Sunday, July 30, 2006

What Would You Like to Know?

This weekend was spent with family and it was fabulous! Mom, Dad and I travelled to Windsor and enjoyed a hot, humid, wonderful weekend surrounded by family!

I had the priviledge of sharing for the first time, my adoption journey with many of my Mom's extended family. Throughout the course of the weekend so many people expressed excitement about Hannah and at the same time had many questions. When I think of all that I've learned (which I'm sure is but a drop in the bucket!) about adopting from China, I've learned a lot. People have questions and I love to share from what I know.

The other thing I've learned is how many people have considered or are considering adopting. The number that have shared this with me (4 in the past week alone) has been a huge surprise!!!

So the floor is yours my friends. You know how I love to talk so feel free to ask what you want. If I can answer it, I will. It can be about the adoption or anything else you might like to ask.

To ask a question(s) you can click on the 'comments' field below this post or send me an email. If you're not a member of blogger, no problem. Just click the word comment below, type in your question in the box that appears, (please remember to sign your name at the bottom of your question), copy down the encripted word and hit 'post.' It's that easy. (Comments are always welcome on any post so feel free to write often!)

Ok friends...the floor is open to you. What do your enquiring minds want to know?

Happy 3rd Birthday Noah!

Happy Birthday Noah!!!

My brother's adorable little guy turns 3 today! Wow! How did that happen?

Noah is just too cute for words!! He's fun, polite and it's like watching a miniature version of my brother all over again. Deja Vu in our home for sure!

Happy Birthday Noah!!! Auntie Cathy loves you tons and tons!!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

July's Secret Pal Gift!

Wow!!! My secret pal did it again! This months theme was 'Meal Time Fun' and my Secret Pal went over the top!!! (I sometimes wish she could actually see and hear my reaction as I oooo and ahhhh over each gift that she has so carefully chosen! A simple 'Thank you' here never seems like enough.) Each piece was individually wrapped so each was a surpirse!

In this month's package were Hannah's first placemats. A fun, bright Sesame Street counting mat with games on the back and another one that featured the map of the world.

Next I opened this really neat feeding bowl. It's microwave safe, divided and has a neat little hole where my thumb can go as I hold it. (From babysitting experience, the good grip will also allow me to move it quickly as tiny fingers try to find carrots to fingerpaint with! :o) There are 3 plates with lids which will be wonderful for using at home and when out. You know Miss Hannah will quickly be learning how to shop to meals on the go will be happening!

The next gift was so very thoughtful! It's a recipe book that my Secret Pal carefully made with love. The care she took brought tears to my eyes! So much thought for someone she's never even met. There are a number of baby friendly recipes such as Sweet Potato Cubes, Tiny Tot Turkey, Toddler Slushies and Rice Puree Pudding. Each recipe is written out with ingredients, how to make directions, how to serve and also what age is appropriate to introduce this food. What care! As I'll be a first-time mom I'm also thankful for the section of Do's and Don'ts about feeding baby. Eg. Do introduce new foods at the rate of one per week, so you can pinpoint any allergies. Don't feed nuts, raisins, raw vegetables, unpeeled fruits or peanut butter to children under the age of 2. I can see there is much to be learned! I'm used to a parent leaving me this neat little list of Do's and Don'ts for their child and their meals carefully chosen in advance for me to heat up at the appropriate time. Guess China won't be sending me home with a 1 month meal plan will they? Uh oh....I see a big learning curve in front of us!

The next item in the package will hopefully make it to China but I'm not making any promises! It's a can of Gerber Fruit Puffs - Banana flavour! I've heard that babies love these and they're a must (along with 2 boxes of Cheerios!) in China. I'm a fan of Gerber bananas so mommy may just have to test these out for Hannah to make sure they're edible!

The last gifts I opened were just too cute! A wonderful ladybug plate, bowl, glass, fork and spoon! What a perfect gift! When I first started the adoption process I didn't think I'd do too much of the ladybug stuff but I am finding some things and look for ladybug items all the time!

THANK YOU Secret Pal!!!! Once again I am overwhelmed by your generosity! You're the best!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Funshine Will Arrive in August...For Sure!!!

My heart actually ached yesterday when I read my dear friend Mary-Mia's blog and found out that she and her husband Rod had officially missed this month's referral cut off by only 1 day! My heart ached. My stomach sunk and I was just sad for my friends.

It's absolutely amazing how close you can feel to people you've never met in person!

- 18 months ago I'd never heard of this wonderful person, Mary-Mia.

- 12 months ago I began reading her blog as it offered a weekly dose of laughter as she shared the daily goings on of she and her husband Rod. They have this uncanny knack of looking at life with a smile and turning everyday events into moments of hilarity!

- 6 months ago she and I began to email occasionally and a friendship had been formed

- 1 day ago, I cried for a friend who was hurting and wished with all my heart I was close enough to offer a shoulder to cry on or a hug of support.

