Monday, December 29, 2008

I just have to share this...

This is a bit embarrassing, but I am really excited about it and have to share! For the past few weeks, I have not been able to get our toilet clean. When we returned from Austin, there were rust streaks in the toilet, and I was able to scrub most of them off, but there were a few stubborn ones that no matter what I tried or how hard I scrubbed, they would not come off. Every time I walked in to the bathroom and saw the toilet I would cringe. Those streaks were taunting me, challenging me to just try and get rid of them. Over the past few weeks, I have tried all sorts of cleaning products and techniques, but nothing worked. Today I as I was cleaning the bathroom I was overcome with this intense determination to clean that darn toilet! After trying everything I tried before, I was about to give up, but determination is a strong motivator. So I grabbed my handy dandy housekeeping book, Home Comforts, the art and science of keeping house by Cheryl Mendelson (this was a Christmas present from Ryan, one that I asked for. It is the best book on keeping house!). I flipped through the pages trying to find some idea that would work. I came across a paragraph talking about the cleaning power of baking soda. I remembered hearing somewhere before that baking soda was great for cleaning. Now, here it was again. I decided to give it a try. I figured it couldn't hurt. I had tried everything else. So, I made a paste, and applied it to the streaks. After a couple of minutes and a bit of elbow grease the streaks were gone and the bowl was clean! I am surprised it actually worked. Who knew? Apparently someone did and shared it with the world, and now I am sharing it with you. No more expensive toilet bowl cleaners for me. I'll use my 49 cent box of baking soda!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The difficult life of a Military wife, part three

The army has thrown up in my livingroom!

That's a lot of gear!

Can anyone guess what movie is playing on the TV?

Take your sippy cup already!

Today in Relief Society we were discussing how we have to ask Heavenly Father for help even though He already knows what we want and need. One of the women compared it to how she makes her children ask for things. She used the example of one of her kids coming to her with an empty sippy cup and wanting it filled. She makes the child ask for more, even though she knows exactly what the child wants. Another woman built on that comment by saying that sometimes, even if she is standing there, with the sippy cup full of milk, the child is so wrapped in his own crying and screaming that he is too busy to notice that the cup is right there. Then she went on to say that sometimes God tries to hand us the sippy cup. He is saying 'Dude, I have a world to run. Here's your sippy cup. Take it already!' That comment really got me thinking: How many times do I pray for blessings and then become too wrapped up in my own self-pity that I fail to recognize the blessing is right in front of me? I am crying and screaming for the full sippy cup, but don't take it when it is offered, because I don't and won't see it! If I ask for something, I need to be looking for the blessing. It may not come in the way I want, but I will get what I need. I may want a sippy cup full of pop, but instead get a cup full of milk, because it is better for me. Maybe I need to stop crying and screaming and take my sippy cup already.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our first Christmas together

Our first Christmas together! Husband and I were dating last Christmas, but he was in Iraq, so compared to that, this Christmas was 100000000000 times better. Our friend Ian, who couldn't fly home because of all the crazy snow storms, joined us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He was a pleasant addition to our celebration. We started our own tradition of making pizzas on Christmas Eve. I used the pizza dough recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, which was simple and very delicious. Husband practiced his domestic skills by kneading the dough. After pizzas, we incorporated my family's tradition of playing a board game. Trivial Pursuit was the game of the night, with Ian proving to be full of random, useless information.

Christmas Day brought presents, food and more games. I was a bit concerned about cooking a turkey because I had never done it before. But it turns out it's not so hard. Husband once again showed his skills in the kitchen by mashing the potatoes. He had better stop doing things or I will know that he is good at them and make him do them all the time! Much to my surprise, all the food was done about the same time! I have no idea how that happened, but I call it my Christmas miracle.

Perhaps the highlight of the day, and the moment that will be talked about for years to come came when Husband opened up this present...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day?

Yesterday, I went into Michael's in search of some Christmas decorations. I am still looking for something to top my tree. I fear that another epic search has begun, but more on that in another post. As I walked through the store, I noticed that a lot of the shelves had been stripped of the Christmas products and were bare. I wondered what the deal was, and so, as I was at the check-out I mentioned the bare shelves and lack of Christmas decorations to the cashier. Her response? "We are getting ready to put our our Valentine's stuff. It should be out by the middle of the week." Sorry? What? Christmas isn't even here yet! Is it too much to ask to let us finish one holiday before we start preparing for the next one? Just a thought.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

8 Things!

I stole this from Natalie's blog. I am a bit bored right now and thought it would be fun to see if I can list 8 things for all the categories:

Rules:Post rules on your blog. Answer the six "8" items.

8 things I did yesterday:
1. Bought a Christmas tree (for $10!!!)
2. Went to the mall
3. Went grocery shopping
4. Went to the library
5. Watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
6. Attended a wicked awesome Christmas party!!
7. Made room in the living room for the Christmas tree
8. Did dishes

8 things I look forward to:
1. The Turduken (I hope that is how you spell it!) at the Willards on Saturday
2. Christmas
3. My birthday
4. Finally going to the glass museum
5. Our cruise!
6. moving somewhere warmer
7. Seeing my new nephew after he is born
8. Ryan getting out of the Army!

