Monday, December 28, 2009

Ack! We're half-way through the week between Christmas and New Year's!

The holidays are almost over ... but they won't go out without a proverbial bang! Make the most of the few remaining days left of ther 2009 holiday season!

I received this email forward regarding how to survive the holidays ... in the best way possible:


1.Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare.. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk, whole milk or cream. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labour Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, 2010 is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by: Have a great holiday season!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A little help?

I started using google reader sometime in the spring to keep track of all the blogs I was following. After the wedding, I initially continued to follow the wedding planning blogs. Gradually, it became wedding overload. I continued to follow the personal blogs of people planning weddings (and still am following a couple so I can see the wedding come to fruition!) but I decided to discontinue following the mass-blogs such as weddingbee and weddzilla. It was a surprisingly emotional decision; not tearful or anything, but I definitely felt a twinge of regret as I realized I was leaving wedding planning behind (something I truly enjoyed).

Nevertheless, every other day or so, weddzilla pops back up in my google reader. I go into my subscriptions, and there it is as a blog I'm following. I remove the subscription, but two days later it's back. This has been going on for months, and I am not exaggerating.

I feel like poor Mr. Johnson whose cat kept coming back:
Although I never did figure out why Mr. Johnson didn't just find a proper home for the cat. Then it wouldn't keep coming back, now would it? Also, in retrospect, this is a disturbing song. I didn't remember all the lyrics; just the chorus. If you don't remember the lyrics, either, just have a listen to hear how disturbing it is!

Anyway, does anyone have any ideas as to why this subscription can't be deleted?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

From our family (Wade, Princess and myself) to yours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Nutcracker

Tonight, I was treated to my "first" Christmas present from Wade and Princess: tickets to The Nutcracker! It was another one of those artistic versions (most seem to be) that has changes from the original. The one that plays in Toronto (The National Ballet) is fairly "true" to the original (set in Imperial Russia, crazy uncle brings weird nutcracker as a gift), except that a brother joins his sister on the adventure. Having a brother and sister go on the adventure changes the dynamic. The one that came through my town (a travelling troupe) sets this version in Ontario with a little girl named Klara; a schoolmate destroys the Nutcracker instead of her brothers; instead of a mouse-king there's a bat-king; instead of the land of sweets there's Algonquin Park in Ontario; instead of the sweets and foods there are different animals (the squirrels were played by very cute little children; the loons were graceful; and the raccoons were entertaining); and instead of a Sugar Plum Fairy there was a beautiful "Lady Birch". I was a little skeptical, but it worked. Being a mobile travelling ballet, they did not have the same stage set-up that The National Ballet in Toronto has, nor the live accompaniment. But it's still a great tale and was creatively and well-performed.

As for my absence in posting, it was a combination of busy-ness and laziness! :) I'll post pictures from cookie baking with some kids I know soon so you can see one of the reasons I was busy! In the meantime, being in a Nutcracker kind of mood, I think I'll go back to humming The Waltz of the Flowers (probably my favourite) and the catchy Russian Dance. And of course, everyone knows the Sugar Plum Fairy's solo:

Friday, December 18, 2009

A letter to 2009:

Dear 2009:

You have been the best and the worst year of my life.

I have always liked the number 9. Probably because my birthday is on the ninth day of the twelfth month of the eighty-first year (i.e. nine-squared) of the twentieth century. I had good feelings for the ninth year of the twenty-first century. I was right ... and wrong.

During this year, my mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer. If you have ever had anyone close to you diagnosed with cancer, you understand the emotional implications that means. Fortunately, she was diagnosed before symptoms showed up during an ultrasound for an unrelated screening. Unfortunately, it was still pretty advanced.

[To give you an idea of how bad kidney cancer can be, my mom's cousin's husband was also diagnosed with kidney cancer, about 3 months after my mom. Today was his wake. RIP, Chris Barrett.]

In my mom's case, she will be on chemo for a long time. The prognosis is a million times better than it was just five years ago; that's how far treatment options have come in such a short period of time. That being said the cancer is more advanced than she lets on to most people. Nevertheless, the prognosis is better than you might assume. Cancer is not necessarily the diagnosis it once was, but it is still serious in many cases. What bothers my mom is when people (well meaning, of course) start discussing my mom's treatment/health with her. She receives suggestions about her nutrition, her kidney function, her liver function, and all sorts of other functions (many of which are irrelevant to her cancer). While she appreciates the sentiment, she is an intensely personal person and prefers not to discuss her health with friends or most family. And as a highly trained intensive care nurse, she knows a lot more about organ function than most of these well-meaning people. [Yeah, my mom and I are kind of opposites that way. I will discuss anything with anyone, but she won't. But she discusses almost everything with me.] My mom is doing a great job of putting herself first (something many cancer patients are NOT good at). I'm so proud that she put herself first. For years, she put my brothers and I first. That is, in my opinion, what a good parent must often do. But when it was time, she realized it was time for her to come first, and she has done that admirably. I have watched others still continue to give to their families, jobs or communities, at a risk to their health as they continued to battle cancer. My mom basically went: "to hell with it! My health comes first now!"

So, that's the worst part of 2009.

The best part, of course (and I presume all my readers know this) is that I got married this year. Yay!

Another low-light was losing my job in September.