Today, Mary-Mia is beginning to feel a little better. The worst part of having a July 14/05 LID is missing the cut-off by only 1 day. The best part of having a July 14/05 LID is that without question Funshine's referral WILL BE HERE by August 31st!!!! Oh yah - that already brought a smile to my face!

Love you Mary-Mia. Still praying as we know for sure your beautiful baby's picture and information is in the Matching Room right now just waiting to be lovingly placed in your file in China, and in your hearts in the US! This time next month we won't be able to contain the excitement on the boards as Funshine is proudly announced by Mommy and Daddy and introduced to a waiting blogger world!

God's Blessings Through Friends...Both Old and New!

I’m back from vacation and had an absolutely fabulous week! (Although, I used 1 of my vacation days last week so have arrived back at the office on a Friday. What was I thinking??? Oh well, it means today is the first day of the workweek, hump day and Friday all rolled into one. Yup…it’s all good!)

My vacation was once again spent at Muskoka Baptist Conference Centre (MBC), just outside Huntsville, Ontario. I’ve often shared about my time at MBC, doing a variety of things and going a number of places. I probably have you quite confused so guess it’s time I shared more about what MBC is and why I love being there!

First and foremost, it is a place where God is! Just one look outside at the beauty of Muskoka and you realize it is a place that only God could carefully craft and design to such perfection! Muskoka is quite hilly and MBC is no exception! At the bottom of the property is beautiful Mary Lake. It’s not a huge lake (I’m guessing 8km from one end to the other and about 1 ½ km wide) but is perfect for swimming, boating and so much more!

From the lake you go up, up…..up! At lake level is the beach, the cottage my parents rent and other privately owned cottages. This past week I enjoyed a wonderful 4 days with my friend Deb at her cottage. Normally the cottage is filled with teens running in and out, entertaining us all, but this year was quite quiet as their youngest went home for the week.

Traveling up from the lake level you go up about 500’ feet to the next main level. Located on this level is the Main office, Chapel, Bookstore (where I volunteer), Fellowship Centre with a gym, Dining Hall and some motel style rooms that are available for renting.

Up only about 100’ from that are more accommodations and more private cottages. Next, going up approx. 200 more feet is the trailer park. Nested within the beautiful, big trees are over 300 trailer sites. Many are permanent sites which allow people to permanently place a trailer on them and are available from May – October of each year. (After that…too much snow!)

One thing I learned last week I found to be quite funny! I borrowed Dad’s van and headed up to Sharon’s trailer for a visit. If you remember the trip Sharon and I took to Calgary in June, we took Dad’s GPS. The GPS system was unable to find the town of Three Hills, AB with a population of about 5000 people so I laughed it found all the little roads in the MBC trailer park!

Hopefully now you have a little better idea what this MBC place is all about. The scenery and location are amazing! The ministry is even better!!

This past week the speakers were Dr. David Walls (Unionville, Ontario) and Dr. Jim Mindling (Elyria, OH.) Music and worship were led by Jason Russ (Scottsdale, AZ.) The ministry of this team was outstanding! What a blessing to be on vacation and have my spiritual batteries recharged as well as get some extra sun, rest and relaxation! A perfect combination!

During the week it was also neat to meet some great people! Sometimes it was those seated at the same table in the dining hall, while visiting at the beach or other times, God had an extra special blessing planned! Mom attended the Ladies Luncheon on Monday and ended up sitting with the worship team from Elyria, Ohio. She quickly found out that seated at the table with her was a lady who was anticipating receiving her referral of her baby from China any day! Wow!!! Mom shared some of my story with her and couldn’t wait to tell me!

At supper Tuesday night I introduced myself to Tracy and Rick. They have 2 beautiful daughters and are waiting to receive their referral any day now! (As I’m writing this it’s now Friday so it could possibly even be today!!!) Tracy and Rick were one of the families who sadly missed last month’s referral cut-off by only 1 day!!! Urgh! They understand that’s God’s timing is perfect and that they will soon see Maia Ruby’s beautiful little face but I can’t imagine being so close and yet having to wait another month. God’s timing is always perfect…but that doesn’t mean the wait won’t still be tough at times!

Anyway, when I last spoke with Tracy yesterday ‘the stork’ had left China, flown across the ocean and was in the United States but hadn’t made it to their agency yet. Fly stork…fly! :o) I’m praying for Tracy, Rick and their girls as they anticipate meeting their precious daughter/baby sister soon! Tracy will be sharing Maia Ruby’s picture with me by email next week which will be so exciting! (Oh man! If I’m this excited about a new friend’s referral, I won’t be fit to live with next summer when it’s my turn and Hannah’s referral is close!)

