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Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday Melancholy

I've written and deleted three posts.
Its not the holidays that makes me melancholy.

There's this red, gaping ugliness inside of me that I can't seem to file. Don't know what to do with it, can't make it nice. A nice glass of wine doesn't help me forget it. Internal lectures and pep talks don't touch it. The children seem to exacerbate it, magnify it, poke sticks at it. Old coping tools seem to irritate it. Smooth, or chocolatey textures on the tongue slide past it. Saggy roles encase it.

Geneen Roth would say to simply Feel it. But I seem to be in a foreign country and I haven't learned the language.

I seem to have misplaced my manuel. Or missed that lecture. Or just don't get it.

Anne Lamott's favourite prayer may coincide with it.
("HELP!")

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How to Succeed at a Stress free Christmas



Tuesday. Do you get that? Do you love saying that OUT LOUD because by the rules of all the other weeks that contain that word, we should be at work right now? We should have been woken by the alarm clock, instead of by the natural rhythms of our own bodies. We should have stumbled down the stairs mumbling quick, unintelligable prayers for mercy. We would have packed lunches, felt stabs of guilt at unfinished homework, and grimaced at the mess left on the table from the night before. And all that without the time to enjoy two whole pots of good, rich Tim Hortons coffee.

Monday. Was just as good. Because I am a good mother, I filled the day with traditional "good mother"ly things. I cooked nothing at all. Everyone sustained themselves remarkably well on Pot of Gold, triple power pushpops, ring pops, double bubbles, and reindeer poop. There were traces of canned vegetable soup and some toast crumbs in the kitchen. (I noticed that as I furtively made myself a salad and snuck to the basement to read my book in peace. ) So, it appears that I have raised them extremely well.

And now if you'll excuse me, I smell coffee and biscotti, and I think there may be some candy bowls to refill.

Ahhh, Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bowling Shoes


Sammy loves bowling. And he has resented everyone who has told him to have a happy birthday, since he was told that we'd be going bowling for his birthday. He turned four on December the fourth, but according to Sam, his birthday was the day we went to the bowling alley.
Did I say "bowling"? I meant to say "Bow Ling". Two words. Enunciated.



Oh, and did I mention that there is a large, round growth where my face used to be? That's me gripping it, just then.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gifts

My oldest daughter has always been quite persistent. And for the past few weeks she has been nagging me about the stockings which are hung on the bannister every year. (we don't currently own a mantle). I told her to quit bugging me, since in some families, stockings are not filled until Christmas Eve.

And this made me think about how I love unexpected gifts. Not only the gifts one might see bulging in stockings, or wrapped under (the most beautiful, gangly) tree. In the past 48 hours, I have received gifts such as these and I'd like to pass some of them along to you. Because beauty and pain coexist, and yes, I cry a great deal, but I still experience beauty.

Every comment is a gift.
Every private and sincere e-mail is a gift.
I don't deserve them, but I accept.
Every time I read a blog that dares be honest, I am the recipient.

This morning I received a Christmas card from daycare parents who sometimes cause me pain, the sort of pain that comes of caring deeply. And the hand-written note says: "Thank you for everything you do for us. We wouldn't know what to do without you.
Brian, Arianna, Jane, Micah, and Sam: Thank you for sharing Joyce with us".
It is a true gift to be appreciated, and I believe that they really mean it.

Yesterday when I took the (five) pre-schoolers out for a walk, I received two lovely gifts. We stopped at the pharmacy for a prescription, and the pharmacist said the most sincere "Merry Christmas" to me. Maybe I'm reading into things way too much, but I just felt like he was reaching across the counter at us, and wrapping me in a warm and sincere hug of well wishes. I asked him if he celebrated Christmas, not knowing what faith he practises. "Oh, yes", he said with a smile. Maybe it sounds corny, but it felt like a gift to me.

Then we traipsed on down the sidewalk, me pulling the baby in the sleigh and the boys climbing every single mound of snow along the way. An older woman passed us on the sidewalk with a big grin on her face, obviously amused at the youthful gang. She made it all the way to the bank, in and out, then passed us again on her way by. We'd only made it half a block.

She reached her hand out to me, and with the warmest smile said;
"God bless you in what you do".

She couldn't have known that the gift I badly need right now is a Blessing from God.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'd like to Apologize

It is fun to pretend to be "side show Joycie", always full of humour, energy, grace, and easy to get along with. And I believe all those things about myself. But I feel like apologizing, or knifing myself, when less "show case-y" aspects of real life become apparent and demand to be dealt with.

I considered doing what a lot of other people do. Lay low, write nothing, then bounce back when all of my proverbial ducks realign themselves. Then yesterday I wandered over to
spin me I pulsate, and later at night, I had the most vivid and horrifying dream. All that to say that I will not shroud myself and then emerge victorious at some later date. I will not align myself with all the bullshit messages, all the trite and formulaic answers we are subjected to in the media, and sometimes in well-meaning spiritual settings. The truth is, life is messy. It's not easily answered. Its not easily categorized. And so, I will lay myself down, right here, and simply be honest.

That's what I love about spin me I pulsate. No teary, embarrassed confessions about life lived with mental illness, but a refreshingly ordinary day to day delivery of the facts. No simple answers. And as much as I admire her courage for being so honest, I have to ask myself: why should it take courage to speak out about topics such as these? Is it scarey not to have simple answers? Do people think these are like viral infections, and are afraid of contracting them? And what am I afraid to "say out loud"?

The truth is, I've been having a lousey time.

And as many times as I write and rewrite this post, I continue to delete what I've written because I'm really not willing yet, to be completely buck-naked honest about whats going on. I don't want to admit it, but I am afraid of what people would think. I am afraid that they would use my weaknesses and ugliness against me. I feel raw and vulnerable that I have no answers. I'd be more comfortable with the thought of you clicking away to the next blog, and taking with you some solice in the idea that I appear to know what I'm doing, and that I know how to get the universe to spin on its axis again.

So, although I can't leave you with anything simple and cozy feeling, I'll leave you with this. It's just the truth.

I am in the midst of dealing with loss. Some of them are current. Some of them stem back
20-some years. Some are actual physical deaths, some are symbolic deaths.

I feel physically and psychologically ill. Sometimes I feel so nauseous, I throw up. At times, I feel wonderful and think that I've imagined the magnitude of these losses, and the affect they have had on my life. Then something, or someone, or a dream will make me remember again and the nausea returns.

And sometimes that feeling is the only hint I have that the earth is still spinning.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Things that Make you Say, Hmmmmm



Sometimes you just get the distinct feeling that if you had the right eqipment and/or resources, things would move along just a little bit more smoothly for everyone.

Here's to looking around for some round wheels.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Party

My Brian is forty.

If his party was a reflection of his life and character, then here is what we toast to:

pleasure in rich and exquisate flavours,

enjoyment of beauty, relationships, the diversity of human-kind.

jazzy melodies, candle light, ..... ambiance. Thought given to the details.