8 restaurants I like:
(this will be hard because I don't eat out a lot)
1. Cracker Barrel
2. Boston Pizza (even though we don't have one here)
3. Cosi (even though we don't have one here)
4. Olive Garden (even though we don't have one here)
5. Chili's (even though we don't have one here)
6. Acapulco's (even though we don't have one here)
7. Subway (is that a resturant?)
8. Pita Pit (even though we don't have one here)

8 things on my wishlist:
1. To move to a place that has more of my favourite resturants!
2. A king sized bed
3. A new car
4. To go to the glass museum
5. A bigger crockpot
6. A waffle iron maker thing
7. World peace
8. A million dollars

8 Favorite TV shows:
1. Regis and Kelly
2. Martha Stewart
3. Two and a half men
4. How I met your mother
5. Getting fresh with Sarah Snow
6. Jay Leno (if I can stay up late enough)
7. Whatever Ryan is watching
8. Whatever Ryan is still watching

8 People I tag:
I don't think I know 8 people who would want to do this, so I guess whoever wants to do this should. By the way, it's harder than it looks!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Ryan and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Toronto. We loved it! I have never been to a city that was so clean or so quiet! The city is beautiful. Driving in it wasn't a problem. The subway system was easy to navigate and very clean. We had a great hotel, with an amazing view. And we were within walking distance of downtown and all the places we wanted to visit. But most importantly, we were right by a Tim Hortons! For my American readers, Tim Hortons is like a Dunkin' Doughnuts, only better. It is a Canada icon. I must have had at least a dozen maple dipped doughnuts (they are my favourite) over a 3 day span! Good thing we did a LOT of walking! (Side note: When did the small hot chocolate at Tim Hortons get so small? Seriously!)

The view from our hotel room!

The Hockey Hall of Fame was number one on our list (Ok, it was number one on my list, not Ryan's!). We spent a couple hours learning about the history of hockey and all the hockey greats. It was amazing to see memorabilia of events my dad talked about. Legends came to life before my eyes. It was a bit unnerving to see displays of events I remember in the Hall. Am I really that old, that things that happened when I was younger are now in a museum? Granted some of them were not that long ago (the winning hockey teams from the 2002 Winter Olympics). But others happened back when I was a teenager: I can remember when Wayne Gretzky scored the goal to set the record for most goals and that was a long time ago! And of course, we stopped to worship, oops! I mean view the Stanley Cup. There, on a stand, without any barriers, was the holy grail of Hockey. The Stanley Cup! We got to touch it, hug it, lick it (just kidding...kind of).

"My precious!"

We also visited the CN Tower. After paying an insane amount of money, we were able to go to the observation deck and get an amazing view of the city. Part of the floor is covered in glass, so you can see all the way to the ground. If you want to experience what it would be like to walk in the middle of air 112 stories up, this is the place for you. It took me a number of tries before I actually ventured out onto the floor. And even after I was on, if I looked down, I stumbled! Ryan said that walking on the glass floor was the most terrifying thing he has ever encountered (remember this guy has been to war...twice!).

Look down...waaaaaaaaaaaaay down!

Tree branches with the CN Tower in the background (I love this picture!)

In preparation for this trip, I did a lot of research. One thing that looked interesting was Habourfront Centre. It was supposed to have art exhibits, crafters, and quaint shops. Apparently, this is true only in the summer. When we got there nothing was open. So much for research! However, there was a skating pond and we decided to make the best of our trip down there. We rented skates and spent an hour skating alongside Lake Ontario, with a great view of the CN Tower.

We spent time at Kensington Market, wandering in and out of shops full of vintage clothes. We tried to go into a couple of the cheese shops there, but barely got in the door because the smell was so bad! We did find a great pastry shop and consumed way too many calories! Kensington Market is in Chinatown, and I tried to find a traditional Chinese dress. However, since the Chinese are small and I am not (I blame the doughnuts!), I did not succeed!

Our last night was spent at the Royal Ontario Museum, wandering through their natural history exhibits. Later that night, after eating dinner and returning to our hotel I got up close and personal with our toilet, spending some quality time sharing my dinner with it. (I no longer recommend the garlic potatoes at Jack Asters!) But the throwing up wasn't the worst part! The worst part was knowing that Ryan was eating the apple pie I had brought back from the restaurant to eat later on! But, being the ever thoughtful husband he is, he ate it out of my sight.