Another highlight ... or five: welcome to the world Charlie in February (son of friends Dave and Pam), Charlotte in mid-November (daughter of friends Jane and Matt), Madeleine in late-November (daughter of friend Sarah), Olivia in late-November (daughter of friend from elementary school and baseball Angela) and Kiara in early-December (daughter of friends Corry and Ryan). Yep, that's a lot of healthy babies in one year! (And a lot of couples getting busy in February!)

Another lowlight was having to carry two mortgages for two months. I didn't discuss this much on this blog, but days before the closing date on our house, the buyer backed out. It was completely a breach of contract by the buyer, but nevertheless it left us financially strapped as we carried two mortgages on one salary for two months. Yuck. We sold our house at the start of December, so that time is behind us!

Another highlight ... our doggy Princess! Yay!

Those are the highlights and lowlights of 2009, which admittedly is not over yet.

Here's to: an uneventful end of 2009; a healthy, happy and safe 2010; many years of life for my mom; and many years of marriage!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Well, Gaynor, I didn't forget. I was just slow to respond!

Gaynor at "Our Day By Design" nominated me for this fund blog award over a month ago!

So in order to accept the award, I have to tell everyone 10 interesting facts about myself and pass the award onto 10 other lovely bloggers. {Um, I can't guarantee these will be interesting facts.}

1. I am passionate about a few causes: anti-animal cruelty, human rights, environmental stewartship, equal access to healthcare and social services. I contribute to these causes in different ways: volunteering my time, financial contributions, verbal support, working on / signing petitions, etc. I also financially support a few different diseases: mainly the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and a few others.

2. I was married on D-Day, or rather on the 65th anniversary.

3. My birthday is today. (That's not really interesting, but it's something.) I get unusually excited about my birthday. You know how little kids get really excited about their birthdays? Well, that's me ... and I have mellowed about my birthday substantially in the last five years. In university, I had a month long count down to my birthday. Although, I still refer to the week around my birthday as "birthday week".

4. My husband and I spent most of our honeymoon in France, but we also visisted England, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

5. I am unemployed. Not by choice. That's not a good fact, but it is interesting. When employed, I work in occupational health and safety.

6. I was 24 when I took my first flight. I was flying to England to do a term for 4 months, and was so nervous. When in Europe, I flew around a bit, and a year later had a job that required me to fly many times, so now I couldn't even count how many times I have flown. Maybe almost 40 times? I don't know!

7. I am severely allergic to cats. It will usually exacerbate an asthma attack that can last days, or it can initiate a histamine response so bad my eye has virtually swollen shut. I become very upset, and almost personally hurt, if a friend gets a cat, because it means I have to significantly medicate myself before and after visiting that friend, will probably have asthma for days, and will generally be miserable for anywhere from 3 hours to a few days. It's a shame because I loved cats before I developed my allergy (which started as a minor histamine response when I was about 5 or 6 or 7).

8. That being said, not all cats initiate my asthma as bad as others. My family cat Pepper did not initiate a very strong asthma reaction. She was my third birthday gift and she lived to be 22 (although she stayed with my parents when I moved out).

9. I recently submitted a petition to the Ontario government to include all approved chemotherapies in our provincial healthcare system. (Currently, only intravenous chemo is covered, but oral chemo is not. So in our public healthcare system, you have to pay for your cancer treatment if it's oral.)

10. I like many holidays, but my favourites are Hallowe'en, Christmas, and any reason for a barbecue in the summer!

So now I'm going to pass on the award to 10 other lovely blogs that I have been enjoying lately (in no particular order):
The Introverted Wife
Marie-Eve in Montreal
The Cheap Wife
Carly (aka the Less Than Domesticated Goddess)
Rachel (aka Girl Learning Along the Way)
Dawn (aka The Alternative Bride)
Marie (The Wife in the City)
The Professional Bridesmaid
Mrs. B.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


When we moved into our new house, I took some video. I showed you "day 0" before. Now here's "day 1": our first full day in the home!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Copenhagen: a chance to fight climate change

The Copenhagen Conference might be our best chance to prevent further climate change. China and the U.S. are disagreeing about the changes. As I understand it, China says the rich countries who got us in this mess should pay (e.g. the U.S.), whereas the U.S. says everyone should pay. The best answer is probably to take into account the country's economics. I mean, do we expect Ethiopia or Sierra Leone to contribute equally to China or the U.S.? Of course not. But China is hardly a poor country now. And a few other large, but poor, countries aren't exactly helping; I'm thinking of India. And while most Canadians are supporting initatives to prevent climate change (according to recent polls), our government is only willing to commit to a 3% decrease (to protect our lucrative but polluting tar sands). Saudia Arabia, I believe, is still saying climate change isn't real. So this is a fine mess.

Here's hoping they can agree to some meaningful reductions: goals that are achievable with action plans that the bigger countries / regions can at least agree to implement (particularly the EU, U.S. Canada, Australia, China and India, and perhaps a couple other countries). That would probably (in my uneducated and humble opinion) be a great start and have a large impact on the world.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Wedding in the News!

I met my friend Jenn in England. She's from Nova Scotia, specifically from a very small town just a few minutes down the road from the very small town my Grandma grew up in. In spite of living so far apart (Ontario to Nova Scotia is 1500 km / 950 miles), we have kept in touch.

Jenn recently shared this story of her grandfather:

Isn't that adorable? I loved it when Roberta refers to her new groom as her "toy boy". May we all be so filled with life and love in our 80s.