Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fun (again) with Nic and Tim...

Yesterday Nic and Tim made a trek northbound to visit Josh and I for the day. We met up at our apartment and I gave them the 'grand tour' of our place and they met Deuce (who was acting a bit more shy than usual). Though in all honesty, he's not too social a kitty with people he doesn't know.

We went across the street to a bagel restaurant and I think we had the crabbiest (or maybe that should be 'double p') waitress I've ever seen. We placed our orders and waited to die while she brought the food out. She brought out our drinks and even placed Josh's orange juice in her armpit. Yes, armpit orange juice is a delicacy here...(not).

After we ate, we waited for quite a while for her to bring the bill. Though it wasn't entirely her fault, there was a group of four older/elderly people next to us who decided after they got the bill that they wanted separate cheques and sent our waitress into a tizzy. They tried to figure out their totals, and then after about 10 minutes realized that they pretty much owed the same amount. I swear we had to be the youngest in the restaurant. Oy.

Afterwards we headed downtown on the subway. Josh went out in the morning to pick up a bunch of tickets so we could just hop on the subway and head downtown rather than stopping on the way.

We started off by going to Chinatown, while we have a rather large Chinatown, I can't say that I've ever spent much time there. We did a huge walk through the area, looked in an overpriced pet store (I'm sorry, but tetra fish should NOT cost $2.99) and saw a bunch of 'interesting' things. Nic found a magazine that had a chick wearing a low cut bra on the cover and there was a corpse on the back page. DON'T ASK.

After that we walked down Queen Street which is the 'hip' area of town. After avoiding the piles of dog poop and the pot smoking hippies and, of course, the Condom Shack, we headed over to Nathan Phillips Square (City Hall) and watched the ice skaters. The rink was so utterly overcrowded, I don't know how anyone could have enjoyed themselves.

We then went through the Eaton Centre and saw the Swarovski tree (it apparently has $1,000,000 worth of crystals on it). The picture above just doesn't do it justice!

Since we were getting a bit peckish and they had to drive 2+ hours home, we decided to head to Queen of Sheba (an Ethiopian restaurant) for dinner. If you haven't tried Ethiopian food, it's amazing. You don't eat with cutlery, but with injera (a sourdough bread) and pick the food up with it, and it's communal eating. Since we got there relatively early the food wasn't as spicy as it usually is, basically the later in the day that you go, the hotter the food is. It's made in a large pot and the deeper they go into the pot, the hotter it becomes.

Also because it was so early, at least early for that place, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves for quite some time. Then a few families came in with their kiddies. While I love the food myself, I don't know if I'd bring a little one in there, because two things are likely to happen: the ritual flinging of the injera and the unholy explosive diaper that will meet you and greet you in the morning. Oh the horror! Oh the humanity! Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!

"Why is mommy in the corner crying?"

"Why is daddy on the floor in the fetal position repeating the phrase 'Calm blue ocean...calm blue ocean. My kingdom for a scuba mask!'"

Of course all during dinner, and for most of the day actually, we were talking about adoption. As we were leaving the restaurant, a man came up to us and said "I couldn't help but overhear you, you're adopting?" So we went into all the details about it and he told us that his brother adopted from Nepal.

As we were leaving the restaurant I got one helluva migraine (I had woken up with one but it went away before Nic and Tim arrived). We got back to our place, said our goodbyes and wished each other well for the New Year. Hopefully we'll meet up again later in January.

When we got home I ended up taking a "happy pill" but didn't end up falling asleep until 3:00. Let's just say, playing sudoku and having one of those pills makes for an...interesting game.

To say that Nic and Tim are cool people is an understatement. Both Josh and I really enjoyed spending the day with them and look forward to many more get-togethers in the future. :)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mazel tov!

I just went to Heather's site and found out that she was LID today! Congrats!

6000+200=? ***UPDATE***

Well, it was just a few short weeks ago that I was just 'celebrating' my 5000th visitor to the blog and here I am on the cusp of 6000! It really boggles my mind that so many people are interested in 'li'l ole me' that I'm getting 1000 hits about every three weeks now. This is also my 200th post. When I first started out, I didn't think I'd do much with this blog but as the wait gets longer and longer, I find that I'm writing 1-2 posts a day. (Perhaps I need a hobby -- other than blogging, that is.) ;)

Anyways, last night I was going a little stir crazy so Josh and I went out for a long drive. We ended up going out to see The Queen (the movie, not Her Majesty). If anyone is considering going to see it, go! It's well worth it. Helen Mirren is outstanding in the role. If she doesn't get nominated for an Oscar for this, then something is definitely wrong with the world...

*** I'm not sure who my 6000th visitor was, but I do know they visited at 1:28pm today. :P ***

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The chase is on! ***UPDATE***

I went back to the dentist this morning for my 'final' fitting of the crowns at 8:00am, which is ungodly early when you're off work. I got to his office, he froze my mouth and put the crowns in place, held up a mirror and said 'well, what do you think?' I stared for a moment and said 'are they supposed to be so much lighter in colour?'

The dentist looked, hmmed and hawed for a moment and said 'well, it's done that way in case you want to whiten your teeth.' (At no point during all of this had I ever mentioned that I had even the slightest inclination to whiten my teeth).

So he put the temporary crowns back on and I made yet another appointment for a week Thursday (January 4th) for 10:00am. At that appointment I'm going to have the crowns custom coloured and it's going to take 2.5 hours. Envy me!

So I left the dentist's office in a rather pissy mood. So what else is a girl to do with a frozen mouth and a charge card? Go shopping, of course! (I won't say what I got or for whom, since it's a surprise! It wouldn't be much of a surprise to the person who reads this, if I say what it is. So pfffft.) When I got home, I wrapped said present and sent it Express Post.

After we left the Post Office, we were driving around and I was still in a pissy mood from this morning and Josh turned to me and said 'LOOK! We're being chased by a fortune cookie!' I thought for sure Josh was just trying to make me laugh, but lo and behold, I looked out the window and we were being chased by a fortune cookie!

We turned right, the fortune cookie turned right...we turned right again, the cookie turned right again...It followed us for a good 10 minutes. I simply had to take a picture from my handy-dandy cellphone camera as it passed us as 'proof'. :P

(If you look closely at the picture, you can even see the little fortune sticking out one end of the cookie.)

