Friday, August 31, 2007

OUR house!

Waaaaaaaay back in April, we had a dinner par-tay with some of our friends. Anyways, when Dolores and Shawn got there, they gave us a bottle of Israeli champagne. We're not really champagne drinkers, per se, but we decided that we would save it for a special occasion.

Well tonight we took the bottle over to Josh's parents and killed the bottle gently opened it and took a mighty swig gingerly sipped its essence. WOW was that good. It was so nice to toast OUR house!

We got the keys at 4:45 this afternoon, drove over, changed to the fancy dancy new locks, did a few other things and popped out a window screen which I noticed was ripped. We'll get that repaired tomorrow. We're having someone from Sears come to the house tomorrow and give us a quote on carpetting...we've got the painter coming sometime next week...and we've got someone remeasuring the windows in the kitchen for the shutters (I guess their philosophy is measure twice, cut once). ;)

Just the joys of home ownership, I guess...

Oh yeah, and we have a crapload of packing left to do. We also found out that we have to pay taxes on Tuesday...meep!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Goodbye freaks...

In honour of us getting our keys to the house tomorrow, I decided to add a post about the 'interesting' people we've seen come and go from our apartment building. Not everyone in the building is odd, but it seems that we have had our fair share of unique individuals here. Whenever Josh and I see a new person in the building we give them a pet name. So, sit back while I regale you with some of my favourite stories.

The sad thing is, all of these stories are true. Be very afraid...

The Perfumed Pig

When Josh and I moved into the building we had a next door neighbour who we nicknamed the perfumed pig. I swear he would rut bathe in his cologne and stink up the elevator. He didn't even have to physically be in the elevator for it still to smell from his unique brand of evil musk. As if that wasn't bad enough, he used to clean his ears with Q-tips while he waited for the elevator. But wait...there's more. If the elevator arrived and he was done with the Q-tip, he would leave it on the ledge of the elevator door.

Chicken Hat Guy

This guy is a bit odd. He has a baseball cap that has a chicken on it (not a picture...a stuffed animal), but the chicken is so large that it hangs around his shoulders. Whenever he moves around, you have to be careful or you'll get a foot in your eye.

Mr. and Mrs. Sweaty Jogger Guy and the Sweaterettes
This guy moved out a couple years ago, but he used to go jogging every morning. Nothing wrong with that, but he SERIOUSLY needed to take a towel with him. He wouldn't just sweat, he would drip. Not just a little bit...I'm talking PUDDLES on the elevator floor. He had two daughters who looked JUST like him, they were we had to nickname them that.

Walrus Man

There's also Walrus Man. He has a moustache that looks JUST like the walrus on the old Woody Woodpecker cartoons! SERIOUSLY!

Ernie and Bertha

Our neighbour Ernie is just plain strange/creepy. There are too many stories about him that I can't just pick one. We're not really sure what his wife's name is, but we've nicknamed her Bertha...and we always giggle a little when we see them.

Creepy Guy with a Bowling Ball Bag

We're not really sure what his story is, but we always see him with a bowling ball bag, but no ball. Neither of us has gathered the courage to ask him what's in his bag, because we don't want to become his next 'victim'. He always wears a heavy parka regardless of the weather outside. He talks to everyone in the elevator, but really says nothing. He smells like rotted octopus, and that's on a good day...hey, you'd smell pretty g-d awful if you wore a parka on a hot summer's day too.

Crabby Lady

Our neighbour across the hall is unique in her own way. She's always crabby, we've never seen her crack a smile ONCE in the 11 years we've been here. She's always complaining about something. About five years ago, she noticed a hole in the wall by our door and she came up to me and asked 'Are you going to fix that?!' (in an accusatory tone like I caused the hole). I told her that it was the super's job to fix it, and she said that I should because it was unsightly and she was having company over that night. Umm, yeah.

Mr. Sanford's Long Lost Lovechild

If you remember the show Sanford and Son, (I'm sure Heather is humming the theme right now), you'll find this one amusing. We're not sure what's up with the guy who parks his car in the next spot over from us, but every week he has a new gash in his car...if the car were a horse, it would be taken out and shot (no offense to the horse lovers out there). One week he was driving around with the entire front fender missing, and then he got a 'spare' one which was too small for the frame and it promptly fell off when he parked the car.

To all the freaks we've met along the way, we SERIOUSLY won't miss you, please don't write. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.00...

I'm nice...?

I was perusing Bloglines the other day and noticed that Doris nominated me for a "Nice" award. Phew, my plan worked...I'm fooled you all, excuse me while I go sand my horns down.

