Posts tagged ‘Toronto’

June 16, 2018

Othy’s Visit – Family Time

The last part of Othy’s visit was to finally meet my family and see the area where I grew up. On Friday morning we emptied the car, did some work, and then in the afternoon I took Othy to Balls Falls. It had been so long since I had been there, and I kept missing one of the last turns to get there and so we had to turn around and backtrack several times! It was VERY windy, so much so I was wondering whether or not we should even walk around! We had even passed a fallen branch on the drive there. We proceeded with caution and hiked to the upper falls, then walked around the settled area where there is a small chapel, a barn, and a house. Unfortunately the buildings were closed to visitors but we still enjoyed walking around the grounds. There were large white tents installed everywhere, maybe in preparation for some kind of arts and crafts show. One of the tents had completely blown over! Lastly we went to the lower falls that is just adjacent to the cluster of buildings. Othy got a funny photo of me as we were walking over the pedestrian bridge and a crazy gust of wind took me off guard!

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For the sake of nostalgia I stopped in at Jordan Public School which is now vacant. Although there was a sign that says no trespassing, I couldn’t help but go and sit on the swings which were my favourite pass time during recess! From there we went to visit the old school house and then several of the shops along Main Street in the village, one from which we bought some delicious fudge. The last stop that I wanted to make was to visit my cousins who live in the house that I grew up in, but nobody answered the door. I drove us to an empty lot right by the QEW onramp where I was hoping we might be able to walk down to the water. There was no way down however, and so instead we climbed up onto a small incline where we were at least able to see the water. It was still so windy and we had to be careful not to get pulled off! You could see the wind pulling at the water drawing it away from the shore! On the way home I could really feel the wind pulling at the car. Al arrived later that evening. Mom made lasagna for dinner because she knows it’s one of my favourites! We came on the topic of what Al does for work, and then she offered to give Othy a tour of her workplace which Othy responded with a wholehearted YES! I also enjoyed seeing it because her job is so interesting, and her company recently moved to a larger facility.

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The next morning Jen and Chris came to visit. In the late morning Jen, Othy and I went and visited my Grandpa. Grandpa was very happy to meet Othy. Ironically, Othy knew a few words in Malay that he had learned from a visitor at his university. Later in the afternoon we went to Niagara Falls. It was a perfect day for it! We found parking and then walked alongside the falls while stopping to look and take photos now and then. While Chris went back in search of his water bottle, Jen and I explored the gift shop area. To get back to the car we went upstairs in the building and crossed over the pedestrian bridge. There were daffodils planted everywhere! Before we left for home we walked through a beautiful row of blooming magnolia trees. I was glad that I got to see signs of spring before leaving! My dad had shared with Othy before leaving for Niagara Falls that he was unimpressed with them, but Othy did not agree and neither do I. The amount of water going over those falls always astounds me!

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I’m going to miss this one!

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Back at home we had an appetizer dinner together. It was my idea so that Othy could experience the style of meal we have on special holidays. After dinner my family got into an intense discussion on politics, a very common occurrence at our family gatherings! Othy expressed some of his views from his experience in Congo, and then he smoothly changed the subject to express how happy he was to meet my family, how much he loved their daughter/sister, and if they would give their blessing for us to get married! I couldn’t believe that this day had come and this was actually happening! Othy and I had already planned that this would happen, but I was still blushing, smiling wide, and tearing up a bit. Then Al said something like; “Is your heart racing Lise? Because mine certainly is!” and everyone laughed. My parents gave us their blessing and there were hugs all around! Then we took a family photo (a nice one and a crazy one, also a family tradition!) and then played a game of Wizard. We didn’t stay up very late because my dad had to get up very early for work the next day. Othy said goodbye to him that evening because he would not see him the next morning.

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I finished packing the car in the morning and putting a few last things in storage, we took a farewell photo with my mom and sisters, and then Othy and I went to church with my mom. We had to leave pretty quickly after church because I had plans for us to meet up with Vikkie at the airport before going through security. Before we left, Ingrid stopped in to say goodbye! I got emotional when saying goodbye to my Mom who has always been an amazing role model, friend, and prayer warrior. Othy and I hit the road and managed to keep mostly on schedule! We stopped quickly in Stoney Creek to meet up with Othy’s friend (the same one who visited us in Toronto) who wanted to give him some things to take back with him. Once at the airport we dropped off the rental car and went to Terminal 3 to meet Vikkie. Vikkie and I got to chat while Othy waited in line to check in his luggage. She gave me some wonderful treats and items from her recent trip to Japan (the reason why we had not been able to meet up with her during our time in Toronto). Then we had a late lunch together at Freshii. Vikkie and I bid farewell to Othy because our time had run out, and then I bid farewell to Vikkie because I was flying out of Terminal 1. The time had come! I was about to embark on a big journey and also move into the next season of my life.

