Sunday, December 21, 2008

Updates Upcoming

Since the beginning of November things have been pretty much nonstop here. We have had lots of visitors, our first American election and Thanksgiving, and preparations for the first Christmas for just the four of us.

Over the next few days I hope to do a few shorter posts to fill you in on everything. Since things are pretty jumbled I may backdate a few posts so be sure to scroll down for new posts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Successful Surgery

For those of you who have been wondering, Maggie's surgery went very well. No cancer, phew, and a neat and tidy scar. It may be a while before the fur all grows in but she is doing well.

She is also adjusting to being on Thyroid medication. She is hungry a lot but otherwise seems a little perkier.

Paul took close-ups of the stitches (which were purple!) but I will post a less graphic one!

Monday, November 17, 2008


I have written about grocery shopping here before and should more in the future because it is kind of interesting - I wonder what you can learn about people simply from the food in the grocery stores. There are aisles and aisles of frozen prepared foods here...hmmm.

Anyway, there are a few grocery stores that are a little different - Whole Foods, Fresh Market and EarthFare.

Dawn took these pictures at Whole Foods when she was here. The salmon is fresh from Scotland flown into Atlanta and then driven to Greenville - nothing like eating local!
A friend in West Hants used to supply us with eggs from her farm - wonder if she will put the prices up now?

A Visit from Dawn

Several years ago, I worked with Dawn at West Hants. We got to know each other over the lunch table - both our grandparents lived in Wolville; her mother grew up in Sydney, like my parents; she was involved in Guiding and the Duke of Edinburgh award program, so were Stephanie and I. After connecting all the dots, Dawn received her gold D of E award with Stephanie and my mother remembered her mother from Sydney - a lasting friendship was struck. So, since Paul was supposed to be away for my birthday and Dawn has another friend living about three hours from here, Dawn proposed a visit.

Well, in the end, Paul was home for my birthday and Dawn and I had a great visit. We didn't stray too far from Greenville except for an afternoon drive west from Asheville, NC along the Blue Ridge Parkway and a shopping trip to Gaffney. Dawn took these great photos on the Parkway - thanks for letting me post them!
We did visit the Girl Scout shops in Mauldin and Spartanburg and scored a suitcase of cookies for Dawn to take home. Did you know Girl Scouts offer eight different kinds of cookies each year? Not sure when sales start in 2009 but I hope there is a Girl Scout in my neighbourhood!
The only hiccup in Dawn trip was leaving - we had fog the night before and there was a snowstorm in New England the Saturday she was leaving so there was no way she could make her connection. It meant a long day for her the next day but Isabelle and I really enjoyed having her an extra night since Paul left for Ireland on Saturday - no problems with his flights.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Trials and Tribulations of Maggie

OK, I have been fooling myself - or she has been fooling me...

Maggie has not adjusted well. The boarding kennels here are about as much like our beloved "Happy Valley Kennels" as the Super 8 is like the Marriott. Resulting in only a couple of stays for her - I don't think she is mistreated in any way but there was something comforting in knowing that Ella was only 100 feet away. (OK, that she was invited in for chips and movies was nice too, says Maggie)

She doesn't settle here - except to sleep. She gets into the garbage - she never used to do this. We bought a kennel - she knocked the door out of it. For the time being, I have given up of leaving her home alone unless she has had a big walk immediately before us leaving. This is hard because I think what she really wants is to run - but there is nowhere to let her off-lead. And even with a big walk, I wouldn't leave her more than an hour, now, an off-lead run, that would be a different story. She eats like never before - tonight she ate her dinner in about 3 minutes, I think she mostly inhaled it - right over her dish, hardly any mess. Most days she starts looking for dinner around 3:30 or 4:00, I try to distract her until at least 4:30.

The last couple of summers Maggie has had a reaction to sun, heat, allergies resulting in ugly looking nose - this year was no different. No problem, I just headed up the street to the vet - told him about the previous years and listened to him completely ignore me and the records from her old vets. He ended up doing bloodwork, giving her an antibiotic shot and ointment for her nose and giving me a bill equal to Isabelle's first doctor's appointment. Things looked up for a few days. Then, we went away for one night - leaving her at a kennel, and it was worse than ever.

I couldn't bring myself to even call the vet I was so mad. It took three weeks - I called to tell them what happened and asked what they were going to do about it. It is now a month and a half later and I still haven't heard from them. So, I cold called another vet, gave my sob story in full detail and made an appointment to meet this new vet. Between the call and the appointment, a lump the size of a portobello mushroom cap appeared under Maggie's shoulder blade. Turns out, the new vet has been to NS, she loves it and wants to move there. She understands my concerns and is very patient. She asks me more questions about the treatment from the other vet, drains the lump and prescribes the same meds as we have had before for the nose.