Apparently for this meme I have to 'nominate' seven others for this award. The problem with that is, I can ONLY nominate seven. Hmm. In no particular order they would be:

1. Kathy, because she's got one hell of a wicked sense of humour, and she shares my passion for anything sweet. Fun Dip anyone?!

2. Michelle, because she's very thoughtful and caring (not that the rest of you aren't, but this is my list and I'll say what I wanna). ;)

3. Dolores, because she's sweet and I can really be myself around her.

4. Connie, because she makes me spit my coffee out on a regular basis when I read her blog.

5. Nic, because she's one helluva great friend and I can't believe how close we are considering we've "only" known each other a year (almost). Oh yeah, and I'm seeing her this weekend! Woo!

6. Heather, because she's a lot of fun to be around, even though we've only "seen" each other once...we have to fix that.

7. Lisa, who is a very down-to-earth woman who tells it like it is...gotta love that. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How cool is this?! ***UPDATE***

Last night, Josh and I went to order a new lock for the front door (for when we close in 2 days...TWO DAYS!) We found this fantastic product that I am just oohing and aahing over.

It's called the Hercular Captive Deadbolt. Now, I hear you saying "but all locks are the same!"...not true my friends.

The thing that really caught my eye was this feature...

It has a neat little feature that you can put the key in on the inside and remove the lock mechanism. So, let's say someone smashes the glass in the door and then tries to reach around to unlock the door...well, there's nothing to turn because that little mechanism isn't there.

By extension, if you remove it and you're inside the house, little ones can't 'explore' their surroundings by opening the front door and running into the street...which is a big fear of mine.

***Something I was going to add, but changed my mind was brought up by 'someone' I changed my mind again and decided to add it (did you follow all that?)

Someone suggested that if the mechanism is out and there's a fire, then it could be a hazard. What I just realized, however, if the mechanism is out then you just use your house key and unlock the door from the inside.

Realistically though, the only time we would take the entire mechanism out is when we were on vacation. When we put the alarm system in, we'll hear a little *ding* when the door is opened or I'm not terribly worried about it.

Connie, the salesperson suggested that you get a little 'key box' and put the lock in the same place all the time, so there's no confusion as to where you last put it. Though, with a child in tow, I doubt if that can be done each and every time without fail. ;)

My name is Rhonda, and I'm a candle-aholic...

I packed up my candles and accessories last night and was stunned to see how much crap stuff I have accumulated. I have an entire box and a half of candle related paraphernalia. The sad thing is, I rarely light them anymore. I think I need a 12-step program. Well, for any of you that are coming to the housewarming (whenever that may be), be prepared for a really fruity smelling house. :P

The upside to all of this, of course, is that I'm prepared for the next bazillion blackouts...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Your input requested...

So I've been looking around at other blogs (where I get most of my thievery inspiration) and thought about tweaking something on here. I noticed on some blogs that instead of it saying X number of comments, it will say something else, like X number of pumpkin seeds or X number of rolling waves.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to come up with something creative for me to put instead of "comments". I've already thought of "seedlings" or "maple leaves", but I'm not entirely sold on those ones. All suggestions will be considered, but I don't think I'll go with octopus tentacles or sloth asses. :)

Any thoughts?

Thinking makes my brain hurt...

I saw this and wept for our future...

But the tears might have been from laughter. I'm thinking, though, it would have been more amusing if the person doing the subtitles gave up at the end and just put a bunch of question marks...

I'm a happy camper once again...

Last night we had our last home visit before we close (ACK!) on Friday. If you remember this post, you'll know the trials and tribulations I had of simply getting a painter from Home Depot to show up.

Well, I contacted a painter through a friend and what a relief it was that he actually showed up after only one call. (Service? What's that?) He looked around the house and we told him what we wanted painted and he suggested a few things that the Home Depot painter didn't. As he was adding things on that we hadn't thought of, we were assuming that the cost was going to go up...and up...and up. After all was tallied, he came in $500 cheaper than the Home Depot guy. That's right...five hundred dollars cheaper. WOO!

So, we're getting our house painted next week!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

We have THE best friends

...and I'm not just saying that because they know I'm a chocoholic. Dolores and Shawn got us a fondue kit and a BIG, honkin' bag of chocolate (I'm tempted to open it up and roll arou...err, too much information) as a belated anniversary present. K1 and K2 got us Purdy's chocolates in the shape of maple leaves. How cute!

I'm not saying that we have the best friends because of the gifts, because that's not what matters to's the great connection that we have with these incredible people. Without them, and the others that we have met along our journey to "Little Maple", we would be (in all honesty) lost. Ok, enough mushiness...