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June 9, 2018

Othy’s Visit – Road Trip Part 2

Our first stop on the way back from Montreal was to quickly drop in and visit some of the family near Belleville. Othy enjoyed seeing all of the farmland we passed by after getting off of the highway. My plan was to visit my Aunt but she had not been responding to my texts. But then as we turned onto the street near where they live, there she was in her car sitting at a stop sign! It turns out she had stopped to check her phone for texts because she had left it at home while taking the grand kids to the park. Although she was on her way somewhere, she turned around and we had a quick visit with her at the house. From there we drove to the old farm house to visit my cousin Janice. She was home with the twins. They were shy around us (especially Othy) but you could tell they were curious! Finally Janice told them to show us their turtle and then they totally forgot that they were supposed to be shy! In the dining room they have a small fish tank with a medium sized snapping turtle inside! Janice told us the story of how they found him on their driveway and then kept him. She also told us about their mama cats who both had kittens, but that she was hoping they were doing okay because they had chosen to have them high up in a tree!

We couldn’t stay long, but before we left Janice asked the twins if they wanted to show us the barn. Of course they did! We went and visited the hens, found an egg, and then went and fed the goats some hay. On our way out, Janice paused and said that the C.A.T.s were okay after all. I didn’t understand right away until she tilted her head towards the corner. I realized that she was trying to tell me about them without alerting the twins. Her attempt to hide it failed and the twins soon found and began holding and petting the kittens! Fortunately they already had their eyes open. So cute! Before we left we took a fun photo to remember this short and memorable visit!

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We hit the road again but only for a short time because the next destination I had in mind to visit was Presqu’ile Provincial Park near Brighton. It was further off of the highway then I had thought, and so our time there was short as well. The park is on a very narrow peninsula on lake Ontario. The road makes a nice loop through the park and so we drove directly to the end were there is a lighthouse. At the lighthouse all we could see was the lake meeting the grey misty sky. We decided not to stay here too long because Janice recommended checking out the boardwalk that goes through a wetland that is closer to the entrance of the park. She was right to recommend it because it was oh so beautiful! Red and green spruce trees stood out among golden dead wetland grasses against a grey sky. I don’t think I have seen anything quite like it. The boardwalk wove through this landscape and I was sad that we didn’t have the time to walk the whole thing. We went in a ways simply admiring the view, and then turned around and went back. It was very peaceful because there was nobody there but us! Othy enjoyed taking pictures of me because he thought I matched the colours of the grasses.

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After spending twenty minutes there we hit the road again so that we would get back to Toronto by dinner time. Susan prepared us a really nice dinner of salmon and roasted vegetables and we enjoyed spending a last bit of time with her and Andrew. Somehow we got on the conversation of wanting to learn the violin, and Othy asked Susan if she could give him an introductory lesson. He managed to learn how to play some scales and the beginning of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He caught on very fast! After that we loaded the car with the remaining items that I had to bring home including our packed suitcases. It was miraculous that it all juuuuust managed to fit into the compact rental car. We hit the road once again and arrived at my parents place after 10pm. I am thankful for all that we got to see and do together on this mini roadtrip, and that we had safety on the road. What a full and amazing day!

 

 

June 2, 2018

Othy’s Visit – Road Trip

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Our first destination was Cambridge and Waterloo. I took Othy to the school of architecture and we walked around the building and looked at the exhibition at Design at Riverside gallery right before it was about to close. From there we went to Brent and Cathy’s place. We got a tour of the house, shared a lovely meal (lasagna!), went for a walk around the park behind their house, and then Brent introduced Othy to the game of golf! We talked well into the evening over tea and snacks. I was thankful that Othy got to meet this couple that I consider as my surrogate parents!

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We left early the next morning so that we would have time to visit the University of Waterloo before traveling on to Montreal. We drove around the ring road and then went and parked on the east side of the campus on the other side of the tracks. From there we walked to the Cheriton School of Computer Science which is in the Davis Centre. I had not been to this building since visiting the campus while still in high school! We found a graduate studies administrator who provided us with useful information and even gave us a quick tour of the building! Afterwards I took Othy to explore the newer Engineering 5 building (designed by Perkins+Will) since I had not yet been inside. Othy enjoyed looking at many of the research posters that were hanging around the building. There was also an interesting double height collaborative design space on the first two floors.

