teacher and everyone was scared of you. I don't know why they were scared of you, but I know why I was scared.... one day, my friend had a loose tooth and you said you would help her pull it. To my horror, you tied one end of a piece of dental floss to the tooth, and the other end to the closet doorknob. Then you slammed the closet door. The tooth came out. I think I screamed.


Now that the election is over, I can tell you who I voted for. In our riding, the incumbent is a Liberal and it was expected to be a hot contest between the incumbent and the Conservative candidate. Well, at least everyone thought it would be a hot contest. I've never met either candidate, although I noticed one's campaign strategy was to stand on busy streets in a suit, waving to commuters, and the other recruited several Chinese people to help phone other Chinese people to sway their vote.

In the week before the election, both the NDP and the Green Party candidate were hinting strongly (or saying outright?) that strategic voting would be, at the least, not a bad thing. You know how it goes - vote Liberal even if you normally vote NDP or Green so that we'll have a chance of defeating the Conservatives. Actually, I considered the opposite - voting Conservative to keep out the incumbent, who I don't particularly like, and who I thought would win. Strategic voting is somewhat controversial. To me, it doesn't represent true democracy, because you'd be voting for someone you didn't really want in office, just to prevent someone you REALLY REALLY didn't want from coming to power. It requires holding your nose when voting, and is that the picture we want to paint during an election in a first world country?

So up until I got to the voting booth (if you could call the cardboard science fair display a "booth"), I wasn't fully decided on how to vote. I eventually went with my gut and voted NDP. I know next to nothing about the NDP candidate, but I like what the NDP stands for, generally. I then fretted over whether I should have voted strategically. Fortunately in the end, it didn't really matter because the Conservative won by a comfortable margin.

Of course, what this reinforces is that proportional representation through a single transferable vote system would resolve the problems seen in a multi-party system like our own. I looked for a site that explained the STV system the best and here is what I found. It has pictures! Though I think their picture of chocolate could have been a little better. Anyway. No doubt at some point, some person much smarter than me will be able to analyze what just happened in our election and tell us roughly who might be sitting in Parliament if we had an STV system. That'll be interesting.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Squishy or spacious?

Just finished reading this article about families who have eschewed the suburban sprawl and larger homes with yards for small apartments in the heart of their cities. This article reminded me of the difference between my brother and I. I have never really desired to live in downtown, although I can see the attraction of living there (that is, if I also worked downtown.) My brother, on the other hand, would love to live in the city, or maybe a bigger city than our own. (No doubt he'll contradict me at some point during this post.)

I used to tell the hubby that I always dreamed about living in an apartment. I have no idea why I wanted to live in an apartment. Maybe it was a Seinfeld or Friends or Mad About You influenced idea. Of course, nobody in New York has apartments as big as on TV. Every time I go to Ikea, I marvel over the showrooms that proclaim, "Live comfortably in 455 square feet!" and display an entire family's life, squeezed into every nook and cranny of a small space. Chairs are folded and hang on the walls, beds are one step away from the kitchen, and the bathroom is right beside the fridge. Part of me is always tempted to try out living in a small space just to see if I can do it.

Of course, the problem is, I don't mind suburban sprawl. We live in a spacious part of the world where people can live in houses that have yards. And once you have a yard, and a BBQ, and maybe a few chairs to sit on outside - well then - why wouldn't you want that?

I can definitely understand that one reason for living in the city would be a commuting issue. I don't work in downtown, but when I have to go there, it does make me curse the traffic situation getting out of the burbs. (That is partly a problem with how the city and its outlying areas are designed.)

Maybe I am a little claustrophobic. In our old place, I didn't like how there wasn't much separation in the common areas, such that if hubby was on the phone, I'd have to turn down the TV (or turn up, if I wanted him to get off the phone!) I can't imagine sleeping in a closet just to make more room in the apartment for my kids, or sending my laundry out just to accommodate living in a smaller space. I am a homebody at heart; I think relaxing is best done at home rather than out at some restaurant or club or theatre. (I make exceptions for vacations. Those can only be done away from home. Preferably in some hot, sunny, tropical location.) Besides, it's hard to have a 60 lb dog in an apartment.

I hope this post doesn't come off as "la la la, I love my giant house"* ... instead, I think it's pretty amazing that many of us have the ability to choose our living circumstances. Whether it's living in a basement suite, an apartment, a townhouse, or a house, or with family or in-laws, many of us are fortunate to have a place to live at all. This is just my perspective. Sometimes I think it'd be awesome to live closer to the "action", to be in a more culturally and socially diverse area of the city. Other days, I think living in the suburbs is really pretty good.

Your thoughts?

*I don't have a giant house!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


We are often asked who we're going to vote for ... in the past week the hubby even received emails urging him to vote for one candidate (Conservative, of course.... the reasoning was that we need a strong Christian voice in Parliament.) Sometimes I wish the politics in Canada were more... polarized. I read an article that described Canada's politicians as "beige" and frankly I think that really fits. I feel like I know way more about the US election than I do about the Canadian one. (That's probably my fault, but I'll just blame the media. Just like Palin!)

I will tell you that I usually don't vote based on religious beliefs, either mine or the candidate's. I tend to think it isn't really relevant what a person believes if they are in political office. Separation of church and state, I guess.

This post has no real point ... but tell me ... how do you vote?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tara W.

You were a roommate for a short time and it is because of you that I think having a roommate sucks. You took our other roommate's car and put a dent in it, then you "fixed" it, hoping she wouldn't notice. You left your bras lying around the kitchen and living room, you didn't like to clean, and you overcharged us on rent. Then, you tried to evict us even though you weren't even allowed to be subletting to us. I unplugged your telephone every single day just to irritate you. Childish, I know. Oh well.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Yesterday morning as I drove to work, I passed by a pile of shoes near the centre median of the highway. The shoes were strewn over a distance of probably 20-30 feet or so. As far as I could tell, they were mostly women's shoes, and included several pairs of Crocs (pink) and canvas Keds-like shoes (green and white). Have I ever mentioned my dislike for Crocs? I think it is because they make feet look super wide and I have a thing about how feet should never look wide. Also, they remind me of a hospital nurse's very sturdy/ugly work shoes... but with holes!

