Thursday, November 23, 2006

Meet Joshua Adrianus Van Dop

Wow. What a ride. Joshua Adrianus Van Dop was born on November 15, 2006 at 18:36 in St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC. He weighed in at 8 lbs 15.8 ozs. He is SO cute. He is also a week old today so Happy Birthday, Josh!

Brian sent out an eMail soon after with all the details. Thanks for all the good wishes everyone sent. If you didn't receive the eMail, I received many 'failure to send' eMails, so I apologize, but I guess I don't have your most up-to-date eMail address.

We've been at home since Sunday and it's been nice - lots of adjustment though! Today (Wednesday) is the first day that I'm REALLY tired because I'm finally getting a bit more sleep so, I think my body is now realizing how over-tired it is!

Yes, labour was brutal and the decision to take the epidural after trying for 40+ hours was difficult. Finding out that I would have to undergo Caesarian soon after was also hard. But in the end, we were elated to see our BIG baby boy! The first thing all the people in the OR said was, "Look at the size of his feet!" Hehehe...

Unfortunately, the difficulty didn't end there. Josh didn't want to feed for the first 72 hours after he was born - he was lethargic and losing weight fast. When he had lost 7% of his body weight in 48 hours and started to develop jaundice, the mid-wife had to consult with the pediatrician on-call who decided it was time to put him under the UV lights.

This extended our stay at St. Paul's and we were under a strict feeding schedule where I had to pump and we had to get the food into him every 2 hours, any way possible. He had lost 11% of his body weight, which was starting to get on the high side, even though he was so big. He also needed to eat in order to get rid of the jaundice. This was a very difficult time for Brian and I in the hospital with our new baby boy. Both of us were extremely exhausted after the labour and delivery and I was still recovering from the Caesarian.

But the hard work and perseverance paid off because 48 hours later, he started to gain weight and his jaundice was going away. So, we were discharged on Sunday morning and have been at home since then. Now, the biggest challenge that we are facing is feeding. Because we had to use alternate feeding methods in the hospital to get Josh to gain weight, we are still working on getting him to breastfeed. It's getting better and better every day...

Below are some photos that we've taken in the first week of Josh's life:

In the OR, just after Josh was born.

Do I really look THAT tired?! Josh had to wear "shades" under the UV lights. Hehehe...

After his first bath at home.

Brian and Josh having a nap.

Josh sleeps.

Needless to say, motherhood has been very challenging for me, so far. Brian has been my rock and he is an awesome Dad - I don't know what I'd do without him. Also, my parent's help has been invaluable. But in the end, through all these difficulties, I can't believe how much I love my little baby boy. Everytime I look at him, I can't believe that he is ours.

Welcome to the world, Josh. Mom and Dad love you very much and will try to be the best parents we can!

P.S. Nikita hasn't really reacted to Josh yet. She's sniffed him out and stuff, but that's it. I think she is waiting to reserve judgement until she finds out if Josh will give her food!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

reversal of fortune

I have 4 siblings - 3 brothers and a sister.  My sister, DD, is a year older than me.  We are quite close - I was her Maid of Honour and she was my Matron of Honour.  My parents raised us to be responsible, hard-working people.  We, all my siblings, were fortunate enough to go through university and earn our respective degrees - my sister has her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and I have my Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Chemical Engineering.  All very similar, I think.

If I look back 11 years ago, to 1995 - I had just graduated from university and decided to accept a job with a mining company in Vancouver as the start of my career.  At the same time, DD was pregnant with her first child and she decided to put her career on hold indefinitely to raise a family.  Our paths have been completely opposite since!

Now, 11 years later, on the eve of having our first child, I find myself putting my career on hold for the first time to start a family.  At the same time, DD has just accepted a job as the start of her career.  What a strange reversal of fortune that takes my sister and I to the exact same place, but opposite!

Really, in the last 11 years, our lives have been similar in many ways - my career has moved me from Toronto to Vancouver, to Elko, Nevada to Bellingham, Washington and back to Vancouver.  DD's family has moved her from Toronto to Peterborough, to Austin, Texas and finally to Schnectady, New York.  We've both had our fair share of moving in 11 years! 

Both of us have been back to school in the last 11 years - me to change careers from engineering to computers and her to be able to start her career as a medical transcriptionist.  She has 4 wonderful children to be very proud of - L (11), N (9), DB (7) and C (2) and I have a successful career as an IT professional that I can be proud of!

It's so ironic that we find ourselves asking each other advice now - me asking about pregnancy, labour and motherhood and her about writing cover letters and resumes!

I'm so proud of my sister.  It must be difficult decision to return to the workforce after 11 years.  I'm finding it hard to leave it for just a year!  What is most exciting to me is to see where my sister and I will come full circle.  I don't doubt that we will and I think when that time comes, we will be able to sit down, compare stories and feel closer to each other than ever.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

ebay - reloaded

I've recently rediscovered ebay.  I started using it in 2001.  I was addicted for a couple of months.  I searched and searched for stuff to buy and I ended up only buying 2 things - a Paul Frank T-shirt (as my own little initiation) and a camera.  It was WAY too easy and my transactions turned out well.  But, I eventually lost interest because I didn't really have anything to buy!