Enjoying the lighter side of life. Respect for others, no matter the current direction of their lives.

Brian's choice of friends reflects his growing character.
There was the;
-living-out-loud-and-loving-it character.
-I'm-not-afraid-to-ask-questions-and-I-won't-apologize-for-it characteristic
-I-grow-more-gentle-with-age-and-understanding was present.
-I'm-just-a-genuinely-nice-guy sat beside him.
-I'm-wise-and-intelligent-but-humble-and-easy-be-with sat amongst us.

The setting was just gorgeous, if I say so myself.
What a gift, to be able to be fully and completely adults and share our love and home with others who made time in this manic season to recognize and celebrate Brian. I don't regret one moment of preparing this while spinning a whole lot of other plates. So often its the ones we love the most who get over looked when they should instead be celebrated. This is one time when we can hold hands, look back, and say, "well done. That was fun."

I am truly excited to see who he will grow into during our next forty years together.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My Loves

I was getting right sick of seeing my ugly face on the screen with all those horrific blotches on it. Let's change things up a little, shall we?
Whenever I sit down at the computer, my cat Mindy settles in on my lap. She's the perfect cat.
Which reminds me-- tomorrow is Brian's fortieth birthday.
The cats remind me of how well Brian is aging. He is a cat-hater, but has become remarkably tolerant in recent years. Yesterday in fact, Flo jumped up into his lap and he actually let her stay there for a nap. I pretended not to notice, so as not to jynx things, but inside I was doing a little happy dance.

I love that he keeps changing. I love his greying blonde hair, his clear blue eyes, his strong legs, his broad shoulders.

Brian's, that is; Not Mindy's.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ho, Ho, Hives



Remember the hives? That was in July of this past summer when my list of stressors apparently spilled into all of my cells and caused these lovely, unpredictable eruptions. (It actually looks remarkably like my thighs, except that in that case, the lumps are NOT temporary eruptions. )

Well, we're at December 14, and so far I don't have hives.

Stressors? yup. Sometimes it feels like I need to justify why I feel mildly insane. I'm sorry that its going to be right here, which feels like "my place" but I'm aware that I'm sharing the space with many others. Perhaps you will relate? Perhaps at the end, we can simultaneously breathe deeply, and find something undenidably good to medicate on. I meant to say meditate....

December contains three significant birthdays: our youngest son, my husband-who-will-be-forty-on-saturday, and of course the big one: Jesus Christ. We've yet to fit in an outing to the bowling alley for Sammy's celebration, Brian's birthday party is well under way, three out of eight Christmas parties are behind us, and all of that without any head lice. (Dec '05)

But life is full, even without these necessary celebratory pauses. I still have a heavy heart over the whole food thing. I still struggle with my own fears that I am one Christmas party away from "mu-mu" status myself. It seems my "alert and annointed" lesson is going to be a painful one. Alertness recently, has made me aware of a relative struggling to ridiculous proportions with a mental illness which his mother has been "praying away" for about 20 years now. Apparently in her little bubble, its a choice between God and medication. I wonder what they would do if he chopped his leg off? Bandage it? Wear a prosthetic? Or shut their eyes a little tighter in prayer?

Daycare has been very full, with some eleven hour days. Couple that with short staffing at the support home that I work at "once a week", and you've got a lot of hours spent working. That is leaving limited time for: Christmas shopping, fortieth birthday party hunting and gathering, teaching the kids about s8x (yes, that one came up this week... ), replacing ice skates that the kids have outgrown, mending their favourite pants, doing Jane's skin care, (badly, BADLY neglected lately...), encouraging good homework habits, helping Arianna plan a big Christmas party with fourteen other kids that also falls on the same weekend as Brian's party, collecting the appropriately coloured pants and shirts for three kids in Christmas concerts, locating a tutor for my daughter, mowing the lawn (just checking if you're still listening...), wanting to be mindful of my sis-in-law, who will have to navigate the season without my brother, and feeling utterly useless in that regard, then remembering that mom is due for a hysterectomy in early January, dad has specialist appointments nearly every week now for his spinal stenosis and blocked arteries, and that my brother is probably having an extra shitty time now that its Christmas and his life is a roadwreck.

My arms are getting itchy.

I picked up a book on my way home from the chiropractor last night (did I mention that my back has been killing me?) Its "Travelling Mercies" by Anne Lamott. The quote on the bottom says it all: "Anne Lamott is walking proof that a person can be both reverent and irreverent in the same lifetime. Sometimes even in the same breath."

I'm going to take a deep breath, ignore the pb and jam on the counters, haul the kiddies to the basement (undeniably, a disgustingly over-toyed, under-lighted space that children love). I'm going to SIT on that ugly grey couch and see what Anne has to say. I may even leave the phone upstairs.

Its snowing beautifully outside right now. The sort of snowfall that people who don't have to travel or shovel, think is romantic and beautiful. So that's what I'll go with. I get to work at home, and celebrate the snow, and I've got a new book. Wish me God speed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My window

At the start of the Christmas season, my creatively genius friend Rosa sent me an e-mail entitled: What's in Your window?

It sounded catchy and reminded me of that commercial "hands in your pocket" since the kids love singing that. Okay, so now you think we watch too much tv. Well, get over it.

Some of my Christmas stuff I just love way too much to hang on the tree and be subject to all that comparison that is probably as rampant among beautiful, shapely Christmas bulbs as it is on some fashion runway in Paris. So, I set some aside, and hang them in my windows.

Brian built such a beautiful garden shed last summer, that I often fantacize about running away, and simply moving into the back yard. There's no glass in the windows though, so my sensibilities usually kick in.




My tree, which has actually been called "ugly" graces the front window.

Its adorable. And I wish it would stop dropping needles.

Trees, and house plants, and gardens, and all flowers hate me.

So? What's in YOUR window?

ticks me off

There have been brilliant comments written, then gobbled by cyberspace, in all her apparent wisdom. So, Daphne, Michelle, Bobita, Judy, and whoever I tried to comment on yesterday, I had something to say. Apparently it was so inappropriate, that even this crazy, perverse, and aggravating invisible world had some board of directors rejecting it.

grrrrrrr.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Me and Charlie Brown

I happen to know what I like.
And my family thinks that I have very, VERY poor taste when it comes to Christmas trees. Which is exactly why I have to function in very manipulative, self-centered ways if we're to have even a shot at a Merry Christmas around here.

Several days before the festive, fun-filled, family-lovin' tree decorating day, I layered up seven preschoolers for a very special wintery walk to our local scenic tree lot, just a mere two blocks from our estate. (Okay, so its the gas station, okay? ) We perused the selection carefully, finally settling on a $16.94 gem of a tree, just covered in those adorable little nubby things. I was pleased that they offered free delivery. Not that I minded pulling two baby sleds to get there, but I wasn't too confident on which toddler to give the boot to so that I could haul little Charlie Brown home with us. Wouldn't my family be pleased.