This morning, many of the Keds-like shoes were still there... but all of the Crocs were gone.

Could it be that someone crossed a busy highway just to snag those pink Crocs!?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I met you in Montreal the summer after high school. We were both there to learn French, although somehow I got put into some sort of advanced class where half the students were Francophones, which I found kind of unfair. You were in a more normal class, so maybe you actually learned something. I lent you my jacket one night when you were cold and you somehow got blood on it... I don't really want to know. We spent our evenings hanging out at the 24-hour Second Cup and you were a great friend. Apparently you also hated your name, since I later learned that you changed it to something totally different - like Jennifer or some name like that.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


It's weird that my most vivid memory of you is that once, I was in the same restaurant as you, except you sat behind me and you couldn't see me.... I was with some friends you didn't know, so probably you didn't even guess I was there. I heard you talking with your boyfriend, not because I was eavesdropping, but because I heard my name. You were actually discussing my relationship with the now-hubby and how our relationship was probably going to fail. I was too chicken and non-confrontational at the time to turn around and say "Hello, is that me you're talking about, please stop", so I let it go.

You didn't ask for forgiveness (nor would you really have to, it was so minor) but guess what, I'm giving it to you anyway. Despite whatever some troll thinks of it.

If you're going to insult me

At least have the guts not to do it anonymously. I'm sorry I rejected your comments on my last post, "Anonymous", but this is my blog and I can write whatever I want AND reject whatever commentary I want. You're welcome to repost your comment (but not twice in a row, just hit the button once, genius) with your real name attached. Otherwise, feel free to move on. If you have something to say to me in person, I invite you to do so. I get that you think I'm not a very good Christian. Since there's no name attached to the comments, I can only assume that you are an internet troll.... using Shaw and living in Richmond.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


The year I got engaged, you kept asking me about the wedding and when you would get your invite. I wasn't sure if we should invite you because the four of us, we aren't great friends... but that year, you and I served together in ministry, so I thought it'd be rude not to invite you.

After I gave the invite to you, you didn't reply... so when the reply date passed, I had to ask if you and your husband were coming or not. You said that you would be out of town. No big deal, right? I found out today that after you received your invitation, you announced loudly to a group of our mutual friends that you would rather spend money on yourselves than attend our wedding or give us a gift, so you booked a trip to Portland as soon as you knew that you were invited. Maybe you were mad that we didn't give you a very big gift for your wedding (I was a student - it was all I could afford.) Who knows. I'm not offended that you didn't come, but what was the point of telling everyone that you'd rather go to Portland?

Well, you haven't asked me to, but I've decided to forgive you. You probably don't care, but if I don't let this go it'll just bother me forever.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


You were shocked when you found out that I could barely speak Chinese, and you resolved to speak only Chinese to me for the rest of the year. As it turned out, I actually learned some Chinese because you wouldn't speak any English. Too bad it only lasted through high school!

Welcome, guests!

The hubby and I are finally ready to welcome out-of-town guests to our home, as we recently purchased a guest bed for a steal of a deal. Not an actual steal, but pretty darn close. Even cheaper than our own bed (Westin Heavenly Bed! - but without all the plushy goodness of duvets and pillows and shams and such), which I already thought was a fantastic deal. I love our bed, it's super comfy and it's tall enough that the dog can't jump on us in the morning (she's never tried - but she has tried to jump on my in-laws' bed at their house!) I also love our bedroom set because it was my first real grownup furniture.

But the problem is the height. I like it, but other people look at it and think "Wow! That's way too high!"

Well, future guests will be thrilled to know that our guest bed is EVEN HIGHER. Of course part of that is because we bought a bedframe that sits the bed about 10 inches off the ground. Even so, the mattress itself is at least 16 inches tall and the boxspring is pretty regular sized although we ordered a low profile boxspring. Can't complain though when we got a great deal. But it makes me laugh to imagine guests having to literally climb into their bed. Perhaps they could take a running leap.

I tried to convince the hubby that maybe we just don't need the boxspring, but he seems to believe that guests will really like having to jump into bed. Oh well. I'm sure it'll be a comfortable sleep, that is, when they aren't worried about toppling off.

I can't wait to have guests! Ahaha!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I can't actually remember whether your name was Kathy or not, so I'll just call you that. You and I worked together and it was my first real job, so naturally I was intimidated. You were rude to me when I first started and I never enjoyed working with you after that. Once, I suspected you of stealing $20.00 from my till since I was *never* short by more than a few pennies. I later heard you were fired for stealing money on several occasions. Nice work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jennifer Y.

I remember admiring your thick, waist-length hair and wishing my hair was nice and straight like yours. You were always a sweet and friendly girl and you laughed at my jokes. In grade 7, you liked this boy and I told you to go for it ... but I neglected to tell you that I liked him too. At some ridiculous elementary school dance, I danced with him even though I knew you wouldn't be happy. Wow, I was a jerk.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mrs. Challoner

You were my grade 2 teacher in a 2/3 split class. When we all wrote books for a class project, mine was based on The Ugly Duckling and was about a girl who felt ugly, but was actually beautiful. You asked me to read it to the class and I did. Maybe you thought the book was about me. Maybe it was. In any event, I was the only one who got to read my book out loud.

New feature on my blog!

Hello everyone!

In an effort to blog more, I'm going to attempt to participate in something that I think is called x365 or Blog 365 or something like that. The idea is to write one short post a day about one specific person in your life, past or present, and... really that's it. Just a few thoughts about that person, and then move on. I haven't signed up for anything official since the chances of me blogging every day are slim, but hey, it's worth a shot.

Hope you'll find it entertaining and maybe you'll even find yourself named at some point!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's the little things in life

I wish I could blog about something intelligent, like the election situation in Canada or the US, or perhaps a book I've read lately, or maybe some environmental issue. Sadly, I have been completely unaware lately so I have no idea what is happening in the world. So instead, I will tell you about stress relief. I need a lot of stress relief these days. Here are the things that make me happy... or less unhappy at least.