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Our visit was short and sweet because by 11am we had to be on the road to Montreal in order to get there in the early evening. I had made plans for us to couch surf with a couple from Catalan who I had hosted several months earlier in Toronto. The drive took 7 hours with a short stop for a fast-food lunch. When we were entering the city I accidentally went on the highway heading to downtown instead of uptown where our hosts live, but fortunately Brent and Cathy had given us a map of the city they had lying around and we managed to turn around and get back on track! Not having data on my phone meant getting lost the good old fashioned way! Once we made it to the neighbourhood were our hosts live, we had a very difficult time finding parking! It was worse than Toronto which is saying something! There were all kinds of signs all with different rules and exceptions that could drive anyone crazy! Finally after about twenty or thirty minutes we found a spot. I almost couldn’t believe it and so was triple-checking the sign thinking it was too good to be true! Our hosts were very welcoming and soon had us feeling settled. They have a little toddler who was crawling when I last saw him but was now he was walking! We wanted to pick up some simple things to eat and so our hosts directed us to a small corner store.  It was a nice walk because it was approaching 7:30 and the sun was just setting. When we got back to the apartment our CS hosts surprised us by offering us dinner. They gave us several suggestions for things to see the next day!

We had a bit of a lazy morning and then I had to be on two back-to-back E4C calls and so we didn’t leave the house until noon! We walked to the metro entrance and got a day pass so we could go wherever we wanted. Othy wanted to visit more universities and so we went first to the University of Montreal. It is actually situated on the Mont Real and the main building is very monumental. The ecole polytechnique is beside it. Although the building is quite nice (I remember visiting it on my 2A field trip), we couldn’t for the life of us find the graduate studies office. People kept directing us to different places until finally we were directed to the registrars office who told us to look online. I couldn’t believe that this is how a university would welcome someone who is visiting the campus! From there I was hoping that we could find a way to walk across the mount to the other side where there is a park, a church and McGill University, but there appeared to be no way across. So we descended the hill and took the subway around to the other side. We had more success finding our way around McGill and Othy found someone to  meet with and answer some questions. The campus was made up of some beautiful older stone and brick buildings.

Next we began walking towards the downtown and the waterfront. We came across the Rue St. Catharine which to me felt like the Yonge Street of Montreal. From there I took us on a route toward the water that had some nice parks. I really wanted to take us through the park that I remembered near the Palais de Congres, but was disappointed to find out that is now a construction site. The coloured glass of the Palais de Congres and the pink trees were the same as what I fondly remembered. From there we walked into the old town where the most historical buildings are located. They are beautiful and it felt like we were walking through a European city. By the time we got to the water we were pretty tired and so found our way back to the nearest subway to go back to the apartment. That night I cooked for everyone with food it the corner shop. I made gnocchi in a rose sauce that turned out well. We headed out pretty early the next morning because we had to move our car before nine and we also had a long journey ahead back to Toronto and then on to Beamsville! I also had plans to stop and show Othy a few special places along the way…. To be continued!

May 22, 2018

Embroidery

Over the last few years I have begun experimenting with embroidery as an artistic medium.  I like how it reduces expression to lines and colour. The work is inspired by my Grandma who would often do embroidery on the cards she would give to friends and family on special occasions. The last time I did embroidery was for a set of Christmas cards. This time I made the two cards below as a gift for Philip and Rolf and they depict views from the 2 Fraser adaptive reuse project that I worked on for almost two years.

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May 5, 2018

PBAI RSA Farewell

At the beginning of April, Rolf, Astrid, Philip, and Anne hosted a nice little farewell gathering for me. Darcie, Fysel, Alex, and Mike also came out. We gathered at Rolf and Astrid’s new house and enjoyed dinner and conversation together. At some point in the evening Darcie managed to convince Rolf and Philip to sing something, after which one song surprisingly led to several others in impressive a cappella! Apparently there was still more to discover about my employers of almost three years! I was so thankful to be able to close my time working with them in a positive and memorable way. It is the end of a very good season of professional contribution and development! I am going to miss this group!

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April 28, 2018

God at Work

On the first Sunday of April I shared a God at Work testimony with the congregation at Grace West. I thought that I would include it here as well.