Time on vacation was spent reading, resting, worshipping, shopping, chatting with friends and of course, eating. Ahhhhh….vacation! I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Girls Night Out

I'm vacationing in northern Ontario (well, more north than my home) this week. Last night Deb, Michelle and I headed into the big town of Huntsville to enjoy a girls night out. Supper was at East Side Mario's and being a person who sticks with something she likes I had their infamous Linguini Chicken Tettrazini. Yummmmm! Enough calories for the entire day but oh so worth it!

Afterwards we went to the show. Now, you have to imagime a long, dark room with theatre seats that were installed some 50+ years ago. Also, I think 50 years ago was the last time they mopped the pop up off the floor! Ewww!!! It's step - stick - pull, repeat. (Such a delightful word picture, isn't it?) The theatre's sound system was also installed way back and seriously made us laugh. There are 2 little speakers at the front of the room and that's it. Most of us have better sound systems in our homes. I guess when you're going to the show in a small town with normally a small population, new movie theatres just aren't a priroity. They're busy in the summer on rainy days but in the winter can be fairly quiet.

We went to see 'The Devil Wears Prada.' It was ok but in our books not one to rush out and see in the theatre. Waiting for the DVD will be just fine. Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway were both great but the storyline - just ok. Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

I'd also like to see, 'The Boat House.' Has anyone seen that? Without giving anything away, would you recommend going to see it?

Today's another rainy day so will be a quiet one at the cottage, curled up with a good book, a pillow and blanket. Yup...a nap might be in order and that sounds wonderful!

PS - Last night I was just glad to find my friends in the dark theatre. Last year, when I left to get popcorn (because I have to have popcorn!) they pulled a fast one on me and moved seats. Sure enough I plopped myself down beside total strangers before realizing my mistake! Took me a bit to find them...their stifled laughter gave them away!) One point for the friends!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

4 Month LID Anniversary!

Phew! That was a quick month! When I think back to celebrating my 3 month LID anniversary while in Calgary it seems like just yesterday yet here we are, one month further along in the wait for precious Hannah.

I often wonder if I'm going to drive my friends crazy during this wait with my incesant talk of her but, if they knew how many times I stopped myself from mentioning her...for the 100th time that day!...then they'd be happy! Honestly, if I go more than 5 minutes while at work without thinking about her it's rare! Guess it's that much of my time is spent at my desk. It's quiet and I sit, plugging away at my computer and trying to figure out what needs to be done next. Quiet = thoughts of Hannah.

On June 1st I began to work in a new area alongwith keeping up some of my former work assignments. I am thoroughly enjoying the new job and the many challenges it entails. From 2003 - 2005 I took a number of Business Analyst courses in Toronto. Now, I'm happy to have the opportunity to put much of my book knowledge into practice. That being said, much of what I learned is now obsolete but I guess that's the way things go when you're in the IT field. The way something is done and how it is accomplished is constantly changing, but I like that. I like feeling challenged at work yet at the same time, not so challenged that I can't leave work at work. Most times I'm able to do that and so I'm thankful!

So, it's 4 months down and ??? left. Still handling the wait fairly well...most times. You'll often find me walking through the baby sections of local stores, touching clothes and dreaming of my daughter. Window shopping is ok and much easier on the wallet.

I'm taking advantage of this time and putting aside extra mortgage payments to help out during mat leave. So far it's 3 months of payments in the bank and working on #4. I'm pleased with this. Also plugging away at the portion of the line of credit I've used so far. So the wait is good. Hard because I would love to hold my daughter in my arms now, but good because I'm able to be wise with my finances and begin to pay back some of which has been borrowed.

So, let's celebrate! I'm 4 months closer to my baby girl and that's reason to celebrate! Chocolate for everyone!!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Waiting for Funshine!

A wonderful online friend Mary-Mia and her husband Rod (of 'Do They Have Salsa in China? fame) are currently waiting for the referral of their first child who we currently refer to as 'Funshine.' Mary-Mia and Rod have requested either a boy or girl from China so 'Funshine' is his/her current nickname.

Mary-Mia's LID is July 14, 2005. Wow...she's been waiting a loooong time! I would love nothing more than to shout from the rooftops soon that Funshine's referral has arrived!!! The rumour sites seem to be indicating a cut-off date for this batch of referrals of July 13, 2005. Can you believe it? Mary-Mia and Rod may miss out on this group by just 1 day! Urgh!!! They know this and are doing ok handling it (ok...maybe not too 'ok' at times as I'm sure I won't either! I believe chocolate is the current drug of choice!) But right now they'd just like to know one way or the other. Are they in or out for July referrals? They know that the perfect child is the one that they'll be matched to but the wait is the hard part!

Praying for you Mary-Mia and Rod! Can't wait until you can introduce us to Funshine for the very first time!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Beautiful Muskoka!

