Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Thursday, 31 December 2009


Thanks 2009! You have not been everything we anticipated, but you turned out ok. New dogs & babies in the family network, camping experiences, graduation, travel, renovation progress, new job, adoption agency restructuring...certainly never a dull moment.

Yesterday, we had our immediate family Christmas celebration at my sister's, complete with a visit from Santa:

Here are Geoff & I with the little ones, who humoured us with a quick aunt, uncle, & cousins photo:

And here we are with a gift from my sister, reminding us of summer camping adventures to come in the new year (and my long-term dream of being the proud owner of an actual Airstream):

So, tonight we will celebrate the remainder of 2009 with friends, and welcome 2010. I never set formal resolutions, but I am thinking in the direction of moving much further toward non-toxic eating, cleaning, and self-care, crafting, music-playing, home organization & simplifying, etc. Ok, more exercise is likely a good goal, too, perhaps along with starting a "saving for an Airstream" jar (used is just fine)...

Anyway folks, have a happy December 31, 2009! See you in 2010...

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Christmas Scenes

Christmas morning! (The Father Christmas tree in the dining room)...and at least it was festive inside, because the rain poured all day:

Side entrance...

Time to ramp up my sewing skills to make me worthy of this new gadget (which I am having Geoff learn, so that I don't have to teach myself how to use it - my old Kenmore is absolutely primitive in comparison):

Mmm, remnants of Christmas breakfast (Eggs Benedict):

New toys!

All to themselves...(recall my recent post about my hounds' limited capacity to share):

Mom & Dad's hound, Jim, having a rare mellow moment:

And...at last! We have snow...arrived starting the evening of the 28th...this is what we woke up to this morning. Now it is Christmas:

Today, not much on the agenda. Tomorrow is our immediate family Christmas with my siblings, so the season is still alive and well. We actually have a couple of quiet days to loaf about, organize & order photos, read, craft, play Rock Band 2 (given by me, to my husband...fun times), and maybe take the dogs for a hike or two if we can get through the snow!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas, Irony, Etc.

Soon, I will be getting ready for our Christmas Eve service, waiting for the candle-lit to work its magic and inspire a peaceful, but festive, mood.

Christmas Eve, and Christmas Eve Eve, have really outdone themselves this year! Last night we were up late preparing and waiting for my parents' arrival. Preparations are never complete without a good vacuuming (especially with a house full of pets), and the vacuum chose yesterday (the 23rd) to stop working. As we were attempting to drift off to sleep sometime just after midnight (Geoff in particular hoping for some solid sleep, as he worked this morning), my mom called, and we were back in action. Seems they hit a deer (sadly ironic just as we were starting to anticipate the sound of happy hoofs on the rooftop tonight), in the country not far from us. Thankfully people and travelling pets were fine, but the van does not seem so fine. After picking them up & unloading their van into ours at the mechanic's, we eventually headed to bed sometime after 3:00am.

Today, the 24th, involved the usual last-minute shopping with my mom (hers, of course), a trip for Geoff to Sears to see about vacuum repair (and now a pricey part he hopes to avoid opening if he can fix ours at all), grocery shopping...and our new tradition.

(Side note: I have been thinking the past few days about how we need some Christmas Eve traditions, so it serves me right that one has come to us).

For the second year in a row, Geoff is back at work, having been called in on his way home due to a mechanical failure in his building. He missed the Christmas Eve service entirely last year due to a pager call (not a terribly common thing), and we are hoping to hear from him before we head to church this year. Not the kind of tradition I had in mind. And of course, that also means the vacuum is not yet fixed and the final odd jobs (including removal of a book-case which is in the kitchen waiting to be stored in the garage) are not yet done. Looks like our other Christmas Eve tradition will involve late evenings doing the things we didn't get done during the day while Geoff was back at work.

Ah well. Such are the holidays, it seems. And as daylight is slipping away, my lights are casting a warm glow about the kitchen (although the bookshelf really looks no better in the middle of the floor, even with pretty lights around). It is Christmas, folks! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Double Drum Roll...

I actually have adoption-related news today!

This has been a hugely exciting week for Imagine. They just received confirmation of their Ontario license renewal, and today received confirmation that their Ethiopian NGO approval has gone through.


(This is a big deal, folks)

...referrals were actually given out today! And yes, that is plural. So far, I know of two. And, it is also very cool that we have met one of the couples who received their referral, as they attended the same adoption BBQ with us this summer...oh, and we also met them at our area meeting of affected families right after the bankruptcy announcement. Just so you know how very exciting this is for folks, the restructuring proposal projected referrals starting in March 2010, so we are three months ahead of schedule. The proposal also forecasted approximately 5 referrals per month for the first 6 months, so I will be very curious to see how thoroughly they can surpass that estimate!

There is more.

Obviously, I am very pleased about this in a general sense, but even more so today because we took the plunge - I actually came home to all this news after heading out to put our retainer agreement and first installment of renewal fees in the mail. I paid double to make sure it gets there tomorrow morning instead of by 5:00pm tomorrow. Even though we have until Friday...I hate taking risks with the post office. And an extra $10 is pretty inconsequential at this point.

I think that is enough for one day, so we are at the end of my post, and at the beginning of something new.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Little Taste of Christmas

Ah, the tree. Here is our one "real" tree, trimmed with a combination of new, vintage style ornaments, actual vintage from grandparents' collections, plus childhood pieces, etc. May still do a little retro garland, and definitely need a topper...but at least it's up. This one is our kitchen/foyer/lounge tree, and the other ones up at the moment include the living room (polar bear), dining room (Father Christmas), kitchen nook (kitchen utensils), entrance/landing (primitive), master bedroom (mixed green/white/amber tones), nursery (African animals), and spare room/office/family room (dogs & cats). Don't have the sugar plum, music, miscellaneous trees up yet, but hoping for this week if more construction materials get cleared out. Love having tree lights twinkling in each room!

