Everyone’s got An Opinion

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

The above quote, was taken from a Twitter feed I follow, that sends out random quotes about life. I know I’ve been blogging a lot about things I’ve read, that were inspiring, but I’m hoping everyone enjoys the break from hearing solely about the fur babies.

When I read the above quote a few days ago, I began thinking about my aunts and how they seem to find it necessary to criticize other family member’s life choices, but seem to overlook the fact that their decisions haven’t been much better.

I know constantly being told what to do or what you’re doing wrong, is just part of being the “younger” generation of a family, but my sister and I seem to be even more of a target now that we’re older and Mom’s not around to defend us. I try and keep my distance. Try not to have to be in a situation where I’ll be alone with an “interrogator”, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe it’s partly because I can’t see well enough to know when others are leaving the room. Or maybe it’s because I’m just too nice, but it always seems to happen at a family gathering and it’s gotten to the point where I dread having to attend.

My family thinks Huib is the greatest guy ever. They have no complaints when it comes to him and my decision to get married, but they still find ways of sticking their two cents into our relationship. They find it necessary to give me advice on having a successful marriage – which they haven’t succeeded in doing themselves, so I’m not sure how their advice is going to help me. They like criticizing the way I interact with Huib and ask why he doesn’t want to go outside with the “boys” rather than just sitting with me – because that’s what all guys do right? And then when I’m thoroughly annoyed, one of the aunts begin asking if we want kids and when I explain that things just haven’t worked out the way we’d like, they proceed to ask if we’ve actually been trying….well, isn’t that self-explanatory? AND is it really your business? I guess it just seems strange to them that their own children could be popping out babies without any real effort, but Huib and I are having trouble.

Then, after all that is over, we come to the weight questions… So you’ve gained some weight since the last time I saw you… – you don’t think I’ve noticed? Have you looked at your own belt size? Oh, the things I would love to say if I weren’t a caring and patient person lol! When I just sit there with a look of shock on my face, someone will proceed to begin advising me on how to lose the extra weight, which would be fine if they, themselves weren’t also fighting a weight issue. It seems as though our family’s genes just aren’t conducive to being thin.

It’s funny to observe them though when the tables have turned. When people begin criticizing them or asking them questions and giving “advice”. They just sit there and go red, not out of embarrassment, but anger because they see the questions as a personal attack. This is when one usually ends up crying or leaving because someone hurt their feelings or offended them.

Do you have any people in your life that you wish could take a moment, and just look in the mirror?

Training With Canyon

On Tuesday, Canyon and I had our fourth lesson with the Border Collie lady and it went quite well!

Last week, we worked some more on our positioning for the “heel” and then began trying to walk further and further with him remaining “in position”. He stays right by my side most of the time, but will sometimes get a little ahead, so this week we started saying “wrong” and starting over again. She explained that if I just kept changing directions when he got out of place that he wouldn’t understand exactly where or if he did something wrong. This really made sense to me, so instead of just continuing on for as long as I want, I’m stopping the second he’s out of place, telling him “wrong” and returning to where we started. I found this week to be one of the best sessions because Canyon and I have really begun to understand one another.

This week we also practiced our “fronts”, “sit-stays” and “hand touches”. For the “front”, she has me sit on the very edge of a chair with my legs slightly outstretched to give Canyon a sort of spot to aim for. Then she has me throw a treat and then call him, using my hands to sort of direct him into the centre of my body – not sure this really makes too much sense, so I’ll try and explain how I position my hands. When Canyon is retrieving the treat, I sort of hold my hands together as though I’m praying, but have my arms outstretched, and as he comes I bring my arms towards my body in a sort of “U” motion. For the most part, Canyon tends to come in straight, but stays about a foot or so back. The Border Collie lady thinks this is probably close enough since he’s a big boy, but we are rewarding the times he comes in really close, as opposed to when he is just perfectly straight. His “hand touches” are coming along, but he still won’t really do them on command – it more looks as though he’s just bumping my hand because it was there or because he thinks there is a treat. I’ve made a “touch stick” to try and further his understanding. We made the “touch stick” from a mop handle and put bright yellow and navy blue electrical tape on one end to give him a target. Cessna already knows this game, so I’ve also purchased a button thingy that makes different laughing noises when pressed for her to practice the “touch” with. I want her to get really good at “nose touching” before we move on to learning a new command for “paw touching”.