I love Canada! What a vast, beautiful country we live in! The east coast offers the ocean, red roads in PEI, a breathtaking coast line and much more! Ontario and Quebec are dotted with thousands of lakes and amazing Niagara Falls. Heading west we visit Manitoba. Unfortunately this is a province I don’t know much about other than it gets cold there in the winter! Saskatchewan offers a unique experience of very flat, open fields and you can see forever! Alberta and British Columbia are the home of the Canadian Rockies and are absolutely beautiful as I had the opportunity to share with you last month.

All of this is to say, I love my homeland and the wonderful variety of countryside it offers! Do you know that it would take me 2 ½ days to drive to the next province west of me? Now that’s a large province!

This past weekend and again today, I’ve had the opportunity of traveling just 2 hours north of me to beautiful Muskoka. It’s a wonderful, quiet drive, mainly on 2 lane highways. (Uh oh! I enjoy driving on these which means I must be getting old!)

Mom and Dad are renting a quaint little cottage at Muskoka Baptist Conference Centre near Huntsville which is set on the shores of Mary Lake. The cottage is set just feet from the waterfront, with beautiful picture windows that offers the view of some amazing sunsets! (2 pictures above were taken from the front deck of the cottage!)

The one small drawback to the cottage is that it's set at the base of a hill which means 50+ steps each time you go to or from the cottage. (This picture is half of the steps up to the car!) I don't mind it at all when I'm going to chapel, the beach or basically anywhere. When it's tough is the days we move in and out of the cottage! After about 30 steps my suitcase (which lets be honest is far larger than it need be!) seems to weigh double what it did at the bottome of the hill! You'd think I'd learn to pack less stuff but alas, not yet. Can't even begin to imagine how much stuff I'll have to carry when little Miss Hannah is with me!

I visited with mom and dad last weekend and will be heading there again today. My 7yo niece is up this weekend which should be fun. Guess I’d better get my Barbie game face on! My brother will also be there with his little guy tomorrow. Noah turns 3 next weekend so we’ll be celebrating his birthday this weekend. It’s hard to believe this cute little guy is 3 already! I haven’t seen him since early May so I’m well overdue for some Noah snuggles.

(On a side note, I went to my other brother’s place last night and his little guy is 1 ½ and not too fond of Auntie Cathy right now! I walked into the house, he took one look at me and said, ‘Bye bye Auntie Cathy. Home now’ :o) Guess he figures when I show up his parents are going out and he was having too much fun with Daddy to risk him leaving. Let’s just say he was glad when I went back out the front door a couple of hours later and cuddles and kisses will just have to wait for another day!)

A few years ago Dad decided to buy a boat and it’s been a ton of fun! Unfortunately it went on the fritz last weekend and is currently at the boat hospital in Huntsville. I’m hoping for a quick (and inexpensive) recovery for it so that hopefully we can go out on the lake this weekend. As of yesterday they were still waiting for a part to come in so I’m not sure if we’ll be on the lake or beside the lake this weekend.

Sunday night I’ll be moving to my friend Deb’s cottage which is also at MBC. She and I have been enjoying a week together for the past 10 years and next week is the one! Yeah! We have a ton of fun and enjoy spending time together. Not sure what our plans are other than we’d like to find a day to go to an outlet mall located about an hour away and also go see, ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ Looks like a good movie. Has anyone seen it?

Deb is the ultimate person when it comes to self discipline in eating so this will be helpful too. I want to keep on the downward track that started a couple of months ago. There’s a Curves in Huntsville that I’ll be visiting and may also go to Deb’s gym with her a time or two. I may not lose any more while on vacation but even if I can hold my own I’ll be happy. (Sorry Mary-Mia, even though I’m watching I will be indulging in popcorn at the movie. I know you don’t like movie popcorn. May I have yours?)

With being away, it means I’ll also be missing my daily fill of blogs and email. *Gulp!* The new referrals are due out within the next week (hopefully!!!) so I’ll be trying to steal some time at a computer at the Huntsville library or borrowing a laptop at MBC to get my fix! A week away from the computer would be awful! Do you think I have a problem? Yes! I know I do but it’s all good when it comes to preparing for Hannah and celebrating referrals with friends!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Preparing for China?

This weekend is predicted to be hot and sticky! Reaching temps in the 30oC's (high 90oF's) for the next 4 days and over 40 (110+) when you add in the humidex, I figure it's great preparation for China! That being said, AC is more prevelant here so as I sit here typing this, the only reminder of the heat outside is the radio playing beside me mentioning the heat and my memories of walking outside at lunch. It was hot, but not unbearable. Some days it's hard to breathe with the heat and humidity but I don't think we've had any of those scorcher days yet this summer.

This weekend I also can't complain because as soon as 5:00 hits today I'm heading north to visit my parents at a cottage then rent for a few weeks each summer. It's located on Mary Lake at Muskoka Baptist Conferene Centre (MBC)where you may remember me talking about the ladies conferences that were held in June. The cottage they rent is a beautiful little place, just feet from the lake. I'll share pictures next week.

