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.


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.


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.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I Feel Very Old

Monday it was the kitty litter. Distributed ALL OVER THE BASEMENT by enthusiastic toddler hands while I was distracted doing a puzzle with some calm, quiet little girls.

Tuesday had the same basic theme, but this time with colour. Light bright pegs. All. Over. The. Basement. I had to simply take a deep breath, give the lecture, calmly, then walk away from the scene of the crime.

Today, while I was foolishly welcoming in a few more toddlers, my precious son got his hands on a coke bottle (I will have to torture and maim one of my older offspring for leaving it out, and within daycare reach....) and managed to smash it. ON THE BASEMENT FLOOR.

Does the basement hate me? As much as blogger does? (refuses to publish things I've spent way too much time on..... grrrrrr ) Have I been beaten by a few small humans? Do I need a vacation? Should I pour cement down the stairs, encasing all the toys, and never return there again?

The house may look pretty and serene in pictures. But that's not the way it feels in the RW today. MY BACK HURTS! I forgot my friends birthday is today. I always forget. Why do people not forget mine, then make me feel like I'm as big a bonehead as I suspected? I don't feel like sweeping up glass, or kitty litter, or brightly coloured pegs, or wet macaroni.

(Aren't old people allowed to cry and whine without discretion?)

May the Bird of Paradise....

Some years ago we belonged to a different church community and took part in a small study group, taking turns meeting in one another's homes. We'd been part of other groups in the past, and would join more in the future, but this one stands out in my mind as dynamic and cohesive. Something happened when we came together, there was a meeting of the minds, and the old cliche; "You are in a safe place" actually rang true. Well, most of the time any way. There was one ugly clash, and some misunderstanding, but like I said, it was church. Whaddya expect?

We made friends in those meetings. The sorts of friends who are actually family, because years can go by with little contact and they never lose their spot in your heart. They are the sort of people who show up to your brother's funeral without being asked to. They are the sort of people who send utterly breathtaking floral arrangements out of the blue with a simple card that reads; "Thought you might need this today, thinking of you lots".

Me thinks I may have diciphered a closet blog reader or two. Either that, or they are mind readers. Which isn't entirely unlikely, because like I said, that was a group with an unusual sense of connectedness.

I dare you to leave a comment. I know who you are. I know where you live.

And I love you lots. Thank you, your thoughtfulness is ........ exemplary.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Don't miss this...

Check out these great posts through my links. I'm too lazy to do hyperlink for you, besides, do you have a piano tied to your ass, or what?

"colouring outside the lines" -- check out the u-tube about those annoying smiley faces people like to attach to their e-mails.

"abc from xyz" -- this kid is HOT. She has been posting more often than usual, and has a terrific photo of cousins in awesome dresses, and a great post to go with it. I'm the adorable piggy tailed little one in red velvet. (okay, so its really about me.......)

Well, go on then, go on, read it. What are you waiting for?

Monday, November 06, 2006

button, button, whose got the button?

Buttons have always been on my top three of favourite things. I keep collecting them, sometimes I get so excited about old buttons that I almost have to quickly shove them back into the jar because I can't stand it. (Yes, I have many, many conditions.) November is my favourite time to think about Christmas. Its early in the year, so I don't have to listen to people whine about all the stuff they still have to get done, and I can putter around the house at my leisure, putting out some of the treasures from my four large boxes of Christmassy stuff.
Last year I was mildly obsessed with sewing ecclectic table runners, so in '06, I've been allowing a few yummy buttons to escape their jars and become part of the Christmas spread.

My most current happy place has been stringing these button and bead concoctions. The Bee-u-tiful red star in the centre was a gift from a friend, and became the inspiration for this buttony craze.

Buttons, stars, and vintage ornaments. What's not to love?

Fifty-Six Years

November 5 marks 56 years that mom and dad have been married. When mom was asked for any reminiscence of her wedding day, her response was: "I like today much better than our wedding day. I'm much more relaxed, because now I know how it all turned out!"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Must Be Sunday

The day of the lump.
Somehow during the week, the lumps seem more contained, more apt. But on Sunday, my stomach hangs palpably over my waistband in bulges. My thighs spread lumpily, unwielding, partially contained in cotton and 10% lycra. I yearn for the anorexic restraint of my youth.