The rest of our session this week was spent learning two new behaviours – backing up and turning left and right. For backing up, she has us toss treats between his front paws and as he goes to move, we say “back”. He really liked this game, but after ten tries was not quite ready to do it without the treat being thrown. Unfortunately, Huib will have to help with this one because the aim needs to be perfect and I need to click the second he moves his paws. I think teaching Cessna this command on my own will be easier though since she is black and there is better contrast between her paws and the floor. she already knows how to back up when on leash, so I think it shouldn’t be too hard to teach her how to do it in other contexts.

Then, to teach the the lefts and rights, the Border Collie lady had me hold a treat above Canyon’s head and with my right hand move him in a counter-clockwise circle while saying “left” and then doing the same with my left hand, but instead having him move in a clockwise circle while saying “right”. He started doing this one quite easily, but we’ll have to practice a bit before I think he’ll do it without the lure. Cessna knows her lefts and rights for working, so again I think it will be easy to teach her in the new context.

Canyon and I have four more obedience lessons with the Border Collie lady before she sets up her agility equipment for the spring/summer sessions. At this point, we’ll be working outside and she’ll have less of a time constraint, so Cessna will begin coming as well. I won’t work the two together, but will have one in the truck while the other has their half hour lesson. I’m hoping to build some of my own agility equipment in the summer, so we can practice what we’ve learned at home.

Advice For Life

This morning, I was reading through blogs I follow, trying to find some inspiration for a post and found it on Rolling Around In My Head. Mr. Hingsburger was writing about a particular book he enjoys writing notes in for presentations or blog entries and how he had come across an old entry from back when he had first learned of his disability. He writes about some of the feelings he had and then ends the post with these three words “live what’s given.”

Tough to do sometimes…

When we’re children, we dream of the amazing life we’ll have as adults. We think about the high paying job. About the big house, expensive car and fancy neighbourhood. We fantasize about the special person we’ll share our fairytale life with an some, will dream of the children they will have.

But…then…we grow up…

We become adults. We quickly realize that achieving that fairytale is impossible. We learn that we were naive to think that if we just followed the rules, our dreams would come true.

Our dreams never included, the road blocks, detours or crashes, that make up real life.

In my fairytale life, I was a successful veterinarian. Living in a large house. With a fancy car and all the possessions I could dream of. I never wanted to have my own children, but thought I would adopt and have a husband willing to be the “stay at home” Dad.

Well at the age of 13, I got my first real life check. I lost most of my vision and could no longer be the veterinarian in my dreams. But, I didn’t want to let this damper my fairytale, so decided on being a lawyer and worked hard in school. I met the man of my dreams while working on my first university degree and thought life was now beginning to work out the way I had dreamed – just a little glitch right? Well, I finished my first degree and after completing the LSAT, decided law school wasn’t really for me, so began applying to various schools for social work. I got into my first choice, McMaster University, and got my next reality check during the search for a field placement. I hadn’t really tried to find work before attending Mac so did not believe friends when they told me it was extremely difficult to find work with a disability. I guess I didn’t want to believe that society could still be discriminatory against people in this day and age. I wanted to believe that having two university degrees would shelter me from this horrible truth and that I would be one of the few who had defied the odds. Well, I was sadly mistaken; I’m still not working after graduating in June of 2007.

When I read Mr. Hingsburger’s post and saw “live what’s given,” I began to think about all the good things in my life that would never have happened if my shunt had not blocked and caused me to lose most of my vision.

I think the first thing I will thank my vision loss for, is Huib. You’re probably wondering why I would give my vision loss the credit for bringing Huib into my life, but if it weren’t for being visually impaired, I’m not sure we would have had the opportunity to meet or become so close. We still would have been at the University of Guelph together, but because of my vision loss I met a lot of different people and learned about many volunteer opportunities via peer helpers who were assigned to help Phoenix and I become accustomed to the campus. It was through these interactions that I found out about the University’s Safe Walk program and later met Huib.