A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers said I should look on ebay because she noticed that in the lots of clothes that people sell, there were actually lots of maternity clothes.  What a great idea!  Unfortunately, at 31 weeks, I think I'm over the hump of acquiring maternity clothes, but I wish I had gotten online a few months earlier - I would have been all over buying lots of used maternity clothes!

I decided to re-visit ebay again anyway.  What am I looking for, you ask?  Lots of baby clothes, of course!  And any other baby stuff I can find!  I can remember all over again why I was addicted to ebay for a couple of months because I find myself checking it out constantly!  There are SO many lots of baby clothes - I'm wishing now that we were having a girl because the girl stuff is SO cute and there is SO much stuff!  On second thought, maybe it's good we're having a boy!  Hehehe...boy's clothes aren't quite as cute, but I am watching a few things and I may find myself putting in a bid or 2 soon...

Friday, September 8, 2006

you can do it, dop can help!

Funny story surrounding the Home Depot commercial we saw last night.  It went something like this:

In the commercial, a little boy, around 6-years-old, walks into the kitchen and sees his dad under the kitchen sink.  He is fixing/installing plumbing or something.  The kid says, "Dad, can I help you?".  The dad says, "No, this is adult stuff.".  The kid says "OK." and with a forlorn look, he starts to walk away.  His dad sees him walking away, looking sad, shoulders down.  So the dad says, "Well, maybe you can hold the flashlight.".  The kid turns around, immediately brightens up and says, "OK!".  The Home Depot music starts to play and the camera pans out to the dad and the son under the kitchen sink, the kid is holding the flashlight and asking questions and the dad is explaining the plumbing stuff.  It was all very cute!

So, of course, I turned to Brian and I asked him, "Is that going to be you and little Dop?!".  It really WAS cute!  Brian replied, "Are you kidding?!  At that age, Dop will be able to install the kitchen sink all by himself!".  Ai-yah...just like my husband...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

ringing in the holiday season

It seems that in late November/early December many people really DO celebrate the coming of the holiday season!  There are SO many birthday's towards the second half of August that it's hard for me to keep up!  Happy Birthday to all of you - hope you all had fun birthdays!


OK, I know that a blog may not be the best place to discuss bodily functions, but I find my recent enlightenment to my bodily functions during pregnancy so freakin' hilarious, that I had to post:

1. Heartburn sucks. I've learned that little Dop is pushing my stomach up to make room for himself down below, so my stomach acid is going up my esophagus. I've never had heartburn before. I empathize with all who have it normally.

2. Last week, Dop must have been laying on my urethra. Everytime I had to pee, I found it would trickle out. No matter how badly I had to go, it would all just trickle out and I would have to sit on the toilet for 10 minutes to empty my bladder.

3. This week, Dop must be laying on my bladder. My flow of urine is back to normal, but I'm going every 10 minutes! Last night, we went to a friend's house for a couple of hours and I went to the bathroom 4 times.

4. I won't go into details about the number 2's, but I can tell you that I think that Dop was also laying on my intestines last week and he has now moved off this week!

On a more positive note, I can't believe I'm almost at 30 weeks! Sometimes it feels like FOREVER, but most times I feel like it's flown by. Liezel asked me if I'm at the point yet where I'm thinking, "Just get this baby out of me!". I told her that my fear of labour and pushing Dop out still outweighs my discomfort of keeping Dop inside me!

Monday, August 14, 2006

doggie tales

This is quite literally a dog's tail. We went camping this past weekend at Manning Park. Check out all the photos (note that I think you need a Flickr account to view). As you can see, Nikita had a blast! She swam in the lake both days and LOVED it!

Unfortunately, when we got home, we noticed that she seemed a bit out of sorts. We realized that she wasn't wagging her tail at all and she wasn't walking and sitting properly on her hind quarters. We gave her hind legs a good doggie massage and she didn't seem to be in pain, but she was still acting really weird.

Finally, I decided to get online and google it. We discovered that Nikita has a broken wag! I kid you not - her tail is broken! It seems to happen to sport dogs after an active day of swimming or hunting. It can actually happen even just from a cold bath. The tail is attached directly to the spinal cord and I guess all the tail exercise from swimming just tired it out! Who would have thought?!

Anyway, it's really sad right now for me to see my dog with a broken wag - Nikita ALWAYS wags her tail. But the article says she will be back to normal in a few days, so we'll just wait and see. Man...just when I thought I had heard it all, now we have to deal with limber tail syndrome!

Friday, August 4, 2006


Have you ever stopped to think what is your emergency response plan in different scenarios? 

This morning, the fire alarm in our house went off at 5:21am.  Now, just the fact that I know exactly what time the alarm went off probably means that my head was not in "erp" mode.  I mean, my first instinct was to look at the clock.  Worse yet, Brian's first instinct was to go back to sleep!  I actually had to wake him up and say, "Brian!  That's our fire alarm going off!".

So, at that point, Brian bolted out of bed and headed for the door.  At some point the realization that he was in his underwear kicked in and he came back into the room and grabbed his shorts!  If there were a 5-alarm fire in your house, would you care if you were standing outside in your underwear?!  Actually, you're right.  I probably would!  I mean, we didn't smell or see smoke and it wasn't unusually hot in the house, so I guess we weren't REALLY in panic mode.