We went out last night with two crazy kayakers and Dolores and Shawn at 6:00. We met up for "Sushi Saturday (tm)" at a great sushi restaurant...all you can eat for $20. We ended up having so much sushi that I think Josh went into fish sweats, and at one point I swear I saw Jimi Hendrix floating above the table. We forgot to bring our camera, the presentation of the food was definitely picture-worthy. All during dinner we were talking about adoption, work and life in general. I don't mean just talking...I mean really having a good conversation about everything. It was great.

As we were finishing up dinner, we looked around and noticed that we were pretty much the last ones in the restaurant, but none of us wanted the evening to end. K1 suggested that we go to William's Coffee Pub, so we could talk some more, so we all got into our respective cars and drove over there. We were about to walk in when Dolores said that she saw a Caffe Demetre as we were driving we all got back into our cars and drove over there instead. I hadn't heard of it before and I had no idea what we were in store for.!

What an amazing place! They had THE best desserts I have ever seen (or tasted for that matter). Not that I had much room for anything after the dinner, but I slowly made some I said, I'm a chocoholic. ;)

We sat around, getting buzzed on enjoying our chocolate haze and ended up talking until about 12:30am.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I find this funny...

Some of you know that I use Statcounter to see where people are logging in from and how they found my blog. Well, I was just perusing it and I found a search that someone did and they happened upon my blog.

Their search.

What they found...

I laughed out loud when I read just tickles my sick sense of humour. :)

For other amusing searches that I've had over the past year or so, click here. :P

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gifty goodness

This morning, while I was busy packing reading blogs, I got a knock at the door. The knock was ever-so-slight that I wasn't completely sure if it was a knock or if Deuce was jumping around in his packing box. I figured I should go to the door and check. Lo and behold it was Hoppy the bow-legged postman and he had a package for Little Maple!

I'd post a picture of the envelope, but well, it has my full address on you'll just have to imagine the cuteness. It was addressed "Little Maple", c/o Rhonda's Mom, c/o Rhonda and Josh...too cute! Anyways, when I flipped the envelope over, it said "Can be stored away until the time is right...Just don't want you to think you were missing out..." I thought it was very sweet of Michelle and Mark to think of us in this way...and to 'preface' the packaging in such a way to take our beliefs into account.

I waited impatiently for Josh to come home, so we could open it together, but he ended up working until about 7:00 and then we went out for dinner.

When we were finally home, I HAD to rip that sucker open. I simply had to...and this is what I found inside...

A beautiful, handmade sweater! I can't wait to see "Little Maple" wearing it...Couldn't you just die from the cuteness?

Follow-up... ***UPDATE***

Ok, so I FINALLY heard from the new tenant today...I called her at work. ;)

Anyways, she wanted to know how much I wanted for the air conditioners. I told her to come up with a price and she said $50 for both (as I mentioned yesterday). I said I was thinking more along the lines of $100 for one or $150 for both...since they're 11 years old, I figured that price was 'fair'. She asked me to meet her in the middle and accept $75 for both. Umm, I don't know where she learned math, but halfway is NOT $75, nor should I feel obligated to do so.

Then the ultimate insult...

She wanted to know how much I would sell (or rather, how little she would have to spend) the custom blinds for. Now for any of you that have been in our apartment, you know how big the windows are...for those of you haven't been here, the windows are HUUUGE which include a sliding door leading out to both balconies. When we moved in, I think we spent somewhere in the range of $1500-$2000 for the blinds. She wanted to give me a resounding $30-$40 for them. Umm, yeah.

At some point on the weekend I'm putting up a flier in the building and I'll sell them that way, after all they'll fit into any window in the building. Whatever I get for them, I get for them. At this point, I don't really care. I'd rather throw them in the dumpster than for her to walk in and have her whole apartment looked after.

She also asked me when we're leaving the apartment, which is a fair enough question. She said she was under the impression that we would be out on September 1st. I told her that we have the apartment until September 30th to which she replied that she has a mover coming on the 30th. (Pssst, not my problem).

She said if we're moving out on the 30th and the place has to be painted before they move in, when was the super going to do everything? I told her "You know, that's a conversation you should be having with the super, not with me."

When we ended the call, I called up the super and asked him to do me a favour...if/when the new tenant asks when we're moving out (even though he knows it's earlier than the 30th), to tell her that we're staying until the last moment.

I know that's mean, but hey, don't mess with Mama Maple... ;)

***2Kayaks, because I love you, if we dump them I'll post pictures of it.*** :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I've got so little to babble about here, so I thought I'd regale you all with an email that I sent to Dolores.

So, I got a phone call from the carpet company that we were (planning on) dealing with. Their estimate was $**** for carpetting all the stairs and doing the top level's hallway.


