Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Russia - "Happy Birthday"

Postcard from trofimovairina from Russia

Description: Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Moldova - The Night Before Christmas

Postcard from Moldova from grishka

I think this is one of my Christmas favourites! This postcard came with some equally pretty Christmas stamps...again, me lamenting how we don't have good Christmas postcards and our Christmas stamps are just kind of ho-hum....

But these are pretty!


Monday, January 14, 2013

China - Peking Opera Masks


Postcard from liucongcong from China

Less than six months to go

Ack…my 101 in 1001 expires on June 11. That’s less than 6 months away and there are some big things happening in our lives between now and then.

I figured it was time for an update (mostly for me to figure out where I stand with this challenge). I have 42 things that are not crossed off…that’s a lot…but, some of them are in progress, so I just have to finish them and some are fairly simple to do, I just have to do them. I think I’ll get most of them done – two things are going to make a few of them tricky – being pregnant and possibly moving in the next 6 months, but I’ll do what I can.

On top of the 42 not quite complete items, I have 27 things to blog about or finish blogging about. That’s a lot of work ahead of me. So if I ever complain I have nothing to do or nothing to write about, someone should remind me about this list!

Is anyone else still doing their 101 list??

Things I have left to do:

1. Fit back into pre-tumble down the stairs clothes – not sure if this will happen considering I’m pregnant right now…but it might. Baby is due in April, but I doubt I’ll be back down there in six weeks.

3. Have a sisters' day without J

5. Sort out all of my clothes and take the ones I'm never going to wear again or that don't fit to charity (or toss if they're in bad shape) – this is definitely in progress, but it’s hard right now (see #1 – pregnant)

6. Buy nothing for a week [exceptions: emergencies, non-negotiable bills (ie heating, mortgage)]

10. Really reconnect with an old friend – I haven’t decided if this is in progress or done or neither

13. Weigh less on day 1001 than on day 1 – unlike #1, this will likely actually happen.

14. Complete a full crossword puzzle

19. Go on 10 "adventures" – this is partly done. It might be all done, but I haven’t blogged about it. I need to check.

21. Do an insurance inventory of the contents of our home

22. Get our 72 hour emergency kit properly stocked

23. Make photos books for J's first two years

30. Make pizzelle

33. Make dinner from the Best of Bridge cookbook five times [2/5]

35. Make dinner from the Good Housekeeping cookbook five times [2/5]

40. Decide what we're going to put on the clutter collecting wall in the living room and buy it/have it made – I’ve decided, but since we might be moving in the next few months, I might not buy it…it doesn’t make sense to have a fairly custom piece of furniture that won’t necessarily work in a new place

41. Hire a painter to finish painting – this has to get done if we’re going to move

42. Install a back splash in the kitchen – this has to get done if we’re going to move

44. Clear J's closet of the boxes from the move46. Install more shelves in the upstairs storage room

53. Visit at least two of the places in Alex's day trips book [1/2]

55. Watch all the nominees for Best Picture for one year (not necessarily the current year)

61. Host a board game night

63. Go to Seattle on the train – likely not going to happen…pregnant+no passport=no trips across the border

64. Have a mini-reunion with some of my HPA friends – likely not going to happen…pregnant+no passport=no trips across the border, so unless they come to see me…

65. Go to Portland – likely not going to happen…pregnant+no passport=no trips across the border

69. Spend at least one night away from both Alex and J – we’ll see…see pregnant reason above

71. Sew those secret Christmas presents for those specific people (yeah, yeah, I'll elaborate later)

73. Blog about each one of the 101 things – still in progress since I’m not done yet!

74. Answer "50 questions that will free your mind"

76. Send a special thank you letter just because

79. Make a list of 101 beautiful things in my life

81. Put wedding photos in an album

82. Put honeymoon photos in an album

83. Put UK2009 trip photos in an album

84. Write and mail (ON TIME) 12 birthday cards in a 12 month period [11/12]

85. Choose a month from the 26 things photography scavenger hunt archive and do the scavenger hunt

86. Do a photographic day in the life (one photo for every waking hour)

87. Write in my real live paper journal at least once a week for three months

95. Leave an inspirational note inside a book for someone to find

96. Put change in someone's expired parking meter

97. Pay for a stranger's meal/coffee/purchase

100. Put $5 in a special savings account for every item I cross off this list [59/101 saved]

101. If day 1001 comes and there are still items left, donate $20 per item to a charity that is relevant to our lives at that time

101.1 Have a new list of 101 things ready by day 1001 (containing anything that didn't get done this time!) – I’ve already started!