I am headed to Congo in one month’s time and want to share how God is working in the Congo, through the university I will be partnering with, and in my own life. The Congo is a beautiful and a broken country. It is lush and green, has incredibly warm and welcoming people who will invite strangers into their home to stay dry during a downpour, and a very rich culture. And yet they suffer from a cycle of exploitation and conflict. Currently in the East of the country, lack of governance has lead to the formation of rebel groups that periodically attack vulnerable civilians and it is impossible to tell what their larger strategy is or who is involved in funding them. But despite a situation that feels almost hopeless, there are many signs that God is still working in this place. God’s word through the old testament prophet Isaiah 43:19 says:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”

God is providing hope to Congo through the work of the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) who are providing post-secondary education that is often subsidized to a few hundred students with the goal to grow to have a few thousand. Their vision is to bring students up with biblical teaching to encourage them to serve as humble leaders who refuse to participate in the pattern of corruption that has become a regular practice, and to transform their communities from the bottom up. Over the years UCBC has gained a reputation with organizations and businesses who wish to hire graduates who are dependable and trust-worthy.

God is working through a project of UCBC’s Integrated Research Institute called Sharing the Land. The project is mapping land conflict in the region in order to bring land disputes and corrupt practices of selling land into the open where resolution can begin to take place. God is also working through another project called Community Land Use Planning that is teaching local municipalities digital land administration tools in the hope that it will improve land administration practices and accept multiple types of land claims to give people greater land security. These are projects I am privileged to be serving with while I am there.

God has also been working in my own life and teaching me to trust him more completely and become more rooted in my identity in Him instead of the world. Eight years ago I was struggling how to serve God with my skills in architecture and was praying for Him to show me a path to serve him more fully . He responded by opening an opportunity, connecting me with the right people, and speaking to me through His word in the Bible. He brought me to serve in 2012 with Engineering Ministries International and work on a campus master plan project that brought me to Congo for the first time and introduced me to what God was doing through UCBC. It feels like there is this cyclical conversation happening between God and I, where I pray, He opens a door, I doubt about things like finances and ineptitude but pray for provision, He works in the details and sustains me. He reminds me repeatedly, Lise, you can trust me; look how I clothe the lilies of the field?

The return to Congo this time is more daunting than previous times. I follow the news closely to keep tabs on the security situation which is becoming increasingly unpredictable. People respond often in surprise to hear I am going there even with the situation the way it is. But I’ve also realized that God doesn’t call us to be comfortable and that with the kingdom perspective, this is a place that God continues to need people to do His work, and that this part of the world can’t simply be abandoned. He has given me the skills, the passion, and the opportunity; all that remains is to go.

Please pray for what God is doing in Congo through UCBC and their ongoing projects, that they may continue to be a river in the dessert and be God’s instrument in that place. Please pray for peace and security in Beni territory. Please pray for me as I adjust to a new culture and build relationships. Pray for wisdom and the fruits of the spirit in my daily encounters and as I take leadership on these projects. This church community at Grace Toronto is an answer to prayer and I am so thankful to be able to share this journey with you. Thank you for your love and support.

April 7, 2018

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

At the end of March, I joined a group from Adam House who went to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. I didn’t realize how big of an event it is! We all took different cars, met at the parking lot, and then walked to where the festival begins. It was rather chilly for the end of March and everyone was bundled up! We decided to start by going on a tour to see where the maple syrup is collected and made. To get there we were brought to the outside of town on a yellow school bus, and then switched to a tractor with a trailer that brought us across a farmers field and into a wooded area. There we could see buckets on some trees and long stretches of silicone tubing connecting others. There was still snow on the ground which made the whole scene very pretty! We got a tour of the sugar shack where the sap is collected and boiled down, bought some tasty maple treats, and also walked a short loop through the woods. When the next tractor arrived we took it back the way we came.

Upon arriving back at the town we split up into different groups to go explore the main street that was bustling with vendors of all kinds! I stayed with Azzah and Hussam because they had driven me. There was a lot of delicious food like large turkey drumsticks, shawarma, pirogies, potato chips you name it! And of course lots of tables selling maple syrup! There was a booth selling maple syrup cotton candy and I could not resist buying some! There was also some crafts and music. We met up with the larger group again at the end. A few of us were tired of walking and so we decided to take the tractor to the parking lot. What we did not realise is that it drove right past our lot and made a long loop before it brought us around again. The others who had walked were confused by what took us so long! It was a fun day trip and I am glad that I got to enjoy some Canadiana before leaving the next month and also sharing the experience with newcomers!