Wouldn't they though.
With a great deal of gentleness and care for my tender feelings, they announced that I had brought home the ugliest tree that they had ever seen. I mulled that over for a while, pointing out to their inexperienced eyes how perfect the distant but evenly placed branches would be for displaying my collection of vintage ornaments. (which if they were to smash.... OOoooooooh, so help me. ) I reasoned that they were simply acclimatized to unreasonably large, and well-endowed evergreens that graced the empty lot behind our house. If they wanted a ridiculously perfect tree, I told myself, they could just go outside for some fresh air, and go gaze at those beauties.

But then mother guilt smit me.
"They are only children", she pleaded, "only one chance at happy childhood Christmas memories", she whined on.
"Don't you know that you have absolutely no right to have opinions? Have you forgotten that you are MOTHER, woman whose entire personality and personal taste, needs, and desires got shoved down that giant hospital garburator with your placenta(s)?"

I hung my head in shame.
BUT at least I had the van that day! And only two children to care for! There was nothing that I couldn't do.

So off we merrily carrolled back to the tree lot. I tried. I really tried to look at those fifty dollar, perfectly dome shaped thingies that they call trees. But my feet had minds of their own and I soon found myself gazing longingly at the gangly, lonely orphans in the north corner of the lot. AHA!! Leaning near the back, right up against the fence, was the perfect, perfect compromise. Yes, it was a spruce, and not a pine (which my tasteless offspring preferred). But it was a big pine!

There was no time for delivery.

I thought my plan through briefly. Very briefly.
Then, I waited til the gas attendents and customers all looked pretty busy and distracted, and I dragged that big beauty up alongside of the van. The rear hatch was frozen shut, but I was not to be deterred. It would be a MERRY CHRISTMAS, and it was gonna start tonight, even if it very nearly killed me. The rear of the gas station opened into the back lane, which was very under-used, and quite possibly the only alley in the whole town that does not require mowing in the summer. At the end of the half block of back lane, I would be able to see my house, just across the church lot on the corner.

I hopped into the drivers seat, the trunk of that big tree resting on my thigh. Singing lullabies and "God rest you merry gentlemen", I eased into the lane and headed towards home. I happened to pass two men in half ton trucks who looked themselves to be very full of the Christmas spirit themselves, grinning ear to ear as they were. I don't suppose it had much to do with ten feet of spruce dragging along the snowy street beside me. I smiled and waved, acting very nonchalant. (And that's no simple thing to do- waving whilst hanging onto a tree, and driving, and working consciously on not thinking too much about what I was doing.)

Safely home again, with my prize tree intact, I hurriedly pulled Mr Big straight into the house. All eleven feet of it.
We have eight foot ceilings.

After sawing off the bottom three feet, Mr Big looked exactly like Exhibit A.
It looks like its gonna be a Merry Christmas after all.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Beauty and the Beast

Whenever a lightbulb moment comes along, I usually get hit with cruel and unusual torments shortly thereafter. My patience-ometer plummets. My I-live-to-clean-and-serve-you gene gets suddenly unexplicably altered. The level of dissent and ugliness in the home over he/she-touched-me-itis reaches unprecedented levels. The four year old suddenly misses the days of his youth, and engages in full scale two year old behaviors. My urge to move to a small, isolated island regains large territories in my imaginations.

There is one, teeney tiny part of my brain that remains sane. It whispers; "well? What did you expect? This is good, in a way... to redirect ones brainwaves, certain challenges and growing pains are inevitable. Remember about the Holy Spirit, and "just showing up"? You know that this won't kill you, nor will you kill them. Ride out this wave, remain aware, remain alert, and don't forget to forgive yourself. Don't waste energy on beating yourself up, on believing lies about how hypocritical you are. You are not, nor ever were a perfect picnic to live with. You will have days where you are an ugly beast. Do not set up a tent there. Notice how you hate being that beast. Notice that the real hypocracy is to act out of line with who you know yourself to be-- a loved creature, designed by God himself.

I believe the concept is known as grace.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Spiritual Leader: OUT. Defensive Miffed Human: IN.

Remember that post about not sweating the small stuff? I was real confident back then, wasn't I? I'm sure I gave the impression of being one of those people who knows who they are, doesn't apologize for it, and because of this rich self acceptance, is always completely accepting of all other people, no matter their views or opinions.

Ahem.

Just don't get me riled up about power struggles over food, or how damaged my children will become if I don't force feed them their veggies and leafy greens. I am an eating disorder survivor, and right, wrong, or otherwise, I cannot and will not engage in a struggle over food with my children. I choose to spend my energy on their mental health, on enjoying mealtimes as a family, and on simply teaching them about nutrients and food choices in order for their bodies to run the way God intended. I may be a little unbalanced on this, and there may be a better way to go about the process, but for now it is what it is.

But I also care for other people's children.

Today I am internally freaking out about a family who engages in CRAZY struggles over food. To the point of waking children up at 4:00 am to eat whats been prepared for them, so that they can't "be rewarded" at my house by being allowed honey nut cheerios for breakfast. Can you spell potential eating disorder here? Or am I just so influenced by my own history that I automatically fear this outcome? North American statistics are pretty strong indicators of our propensity for getting the whole food pyramid thingy dead wrong and landing up with conditions that require professional intervention, so I have a feeling that its not just my own issues that are cropping up here.

If I were in their position, where would I want to send my children for care? A place where they feel comfortable, not afraid of what they'll be made to eat? Or a place where they'll learn to "mind" and eat whats been set before them? Do I approach them and tell them that I think their parenting choices may be dangerous?

I'm not willing to change the way that I serve breakfast at my house.
I think when I dig to the absolute bottom of why I'm hot and bothered about this, I have to identify two things. 1. I feel badly for these children. I think its a stupid battlefield for their parents to waste their energy on. 2. I feel like I'm being criticized. And I hate that. Its embarrassing for me to admit, but maybe by admitting it, I can get a little more mature about it, and a hopefully little less defensive.

Maybe after all of that, I can crawl back to yesterday's epiphany about God's annointing, prayer for alertness, and all that stuff that was so crystal clear about 12 hours ago. I still believe all of it.
I'm just not dumb enough to think that circumstances or people won't ever TICK me off.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Annointed and Alert. Warning: May contain the Occasional Churchy Word

I have the incredible privelege of having teachers in my life. Real people who I am lucky enough to call friends, who speak words of wisdom and life into my heart and my mind.

Recently the image of "snap-shots" has been playing in my mind. It's not an original thought, I'm quite sure, but its profundity impacts me. Life is a series of pictures, moments frozen in time, never to be rewound. Its as beautiful as it is bizarre. I walked past a woman nursing her infant the other day, and I realized with a sort of jarring sensation that it was a snapshot. Not long ago, I was nursing babies nearly every other year. That's over now. I don't pine for it, but I'm aware of its time and place in my life, and the profound meaning that it had, and that it has as one of those snapshots in my mind.