I'll be with Mom and Dad until Sunday afternoon then going to another location on the grounds and staying with my friend Sharon at her trailer until early Tuesday morning. We try to make the most of our time at MBC so it's worth the 6AM drive on Tuesday to make it to work on time! The speaker this coming week is Rev. David Epstein who is a pastor in New York City. His church is just blocks from where the World Trade Centers were and he shares of the ministry opportunities he and his church had during the days of 9-11. He's also the brother of Kathy Lee Gifford but so far she hasn't shown up at MBC with him. Oh well, it's fun to hear stories of his family and be able to put faces to names.

I'm looking forward to a wonderful weekend of rest, relaxation, reading, family and filling from the Word of God!

Changing Internet Companies...'It Will Be Easy'

Don't believe them!!! :o)

Over the past couple of weeks I've helped friends change Internet suppliers. They jumped from dial-up to high speed wireless and networking 2 (soon to be 3) computers together. When we first started the process I was ensured that it would be an easy switch and should only take a couple of hours. Ha! (Being told it would be 'easy' should have caused alarm bells to go off!) In reality it did, but they were gentle little sleigh bells when I should have been listening for something akin to a gong!

In the end, all is great! They're now flying around the Internet far faster than before and each has a computer at their disposal 24/7. (Well, except when I'm there and using it to blog!) It was a huge learning curve for myself but I'm thankful for all the great things I had an opportunity to learn. I'm also very, very thankful for a brother who is a LAN Administrator and was amzingly helpful! Thanks Ken!

If you decide somewhere along the road to switch Internet suppliers or to upgrade to wireless, go for it! But, just be prepared for some bumps along the road.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One Little Fun Fact...

I want to share just one more interesting fact I learned about the beautiful city of Calgary, Alberta. Besides the Saddledome, the city is also known for the Calgary Tower. This pretty tower was a short walk from our hotel and although I was near it and in it a few times, decided not to travel up to the observation deck this trip. We were staying on the 23rd floor of a hotel close by so I figured the view wouldn't be too much different. Besides, I was too cheap to pay the $13.00! Oh yes, some days I am my father's daughter! :o)

What I thought was neat was that the Olympic torches that were carried in 1988 were created exactly the same shape as the tower. I thought this was a neat little bit of info to learn. Kinda cool, eh?! (Had to do that for my American friends!)

In Honour of the Calgary Stampede...

...I thought I'd post a couple of pics from my recent trip. Calgary has a unique and beautiful skyline and as it's in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it offers some great locations to take pictures of the city skyline. On this particular morning I'd watched the news and saw the beautiful skyline displayed on the TV. From my previous drives around the city I figured we were close to this hilltop location so I hopped in the car and just started driving.

The first major landmark I found was the Saddledome. Home of the Calgary Flames and also where Elizabeth Manley won her silver medal in Women's Figure Skating during the 1988 Winter Olympics. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why they call it the Saddledome! Seeing it in person, I was surprised at how deep the dip in it actually was!

Nestled beside the Saddledome is Stampede Park which is hosting the infamous Calgary Stampede from now until July 16th. We left the city 2 weeks prior to the stampede but preparations were already in full swing and excitement was in the air!

Ride 'em Cowboy!!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Open Arms Picnic

What a wonderful experience!!! Yesterday afternoon I had my first experience at a picnic hosted by my agency, 'Open Arms to International Adoption.' It's was a wonderful experience and something I won't soon forget! We gathered in Burlington at Bronte Provincial Park. The weather was predicted to be hot and humid but it was absolutely perfect! Slightly overcast with a beautiful breeze blowing the entire afternoon. There were a couple of hundred people at the picnic and for someone like me who is waiting, it was a surreal experience! To think that once all these people were in my shoes and are now home with their daughters (and a few with sons!) was amazing. I'm guessing the oldest girls there were around 8 and the most recent travel group had just arrived home 7 short weeks ago with their babies! Amazing!

As each family approached the picnic area we were greeted by the laughter and squeals of children running and playing. There was a string of brightly coloured balloons strung across the area and the breeze caused them to float cheerfully in the summer sky.

As I was on my own, I'd called Deborah earlier in the week to see if she might be able to use an extra pair of hands. I was assigned to the craft table which the kids really enjoyed. There were lots and lots of rocks available with brightly coloured paints to decorate them with. It was fun to watch the kids be creative and decorate their rocks. Some took great care with each and every stroke of the brush while others went with the 'more paint the better' technique and quickly layered on the paint! Not knowing what I'd be doing at the picnic I'd chosen bright floral capris pants. I avoided the dripping brushes but could easily have camouflaged an accident should I have been slimed by a passing brush!