My pea-sized brain recognizes the symbolism. The real lump is in my throat. Its tempting to say that it must be dealt with, but really, the bottomlessness of it is that it must be simply felt, acknowledged, allowed, validated. A difficult, uncomfortable position. So the match begins. Brain, desiring control, shouts: "MUST join gym! MUST give up wine, halloween candy, endless slices of hearth bread with butter...."

Heart whispers; "Rest."

On Sundays, I think of family. I hurt for my eldest brother, so far away, so sad for his friend and brother, now on the other side. My heart lurches a little to think of my father. Suddenly old and frail, yet strong and wise, with still so many lessons to give before the final bell. I endure the agony of love for a brother whose life has been drowned in a bottle. A brother I can no longer care for in conventional ways.

So, I'll recognize the tension, and I'll return again to my spiritual hospice. The words will roll over me, cover me, lance the lumpy boils within. And the healing rain will fall , washing my cheeks, my heart, my pain.

Must be Sunday.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


When your tummy is still full at 9:30 the following morning, its a pretty clear sign that the food and the company of the night before were exemplary. Nobody seemed to have any trouble at all with making themselves at home.
Which is good, because I have my strengths, but serving hand and foot does not appear to be one of them.

Its mildly embarrassing though, when your company wanders off to the kitchen to "tidy up a thing or two" and I'm finding myself still quite at home on my "new" green couch.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Day In the Life

Running a home daycare is fun, and busy, on good days. Here are
a few of the things we made time for today.
A good old-fashioned
plastic picnic.

The thrills and spills car crash-up video. (Free at the thrift shop- would have known it could be fodder for hours of boy pretend?)

A little time for oral refreshment, and some fresh air.
MOM!!! I gotta go PEEEE!!

Play Dough!! Everyone's favourite.

Must. Clean. Up. One. More. Time. (Until the next "one more time"......)

Dinner for Joyce: Cappucino ice-cream with skor bits topping.

Ahhhh, that makes it all worth while!

So, what do you like/dislike about the care YOUR children receive?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

For the Love of Kids.

I love all four of my offspring to ridiculous proportions. I am equally blown away at the differences between them. Case in point: halloween 2006.

Daughter #1 gets dibs on the best dress-up dress just because she yells louder. She gets the chance to go trick-or-treating to the big city with her pal, who warns her to bring not one bag, but two. She leaves the house first and comes home last. She gets the most candy. Upon entering the house, she asks for a handful of our leftover candy from the big bowl. I say "No way". She is appalled. She asks me when will I get around to dividing it between the four of them. I say, "never".

Daughter #2 takes all my advice on how to look like Raggedy Anne. She is thrilled senseless with the raggedy anne hair that I made for her out of a hat and strips of red fabric. She is happy to walk around the neighborhood with her friend til she can fill the pockets of her apron with candy. She comes home and gives her baby brother candies. (she snarls at her other brother, and snaps at him for nearly sitting on her candy, and for even-thinking-about-touching it, but she is very generous with the little brother). She asks to be tucked into bed.

Son, child #3 dresses up in his costume to show his little brother what fun trick or treating will be so as to encourage him to eat the two regulation bites of spaghetti if he wants to join in the candy hunt. When it becomes increasingly clear that Sammy will not have any of his dinner, Micah tells him, "Don't worry Sammy. I will go trick or treating, then when I get home, I will give you some candy". He heads out into the snow, and after about ten houses, says he has enough candy and wants to go home now. Micah comes home, dumps his cache on the living room floor, and equally divides the loot between himself and his brother, taking care to tell Sammy about which ones are really good, and not dreaming of hoarding those for himself.

Son, child #4. Refuses to eat any of his dinner. Knows that it means he will not go out. Knows how insanely he is loved. Gets to stay indoors, watch some telly, play in peace with his brother's dollar store rifle, and wait for the candy to come to him. He has talked for two weeks now about being spider man. Its all talk. At the end of the day, he is well fed on ketchup chips and spider man candy sticks, and is thrilled senseless that I let him go to bed wearing his favourite sweatsuit.

I swear that Dr Suess, Dr Dobson, and all those other wanna be parenting gurus are all retarded. You get what you get, and its as simple as that.