That definitely made my day, but considering how crappy it was overall, I'll take what I can get. ;)

***To answer Kathy's question, the car was from a fast "food" (yes, food is in quotes...and I'll leave it at that) restaurant called Manchu Wok. Now I'm tempted to drive by their main location and get a picture of a 'fleet' of fortune cookie cars. ;)

Though honestly, I can't say that I've ever seen the fortune cookie car out and about on the street before, so I kind of wonder if it was just that specific location that had the car. Hmmm.***

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ontario, it's a big place...

(This is Josh posting. I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays!)

Many Americans do not appreciate how big Canada is. Ontario alone has a total area of 415,000 sq. miles and two time zones (Eastern & Central) that is 1.5 times larger than Texas (268,581 sq. miles) and 2.5 times larger than California (163,696 sq. miles). Canada's largest city, Toronto, a close cousin to New York City in terms of economic importance and political clout is located in central Canada. The east coast for many Canadians is 1,500 miles or a 2-hour flight away.

Quick story: some relatives of mine came up here from New York City for a visit and wanted to "see the Rockies over the weekend". Their perception of Canada was of Mounties on horses, mountains and trees, naturally, the Rocky Mountains were a short drive away. I had to explain to them that the Rockies were five days away by car. I asked them to consider the time it would take to drive from NYC to Aspen, Colorado, it was only then that they realised how strange their request was.

I have never figured out why there is a perception that Canadian geography is on the same scale as Belgium or Denmark. I guess when viewing a TV commercial about Canada, the viewing public is shown the shores of Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Toronto, RCMP Musical Rides and then of course…mountains in a 30-second clip. The old tagline was "Canada…the world next door". Tourist companies could not sell tours if the tagline was "Canada…the stuff worth seeing is thousands of miles apart". Hmmm.

Congrats A&E!

I knew she'd get a lump of coal in her stocking...congratulations!

"Spitgirl" is engaged! :)

(For those of you who don't know who she is, she sometimes writes posts on the blog and she runs "The Little Maple Project" that can be found in the sidebar).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas ***UPDATE***

From our family to yours,

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas, health and happiness over the holiday season and always.

Rhonda, Josh and Deuce

***Josh and I took a drive to Newmarket (roughly an hour or so north of us) today and saw the display. I have to be honest, the link above is far more impressive than it was to be up close and personal. Perspective is a great thing. ;)

At the display, there was a large contribution box and we both put in some money which goes towards the local hospital. I figured if this guy was doing this out of the kindness of his heart, we could at least throw in some cash to help out.***

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's shiny...(Part 2)

So, yesterday morning I called up customer service and talked to a customer service rep about my ring tune. I *used* to have Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley as the tune and I wanted that one back. The customer service rep had never heard of that song, OR for that matter, Bob Marley and asked if it was a pop or classical song. OY!

He told me that IF they had it, I could download it again for free. He started clicking around on the site but couldn't find the tune. He told me that I now have the option to choose ANY song I want, but I have to pay $4.00 (the full price) for it. HUH?!

That's not too customer friendly, is it?

So I gave the guy an argument saying that it wasn't fair that had they had the song I could get it for free, and since they didn't I'd have to pay for it.

Am I right?

Anyways, he thought about it and said that there was nothing he could do. (Wait, it gets better)...

Since I had him on the phone I decided to go over the package I signed up for. I had told the saleslady the previous day that I did not want the browser option on the phone or text messaging capabilities, since really, I spend enough time online as is...why would I browse from my phone, and I've never text messaged before, why would I start now? Is there anything that's ever THAT important?

The customer service rep told me that I should keep it and then opt out in a month.

(Bell uses a bit of reverse marketing, if you *don't* want a particular service on your phone, you have to opt out of it by a given date or you're charged for the entire month. But if you do want the service, you don't do anything).

I explained that I wanted it off the phone completely, I'll never use it and I don't want it even if it's free for a month. He started clicking away and said "I don't understand why you wouldn't want something for free!" I again explained that I don't want it and I'll never use it. He put me on hold, I'm sure he was sitting there pulling his hair out...

He came back and said "Ok, I took off the mobile browser and the text messaging option, but now we have to charge you $10.00 a month for the rest of the features."

Back up the truck a minute...

Had I kept the Fuel package, I would have had them all free for a month, but since I don't want two of them, they have to charge me? This was starting to get a bit frustrating. By the way, I was paying $8.00 a month previously for the features I wanted. I'd like to know how he does his math...

I again stood my ground and told him what I wanted and that they shouldn't charge me for things I don't want, nor should they charge me for things that are supposed to be free for a month.

Was I asking too much?

He put me on hold for a couple minutes and I was literally drowning in Christmas music. He came back and said "ok, we'll give you the options you DO want for one month."

So I talked to him about the missing ring tune again, since it was bugging me. I told him that as a "valued customer", I wanted to be compensated for the fact that they were playing a bit of bait and switch with the ring tune "issue", so I asked him for the package that I was getting free for one month to be free for two months.

He sighed and said "well we can't do that, if we did everything our customers wanted..." and at that point he realized what he had said and quickly put me on hold again. He finally came back and said "you know what? I'm in the Christmas spirit, I'll give it to you free for two months!" Yeah, I'll bet it was "Christmas spirit". :P

So I have exactly what I want, for longer than I was supposed to have it. Whee!

(I'm usually not this much of a mega-b*tch about minute details, but it was the principle of the matter. :P)

It's shiny...(Part 1)

My cell phone has been going wonky for the last little while, even though it was fully charged it would just die. I have a bad habit of leaving it on and forgetting about it, I probably screwed up the battery.

Anyways, Josh and I went into a Bell Mobility store on Thursday evening so I could either:

a) get a new battery or,

b) get a new phone...

As soon as we walked into the store, a saleslady ran over to me and asked me if I needed help and I told her what the problem was. She said that it's better to get a new phone than to get a new battery since my phone was already 2 years old. I didn't think that was ancient in cell phone technology, but whatever, I let her do her shpiel (and yes, J, that link is just for you).

So, since I'm such a "valued customer" of Bell's, she told me that I could get any phone I wanted and it would be $200 off. Yeah, right. Phones are simply NOT that expensive, I'm sure it's a little bit of bait and switch, but what can you do?