In the meantime, I was searching through the closet for my dressing gown (I was also in my underwear) and at the same time, my biggest worry was Nikita and what the sound of that piercing alarm was doing to her ears!  So as soon as I was dressed, I ushered the dog out the back door.  I don't know why I went out the back, considering our front door is 5 steps from our bedroom!  But I sat down one one of our chairs on the deck while Brian investigated.  No, I did not proceed to the yard, our of harms way - I sat on a deck chair - with the dog - on the deck - which is attached to our house - which could have been going up in flames!

Brian's first instinct was to go downstairs and wake up our tenant.  This was probably a good thing.  After he got the tenant up and saw that he was ok and the basement suite was ok, he went back into the house and found that nothing was on fire.  He then turned off the alarms.

Brian was able to fall right back asleep after that, but I, of course, wasn't.  I was doing a post-mortem in my head of all the things we did wrong and how we could have met a grizzly death had there really been a fire.  It has made me think that maybe it was time to sit down and work out details of an emergency response plan for several scenarios - fire, earthquake, etc.  It should be brainless, right?  The way you react in an emergency should be a reaction that doesn't require thought (because who knows whether you have time to think when you are panicked?!).  I would think that you need a plan in order to do that.

Which brings me back to my original question - Have you ever stopped to think what is your emergency response plan in different scenarios?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

smelly cat

I need to add a disclaimer to this post to say that I swear I'm not trying to be mean! I'm just posting this so you can sympathize with my experiences...

I had the absolute WORST experience on the Skytrain today. I got on the train to go to work and it was still in rush hour. When I looked down the train, I was thinking, "how fortunate to find a seat!" There was only one seat left and no one seemed to go for it, so I headed for it. I noticed an overweight, dishevelled-looking man sitting in the seat perpendicular and in front of the open seat, but nothing really clicked...

I sat in the seat and was immediately overwhelmed by the smell. The man smelled HORRIBLE. I cannot even describe the smell it was SO bad. But I couldn't get up and leave the seat because I didn't want to insult him - isn't that the worst kind of guilt?! So, instead, I got out my magazine and held it in front of my face to try to shield myself from the smell, hoping desperately that he would get off the train soon and that I wouldn't puke in the meantime.

I sat there hoping that I would "get used" to the smell. You know how that happens, right? But it didn't on this occasion. When the man sat still, it seemed that the odour did not waft around my magazine, so I had several moments of reprieve. But, to add salt to a wound (I think for both the man and the people around him), he had Turret's syndrome - so, he wasn't sitting still very often. And everytime he had episode, the smell would waft and I would gag.

You know, I really felt sorry for this man. It was a sad state to see a person. But, seriously, I have never smelled something SO bad and just when I was starting to take the Skytrain more and more, I think I may have to take a break for awhile...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

baby moon

We went for a "fun" ultrasound this past weekend at 24 weeks along. Our friend, Aileen, is an ultrasound technician and volunteered to do an ultrasound for us "just for fun". Thanks again, Aileen, for doing that for us! It was amazing - such a different perspective when a friend is talking to you and telling you what she sees. Aileen talked us through some of the diagnostic things she does and she spent alot of time just showing us the different baby parts! We saw Dop's mouth and arms moving and even though I couldn't feel it, Dop was kicking me over and over again! Man, the abuse!

So, of course, we went for this ultrasound to find out that one gender-defining part and we found out that little Dop is a boy! It is so exciting to know and it makes it so real for me! Yes, we have a name picked out for Dop, but no, we are not divulging the name until he is born. We'll continue to call him Dop because if I start to use his name, I'm sure I'll just blurt it out all the time!

I'll upload the rest of the ultrasound photos to Flickr, but here is a photo first for Dop - it's his first baby moon! Hehehe...

On another note, this morning, I felt Dop externally for the first time. I think it's a kick, but I'm not sure. All I know is if I put my hand on my stomach, I can see my hand move when he kicks! It makes me laugh everytime because I imagine this wee little baby in my stomach kicking me as if to go somewhere!

Friday, July 21, 2006

culinary disappointment

One of the things I miss most about living in Vancouver is knowing where to go to eat.  The restaurants in Vancouver change as quickly as the shoes in my shoe closet!  While we were living in Vancouver, it was so nice knowing where to go to eat from the plethora of restaurants of every different cuisine in every neighbourhood.

Last Friday, Brian and I found ourselves in the unusual circumstance of going out for dinner in Vancouver.  We were in the Broadway & Oak/Granville area and we just did not know where to go!  A friend told us that there was a new restaurant closeby on Broadway, so we headed there.

We knew from the cheesy valet parking and the patrons that were dressed-to-impress at 6:00 pm (!!) that this was NOT the place for us, but without other options, we found ourselves looking for parking.  It turns out that the place is a chain called Joey's Mediterranean Grill.  It is an updated version of Joey Tomato's in Coquitlam (which, were were told by the waitstaff, has also had a facelift and is no longer a pasta joint).

It reminded me of Cactus Club - the waitstaff is HOT, the menu offers a nice variety and it's all OK, but it is definitely not worth the prices!  And I'm still wondering why they call themselves a "Mediterranean Grill" when their dishes seem hardly Mediterranean, except for the dishes with the word "Med" or "Mediterranean" in them!

Anyway, I think I'm mostly disappointed because in the past, we definitely would have found something better.  Instead, in our once-in-a-blue-moon dining experience in Vancouver, we ended up in a mainstream restaurant that did little to satisfy my palette but at the same time cleansed my pocketbook.

my birthday in july

My birthday is in October, so I was completely shocked when I came home one day last week to a potted mini-rose plant and a birthday card!  I thought Brian was having some sympathy mum-dum episodes (hehehe...).  As it turned out, the card had Varekai tickets inside and that was why he was giving me a birthday in July.