Second, I’d like to thank my vision loss for Gryphon. You’re probably wondering why I’m not giving thanks for Phoenix and the others, but Gryphon was my first dog guide. And, even though him and I did not work for long, he still left an impression on me, that would lead to me never returning to the white cane. In addition to this, Gryphon re-ignited my desire to work with animals. Even though I can no longer be a veterinarian, I have directed my efforts towards learning all I can about training and caring for dogs so that maybe in the future I can begin a breeding program and/or a rescue group.

Finally, I’d like to thank my vision loss for showing me “the humour in life.” Because, without the ability to look back on experiences and smile, I don’t believe I could have become the woman I am today.

I think it’s important to learn how to “live what’s given” because if we spend our whole life thinking about how it could have been, we’ll miss the good things that would not have happened if our childhood fairytales had come true.

It’s Our Choice

Last week I was telling a friend about what I’ve recently taught Cessna and Canyon. Instead of the usual questions though, he asked about whether our landlords would care that we had been putting tape on the walls and then finished off by saying he doesn’t get why I do all this with them because they are just dogs. The fact that he seemed disinterested in what I was telling him was frustrating, but what really stuck in my mind was his “they’re just dogs” comment.

I’m sure all other dog owners out there get similar questions and comments, but doesn’t it get tiring to here the same ones over and over again? The ones that really bug me are; “Don’t you think you guys have enough dogs?”, “I don’t know how you guys put up with all the hair…”, “you’ve got your hands busy there…”, Or “why do you bother? They’re just dogs…”. The first one and last one are the ones we get the most from family and friends and are the ones this entry will focus on.

As everyone knows, Huib and I are the proud guardians of four dogs and two cats. Each one has entered our lives at different points and each one has made a difference in their own way. Phoenix was already with me when I first began dating Huib so, when he retired there was no other possible choice than to keep him as our pet. I write a lot about Phoenix and how important he is and has been to making me who I am today, so I will not bore you with more on that. Next came Logan and Laya. Huib was living in a bachelor apartment during our second year of dating and was finding it lonely when Phoenix and I couldn’t come visit. He had only ever had a pet when he was really young, but had become accustomed to our presence so found it hard being alone at times. When his birthday came around, I decided to take him to the Guelph Humane Society and we’d pick out a kitten. We looked at several different options, but settled on a 10 week old female calico who had just been surrendered that morning. She was extremely friendly and just wanted to curl up in our arms and purr. A couple of months later, Huib decided that Logan needed a friend and that I should also have a kitten. We returned to the Guelph Humane Society around my birthday and we picked out a very fluffy little 10 week old female maine coon cross who had been hiding in the back corner of her cage. Laya has continued to be shy, but after a tense couple weeks of her fending off Phoenix’s attention, she began settling into our growing family. In the spring of 2003, Huib and I began talking about how we’d really like to get a golden retriever puppy. Huib really wanted me to wait until graduation, but when the settlement money finally came in from Mom’s malpractice suit she had started before her death, I decided it was the perfect time to get our new golden family member. We called a few different breeders who were listed in the Dogs Annual Magazine and settled on one from Hanover, Ontario. We had left a message on her answering machine inquiring about her prices and whether she had any puppies or was expecting a litter in the summer, so she called us back. She told us about: her dam and stud, where the puppies were born and whelped, what was included in her fees and then asked us to come out and meet everyone in a couple of weeks. Aspen and her litter had been about a week old at this point, so we ended up waiting about a month before we ventured out to pick out our little bundle. I’ve already explained the story of getting Aspen and how she has become Phoenix’s best friend, so I’ll end my discussion about her here. Cessna joined our family when Phoenix retired, so no real exciting background there, but if it weren’t for her I don’t think we would have fostered Aiden and Reece or decided to get Canyon. Phoenix and Aspen are both really laid back dogs, so we never really had to put much effort into keeping them happy or out of trouble. Cessna on the other hand has loads of energy and works best when regularly challenged. I know it’s not necessary to explain to you all why we have brought each one of our four-legged family members into our home, but it helps to give a little background to my explanation I often give to friends and family who ask if we think we have reached our limit.