I got a call Monday morning from the salesman who said 'I just received a second sketch today from the estimator and I didn't know you had a second level of stairs.'

Our house isn't THAT big that it needs two sketches, he's making it sound like it's Buckingham Palace...hardly. So he's off to 'tally' the new amount and I think when he calls me back that I'll tell him what he can do with his quote...

On Monday I got a phone call from the new tenants of our apartment. I'm trying to sell them our air conditioners and custom-made blinds (we have HUGE windows in the apartment). I figure that we can make a reasonable amount of money for selling them, plus she wouldn't have to go through the expense of getting new blinds and air conditioners.

I thought I was being nice by giving her my phone number and told her to call me when she thinks of a 'fair price'. Well...

She called me and said that she would offer me $50 or maybe $75 for everything. I'm sorry, is my dummy sign on crooked?! Granted, we've had 11 years worth of use from them, but the air conditioners still work and there's nothing wrong with the blinds. I'm thinking of either selling them to someone else in the building or junking them. I'd rather get nothing for them, than to be insulted with a measly (in the grand scheme of things) amount.

Whenever I call her back, she never answers. I'm getting the impression that she's playing games...she's trying to see how 'desperate' I'll get, and how cheaply she can get the blinds and air conditioners for.

Anyways, today she called me again, this time to ask me how often we've had to walk up and down the stairs over the 11 years we've been here, and if I can give her any information about the other tenants that live here (ie., who to avoid, who to talk to, etc).

I'm really regretting that I gave her my number.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Looks who's 21...


Yesterday we spent the day with the birthday girl at her house for a lovely afternoon BBQ. Also there was Kathy and Joel, and Lisa, Craig and their daughter K. There was enough food to feed an army (or two) at least...and don't get me started on the dessert! Not only was there a huge Harry Potter birthday cake (which a little one ended up putting his foot in...after everyone ate some), but there was a chocolate fountain as well. I think I have a new addiction...chocolate covered watermelon. It probably sounds bad, but it was SO good. Can anything REALLY be bad if it's covered in chocolate?

Well, maybe Connie's octopus, but otherwise it was all good. ;)

Anyways, go here and wish her a happy birthday!


What are you waiting for?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Happy birthday!

It's someone's birthday today! Go and wish her a happy birthday.




Thursday, August 16, 2007

Home Depot can kiss my ass...

Ah, now I feel better!

So I put in a phone call to Home Depot on Monday to try to get a painter in tonight since we have access to the house.

(I've been busy on the phone. We also have someone who is going to give us a quote on carpet and another one for blinds tonight as well...I wanted to be efficient and get all three done at once).

Anyways, I was told by Home Depot that I would hear back in 2 business days because they "have to give their workmen some time to return calls". Fine, I can deal with that. I called on Wednesday morning to find out the status of my request and they said that the workman has until that evening to return the call. I said fine and hung up.

I called again at the end of business yesterday and I was told "oh, you haven't heard back yet?!" (Umm, no shit for brains, I haven't...I'm not calling you because I have nothing better to do.) So she said she would put me right through to the painter's answering service.

She put me on hold and transferred me over. The only problem was that the number she switched me over to was out of service. Are you kidding me?!

I called back, told her what happened and she said "Oh, let me try that extension myself and I'll get back to you." Umm, does she think I'm lying? She comes back to the phone and says "There seems to be a problem with our phone system." So I replied, rather snarkily "You think?!" She said she would contact the painter and I would hear something in the morning.

Well, since I hadn't heard anything by 10:30 this morning, I called back. First I spoke to someone who, I swear, was holding the phone upside down because I couldn't hear a word she was saying. I again explained everything that had happened in the couple of days and she said "You should have heard something by now!" REALLY?!

I told her, "I know you have no control over your painters and it's not your fault, but how much faith do you think I have in Home Depot as a service provider right now if they can't return a simple phone call?" She apologized and said she was going to transfer me RIGHT NOW to the painter's cell phone number.

It rang a couple of times and then I got the message "It is not necessary to dial 1 or 0 to complete this call. Please hang up and call again."


I was about to call again, but as I was dialing the painter called in on call waiting. Long story short, he's coming tonight to give me a quote (I just want to make sure that who we eventually deal with is going to give us a fair price), though I can tell you all right now that's as far as it's going to go. We're going to deal with another painter who I'll be calling in the next couple of days. I'm so pissed off with the entire situation right now.