The lump was a result of the antibiotic shot she got from the first vet. Since it hasn't completely disappeared yet and since it could be pre-cancerous, Maggie is booked for surgery next week. She also is on meds for low thyroid, is eating senior dog food to try to get control of her appetite and is taking other supplements to try to help with all of the above.

After this dust settles, I will go back to trying to get her to stay home by herself, preferably in the kennel. If she doesn't settle down, next summer could be almost impossible.

Oh, and the other vet, he is definitely getting a copy of the bill for the surgery, not that I am expecting him to pay for it (although it would be nice) but he should know.
At SkyTop Orchard in NC last weekend, this felt a lot like home and Maggie wasn't sure why she didn't have that run of the orchard. Hard to explain to a dog that we weren't at Mona and Graham's.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sometimes it's the Little Things

When people learn I am new to South Carolina, first they ask if I like it then they ask if I am homesick or if there is something I miss from home or if I find it a lot different. So far I haven't been too homesick although it kind of hit me today.

There are definitely things I miss, things I probably took for granted some are huge but others are just little:
  • the pain au chocolat from Boulangerie La Vendienne;
  • the trails at the research station;
  • Peter's Pizza;
  • Ross Farm;
  • the ocean;
  • the organization of the grocery store (why is the bread in two sections at the stores here?);
  • the butchers and farm markets;
  • Don Connolly, Stan Carew, Carol Off and Barbara Budd (NPR is OK but between the markets and the election, well, it is getting a bit boring, the highlight of my days is listening to the Radio Reader?!);
  • phoning up a friend and saying let's get together today;
  • Happy Valley Kennels (oh, how I miss Ella and Mike);
  • our neighbours on Belcher St and the block;
  • walking to downtown Kentville to do errands;
  • Frenchy's...
I think it is also just now hitting me that I am a stay-at-home mom. Not so much that I don't rush off to the office everyday (that part I don't miss), but that I don't have an income of my own. I was thinking tonight that since my parents started giving me an allowance between babysitting and summer jobs and then real jobs - I have always had money of my own which, as long as the bills were paid, I could do with what I pleased. I know this is probably something most new SAHMs work through and I did think about it before we moved but now I think about it every time I think about buying something for myself. Sometimes the purchase wins but often my frugal side prevails.

I do have a couple of projects which I need to work on - one for my old job and another new, stamp related, thing but I am finding it hard to find a chunk of time to work on them without interruption. The three hours that Isabelle is at school seems to disappear too quickly.

So, I am in a bit of a funk right now. Maybe I will start planning a post-Christmas trip somewhere to take my mind off the things I miss...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Milestone

Isabelle has learned how to say 'helicopter'. I'm sure most parents remember how their children pronounced certain words - one of our favorites has been helicopter but today as one flew over the house, she proclaimed "Mummy, helicopter" as clear as anything, as if she had always said it that way - I asked her to repeat it, in case I heard her wrong, but, no, she had it.

Our weeks have been pretty normal since Paul got back from Ireland - swimming lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays, gymnastics on Thursdays and dinner out on Friday. We try to pick a different place every week - usually a smaller independent restaurant. Isabelle and I did cheat when Paul was away and went back to Pho Noodleville - again it was awesome. In between that, I try to get to the Y, get some stamp stuff done and keep the house relatively tidy. Did you hear that noise? That was my mother chortling at the thought!

On Monday, we had our first parent-teacher conference at the new school. She is doing well - despite the phone call from the teacher I got when Paul was away. Isabelle wasn't following directions from her teachers and had to be asked repeatedly to stop fidgeting during 'line time'. She was also pulling her dresses over her knees. OK girls, who out there didn't do that and, heck, she wasn't pulling her dress over her head... Oh well, I'm sure its only the first of many discussions with teachers - have I ever mentioned Isabelle is independent and maybe a bit headstrong...I wonder where she gets that?

Isabelle is coming home with new things everyday - decimal beads are very popular (did you know the words decimal when you were 4?) as are word boxes and colouring and painting. She is learning poems and songs faster than I can keep up with them. My current favorite is:

As Paul spoke about in his blog, Halloween is huge here! Isabelle has already worn her costume once. She can wear it to her school's fall fair tomorrow, to gymnastics next week, to school on the 31st and, of course, on the night of the 31st. We have been booed. We went to Boo in the Zoo. I actually went out and bought Halloween lights for the house and one of our neighbours gave us some of her extra decorations.
So with that in mind, I am already plotting Christmas and the huge space above the garage door, the crazy tall entryway, the shrubs - all suggestions welcomed. Oh, and a wreath - I think I want a spectacular wreath - in lieu of snow!