A short time into the picnic a wonderful new friend Jill came up and introduced herself as another waiting parent. She and her husband, along with their daughter are also with OA and currently working on their homestudy. As many past travel groups sat were sitting together I quickly asked Jill if I could join she and her husband Jay and that was it, a wonderful new friendship was formed! We chatted, laughed and shared our stories for much of the afternoon. It's wonderful how having something like the adoption in common causes an instant bond! It was great meeting you Jill! I look forward to seeing you at another OA function in the future! It was also great to chat with another online friend, Laurie, and to see her beautiful daughter Jia Li again. The only other time Laurie and I had met in person was in February of 2005 when I attended an Open Arms information session and Laurie and her husband Austin were guest speakers, having just returned from China 7 short weeks earlier with Jia Li. Now they're preparing for another little one to join their family and are excited to know that their dossier will be heading to China this month! Congrats Laurie and Austin!

Another fun thing happened at the picnic. I had about 3 people recognize me from my picture on the blog! One lady walked up and quietly asked, 'Are you Catherine's Chatter - Waiting for Hannah?' :o) What fun and I'm so very glad they introduced themselves! It was wonderful meeting you Diana! I'm so glad we talked and I look forward to emailing you. All the best in your move to Edmonton and with your new job. Also, your upcoming adoption! I look forward to celebrating your referral with you!

After lunch and games, the kids were entertained by Robert as he sang and played his guitar for the children. It looked like they were having a blast as they sang, did actions, jumped around and had a great time with him! Robert and his wife Bonnie are in my travel group so we will have many opportunities to get to know one another better. Based on what I saw yesterday, Robert and Bonnie are going to have a blast with their little girl and music will play an important part of her life! Great job Robert!

Here's a little video I took of some of the children enjoying Robert's music. As you may notice in the pictures and video, I tried to take only the backs of the children as I didn't know their parents so couldn't ask about posting on the blog. Their little faces were oh so cute but I purposely tried to keep them anonymous. Take a look at the little one in the pink checkered dress...too cute! Ohhhh...just think! My little Hannah will be at one of these picnics in the future and I'll be one of the proud parents that have been blessed by God! Can you imagine the number of pictures I'll take then?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Surprise...More Lake Louise Pics!

These are the last ones of Lake Louise....I think!

When we arrived late Saturday afternoon, around suppertime, we were feeling adventurous. There was a beautiful walking path that circled the lake. Did we take that? No! Instead we chose a climb and I mean CLIMB to Fairview Lookout. (At least that's what I think it's called.)

This first picture of Sharon was taken as we began the climb. Notice the smile. Notice the relaxed pose. What you can't see and hear is the normal breathing and regular heartbeat. This was our first picture stop....

This second picture was taken a short 15 mins. later but much had changed in that amount of time! Breathing was no longer happening on it's own and required great effort on both our behalves! Our hearts were pounding so fast and so hard I'm sure people within 10' of us could hear them! The second picture stop...otherwise known as I.can't.move.another.step...

This picture appears to be of me gently relaxing against a rock. Don't let it fool you! This rock was holding me up as my heart raced and I gasped for each and every breath that entered my body! The third picture stop...otherwise know as 'Who's idea was this anyway?????' was all worth it!!! Look at that view! And...look how high and far we climbed in 20 mins! Yes, it only took us 20 mins. (including picture/gasping for air breaks) to get from the hotel to the lookout!

Now, you may wonder why it only took us 20 mins. Well, it's like this. As we began our climb up the mountain, other climbers with big smiles on their faces (because they were going down) passed us. It was then that we noticed something. They were carrying things. What were they carrying you ask? BEAR BELLS!!! was suppertime.... We were in the woods.... in bear country... and the only sounds you could hear from us and around us were our gasps for breath, pounding hearts and occasionally cries whines of, 'Are we there yet?' (Yup....that was me in case you couldn't figure it out!)

At the time I didn't realize why Sharon wanted to keep moving with very few stops. We may go to Curves every morning but even Curves doesn't prepare you for a 20 min. climb at a fast pace at 6000feet above sea level! Also, a note that we were both wearing sandals. Can you tell mountain climbing was not on our agenda when we left the hotel in the morning?

Alas, the entire climb was worth it to see such beauty around us! The view...breathtaking...not that we had much breath left to take! We often commented on wanting to seal such pictures as these in our minds to remember when we returned home to Ontario. My memory may not work too well in remembering the details but my camera sure does a good at capturing them!

After enjoying the view for a while it was time to head back down the mountain. It was easier on the heart and lungs as this time the knees did the work.

It was still early evening. We were still in bear country. Still had no bells so we did the next best thing. Our trip down the mountain we were joined with a family with 3 very noisy, fun kids who loved to run, jump, laugh and scream. bears would be coming near us! We were too noisy! Thanks kids!!!

Panoramic Video of Lake Louise

Took this the first time we were there so that you can see a little more of the beauty. Ahhhh! Mary-Mia...this is for you!

Also adding a pic of me dipping my toes in the water. It was cold, but not that cold! :o)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Second Trip to Lake Louise

The day before we left Alberta, Sharon was finished before 1:00 and true to our word, we were on the road by 1 heading back to the beautiful Rocky Mountains! We needed one last fix before heading home.