So, again, Home Depot can kiss my ass. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ok...I need the info ***UPDATE***

I've seen on a bunch of blogs people mentioning the Furminator...Where, oh where, can I find one? Deuce is half tabby and half Maine coon and he sheds something fierce (and what he doesn't shed he decides to leave 'presents' on the only rug in the apartment). If there's a Furminator fairy out there, can you please tell me where one is? :P

***Ok, I have a few questions about the Furminator.

Has anyone ever got it tangled in their pet's fur or does it run smoothly through it? Deuce has rather long and thick belly fur and I don't want to get it stuck or accidentally hurt him.

Are the blades sharp?

Is there a chance I could end up cutting him with it?

I know, I'm really overprotective when it comes to Deuce, but he's my little furbaby. :P***

We won't miss hearing these words...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Whose side do YOU fall on?

So, I was reading the paper the other day and found this article. While I'm never one for violence, but I find it poetic justice that this gentleman (and I use this term loosely) was beaten up. Personally, I find it appalling that someone would leave their pet in a car while they went and visited friends.

Do you think the Toronto Humane Society investigator was justified in what he did?

Do you think the passersby were right in attacking the owner?

Do you think the investigator should be penalized for his actions?

They have their son!

I woke up to the most wonderful blog entry this morning...Nic and Tim have their son, Z, in their arms! They're both glowing and you can literally see the joy in their eyes. Z is SO much cuter in the new photos and his smile melted my heart this morning. I am so utterly overjoyed for them!

Sorry people, if you don't already have the link to her password-protected journal, you're not getting it from me. :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

One month closer...

Why does it feel like we're getting further away? We're 11 months into our journey towards our daughter, I thought that we would have been there and back by now, but the wait is what it is.

We decided to get cupcakes instead of one big mother of a cake this month. After our trip to visit the A-Team earlier this month, we both put on a few more pounds than we would have liked, so we decided to go dietetic (yeah right) with chocolate cupcakes instead. ;)

I also added one more link to my bracelet. This month I added the American flag to represent Josh's mom and her American roots.

Click on the picture to see the detail of the charm...though it should be fine to view in Bloglines.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's not easy being green…

Josh here...

The Provincial government is running a TV commercial that reminds viewers "Good things grow, in Ontario". Unfortunately, they are referring to peaches, apples and strawberries, not ideas, generated (forgive the subtle pun) by our Environment Minister Laurel Broten and Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield.

In a recent press conference reported in the August 10th edition of the Toronto Star, the current Ontario government announced that owners of hybrid cars would be issued green coloured licence plates instead of the blue on white, which would enable them to park for free at public lots and travel in highway carpool lanes (a.k.a. high occupancy vehicle – HOV lanes). Other perks are under development.

The banana peel our Ministers slipped on was that green licence plates are used to identify sex offenders in Ohio, Wisconsin and Alabama and may cause Ontario drivers to think twice about driving through these states announcing their environmental friendliness.

This morning's letter to the editor made me smile as it suggests, "red license plates of shame" for those who drive SUVs. Insert sarcasm here.

Hybrids help drivers use less gas, just as some low-cal foods help dieters eat less. What we need is a serious change in thinking. A properly organized rail/rapid transit system would get people out of their cars. If you live in London, Paris, Rome, or New York, you do not need a car. If anyone has travelled to Southern England, the rail links between London and the suburbs are fast and frequent. Consider a 25 minute train ride for a 50 mile (81km) commute as compared to 50 minutes in a car with all the expense and down time. Toronto and other cities have oceans of flat roofs that could be covered with solar panels or wind turbines. Toronto is going through a tax crunch where the city cannot seem to balance its books. One of the solutions to reduce costs was to shut down the newly completed Sheppard subway system, cut bus routes and raise fares. How is this "green"? How does this reduce carbon emissions?

Requiring solar panels/wind turbines on empty flat roofs, building and subsidizing an efficient rail/rapid transit system, heavy taxes on low mileage cars/trucks, higher taxes on non-energy star appliances are all tough decisions that would have to be made and likely cost both the public and private sector millions, but the payback would be equally large. Politicians don't make tough decisions with an election looming.

If everyone generated a little energy (solar/wind) themselves, conserved energy on an ongoing basis, then the decision to build a nuclear power plant could be delayed or shelved for years.

A green licence plate is akin to telling someone, the bag of Oreo cookies they have just eaten is made without "trans-fats". Guess what, it's still a bag of Oreos.

One box down...

Well, good intentions aside, we tried to dive into packing this week but it didn't quite work out that way. As soon as we set up one box, Deuce decided to make it HIS box...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Our vacation (part three)

Ok, so the post you've all been waiting for...NOT.