We had dinner out last Saturday with the parents of one of Isabelle's classmates. He is originally from nearby Clemson and she is from Boston/Dallas. The have twin girls who are also in their first year at the Montessori - one in Isabelle's class and the other in another classroom. We went to the Bohemian Cafe. It was great, the food, the atmosphere and the company. I suspect some of our visitors may get go - it is definitely worth several return visits.

I am hoping to drive up to the mountains this weekend. We can pick apples and see the fall colours in the Blue Ridge Mountains - if the weather holds perhaps I will get some good pictures - although how it could compare with Cape Breton, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Grumpy, Michael Buble and Paris Mountain

Paul is in Ireland so the girls and I are on our own. Things have been pretty smooth - with the exception of a call from Isabelle's teacher about her fidgity-ness at school and the Friday morning call from mum.

The call was not unexpected, Grumpy was 101. He was walking to school when the Halifax Explosion occurred, he was overseas during WWII, he was retired when I was born and was retired for longer than he worked. He was Grumpy to almost everyone - a few called him Mr. Bayne or Mr. B. The moniker was my fault, as the first grandchild, but he never lived up to it. Grumpy taught me to play cribbage, provided an endless supply of Archie comics and other "funny papers", and treated us to glubs-glubs (chocolate wafers with marshmallow covered in chocolate, hold the jam) and lots of other things my mother wouldn't have brought in the house (remember the pack of mini-cereal boxes mostly the sugary ones!). In his obituary, my mother said "Remember a gentleman from a gentler time." I think that sums it up.
On Saturday, a neighbour had an extra ticket for the Michael Buble concert at the Bi-Lo Centre. Her mother was willing to look after Isabelle, so I went for some adult time. I admit I don't know much about Michael Buble - that he sings the standards, has had a couple of his own hits songs and dates one of the women from "The Devil Wears Prada" (apparently that's over now). I was not prepared for his coarseness. He was clearly well under the influence at the start of the show, which was opened by Naturally Seven. I not sure what I expected but it was hard to figure out what was an act to live up to the record company's marketing, what was drugs/alcohol and what was Michael Buble. During "Home", pictures of Greenville were shown on the big screen, although I was thinking of a different home (there were a few Canadian flags in the crowd!). The crowd seemed to love it and he is a great singer, but the best part was spending time with a new friend.

Sunday, since both Isabelle and I had a restless night, I decided to check out Paris Mountain State Park in hopes that on the drive home Isabelle would have a nap. We didn't get to see to much of the park but did a short walk around the lake. It was hotter than I expected and I probably should have aimed for something else a little further into the mountains to provide Maggie some respite from the heat. On the way home, Isabelle did fall asleep - which was good for everyone.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I had intended to write this blog faithfully - letting everyone know about our adventures in South Carolina and chronicling our experiences for others. As it turns out, I am about as good at that as writing thank you notes, organizing my stamp stuff and keeping up with friends - in other words...hopeless.

Obviously, we made it back to SC after almost a month in Nova Scotia in July and here it is the eve of October.

We have discovered lots of things in that time:

So, that is some of what has been filling our time for that last little while. Paul has been posting about some of our other activities, so be sure to check out his blog. Of course each of these things has more of a story so - as time allows - I will try to fill you in.

Also, I will try to be a bit better about updates but make no promises!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Growing Up

Isabelle has been making new friends both at school and on our street. We are very lucky to have several very kind families as neighbours who have helped us to settle in to life in the South.

The nature of our neighbourhood is very different from Belcher Street. There is no traffic, we are at the end of a cul-de-sac in the middle of the subdivision. The children closest in age to Isabelle are a year older and all have older siblings who watch out for the little ones and, presumably, have broken in the parents. My office is at the front of the house so Isabelle goes out to play without us as long as she stays in the circle of the cul-de-sac where I can see her. She has learned very quickly that she must ask permission if she wants to venture up the street at all. She also knows she must ask us before she goes into someone else's home.
So, last night she decided she wanted to call one of the girls to see if they could play. Unfortunately, no one was home. Today, after riding her new bike for a bit by herself, she decided she wanted to try again. So, with a little coaching, she called J., asked for her, said she "was wanting to play" (an interesting verb conjugation she often uses) and was invited to J's house.
She has always been independent and that is paying off now in her confidence. Now, if we just could get her to talk to her grandparents on the phone...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Milford House - in pictures

While in NS, we spent a week at Milford House celebrating my parent's 40th anniversary with my sister and some family friends. Not a lot changes at Milford from year to year - which is one of the great things. For those of you who know the area, some of the photos will look familiar. For those of you who don't, if a vacation without tv, radio, telephone, internet and cell service is appealing, Milford House may be the place for you. We are already thinking about next year!!