She showed me a few phones that had all the bells and whistles on them, and Josh was kind of tired and just starting to come down with his cold and turned to the saleslady and said "Ok, so you can download MP3s, watch tv, use bluetooth, use it as a camera AND camcorder, but can you actually use it AS A PHONE?!" The saleslady chuckled and said "well, yes, that too". Why are phones getting so bloody complex?!

Anyways, I finally settled on the one pictured above and it's got a bunch of funky features:

* Dual mode digital phone (1.9GHz & 800 MHz)
* Internal 262K colour TFT display with 65K colour STN external display
* High speed mobile network connectivity for broadband like download speeds
* Assisted GPS (AGPS) Ready for e9-1-1, Finder Services, Seek & Find and Business Tracking Services
* Supports Stereo Bluetooth for both music and voice calls as well as mono wireless headset and hands-free Bluetooth profiles. It also supports v-card transfers to other compatible devices via Object Exchange (OBEX). Profiles supported include:
o A2DP (Stereo Headset)
o HS (Headset-mono)
o DUN (Dial-up Network
o HF (Handsfree)
o OPP (Object Push Profile)
o FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
o OBEX (Object Exchange)
* 1.3 Megapixel camera
* Camcorder
* Streaming video capable* for TV on your phone
* Media player with internal and external controls to listen to your MP3's on the go
* Download full track MP3's* wirelessly
* External memory card slot for use with TransFlash™ cards
* 30 polyphonic ring tones included with vibration alert
* Mobile browser capable*
* Picture/Video Messaging capable*
* Download capable for ringtones, screensavers, games and applications*
* Capable of 2-way SMS*/Text Messaging with T9™
* Includes built in "tools" section for Voice Memos, Alarm Clock, World Clock, Calculator, Memo's, Tasks Lists and Countdown Timers
* VoiceSignal™ software enables you to place calls and access your contacts list using just the sound of your voice
* Internal antenna
* 2-way Speakerphone

(and yes, I copied that off the Bell site...I'm too lazy to type that all out.) ;)

I ended up getting my "free phone" for $100.00, plus activation fee and plus carrying case. All tolled, it was about $150.00 including tax.

As she was going over the package I have, she told me that she couldn't manually set up my ring tune from my old phone to my new phone and I'd have to call customer service tomorrow...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Eighth crazy night...

Since it's the last night of Channukah, I thought I would show you all a couple pictures that we took this evening. The first one is of both of our menorahs and the second is a close-up of mine.

Why two menorahs?

When we got married, Josh's parents bought him the gold coloured, short menorah. For those of you in the market for a menorah, Josh's is perfectly designed for small hands as it is tip-over proof because it is low and has a very heavy base. This menorah's background features spinning dreidels.

The taller, more elaborate, silver menorah used to belong to my maternal grandparents. If you take a close look at the second photo, you can see the Ten Commandments framed by two lions of Israel.

We were supposed to go over to Josh's parents for the eighth night, but he has a bad cold and is sitting in front of the tv drinking Neo Citran. Poor baby.

Just because I'm in a snarky mood...***UPDATE***

I just got back from the dentist, my mouth is frozen (again) and this is the kind of mood I'm in. Enjoy!

I just found it so my high score is only far. I think this will keep me occupied for a little while, and yes, I did drive them off the cliff. What else would you expect from a good Jew on the last day of Channukah? ;)

***Just because Heather mentioned that there's something 'special' that happens if you get over 300, I spent the past 10 minutes or so trying for it (and my new high score is 350.4). It's cute, but now I want him to fall over the other I sadistic?***

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Something to do while we all wait...

Have you...

1. ever had the need for a tension release?

2. ever wanted to scream with frustration with this never-ending wait?

3. ever wanted to launch a penguin through mid-air?

If you've answered yes to any of them (especially the third), click here.

Oh how I love my ALTs. :)

So far my high score is 302...just don't tell the CCAA. ;)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Well I woke up this morning to see this article in the Globe and Mail and this on the BBC site. Not that any of it is new, but it just confirms everything that we've all been hearing about the last couple of weeks.

Now, how do I reconcile that with the fact that I got my immigration paperwork in the mail yesterday, in order to bring her home? It's certainly a weird feeling knowing that she might not be here until late 2008 or dare I say it...2009?


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Challenge! ***UPDATED***

I defy all of you to look at this and not break out into a smile.

***Apparently I screwed up the original link, but it should be working now, thanks Kathy.***

Monday, December 18, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes

Josh and I went over to my brother (hi ugly) and sister-in-law's yesterday for a Channukah get-together. It was a really nice lunch that they put together, latkes which he made from scratch, egg, tuna, lox and cream cheese, etc.

After lunch we exchanged gifts, they gave me a soap dispenser in the shape of a dreidel which looks *really* neat, a couple coffee mugs, and two shadow boxes. The first one had a Chinese fan in it, and the other had a red Chinese jacket. They're really excited about the adoption, but wish things would hurry up already.


I talked to them about the new restrictions that are coming in and their eyes bugged out in disbelief at a lot of them, but I digress.

As we were leaving, my mom was talking about how she has been in Toronto for 43 years. My nephew, Z, turned to my mom and said "Bubbie, you're wrong!" My mom said "What do you mean, Z?" He said "You couldn't have been here 43 years, you're only 40!"

His logic is, of course, that since my brother is 39, she can't *possibly* be any older than 40. Next time I'm over I should ask him how old I am...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Bissle Channukah Mishigas (Yiddish: A Little Channukah Craziness)

Hi everyone, this is Josh posting. This is my first post (aside from our trip to Scotland and Rome) to Little Maple’s Blog, so be gentle.

My webmistress asked me to post something related to Channukah. First, there are at least 1200 different spellings of the word "Channukah" as it is not English, but transliterated Hebrew and so it's fair game on spelling. The pronunciation is the kicker. When saying Channukah, think of a soft guttural "Loch Ness", not "chocolate chips". Thus ends my grammar lesson.

One link that offers some really cool content like free e-greeting cards, videos, songs and cooking instructions for latkes and Israeli jelly doughnuts (sufganiot) is here.

The other link that contains more academic content is on Wikipedia.

On the subject of Channukah, it is supposed to be festive as it reminds us of the uprising by the Jews against a Greco-Syrian tyrant and the miracle that one day's oil lasted eight days. As rituals are best reinforced by foods, the latkes and jelly doughnuts are used as reminders of the eight-day miracle. It is unlikely people would want to burn and pillage their neighbour's house, as this would remind them of what was done to the temple. Hmm.