As with almost all vacations, this one ended way too quickly and we found ourselves on our way back home. As we drove out of Toronto, we had an amazing view of the skyline with the CN Tower right up front. Visiting Toronto made me realize how much I miss city life. The pulse of the city is contagious. There is so much to see and do. All you have to do in a city is walk out your front door and BAM! There it is: the city! It is so glamorous! If things go according to our plan, we should be in a city setting within 60 days. I can't wait! Only, I hope our new city doesn't have glass floors 112 stories above the ground. That is one feature I can do without!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ok, so I am sure that many blogs over the next day or two will mention Thanksgiving and what people are thankful for, but I can't let this holiday pass by without writing something about it. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favourite holidays. I love what it stands for: gathering together with family and friends to celebrate the end of the growing season and the harvest. Growing up in a predominately agricultural area has helped me to appreciate more what goes into growing and harvesting our food. To me, one of the best sights in the world is to see farm equipment out in the field in late September, late into the night. Usually, you can only see the lights of the tractors, as they move up and down the rows, but you know what the lights mean: someone is working hard.

To often in today's world, we tend to be so negative and look at all the things that are going wrong in our lives. I found this quote that puts things in perspective for me:

H. W. Westermayer (Whoever that is!) said: The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts… nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.

I am not going to list what I thankful for. My life is so blessed that I wouldn't have the time to list everything. But I will say that I am thankful for Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For Alicia

Today I got an email from my dear friend Alicia. She wrote "I just wanted to make a request for your know that you started your blog to entertain me, so I am letting you know that you need to write a new post AT LEAST once a day. That way, when I check it each day there will be something new for me to read. So, get on that!"

So at Alicia's request, here is my post for the day (I hope it entertains her enough):

I just ate a grilled cheese sandwich. It was yummy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Squishy, squishy

Sitting in church today, my friend's two year old son puts his hand on my upper arm, starts squeezing and says "Squishy! Squishy!" Good thing his hand wasn't on my stomach. That would have been a severe knock to my self-esteem!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why the man should always drive

Last Christmas Husband bought me a book entitled 1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die. My goal is to visit as many places as possible. Living in New England for 5 years made it possible for me to see a lot of places listed in the book. In fact, there are only two places in the book that I definitely want to go to before we leave the Eastern United States: The Baseball Hall of Fame and the Corning Museum of Glass. Because the Hall of Fame is on the way to Boston, we have decided to hit it up on one of our trips down there. The Glass Museum is a bit out of the way, but I am determined to check it off. We planned to drive there a few weeks ago, however our corner of Northern New York was hit with a snow storm, so we stayed home. Then last week, we planned to go again, but this time, the area the Museum is in was hit with a snow storm,so we stayed home once again. Friday, we were determined to go. We got up early, checked the weather and discovered that we would have to drive through not one, but two, bands of severe snow. I was disappointed, but undeterred: "We'll go on Saturday," I said. Saturday morning dawned sunny, beautiful and bitterly cold. But no snow! A quick check of the weather showed some small pockets of light snow along our route, but nothing to be concerned about. Nevertheless, we packed the car with sleeping bags, a shovel, and winter boots just in case the satellite map was wrong. I was extremely excited. After weeks of waiting and planning and cancelling, we were finally going to the Glass Museum! Just as Husband released the parking brake and put the car in gear, we heard this popping sound. Not too concerned we started out of the driveway, only to discover that our brakes didn't work! Husband had to press the pedal all the way to the floor to get them to engage. Me, being the brilliant one that I am, said "Maybe they are really cold." My dear husband gave me a look that only a husband can give: Wives, you know the look, the one that says "Oh you little dear. Thank you for trying to help, but you definitely know nothing about this, so just sit there and look pretty." We drove a couple of blocks before realizing that the brakes were not working at all. In fact, when Husband pressed on the the brakes, they would make a whooshing sound. A phone call to AAA, a 30 minute wait and one tow truck ride later, we were at the mechanics. Thanks to the generosity of great friends, we got a ride back to our apartment and waited for the call from the mechanic. Diagnosis? The brake power booster is shot. Unfortunately, because it is Saturday, they aren't able to get the part until Monday. So, since we are for the time being, a one car family,we are now a no car family at least until Monday. Not a real big deal. Just a minor inconvenience. We are grateful that we have a car and that it is a quick and easy repair.

I want to point out how happy I am that Husband was the one in driver's seat when this all happened, because goodness knows I would have never heard the end of it. Since Husband was the driver, objective reality clearly indicates that it was not Husband's fault the car broke. However, if I had been the driver, it most certainly would have been blamed on me, because after all I am a woman and all men know that women can't drive! I am sure that I would have had to tell my husband, in painstaking detail precisely what I had done from the time I got up that morning to the exact second I broke the car. But because Husband was the driver clearly no one is at fault, except perhaps the car manufacturer; the parts manufacturer; the car company owner; the guy who changes our oil; our mechanic, his wife, daughter and dog; the cold weather, Barack Obama; and of course, me because I drove it on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh Christmas tree?