Each one of our fur babies have come into our lives for a different reason and we don’t regret bringing any of them into our home. We do not actively search for new additions, but would never say we have reached our limit. We started out with Phoenix and didn’t think we would have the cats, let alone three additional dogs, but they are here. We may want to welcome an addition in the future, but that is for us to decide and is not something other people’s opinions will have any weight upon.

��As for the second most annoying question or comment, “Why bother? They’re just dogs.” To you they might “just” be dogs, but to us they are our family and if they enjoy learning new things, then why shouldn’t we take the opportunity to teach them and learn something new ourselves? Cessna loves to try new things and our working relationship improves when she’s happy, so why wouldn’t I try and teach her new skills or introduce her to something as fun as agility? Canyon is not even two years old so has a pretty empty slate on which I can create an all around talented companion, so why wouldn’t I want to do some training lessons now and competing in the future?

Does anyone else get bothered by friends and family who find it necessary to make comments about their choices in life?

Canadian

On Monday, Huib and I were in Kirkland Lake so I could get blood taken in preparation for my lumbar puncture that is scheduled for a week today. The doctors still don’t know why my vision deteriorated so suddenly and then came back after a few weeks, so as a last ditch effort to figure it all out I’ve been scheduled for an LP. I haven’t had one since I was a teenager, they were terrible and the thought of having to endure one makes me cringe. But, we’ll leave that for another day and move on because I’m just not ready to talk about that. So, Huib and I were in town and decided to get a coffee at one of they’re two Tim Horton’s locations – yes, Kirkland Lake only has about 8,000 people, but has two Timmy’s! After ordering our coffees at the speaker, Huib moved up to the window and saw a sign for “Roll-Up The Rim”. “Roll-Up The Rim” is an approximately two week promotion Timmy’s runs, where people can win things just by buying a coffee, hot chocolate or tea. The promotional television ads last year for “Roll-Up the Rim” had a guy call his friend to inform them that it was time and instructed him to grab his toque (for those non-Canadians, it’s a winter hat) and jump on their moose so they could go grab their timmy’s double double. I used to laugh each time I heard the commercial and thought it was funny how they were able to incorporate several “Canadian things” without making it sound dumb.

This got me thinking about what other things are “Canadian things” and wondering why we take such pride in them. Last year Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and I remember Huib and I watching the closing ceremonies and laughing. The organizers had decided to showcase some of our Canadian talent and began everything by presenting a little skit of sorts to make fun of the various Canadian images – the beaver, the RCMP, and the maple leaf, among other things. I’m not sure if other countries are like this, but for some reason it seems as though Canadians find it necessary to make fun of themselves and be sure others don’t mistake us for Americans.

I think it’s wonderful to have such pride in your own country, but I’m also not sure I believe we are better than other countries. Yes, we have a wonderful public health care system where no one ends up in debt because of illness or dies because they couldn’t afford care, but what about the seniors who are struggling to survive on a less than adequate income or the Canadians suffering from mental illness who can’t afford help and end up in prison or living on the street?
I’m thankful to live in a peaceful country and know that when I wake up in the morning my neighbour’s house won’t be replaced by a bomb crater, but how can we take pride in a country that allows their veterans to live below the poverty line and when someone tries to speak up, information on his financial, medical and psychological condition is given to a cabinet minister? I’m not sure about you, but these facts sure don’t make me feel pride in my country… I will always be thankful for living in Canada and will wear the Canadian flag on my dog’s harness or my backpack with pride, but I will never see myself as better than Americans or any other country’s citizens because no matter what, they all have their “skeletons in the closet”. So, instead of trying so hard to be “un-American” maybe we should take a better look at Canada and focus on trying to solve our own shameful social problems.