Menorahs or Channukiahs come in as many shapes as there are spellings of Channukah. I would stay away from the Walt Disney type as they are often poorly made. The giant silver menorahs that use olive oil instead of candles are also over the top. Go for one that is safe and sturdy that lasts for decades, as the emphasis is on enjoying the light, not impressing the neighbours. A sturdy menorah is one that can be lit by big and small hands. Nothing stops the fun quicker than a tipped over menorah and a house fire.

I saw an episode of the cartoon "King of the Hill" where Hank Hill's son Bobby was directed by his Mother to make a wish and blow out his "Menoree-ah candles". OY! Don't do that!

At work I hand out chocolate coins (a.k.a. Channukah gelt). World peace through foil wrapped chocolate!

To clear the air, I like Christmas. I'll say it again. I like Christmas. I like the foods and drinks that come out of hiding once a year challenging my waistline and culinary fortitude. I like the colours that break a bleak and grey snow-free winter. I like the change in people's behaviour and the notion that for one brief moment, we can all be nice to each other and realise that the world is an ugly place and making it less ugly takes effort. Since no-one in the retail sector or the broadcast media calls a menorah "a holiday candelabra", why do people try to hide the fact that it's a Christmas tree that is being installed in stores, hotel lobbies and offices? This is a mystery. If Christmas is your thing, then enjoy. If Channukah is your holiday, enjoy. Choose one and go meshuga!

Remember, each holiday is about different events in biblical history. Blending them together is akin to teaching a fish to ride a bicycle. I know people are uncomfortable about the subject because it's perceived as a hot topic. It's not a hot topic. Jump off the couch and learn what a traditional Channukah looks like and what a traditional Christmas looks like. I have seen a Charlie Brown Christmas at least 30 times and I could not tell the average man on the street what the traditional elements of Christmas are. It's the traditional elements of the holidays that never make it to the TV screen because that takes time away from advertising and the homogenizing effect of popular culture.

11 years ago today...

Since some of you have wondered why we celebrate each LID month with a cake, I decided to post this picture.

11 years ago tonight, Josh asked me to marry him.

We went out for dinner to a very nice Italian restaurant and then back to his parent's house. I saw a large box on the dining room table, but Josh said "oh that's nothing, it's something my mom picked up." So we were sitting in the living room and talking, but he was acting kind of weird.

His sister and dad kept walking in and out and nudging him, but I didn't know what was going on. Then his mom came in and showed me a picture and asked me where to hang it, so I pointed to a spot behind the dining room table and I walked over. Josh basically threw her out of the room and she walked back into the den.

Then his sister walked back in and was acting a bit squirrely, and he threw her out too...and in she walked to the den and closed the doors behind her.

Josh finally walked back over to the dining room and said "open the box".

I opened it and that's how he proposed to me. He's nothing if not creative. :)

Once I said yes, we walked into the den where his whole family was waiting with my mom and grandma. Everyone was SO excited, you see, we had been dating for just over 7 years and everyone let out a sigh of relief, or more like "FINALLY!"

So, this is why we celebrate our LID anniversary this way. Not only is it's nummy. ;)

I later found out that Josh's sister and dad wanted to cut the cake in half so it "fit in the fridge" (because the fridge door wouldn't shut properly, the cake was too big). He turned to his sister and said "if you touch that cake, I'll cut YOU in half..."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Latkes with a side of snark...

When I visited Nic and Tim over the American Thanksgiving weekend, Nic told me about a book called Bad Cat. I had never heard about it, but I leafed through a copy of it at a store we went to.

Anyways, when I got back to T.O., I found the Bad Cat calendar and nearly wet my pants when I saw this recipe in there...

With the long wait ahead of us, I just thought this was fitting. :)

To anyone who this applies to, Happy Channukah!

Sheep! SHEEEEEEEP... (long)

Spitgirl here. The system I was hoping to work on tonight (pB, one of my hobbies) decided to be down, so I decided to be productive and write something - anything - that popped into my head. But my head decided to be serious (even after reading the Christmas card thing), so here is a brief treatise on yet another cultural difference.

As some of you probably read in my introduction, I am a Chinese American, raised by parents who were in turn raised in a Chinese culture (in Taiwan). There are a number of things I have had to reconcile within myself, such as conflicting cultural values.

Here in the United States (and, dare I say it, in most modern western civilization), the focus is on the individual. My father used to say to me, "You have to take care of Number One!" (He always said this in English, for some reason - never in Chinese.) But seriously, the prevalent focus today is on the individual person. What can one vote do? Who am I? Why do I exist? How can I further myself? How does this make me feel?

Granted, people rarely go into the extremity of this side of the spectrum - narcissism and self-absorption - but in some ways we are raised to be self-reliant, self-aware, and self-sustaining members of society. We take pride in being able to pay our own taxes, our own mortgages, value independence, succeed in our jobs and climb the corporate ladder, are responsible for our own actions, and seek to define ourselves - often on our own terms.

Some of these values are intrinsic in our society, woven so subtly that it affects our daily intractions, defines our struggles, and helps us to identify our place in the world. "It's a dog-eat-dog world." "Here I go to join the rat race."

Although my parents taught me to be independent, there was also an unstated belief that was passed along, one that was instilled in me on such a fundamental level that I find it difficult to express at times. This is the concept of the greater whole, the body of people to which I belong. My family. People who look like me. People of my heritage. And I heard reverent stories of people who sacrificed it all for the sake of this greater whole, this greater unit.

Family is the greatest unit, the most close-knit one. You hear often about multiple generations of families living together, each sacrificing their independent for the sake of being together. Kids being raised by their grandparents while their parents work two jobs a piece. Children working in the family business so they won't have to hire a person who needs to be paid more. Family takes care of family, no matter what. Kids are sent to live with aunts and uncles in the United States on an F-1 visa because it gives them a better chance at surviving schooling. Parents work three jobs to make sure that their kids can go to a good school. Kids study to the to be able to meet their parents' expectations to honor the sacrifice.

We can take it to the next level - inclusion. One of the things about my college church fellowship that seemed so natural (but actually would probably drive most crazy) is the time afterwards, where people are starting to leave. Well, we didn't really leave - we needed to touch base with everyone else and had to say good-bye to everyone before we left. Going out to eat afterwards was a huge ordeal - it would take us half an hour just to make sure everyone was okay with where we were going and start going in that direction. (Yes, decisions are made by consensus - always.)