Believe it or not, the sky was sunny and clear and we didn't have a single drop of rain! Yeah!!!

Our first stop was back in Banff to do a little more shopping and also an ice cream treat! Guess can get PEI's famous Cows Ice Cream in Banff! Yummm! We sat in the sun on a bench, enjoying our last day of the mountains while slowly devouring a chocolate nut waffle cone filled with yummy ice cream. I can't remember what flavour Sharon had but mine was chocolate with peanut butter cups and skore bars in it. mouth is watering just writing about it! (I guess after the last couple of posts the secret is out. I am a huge fan of ice cream!!!)

We'd finished our shopping by about 4:00 and decided it would be worth the drive to Lake Louise for one more visit. Once again we took the Beau Valley Parkway but because it was earlier in the day we didn't see any elk grazing at the side of the road. But, here's a little clip from the week before's visit. Do you think we were the recommended 3 bus lengths away? Oops!

Here are a few more of my favourite pics from the day.

Because it was earlier in the day during our 2nd visit, the sun was still shining on the water. What a beautiful colour!

I love the tranquil look of this picture with the canoe drifting in it. Canoeing would have been fun but you sure don't want to tip into this chilly, glacier fed lake!

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth
of July to my
US friends!

Hope you have a wonderful, safe holiday!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Rain - Day 8 (My First Attempt at a Video Link!)

Since returning from our time in Calgary, Sharon and I have taken a lot of ribbing about our trip and the amount of rain that fell. You can tell from this video how hard the rain fell and why it often caused localized flodding. Kinda remineded me of being in the Philippines and India during their rainy seasons.

A 'friend' (and I use the term loosly David :o) asked me yesterday when my next vacation was planned to ensure that he was at work and that his family wasn't on vacation at the same time I was. They'll wait to go on vacation when I'm at work so that they'll have sunnier weather. Humph!

Just to show you that the rain was very localized (i.e. only above our car it seems!) here's a little video we took. Notice you can't see any darkness in front of us, only blue sky! That's what it was like most of the 11 days that it rained. Above us but not around us! I thought maybe it was a mountain thing but was told, 'No, we've never experienced this before!' Yup....that doesn't surprise me! Never a dull moment when I'm around!

(The link is working now. Please click the arrow twice.)

Hanging Out With the Examiners

Oh man do I remember the feeling well! Tossing and turning the night before. Sick stomach. Sweaty palms. Trembling hands....PIANO EXAMS!!!

With fear in my heart and willing my feet to move each step, I'd tentatively walk into the exam room. The whole time the thought, 'Why didn't I practice more? Why didn't I practice more?' would scurry through my head and taunt me as I approached the bench.

Trying to make up for my less than adequate amount of practice I'd try to make eye contact with the examiner and with a big smile say, 'Hi.' while trying desperately to project more confidence than I had. And, it never hurts to make a good first impression. All the while, not fooling her/him in the least!

It was now or never baby. Bring it on! Anything but B-.....sending up a quick arrow prayer, 'Please not B-. Anything but B-'

And then she would begin. The ‘Examinator' (as one young exam student once called Sharon) would request, 'B- formula pattern please.' Ugh!!! And we were off!


Now, if you haven't gone through the experience of a piano exam, I'm sure you can relate these feelings to some other experience in your life. A school exam, job interview or something of the like.

One of my greatest faults in life is that I am a procrastinator! If I can put it off, I will. If I can't put if off, I still do! Practicing for lessons and in turn preparing for exams was no exception to the rule. There were a couple of years when I had a little more dedication and put the time into it but believe me, those times were few and far between!

These days as the tables have turned and I am now the piano teacher, I sometimes wonder if lightning will strike as I challenge my students to practice more! Having seen the added challenges procrastination and lack of practice can cause, I hope to encourage my students to prepare early and learn better practice habits from the beginning. I'm hoping to have a 2nd chance at this and teach Hannah from a young age how to better plan out her time. I'm hoping to teach her from the mistakes I've made which I guess is a common parenting tool.

Without further adieu, I give you the examiners I had the privilege of driving to the examination centre each day and getting to know while we were in Calgary. See, they're not so scary! In fact, we had a lot of fun together and some great new friendships were formed! Marilyn, Joan and Brian - Hope to see you again sometime!