Last night, while Ryan and I were out for a walk, we passed a house with a Christmas tree in the window. Yes, you read right: A Christmas tree, up already. Although my friend Natalie would disagree, I say it's too early! Why can't people wait until December? Doesn't this take away the magic of Christmas? I would think that by having Christmas decorations up for 6 to 8 weeks leading up to the Holiday, you would be tired of it by the time Christmas actually comes. I know that I can only take so much hype. Maybe I am a Grinch, but I say it's too early!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Something to make you smile

Ryan and I saw this commercial about a year ago, and we love it! After an extensive search on youtube, I found it. Enjoy!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank a veteran

Growing up my parents instilled in me and my siblings a great respect and admiration for the men and women who have served and continue to serve in the military. I remember standing out in the cold and snow at my town's Remembrance Days ceremonies because it was what we did. I remember being intrigued by the stories from the eras of the World War I and World War II. My maternal grandfather fought in World War II and although I would beg him to share his experiences with me, he never did. Instead he would simply say that what he saw and experienced was better left in the past. As I grew older and learned more about these Wars, I began to realize the depth of the horrors that the men and women who fought in them saw. I recall reading about men who would lay in trenches infested with mice and lice, with 2 feet of water in the bottom of the trench, turning it into mud. Themes of fatigue and hunger are prevalent in the stories. I heard first hand stories from a veteran in my hometown about watching his friends die from enemy bullets.

Every year, Canadians wear poppies to show remembrance for the sacrifices of these men and women. The history of this practice can be traced back to a poem written by a soldier during World War I. John McCrae was a Lieutenant Colonel and he wrote this poem the day after watching one of his friends die in a battle in France:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae

I remember learning this poem in Elementary school and repeating it every Nov. 11. I will never forget the Remembrance Day ceremony when I was in Grade 6 and I was chosen to lay a wreath in memory of those brave men and women. I felt so honoured. Even at a young age, I knew that the men and women of the military deserved respect. They had sacrificed everything so that we could enjoy freedom. To me, that is what the Poppy signifies. And I wear it with pride

I have been to Arlington Cemetery. What a sobering sight. Rows upon rows of white headstones marking the graves of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I recall standing there, in the middle of the sea of white and being moved to tears. It was then that I vowed to never let my children go a day without knowing about these people.

On the same trip, I went to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. The second I walked into the plaza, tears sprang to my eyes. I don't think they were tears of sadness, but rather tears of gratitude. As I walked around the Memorial, I came across an old man, dressed in his military uniform. I asked him if I could take his picture. He consented. After I took the picture, I shook his hand and said "Thank you" through a tight throat and tear-filled eyes. This man looked me right in the eyes and said "It was a honour to serve."

This Tuesday November 11 marks the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. Since that day there have been numerous wars, millions of lives lost. Even as I write this, we are engaged in a war in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Wars are never popular with everyone, and one of the beauties of the freedom we enjoy is that those who oppose war have the right to express their opinion. I hope those who oppose war realize that they have that right because men and women fought and died for that right. Whether you are for or against war, please take some time in the next few days to think about these sacrifices. And if you have a chance, thank a veteran.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The difficult life of an army wife, part two

Ryan has been home less than a week and I have already failed as a military wife. My previous attempts to be a good army wife have been less than stellar, but I figured once Ryan returned from Iraq things would get better. I have been trying so hard to make his transition from the battlefield to the home front as seamless as possible. I stocked my cupboards with his favourite foods (read: chips, candy and other JUNK!). I've been letting him sleep as long as he wants to (read: ALL morning!). I have not said anything about his stuff being all over the house as he tries to organize it (read: at one point I couldn't even walk through my living room!). And being the good wife I am, I insisted that all of his clothing that was with him in the desert be washed. After spending 90 minutes at the laundromat and doing 7 loads of laundry, I was feeling pretty good about being such a kind and thoughtful wife. This would be a good time to point out that Ryan was with me at the laundromat and that he put himself in charge of folding all of his army related clothing. (Keep this in mind as you continue to read. This one fact is very important!) Several hours later, Ryan was getting his things together for work. He asked me (his wonderful amazing totally awesome wife) where I had put his Physical Training (PT) shirts when I put the laundry away. After thinking for a couple seconds, I told him I didn't put any PT shirts away. He insisted that he had given me the PT shirts to wash, I insisted that I could not remember sorting, washing or folding the grey PT shirts. Ryan, being the amazing husband he is, kept saying "I am not blaming you for anything." (and of course, I was thinking "You can't blame me! I never saw them!") We started searching the house, trying to find the shirts. I even searched through the garbage bag in the kitchen. It had potato peelings, onion skins and watermelon rinds (disgusting!), but no shirts. (Ryan supposedly searched the trash bag outside, but I have my doubts. However he came up empty handed as well.) Eventually, Ryan decided to go back to the laundromat to see if we left any clothes there. He left and I sat down to watch TV, convinced that where ever the shirts were, it was all Ryan's doing. After all, he was the one who "supposedly" gave me the shirts to sort with the laundry; the one who "supposedly" folded all his army clothes at the laundromat. I could not remember the shirts. And besides, a good wife would remember the clothes that she had laundered. This was clearly Ryan's misplacement problem. The trip to the laundromat turned up nothing and Ryan returned home, resigned to the fact that he would have to purchase new PT shirts. After his return, he continued to gather things up for work. He asked me where his army socks were. All of a sudden I was hit with a sinking feeling. PT shirts? I had no recollection of sorting or washing PT shirts. But socks? I remembered socks. Lots and lots of socks. It was at that point I had one of those flashbacks that you see on TV all the time: me putting the socks in the laundry basket; me putting the socks in the washing machine; me putting the socks in the dryer. And that was where the flashback ended. That was also when I realized I had misplaced a load of laundry! (ok, in all fairness I should say "WE" misplaced a load of laundry, since Ryan was at the laundromat with me). Yes, me, the wonderful amazing thoughtful wife. This was my first time washing anything army related and I had left some clothes behind! Ryan watched as realization dawned on my face, and I am pretty sure he knew that I knew he was right. So, back to the laundromat we went. Yep. Back to the laundromat. The one that Ryan had just returned from less than 30 minutes before, claiming that none of our clothes were there. One of the workers was emptying out a dryer full of PT shirts and army socks as we walked in. Ryan stopped her, saying "I think those are our clothes". Her response "I was just putting them in the back. They have been here all day". No kidding! I had left them there all day! I apologized to Ryan for leaving his clothes, but made it clear that I was not taking full responsibility because he was just as capable of making sure we had all the laundry before we went home! He laughed and said "You have to write a blog about this". Later as I was folding the PT shirts, I still could not remember ever having them at the laundromat! If Ryan hadn't asked about the socks, I never would have realized that I had left the clothes. I guess I can chalk this up to a learning experience: Lesson 1: Make sure you have all the laundry before you leave the laundromat! Lesson 2: Letting a husband help with laundry is a bad idea, because if something goes wrong, he will blame you even though he was right there with you; Lesson 3: Sometimes, (but rarely) a husband knows what he is talking about!