It struck me recently that I am a snap-shot. For some people, I will be "the daycare lady". Or, "the lady who shaved her head", or "the lady who could sew me anything I asked for" (my friend's daughter once pointed to a pair of shoes on a McCall's pattern and asked me to make them for her.... ). I began to feel a weighty sense of responsibility at the thought of taking up space in someone's mental photo album. What if I missed some oppurtunity when someone was hurting, and "daycare lady" was busy and distracted with snacks, or poo, or really wanting a shower, and missed that moment? What if I got so preoccupied with enjoying myself telling stories of head-shavings, or shot glass smashings that the quiet, sad member of the listening end got drowned out by my silliness?

What if I don't notice?

This played on the edges of my mind as I headed into the Christmas Tea at church this evening. One of the afore-mentioned wise women spoke up about her desire and concern for this Christmas season. Being the pastor's wife (and not one of those stuffy, churchy, over-smiled, under-sexed, lying, overly positive types), she mentioned the additional strain at holiday times where people's loneliness, neediness, and related issues often rise to the surface. Everyone knows that Christmas time is a brutally depressing time for many people who've suffered loss or disappointment in their relationships, in their families, in their faith, in their life. Being in the pastorate no doubt makes one hyper-aware of these situations and must carry with it a huge sense of responsibility and concern.

I recognized how many snapshots they must be in. I waited to see what she would say.

"Pray that we will be annointed and alert". Is what she said.
I nearly jumped out of my chair in excitement. That's it! The perfect antidote to being all things to all people! This is why I'm so relieved that I celebrate a God with amazing interpersonal skills. He'll set up the appointments. He'll even coach regarding what to say.

For those of you who've grown accustomed to a more numerically structured blog (thanks, Brian), it goes like this:
1. Move about as you were, the snapshots are normal.
2. Listen to that still, small voice. (Otherwise known as God, or Holy Spirit)
(This is particularily effective if you've asked to be alert, and annointed. That way, it takes off ALL the pressure to be brilliant, and its really God, and not YOU, and so you don't have to exhaust yourself later re-evaluating everything you said, or didn't say).

I want this genuine and authentic desire to colour the picture that's sure to form in the memory of a sweet child who comes to my home for daycare. I have a heavy heart for her, and yet often find myself distracted and often unattentive during her visits as they occur during INSANE-OH hour. (7:15 to 8:30 am). I am feeding, brushing, signing, wiping, sweeping, packing, and sometimes grumbling during that particular hour of the workday. I need to do all of those things. It would be weird, inappropriate, and just plain hunger-inducing if I were to drop all that manic activity in favour of sitting with children, holding their hands, gazing into their eyes, and telling them how deeply I care about their deepest needs and fears.

BUT. If I am simply annointed (a churchy word, sorry about that. It just means filled with God's spirit.) , and alert, then the moments will come up, will be recognized, will be orchestrated, and all I gotta do is show up.

That much I can do.

Yes, My Much Needed Vacation to Cancun Was Fabulous, Thank You

Taking a train with twenty-five cents, and at the end you have two cents left? Who the $#%^&% wrote that math-y post?!

Actually, I think its adorable that Mr Blunderview stuck his neck out like that and offered a verbal bone for us to gnaw on during that way-too-long intermission. (I didn't actually bother to READ that whole twenty-five/train/solve-this-thing-or-you're-truly-stupid-riddle). I'm with Judy; who said, its all "blah, blah, blah" to me. Still, I feel like I missed a really good party-- Brian messing with all your brains, and you all supportively whining for something, ANYTHING with some relational value to it. I also missed out on another closet door or two swinging open... someone named Chrystal, and another called Perspective Inc. If this were some sort of "coming out" blog, I'd be doing an extra little happy dance.

Well, we all know that we don't want to see Joyce dance at all. Sometimes it's wise and timely to recognize our areas of giftedness, and let all that other stuff go. But I digress.

There were hundreds, possibly thousands, of incredible, unbelievable, stupendous things that occured over the past number of days. However, I suffer from short term memory loss and can therefore not relay any of those here, at this time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I can't see

Hello all blunderview readers. This is Mr. Blunderview writing on behalf of dear Joycie. Our computer's video card fried and is now under warranty repairs, which takes a little longer than simply putting out cash and getting prompt service. I am posting from my work.

We will hopefully have everything put back together after the coming weekend.

In the meantime, answer the following question if you can.

It's the case of the missing loonie (Canadian one dollar coin):

There are three ladies travelling together and find that they need to stop for the night. They come to a motel and find that the cost of the room is $30.00. They split the cost and pay $10.00 each. Later, the manager decides to give them a discount because of their positive attitudes. He decides to change the price to $25.00. He tells the bellboy to bring the $5.00 to their room. Before he arrives at the door he thinks to himself that he will make it easier on them by saving them the grief of splitting $5.00 three ways. So he decides to give them each $1.00 and keep two for himself. He gets to the door and gives them each $1.00 back, now commenting that they each spent $9.00 for the room instead of $10.00. He then thinks to himself, nine dollars per night per person. That makes 9x3=27. If they initially paid $30.00 and now after the discount only paid $27.00, I should have three dollars in my pocket, but I only have two. Where's the missing loonie?

Joyce will be back soon.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oh, And

As I splash my way across the computer keyboard.... this and this really spoke to my heart. Check them out.

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

... and other catchy stuff that publishes well.

"Pick your battles" fits nicely into that one too. I think I tend to parent in keeping with these trains of thought. Party because I'm lazy, party because I hate fighting, and largely because I don't want to be tangled up in a lot of disagreements about very little.

And I think its having the desired effect. If I DO dig my heels in, I generally get their full attention, and I generally DO "win" the battle. This is good when its -32 and I insist on a jacket being worn. This is good when I insist on sweatery teeth being brushed, and dread locks being combed out of hair. On the other hand, if you want french braids, or long hair, or one pony tail coming out of your forehead, I'm good with that too. Just so long as you can manage it, and you don't have a cow when it doesn't turn out the way you'd imagined.

Here's the down side. My children's bedrooms are a sight to behold. Instead of a closet door, there is a self (child) made fabric curtain, made by ripping a straight sheet in half and tied back with push pins. There may be a trail of cedar shavings from the hamster cage which must be cleaned by its owner. There is a closet (see above) but its purely cosmetic. A chair does nicely for clothes, and keeps them well within reach for the five times a morning they will be changed before finally deciding on the same pair of jeans and the same grey sweater that have been worn since September the third. Stuffed animals are overcrowded on the full wall length shelf and four doll cribs that consume the floor space. Six pillows and two quilts on a single bed make for a cozy nest at bed time. No less than 24 posters of kittens crookedly mac tacked to the wall hide the one part that I did properly- the pink painted wall with the pale green and yellow flowers adorning it.

