Personal

Rallies, Trains and Fingerlings

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At the rally to stop the cuts from the Liberals. This is a link to a list of the cuts. There is something there for everyone! Find some that effect you directly (I guarantee you will find more than one) and join the movement.

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At Burnaby Central Railway.

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At
the Fingerling Festival, where Merlin got to release baby salmon into Noon Creek!

Life continues full tilt. Plans are being made for the summer months at a remarkable pace.

June is Merlin’s graduation from
preschool, and his 5th birthday; we also have tickets to the Star Trek Convention; and my birthday is also in June, but I haven’t the energy to have a party.

So I’m officially moving my birthday party from here on out to the second weekend in July. (the weekend after
Hornby Island Family Deaf Camp - which we are looking forward to). This way we spread out our family celebrations and no one gets overlooked. Also in July is the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf. No play group for Merlin in July, so he will be farmed out to Grandparents.

August, thankfully, is so far a blank page. Merlin is already looking forward to kindergarten. It is going to be a long summer for him without school, so we need to find some kid group activity for him to do.

Last fall I was asked to write a few words for “Transition Magazine” about connecting with your community. I did so, and it appears
here (Its down at the bottom - do a search for “child”)

The magazine is produced by
BC Coalition of People with Disabilities. They are a very active organization. I hope Merlin can get involved with it when he is a bit older.
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Fish, Zucchini and chickens

We met Nana and Papa Peter at Cache Creek and handed over Merlin for a visit during spring break. On the way home we stopped to look at the Fraser River. Very picturesque, except for all the dead fish...
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Then we started work on the pantry/hood fan project.
That diagonal line is where the ceiling used to be. I was covering perfectly goo storage space above/behind it. So it had to go.

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While Rob was inside working on the pantry, Merlin and I were outside working on the new vegetable garden.

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The seedlings will be ready to go into the garden soon!

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What, doesn’t everyone make a gingerbread train for Easter?

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At Saunderson’s farm: collected eggs, fed the horses, played on the tractor and got some manure.

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And that was March..
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Favourite Author Dies at 91

J. D. Salinger died last week, but I didn’t find out until I read yesterday’s newspaper today. I suppose it doesn’t really matter if I knew the day of, but it is vaguely creepy to know that something of this magnitude happened without my notice. If I missed the death of my favourite author, what else am I missing? I feel neglectful.

I decided long ago that the ‘news’ was a waste of time. It is so rarely relevant to my life. I seem to hear about the important events of the day, and if they are of interest to me, I find a source and fill myself in on the details. But obviously, there are some flaws in my system ... Well at any rate, I hope Jerome finds a sort of peace in death that seemed so elusive to him in life. I enjoyed his stories immensely.

NYT artice 2010/01/29
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Christmas

What a great time visiting with family we have had so far. I would have liked some snow on the ground, but really, it is probably for the best as it makes the driving around to visit easier and safer. I remember last year was a little dodgey with all the snow we had. A lot of “we made it!” phone calls were necessary to keep people from worrying too much.

Over the past year, I’ve read a number of cook books and cooking magazines, I’ve realized that some are more enjoyable to read than others. And some, I really just look at the recipes to decide what I want to try in the kitchen. I’ve realized that in trying to make my cook book user friendly and to the point, I’ve made it just a wee bit dry. So I’m going to add a little spice to the recipes in the way of anecdotal information, if I have it. It’s part of the whole theme exploring how food brings us together.

First photo with the new camera

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Soon Merlin will have a touch screen, so he will be able to actually use his computer on his own.

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By posting this, I’ll probably find out if Shawna reads my blog!

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Uh oh, Grandpa’s losing it too!

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A REALLY cool book!

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We were actually counting to 10!

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Winter is here

December 12, 2009

It snowed yesterday. Almost imperceptibly, but it did. We are excited by it, but Merlin was a little disappointed that he couldn’t make snow balls, and demanded more. I explained that it wasn’t something I could control. I showed him the snow dance that I developed when I was an avid snowboarder. He rolled his eyes and smiled the way everyone does when I do the snow dance.
We went and got a little “Alberta Spruce” in a pot and decorated it. We don’t have any working lights, so it doesn’t look quite as sparkly as it should. I’m hoping I can take care of it for another 12 months and use it again next year, then maybe plant it outside.
We made
Chicken Curry for dinner mmm.
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Pumpkins?