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March 24, 2018

Sugar Shack TO

On March 11th Vikkie and I kept with tradition and went to the Sugar Shack TO festival at Sugar Beach. There was free coffee, maple toffee made on snow, fun music that included fiddle and dance by the Great Canadian Fiddle Show, and an ice sculpture competition using power tools! The best thing about it was spending time with Vikkie since my time in Toronto was coming to a close!

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February 4, 2018

Mont Tremblant 2.0

At the end of January I joined Sally-Jane’s annual Mont Tremblant ski trip. I was so happy to go because I had not been skiing for two years and Mont Tremblant is some of the best skiing within driving distance of Toronto. I had gone on a similar trip two years earlier. We ended up renting a van because we had a few people cancel. The group was graciously willing to leave an hour later so that I could have a networking meeting related to my job search. The drive was super smooth and we got there in good time with one interesting detour to get gas in a small town.

It was in the negative twenties overnight and we were worried that it would be extremely cold on the slopes. It warmed up a bit though and turned out to be quite bearable and strangely warmer at the top than at the bottom of the hill. The condition of the slopes was pretty good though a bit icy in places. I really enjoyed how clear the day was, a very different experience from skiing through fog two years ago! This time I became very comfortable with the black diamond level hills and skiing faster.

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The following day I decided to go snow shoeing instead of skiing to save money on the lift and rentals and try something different. I went with Sanford and Rebecca to Domain Saint-Bernard. They took cross country skiing lessons and I went on a snowshoe hike on my own to Mont Onontio. I loved being out there all alone. All you could hear was the occasional wisp of wind or sound of wildlife, and the crunching of the snow. Snow shoes were definitely necessary for this trail because the snow was hard and you could easily twist an ankle if you hiked in boots and stepped through the top crust of snow. I enjoyed tapping the hardened snow on either side of the path with my hiking poles because it would make resonating sounds because of hollow areas formed beneath the hard shell on top. I can see myself doing more winter hiking! I enjoy skiing because you feel like you are flying, but snowshoeing you can go at a pace where you can enjoy so much more of the details of the nature and winter stillness around you.

My hike only took two hours and then I relaxed at the lodge for an hour waiting for Sanford and Rebecca. From there we went for lunch at a fantastic crepe place called Creperie Catherine. Yum! Rebecca and Sanford had booked massages at the Scandinave Spa which includes use of the baths afterwards. This was a day full of firsts and so I decided to go and see if there was an opening to use the baths. It was a fun and relaxing experience. There were several indoor and outdoor areas made up of hot installations, cold installations, and relaxation areas. They recommend that guests follow a ritual of hot experience for 10-15 minutes (a hot pool, steam sauna, or dry sauna), cold experience for a few seconds (cold pools or showers), and then relaxing for 10-15 minutes. I appreciated that there is a general rule to be quiet. I enjoyed it from an architectural standpoint because every bath area and relaxation room had a slightly different atmosphere and different furniture. I think my favourite relaxation area was a row of slightly rocking recliners that were outside beneath a trellis with heating lamps and the sound of waterfalls flowing into adjacent pools and a crackling fire. I spent a few hours there going through the rotation several times.

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Our evenings at the Dentz chalet were cozy and relaxing. It was lovely just to curl up in front of the gas stove. We enjoyed two delicious meals together and played several rounds of Code Names. I think that we were a calmer group than past years and didn’t know each other as well, but we had some good laughs and conversations. *Sigh* I will forever be fond of winter escapes.

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January 7, 2018

Christmas 2017

I was thankful to finish my big exams before the Christmas festivities began. This year was wonderfully full of various activities with friends and family and I was thankful for the time to spend with them.

The festivities began at the very beginning of December with the SvN Christmas party. I appreciated being invited to their party even though we only rent office space from them. The party was in the basement of Luna. Everyone dressed up and there were appetisers, good music, and some games. One of the games was to wear a crown with a word and ask others yes and no questions to discover what it was. Another, more strange one was a board with pictures of children and you had to guess which SvN employees were their hypothetical parents. Creepy! There were also fun photo props and a polaroid camera. There was music and people started dancing a bit as the evening progressed. I was surprised to find out who the dancers were!