And…to think, this was all started by ordering an extra large one and a half Splenda, two cream and a large black I wonder if Terri Clark was onto something when she released her song “I Think the World Needs A Drink”…

For The Love Of Coffee

Life has been a little rocky the past couple of months, so I haven’t had much to write that wasn’t on a serious or unpleasant topic. This evening though, I’ve been relaxing with a cup of butter pecan coffee after a day of cleaning and preparing food for Phoenix to eat over the weekend and thought it would be fun to write something about my love of coffee.

Huib has always been a coffee lover and used to grab one on our many trips to the Guelph mall while I had my usual hot chocolate or slushy – depending on the temperature outside. I always thought people were crazy to drink the stuff and wondered how they could stand in line for so long to get it. Around my fourth year of university though I began venturing outside my usual beverage selections and got hooked on Second Cup lattes – usually a mocha or caramel. I’d go grab one before class or even on my way to visit with Huib – he lived off campus about two blocks from a Second Cup.

About a year later, Huib and I moved in together and bought a Cuisinart coffeemaker and juicer with my air Miles as one of our first “together” purchases. One day when he was making a pot, he asked if I’d like a cup and of course I refused. Before getting one for himself though, he turned and asked why I liked lattes (usually with a double shot of espresso at this point) but wouldn’t even think of having a cup of coffee. I explained that every time I’d ever tried it, I couldn’t stand the taste because it was just too bitter. He just smiled and asked if he could try making me one and see how I liked it – of course I agreed, it was only polite, right?

Well…after that day I was hooked! Huib is dutch, he moved to Canada when he was about 6 years old, so likes his coffee strong. In my first cup of coffee he added two heaping teaspoons of sugar and some milk which made it no longer taste bitter, but sweet and well…tasty!

Over the years my love of coffee has not lessened, but instead of two or three heaping teaspoons of sugar and some milk, I add some Splenda and a little cream. I still love my Second Cup lattes, but have now discovered flavoured coffee and can’t live with out it. Each time we go “down south” we pick up a pound of two different flavoured coffees from Second Cup and usually a big bag of the Kirkland brand hazelnut vanilla from Costco. Huib has never been a chocolate fan, but one of his favourite flavoured coffees is Belgian chocolate. He still makes strong coffee and I’ve actually begun to find it hard drinking anything else.

Don’t you think it’s amazing to see how easily your tastes can change when the right person makes it?

She would Have Been 52

On Sunday (February 6th) my mom would have turned 52, but in September of 1998 diabetes decided she should forever be 39.

When Mom first passed away, I found it hard to think of Christmas, Mothers Day, her birthday, and the day she left us (September 25, 1998) without getting teary or feeling generally miserable. I would get moody or easily upset without warning weeks beforehand. I found it hard to listen to friends and other students talk about what they’d be doing with their mothers on Mothers Day or what they got them for Christmas. I felt as though the world should know Mom was gone and therefore no one should be talking about their mothers. Well, it’s been almost twelve and a half years and I’m noticing the days now sometimes pass without thought.

I still think about mom when I’m having a bad day or when something exciting happens. I think about her when I visit my sister and see my step-dad. I think about her when I’m not feeling well and wish she could be there just to offer a finger to hold – something I always did as a kid. I wonder what she would have thought about Huib and where we’d be now if she was still alive. Would we be living in Northeastern Ontario? Or would we be living closer to Aurora because that’s where her and Dad live? Would Brandi be the way she is? Would she still have that feeling of entitlement and expectation that I be there to catch her every time she fell? Or would Mom have made her grow up and make something of herself sooner than we were able to do so? All of these thoughts and questions move through my head whenever I think of Mom and what life would be like if diabetes had not decided she would forever be 39.

Even though you’re no longer with us Mom – Happy 52nd Birthday!!

Anniversary

On Friday (February 4th) Huib and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it was 5 years ago that we said our vows in front of family and friends at the Waterloo Inn and spent the evening celebrating. We’re still paying off the wedding, but it was a memorable day for everyone.