Let me tell you, there are days when I want to kiss the kids out the door, and run upstairs with garbage bags. I'd like to stuff them with: those three bean bag chairs with 90% of the beads missing, a couple thousand army men with their arms and heads nail-clippered off in a recent battle, twelve or thirteen robots and animal creatures made out of the recycling, ello, bits of plastic lattice fashioned into weapons, and those stupid little Polly Pocket shoes. And that's just some of the small stuff.

Then I could make them neat duvet covers and sets of pillows to plump up at the heads of their beads. I could set up a little table under the window with a miniature real china tea set on it. There might be a pretty little old rocking chair in the corner with the Raggedy Anne doll I made for Christmas last year resting proudly on it. I could run the vacuum without fear of Polly losing her wardrobe, or me losing my vaccuum suction.

Yeah, that'd be pretty.
But then I'd have to insist on them having my taste. They'd have to throw out their milk carton boats right away because they'd not fit the theme. The posters would have to come down. I'd have to rethink the whole idea of small pets, and the sense of responsibility that comes with learning to care for them. And maybe my standards would have to come up as well. Maybe I'd have to look down my nose on some birthday gifts they'd bring home. What if it didn't "go" with their room? And maybe I'd have to be more diligent with the boring stuff- like changing their sheets every week.

Nah. This is starting to sound like a lot of work.
Maybe there's something to all this talk about not sweating when you're in battle... or whatever it is that they say.

It's published afterall.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Random, No, Really.

"Last night I had the strangest dream"-- I'm sure some of you will remember that song from the 80's. Especially some of you, who enjoy your 80's songs more than others. No. Really.

Anyway, last night was one of those nights. (did I forget my meds? Did I eat spicey food before lying down? Has my "emotion river" spilled its banks? )

Good thing I entitled this thing "Random".

First Micah said he "didn't know why", but he'd like me to lie down with him. Fortunately, I was fully present in that moment, and saw the beauty in an eight year old boy wanting a cuddle with his old mama, so I obliged. I was just drifting off when Jane came along and told me she was struggling with a bad memory and would like me to pray with her. I roused myself slightly, (didn't have to open my eyes, since we were praying, after all), and offered up this prayer:

Dear Lord
"Thank you that you love us. Please fill our home with your peace.
(here's where the whole keeping-the-eyes-closed thing gets a little questionable)
Thank you for cleaning your room.
Thank you for the calendar...."

My eyes flew open. Jane looked considerably more afraid.

"Did I just say; "thank you for the calendar" ?!
I'm sleep-talking to GOD!?!

Jane: "Mom, I'm scared. Can you come lie down with me?"

Can't blame the poor thing. So, I migrated over to her nest.

As if that wasn't enough weirdness...... I then proceeded to dream that Arianna's room was so badly neglected, that I discovered hay bales and litters upon litters of kittens living underneath her bed. I knew in my heart that the only moral thing to do was to liquidate them. Euthenize them. Yes, I'm talking genocide. And I felt incapable.

Perhaps it was time for another prayer?!



So, I'll conclude with something completely unrelated and random.
Something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with dreams, or prayers, or murder.
Its related only because its the first thing that's made me throw my head back and laugh out loud in a few days now. And I think we could all use a little of that.
It's thanks to Alice.
Finally. Affordable cosmetic surgery.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh, And

Check out Carol's review over here.

Plumbing The Depths

A river runs through it.

This is the mental image that keeps coming to me when I think of the deep emotional base that runs through the physical. Not always evident, often latent, but constantly present. When the depths are plumbed, a sort of geyser can erupt, with a surprising amount of energy and volume. When Ken was dying, there were occasions when that velocity would arrise. That sounds like a severe understatement, but its true. In the busy transactions of day to day living, one rarely has time to sit alone and cry, or scream, or navigate the deep pools of fear, and loss, and sadness. And so it rises to the surface in less expected ways.

The river carries all manner of emotional componants simultaneously, so it seems when one variety is released, it surfaces with remnants of other, equally powerful and forceful "spirits".

My theory was reinforced over the weekend. Stomach weakening laughter on friday plumbed the depths of that latent river and dragged up with it a sense of melancholy that followed me to my workplace on Saturday. Frustrating events at work, coupled with this debilitating sense of sadness brought up another current-- that of red hot fury. The sort that makes you walk away and close a door behind you because you've glimpsed an ugliness in your soul that shocks you. You are brought undeniably face to face with your own depravity. Your own potential to be not nice.

These past few days of white water rafting haven't all been fun and games. But they've allowed (or rather, forced) me to take some time for re-evaluation. Ken's death, and the loss of all the componants of family that it ensued, has caused the universe, and me in it, to shift eternally. That was then and this is now. We will never be entirely the same again. And although that's true every day, whether we go through a life changing event or not, sometimes these rather large events give us pause to stop, clean house, throw out, or re-group as necessary.

And so the emotional rapids have come up to the surface for a time. They've washed away some driftwood. They've washed clear some of the corridors of my mind and aided me in remembering whats most important in this journey. Time.

I will make more changes. I will become more fully present for my chldren. For my husband. For my mom and dad.
It won't be easy.

But its one lifeboat that I'll gratefully climb into.

**~~**~~**~~**

*disclaimer* No small animals, children, clients, goldfish, or houseguests were harmed in the events unvieled in this writing. Really. And it goes without saying, that because I plan to make some changes that will buy me more time in this life, there will be plenty of time for more parties with more people who I gratefully consider my friends. Strangers in my opinion, are merely friends whom I've yet to meet and share cheese with. And don't let the bit about rage frighten you. It frightens me, and that should be enough for the both of us.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Few More





Need I say more?
Apparently there was no need for any icebreaker games...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

May Ugliness Abound Forevermore.

I don't even know what to say...

Take a risk on being yourself. Truly. Take a risk on embracing others. At a party such as this, the only thing you could bother to feel insecure about is that the equestrian one and gorgeous pro-creating one may EASILY have acquired sweaters of such ugly proportions that yours looked nearly soothing to the eye in comparison. And who knew that shoulder pads could double as breast implants? And without the risks associated with leaking silicone? There may have been a be-jewelled guest with a natural cleavage so enviable that no amount of doubling shoulder pads could begin to compare.... But we all must have our own areas of gifted-ness and not live in envy of others.



Its true that food and wine can have a ministerial effect on people who ordinarily hold nothing but disdain for one another. The over-educated mingled freely with the Bible school drop-out. The over-heated elderly, the muffin moms, the minister's wives, the "fallen-off" Chortitzers, the runners, the vertically striped, the sleepless meat canners, the buttoned, the cat's eyes, the unsuspecting non-bloggers-- they all revelled under the umbrella of grace, satire, and community.
But is the extension of grace cheapened when no one loves recklessly enough to gently but firmly suggest to one of its own... that vertical stripes, although slimming, can not possibly cover such a multitude of distending sins?