We went to Varekai last Friday and, in short, it was amazing.  As with every Cirque du Soleil performance, you can't help but to "Oooo..." and "Ahhhh...".  In Varekai, the costumes were magical, the child performers were unbelieveable and, of course, the acrobatics leave you breathless.

In addition to Varekai, I have also seen Mystere and Alegria.  I can't tell you which one is best because they were all amazing in their own right.  All I can say is that a Cirque du Soleil show is a MUST for everybody.  You need to see at least one show.  And, it is a MUCH different experience watching it live than watching it on tv.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

chivalry is NOT dead!

I'm 23 weeks pregnant now and I'm hoping that I look pregnant and not just fat.  But I realize that people don't want to assume that someone is pregnant because heaven forbid if they are wrong!  So, I guess I've been giving people the benefit of the doubt on the Skytrain (Vancouver's public train system) when they don't give up their seat, seeing a pregnant lady standing.  Brian, on the other hand is just appalled!  He believes that there is absolutely no reason at this point in my pregnancy that people do not give up their seat for me.  I've been pretty lucky on the Skytrain, though.  I guess my work hours are shifted enough that I'm not directly in rush hour and most times I've been able to get a seat. 

Today, however, I left for work a bit earlier and found myself in the middle of the morning rush.  By the time I got on the Skytrain, there was standing room only and it was pretty packed standing room at that!  So, I took a look around me and noticed that there were some young, able-bodied individuals (men and women) that were sitting down.  I looked down at my stomach and glanced at my reflection in the window.  I'm PRETTY sure I look pregnant.  I was feeling a bit let down that there was not one person on that crowded Skytrain that thought that I might need a seat!

A couple of stops went by and more people got on the train, so I was forced to keep moving down the aisle.  Just when I had given up the notion that people actually give up their seat anymore, the lady in front of me stood up and offered me her seat.  I thanked her and I was very happy to see that chivalry was not dead.  It truly made my day.

A couple of stops later, an elderly man got on the train.  I noticed that there was a girl in her late teens/early 20's that was sitting in one of the elderly and disabled seats by the door.  She looked right at the man and I guess it never clicked because she made no move to vacate her seat!  Eventually, a man got up and offered the elderly man a seat.  (I noticed that the man and the woman that gave up their seats actually knew each other.)  I'm sure that the kind gesture made that man's day as well.

I'm so happy to see that people still get up to offer their seat to others that might need it more.  It is a show of respect for others that my parents and Brian's parents taught us growing up and we will definitely be passing this lesson on to our kids...

Monday, July 17, 2006

posting photos...finally!

I finally bit the bullet and subscribed to a full Flickr account.  Take a look at the photos of the twins that mom Van Dop sent!

I can't believe how easy Flickr is to use!  I can drag and drop photos into my Flickr account or I can forward email sent to me with photo attachments directly into my account (check the Uploading Tools in Flickr).  You can set it up to automatically resize your photos too, so that you're not uploading photos are 1 to 2 MB each.

I highly recommend using Flickr to store your photos.  The only drawback is that Flickr does not support my blogger.  Some blog tools (e.g. Blogger) can be used in conjunction with Flickr.  I'm not sure what the benefit is, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I don't have to add links like the one above in order to see my Flickr photos!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

top model face-off

I wouldn't consider myself a reality tv junkie, but I've been watching America's Next Top Model religiously for the last couple of cycles.  So, when they came out with Canada's Next Top Model this season, I was all over it!  I thought that a Canadian version would be SO much better than the original because, well, I'm Canadian!  I even asked Liezel to record it for me because we were still in France for the pilot episode.

Sadly, I have not been able to sit through an entire episode of CNTM.  I'm not sure what it is, but it is definitely not the same show as it's American counterpart.  I think Tricia Helfer makes it worse!  I'm not a big fan of Tyra Banks, but there is some train-wreck sort of quality about her that makes me watch the show week after week.  Tricia tries to be as "dramatic" as Tyra, but she just comes off as monotonous and boring.

I haven't watched enough of it to have a distinct opinion of any of the girls, but I definitely don't like the guests and judges that they have on the show.  They try to be mean, but they come off sounding dumb and I actually feel embarrassed for them!  And maybe I'm just annoyed at seeing Jeanne Beker again after seeing her for years on Fashion Television - how does she manage to stay on the air?!

In any case, I'm disappointed by CNTM and I'm already looking forward to the next cycle of ANTM to fill the void in my Wednesday nights...

Thursday, July 6, 2006

the beginning of traumatization

The realization of parenthood is now upon us.  I realize that we are fortunate to live in a country that pays for us to go on maternity/paternity leave for up to 1 year.  I also just realized today that the maximum you can earn while on maternity leave is $413 per week.  Now, I am traumatized...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

congratulations to Renee and Geoff!

The twins are here!  Renee gave birth to their twins - a girl and a boy - last night!  Brooke Alexa and Luke Cormack weighed in at 6 lbs 8 oz and 5 lbs 3 oz, respectively.  Brooke came first at approximately 9:24 pm last night and Luke followed his sister shortly at 9:43 pm.  Both babies and mom are doing wonderfully.  Congratulations to Renee, Geoff and the Moffat family on their new arrivals!