We rely on one another in various ways. You have excess fruit from your yard? Give it to a friend, and when their crop comes in, they'll give you theirs. My mom makes extra pies and breads to give to their friends and neighbors, and we always have fruits and vegetables "from a friend's yard." There's always a special deal for family - and even friends of family. I got my first apartment at college through the Asian network (mom's friend knew a friend knew the woman who owned the complex), got my latest car for $500 under invoice (INVOICE, mind you, not list) because of the Asian network (brother's friend's former coworker who moved to this dealership). The right hand scratches the left, and a favor down the line will be returned.

Don't even get me started about Asian time (about 30 minutes late), which my friend Bem calls "colored people time" (because he's African American). It drives my (totally cute and totally on-time) Caucasian boyfriend absolutely nuts.

(I know it's getting late, because I'm starting to get a little incoherent.)

The conflict was this: how does one take the values of one culture (one over many) and reconcile it with the other (many over one)? Some of the decisions I make about the way I spend time, money, and resources are completely culturally based. My boyfriend keeps on insisting I don't have to bring anything over to his parents' (or his friends') houses when I stay there, but I am culturally compelled to bring something, even for crash space. Last year, I sent Christmas gifts to his parents and grandparents, even though we'd only been going out for a month, because it was Just Something You Did (tm). They were impressed, but I don't think a Chinese family would have been impressed - they would have just thought it polite. My dad said, "Of course they were impressed! Caucasian people don't raise their kids to do that. We raised you Asian."

My boyfriend brought a nice porcelain bowl full of oranges (well, tangelos) the first time he met my parents because I told him it was expected from a cultural standpoint, even if my parents would have cut him slack because he wouldn't have known anything about it. I don't know if he would have brought anything otherwise.

I should say here that there is a spectrum where people lie, because many people aren't just one side or another. I know that Rhonda's Jewish heritage has a lot in common with Chinese cultural mores of family, blood lines, and intergenerational honor and respect. Different families fall on different parts on this spectrum. Okay, enough of the caveat.

I think the defining moment I had in this struggle was reading a little book I got before I went on a missions trip to Brazil. It was a small book on cultural differences that talked about "Hot Temperature Cultures" and "Cold Temperature Cultures." Hot weather cultures, this woman wrote, included much of Africa, the Middle East, South America, South and East Asia (with the exception, I think, of Japan), and, yes, the South in the United States. These cultures, she writes, generally have values of relationships and of this concept of a group need and group desire being of higher value than one's own desires.

The rest of the world, it seems, has different values - those of independence, speaking up your mind, your own need (to get somewhere, for instance) to supercede the relationship (someone you were talking to) instead of the other way around. Time is of great import to the person of the cold temperature culture, and a disrespect for timeliness is often considered a disrespect to the person.

I didn't realize how bicultural I was, able to context switch between one and the other, until I went to Brazil for three weeks. I speak fluent Brazilian Portuguese (well, I did after a week or so of refreshing my memory and being in a homestay situation) and was able to communicate quite naturally with the people there. One day near the end of the second week, we were standing around in a group and the pastor asked me if I hit any culture shock.

"Why, no," I replied, after thinking a bit. I think the only thing I had really thought was different was the toilets - not being able to put the toilet paper into the toilet just seemed wrong, for some reason. But the people? Fine. Interactions? Fine. Cultural assumptions? Fine. Houses? Reminded me of the ones my grandparents lived in while they were still in Taiwan. Food? Different, but delicious.

I went on to attribute my ease of transition to my bicultural roots - the ability to switch from the independent Western woman to the group-minded Eastern.

It didn't strike me that this flippant response was probably the reason why until later, when I talked to someone who had come on the same trip from Sweden. She had gone to an American school and spoke English pretty much natively. "Oh my goodness!" she exclaimed when I asked her the question. "YES, I hit major culture shock!" She didn't have the advantage of the hot temperature culture background, and so some of the cultural assumptions they made, about what might make her feel comfortable and how to include her, only further alienated her.

Until that moment, I never realized that Brazilian culture and Chinese culture had so much in common. (On a complete side note, I once started a notebook about culture in the US, and wrote about some of my struggles as an Asian American. I passed this on to a random friend of mine who is second generation African immigrant, and he told me later, "I never realized we had so much in common! Some of the things you said, *I* went through!")

What is the application here? I think for many of you future parents, this won't even be applicable. This might only be an issue with second generation immigrants, those of us who are raised in a specific cultural context that conflicts with mainstream culture. Perhaps those who are adopting older children may have to deal with this cultural programming and help their children sort it out when they are older. Perhaps you might use some of the little examples as ways to connect your children to their birth heritage. Maybe it's just late, so I'm rambling. I guess I just wanted to point out that sometimes cultural differences are so fundamental, they're almost alien. This is something that I will personally continue to struggle with, both in myself as well as in my cross-cultural relationship.

Until then, I'll continue to work it out.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm blaming "Spitgirl" for this brunette moment...

Just to refresh your memories, "Spitgirl" is my friend E who posts here occasionally and runs the Little Maple Project that can be found on the sidebar under "Bloggy Fun", and this post is all her fault. I take NO blame in the following all.

(Well, it was worth a try...)

I finally got around to sending out Christmas cards and pressies to a few people today. I've had a few cards in a pile and I've been meaning to put them in the mail all week, but I remembered today and sent them at work.

My FIL filled out a couple Christmas cards and put some money in them (for people in the office building as their Christmas bonus), and I was supposed to put them under the Super's door. Well, at the same time, since I had to go downstairs anyways, I decided I'll mail my Christmas and Channukah cards as well. Sounds ok so far, right?

Well, the plan kind of fell apart...

I ended up putting EVERYTHING in the mailbox. Yes, that's right, I put the Christmas cards for the Super and maintenance guy in the mailbox. Since it was supposed to go under the door, there was nothing on the envelope except for the person's name. NO address. NO return address. NO stamp. NO NOTHING.


I tried shoving my arm in the mailbox, but it didn't quite reach the two cards...and I decided that wasn't the best idea in case someone saw me. I *SO* don't need a criminal record at this stage of the game. So, feeling utterly stupid I sullenly walked back up to the office, knocked on my FIL's door (since he was in with a patient), and told him what happened.