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Polaroids from the SvN party

That Sunday Susan and I bought and decorated our third Christmas tree! It was a good thing we did it that day because later in the week Susan went to the emergency room with abdominal pain and found out that she needed surgery! The surgery happened that night and then she stayed for four more days recovering. Susan was a real trooper and was already walking around a little bit on the day after her surgery. It was good to see our church community rally around her during that challenging time. She was able to leave the hospital on the following Saturday and on the way home we had the idea to go and see the “crazy house”: the house in our neighbourhood that goes crazy with Christmas decorations every year. This year was even bigger than the previous two years, one big addition being two large teddybears on either side of their front door, that moved there arms in a hugging motion.

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The following week on December 8th was the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) Social. Vikkie convinced me to go and I’m glad that I did. It was held in the gym at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, a building designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA. At first we both felt a bit overwhelmed because we didn’t recognize anyone, but as the evening progressed we encountered many familiar faces. The gym was a nice venue because it was easy to walk around and find people, and there were tall tables set up here and there. There were life size silhouettes of famous architects here and there as well and you could try and guess who they were.

The next day I went to two parties: Tarun and Robb’s Christmas party and the Red and Green Party at the Loft. Vikkie joined me for both of them. The first was a more intimate gathering of friends with delicious food. I wore Susan’s amazing elf slippers. It was wonderful to reconnect with people from both my church and architecture circles.

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Amelia sporting the elf slippers

The following week on December 15th I went to three parties. First I went to the Adam House Social where we made gingerbread houses with the residents. It was such a happy affair and just filled me with so much joy! From there I walked to Andrea’s Christmas party since it wasn’t far away. Vikkie was there and I met several new people. I was planning to head home from there, but Vikkie and the others I had met were planning to go to the Teeple party. We had been invited by Petra to go to this, but I hadn’t responded. Vikkie convinced me and the fact that she was driving definitely tipped the scale. The Teeple party was insane! It was a long narrow space with a bar on one side and was chalk full of people! The music was loud but the selection/DJing was fantastic! As the evening progressed it wove in different eras of music. The only downside is that you were encountering people you had not seen in a while and were therefore talking yourself hoarse.

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Adam House family

The following day I had a funeral to go to in Belleville. It was a sad event but still very nice to see the Lammers family. Afterwards we hung out and Janice and Ian’s near the wood stove. The feeling of that front room summarizes my experience in that wonderful house! I went home with my Mom because I had planned to go to Kate’s Christmas party in St. Catharines and still wanted to go despite the funeral. I arrived an hour or two late but still had a nice time. I went back with Andrea and Cam and they dropped me off at Kipling Station. On Monday the 18th I went to my third PBAI Christmas party. It was a nice intimate occasion at Philip and Anne’s house that has such a wonderful atmosphere.

Susan and I didn’t have a star for the top of our tree, and so I was inspired to make her a lighthouse out of white card. It was a fun craft and turned out better than I had hoped. I put it on the tree to surprise Susan but she didn’t notice it until she had some ladies over and Jess spotted it! Susan had recovered enough to go to Florida to be with her family for most the holidays, but before she left we had a cozy Christmasy evening where we opened up our stockings (this was the first time I had ever had a stocking) while watching White Christmas.

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The following Christmas weekend I hosted my parents in Toronto and then Alissa also joined us on Christmas eve. I took my parents to see the Evergreen Brickworks (this was a little disappointing because some parts of the facility were closed) and City Hall. In the evening I cooked lentil curry soup and we watched It’s A Wonderful Life. On Sunday morning I took them to the downtown Grace Toronto Christmas eve service and then Alissa met us when we got back. I invited my friend Pamela with her baby to join us for the evening. It started snowing like crazy and so it was slow going picking her up. What should have taken 15 minutes took 40 minutes because of a road closure. Her time with us was short but she had a nice time. We had to keep a close eye on Jewels because my apartment is not exactly baby-proof! Foxy was there as well and it was the first time Jewels had encountered a dog! It was fun to see her initial fear but then the overriding curiosity. Foxy doesn’t have much experience with kids but took it like a champ!

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IMG-20171225-WA0001I had a few relaxing days on my own and then our family gathered again at my parents place on the 29th and this time Jen and Chris joined us.I knitted my Mom a patterned scarf with two shades of blue for Christmas. Our family played lots of games and ate more delicious food! We stayed for two nights and then went home on New Years day.  That evening I went to Rebecca and Sanford’s new years party. There were people from Grace and many people from other circles as well. It was another enjoyable evening.

26609915_10102343340005867_552788980_o (1)What a social month! I am so thankful for the different communities I am a part of in Toronto!