Huib and I have decided to mark this anniversary and every tenth one after (15th being our next) by creating a slide show of pictures from our years together. This one will include pictures from our full ten years together, but the ones following will only include pictures from the last slide show up to the current year of the anniversary. If I can figure out how to do it, I will post the slide show here and on Facebook for everyone to view.

Being Huib’s wife has been an indescribable experience. He’s one in a million and I’m blessed to have him all to myself. I know I write about how amazing he is all the time, but you really have to know Huib to understand that I’m not exaggerating. He’s extremely caring, overly loyal and wants nothing more than for me to be happy. Whenever we’re out and he sees something I might like he’ll show me and if I even smile, he’ll say we should buy it or tell me we’ll get it when it goes on sale. When at work he e-mails if I haven’t already to see how I’m doing or calls during his breaks just to hear my voice. When his co-workers ask him to come out for a drink after shift or invite him over for a party, he’ll either tell them he has to get home or ask if he can come later with me. I’m not sure people understand our relationship at times, but from day one Huib and I have always tried to include one another in everything – not because we have to, but because we want to.

I love you Huib with all my heart and could never imagine life without you by my side. We’ve made it this far, let’s try for a lifetime!!

A New Perspective

Last Wednesday I woke up with a migraine. This is a semi-normal occurrence so I wasn’t worried at first, but then I went to turn on the lights because it was on the dark side and I realized something was wrong – I couldn’t see… I decided to take some medication for my headache and just chill on the couch, hoping my vision would clear with the pain relief. Well…it didn’t improve, but I still wasn’t worried because I thought of all my friends who get migraines and tell me how their vision is all distorted when they have a really bad one (I have a high pain tolerance so don’t actually recognize the true level of pain I’m in), so I thought “maybe that’s the problem.” Huib got home in the evening from work and I told him about my vision and he said we’d just watch some TV together and see how things are in the morning – it wasn’t any better…

I called my sister Thursday morning and asked her if she was working. She wasn’t, so we headed to the hospital in Timmins to see if they could help me out. When I arrived they had me into the emergency department within an hour and I had a CT scan just a few hours after checking in with triage. The CT scan came back clear, but the doctors were still concerned about my vision and headaches so they wanted to admit me so I could get an MRI done within 24 hours rather than the usual 2-3 weeks. I really didn’t want to stay in the hospital, but my sister convinced me to do it and stayed the night so I could keep Cessna as well. Huib arrived the following afternoon and I was told I would need to stay another night because there was no room in the MRI schedule until the following morning. Brandi went home late Friday night and Huib stayed with me and Cessna (she was amazing, just sleeping on my bed the whole 48 hours). I had my MRI early Saturday and was discharged around 3pm after the results came back. The doctors are still not sure why my vision has deteriorated and whether it will return, but for now they are just treating the symptoms of the headaches.

I’m so glad to be home and out of the hospital. It’s amazing to see the varying level of care you can receive from different nurses. I’m so thankful that Brandi and Huib stayed with me the whole time because I’m not sure I would have survived on my own. My evening shift nurses were great both nights I stayed, but the day shift nurses on both Thursday and Friday were horrid!! My Friday one was a male and he was so stupid and lazy, I think Huib wanted to slap him a few times – he (not Huib) is an example of why some people don’t like male nurses. I think the worst thing he did other than to just cancel my call bell when I rang without coming to see what I wanted, was when he told my neuro-ophthalmologist in London that I was no longer at the hospital and must have been discharged. He was my nurse and I was literally two big steps from the nurses’ station!! Luckily my ophthalmologist and I were trading e-mails back and forth so when he told me what the nurse had said, Huib went over and clarified with them that I was indeed still admitted and that my doctor wanted to speak to the E.R one in charge of my care. My neuro-ophthalmologist was amazing and made sure to get the Timmins doctor to do all tests and send him the results as soon as they came in. even though it was a weekend, he still checked in via e-mail with me and gave me updates on what he was hearing from Timmins. Thankfully I had someone taking good care of me since my neurosurgeon in Hamilton really didn’t seem to care about what was happening, but that’s a whole other story and the conclusion is I’ll be getting a referral to a different one that my ophthalmologist has recommended.