We drove all day Thursday in order to get into Dayton, have a good night's rest and get up refreshed (HA!) for our night out with the A-Team. Good plan in theory, but it didn't quite work out that way.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn by the Dayton Mall. It's a nice hotel and all, but we had one of the rooms that overlooked the indoor pool. It would have been nicer had there not been about 20 kids in the pool, all screaming at the top of their lungs until all hours of the night. GRAH! We got a couple hours of sleep, but we were woken up in the morning by the cleaning staff who happened to have their supply room right outside our door. I figured it would be noisy, but they were all carrying on and yelling at each other over the noise of the vacuum cleaners. I'm sorry, but who vacuums at 6:30am?! I sent Josh downstairs to complain and we got a new room for the next three nights...but he didn't ask them to do something about that night's charge. When I heard that, I went down to the front desk and they ended up taking 50% off that night's charge. Woo!

Anyways, the weather that day was INCREDIBLY hot and sticky so I decided to get my hair done so I wouldn't look like Captain Caveman. My hair has a horrible tendency to poof out in the hot and humid weather. I told the hairdresser to make my hair manageable but with some bounce and volume to it. It didn't quite work out that way though. Apparently, to her, that meant to make my hair stick was really bad, but I had already wasted close to an hour and didn't want her to damage it further. We walked around the mall a bit more and then went back to the hotel to get changed for dinner.

We got to P.F. Chang's and everyone was already there, except for Krista. We all hugged and it was like meeting old friends...except it was for the first time. We ordered our appetizers and our drinks and started talking...and talking...and talking. I was really struck by how incredibly warm and genuine everyone was. I know I mention this a lot, but every time we meet a new member of the A-Team, it's like meeting up with a long lost friend. I'm so thankful for having the opportunity to meet people like this.

After our appetizers, we ordered our mains but they seemed to take forever. So while we waited, we exchanged gifts. Josh and I (and Little Maple) were showered with gifts from the Ohio A-Team.

From Sam and Andy we got a little Nemo fish (since her blog is called 'Just Keep Swimming') and a beautiful taggie blanket that she made. From Robin and Marty we got a corker bow that she made, and I can't wait to have our "Little Maple" wear it. From Connie we received a Canadian maple leaf on a beautiful stand (the picture doesn't really do it justice), and from Krista we got a "family" picture frame with a Canadian flag already in it...too cute. :)

After dinner, and Connie's little horse-climbing incident (which I think she posted on her blog), we said our adieus and called it a night.

The next day we met up with Sam, Andy, Cullen and Kieren as well as Sam's sister Heather and her son Ian. We spent about three hours walking around Wright Patterson Air Force Base and Museum, what a place! Heather was giving us a great synopsis of the different planes and Josh was thoroughly enthralled...he loves that kind of thing. ;)

Kieren was a sweetheart, she was a bit shy at first and had a few meltdowns, but otherwise she was great! She even came out of her shell enough that she walked up to me and started holding my hand. I swear I'm in love with that child. Cullen and Andy showed up near the end of our walkabout and we all headed out for lunch and had a great time...even though the service left a little to be desired.

On Sunday we headed over to Robin and Marty's for a BBQ and some much needed imbibing. I think Marty missed his calling in life...he should have been a bartender...seriously. He makes THE best margaritas, martinis and mojitos. *drool*

It was also our 11th anniversary on Sunday but we didn't tell anyone about it...we didn't want anyone to feel obligated to do anything. We couldn't have celebrated it any better than to be surrounded with friends, drinks and food.

*sigh* I miss them all.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Our vacation (part two)

I won't bore you all with the minutiae of our trip, but I will regale you with some of the highlights of our journey into Kentucky...

The following day we went into Lexington, but along the way we stopped into the Newport Aquarium for an hour or so, just to work the kinks out, after driving for a while. It's a really beautiful part of the state, basically just on the border between Ohio and Kentucky. As we were walking along the river, we noticed a tattoo artist (well, he does temporary tattoos) and we thought that since we were on vacation we may as well be 'wild and crazy' and get one tattoo each.

Josh's, obviously, is a panda bear. Mine, however, reflected the kind of mood I was in at the time, and since I was eagerly anticipating the most recent referral batch (and we all know how that went) I decided that the most appropriate one for me was the Chinese symbol for "patience". For the rest of the trip I had that on my arm, and even went in for a touch-up on our way back north to visit with Connie, Krista, Sam, and Robin.

We were in Kentucky from Sunday until Wednesday and had a blast! We saw the Toyota plant and did the tour which was REALLY well organized. We also went down to Bowling Green and saw the Corvette plant and did that tour as well. If I had to make a choice and only do one of them, I would definitely do the Toyota tour again.

While we were in Louisville, we went to see the Louisville Slugger museum which was ok, but the tour was a bit too long. After we saw the museum, we decided to go and get a bite to eat and we were stunned at how run-down downtown Louisville was. Being dumb Canadians, we just naturally assumed that the downtown core in big cities would be full of life as they are here but were really struck at how bereft of life they really are. It certainly was an eye-opener!