- Coffee Crisp. Yum.
- chocolate - yum.
- dark chocolate mocha at Blenz in the morning. Yum. Expensive habit.
- playing with my dog
- shopping... for my dog :) (yes - she is spoiled. no - she doesn't wear clothing.)
- Pho subs. - yum.
- watching Heroes, The Office (we just got into this! hilarious!), HGTV shows, anything in HD...
- getting to and from work in under 45 minutes (rare)
- visiting the mall on lunch break
- not wearing heels all day long

Well, I could go on, but there's something good on TV right now....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to the grind, part the end

So, since my last post I have been living a stressful life with restless sleep and general unwellness. I do not know what is wrong with me but I am very, very tired. It is probably something to do with having to think all day long. My mind is just not made for that sort of work.

Okay, last time I told you some of the things I liked about university, so of course for completeness, I must now tell you what I did NOT like about university. I'll try to keep this brief and intelligible rather than just a rant blowing things way out of proportion.

1. Always feeling behind. Even my most studious friends would agree that it's extremely difficult to feel ahead or even on course with university classes. From day 1, I felt as though there was way more to do than there was time to do it all... and for me, that was just a totally unmotivating way to learn.

2. The campus from October to March. Mostly these months stick out in my mind as representing a soggy mess, irritating bus rides filled with soggy people and their dripping umbrellas, and the inability to get through a day without the bottoms of my jeans being completely drenched. Pleasant!

3. Labs. Oh my goodness, did I ever hate labs. First, often a lab meant working with a partner and not always one of your choice. Second, the total randomness of achieving an acceptable lab result. Third, the HOURS this sucked out of my day. Blah blah lac operon E. coli blah blah bacteria blah blah no thank you!

4. My PoliSci class. I took this in an effort to boost my marks, but ended up with a 60. Yes, that is right, a 60. This is an impressive mark, although it is still less impressive than my Immunology mark. I have managed to forget almost everything about this class except for the terrible haircut my prof had.

5. Keeners. You know the type, the ones who always have a question, or who always have an answer, or who always raise their hand even if they have no clue. A friend once suggested playing Keener Bingo and I believe this meant that if you observed someone raise their hand three times in one class, you were to stand up and shout "BINGO!" I never did this.... too bad.

6. People with weird habits that disturbed me. Once, I sat next to a guy who sniffed for the entire hour of class. Not runny nose sniffling... just a continual sniff. I decided he was probably having a reaction to some sort of illicit, snorted drug. Another time, I had to ask the guy behind me to quit writing so hard on his desk. (This makes me sound crazy, but bear with me.) It was during an exam and he was writing on one thin sheet of paper with a mechanical pencil and nothing underneath the paper. And, it appeared that he was extremely passionate about whatever he was writing. The scratching and tapping was really grating inside my head. At the break, I asked him to please slip a few sheets under his paper. He complied, but I'm sure he thought I was insane. Perhaps this item is really just a reflection of my own intolerances, but hey, this is my blog, not yours.

7. Telereg. This probably doesn't exist any more, but anyway. We had to register for classes using a telephone. (If any of you oldies are out there, yes I agree that this was one step up from having to physically run to each building to register, but still.) I remember having to employ two phone lines and a cellphone starting two minutes before registration time. Oh, the agony of punching in the code for the class you wanted, only to have the system stall for five silent minutes before telling you that you were unsuccessful, and then freaking out because you didn't have a backup plan.

Boy, it's a good thing I haven't decided to pursue another degree, I don't think I could handle more university. Jo, you have my infinite respect. And you too, godbrother. And the rest of y'all who are more studious than me. Which would be - everyone.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Back to the grind

It's been a rough week back at work... I'm so tired. But as tired as I am, I'm grateful that at least I am not back at university. Sometimes people assume that I loved school, probably because I was there for so long. Those people even assume that I worked hard at school. I think I can hear my family laughing right now. Shush, family! Haha.

In an effort to be a little more cheery, I'm going to tell you some of the things I enjoyed about university:

1. The buildup to first year. At the time, lots of church folk were attending university and I was excited to eat lunch with them, to experience "free stuff week", to be one of the cool older folk, to study in the bowels of Koerner... um yeah. None of that really happened for me. Free stuff week? Not all it was chalked up to be. Lunch plans were sparse, and I was never cool. Oh and I think I can count on one hand the number of times I studied downstairs at Koerner. In short, blown expectations - but at least I enjoyed the anticipation.

2. Learning that science was not for me. Of course, I had to complete an entire degree to find this out, but hey, what's four or five years out of my life!

3. Figuring out how to bus everywhere, including at least four routes that would take me home. If only there had been a u-pass from the very beginning.

4. Having some classes with friends, including Anatomy and Molecular Biology with a couple of good friends (Drosophila!) and Immunology with my godbrother (what were we thinking!) and, um, maybe that's it. I had a lot of fun in those classes, possibly because I wasn't paying a lot of attention. (See? Science just isn't my cup of tea.)

5. Planning my wedding during my last year of school while also working 16-24 hours per week, yes, at school. I'm good at the multi-tasking.

6. Working at a campus job - seriously, if students out there need money, find a campus job. You're there anyway, you might as well work and earn far more than minimum wage. I paid my way through school by working on campus every summer and, of course, living at home. Thanks Mom :)

7. The campus in September. So lovely. Green grass, sunny days, not having to wear a jacket... too bad it all becomes crummy and wet come October.

8. Graduating - twice - and getting the heck out of there!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Conflict amplification

What do you do when you don't like someone's personality?

There is someone I'm thinking of who I can't stand right now. I will call this person X. I can't stand X. X talks too much. X thinks certain jokes are funny when they should barely be called jokes in the first place. X interferes with normal goings on and doesn't understand that change for the sake of change is unnecessary and time-consuming.

There is another person I can't stand. I will call this person Z. Z is annoying. Z thinks Z knows more than anyone else in the world, but in truth, Z knows very little. Z is just difficult to get along with.