November 29, 2009
Merlin and I just had our morning snuggle.  We still do that every day.  The rain keeps falling.  I'll have to take him out in it today.  He can only go so many days stuck inside.  Yesterday we cut the monotony by making
Bliss Balls.  He really liked the dates.  I'll post the recipe on the website soon.

Here is the last of the autumn colour in the garden.

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So when do pumpkins stop being pumpkins and become dirt? I don’t know, but I don’t think they will make for interesting photos any more. (Some would argue that they never did) So here are the last photos of the pumpkin graveyard.

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Day to day

November 25, 2009
Sunday was a fun day.  We had friends over for dinner.  Merlin had a chance to play with his oldest friend,
Sasha.  He and Sasha used to play when they were months old and Kathy and I were still on maternity leave... While  the adults visited in the living room, we could hear them inventing stories about trains and castles in Merlin's room.
Yesterday morning was fun.  Everyone piled into the "bus" (that would be my Honda Civic) and we dropped Max at school, Merlin at preschool, Rob at work, and then I carried on to work.  Luckily, we both have employers that aren't too concerned with what time we show up.  Our morning commute together is kind of fun.

November 27, 2009
Yesterday at preschool Merlin welcomed back (from maternity leave - I can't help but point out how great it is that she was able to take a year off, and then return to her job.  It would have been a loss to the preschool, if she had had to resign to have a child.) his first Speech Language Pathologist.  She started working with Merlin when he was 6 months old and they have a strong bond.  I told him he would see her at school, and all morning he kept mentioning it, then in a very 4-year-old way, gave her the briefest of smiles and carried on playing when he saw her.  With preschoolers, it is very much the thought that counts.

Given the topic of todays message to the PM (about a publicly-funded child care program), I can't sign off without saying a big thanks for the support we have received from our family.  Dad and Jane provide our child care while I am at work.  On my work days, they pick up Merlin from preschool and Rob or I pick him up from their home after work.  While I know they enjoy being able to see Merlin every week (much to the envy of the other grandparents), it is no small commitment they have made, and they have made a real connection with Merlin's preschool as well, and always have messages about Merlin's day to pass on to us.  Without their help, I would not be able to hold a job, as there simply are not enough affordable child care spots in the lower mainland.

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Daily blurb

November 21, 2009
Well, I guess the big news is that we survived that weather last night.  I've lived in the lower mainland for 20 years.  And I've never driven through anything quite like that before.  Luckily it seems that everyone had the good sense to slow down - you'd have been driving blind even with your wipers going at top speed if you didn't.  Merlin was very excited by thunder and lightening and wanted to go outside to be in it all. (ah my little gemini, I understand you so well)

Merlin slept through the night (well, until 5:30 anyway, which for him is still very acceptable) again tonight, so I'm feeling well rested and ready for brunch with Mom and Boo.  I told Merlin about seeing them tomorrow and he still went to bed well.

November 22, 2009
We had a fun day yesterday.  We had a morning visit from Mom and Boo.  Mom, Merlin and I made muffins.  He's getting to be quite helpful in the kitchen.  I've been waiting to be able to have him in the kitchen with me, following directions, etc...  we both really enjoy cooking together.  Rob taught Bruce some music theory and they played some of Bruce's choir songs together.
After they headed off to Marlow's, we went off to visit the Mallinson's.  Scott and Merlin were very happy to see each other and played with their Dad's and trains, etc... while Shelley and I went to a toy sale. It's always good to talk to other parents about glasses, CI's and shoes for braces too! Scott and Merlin are quite the matched pair together - and it goes beyond their gear.  They both share a love of trains, cars, swimming - and apparently, Lincoln logs.
Take out pasta mmmm for dinner, and home to bed.