Things I need to blog about:

2. Enroll J in swimming lessons before she turns 3 – um yeah…this happened two years ago…

16. Update address book – umm…I did this over a year ago

17. Set J's room up with a kid sized table and chairs for reading, puzzles and colouring

24. Take J to a farmer's market

26. Write 10 thank you cards with J

32. Make dinner from the Jamie Oliver cookbook every night for a week five times

43. Fix the grout in the shower

45. Sort out the basement storage and get rid of anything we haven't used for a year

49. Get area rugs for living room and dining room

50. Declutter 101 items to toss, give away, sell on craigslist or give to charity - they're all here [280/101]

51. Finish J's bathroom - wall art, towel rack etc.

54. Go to a movie with Alex

56. Ask five people to recommend one book and read that book. Even if it's not a book I think I'll enjoy

57. Get an iPod and load all of our CDs onto it

58. Sort out our books and give the ones we're not interested in or won't read again to charity

59. Have three dinner parties [3/3]

67. Take a holiday with Alex only

77. Get the postcard section of the blog up to date

78. Send at least five postcards a month for three months using Postcrossing [3/3]

80. Send a secret to PostSecret

88. Take a risk and take on a BIG challenge that is outside my comfort zone on the next project at work

89. Take at least one course that will help me do my job better

91. Find a new position within Guiding

92. Clear my personal email inbox - home and work

93. Once clear, maintain clear status for a week

94. Once maintained for a week, maintain for at least another month

99. Surprise someone with a care package

Sunday, January 13, 2013

City garden clean up

J and I planted our lovely balcony garden in the summer and it looked beautiful and produced a few tomatoes, a handful of strawberries and a handful of green beans and some herbs. And then things got a bit nuts at our house. And then fall happened. And our poor garden got neglected. I take full blame for it looking like this:

 dead garden

Last week I’d had enough of looking and dead, dreary plants, so I got myself a big bag and some shears and went to work. It took less than 15 minutes to get the deck looking like this:

tidier garden

I left anything that still had signs of life, cut back the perennials (we’ll see if they’re perennials on our deck) and pulled up most of the annuals.

And I discovered something else. A tiny little bit of green pushing up out of this pot.

signs of new life

Sometime in the fall, J found a bulb somewhere and carried it around with her for days. She wanted to plant it, so we stuck it in a pot that had once contained beans. I didn’t expect the poor thing to do much. It had lost its “shell” (I don’t know what you call the outside part – skin?), it was bruised and it had a couple of little nicks in it. I figured we’d plant it, we’d both forget about it and in the spring we’d plant more beans or something. Apparently that little bulb had other plans and it was far more resilient than I thought it wass. J asked me today what colour the flowers will be, but we have no idea what is or if it will even get to the point where it can bloom.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Snow Day!

27. Build a snow man with J

The week before Christmas we got some snow. Well, for Vancouver it was a lot of snow. I had an early morning ultrasound at the hospital and I wasn’t sure if I’d actually get home after it – the street where our garage door opens is quite steep and they often close it when it snows. I don’t know if they closed it, but I know it was still open when I got home even though the three or four streets to the east of us were closed.

building a snow man

We had already decided to keep J home from daycare that day, but as soon as I got home, she was ready to go out and make a snow man. We didn’t venture further than our courtyard – the snow was heavy and wet and it was chilly out. We still managed to make a little snow man though.