Z and X get along okay, but each thinks the other isn't as clever as they make themselves out to be.

As for me - I wish I could resolve things, but I feel like I'm stuck in the middle between Z, X, and the other more reasonable people in my life. The conflicts are getting worse, not better. The problem is, you can't change a person's personality. They are stuck with whatever personality they have chosen to adopt and you either have to like it or lump it. Very depressing.

I'll try to post something more exciting next time I post... :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Environmental living

I wish I could say that we've got the green living thing down pat. I wish our house was powered by wind or the sun, or that I walk or bike everywhere. No, although we have taken some steps to lessen our lives' impact on the earth, we are far from fully there. We drive hybrids, but that is as much about saving money as it is about lowering emissions. One of the challenges of living a greener lifestyle is cost. It's often much cheaper to buy non-organic food or even non-local food. A hybrid vehicle is a huge initial investment, and some have speculated that they won't necessarily save money in the long run because of their initial price. Want to buy something that is non-toxic or chemical-free? Often, it's more expensive. It's a bit like the debate surrounding eating healthier... fresh fruit and veggies are so pricey compared to the inside of the store. (Someone once told me that the healthiest t way to shop a grocery store is to go on the outside only, to get to the produce, dairy, bakery, etc. and avoid the inside, filled with delicious processed products.)

Anyway. One thing we are doing this coming fall is buying half a cow from a local farm that has grass-fed, Angus (mixed with something else) cows. (Yes, the family from "Jon & Kate Plus 8" also bought half a cow - that isn't what made us do it!) The grass isn't sprayed, so the beef is organic. The cows don't eat grain, so their meat is supposed to be leaner and healthier for you. More Omega 3's or something. Frankly I was just enamored by the idea of buying half a cow. Call me crazy. (and call me if you want the name of the farm!)

I'm also on the lookout for organic/local chicken.... but while the beef is quite reasonably priced, it seems that locally produced chicken is not quite as cheap. Local produce is somewhat more accessible in the summer due to the farm markets and such. I've been thinking about going to the Avalon Dairy store that Chris mentioned, but the hubby thinks Avalon milk is overpriced. I'm sure it's a lot more than buying Lucerne or Dairyland, but maybe the hormone-freeness of it is worthwhile.

On the home front, we changed almost all our lightbulbs to CFLs. Saving money, but again with a larger initial investment. We also signed up for a water meter and we are always looking for ways to save water. Apparently in our city, you are not actually supposed to have low-flow toilets - this is just anecdotal information though. So, we'll have to settle for shorter showers and such. I've stopped using my dishwasher because it sucks. SUCKS. I should have gotten a new one, but I was too cheap. Half the time, this one doesn't seem to open the detergent holder's lid early enough so the detergent just clumps up instead of being used. I do try to save water while washing dishes. I sometimes will fill up a sink with hot soapy water and then use the other sink for rinsing. Other times I pile up the dishes, give a few seconds of rinse, then wash them without much water, just a wet soapy sponge. I think it's a miracle that I do any dishes, though :)

We also have a front load washer, which saves a lot of water and detergent. The matching dryer, however, seems to take longer than the old one ... I'm considering whether to hang my clothes outside, but that seems too public, you know? Anyway.

Anyone have a great environmentally friendly tip?

Monday, August 04, 2008


Let's say you are invited to a party at someone's house. Let's say it's not a house you've ever been to before, you know the sort of party I mean, where you are either good friends but not close friends, or relatives but not close relatives. In fact, imagine that it's the first time many of the guests have been there. Sort of an unofficial housewarming, officially just a summer BBQ. Let's say that the hosts specifically say "No gifts" in the invitation. What do you do? Bring something or not? Buy a gift? Give a gift card? Nothing at all?

I think it's just the way I've been raised, but my instinct is always to bring SOMETHING to someone's house unless it's just a whole bunch of close friends (sorry, close friends! you know I love ya!) Before we were married, we used to just tag along on gifts with the in-laws... but I would never do that now. These days, if I received that sort of invite from a good friend, I would either buy something small, or give a gift card... from a friend I didn't know as well, I would bring a nice box of chocolates or some fruit. If it was from a relative, I would probably give a red pocket of money or a gift card. (I can just hear my brother saying "But they said no gifts!! That means no gifts!!") I know! But you see, I would feel totally awkward showing up empty handed.

So, of course, the reason I'm asking is because this happened to us. Obviously I won't give a ton of details, but essentially someone came to our house without a gift. Now, I must say at the outset that this in itself doesn't offend me in the least.. We specified no gifts, but some people just chose to ignore that and brought a little something anyway. I have no problem with someone not bringing a gift, especially since we said no gifts. If you know us, you know we are brimming over with stuff anyway! But what happened to tip me over the edge is that this person came in, and the first thing they said wasn't "Nice place!" or "How's it going!" or even "Weird colour choices!". The first thing they said was, "Oh, sorrrrrry, I didn't bring a gift!" I can't make the tone of the voice show up, but it was quite flippant.

I know I shouldn't be offended. And yet somehow I still am. Maybe it's just that the relationship between this person and the two of us is already a little tense. Or maybe I am just a total jerk. I can't figure it out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Once in a while when I'm bored

Maybe I'm the only one who does this, but once in a while I randomly Google people from my past. I'm not that old, so "past" often refers to elementary school friends, since I didn't go to the same high school as any of them. (And yes, I have Googled myself with both last names... with nothing shocking as a result. Phew!) On other occasions I've Googled people I vaguely knew in high school.

It's a bit voyeuristic to do this, I know... but I've often wondered what happened to so-and-so and what they are up to these days. Here's what I've discovered:

I looked up a girl who was a really good friend of mine all through elementary school. As it turns out, she owns her own talent agency now and she manages some famous folk. At least, I think they are famous, I only known a few of them. I always thought she would be a model, actually... she's beautiful. As it turns out, her sister is a model (and a PhD candidate!)