And I know you are dying to see the state of the pumpkins
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November Garden

I've always liked the fall. The anticipation of snowfall, Christmas and snowboarding.
But I'm enjoying it on a whole new level with the garden. Even though it is, without doubt the ugliest time for the garden. Most plants are dead, leaves rotting, the grass should have been mowed one more time, but now it's too late and it lies limp, flat and always sopping wet. But the few plants that are still pretty really shine this time of year. And there is something of a story of renewal in the rotting corpses of the past season of growth.

The Pumpkins rot away.
November 13, 2008:
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BUT THE ROSES ARE STILL BLOOMING!!

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Cucurbita

Continuing saga of the Cucurbita sp. rotting in the back yard.
November 6, 2009:
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The Canadian public health system is rotting too. Merlin and I would have had to stand for hours outside today to get an H1N1 shot. I know people who are not high risk at all that have gotten the shot already. Why has our medical system whipped everyone into such a frenzy that they are willing to wait in the November rain for hours for a vaccine?
Keeping in mind, the risk factors for developing complications are quite specific. I was surprised, for instance, to hear on the phone message from our public health authority that people over 65 qualified for the shot. Anyone over 65 has already been exposed to the 1950's and 1970's outbreaks of H1N1. In fact, chances are quite good that they've already HAD it once or twice during the previous outbreaks.

But ambulance paramedics aren't considered by the BC government to be health care workers, so they don't qualify.

And in the mean time, most anyone working for a health authority has been pulled from regular duties to help administer the shots. This means that anyone needing: breastfeeding assistance, prenatal education, pregnancy testing (pregnant women are a risk group, so this seems particularly twisted - how do you know if you are at risk if you can't get a pregnancy test?), tuberculin testing (tuberculosis IS actually an epidemic in Vancouver that has cost hundreds of lives in recent years), adult immunization, audiology, dental, nursing support services, speech-language pathology, health promotion, parent support etc... can just wait until the craziness is over. But when will that be? The pattern of H1N1 is that it sticks around for a few years. We don't know how long the vaccine stays effective for, so everyone will probably want a shot again next year.

It takes a fair amount of trust in the system to let them just poke me and mine with a needle full of magic serum. And all this really doesn't make one confident in the system.
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Pumpkin Graveyard

Having done their duty on Hallowe'en, the pumpkins have been moved to the compost.
November 1, 2009:
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Here, Spice inspects their progress.
November 4, 2009:
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Hallowe'en

First we had to practice our bouncing...



Then we were off to our morning party at Deaf Children’s Society. We had a lot of fun visiting with families. Last year’s preschool graduates had been invited, so it was a chance to catch up with them as well. Merlin played “Ring around the Rosie”. His walking has improved enough, and his friends are now big enough to walk with him holding hands. It is really great to see him able to engage with his peers.
And the cake was nummy.

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Then we came home and set out the pumpkin trail to the front door.

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My favourite was the cat pumpkin.

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Then it was time for trick or treating.

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He wasn’t afraid of the witch, or her recipe for kiddie stew.

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I think he would have gone all night, by the light of the full moon.
But eventually, Kanga had to call it quits.

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No friends like old friends

We moved to Deer Lake drive when I was Merlin’s age. That is hard to believe. It remains a mystical place, where children run free through the woods - are lost and found, apples and cherries are free for the picking and friends are behind every tree (or in them, or swinging from them.)
The entrance to the drive is tunnel-like with massive trees that create a solid canopy. When you come out the other side of the tunnel you are in a different world. I hear “ready or not, here I come!” and taste huckleberry. The smell that is unique to this spot: skunk cabbage, cedar, rotting chestnut leaves.
Memory blurs with reality as Jill comes down the steps. 6, 12 then 18 and 40 years old all at once. That big smile and a hug and kiss. Off we go further down the drive to the Pool’s house filled with more hugs and kisses. Chinese takeout and good stories.
We are not alone anymore. There are strangers now picnicking where a home once stood filled with friends. As the old homes give way to parkland, it is sad and beautiful to see time pass. It is a place that should be shared. It demands it. New memories for new friends.
But I will always taste huckleberries.
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Getting festive