Brian and I hurried over to the hospital last night as soon as Brian's mom called to tell us.  We met the babies when they were just 2 hours old!  They are the youngest babies that I have met so far - so unbelieveably cute!

Brian's mom took lots of pictures, so I will post them up as soon as I get copies..

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

meet Dop Van Dop

We finally have a photo to share of baby Dop Van Dop.  Already looks like baby Dop has my nose!  Ai-yah!  Needless to say, we weren't told Dop's gender, so we'll have to wait a couple of weeks for another ultrasound.  It was very exciting watching the baby move around in my stomach.  He/she is an active little one - takes after his/her dad!  Hahaha...We haven't been able to feel the baby's movement yet through my uterus (that's a Navarik joke!) but we're told that we will start to feel it soon.

The u/s technician said that according to Dop's measurements, he/she weighs in at about 10 oz.  This makes me wonder why I have gained 15 lbs!  At 20 weeks now, I am finally reaching the end of wearing my "normal" clothes.  The pants that used to fit "loosely" are now uncomfortably tight.  I also now know why they design maternity pants to not have zippers/buttons/ties in the's because you can't see it to do it up anyway!

Stay tuned as we find out more about little Dop...

Friday, June 16, 2006

to flour or not to flour

Can someone please tell me why they dust bread and buns with flour like this??!! As far as I can see, it serves absolutely no purpose except to irritate the person eating the bread because their hands get all flour-y!  I was just enjoying a perfectly good egg salad sandwich EXCEPT that it had a flour-y bun.  Now, there is flour all over my keyboard and mouse.  UGH!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

a question of honesty

The other day, a package was left at our door.  It was gift bag that was beautifully packed with printed tissue paper.  A card was stapled to the front.  The address was ours, but the name on the front was not.  The package came from a law firm and it appeared to be a thank-you gift to this individual.

Out of curiosity, we carefully pulled out the contents of the bag and we found a beautiful box of French milled soaps.  I've seen this brand of soaps in one of those chi-chi gift shops and I would guess that the box was around $20 to 30.

The question, of course, is what do we do with the gift?  What would you do?  I mean, it was sent to our address and just sitting at our front door.  As far as we knew, this person hasn't lived in our house in the recent past.  We can't very well send it back in the mail!  And it's a law firm anyway!  They can afford more French milled soaps! 

In the end, we decided to call the law firm and let them know that they had sent to package to the right address, but that person didn't live at our house.  We were not prepared to do anything extra with the package except leave it back at the front door for them to pick up, if they so chose.

Now, while we're doing the honest thing here, I have to honestly tell you, that I thought the law firm would thank me for the call and let me know that I can just keep it and they'll send it out again.  After all, how much does it cost to get a courier to deliver a gift, pick it up again and then drop it off somewhere else (and chances are that they will not find this person anyway!)?  I think that would cost more than the actual soaps themselves! 

Well, I couldn't believe it, but the law firm actually asked me to leave it at the front door and they would have a courier pick it up!  Seriously.  Now, I'm not talking about a private practice or a mom and pop partnership practice.  I'm talking about a law firm that describes themselves on their Web-site as "...a leading national business and litigation law firm in Canada. With over 580 lawyers ...".  Honestly, I'm a little shocked at how cheap a law firm can really be!

I think that I'm a fairly honest and responsible person and I feel pretty good that I make those kinds of decisions.  If I found someone's wallet, I would return it completely intact and I would hope that others would do the same.  I feel good about doing stuff like that.  But I can tell you that it was not "good" that I was feeling today when the person at the law firm said that they would be picking up their package.  I just felt a sense of shame for this law firm that they would be so cheap as to want their package back.  Remember that next time you get your bill of $200/hour for corporate law services...

Sunday, June 4, 2006

home sweet home!

We're back from France - we had such an amazing time (see photos here)! I just wanted to post a quick message to say we're back. In the meantime, here are thoughts to ponder:

1. I never thought that we could be completely incommunicado for 15 days! With the exception of a phone call to each of our parent's places about mid-way through the trip, we did not use the phone or internet for the entire trip.

2. Traveling while you're pregnant isn't the greatest. If I could do it again, I would have waited until I was later in my second trimester - so I could have avoided some of the nausea and fatigue.

3. Things we will miss about France:

- food and wine - I only did the wine tasting (I spit it out!) but Brian got to enjoy some good wine
- the history - Brian and I didn't realize that we would see so much history in the south of France! Thanks to our wonderful tour guide, Stefan, we got way more than we bargained for!
- the markets - the Rue Mouffetard market in Paris and the Uzes market in the south were awesome!
- the culture - from the class and sophistication in Paris to the friendliness and laid back nature in the Languedoc region, it was always such a vibrant atmosphere!
- the driving - this one is Brian's - he really enjoyed driving in the south of France. Paris was a bit nerve-wracking, but he loved the challenge anyway!

4. Things we will not miss about France:

- seafood from the Mediterranen - Brian discovered the hard way that he is likely allergic to mussels from the Mediterranean
- being away from our dog - we missed Nikita terribly!
- understanding more of the language - this one is also Brian's. I thought we did awesome, but Brian wished that he could speak and understand more.