Another girl is actually famous - she's a comedian. Websites describe her as a 28-year-old Jewish lesbian living in the US.. and she was featured in TIME (magazine or .com, I'm not sure.) At the end of one of her shows, she strips naked. This sounds really odd, I'm sure, since I am only pulling out bits and pieces of information from the great internets... but anyway. I'm not surprised that she is a comedian since I always thought she was hilarious. Oh, and she won a comedy festival award - how awesome. Unfortunately my only other memory of her is going to her Bat Mitzvah. There was a lot of Hebrew. I understood nothing.

One guy from elementary school is now the executive chef of a local Asian fusion restaurant. At least I think it's him, it's been a long time since I was in grade 7. I have to say, that's a pretty cool job to have. I've never been to this restaurant, so I could be wrong that it's Asian fusion. It's definitely some sort of Asian food. I don't remember much about this guy at all, except that he had fairly dark skin for a Chinese guy. What a weird feature to remember.

On high school folk... I always remembered this one guy's name since it was unique. (As an aside, it is almost impossible to accurately Google Chinese people as our names are so darn common.) He was in grade 11 or 12 when I was in grade 8. Probably grade 12. Anyway as it turns out he works for the Canucks now in some sort of security or administrative role. Very cool. I wonder if he'll get me free tickets if I mention that I went to the same high school as him.

So... now I feel like a total stalker...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

HGTV isn't always good

So, I'm watching Flipping Out right now, which is a show about a guy named Jeff Lewis who is some sort of realtor/house flipper. He's extremely wealthy, as evidenced by the fact that he has four staff who cater to his needs. They cook and clean, manage his life, do his banking, act as personal secretaries, clean his pool, wash the driveway, so on and so on.... oh, and they take care of his pets. In this episode, he is flipping out (ha!) at every opportunity because he feels that his staff are not doing what they are supposed to do. In particular, one of his dogs was injured and he's mad that someone let it happen.... so he's out buying a nanny cam to spy on his employees. (Instead of working on his houses, he's working on this... and calling it a sting operation.)

This guy has three very energetic dogs and he purports to love them tremendously. In fact, he says he is so committed to them, he makes sure they are taken care of by his employees. So far, I have seen one employee take the dogs outside to go potty... when the dogs start to growl and gang up on each other, he claims they are just playing. I can't help but be a little judgey. What point is there in having dogs if a) you don't have the time to walk them or play with them or take care of them yourself and b) if the people who are taking care of them can't even tell when the dogs are fighting? Now that the dog has been injured, someone needs to take the dog to the vet. He asked the housekeeper to delay her eye doctor appointment so she could go, and when she couldn't, he told another employee that he needed to stop everything to prioritize the dog. HELLO! It's YOUR dog! My oh my.

Oh! House Hunters is on. Honestly, HGTV is one of my favourite channels. It should be everyone's. Hmm... this episode of House Hunters is about a 25 year old who lives at home... or in the words of the host... "You might wonder why this 25 year old with a career STILL lives at home." If she were Chinese, this wouldn't be odd in the least. But that's another post for another time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A little weird

The hubby's away this weekend celebrating T's last single outing ever.... or something like that. Anyway, today I decided to do some shopping. We recently bought a dining room set, my first real foray into the world of grownup furniture. It's so nice that I almost don't want people to eat on it... and I certainly wouldn't want them to spill something. I was about to go to Ikea, only my second favourite store ever, but then I remembered that it's Saturday, and hello, only crazy people, or people who love crowds and long lineups go to Ikea on Saturdays. (Did you know that Ikea reserves two spots for hybrid vehicles? They are even closer than the "family" parking spots. Take that, parents with three small children! Too bad there are no hybrid minivans! Bahaha!) So instead, I went to Jysk.

I first heard of Jysk when I was in the Hat, but I never actually went inside. It's somewhat Ikea-like in that they sell furniture and household items for good prices. I wandered around aimlessly for several minutes and finally chose a tablecloth and placemats. I made my way over to the checkout line and was privy to the following conversation:

Cashier (to family in front of me): Oh, just to let you know, you can't return this duvet once it's opened so if you need to return it, don't open it. And this pillow - if you need to return it, um, it's best to return it within 2-3 days.

Wife: What do you mean you can't open the duvet?

Cashier: Well, we can't accept a return if the duvet is opened.

Wife: But the package just has a zipper, how can you tell if it's been opened by someone else?

Cashier: Oh, well, we just look at the packaging and how it's folded... umm... yes.

Wife (after paying): So should we just check it right now by opening it?

Cashier: Um, well, we can't accept a return if it's been opened... I mean if it has a tear then maybe a return will be okay, maybe, after you open it, maybe...

Wife: But you can't tell if it's been opened... maybe someone else, not me, opened it first, then I can't return it.

Cashier: Well, okay, if you have to return it, make sure you fold it back neatly.


Cashier: But return it as soon as possible...

Wife: Can I exchange it right now for one from the inside?

Cashier: .....

Wife: I'll just exchange it, thanks.

I think their return policy needs a little work - maybe their customer service needs some work too.

On a customer service note, I feel like our move has been one giant complaint. Here are the things that weren't quite right:
  • seller failed to disclose/inspector failed to find out that the master ensuite shower leaked... all the way into the drywall below
  • seller put a "quick fix" on several things, including hooking up the toilet flusher in the tank to a yogurt container filled with rocks
  • Telus overcharged us on two consecutive bills; the customer service rep forced me to say I would cancel before he could help me
  • Terasen charged us a random fee because we moved, despite the account number not changing and Terasen having to do no work other than to change our billing address
  • Alarm company overcharging us and alarm being overly sensitive to the panic button being pressed
  • Appliance company overcharging us
  • Bank not taking out the right amount on our mortgage
  • Roofing company being slack on everything except demanding payment
  • Furniture place saying they would deliver between 1 and 5pm, arriving at 5:45pm instead
Sigh. Although you might not believe it, I really dislike having to get on the phone to complain about some billing or other issue. It's just so exhausting... why can't things just be right the first time? Anyway. None of these things are serious, and we are still thrilled with the move - and believe me, I know these complaints are trivial. I just like to remember them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rich Bride, Poor Bride

Who's seen this show? More importantly - who's been disgusted by this show?