Thursday night, Jonas was visiting and we put up the Christmas decorations together. We have a little "Charlie Brown" tree in a pot that I bought from the supermarket last year for the condo. It had a hard, dry summer of neglect while I tended to the massive garden I inherited. So it has a section of brown before the new growth started with the rains this fall. It his heavily laden with our smallest decorations.
There was some discussion as to how to hang the stockings. We decided nail holes in the mantle was acceptable and Rob made it so.
Saturday I woke up to discover that the wind had blown the gazebo into a tree. We discussed taking it down this fall, but decided that it was such a perfect fit on the deck, that it really couldn't go anywhere. OOOPS! The wind had to blow it straight up 4 feet in the air and then into the tree to get it out from the deck railings. Don't mess with mother nature, she's a very determined lady!
Anyhow, Rob and i were able to put it straight without injury. The roof has only one small tear. All in all, we got away with our foolhardy optimism relatively unscathed.
Photos of the decorations and the gazebo-in-a-tree click
here.
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Fall 2008

Well it's really great to get back to the webpage. I've added some new photos and a new recipe. I like this project and I've missed it.
It has been a busy summer of gardening and general house projects. Homeownership is great, but time consuming. Merlin and I have had a lot of fun in the yard. The wet weather keeps us on the deck much of the time now. The gazebo deck cover we got makes us able to go out and enjoy some fresh air even on rainy days.

Merlin loves playing in the rain. Sometimes I change him out of wet clothes 4 times in a day. His language progresses and everyone is pleased with his progress after a year of CI use. His mobility also shows slow and steady progress. He loves running around in his walker on the deck. Preschool continues to be a popular and fun activity for the boy. Good news: Merlin made it into the "At Home" program, which means the types of services he is receiving now, which will run out when he turns 5, he will continue to receive for as long as he needs them. While I'm pleased he was accepted, one has to wonder why we even have to apply. Why provide it for under 5 and not over? I know the sad answer: in terms of return on the investment, the government has decided that helping 3 year olds is cost effective, where helping 12 year olds isn't.

I'm still enjoying both my jobs at the law office and as a parent guide. As an added bonus, Dad and I get to go to the office's Christmas party, which will be our 3rd date this year.
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June 2008

Oh dear, it has been a while.
We moved. We worked.
Now I spend much of my spare time in the garden. And I seem to have found more spare time... So the website and everything else will apparently be more for the fall and winter months. Video of the state of the
kitchen.

So the city will apparently pick up
6, 40 lb bags of yard waste/week from March to November. Who has this much yard waste?, I naively ask. Check out the video of the compost bins. I started filling a large bucket everyday with weeds. I thought I'd eventually make my way around the garden. Mom got me a wheelbarrow. Now I fill that, usually about 3 times/day. And I have made my way around the back yard. That's right, we've been here a month and a half, and I haven't even touched the front garden. It's just all very overgrown. And it rains a lot, which means it grows a lot.

Anyway, I took some photos of the
garden, so enjoy. For comparison, check out the photos we took of the garden in March.

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I love Saturdays

As a parent, really Saturdays should be the same as any other day. The child still needs to be cared for, meals cooked, dishes done, laundry loaded. All the chores are still there. And even though hubby gets up to go to kung fu practice and leaves more or less at the same time he goes to work, Saturdays are different right from the get-go.
Maybe I just cut myself more slack on Saturdays, knowing that a little "me" time is healthy. Of course, I know Daddy will be home in time for lunch and then there will be two of us. I'll have a partner to get through the day with. It won't be that lonely journey that being the stay-at-home parent can be.
Anyway, I love Saturdays. I'd like more of Saturday, I think I'm going to rename Wednesday. Think how much more enjoyable "the hump of the week" would be if it had a funkier name like "Saturday". I know some will say that Sunday is the obvious choice, but all too often Sunday is just the day before MONDAY. Besides, days as good as Saturday should be spread out a bit. Yes, Wednesday is the obvious choice, if you think about it.
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Working and Merlin's words

So, it's been a while...
A job found me (literally) - possibly 2, actually. I'm working part-time in a law library for a labour law firm. Kind of my dream job. Really friendly folk and I have a lot of autonomy.
The second is a few hours a week lending support to families with a child that has been diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing. I've been shortlisted for that, so I don't know yet.