I have the distinct feeling that if he wasn't my FIL my ass would have been fired out the door for such utter stupidity.

After the patient left, he called Canada Post to see what our options were.

Since it's against the 'rules' for a postal carrier to hand mail back once it's in the box, the only thing they suggested was that they would put a hold on the mail bag once it gets to the station, BUT...

I would have to wait for the mailman to get there.

Since pick-up, at least according to the sign on the box, was at 5:00, I decided to go down and wait for him. I stood in the lobby of our building from 4:30 and waited...and waited...and waited...

At 5:50, the postal truck pulled up and out walked the mailman. I stopped him and explained what happened and he said 'Oh, I'm a trainee, you have to speak to my supervisor, he's in the truck.' At that point I thought for sure I was snookered. I mean, if I had to talk to a supervisor who was training this guy, he would probably play by the rules and not even listen to my story.

I explained it to him and I never used the word 'mail', I was sure if I did, he'd say well 'it's property of Canada Post'. I just said that I mistakenly put two Christmas cards in there by accident and would he be kind enough to let me get them back.

I swear I must have a horseshoe someplace because he opened the mailbox and went through all the mail and handed the two envelopes back to me! WHEW!

After he gave them to me, I put them under the Super's door. As I was about to leave I saw the supervisor stomp on the mail (yes, STOMP) in order for it to fit into the two boxes that they brought to transfer the mail from the box to their truck. With a supervisor like that, I fear for the future...

On a side note, I've noticed that Blogger is acting all wonky (big shock there) and it won't let a lot of people comment, and I've been having problems commenting on others blogs. I've decided to open up my blog for anyone who wants to comment (in order to solve the problem), at least for the short term. I just ask that if you do comment, please let me know who you are...

Deuce is finally starting to get his voice back. He wasn't too pleased with Josh this evening when I asked him to get Deuce so I could give him his pill. He let out such a loud hiss! After I gave him his pill, he went running into the den and kept purring, cooing and mewing at Josh, I guess that was his way of saying 'sorry'. :P

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

3 month LIDiversary!

Another month down, another cake...

Since I'm still on my soft food diet, we decided this month we would celebrate with an ice cream cake from Baskin class chocolate with a fudge-y topping! Any guesses about who's a happy camper tonight?

When we were out and about on the weekend, I found a package of maple leaf shaped pasta and we *had* to have that to celebrate with tonight as well. :)

Deuce is home!

We went to pick Deuce up this evening and he's (mostly) back to his old self , except he isn't meowing. I think that's probably, well I think so anyways, because he had a tube down his throat during the surgery (it would certainly make sense for a person to have a sore throat after that, so why not a cat?)

I noticed when we brought him home that near the pad on one of his hind paws was shaved, I guess they gave him an injection there. If you click on the picture, you can also see that they shaved his left front leg, that's probably where they gave him his IV. Poor thing, he's really been through a lot.

He doesn't quite have the same energy, so he wasn't interested in playing but who can blame him? He was discharged on meds, again, but this is just to prevent post-op infection and he only has to be on them for five days. They are pretty big pills for a cat, but I managed to get it in him this evening. I tried burying it in his food and made a little 'meatball' out of his canned food...but he's too smart and dug around until he found it. Josh eventually had to pick him up, hold his mouth shut and I squeezed it through the side of his mouth.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Make mine a double...

I called the vet this morning at 10:00 to find out how Deuce was doing and if they had done his dental cleaning and extraction yet. When she got on the line she told me that she had given him his first anaesthetic, but had detected a heart murmur in him and they were going to do a chest X-ray to make sure his heart wasn't enlarged.

...When I regained consciousness...

She called me back around 10:30 to let me know that they did an X-ray, his heart was not enlarged and that it was verified by the other doctor on call, but the heart murmur was still present. She said that they were going to wake him up, see how he was doing and if he was doing better that WE had to make the decision whether or not to go ahead with the cleaning.

I was debating about cancelling the whole thing since it really wasn't necessary, but I wanted Josh's opinion before I told the vet anything. She told me to let her know within half an hour what our decision was. I ended up calling Josh at work and left a voicemail message for him. When he didn't call me back within a few minutes, I decided to call back and page him. I finally got a hold of someone who told me that Josh was in a meeting, so I told her to get him out of the meeting and on the phone A.S.A.P. What he must have thought...OY!

Anyways, I called the vet back around 11:00 to let her know that we decided to go ahead with the cleaning since he was there and he was doing better. The vet said that she was going to get to his surgery around 2:00 this afternoon and I should give her a call to find out how he was doing. I didn't hear from her, so I called around 2:30 and she was in surgery with him.

Around 3:00 I got a call from her to let me know that Deuce was doing much better, the cleaning went well and they didn't have to do any extractions! She also mentioned that his heart murmur went away and that it was all just a bad reaction to the anaesthetic! GAH!

I think after the day we've all had, I'm going to have a nice, big drink with dinner...

We had the option of picking him up tonight, but I thought it was best if we leave him at the clinic until tomorrow night. He needs time to wake up from the anaesthetic and feel better. I think he's better off being there, just in case any problems crop up...

Ugh, I miss him.

Money doesn't grow on trees

I hate to break this to you, but it's true, money sadly does NOT grow on trees...but don't tell that to the people at the UPS store in my office building.

For those of you that are consistent readers of my blog, you know that Josh and I travelled to Scotland during part of September and October. When we were there, we stayed with a very nice lady at her B&B. Anyways, we really hit it off with her, and actually had a better time with her than with the family, which is unfortunate.

We were shopping on the weekend and decided to send her a Christmas present. She had sent us a little something earlier in the week (and we were going to get her something anyways), so yesterday I took the wrapped package to the UPS store at the office. It was packed in a box with packing peanuts and taped up, etc.

I filled out the order form to have it couriered. I figured 'how expensive could it really be?' So it was being processed and I was told that to send this little package (of different teas and maple sugar cookies--true Canadiana at its best), I could choose two different prices.

I told the guy behind the counter that we don't need a fast service, basically whatever was cheapest since we still had oodles of time for it to get there. If we wanted it to get there 'express' it would be $130 and 'expedited' it would be $115 (plus tax). Ummm...

What the f*ck?!


Considering the package was *worth* about $20, give or take, spending 5-6 times to GET the package to her was absolutely ridiculous. So I asked him how much it would be to just mail it to her and how long it would take to get there. He said it would take about 7 business days and be about $60.00 plus tax which, while still expensive, was a little more reasonable.