And...I have actually cooked up some Christmas fudge - a quick, easy cheater recipe using marshmallows. And I've done a couple of batches - one for a cookie exchange, and one as a gift. Unheard of (which is why I had to capture photos of the experience)!

Here are the hounds, hanging out in our bedroom as we wrapped gifts up there over the past week. Everything is packaged and sorted according to where/when it will be opened. I always feel much calmer and more prepared once the gifts are done and under the trees.

This weekend I finally got around to working on props for our Christmas pageant...not sure what we got ourselves into...but it has been fun working with the Jr. High students on their play - they had the general idea, I wrote the script...and painted some props. Somehow ended up with a speaking part, too.

And here we are, all spruced up for my work party. Thought we should get a photo while we were looking festive.

Anyway, there's a little photo journey of our Christmas season to date. We're off in about an hour for our church Christmas concert, featuring our choir and some guest instruments doing things like Vivaldi's Gloria, and some carol singing - should be fun! Hopefully my made-for-TV Christmas movie will end in time to get ready...although we have been watching plenty of these, and the recipe seems suspiciously similar for each one..ah well, 'tis the season.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Old Houses, Dog Coats, & Christmas Cheer

Just taking a little break to change position, snack on some chips & dill cream cheese, and plan what to do next, now that I've finished gift-wrapping.

It is winter here today - there has been wind, and some snow (more on the way, I think), which have already wreaked some havoc. Yesterday a couple of outdoor Christmas decorations blew over, so I may need to re-think their placement and/or anchorage. A window fell out today (hooray for old houses...really...much more interesting stories to tell). And I happened to glance out a kitchen window while the dogs were outside earlier, discovering to my horror that the verandah gate was sitting open (must have been wind, even with a barricade and spring-loaded mechanism to keep it shut). I ran out, feeling that surely the dogs were gone, and was so relieved to find them coming toward me from within the yard. I hope this does not mark the beginning of a new string of pet-escape-related nightmares. At one point I was dreaming about dogs escaping onto our busy road so frequently that I thought we might have to move. Far too many gates around here.

A week or so ago we were both feeling completely overwhelmed with pretty much everything. The house in constant reno & decoration-related disarray, Christmas pageant preparation, anticipation of busy times with holiday company and commitments...Anyway, this week has been a bit better, as we have tackled a pile or two of "stuff", put up the real tree (after shopping around and around for just the right one), wrapped the gifts, and put stamps on the cards at last (they have been sitting around for a while, after I "lost" the stamps I bought. Finding a couple of dented ones on their own under a chair last week made us suspicious that they were not lost, rather EATEN by Gladwyn - which would have happened the same week she ate a rope toy and caused a tense Friday afternoon of $$ x-rays and waiting at the vet while hoping we would make it to the Cranberries concert).

Oh, and we also found dog coats for the girls! This is newsworthy from my perspective (and perhaps for those of you with hard-to-fit dogs like mine). Gladwyn is tall, but very skinny. She would stand pretty much even with a lab-type dog, but is built much differently - closer to a sighthound like a greyhound. She usually needs L/XL for length, but then drowns around the neck and chest in any other coat I've found (and often I can't find them big enough to start with - most dog coats seem to be made for the 30lbs and under crowd). My other issue has been that most coats out there are "fashion" coats - cute but totally impractical - either too flimsy for warmth and wind protection, or styled with legs which prevent the dog from actually walking. For Hesper, even reasonably-cut coats seem to fall too far down her leg at the front, also preventing her from walking on those stumpy basset limbs, and the length/chest ratio is an issue for her like it is for Gladwyn.

Anyway, we decided to bring the hounds along when we went tree-shopping, figuring we wouldn't be out of the van long at each stop, and they could be cozy waiting for us with blankets and things around. And we also needed Gladwyn with us to try on coats at a store where they can't be returned. I had seen coats by RC Pets (www.rcpets.com) a while ago, and they are sized in 2-inch increments, for tiny to great big dogs. Turns out they fit BOTH Hesper and Gladwyn very nicely. Long velcro strips make for lots of chest adjustability, and they are cut high enough around the shoulder and under the neck so as to allow free shoulder and upper leg movement when walking. They are water-resistant, and have a fleece lining. Now, Gladwyn could still use something cozier for really cold weather, since she shivers noticeably, but it's a start (and I can easily make a fleece under- or over-coat with some extra coverage to use along with this one, now that I know what shape works for her). Yes, I could have custom-created something from scratch, but wasn't getting around to it, so these are a great find (and getting my hands on polar fleece I like, for a good price, seems harder than I thought). Anyway...it's amazing how much I can blab on about dog coats - some of you are likely snoring already - but blogging lets me humour myself a little!

So, that's the news from these parts. Lots of Christmas festivities coming this weekend. Speaking of which, I should be getting back to that do-to list now that the cream cheese and chips have been taken care of!

Friday, 4 December 2009


Adoption confusion, drawn-out mortgage renewals, pre-Christmas renovations, pageants, and life in general have taken their toll in a tangible way at last. Last night we forgot to attend a restaurant dinner with other adopting families. It had not crossed my mind since I sent our RSVP weeks ago, but I woke up this morning with a vague recollection that this was coming sometime soon, so obviously some corner of my mind retained the information...unfortunately it is either a dusty, unused, or overcrowded corner. Having attempted to host just a few little gatherings over the years, I am always quite bothered when folks who have stated they are coming, simply don't show up. Really bothered. And now I am that person. Will stop kicking myself eventually, but a blog confession seems necessary in order to achieve some kind of closure. Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but hopefully I can write about it and move on!