PS - Between you and me, I'd rather chauffer these examiners than play for them any day! Even though we became friends, I'm sure you'd still find me trembling at the piano! :o)

Getting Reaquainted with an Old Friend

Another wonderful part of my trip to Calgary was getting together with an old friend! Bruce and I had spent a year together when we were with Venture Teams International back in 1986/1987. Together we, along with 7 others spent a year traveling across Canada, parts of the northern US and also 3 1/2 months in India. Our group would present the gospel in schools, churches, camps and outdoor, open-air meetings using such things as music, drama and puppets. Some of my most memorable adventures with VTI are:
- Listening to the children sing with gusto and beautiful, big smiles at a children's home in India. All of these children's parents had leprosy so they only saw them 1 day a year!
- Visiting Calcutta for the very first time. Being approached for money over and over again. I never dreamed that 20 years later the very same thing would be happening to me daily as I walk outside my office building in Canada.
- Seeing the Taj Mahal in person. Unbelievable!
- Getting more homesick then I ever knew possible. Then, learning to trust God more fully, see the people of India as His people and learn to love them. This was a tough lesson for 20yo who was away from home for the very first time! There were many times I wasn't sure if I was going to survive the 3 months in India and was very close to asking to be sent home. But, God was faithful and I learned to trust Him more. What I didn't know at the time was that He was preparing me for His next plan. Just 12 months after leaving VTI I was on a plane headed to the Philippines to help out missionary friends when their 2nd son was born. God was preparing me in India for the plans He had in the Philippines! Isn't that just like God?!

Bruce and I had a great time getting caught up on what is happening in one another's lives. He is praying about certain things and I was able to share with him about the upcoming adoption of Hannah!

When I picked him up for lunch he asked where I wanted to go. All I said was, 'Somewhere with interesting food.' We ended up at a Vietnamese restaurant not far from the VTI offices. Lunch was great as we had shrimp spring rolls + BBQ beef with noodles. The only utensils available were chopsticks. Let's just say I have a lot of work to do in the next year if I hope to eat anything in China or, be able to feed Miss Hannah! Many of the babies have only been fed from chopsticks so won't eat from a spoon at first. I've done a little practicing in the past couple of weeks but need much more! Oh well, at this rate it should help with the weight loss I'm attempting...but also means a lot more laundry until my chopstick skills improve!

Peter's Drive-In: Calgary's Answer to Weber's

A trip to Calgary is just not complete without a trip or 2 or....even 3 to Peter's Drive-In! When I found out last December that Sharon and I would be in Calgary in June, I remembered a short time later that Calgary is the home of Peter's and I would have to go there at least once during our stay. If I remember correctly, our very first night at training camp for Venture Teams, we loaded up the vans and headed to Peter's. Mmmmm...mmmmm!

If you like a homemade, thick, delicious, old-fashioned milkshakes, then Peter's is the place for you if you're ever in Calgary! The first of my 2 trips (and believe me, it took restraint to only go twice!) was on a sunny Thursday afternoon at 2:45. Both dive-thru windows were lined up and the end of the line snaked down the street.

I considered going to one of the walk-up windows but for the sake of a trip down memory lane, waited in the drive-thru lane as I remember doing in 1986. The difference was this time I was requesting 1 shake rather than an order of 9 for our van load, which we did back in our VTI days!

The next big decision after which line to get in, was of equal importance. What flavour of shake to choose? With over 30 flavours to choose from and the ability to mix up to 3 of them together, the possibilities are endless! (My friend Bruce who lives in Calgary says when he and the gang go, they try to make the weirdest combos. Last time he chose something like cranberry, marshmallow and root beer. Ewww!) Thinking this might be my only visit this trip (silly me...who was I kidding?!!) I safely chose Chocolate Banana. Yummmmm. There were even bits of real banana in it!

I enjoyed every last drop of that shake and yes, made that embarrassing noise with my straw in the bottom of the cup attempting to drink every last drop!

The second (and final visit this trip...I promise!), was ummmm...the very next day for lunch! This time, trying to get a new perspective on the Peter's experience, I parked the car (in one of their 3 parking lots and headed to a walk-up window. Having time to prepare my meal and flavour choices, plus being the numbers gal I am, I started counting. The entire front of the building is made of glass and I counted no less than 24 people working inside this fairly small building! Also, with the drive-thru lanes once again snaking their way around the block I counted people in the walk-up window lines. There a 4 windows and at any given time the line-up at each window was 15+ people!

Eventually I made my way to the front and placed my order. Having been prepared by my friend Bruce that I wouldn't be able to eat all I ordered I still wanted the full experience so ordered a single hamburger, onion rings and a Cherry shake!

I quickly made my way to one of their many picnic tables and set about enjoying my lunch. Once again, I was not disappointed! The food was great and the milkshake...memorable! Bruce was quite right and I ended up tossing some of my burger and rings but you know that not a drop of that shake went to waste....even though I'm guessing it did go to waist...and hips...and thighs! (Oh well, sometimes a gals just gotta do what a gals just gotta do!)

If you like ice cream and want a treat...Go to Peter's! It's worth the drive to Calgary!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Canada!




Today we celebrate Canada's 139th Birthday! As I've travelled close to home and across our beautiful country this past couple of months, I've been reminded again and again of what a beautiful, vast and majestic country we live in! Thank you God for our beautiful country of Canada!!!
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