I'm currently watching a delightful episode of Rich Bride, Poor Bride. They are investigating centerpiece prices and the one they really like is $125.00 per centerpiece. The one they might go with is $79.00 per centerpiece. This isn't a small wedding either, they have about 25 tables. My word! That is ridiculous.

The groom wants to wear a white tux. Ummmmm.... hideous. Perhaps he could throw on a big hat and carry a cane, and wear a knuckle ring set that says "Groom".

The bride picked the wedding cake without talking to her fiance and essentially told him that all he could do was help pick the flavours. Nice. Also, the cake was hideous. Oh, and she wants fireworks for their entrance. FIREWORKS.

Uh oh. He just said it was his money paying for the wedding when she said it was their money. He said, "it isn't our money until we're married." Ouch.

I think I've got train wreck syndrome, I can't turn away.

Their limobus costs $1199! Ours was half that! What a ripoff.

We spent about $5 on each centerpiece at our wedding. This consisted of vases from Michaels (a store I have barely set foot in since the wedding, but dragged the hubby to at least 20 times when we were engaged) and roses. The centerpieces would have looked a lot nicer if I had remembered to put water in the vases on the Friday we brought them to the hall. Oops.

We picked the wedding cake together, but that is mostly because I did the research and hubby went along with the ideas. I recall that it was tasty, but that is all I remember about the food, since I didn't eat anything else that night except a bite of wedding cake.

Oh my. The arguing on this show continues. And the women are squealing. And cackling. Oh my.

What show are you all watching these days?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not good

  • Nine city workers "working" on one small stretch of road. Three are holding signs or directing traffic to follow the traffic lights. One is smoking on the side of the road. Two are drinking coffee. Two are standing around pretending to be busy. Only one is doing any actual work. Creating jobs for Canadians!
  • Guy who almost hits me with his pickup truck because he runs a stop sign - then gives ME the finger. I love this city.
  • Pedestrians who think that because power is out and traffic signals are down, they can cross without even looking.
  • People I used to respect and admire acting way younger than they should, and acting icky to boot. Yuck.
  • Bubble tea that costs more than $2.99.
  • Our home alarm company.
  • Having to tell Telus that I'd cancel if they didn't waive a charge that was ridiculous to begin with... and having that threat of cancellation be the only way the charge could be waived. What a waste of time.
  • My mood. Stressful times make for stressful... times. I can't even think of the words I need.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Unsolicited advice

The other day, hubs took the dog out for a walk and was gone much longer than I had anticipated. As it turns out, he was in the little park near our house when one of the neighbours came out to talk to him about our dog. Background: we have a small park near our house with no school or playground attached, just a green space with a little path around it, and houses that back onto the park. Most evenings, we take the dog for a walk and when there are no dogs in the park and no people in the park, we will take her off leash and throw the ball around for about 5-10 minutes (she tires fast!) On one occasion, we met a nice fellow with his golden retriever and he asked if our dog might like to play. Which, if you've met our dog, is a silly question, of course she wants to play. So the dogs ran around off leash together for about 15-20 minutes and they had a great time. When a little dog came into the park with her owners, we put the dogs back on leash but those owners said it wasn't necessary. And true to retriever form, the two big dogs ignored the little one.

Anyway, said neighbour came out of her yard specifically to talk to the hubby. She told hubs that the dog shouldn't ever be off leash and that she had 35 years of experience training dogs, and that even her own dog (a Rottweiler) wasn't good enough to be off leash. She said a bunch of stuff and he relayed it to me. First of all, let me just say that yes, our 8 month old dog is not perfect off-leash. She is good almost all of the time, but there are times when she won't respond to "come!".... and there are also times when she is super friendly with people who give her attention. However, I took this lady's advice to be bordering on offensive. She talked about how we would have a lawsuit on our hands if our dog charged at a kid on a bike, and how she had years and years of experience, and she could tell that our dog wasn't ready to be off leash, after all, even her Rottie can't be off leash. (Her Rottie often barks at our dog from his backyard; our dog just ignores him. He instigates!)

I think I've talked about unsolicited advice before, so this is probably old. But what am I supposed to do with this advice from a person who supposedly has experience training dogs, but cannot train her own dog to be off leash? I'm sure I'm overreacting, but it would be like me stopping a mother at the grocery store and telling her how her kids should behave, and that she shouldn't let her kids run up and down the aisles. Even if I had children, and well-behaved children to boot, I don't think it would be my place to say anything to another mom. So why does this neighbour feel the need to step in and talk to us about our dog? I just don't know.

If I'm doling out unsolicited advice, just let me know and I'll stop... cuz wow.... how irritating!

Friday, July 04, 2008

What's in a name?

I happened to be reading a blog today where the discussion was on baby names. I always find these discussions entertaining. You wouldn't believe some of the names people think are neat. I get that parents want unique names for their children, but sometimes, maybe it just doesn't pay to be too unique. There's always someone who has to suggest a weird spelling, like "Allysyn" or "Johnothin". And then there are the names that would inspire a world of upsetting comments for the child.

Behold! A list of names I will never name my child, but which were suggested by many on the site/forum I was reading. Note - some of these are actual names of actual children!

Tuesday - would you not be tempted to shout, "IT'S TUESDAY" every time it was actually Tuesday? Wouldn't you be tired of questions like, "Why not Wednesday?" And must the child have to answer multiple times, "Were you born on a Tuesday?"

Puck - yes, Midsummer Night's Dream was a lovely play, but I can't see the wisdom in naming your child something so similar to a swear word.

Bastian - yet another similarity to an unfortunate word.

Fountain - um, no. What if the child happened to spit while talking? S/he would never live it down!

Pepper - first, everyone would snicker if the kid was asked if she wanted pepper on her food. Second, no. Just no.

Jem, as a middle name for a boy - are the Holograms coming???