It’s been an interesting 5 days. I’ve gone from seeing very little – through only 3 pin holes in my right eye – to seeing barely anything – sometimes even nothing. I’ve told some friends through facebook about my ordeal and called my aunt in London yesterday, but I’m not sure what to tell everyone. In the mornings I wake up and it’s almost complete darkness, I can’t tell if the lights are on or off and when I’m outside with the dogs I can’t tell if it is sunny or cloudy. At some point through the day though, not sure if it is related to the level of pain, my vision clears a bit. It’s like looking at the world through a not yet defogged car window I guess… I can see things around me, like the TV, the opening to our bedroom, the fan on our ceiling, motion on the TV, etc, but I can’t always tell people exactly where it is I see it (my hand-eye coordination is off or something) and at times I’m not even sure I’m seeing what I think I am – could it be my mind seeing what I know should be there? I’ve always wondered what it would be like if I ended up losing the rest of my sight and I guess I’m getting that glimpse or could it be forever…?

I guess time will tell, but for now I’m trying to move on and figure out how to do some of the things I enjoy.

Christmas 2010

This year my friend and her son came to visit for the holidays. Caleb came on the 17th and is staying until after new Years, but his mom arrived on the 23rd and left on Monday. It was an eventful few days, full of memories and first time experiences.

Here are some pictures of Caleb posing in different kid’s rides during our visit to the North Bay mall for some last minute gifts.

Taz isn’t much into the whole Christmas thing so instead of buying her a gift we took her and Caleb dog sledding near Timmins. Dog Sledding Adventures is run by a man named Shane who has about 21 greyhound like huskies. I cannot totally remember the breed or if they are actually husky greyhound crosses, but if anyone knows from the pictures please let me know. Shane started his dog sledding career in Whistler as a guide and instantly fell in love with the sport. When he decided to move from Whistler back to the Timmins area where he grew up, he made an agreement with the company owner and brought about 6-10 dogs back. The snow conditions on Friday were on the faster side so Shane only hooked up 7 dogs to our sled. We had – coconut (leader), Shooter, Mr. Penguin, Dora, Doughnut, Madison, and Mr. Deeds – most of our team were from his Adam Sandler crew. The dogs were extremely excited about the upcoming run so barked and whined constantly until they were hooked up and told to go. It was amazing to see how focused they get and then as the run goes on how tired they become from the concentration. Each of us got a chance to ride in the sled while Shane directed the dogs and taught us all the necessary commands and features of the sled itself. Then Shane stood off to the side and let us take one another for rides during the next 45 minutes. In total we spent 2 hours with the dogs and it was amazing! Shane told me that the next time I came to bring Cessna and Canyon and he would hook them up with his dogs to the sled and I’d see how well they took to the exercise. It wasn’t overly expensive and I had so much fun that I will for sure be returning later in the winter.

My sister and step-dad came over that evening and we had dinner and opened presents. Brandi had to work all weekend so we had our Christmas get together a little early. At first Brandi wasn’t in a great mood, but as the evening progressed her mood improved. Dinner was delicious and dessert was even better – Caleb and I made both a plain and a toffee chip cheesecake.

This year for Christmas from Brandi I got a Tassimo coffee maker, season four of Dexter, a Glee calendar, Starbucks coffee, and an I.O.U. for pajamas. I absolutely love my coffee maker and can’t wait until we get some cappuccino, hot chocolate, and latte pods for it. Dad gave both Huib and I a hundred dollars and Taz bought us the game Rock Star Life. Huib and I decided not to buy one another gifts since there tends to be more sales during the weeks after Christmas and it’s more fun to go on shopping sprees.

We didn’t do too much during the weekend, but enjoyed one another’s company and exercised the dogs. On Saturday we took everyone for an hour and fifteen minute walk and then yesterday went for a two mile walk in the opposite direction. Taz really enjoyed seeing our home and the areas around where we live. Right now it’s beautiful up here – tons of snow and animal tracks everywhere.

We really enjoyed having Taz and Caleb here for Christmas and hope they’ll join us again next year.