Help wanted

I am new to this whole blog thing and am still learning the ropes. Often it takes me two or three tries before I get a post to look the way I want it to. I think I have mastered most of the important aspects of the world of blogging, except for one: How to link other blogs in my posts. I see this all the time in my friends' blogs. They will reference something and there is a link to it. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to do this! My friend Caranine is an extremely adept blogger and has references and links to her own previous blogs right in her text. How she does this, I do not know! But if anyone reading this knows how to accomplish this task that has eluded me, please enlighten me!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Ryan, carving pumpkins for the first time
in his life (that he can recall anyway!)

I am smiling because I have a knife!

Ryan decided to make it difficult and make a cat

This is my pumpkin. I know, I'm boring!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome home!

Right now, as I type this, my husband is sleeping the bedroom. Normally not something to write about, but when your husband has just returned from a 14 month deployment to Iraq, it is not only something to write about, but something to celebrate! I wish I had the words to describe how happy I feel! After being separated for such a long time, it seems a bit surreal that he is actually home. I keep thinking that he is going to leave in a couple of days to go back. But he's not! He's here to stay!

I am so proud of my husband and what he has done. He is truly my hero. He has served his country well. He has done what thousands have done before him and are still doing. I have always had a great respect for the men and women of the military and since my marriage to a soldier, that respect has grown. I admire the men and women who willing put themselves in harm's way, day after day. (Look for a blog about this in a week or so)

Husband and I have always talked about how extremely blessed we were during this tour of duty. Husband was able to phone my on a daily basis, and email me regularly. I was able to send packages to him and he would get them in a relatively short amount of time. I feel so lucky that Husband was on a Base that enable him to have access to communication.

I am especially grateful to God for keeping Husband safe from harm. Everyday I would pray for his safety, but realized that he was in a war and I was acutely aware of the dangers that were around him. Thankfully, he was very safe, and he was able to come home to me.

Below is a picture of one of the best sights in the world to an army wife: her husband's boots in the middle of the floor after a deployment!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The final tally

10 inches (25.4cm) of snow! That's a lot of snow!

First snowfall!

Yesterday afternoon it started to snow. The first snow of the season always seems so magical. I love it! As I am writing this, it is 25 hours after it started to snow, and it is still snowing! I am not sure exactly how much snow we have gotten, but I have heard reports of 8 inches (20 cm). I had to get out and take some pictures. I hope to get more once it stops snowing (if it ever stops!).

Snow hanging off the back of our car

Look at all that snow!

Snow piles on top of our trash can

Dude! Where's my car?