Moto GP at Le Mans

Hanging out by Sacre Coeur after shopping!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

nikita the subaru seal-dog

Yesterday was HOT in Vancouver.  We hit a record temperature of 28 deg. C for that day.  I felt sorry for Nikita who must have been dying with the drastic temperature change, so Brian and I took her to a park at the end of Byrne Road with access to the Fraser River.

Though Nikita is a lab, at 1-year-old, she had yet to do her first doggie paddle (if you don't count the time that she 'fell' into the lake at Cole and Sig's place and Cole had to save her!).  She absolutely LOVES the water, but she would not go any further out then where she could touch the ground!  Well, I don't know if it was the heat or the energy that she had pent up all day, but Brian threw a rock beyond her reach yesterday and she just started to doggie paddle out there (even though, of course, she couldn't find the rock)!  Everytime after that, she would go out!

It was so cool!  Our dog is officially a swimmer and now she can be classified as the infamous subaru seal-dog!

Friday, May 12, 2006

the first of many photos...

We got the very first photo of our baby at the ultrasound yesterday!  As many of you parents already know, seeing your baby's heartbeat for the first time is...indescribable.  We were complete amazed by what we saw and Brian hasn't stopped touching my stomach since!

At 13 weeks and 1 day, it was a little difficult to decide who the baby looks more like (hehehe...).  In fact, right now, we think it looks alot like E.T.!  The ultrasound technician doesn't say that much either - I asked her if he/she is healthy and she said that all she can do is take measurements and listen to the heartbeat.  I guess that was her way of saying that I have to talk to my doctor!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

something i noticed

when i drink a glass of milk, the baby (and my stomach) grows on the spot.

LeBron's is right!

I'm not sure how many of you mommies have gone through this, but the taste in my mouth leaves me nauseous.  No kidding.  Everytime I eat something, the aftertaste is awful and if I don't eat something else soon it makes me feel sick!

A fellow pregnant person (who shall remain nameless in case she hasn't told you she's pregnant yet!) told me she gets the EXACT same thing!  Who would have thought?!  Anyway, she told me that the only thing that helps is to chew gum!  Now, little is known of the effects of aspartame on pregnant women, so I'm choosing to stay away from it.  Do you know how hard it is to find gum without aspartame?!  Probably has something to do with sugar being bad for your teeth (hehehe...) but I will suffer the consequences to get rid of the horrible taste...

So, I went in search of aspartame-free gum and the only one I found was Bubblicious!  I don't think I've had Bubblicious since I was 12!  I bought Raspberry Zing flavour and Watermelon flavour.  Wow.  I can REALLY tell the difference between sugared gum and sugar-free gum.  Wow.

The one thing about Bubblicious, though, is that LeBron says on the front of a package of Bubblicious that it's 'the ultimate bubble'.  I think LeBron is right!  Bubblicious gum, though sugary and bad for your teeth, DOES give you a mean bubble!  Re-live your youth and try it out sometime...

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

the word is out!

The word is unofficially now I can blog about it!  Most of you already know - Brian and I are expecting our first child!  I am 13 weeks pregnant and it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the past...7 of them (complete with roller-coaster-nausea!).  Sorry to those of you that we never got a chance to call or tell in person - I've been a bit of a home-body lately.

Needless to say, we are both thrilled!  We are not yet in "baby" mode - we're still in honeymoon mode (which has now turned into "babymoon"!).  Both of us are still adjusting to me being preggers.  I figure that once we get back from France, we'll switch gears into baby mode - complete with baby shopping and baby reno's!  Woo! Hoo!

In fact, I'm so NOT in baby mode that Renee (Brian's sister) took me to a baby-clothing swap this past weekend (Renee is 29 weeks pregnant with twins!) and Renee had to practically force me to buy something - she actually said, "We're not leaving until you get something!".

Some things I've noticed so far during pregnancy:

1. There is nothing quite like morning sickness nausea.  How is it possible that there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it?!

2. My boobs are going to be HUGE.

3. I think I used to wear clothes that were too tight and too small for me because it didn't take long for me to outgrow them!

4. The best advice I've been given so far is from my girlfriend Mabel.  She said to me, "Don't read too much about pregnancy and parenthood.  It'll freak you right out.  Follow your intuition and your instinct - they will usually be right."  Thanks, Mabes!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

ode to a spice

I have been searching for the past few years looking for the perfect spice rack to fit my Henry Watson spice jars. At some point, I realized that I was not going to find a spice rack - rather, I would have to have it custom made for me. Seemed like a rather luxurious request and I had resigned myself to storing my spice jars in a cupboard for another few years.

Recently, my co-worker needed some framing done in his house and asked if Brian could do the job. Brian agreed. As it turns out, my co-worker's wife is an artisan - making fine furniture and jewellery out of wood. At my request, they agreed to trade some hours so that we could have a spice rack built (my husband is the BEST!). This is the result:

The spice rack is beautiful and I love it! If you're ever in the market for custom furniture, just contact Lindsay Staniforth. I highly recommend her! Her studio is here in Vancouver but I'm sure if you need something shipped out-of-town, she can accommodate you as well.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

a coconut by any other name...

I love coconuts. My dad makes the best coconut ice cream, hands down - even though he doesn't make it anymore! (guilt trip!)

I recently had a particularly tasty coconut tart from T&T supermarket. It's hard to make a good coconut tart - there is a fine line between too much tart and too much coconut. I think T&T does a good job of balancing it.