Right after we got back inside, it started snow even harder and the flakes were huge – bigger than a twonie for sure. I was glad we didn’t have to go out in the weather – things on the roads were a bit crazy…we saw our fair share of weather related drama from our font windows.

snow day

And because it is Vancouver, most of the snow was gone the following morning. The remnants of the snow man lasted a few days.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fingerprint art


So, I follow a blog that I can’t read…I can’t read it because it’s in Norwegian and I follow it because I came across it somewhere (I can’t remember exactly where or when – Facebook? email? Google search?) and it’s written by Helene who I met years ago in Finland at a WAGGGS/WOSM seminar. Hi Helene! There are pretty pictures and I do read it when I have time using Google’s translate tool. Anyway, on her blog, she posted a little craft she did with her boys and as I was getting the advent calendar ready for J at the time, I bookmarked it.

J had an awesome time making cards for her teachers using ink pads and finger prints.


We got brown, red and green ink pads and she had a great time deciding what she was going to create.

art cards

We ended up with (clockwise from the top left) Rudolph, three elves, a stocking, a tree with a J drawn star at the top, Santa (he’s the one with ears) holding hands with two elves, and some holly. We’ll definitely use this idea again…I could see the wheels turning in J’s head and then she starting telling me all the other fun stuff she could do if she had other colours.

Thanks Helene!

Malaysia - Sultan Abdul Samad Building


Postcard from ChenChinSian from Malaysia

Description: The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, (the Judicial Department and the High Court.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Finland–Christmas 1937


Postcard from tuusannuuska from Finland

Rudolf Koivu artwork
Christmas card for the year 1937 (OTAVA)

Rudolf Koivu (1890-1946) the first illustrations were published in children's magazines in the early 1910s. After this, he illustrated countless fairy tale and school books and children's magazines. He developed the most popular children's books kutvittaga Finland. Rudolf Koivu's life's work created the basis for the Finnish fairy tale illustrations.  (via Google Translate)

Four hugs a day and Santa too

So things got a little hectic around here in December, but I thought I’d get caught up a bit even though it’s already January. Before Christmas, J and I went up to the City Square Shopping Centre and took in a little Charlotte Diamond before visiting with Santa Claus (we went last year too).

charlotte diamond

We had a great time singing along with Charlotte Diamond – J knew a bunch of her songs from her music classes at daycare. After the concert we hung around and waiting for a bit and then, the jolly old elf himself came riding down the escalator.

santa down the escalator

J waited patiently in line and ended up being the third child to visit with Santa. She was so excited to see him (he was the same Santa as last year – this year she didn’t check his beard to make sure it was real!)

chatting with santa

There were some problems with the equipment, so J had to wait patiently with Santa to have her picture taken. I think she talked to him for almost ten minutes.

smiling with santa

In the end, we didn’t get a photo (thank goodness I had my camera with me), but J had a nice visit. She said that even though they had a long chat, Santa forgot to ask her what she wanted. It’s a good thing she had written him a letter earlier – he must have received it because on Christmas morning there was an umbrella and an alarm clock in her stocking.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Saying goodbye

Yesterday our family spent the day remembering Alex’s mom, Joan. After a difficult illness, she died in her sleep last week.

Joan was born in England and moved to Canada when she was a young woman to work as a draftsperson at the Avro Arrow. While in Canada, she met a young RCMP officer at Parliament Hill in Ottawa (Alex’s dad), who she eventually married. Their wedding was in England and then they moved to Ontario. Alex’s older brother was born there. After a few years, they moved to Burnaby and then to Surrey where Alex’s dad grew up. There they had two more sons.

joan and alex

The first time I met Joan, I felt like she had decided I was already part of her family. As an immigrant who married a man with a very small family, Joan was always happy to make her family bigger. I heard her squeal through the phone when Alex called to tell her we were getting married.

_DSC6633 alex and joan

She was so excited when we told her we were pregnant with J and when Alex announced cub #2 would be arriving some time in April, she was overjoyed. Joan loved her family and always wanted to do “something” to help us out…We never left her home after a visit with out “something.” Sometimes she had happened upon a sale on bath towels and picked up some extras for us. Sometimes we came home with a bag full of cold cuts, cheeses and buns to make our lunches for the week. Sometimes it was a folded $5 bill for J to do something special with – J would save her money up and take it somewhere with her. Those little folded bills bought souvenirs at the Aquarium, new books, and a visit to the movie theatre. More than once we came home with a turkey or a roast. One time, before I had any idea what to do with it, she sent us home with a massive hunk of pork – it was longer than my forearm. Alex liked it best when we were sent home with Costco sized boxes of goodies – Mint Patties and jellies were his favourites and Joan remembered that when she went shopping.