We also went to the Maker's Mark distillery and did the tour of the facility. It was fascinating learning how they came up with the name, the seal, etc., but unfortunately there were no taste tests. We did, however, come home with a couple 'samples'. Josh even had the opportunity to dip his own bottle and seal it. FUN!

On Wednesday we went to Lost River Cave and did a cave tour! That was SO much fun. All in all, Kentucky was a blast. :)

The following day was a travel day and we made our way from Bowling Green all the way back up to Dayton and rested up for our encounter with the A-Team (that's Josh's term for any adoption people that we've met during the process). :)

Our vacation (part one)

I know some of you are waiting with bated breath (hardly) for details about our recent trip to Ohio and Kentucky. I don't have the patience right now to upload our photos, I might do that and tweak the posts in the coming days, but right now we're trying to THINK about packing and that takes precedence. :)

Anyways, we left for Ohio on July 28th. We stopped in Erie, PA for lunch and a much needed walk. As we got off the interstate and travelled into Erie, Josh and I were struck by how depressed the city was and that a lot of the businesses were boarded up. There was one priceless sign that I really wanted to take a picture of, but Josh didn't really want to stop the car and get out. It was a fortune teller who had gone out of business...I guess she couldn't foresee HER future. ;)

After lunch we drove into Cleveland and went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I have to say, we were rather disappointed with the place. It WAS interesting to see the rock artifacts, however, we didn't realize that they ONLY had items of bands who were inducted. So we were stupidly looking around for the KISS exhibit, but couldn't find it.

I was a little surprised at how seriously they took security. Yes, they have priceless items from individuals and bands, but I think they went a bit overboard. There was a teenager who took a picture of some memorabilia. Apparently they have motion sensors that pick up on camera flashes, anyways, this kid took the picture and out came a guard to talk to him. I figured they would just let him off with a warning and let him go. That would be too easy...and kind-hearted.

All of a sudden this guard gets on her walkie-talkie and yells, "We have a Code 9! I repeat, we have a Code 9!" She promptly looked at his camera, made him erase the photo(s) he took and threw him out. Nice, wasn't she?

After the Hall of Fame, we decided to get into the car and head into one of the suburbs, have dinner and get some sleep. Since there wasn't anywhere really nice where we were, we stopped in at an Olive Garden and had a bite to eat. Well, that was a mistake. The food was ok but the service made us cringe. Not only was the waitress rude, but whenever she couldn't hear what we said, she would respond with a long, drawn-out "Whuuuuuuuuuuuuuut?" with a hint of a Southern accent. Most waitresses, one would hope, would ask "pardon me?" or "could you repeat that?", but no matter what we requested, she would respond the same way. We wanted more napkins..."Whuuuuuuuuuuuuuut?" We wanted more water..."Whuuuuuuuuuut?" After a while we couldn't help but laugh. ;)

We finally got to the hotel and got a good night's rest as we were going to head into Kentucky in the morning...that was an experience. ;)

They're leaving on a jet plane!

After a long delay, Nic and Tim are leaving tomorrow to get their son, Z, from Vietnam! Josh and I wish them all the best as they become parents in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


No, the title doesn't describe the people we met over the weekend, this is merely an update on our loonie/toonie fund.


While I attempt to read the 550+ new posts on Bloglines, I found this cute picture on I can has cheezburger and thought of Krista.

People, you have to be less wordy while I'm on vacation! ;)


baaaaaaaaack! Updates on the trip will probably follow in the next day or two. Suffice it to say that Connie, Krista, Sam, and Robin are all AMAZING people and the time we spent with them was all too brief...even though we spent about 7 hours this past Sunday at Robin's house drinking our faces off pleasantly enjoying a cup of coffee. ;)

Thanks Spitgirl for posting on the blog while I was away, and I'd be interested in what traditions you're keeping and which ones you're not...I find that sort of stuff interesting. :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The luckiest number on earth, and other contemplations

Spitgirl here. I'm still occasionally filling in for Rhonda while she's on vacation, and I managed to hit a point at work where I've done all I can for the day, but I have an appointment in an hour at a place that's fifteen minutes away and surrounded by junkies and the scent of unwashed bodies.

All that aside, though, my fiancé and I have been exploring our cultural differences (specifically, what it means to be Chinese) over the past couple of years, to much amusement on both sides. We've been forced to have some pretty intense conversations as well about cultural traditions we want to maintain and which ones to drop. If you guys are interested, I can share with you the list we came up with - specifically, which parts of Chinese culture I want to retain and which ones I want to drop.