** post to follow regarding a subset of "stamp 'n up"-- A greeting card brainchild that's sure to become the next home party rage. Please stay tuned.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Let the Games Begin...


Roll out the red carpet: We have our first contestant. Allow me to introduce Lettuce and her fabulous selection of U.G.L.Y. sweaters.

Lettuce: please choose a virtual holiday corsage from my prized collection. The one with the golden candy cane, you say? Excellent choice!

Thank you for participating. We have nine corsages to go. We mustn't dawdle.


The pretty little pink number goes to Judy. Its to match that carpet she has sometimes mentioned in her posts. The truly ugly knitted circle thingy with a very pathetic santa in the centre is an honourable mention for Esther for putting on a sweater that would look ugly on anyone but her. She's just too cute. I know, I feel sorry for her too, it hurts not to fit in.

Its four oclock in the afternoon now, on "U" day. I still have to plug in the spotlight in the front yard, try to rescue my jello mold, and put some drinks on ice.

TTMN. (ta, ta for now.)

5:35 pm and the entries are still pouring in. Can you believe that Ldahl stole her mother's best sweater for this?! But where will she now eat Christmas dinner?!

For that kind of nerve, you get the WHOLE TIN FULL!!

Its All About the Blog

So, its come to this. A blog about blogging. (yes, dear... I can hear you correcting my choice of words. Its really a post about blogging but that doesn't sound nearly as interesting).

Why do I do this? Why would anyone voluntarily serve up their heart and their personality on a virtual platter for anyone and everyone to judge, or enjoy, to appreciate or midunderstand at their own leisure? Without either of us having the additional communication of body language, or any typical componants of reciprocal relationships?

My answer to these questions may or may not be unique to me. They are questions I ask myself, and questions that have been raised in one way or another by friends and readers. Questions of privacy, and I think- questions of why it is that I would choose to make myself so vulnerable in so many ways.

Here's what I think. If you read a personal blog, you do so voluntarily. You are not stuck at a plywood table with a relative known for her halatosis and long renditions about harrowing, or farrowing, or whatever its called. You can come, or you can go. No need to consider social graces. If you stay, and if you read, you will form an opinion. That opinion is YOURS to own. We don't have to agree.

I write. It is like music to me, or poetry, or satisfying therapy. I used to sew for those same reasons, but in my current place in life, I simply can't spend hours with sharp scissors or straight pins. The computer keyboard is accessible. It can be used for five minutes at a time, and never gets misplaced.

The spin-offs have been indescribable. Really.
The sense of loneliness related to working from home has become a non issue. The meeting of minds is rewarding. The confirmation of struggles in life being universal has increased my sense of community.

Recently though, I have noticed myself feel.... Something. Is it fear? I have been thrilled, and mildly unnerved, when people who I never could have imagined would be readers have "come out of hiding" with generous words of encouragement. I have wept after telling conversations that were spawned from some little thing that was published in this spot. I have posted personal things in vague reference to situations in my life and have left out details to respect the privacy of others who are involved. And enough people are now reading that they know exactly of what I speak, even without all the details.

It feels like a sense of responsibility in a way. The more reading and writing that occurs, the greater the possibility of misunderstanding and discord, and conversely, of understanding and can-o-worms opening. (that's a word, I promise). And at the risk of taking myself too seriously- how responsible am I?

Here's where YOU come in. Why do you blog? Why do you read? And what do you think?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

True Confessions

I have been ruined. All of my hopes and dreams of ever becoming a true mall hound have been resolutely dashed. Like a coloured shot glass on a thrift shop floor.

Yesterday after a long day of seemingly constant bickering, tattling, and whining I stomped out the back door by myself, whining and muttering alone with no one around to lecture me. NO diapered people. NO offspring. No marriage partner. It was time to spend my hard earned money on some product to smear on dinner plates three or four times a day, scrape into the garbage, and haul to the curb every thursday. Otherwise known as "groceries".

I switched the radio station from 80's (which I really enjoy) to our local Christian music station. It was obvious I needed some spiritual food. I was nearly sweating out soot from the ugliness in my spirit. After 20 minutes of quiet, I began to float gently back to earth. Back to a little more sensible thinking. "Self- (I said); "You're all by yourself. Yes, you have a lot of groceries to pick up, but why don't you take some time for your own interests, wander through the non-edible side of Superstore. Hey! In fact, you were thinking of buying a thoughtful card for a friend. Why don't you take some time and read through the inscriptions in the Hallmark aisle? You'll feel like a kid in a candy shop.... except without any KIDS!!"

My spirits soared. I couldn't wait. First I went down to the pharmacy end and down the soap aisle. Ugly sweater Day deserved some nice soap in a dispenser that was not recycled from a lotion bottle with green painting tape stretched across it. The bar soap with cat hair stuck to it didn't seem like an appropriate option either. I settled on a pear shaped dispenser and some antibacterial soap. (my sisters are really fussy, I thought it would please them). That was enough consumerism stimulation for a time, and I floated merrily down the aisles toward the less romantic ground beef, and brocolli selections.

My plan was simple. The soap selection was thrilling, and provided enough momentum for me to navigate the rows and rows of boring stuff. When my cart was sufficiently stuffed with edible product, my finale would be the Hallmark aisle.

Everything went as planned. (except don't ever look for ground beef when its at a good price but you only get to the store after the supper hour. Its always, always gone.) My cart groaned under its weight in calories. I found my way to the greeting cards. I began salivating uncontrollably. I read many inscriptions. I perused many pretty pictures. I considered one or two as potentials.

Here's where everything went terribly, horribly wrong.

I flipped that scrawney slip of an excuse of a card over and laid my eyes on the price of caring. $5.35 for some crummy little poem about how much I like you?! HAH! For that kind of coin, I could get twenty-one cards at my local thrift shop. I could glue any manner of pictures or words on it myself. Custom made, I tell you. And for less than a pittance of that price.

I left a sooty trail away from the greeting aisle.
Ruined. I am ruined.

Monday, November 20, 2006

We've Got Napkins

It must be the week leading up to the ugly sweater party. Brian brought me a little care package from an honoured lady on the guest list-- cocktail napkins (don't you hate that word-
napkins? Ick.) The 100% paper facial hygiene products are tastefully inscribed with a proverb: "Don't drink and dress". I really liked the gift bag too, so I included it in this Alice-honouring post. She even enclosed a well thought out gift card to accompany her hostess gift. I'm feeling a little intimidated about etiquette... She even thought to remove the price from the plastic sandwhich bag wrapping that gracefully encased the serviettes. Wow. What if I embarrass myself irreparably? What if I wear my party corsage on the wrong side of my double breasted sweater and she never, ever accepts an invitation from me again? I rushed to the mirror. I breathed deeply and in the words of Jack Handy (bad sweater guru) I repeated: " I'm big enough, I'm strong enough, and gosh-darnit, people like me!"