Lulu - while the child is small and cute, this is a nice name. But imagine introducing yourself as an adult: "Hello, my name is Lulu" - it's just so hard to be taken seriously when you have a babyish name.

Casper - the Friendly Ghost? No, no, and no.

Oval - well, I suppose it's one step above Triangle or Circle...

Prosper and Zebben, or Abram and Skandar for twin boys - again, perfectly nice to have unique names, but Zebben?? Skandar? I just don't know.

Emberly - is it Emily or Kimberly? Why, it's both! Maybe Kimily would be next?

Babylon - I'm not a fan of place names as people names, but if you're going to use a geographical location, surely you could find a nation that opposed God a little less.

Faxon - sounds a little like an invisible gas that could kill you. Also, too close to a swear word.

Kason, Kedric, or Ethaniel - ah, the twisted spelling names! Not quite Jason, not quite Cedric, not quite Ethan or Nathaniel. Kason and Kedric are just bad names. Ethaniel is... weird.

Lzay, because it's similar to Lazy and Lizzie - why would you want your name to be similar to Lazy?

Modest or Patience - I suppose it's better than Lazy, but it would be rough to have to live up to your name all the time.

Granite, Onyx, or Lava for a "dark" name - all of those are horrible names. How sad. I would consider Lava for a dog, but not a human.

Sullen - might as well go with Bitter, Unhappy, or Miserable.

Karma Amelia - just try and stop yourself from singing the song.

Durian - boy oh boy. Not just a fruit, but a disgusting, smelly fruit. (Sorry, Em.)

I love my name - don't you love yours now too?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

1096 days

It seems to be taking us quite a while to get fully settled into our new place. I chalk this up to two factors: a) lack of motivation and b) other, more fun things to do. It's pretty difficult to come home after a long work day and pick up a paint roller, even though I'm the one who suggested painting over the very 1990's peachy-pink walls. Not to mention that I'm not really feeling that great lately... although you won't catch me blogging about that kind of thing...

Of course, the painting prevents us from doing other stuff, like unloading all of the boxes or setting up furniture or even buying the appropriate furniture. The domino effect of household chores. We're trying to give ourselves a deadline, but wow, painting an entire house takes a long, long time. Should have just hired someone.

Anyway. 1096 days - that is how long we have been married. Yes, it's true, we've made it three entire years. Actually, it's 1097 days since I'm not writing this on our anniversary. I was just thinking how it's nice that we bring such different qualities to the table. The hubs is relatively easygoing, plus he cooks so I don't have to. I am not that easygoing, but I do clean up after dinner so he doesn't have to. The dynamic works well. Through these few years, I think (or hope) I've learned to be more patient and compromising. I haven't learned to cook, but I've learned not to interfere with a good thing. I've learned that being part of another person's big crazy family is pretty darn fun. I've also realized that having a dog trumps having a kid. Haha! What has hubs learned? I suppose you'll have to ask him, but what I hope he's learned? NOT TO DO MY LAUNDRY. Yes, I am a little bit of a laundry stickler.

Here are some great things I've discovered about the hubby:

- he isn't a trained handyman, but he can fix almost anything that goes wrong in the house, and if he can't fix it, chances are he has a friend who can!
- he's much better at painting than I am
- he's pretty good at training the dog to do tricks
- he likes chocolate cake
- he still likes to bring me flowers

Happy 3 years! May love fill all of your lives.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wii Fat

Recently, I noticed that in some of the blogs I read, bloggers were raving about Wii Fit. I couldn't really figure out why all these bloggers who previously never talked about video games were suddenly so into Wii Fit - but then someone fessed up - Nintendo had provided Wii Fits for free to various "mommy-blogger"-types in order to, I don't know, drum up more interest I suppose. Interesting marketing technique, but will the reviews really be unbiased? I think not.

So therefore I will post my own review of the Wii Fit game!

First of all, I can't imagine that Wii Fit is a replacement for real aerobic exercise. There is an aerobics category, but uh, no. However I do think the yoga and strength exercises are awesome. Not because I can do them, mind you, but because they are actually realistic and challenging.

But there are many little annoying features of Wii Fit. For example, the fact that it constantly reminds you of the same things - to clear the space around you, to put the strap on your wrist, not to jump on the balance board, to keep still - argh! So many reminders! And another odd feature is how, after your friends have registered on your Wii Fit, it will tell you that so-and-so registered, or that so-and-so hasn't been seen in a while. Creepy and a little Facebook-ish! And finally, the way it cheerfully tells you if you are obese or overweight... I mean, I can see it on the TV, you don't have to announce it!

What I think is useful and fun about Wii Fit is that it encourages you to get up off your seat and get moving. We could all use that sort of encouragement. I apparently have terrible balance, so the yoga poses are pretty helpful. The balance games are neat as well. I wish I was more coordinated. I still remember reading in my first grade report cards that my teachers thought my gross motor skills could use some work. That could still be said about me.

I'm going to commit to doing some Wii Fit every day for two weeks. I'll report back when I'm done, so you can all see whether it's useful or not.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Seven little thoughts

Recently, I took the dog for a walk. She loves to stick her head in shrubs and grass and since it was raining, the shrubs were all wet. I watched as several beads of water rolled off her head and I thought to myself, wow, her head is like Gore-tex.


On our walk we met a girl with Downs Syndrome. She told me that my dog was so cute and of course the dog went right up to her and licked her. She then said, "I like dogs!" Me too.

We've decided to paint the interior of our house. I can't seem to choose colours and last night I sat in our family room with about 50 different colour swatches. Wish I had more artistic talent. Alas, my ability to be sarcastic and droll just isn't enough in this situation.


There are stores you should never go into unless you have at least $100. These stores include Ikea and Costco. My word, I love Ikea and Costco. If only they were smushed together into one store. One day, I'll get a POANG. But a fancy one, not regular boring white POANG.


I heard on the radio that Clay Aiken and his "good friend", 50-year-old Jaymes Foster are having a baby through artificial insemination. There are so, so many things wrong with this. Not the least of which is the thought of Clay Aiken being a father. Ick.