Snow-covered vines on a fence (this is also the view out of our kitchen window)

Snow clinging to a chain-link fence

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In a pickle

Last weekend, I was at a friend's house and she had really cute halloween decorations. I absolutely loved one she had made out of a jar of pickles and I decided to steal the idea. (I don't feel too bad stealing it. She saw it in a magazine). I bought the largest jar of pickles I could find and figured I could all the pickles in a few days because I love pickles. Well, 5 days later, I was so sick of pickles! I put the rest of the pickles in a tupperware, washed out the jar and made the decoration:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More River pictures

Today was a beautiful fall day here, so I walked down to the River, hoping to get some great foilage pictures. Unfortunately, the leaves that had already turned were past peaked and the other leaves are still green. But I took some pictures anyway. I've been trying new settings on my camera. I think I am doing pretty well, but don't ask me what settings I used to take each picture. I just turn the dial, press buttons and take a picture!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The answers Americans need to know

I have made an effort to keep politics out of my blog, but tonight I have to write something. As I was watching the CBS Evening News, with Katie Couric, (which, by the way, seems so pro-Obama that I almost forgot who the other candidate was! Which leads me to question why it is so hard for news shows to be completely unbiased. But that is another blog for another day), they had a segment called "Presidential questions". Finally, I thought, a place where the candidates will be asked the questions that we want answered. You know the questions I am talking about: "What tax reforms will you implement as president?"; or "What is your plan to end terrorism?" and questions such as those. Well, my dear friends, the questions they were asked were "What do you see as your opponents strengths and weaknesses?" and "When was the last time you cried?" Are you serious?? We are less than 2 weeks away from an election and Katie is wasting our time with these questions! What about "Do you prefer smooth or chunky peanut butter?" or even "If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?" Come on people. We need to know where the candidates stand on the issues that will impact our lives. Do I care about the last time John McCain cried? NO! But I do care about whether or not he will raise my taxes. Do I care about what Obama thinks is McCain's biggest weakness? HECK NO! But I do care about whether or not he is going to keep this country safe.

Maybe it's the Canadian in me coming out again. As Canadians, we have very little interest in the personal lives of our leaders. I remember a political culture class I took in University (in Canada). Our professor started the first class by asking us who the president of the United States was. We answered. Then he asked what the president's wife's name was; if he had any children and their names; where he was from; what he named his dog; and where he went to University. We, as a class, were able to answer all of these questions correctly. Then the Professor asked us who the Prime Minister of Canada was. We answered. Then he proceeded to ask us the same questions about our Prime Minister as he asked about the US president. After the question about the his wife's name, we were stumped. We had no idea where he was from, if he had children or even if he had a dog. I think it is because Canadians are fairly private people and we respect the privacy of others. It is rare that a politician's personal life makes it on the evening news. But here in the United States, the personal life seems to be just as important as the candidate's stand on the issues.

So, my fellow, American, you can sleep well tonight, because, thanks to Katie and the CBS news, we now know when McCain and Obama last cried. Good night and happy voting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The big, comfy couch

When I quit my job in Massachusetts last year, I had a month before I started my new job in New York. This presented a slight problem since my job as a live-in nanny meant that I lived where I worked. No work equals no place to live. My good friends Alicia and Jon opened their apartment to me and all of my stuff (and I mean ALL of my stuff! I had A LOT!). During that month, they affectionately called me "the squatter". (At least I think it was "affectionately"!) After I started my job in New York, I still travelled to Massachusetts quite a bit, and they always let me stay on their couch. Both my brother and my mother have slept at their house on trips to Boston. They even let me stay there a couple times without them being there!

Well, this weekend, my squatter days officially came to an end. I made my last trip to Massachusetts without Ryan and that means that I will no longer need to sleep on the couch. I am so grateful to Alicia and Jon for allowing me to stay at their apartment, thus saving me hundreds of dollars that I would have had to spend on a hotel! I couldn't ask for better friends. Alicia and Jon are the type of people who would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it. Every time I needed a couch, it was there for me. Thankfully, I never needed the shirts they were wearing! That would have made things awkward!

Me in what was my bed at least once a month for 15 months

One last drive...

In my humble and completely biased opinion, there is nothing that compares to autumn in New England. The abundance of trees makes for an abundance of colour. If things go as Ryan and I have planned, our time out East is quickly coming to an end (more on our plans once they are more solidified). As I left my friends' house in Massachusetts today for the long drive home, I realised that this was the last time I will experience New England in it's autumnal splendor. I decided to take a drive down one of my favourite roads in Massachusetts. River Road/Monument Street winds it's way from Concord to Carlisle (hence the two different names! The name changes from River Road to Monument St. when you cross from Carlisle to Concord). The narrow road takes drivers past absolutely beautiful (and ginormous!) colonial style houses. There are open fields, separated by wooden rail fences. There are horses grazing in pastures with the coloured trees as their backdrop. It is absolutely gorgeous! As I drove down the road, I watched the red, brown and golden yellow leaves fall to the ground. They swirled in the wind before landing on the road. As I drove around the bends, I would take in the open fields, surrounded by trees that seemed to be on fire. My friend Alicia thinks that there is something special about the sun during autumn, the way it shines and filters through the trees. I agree. The sunlight adds to the glory of the season. I drove past a farm selling pumpkins and gourds. I watched as squirrels scampered across the road, their cheeks full of nuts ready to be stored for the winter. I thought about pulling over and taking some pictures, but I knew that the pictures could never capture the beauty I saw. As the road came to an end, I felt tears spring to my eyes; partly because I was sad, knowing that I had no idea when I would be back to see the beauty of the New England autumn and partly because what I saw all around me was more beautiful than I could even describe. I guess when words fail us that is the time to just take everything in and try to imprint the moment in our minds forever. I hope I made the imprint deep enough.