T&T has a particularly fine selection of chinese baked goods, and at reasonable prices! I highly recommend you try them out if you are in the mood for tasty chinese treats (like coconut tarts!).

Congratulations, Larry and Sandra (and big H)!

HA Liem (aka Little H) was born this morning at North York General Hospital. Don't know what the weigh-in is yet, but mom and baby are both doing fine. Little H has the honour of sharing her birthday with Dad Van Dop and Bri's sis, R. Happy Birthday, everyone! I'll post photos as soon as I get some (hint! hint!)...

Friday, March 31, 2006

the BEST way to travel

Everyone always says that the BEST way to travel in Europe is by rail. Now, no one ever said that it was the cheapest way to travel! We just spent Cdn$210 for the 2 of us to travel by train from Paris to Le Mans (return) for MotoGP. That's one expensive train ride! On the plus side, we're taking the TGV, France's high speed train. We are going to travel 200 km in 56 minutes. Wow. That's 200 km/h. What a way to get primed for a motorcycle race! On second thought, maybe that train ride is not so expensive...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

catching up with friends

It seems that time flies by so quickly and before you know it, you haven't visited with friends in a few months! This is the way it has been with ex-Chancery friends - Jean and Danny. When I first left Chancery in December 2004, the 3 of us would get together for brekkie before work once every couple of weeks. Eventually, that tapered to once a month...

In August 2005, Jean left Chancery and then in December 2005, Danny left. By that time, we were barely getting together once every couple of months!

Today, we met for brekkie for the first time since October 2005 - ai-yah! It was great to catch up with them - so much to talk about - Jean has since gotten engaged! We are so excited for her - Congratulations Jean and Dave!

I miss hanging out with my ex-Chancery friends. We vowed that we wouldn't leave it that long before our next gathering. I guess only time will tell...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

the miracle of twins

My brothers are twins - Lawrence and Leonard. They are the youngest of the 5 of us siblings. When they were born it was like a small miracle in our family. It didn't matter to the rest of us that they were always the centre of attention - after all, they were "the twins".

Last week, Brian's sister, Renee, found out via ultrasound that they are going to have twins - a boy and a girl! To me, it's like a small miracle all over again. I'm sure that the prospect of having twins is quite daunting to the parents. I can't imagine. But no matter what, there is an air of excitement that it brings and the Van Dop's are thrilled to be welcoming twins into the family. Congratulations Renee and Geoff!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the meaning of 4-way stop

The power went out in a large grid in Vancouver yesterday night.  I was in pottery class on Granville Island, throwing a pot on the wheel.  Needless to say, my pot will likely look a little wonky and unfinished <sigh>.  We were told to go home because no one knew when the power would come back.  So I cleaned up as best I could in the dark and hopped in my car for the drive home.

Firstly, it is a WIERD feeling to be immersed in total darkness in the middle of the city.  Granville Island was eerily dark.  And having no street lights feels like something out of a horror movie.

Secondly, and most important, if you are driving on the streets and the traffic lights are not working, please remember to exercise the 4-way stop procedure!  This means that you stop at the light as you would if there were stop signs in each direction at the intersection.  Sounds pretty easy, eh?!  Apparently not!  Some people think that it is a 'keep going because the cars in front of you went and cross traffic is stopped anyway' procedure.  Everyone is still trying to get somewhere and we're all trying to do it with as much order and courtesy as possible. So, please remember the 4-way stop procedure...

Friday, March 10, 2006

am i neurotic?!

I often ask myself this question.  After spending what amounts to a total of 24 hours (!) searching for a hotel in Paris for 5 nights, I've concluded that, yes, I do have some neuroses.  In the end, I booked a hotel that I think fits the criteria of:

1. Located in a typical Parisien neighbourhood rather than a touristy area (it's in the Rue Monge area of the 5th arrondissement)
2. Reasonably priced (it's 79 euro a night)
3. Clean bathroom (all the reviews say the rooms are immaculate)
4. Basically, not a total dive (it's ranked 75 out of 1540 hotels in Trip Advisor)

Brian likes the hotel and I consulted my expert (Sarah Hosking, who lived in Paris for a few months last year).  So, in the end, I think I made a good choice.  I think.  Aargh...what if it's not?!  Then I wasted 24 hours of my time doing research!  And I won't have a good Parisien experience!  Oh look - there's that neurosis again...

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

renewing my relationship with the ice

It took me awhile to post this, but I had to collect my thoughts...

I haven't been following figure skating closely since 2001, when World's was in Vancouver.  The players back then were the likes of Yagudin, Kwan, Sale & Pelletier and Bourne & Kraatz and I actually took 2 days off work to watch the events at GM Place.  When you're a figure skater, you do things like that.

Since then, though, I've fallen off the skating bandwagon.  Maybe it was because I was in Dublin for the Winter Olympics and couldn't find any Canadian coverage; maybe it was because skating was becoming too technical and I wasn't interested in seeing who could land the most triple jumps in 4.0 to 4.5 minutes.

During the Torino Olympics, all the figure skating commentators could talk about was how some skaters are benefitting from new scoring system and some are not.  It drove me CRAZY!  Since when did figure skating become all about the scoring system?!  I miss the days when figure skating was sans politics - when I could just sit back and enjoy the performances.