My main reason for posting is to say how excited we are with Merlin's progress. He's been talking/signing up a storm. He had about 10 words and signs before the implant. He now has over 150. For those that want to keep up to his signing, check out this
list of words Merlin knows.

Oh, and I should follow up with my Leopard rant... the 10.5.2 release seems to have fixed my problems. My mac is a mac again. But I still say Apple could have acknowledged the problems instead of acting like they didn't know what we were talking about.

Oh yeah, and we bought a house. More on that later, I'm sure.
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The week that was

This week just kind of flowed by. Which isn't to say it didn't have its excitement.
Monday we put an offer in on a house (11 thousand over the asking price, but someone else offered more.) Oh well, we'll find our house one day. The search continues.
Tuesday we were woken at 3 am to the fire alarm. It was really cold outside. False (ish) alarm, in that it was a big water leak that must have shorted out the alarm system or something. Anyhow, after the brief pajama party in the freezing cold outside, we came in, looked at the fire truck lights, and eventually Merlin went back to sleep after the excitement.
Thursday was playing with Sasha and Kathy which is always fun.
Friday night I had a party with the QIS staff to say goodbye. It's official now, I've left VPL. They were wondering if it felt weird, it really doesn't. I'll miss my co-workers, but not really the job. I'm going to make an effort to stay in touch. Softball season with the Dewey Decimators is almost upon us (okay, first I have to do the taxes, but then it's game time.) Which is good, because I do get the housewife cabin fever sometimes, so it'll be good to get out to play on a regular basis.
Today we did some house hunting. A couple that may show some promise, but nothing too exciting. Lunch at a favourite Chinese place. Merlin does love those Shanghai style thick noodles. And we played outside in the snow a bit. I'm wondering if it snowed in the 'Loops today for the big race. I'll call tomorrow and find out how it went.
I'm looking forward to the Chinese New Year parade. Merlin had a blast last year. Merlin and I dropped in on a family preparing dumplings for their New Year's feast in the Common Room. It smelled soooo good. I do LOVE this multicultural city.
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Merlin's checkup

Merlin went to see his pediatrician yesterday. It's always fun to present our growing boy to this friend who was so crucial to Merlin's well-being not that long ago.
Basically the Dr. is pleased with his progress and health.

Merlin's stats are:
Note: except where I've noted, the chart used is for term babies. I only have an extreme baby boy chart for weight.

head circumference: 49.9 cm - this puts him at the 75th percentile for boys using his corrected age.

height: 88.5 cm - this puts him at the 25th percentile for boys using his corrected age.

weight: 10.58 kg - this puts him
below the 3rd percentile for boys using his corrected age.
On the extreme premie boy chart, he has been on the 5th percentile line up until his 18th month, when he started to move above that. This measurement puts him at about the 15th percentile mark (I'm interpolating between the lines). In other words, while he is smaller than his peers - he's (slowly) gaining on them!

Later, we went to see Kathy, Sasha and Che in their new home. Merlin had a LOT of fun playing musical band with Sasha and Che. I had fun chatting to Kathy on the couch, while the 2 toddlers played in her bedroom - what bliss! Mmmm and we had perogies too!
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New and old

Marriage - not so different to the way we were. But the wedding was a good time and family is always well worth celebrating.
New Year's was spent in "quiet contemplation" - yeah whatever, we stayed home and drank leftover booze from the wedding. It was a nice time cozied up with family by the fire.
Merlin had a good time at his first week of preschool. He goes twice/week. He is so laid back, not a lot ruffles him. He's getting some braces to help him to walk. In the mean time he has learnt to walk holding onto one hand only. It's a little unsteady, but a very big milestone for all of us.
I went back and cleared out most of the old website. I had made it using iWeb. This site I'm using RapidWeaver, which is a little more advanced and can do more. iWeb was a great way to get going, but limiting in the end. I left my old blog there for posterity. You can link to it
here.
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