So he weighed it and gave me all the paperwork to fill out. I took the package upstairs to the office and filled everything out and then I had a brain wave. Yes, I do have them every now and then...

I called up the post office and asked them how much it would be to mail a package (weighing about 1-2 pounds) to Scotland, and they said it would be about $47 plus tax. Well that's sounding a bit better, now isn't it?

After work I went to a postal outlet and had them weigh it, stamp it and wouldn't you mail it ended up costing $27.55 INCLUDING tax.

I guess it helps to do your homework after all...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Now it's Deuce's turn...

After work today, Josh and I took Deuce to the clinic to check him in for his dental cleaning (and possible extraction) tomorrow morning. We've been putting it off for a little while, and then when Deuce got sick we had to postpone it again. This time he went in. *sigh*

We got to the clinic and Deuce was calm and quiet, even though the waiting area was full of barking dogs...poor kitty.

One of the receptionists said that we should go into one of the exam rooms and have him weighed. Umm, he was just there, his weight shouldn't fluctuate *that* much that you need to weigh him again. We decided that if they really needed to weigh him, they should do it downstairs, since he has a tendency to go psycho. The receptionist thought we were being difficult and said that "when the tech comes to give you instructions, please tell him that you refused to weigh your cat"...we, however, thought she was a royal b*tch. :P

The tech came up to talk to us, and in his thick Eastern European accent he explained the procedure and the costs associated with everything. His accent was so thick that we had to have him repeat things a couple of times. As we were saying our goodbyes to Deuce, his old temperament showed up and he started growling, hissing and spitting in his cage. Poor thing, he's probably thinking "why am I back here again? I'm not sick? what are you doing to me?!"

To say that we felt guilty about leaving him there is an understatement, but he needs to have this done. I'm just going to feel really bad if he has to have an extraction.

I guess this means two of us on a soft food diet...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jello monster!

So I asked Josh to go out and get me some Jello and pudding since I'm supposed to be on a soft food diet for two weeks, this is what he came home with...

Friday, December 08, 2006


Ever have days when you feel this this guy?

I finally bit the bullet, figuratively speaking, and decided to get two crowns. I had my appointment today and let's just say that sitting in the dentist's chair for 2.5 hours AND having TMJ is not a fun endeavour.

I had to have seven shots of freezing. To start he gave me three shots and then after the first hour he had to give me another two, and just as he was close to finishing, he had to give me yet another two. After all the freezing I could do the Billy Idol sneer REALLY well.

It wasn't *too* bad, he gave me a few breaks so I could unclench my jaw (and my fists). It was kind of amusing, he told me that if I felt pain during the procedure to raise my left hand so he'd know to stop. I got pins and needles in my pinkie and ring finger on my left hand (from clenching them during the procedure--can you tell I don't like going to the dentist?) So he saw me shaking my left hand and stopped because he thought I was in pain. :P

After he was finished he told me that I have to be on a soft food diet for the next two weeks until the permanent crowns are put in. At least I'll be able to get past my plateau of losing 10 pounds...gotta look on the bright side, right?

The freezing has finally worn off and my teeth are feeling very sensitive (they're sensitive to hot and cold anyways), so breathing is making them tingle...if I could just figure out a way to stop breathing I'll be great! :P

Happy Birthday!

Today (Friday) is Heather's birthday! I asked her a while back when her birthday is, but she doesn't know I'm doing this (I'm sneaky like that). I wonder if she'll get the birthday pressie I sent her in time...and no, it's not a purple mug.

Go to her blog and wish her a happy birthday...

Go on!



It should be amusing, since she has 'comment moderation' on, she's going to get inundated with a bunch of comments in her email (assuming you all go to her blog) wishing her happy birthday and she won't know where it all came from until she visits my blog. :P

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Winter is here!

Sorry to have been out of the posting loop for so long. I'm sure quite a few of you have forgotten about me (and the Little Maple Project, which has been untouched for a couple of months). I could give the usual blurb about being too busy, being in grad school, and writing up a storm for a text game (it's harder than it sounds), but I won't bother... after all, it's irrelevant.

But the weather has already turned, and this means that I get to expound on the one thing that makes me VERY happy about winter: HOT POT!

Wikipedia's entry about hot pot

So, as you've probably found out (if you went to the link), hot pot is a literal translation of what the Chinese is: "Huo3 Guo1" The first character is "fire" and the second... "pot" (the kind you cook with). For my region, it's a traditional winter comfort food.

Let me describe a modern hot pot experience (at home, as opposed to a restaurant):

1. I take the hot pot out of storage. Older versions of the hot pot was essentially nothing more than an electric cookpot, but my current version comes in two different parts - one, a dutch-oven lookalike, but with a slot in the middle and slightly less wide at the bottom, and two, a modern version of the Coleman outdoor range.

2. I go out and buy LOTS of food - eggs, thinly sliced meat (whatever kind I feel like, and my Chinese grocery store has it in the frozen food section... if you're special you can also find chicken), a couple of different varieties of processed fish balls, some processed meatballs, frozen shrimp (deveined if possible), a bunch of different types of vegetables - napa cabbage, spinach, pea sprouts, tofu, and a bunch more different yummmmmy foods that would go into a clear broth. Oh yeah, and since I'm lame, I buy chicken broth as well instead of making my own.

3. Devein the shrimp, rinse and cut all vegetables. Move meat to plates. Set out a small Chinese bowl, a wire net per person, chopsticks, hot sauces of various types (particularly one that's called XO).

4. People come over! Yay!

5. Put the broth on the range to boil, and once it's done, set it on the campfire stove and start the fire going. The pot boils or simmers the entire time.

6. All raw foods are set on the table.

7. People make their sauces in their own little bowls. I don't handle spice very well (and I'm not kosher), so I just beat a raw egg into my bowl. 30 years later, people are all scared of salmonella, but for hot pot I just run the risk, because I think it's better that way. Other people, like my dad, just take the yolk and add seasonings to it. And yet other people (who are freaked out about the raw egg), just make a sauce out of soy sauce and whatever else they have on the table. So it's really personalized, depending on your taste.