I also heard that Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee are officially back together after 10 years of separation. I feel a little old knowing that they've been separated for 10 years and I remember when that happened. Stupid celebrities and their dramatic lives.


The other day I had a Caramel Light frappuccino from Starbucks. Apparently you save 1/3 of the fat or calories or something. DO NOT BOTHER WITH THIS, GET THE FULL FAT. When my frapp melted as it inevitably does, it looked like just muddy water with a bit of creamy foam on top. Embrace the fat, people!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Pomp and circumstance

Last night I went to a high school graduation ceremony for some of our teens. It's a small school with not that many grads, so it was a very personal ceremony. One of their teachers spoke, and it was clear from his words and emotions that he cared deeply for his kids and their future. He is also leaving the school, so I suppose that made him even more emotional. As I looked down at the grads, I thought about hope, and how in a way, their lives are just beginning. Each graduate walked across the stage while someone read a blurb about him/her .. what s/he'd be remembered for, what his/her future plans were ... and it was neat to hear about the big plans they all had. I was trying to think of how I felt at my high school graduation... I don't think I felt full of anticipation for my future, but then again I knew there'd be at least four more years of school. I don't even recall feeling grown up. I think I just felt a general sense of dread. Graduation from high school wasn't that big a deal for me. I had to be home by midnight on my prom night and so when people talk about the fun things they did for prom or convocation, my eyes just glaze right over.

At my first university graduation, I still didn't feel any real anticipation for the future - again because there was even more schooling ahead.

At my second university graduation, I felt slightly more hope... mostly in the knowledge that I would never have to set foot in another building on campus ever again. EVER. (It didn't help that I did both degrees at the same school AND I worked on campus for at least 3 years plus summers.) I had a lot of exciting things going on after graduation, like our wedding, moving out, getting a job ... so the future was rosy. But, I don't know why, things still felt unsettled.

Last night as I listened to the speakers, I realized that I actually feel all of that hope and anticipation right now. We just moved into our new place, and although I loved our old house, I really love this house. It isn't some sort of magic house with magic qualities. In fact we have found several quirks and issues already. But it's home. It's my home. It's the first time my name has appeared on title (so we were too lazy to change things for three years, oops), it's the first time I've felt like a real live adult. People - the bank lent ME money. How crazy is that!?

I'm really looking forward to our lives in this place. Maybe one day we'll have kids, who knows. Maybe even a second dog one day! I am trying not to plan my entire life... but to rely on God more fully. Last night's grads chose Proverbs 16:9 as their grad verse:

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

I think that's quite fitting for a new beginning, don't you?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Living a greener lifestyle

Chris and Mar's new website (can I link it yet?) is a delightful blog compiling information on living greener, healthier, and earth-friendlier... if I may sum it up thusly. I think it's awesome that we are slowly learning to embrace environmentally sound options in our lives. We live in a privileged part of the world and yet it's so easy to squander all of our resources, to waste when we could re-use, to harm the earth carelessly. It's sort of an interesting conundrum ... it's cheaper to use disposable stuff and to eat non-organic food... and although as one of the richest nations in the world, we have the ability to choose better options ... we usually don't. Our consumerist, get-things-cheaper attitude takes over. We complain about items made in China when they turn out to contain lead or are made of something disgusting, etc. But we usually won't bring ourselves to spend more to buy a locally made item or food product. The almighty dollar governs our lives. Of course, the less we spend now, the more it costs us in the future. Interesting how that works.

As the price of gas climbs ever upward, I find myself wondering how I can lessen my own impact on the earth. Unfortunately there is little I can do about my commute. There is no reasonable transit option and I can't carpool with anyone. I do try to drive the hybrid twice a week (and I am campaigning for hybrid #2 when we finish paying off the first one...) I can't work from home and what's worse, I often have to drive to and from various places while I'm already at work.

So... here are some small things I am trying to do - feel free to add suggestions!:

  • pack a lunch - it means less packaging and it's healthier anyway (I'm doing my best!)
  • lighten up on the gas pedal - it's more gas-efficient. And avoid idling!
  • recycle, recycle, recycle. Ugh, this is a tough one sometimes. But after seeing some shows on landfills and what shouldn't be in them, I'm convinced!
  • grow vegetables - well - this is just a dream for now.
  • get a water meter at our new house - complete with low flow toilets and faucets and showerheads
  • take shorter showers
  • use reusable bags rather than plastic

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Things I take for granted

Recently I was reading Mimi Smartypants (one of my favourite sites to peruse) and she talked about Chicago's public library recently instituting a hold system for books. Wow, weird! We've had that system forever (or at least it seems like it.) I suppose our library system isn't as large as Chicago's, but nevertheless, I'm still surprised. I used to be quite the bookish kid - my brother and I used to take out stacks of books from the library and read them for hours at a time. (When you're kind of a klutz athletically, at least you can be smart academically!)

These days I rarely visit the library. Lack of time, lack of convenience, I suppose. (I used to just visit the branch closest to my house on the way home from school. Now - I'd have to drive!) I think I take the hold system for granted though. Instead of going to the library for a specific book, I tend to go and just browse the fiction shelves for books by authors I've enjoyed in the past, for recommendations by friends, or for staff recommended reads. On the rare occasion, I will actually look up a book and place it on hold, but then I'm bad about picking up my holds too. I know - how lazy can you get - first they bring the book to you and then you don't even go and get it.

I've always found comfort and escape in a good book. In Mexico last year, I finished three books while laying on the beach drinking mojitos, enjoying the sunshine ... ahhh... kinda wish I was there right now. Anyway. I feel like I hardly read any more and it's hampering my vocabulary. I don't even have any good snarky things to say. Maybe I should make it a goal to read more books - but that's a tough goal to keep.

It's funny how life gets in the way of enjoying life sometimes. Most days when I get home from work, I'm tired... and there are so many things to do already. I'm constantly playing catch up on cleaning, for example.

I really should make better use of the library, you know. In Medicine Hat I had to pay $8 for a library card. Yes, I know that isn't a lot, but here, libraries are free. FREE! It's like music to my ears.