I must admit though, the damage had been done. I phoned Shelley in a panic-- We must make haste to the thrift shop. My confidence has been badly shaken. How red would my face be if Alice were to arrive on Friday in a sweater more hideous than mine?

Shelley was a salve to my battered soul. With a sense of calm that defied our circumstance, she separated hanger from polyester you-show-her sweaters with more confidence than those wanna-be fashion police from What Not To Wear. We drenched one another in unashamed flatteries. We found ourselves in fluffy turtlenecks, glittering pearls, and strategically placed flower petals. Our spirits were bolstered.

Four days to go. The jello mold sits in eager anticipation. The drinking glasses are glued back together and stand ready, sparkling clean. The feather duster has more air miles than I've collected since '81.

And you? Are you going to give me some line about about not owning a bad sweater, so you'll regretfully have to decline? Or are you going to find the courage within yourself to just be honest and admit that you've got to stay home and shampoo your hair that night?

Just give me a little, wee, teeny, tiny, itty bitty, little hint. Wouldya paleeeeeze?

*If you need directions to my house, just send an e-mail. (address available in "complete profile") There, see? Now you really have NO excuse.

*I realize that hyper link worketh not, although I've redone it twelve times now. Go the old fashioned route, and just find the post about the ugly sweater. Otherwise: here are the details:

Friday, November 24, 2006. 7:00pm, my house. Bring something, anything, since I have NO IDEA as to how many people are coming and we may be reduced to snacking on frozen pork chops. Then again, if you're okay with that, then just come wearing the sweater. If you really don't have appropriate party attire, I do have a spare or two on hand.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

He (ain't) heavy, he's my brother.....

When I was a little girl, I had the most wonderful big brother. I depended on him like most kids would depend on their fathers- if I were at a friend's house playing, and I wanted to come home, I would call home and ask for him. Without a moment's hesitation, he would drive his velveteen van straight over to pick me up. In the summer, he would cheer me down the green bean garden rows with promises of an afternoon at the beach when my chores were finished. We'd finish off those hazy days, burnt and sandy, with a pizza pop and ice cream cone at the drive-in greasy spoon that was on our way home. In winter time, he'd pack up his skis and my crazy carpet and we'd head off for a day on the hills. Money was never an issue. I had none, he had what we needed.

He helped me put together my covered wagon bedside lamp from Yellowstone National Park, and never criticized when I mistakenly cut it in the wrong places. He patiently taught me the difference between inches, feet, and centimeters. He let me drive the big tractor when I didn't know how, and remained completely calm when I jack-knifed the thing trying to turn a corner. He read me the funnies on Saturdays. When I was about four, he bought me a blue elephant for Christmas. None of my sisters got an elephant that year, and no one was jealous. It was just assumed and accepted that he and I shared such a special friendship.

Then we grew up. I'd see him occasionally when he was manic and on a road trip to the city we lived in at the time. He'd rent a hotel room, invite me and the kids over for a swim, order us all chicken from KFC. The kids thought he was terrific. He'd let them style his hair with plastic barrettes until he'd pass out in their crib. He'd offer to take them for cab rides all over the city. He'd laugh and talk and play. They never recognized him as the same morose, quiet uncle they'd met before at grandma and grandpa's house.

The last time we shared a swim with him, he got booted out of the hotel some three or four days later. His behavior was wildly inappropriate. I went to see the hotel manager, tried to explain his illness, apologized for his actions, told him I understood. I told my brother to go home. I insulted him. It cut me deeply to have this role reversal, and to do so with less patience than he'd shown me in the plastic wagon nightlight days.

I tried to establish a peer relationship with him. However, his years poor choices, alcoholism, and deviant interactions with women had seeped into his character by this point. My children felt that God-given sense of discomfort in his presence. I felt it also. I began to suspect that he no longer had a truthful perception of sexuality, and my sense of protectiveness as a mother had to override the love I had as a sister to a brother.

There is no peace in his eyes. He no longer hears words as they are intended. He begins sentences with; "Women..." . And you know its not meant to build us up. Conversations are initiated with the intent of getting into a well heated disagreement.

I mourn him. I remember him. I sometimes want to hate him.

And my heart bleeds with terrible, bottomless sadness.

Volleyball


I'm proud of my kids: It's miraculous to watch their individual skills and peculiarities emerge, to be an observer of where their God-given talents and desires will lead them to. Arianna's team didn't come in anywhere near the top at her volleyball tournament this weekend, but what pleased me knowing that she has the confidence to join a team, learn new skills, put herself on the line. I tried to explain that to her, how even if she messes up, in my eyes she is a champion, she is learning what it means to be a team member,and how to handle herself if she or one of her mates messes up and disappoints the others.

I 'm glad Arianna got muscles that connect to the brain from the gene pool of her coordinated Hildebrand side.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Please Pray for My Last Nerve

Unless I can substitute the purple cloths for a set of matching purple hands, face and neck, I don't think I'll be mistaken for the woman mentioned in Proverbs 21.

Friday flapjack breakfast. Nine mouths to feed. Three noisey observers. Nine eggs, twelve cups of milk, nine cups of flour. Unreal amounts of Aunt Jemima syrup.

Three lunches to pack, two forms to sign, one agenda to read.

Then there were the stupid questions and the unrealistic demands. "JOYCE! the baby has milk on his face. You need to wipe him." (I'm simultaneously manning two pans of flapjacks on the stove). "Joyce! When you throw yourself a birthday party, will it be a surprise?!" (that one really drew the blank look from me, as I needed all my restraint to not say something very, very sarcastic.)

A frazzled dad dropping his if-looks-could-kill toddler off. His question: "Do you watch kids on the weekend?"

Oh, no. A woman of biblical proportions I am NOT.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ugly Meditations

I may need an intervention before "ugly sweater day". I have found myself seeing my house through entirely different eyes recently. No longer as a slap-happy, easy-going, come-on-in daycare provider... but more like a grown up adult entertainer. Well, then again no. Obviously, I'm not an adult entertainer. I think I meant to say "hostess", although I think people would be entertained by the nasty pink horizontal blinds. They came with the house and I've not taken them down because they proved helpful at dinner when the blaring sun was setting in our eyes. I think guests may be entertained by the bannister I primed three years ago. That's all. Just primed. Additionally the "window treatment" in the bathroom may choose an inoppurtune time to fall under the weight of three solid years of settling dust.

Will my guests be so dazzled by the array of bad-ass sweaters and jello molds that they can overlook the lack of baseboards in my kitchen? My swelling melonime cupboards? The back door that sticks? Will I find the time to get to the store to stock up on enough cans of tuna to replace the corny couch legs?