But one of the more lighthearted conversations we had revolved around numbers. Here in North America, it's all about the lucky number 7. I'm sure it has to do something with the Judeo-Christian obsession with sevens and multiples of seven (and seventy). I read an article way back when that July 7, 2007 was the most popular wedding date because it was 7/7/07, AND it was a Saturday. The article mentioned that people wanted to make sure the relationship would last... and nowadays, every couple could get as much help as it can get.

Anyway, it came as a complete surprise to him when I casually mentioned that in Chinese culture, the number 8 is considered more lucky than the number 7, and that Chinese will go out of their way to choose 8s. Not surprisingly, 88 is TWICE as lucky, and the more 8s you have, the better. (I'm not kidding... both my parents' Email addresses contain two 8s a piece. And I have to wonder if Chinese couples will be falling over themselves to get married on 8/8/08, regardless of whether or not it's a Saturday.)

And, because you guys want to know more about it, Wikipedia has more than you ever wanted to know about numbers in Chinese culture.

I find it quite interesting, though, that the article mentions that the number 88 looks a lot like the word for "double joy" (囍 / "shuang1 xi3"). This particular character is all over the place because there is nothing better than joy except joy, doubled. This character will probably be all over the place at my wedding, because the double joy character represents good luck to a couple. In fact, it might even be upside down, so that the joy will fall out of the top of the character down onto the couple. (Okay, I might be making that up about this particular character, but there are other characters where you DO post it upside down for that specific purpose.)

The flip side of this, however, is that certain numbers that contain huge social stigma within Western culture don't have the same impact on Chinese culture. I once heard a story that there was a house with the number 666 on it, and no one would bid on it but a Chinese family.

This is the point where my fiancé looks at me incredulously, and I spread my hands out and shrug. How can I explain this? Chinese are fairly superstitious, but no more than those who fear black cats, Friday the 13th, walking under ladders (or is that a Chinese thing? either way, it's common sense), and other Western superstitions. They're just alien to those who aren't used to it.

Welcome to my world. :)

Oh yeah, and I'm still working on getting lychees to photograph.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Musings on the color red

Spitgirl here. Since Rhonda's on vacation, I thought I would post a little something to keep y'all entertained.

Last weekend, my fiancé and I had the opportunity to celebrate my grandparents' 65th anniversary with my family. Here is an approximation of the conversation I had with him that afternoon, which probably is fairly familiar to those of you who are or have been married:

Him: So where are we going tonight?
Me: (name of restaurant) You know, we've been there before.
Him: Hmmm, I don't remember it.
Me: No, don't you remember? It was where we went the last time we had a family gathering. It's in (insert name of city here)
Him: No, I'm drawing a blank here.
Me: Trust me, you'll recognize it when we get there.
Him: So what's the dress code?
Me: Well, it should be pretty casual.
Him: Okay.
Me: (pause) But you should wear red.
Him: (pause) Why?

This is the point where we both started looking at each other as if the other were crazy. Him, because he couldn't understand why the color mattered, and me, because I couldn't understand why he was asking. The conversation went downhill from there.

Me: Because it's considered good luck.
Him: Okay, I have one that I can wear - it's a pullover with a collar, with yellow stripes.
Me: (unable to picture the shirt) What?
Him: You've seen it before. I wear it all the time.
Me: Uhhh... okay, that should be fine.
Him: So red is the color to wear for anniversaries?
Me: (struggling not to laugh... engineers are so literal) No, it's the color you wear for anything - weddings, birthdays, anniversaries.
Him: Oh, okay.
Me: Except funerals. You wear black at funerals, unless it's your parent. Then you wear all white.

I expect he, as a Caucasian man from the south (and someone who is apparently unable to distinguish "yellow" from "tan") was just about to go crazy from the exceptions.

The funny thing is, I don't know everything about what color to wear and what color not to wear. I'd never heard until I was in college that blue (or was it green?) was supposed to be unlucky to wear for birthdays, because it signifies death. However, I heard that from someone who speaks Cantonese, and cultural traditions can be significantly different between even those two major language groups.

The thing is, color - specifically red - is a significant part of Chinese culture as a whole. There are red envelopes (hong2 bao1) to give money to children, the roofs are red, the gates on the street where my grandparents lived when I was a child was painted a bright, primary red... you wear red to anything celebratory - Chinese New Year, birthdays, weddings, etc. Some Chinese traditions have a 100-day celebration of their child's birth, where they serve - guess what? - eggs dyed red.

Morals of the story? Red is a culturally significant color in Chinese culture. And don't trust a male engineer to know more than 9 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, brown, and black.