I am blessed

This weekend I went to Massachusetts to attend yet another wedding reception. The bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, the food was delicious and the company was amazing. I was able to talk with many people from my former church ward. It was nice to reconnect with the people who were my family for so long while I live in New England. While we were eating, my former Bishop told us about a conversation he had with the parking attendant at the hotel where the reception was being held. He said he asked the attendant how he was doing. The attendant's response "I am blessed". Everyone at the table commented on what a great response that was. One woman said "That is such a great way to always remind yourself that you have a lot to be grateful for." As I sat there listening to everyone's comments, I thought of how often I ask and answer that very question: "How are you?" or it's sister "How's it going?" We throw that phrase around without even thinking about it, and even as we ask it, we already know what the response will be "I'm fine, how are you?" or something very similar to that. Imagine asking that question and instead the person responds "I am blessed". I think that would cause me to pause and maybe even reflect on my own life and it's blessings. What a great response! And I plan on incorporating it into my daily life because I truly am blessed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jet Blue Rant

Husband and I are going on a cruise in January. We are wicked excited about it! We leave and return from Puetro Rico. I booked our flights to San Juan weeks ago on Jet Blue. Today I get this email from Jet Blue saying that the times for our return flight have been changed. We are now leaving 3.5 hours later than the originally booked flight and we get into Syracuse 3.5 hours later than the original flight plan. I called Jet Blue and spoke to a rep. All she could tell me was that because the airlines are going through a difficult time, they have had to make adjustments. Then she says "Is this time going to work for you?" ( we have a choice?) I told her that the times weren't going to work for us and asked if we could get a refund. She said that they couldn't issue a refund because the change was less than a 4 hour difference. The best they can do is waive the cancellation fee and give us a credit. I don't want a credit! I want a refund!
Here's my complaint: If we are paying money to fly on an airline, we should get the flight we booked! We booked that specific flight because it worked with our schedule! This is completely bogus and I am MAD! I paid for a certain flight and I want that flight! How can they just change the times? First the cost of the flight is out of control, then they charge you to check bags, then they charge you for food and drinks, and now they change the time of the flight willy-nilly? You know what Jet Blue, those times do not work for us! We want our original flight back. You know, the one WE PAID FOR!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My week in pictures

Last week my mother came out for a visit. We went to Boston, NYC, Palmyra, Niagara Falls, and Salem, MA. Because I have been to all these places before I only took a few pictures. Here are some of my favourites:

The shadow of the top of the Empire State Building

Apples at a cider mill

At the Erie Canal

Autumn foilage in Palmyra

Niagara Falls at dusk

The ocean

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Autumn in New England

I am in Massachusetts this weekend for a wedding reception. After church today I decided to talk a walk and enjoy a beautiful autumn day. Autumn in New England is absolutely breathtaking. The pictures don't capture the true beauty, but I tried.

How does 10 months turn into 5 years?

This week marks 5 years since I moved away from Southern Alberta to New England. My original plan was to stay for 10 months and then go to grad school. Now, 5 years later I am no longer in New England, but I am still out East. I remember coming out here from small town Alberta and being so overwhelmed with all the trees, the traffic, the people and the big cities! Now 5 years later, I can merge onto a busy highway at rush hour without freaking out. I can drive in New York City (But I still refuse to drive in Boston, unless it is to the airport or to the Science Museum!) I can navigate the subways system in both Boston and New York City. I can see the beauty in the trees. And, although I am still not a fan of large crowds, I can push my way through them like a true Easterner.

Over the last 5 years, I have lived with 3 different families. What an amazing opportunity! I have had a chance to see how families other than my own interact. I have been able to take care of 12 children, ranging in age from 18 months to 14 years old. I think that I am definitely ahead of the curve and will be better able to raise my own children. I know what works and what doesn't (well at least I think I do!). I have also seen 3 different marriage, and can take lessons from that and apply them to my own marriage.

I can't believe how much I have experienced since I have moved here. In the past 5 years I have taken road trips to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Washington D.C, Philadelphia, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Niagara Falls. I have camped in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. I have hiked in White Mountains. I have driven from upstate NY to Alberta and back. I have visited Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. I walked where the American Revolutionary War started. I have been to Plymouth and seen where the Pilgrims started life in this country. I have been to Fenway Park. I have been to Atlanta and Disney World. I have spent time on Cape Cod. I have swam in the ocean. I have seen the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. I have sailed on the Atlantic. The list goes on and on. I feel so blessed to have lived in an area where travel is so easy.

I am so glad that my 10 months turned into 5 years. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have met Ryan, and I would still be single! Ryan and I met at an annual Young Single Adult conference that takes place somewhere in New England every year.