After a summer of watching my brother evaporate, I vowed to entertain more often. I promised myself I would invite people in to share my space, my food, my life. I became more convinced than ever that it would be faulty to wait. Wrong to worry whether or not people would have a good time. Foolish to fret over whether there would be enough food and drink. Irrelevant to wonder whether I ought to be a different type of hostess than the person who I am.

So, come. Let's live our lives together then, and celebrate.
(But, I'm up now, and on my way to do something with that filthy bathroom curtain....)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why I don't Work in a Gift Shop


I went to the thrift shop yesterday with a few dear friends who never criticize, laugh at, or belittle me in any way. I wanted to pick up a few things for my upcoming ugly sweater party and I was not to be disappointed in the housewares department. Not only was I blessed with more festive corsages, and a little more "eye candy" in the ugly sweater magazine section, but I swiped a magnificently ugly peacock serving tray and a jello mold for my "surprise" appetizer. (You'll never guess!) My friends pitched in by pointing out some lovely stemware, six matching water glasses, and a set of coloured shot glasses that they just knew the wondering husband would enjoy. Whilst coralling a child or four, I delicately balanced my set of six liquer and four shot glasses in my deft hands. Then I leaned over to more closely study another treasure. CRASH! Oh,dear. Well, the wondering one will certainly love a set of Three coloured shot glasses, I consoled myself, as the gracious volunteer (who looked remarkably flexible for 87) swept up my embarrassing mess. I offered to pay for my faux paux but she generously waved the ten cent glasswares fee. Phew.

I wish the story ended there. It would be amusing, provide a little smile, perhaps a chuckle. But no. I leaned over again. The elderly lady had just put away the dust pan. I nearly licked up the floor myself just to avoid admitting AGAIN that I'd covered the floor in millions of splinters and shards. My friends, the ones I have nothing but kind things to say about RAN out of the room, not even muffling their squeals of laughter.

The set of six water glasses? Well, one smashed on the kitchen floor last night after I carefully washed it. The second one lay shattered at the bottom of the sink, as my bleeding finger can testify.

And that my friends, is why I do not work in a gift shop.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm 39, and I'm not afraid to tell you what to do about it.



I thought I'd had a completely original idea, until I googled "ugly sweater party" in images, and got 131 hits. This just verifies that it is a brilliant idea, and worthy of imitation.

Here is the challenge. Post a photo of a very ugly sweater. There are no game rules. It doesn't even have to be your sweater.

Also, set aside Friday, November 24 as International Ugly Sweater Day. Don your worst sweater, and plan to be at my house by 7:00 pm. The time may change, but you will be barred entrance if you come in something that is not ugly. Bring something with you that is consumable, because this is also my 39th birthday party. I don't want gifts, except that I want my house to be full of women who never looked so bad. This is not one of those parties where you should sweat for days wondering how you'll save the money to buy the hostess a crystal vase, or have to go to a specialty cheese store for ingredients for your hors de vors. (I'm not even sure I know how to spell that). I'm not the kind of hostess who will wash the dust off your feet as you enter my dazzling abode. You'll likely be dustier at the time of your departure, but your immunity will be way, way up from laughing a lot, your tummy will be warm and full, and you will believe again in peace and good will.

There will be a special prize for any silent readers who tell me of, or show me a picture of their ugliest sweater. Also for anyone who is unable to book their flight in time for the 24th, you will be specially honoured if you humour me with a blog post instead.

Go on then. I'm in a bit of a hurry myself because my friends are arriving here in a few minutes and we're off to the thrift shop to get at the best of the lot before the rest of you read this.

Enjoy.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Travel Tips

1. NEVER order "fresh" food at a gas station restaurant. They must have a rule that all salads are to be prepared and set under a heat lamp by 6:00 am. Eight pm is not veggie time.

2. On the morning before a 13 hour car drive, do not consume garlic sausage for breakfast. No matter who went out of their way to prepare it for you. No matter how rude it would be to refuse. There is NO time, and no place for garlic sausage if you want to enjoy meaningful relationships in your life.

3. Dried fruit. See #2.

4. Music and laughter are paramout to your mental health. After five or six hours of seeing the same hydro pole pass by on your left, you begin to question your sanity. You begin to have the distinct feeling that this is a conspiracy by hamster-dom to teach you a 'lil lesson on monotony.

5. You can find a great many inspiring magazines and varieties of breath mints in gas stations.

6. When you find yourselves discussing highway quality, observing road signs that have been recently erected with great excitement, it may be entirely too late to question your sanity. Simply double your medication.

7. For a lively discussion, theorize that what drove Thelma and Louise off that precipice may actually have been hour upon hour of prairie travel.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Road Trip

Wandering through Laura's small town today, we quickly became aware of the fact that we were drawing a great deal of attention. Evidently, its a bit entertaining for the locals to see four versions of their Laura.

I've never been part of a circus before.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I think I've Earned this....

Two lasagnas
Two dozen muffins
One loaf
Eight preschoolers
Three loads of laundry
Six phone calls
One grocery trip

According to my calculations, I have performed 60 hours of labour in the past 12 hours. Under no circumstances is anyone allowed to request the formula used for this calculation.

The Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta prairies will never look so good as they will, beginning tomorrow at noon. My aching feet will have more than plenty of time to rest, and my lumpy schlumpy glumps will not be growing sleeker as I will be munch and giggle my way through the flat lands. My sisters and I will be attending a gala performance featuring our under-rated, over-qualified eldest sister in a local theatrical production. OOOooh, whatever shall I wear. (already planning on my ripped army jeans, which is all I ever really wear...)

No toddlers for three days. No mother guilt. No meals to prepare. Nope, I crammed all of that into 12 hours earlier today. And when I return, I'll likely cram 60 hours of catch up into the first 12 hours home.

Au Revior!

The Bag has bags

Blogger has hated me with a vehement hatred. I have tried to publish this approximately 44 times, and hateful blogger consistently eats it. (without sending me reimbursement). I will try again, this time crossing my legs, my arms, my leg hair, my eyes...

Remember "bags for Darfur"? Well the smart people in my life are working on the website but just in case its not up and running before Christmas.... Here is a taste. These are all for sale, for $15.00, and all the money will be sent to Darfur. Let me know if you are interested.


~#1~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sold! to Heather~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(the one above-- brown, orange, green...)

#2~~~~~above~~sold! to Brandy````



#3~~above~~~~~ sold! to Shelley~~~~

#4~~~~~~above~~~~~sold! to Shelley~~~
#5~~~~~above~~~sold to Shelley~~~~

#6~~~~above#7 SOLD!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~to Daphne~~~~~~~~~~~thank you~~~~~~
#8~~~~~~~pink flower
#9~~~~~~~~~~~~acorn strap~~~sold! to Brandy~~~


(The bag also has bags under her eyes, "baggage", and often behaves much like an old bag)
But that's for another post.