And to top it all off, I'm sick of hearing Elvis Stojko say things like "Jeff Buttle needs to land a quad in competition in order to move up the podium...".  This coming from someone who doesn't have an artistic bone in his body!  Also, Jeff Buttle did us proud with a bronze medal at Torino.  As I recall, that is only one step down the podium from you, Elvis Stojko, with all your quads and triples!

To me, figure skating is not about how many triples or quads you land.  It's about the beauty of the artistic expression on the ice.  I still love figure skating and I think I always will.  I just need to get over the petty annoyances and enjoy the sport like I used to...

Thursday, March 2, 2006

doggie trauma

Brian and I go through the most traumatic experiences with Nikita when we cut her nails (of all things). I mean, we follow all the suggestions - constantly playing with her paws and nails and getting her used to us touching them. We give her lots of treats and praise while we're nail clipping too. But at the end of the day, when those clippers come out, the doggie ear muffs go on and Nikita wants nothing to do with us!

To make matters worse, we suffered serious doggie trauma this past weekend. In our usual roles of Brian as dog restrainer and me as nail clipper, I managed to severely cut through the quick on a nail on her back paw. Why didn't anyone tell me how much it REALLY bleeds?! There was blood all over my hands, the floor and Brian's pants, who was still holding a very stressed Nikita on his lap. Now, if you know Brian, you know how much pride he takes in having a nice hardwood floor. There was no way that he was letting Nikita get away until we stopped the bleeding!

I rushed to get the gold powder to press into her nail and stop the bleeding. But, no matter how much powder I used, it just kept bleeding! So, I held a paper towel to the nail end and applied constant pressure. By now, I was in tears and apologizing profusely to my dog - Brian told me that I had to let go of Nikita's paw and go find gauze and tape. So, I ran around the house completely beside myself and in tears, looking for something to tape off Nikita's paw. I ended up with band-aids and scotch tape. Needless to say, the top priority on the shopping list this weekend is a first aid kit.

During all this, Nikita was SO traumatized that she started to pee. On Brian's lap. So, now Brian is covered in dog pee and blood and I'm running around the house in tears. Nice picture, eh?! We finally stopped the bleeding by applying more pressure and using more powder. It took a little while, but aside from being exhausted, Nikita was fine in the end. Phew!

So, the moral of the story is that Brian and I now know when to admit defeat. Even though $10 seems like alot for a nail clipping, it is far less expensive than the trauma and mess suffered when we cut our dog's nails ourselves...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

nikita van dop

I've had several people ask me where are the pictures of Nikita?! As I was compiling this set of photos, I couldn't believe how much she has grown from 2 months to 10 months! Here is our cutie at 2 months (when we first brought her home)...
And then a month later (3 months old)...

Playing outside at 6 months old...

Finally, here she is at 7 months old (after playing with Yuuki!)...

Speaking of Yuuki, it's funny to compare Nikita and Yuuki in July 2005... Nikita and Yuuki in December 2005...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

It is truly the greatest happiness to love and to be loved. Hope you all have a Happy Valentine's Day!

P.S. Happy Valentine's Birthday to Louanne and Valerie!

Monday, February 13, 2006

bye bye baby...

I'm sad to say that after 5 years, I have sold my first and only motorcycle. It was a bittersweet decision - I was hardly riding it anymore with the dog, house, etc. - and we can definitely use the money for other things.

But my fellow riders will concur that there is nothing quite like the exhiliration of being on your bike on a warm, sunny day with nothing but open road in front of you. This weekend was the beginning of a short stretch of sunny weather here in Vancouver - the kind of weather that sends many riders to ICBC to insure their bikes for their first ride of the season. As I was riding my bike to drop it off at the buyer's house, I couldn't help but shed some tears at the thought that this was not only my last ride on this motorcycle, but it was my last ride for sometime to come...

Friday, February 10, 2006

driving LeWong way!

How do you expedite your home reno's? Try driving LeWong way! How do you think it sounded when Patrick had to call into work and say, "I can't come in today because someone drove into my house."?! Hehehe...

Thursday, February 9, 2006

paris in the spring!

I know that alot of family/friends already know this because I talk about it non-stop, but Brian and I have FINALLY booked our honeymoon!  We'll be in Paris in the Spring, strolling along the Seine, basking in the warm sun in the south of France and, most importantly, we're going to Moto GP at Le Mans!  Woo!  Hoo!

So, right now, we have 2 return tickets from Vancouver to Paris in May and a pair of Moto GP tickets for Sunday's races.  That's it.  Hmmm...doesn't sound like a typical honeymoon...

ushering in a new era

Wow! It's February 9th, 2006 and Brian and I are finally going live with a blog. Took us long enough, eh?! I'll chalk this one up to finally deciding on a domain name. My brother, Jonathan, thinks 'Vandopoly' is...funny, to say the least. I think it's catchy!

The name came about when I was talking to a good friend, Robbin, about returning for the 2006 dragon boat season. I told her that I wasn't sure if I wanted to paddle because we have so many other commitments and, besides, we have to start the 'Vandopoly' soon. Then Kim, our Van Dop cousin, got a hold of it and since the 3 of us are on the same dragon boat team, we just started calling ourselves the Vandopoly.

So, in the truest sense, I guess Vandopoly refers to me, Brian and Kim. However, in this world of extensible languages, I think Vandopoly can be extended to all things Van Dop...