People thought I was crazy when I decided to move out here, and there were days where I questioned my decision, but I have never regretted the decision. I have met some of the most amazing people! I have had more adventures than some people have in their entire life. Coming out to New England was the result of being bored one night. But I don't think it was an accident. Everything happens for a reason. I am so grateful for my time out East. I know that I will be telling my grandchildren about the time I spent here. I will cherish my memories from here and will take a part of the East with me wherever life takes me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

At the car wash, Baby.

I took my car to the car wash today to vacuum it out. As I was cleaning the garbage out of the backseat, the guy next to me looks at me and says "Nice car!" I knew he was lying and up to something because I drive a 1999 Dodge Intrepid; not exactly a car known to make men drool with desire. Before I could say anything he says "So, you're from Kentucky?" I reply "no, but my husband is." Then he says "Oh. You're married?" (Ummm...yeah! I just said I had a husband; usually a good tip-off that someone is married!) I answered that I was, in fact, married. Then he looks at me and asks "Happily married?" (Seriously??) I once again answered in the affirmative. The guy says "Oh, okay," and turns back to his car, clearly devastated by the fact that he was rejected by an absolutely beautiful happily married woman.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh deer!

I really need to start carrying a camera with me whenever I leave the house. I see the strangest things here. There are a lot of Amish people in the area and it took awhile for me to get used to being parked next to a horse and buggy in the Wal-mart parking lot, or pulling up to a red light and seeing a horse in the lane next to me. A couple of weeks ago, as I was driving to the post office, I saw a man walking down one of the busiest streets here with a snake draped over his shoulders. And it was a huge snake too! But what happened today beats all. I pulled up to a red light, and looked at the car in front of me. There, from on top of the car were two black, beady eyes staring at me. As my gaze moved from those eyes to the owner of the eyes, I was surprised to see it was a deer! Someone had strapped a deer onto the hood of their car and it was sitting right in front of me! I grabbed my cell phone and tried to snap a picture, but it didn't turn out so well. Stupid camera phone!

As I sat there waiting for the light to change, I couldn't help but think of the yummy meat that deer would provide. My dad's family is really big into hunting and growing up we ate deer, moose and elk meat all the time. I don't think I had a real beef steak until I was well into my teens! Then my mind wandered from the deliciousness in front of me to the number of times I would come home to dead animals in our backyard. I remember on numerous occasions coming home and seeing dead geese laying out on our picnic table. A little startling to say the least. And then, there was the day when I came home and there was a dead deer tied up in the branches of one of our trees, just waiting to be gutted (or whatever they do to deer) and made into the various cuts that would be our meat for the winter.

As the light turned green and the car with the deer turned away from me, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of homesickness and a desire for a good, thick venison stake. Maybe if I had followed the car, they would have shared...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A beautiful day

Today is an absolutely beautiful day in Northern New York. It is probably one of the nicest days we've had all year! It feels like a typical June day...except it's the end of September! I have all my windows open and there is a subtle breeze of fresh air wafting through my apartment. Because I know that winter is just around the corner (and I hear that in Northern New York, the winters are brutal!), I wanted to get out and enjoy the day. I walked down to the Black River with my camera to capture this beautiful day. The leaves are just starting to turn colours and in a couple of weeks, I will go back to the river and take pictures of them in all their autumn splendor. But for now, I will enjoy the last of the summer days.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Farmer's Market

The town I live in may not have a lot to offer from it's little corner of Northern New York, but it has one heck of a farmer's market! Every Wednesday, I walk the 2 miles round trip to the market and take in all the fresh produce, flowers and baked products. I love seeing all the colours, especially this time of year, when the pumpkins are being sold. I have decided that nothing beats a tomato fresh from someone's garden. Fresh produce is so much better than the stuff in the grocery stores! I don't have a garden, so I think of the market as my own personal garden, but I don't have to do any of the work (except walk there). And the prices at the! I can buy all my fresh produce for the week for under $7.00. I can't do that at a grocery store! I don't know what I am going to do when the market ends in a couple of weeks. I guess it's back to plain old grocery store produce. Yuck!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cream Cheese Festival

Yesterday I went to the Cream Cheese Festival in Lowville, NY with my friends Julie and Katie. Lowville is home to a Kraft Plant and is the world's largest producer of cream cheese. Surprisingly, the only cream cheese at the festival was the world's largest cheese cake. But, despite the lack of cream cheese, there were many other things for us to enjoy. I had maple cotton candy for the first time, and I am pretty sure I am in love! I don't know what it is about maple, but I love it. And I will eat anything if it has maple in it. I am pretty sure that when babies are born in Canada, they are injected with a syringe full of maple syrup!

The world's largest cheese cake, sliced up and being served.

Yes, that is a purple dog.

Maple Cotton Candy!! YUMMY!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh Baby!

Today I went to visit my friends, J and T. T gave birth to a baby girl and I was so excited to meet E! She is adorable, as most newborn babies are. It is so amazing to see how small new babies are. I always forget that part. E slept most of the time I was there, and she fit quite nicely into the crook of my arm. She is a snuggle bug! J and T are so proud of their baby and I can tell already that they are going to be amazing parents. Congratulations J and T!