I will always remember how much Joan’s family meant to her and the kindness she always showed us. When I watch Alex, I can see some of Joan in him. Her love and desire for a big family lives on in him – I saw it when he met my huge extended family for the first time and instead of approaching them and all their loud, craziness tentatively, he dove in head first. And I see it every day when he plays with J and talks about our new baby and our plans for the future.

Rest in peace Joan. We miss you.

Germany and the Netherlands: Goats and Gulpen


Postcard from Sternchen1986 from Germany

Description: None, but I think maybe they’re goats??


Postcard from nenaaaa from the Netherlands

Friday, January 04, 2013

Finland and Taiwan: Christmas and Trains




Postcards from AiriK from Finland. We got two lovely Christmas postcards plus a bunch of really pretty Christmas stamps.


Postcard from kakoui from Taiwan

Description: Alishan Forest Railway

Thursday, January 03, 2013

China and Germany: Cats and Cars


Postcard from semper-fi from China


Postcard from Credibility from Germany

Description: It is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers does has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

-“The Little Prince”

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

France, Taiwan and Slovenia: Christmas elf, Chang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall and Maribor


Postcard from Majesta from France

I LOVE the Christmas postcards we’ve received…I really wish we have Christmas postcards like they have in Europe.


Postcard from WenChao0709 from Taiwan


Postcard from Lionheart from Slovenia

Description: Maribor, Slovenija

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Good morning January

Well, 2013, you're here. I've been wishing for you for a while, but when I woke up this morning, nothing had changed except the calendar. I guess those changes are up to me and aren't some miracle that happens at the stroke of midnight between December 31 and January 1.

Your good friend 2012 threw a few fast ones our way last year, but we just kept pushing forward. I think, for now, 2012 will stay on record as being the most challenging year of my life (to date). Just when I figured it couldn't swing anything more at me, it mustered up another punch from somewhere and aimed for my head, or my heart.

But we outsmarted 2012. We won because we made it to 2013 and 2012, well, it needs to stay back there in memory land and it doesn't get to move forward. Maybe it's in a perpetual 2012 Groundhog Day. It can stay there.

At our house, and in the homes of many of our family and friends, 2012 dealt out too many servings of heartache, poor health, loss, uncertainty and general misery. But do you know what, we're better for it. Our family left 2012 as a stronger, more cohesive, harmonious, happy unit, despite the challenges the year brought us and some it refused to take with it. And even with the challenges, there were so many joys. We have so much in our lives to be grateful for and yes it was challenging, but remembering how blessed we really are kept us going through the challenges.

So to 2012, thank you for giving everyone in my family strength(s) we didn't know we had, when we needed it (them) most. Thank you for the kindness, empathy, sympathy and warmth shown to us when we needed, when we didn't need it and most especially when we were certain we didn't need it or want it but couldn't do without it. Thank you for reminding us in so many ways to be thankful for the people in our lives and grateful for what we have. Thank you for the challenges, because they made us stronger. Thank you for the constant reminders to tell the people who are important to us just that. That they are important. And to tell them why. And often. Thank you for forcing us to grow and change because that is where we'll find our happiness this year. Thank you for showing us we are resilient and stronger than we ever knew.

And 2013, thank you for being here this morning to offer us the hope of fresh beginnings. Thank you for the happy times we know you hold. Thank you for the arrivals we're eagerly anticipating. Please be gentle to us as you, like every year before you, give us whatever challenges you think we need and as you keep something dear to us when we move on to 2014 (I know, it's still a long way away).

My promise to you 2013? I am going to savour every moment I get with every person I love. I am not going to dwell on 2012, but I'm going to look forward to the wonder 2013 promises. Every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed (even if it is multiple times) I am going to remember all that I'm grateful for.

So 2013, give me your challenges, give me your joys. I'm ready for you. This is going to be a good year.