8. People will choose what meat they want and stick it into their little nets and set it into the communal pot. Once it's cooked, they take it out and plop it into their bowls and eat. There are some things that are never put into the soup - one's chopsticks never go into the soup, for instance - and there are other things that take longer to cook that have to be put in a bunch at a time to cook. This means that there are often things floating around in the soup that are just up for grabs whenever they're ready.

9. As dinner progresses, the soup gets richer and richer, as the flavors of each food get added to the stock.

10. At the end, everyone can drink a bowl of the soup. I normally add some really hot soup to what's left of my egg at the end and make basically an egg flower soup. My parents will cook some ramen (the rare time that I, the health nut, will eat ramen noodles) at the end and serve that as a noodle soup.

Sometimes this meal is combined with a "tie3-ban3" (it's pronounced tyeh2-ban3), like in that photo from Wikipedia, where you actually pan-fry some of the food, but it's a little distracting that way.

For myself, I have very fond memories of times with family. Hot pot is always a communal experience - it's very boring by yourself, because you end up with pretty much hot water at the end, and no change in flavor from the beginning to the end. So this has turned into a Christmas tradition for my family. Some people have goose, some people have turkey, others have ham... you guys keep that stuff, I'll have my hot pot. :)

Well, would ya look at that...***UPDATE***

At some point this evening, the little blog that could is going to get its 5000th hit. I must be doing something right because I only hit 4000 less than a month my life really *that* exciting? :P

Now I get to figure out who the 5000th hit is going to be...woo.

***Well, I hit #5000 at 5:15 this afternoon and it was...(insert drumroll here)...Michelle! It's kind of neat since I just met her at a bloggy get-together on the weekend. :)***

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bloglines ate my homework...***UPDATE***

I tried to look at my nightly addictions, err blogs, and it seems that Bloglines ate my blogroll. I logged in and where the entire list is supposed to be on the left side, it showed nothing...





Has anyone else had this problem? If you can view my blog through bloglines, please leave me a comment, even if it's just to say 'yes I can see it'.

***I just decided to clear my cache and TA DA! it works again. Computers hurt my brain.***

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Green babies rule!

Josh and I went out this afternoon for his company's 'holiday' party and I have to say that it was one of the better ones that we've been to.

We started off by seeing Wicked, which I really enjoyed but I don't think I can say the same for Josh. He's more into Shakespeare and Shaw than plays like this. It's not that it was *bad*, it was just different. I can honestly say that the first half seemed to drag a bit, but the second half was far better. I'll probably go and get the soundtrack one of these days as well. If you remember, I bought the book a few weeks ago but I didn't crack the spine on it...yet.

During the intermission I was *really* tempted to go and get a souvenir. I saw this cute little onesie which was for ages 12-18 months, but I held off. How cute is THAT?! I love the word "Wicked" printed across the bum. At some point next year or in '08, I'm going to have to buy that... ;)

After the play we headed over to a local restaurant for dinner. The food was ok, but there was a major screw-up in the kitchen. While almost all of the tables got their food, the table directly behind us didn't get their food until all the others were finished. Oops.

There was one couple at our table who had "babysitter" issues and left as soon as they finished the last morsel of food. They literally jumped out of their seat as soon as his wife swallowed her last strand of spaghetti and ran out of the restaurant. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that they just wanted to get out of there. ;)

We sat around and talked to people at our table for a while, but as soon as Josh and I got up and said we were leaving, they all grabbed their coats and ran for the door. Was it something we said?!

No, since Josh has a managerial position in the company everyone was taking their cue from him. I guess if they figured he was leaving then it was ok for them to leave as well; so we all left en masse.

For those of you that remember this post, I have a bit of an update.

Go on, click the link, I'll wait.

Are you done? Ok, then I'll continue...

We've been very strict about not spending any loonies or toonies when we get them in our change and put them all in the jar at the end of the day. We're also depositing X number of dollars in the account tomorrow as well, so we're going to have a tidy little sum by the time this little 'hayride' is over. ;)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bloggy summit '06

Josh and I were invited to a bloggy get together this afternoon by Doris and Dan at Boston Pizza in Whitby. We also met up with Catherine, Kathy and Joel, and Michelle and Mark. It was nice to finally put a face to the name(s) that I've read (and read about) for so long!

Unfortunately Dolores and Shawn couldn't make it, hopefully they will next time.

The nine of us sat around talking for a good hour before we ordered and we must have driven the poor waitress nuts. She kept coming to the table trying to take our orders, but we were so engrossed in conversation that we hadn't even opened our menus.

It was pretty amusing, all the women were talking about Blogger and Bloglines and the problems we've been having lately, while the men sat back and looked at us like the RCA dog...

Once we placed our orders it was time for presents!

Catherine gave us a ladybug mug which was really cute. :)

Doris and Dan gave us two books "Oink! I'm a pig" and "Moo! I'm a cow" that has a little squeaky toy to press, and a sweet little photo album!

Michelle and Mark gave us little red mittens, a wine bottle cover (which showed up in the picture as black, but is actually a really nice navy blue), a ladybug bookmark and a memo holder!

These were the first presents that we've received for "Little Maple"! It's not that I don't want to rush out to the store and buy everything on the racks, it's just that I'm a bit superstitious about getting anything for the baby...yet. As I mentioned to Kathy in an email this week we've been burned too many times in the past to count our proverbial chickens before they hatch. ;) We're going to wait until we get our referral before we do any shopping at all, to each their own I guess...

After everyone oohed and aahed over the presents, it was time to eat!

Kathy and Joel, and Michelle and Mark are using the same agency as us, so it was nice to sit down, compare notes and talk about the wait and the process that we're going through.

There's a *small* chance that our group might be combined with Kathy and Joel's when we travel; that would be great! We're going to try to get together with them for a sushi night.

Kathy, have your people call my people... ;)

We ended up sitting around and talking for a good three hours before everyone had to head out. The time went by far too quickly! Hopefully we can all arrange to meet up again, soon. This is the unexpected part of this whole adoption journey, the closeness of the community.

I've mentioned this before on here, I'm a *very* shy person (yes, I know it's hard to believe from what you read on the blog or how I 'come across' on it), and I'm certainly not one to just meet 'strangers' on the 'net. But for some reason the online adoption community has really pulled me out of my proverbial shell and for that I'm very thankful. When I meet people like Kathy, Michelle, Catherine, Doris and, of course, Nicole, they feel more like an extended part of my family than just 'people on the 'net'.

I know this sounds hokey, but that's how I really feel.