meandering simply

Thursday, September 3, 2009

NEW LOCATION

I've moved.
Please join me at ValerieDykstra.com

Sunday, February 22, 2009

meandering simply: Status on 2009 Goals

meandering simply: Status on 2009 Goals

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NEW ADDRESS

My new website is coming along. You can check it out at HERE.

happy b'day to me

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Friday, February 13, 2009

A Friday Few


Good Morning All. I have missed you and am happy that at least two people missed me. Lawana and Joan, thank you for encouraging me to get on with it even without a new website in place.

1) The website creation crashed and burned. I tried and will keep trying, but for now I've got nothing to show for my efforts. I get one step forward then go two back. You get the idea, right?

2) Deborah has pink hair. Last week it was purple. Thankfully, it's fading with every shampoo. She's participating in the Hair MassaCURE for cancer. She didn't get a buzz cut, for which I'm happy, but she did get a dye job. I'm calling her Pinky these days.

3) I spent 3 days in meetings training people who work in major slaughter houses about bacteria, safety procedures, legalities, yada, yada. This is not part of my regular job but my bosses thought it would be beneficial for me to take in these courses to grasp some of the aspects of our association that I have no understanding. They were 3 very long, depressing days. I had no clue that the big guys in processing put through 10,000 hogs or cows daily. That's 10,000 animals per day per plant. And that's just locally. I was sick with sadness. My vegetarian leanings got strengthened.

I do not think everyone should drop meat from their diets, but I do think everyone should cut back.

4) Gordon, Deborah and I went out to a family restaurant where they give children crayons and a coloring sheet. As we waited for our food, Gordon started coloring. As he progressed on the picture I asked if he was going to enter it in the restaurant's coloring contest. He studied his art then said, "No, they don't have the right colors."

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Status on 2009 Goals


January is over. Is it just me or did that go by quickly. I thought I'd assess my progress on my 2009 goals. I've listed the resolutions I made here and my success (or not) thus far.

1)- Give up fiction for January and Lent.
Status: I made it through January fiction-free.

2)- Give blood 4 times.
Status: No blood given yet.

3)- Clean up my recycling act. (My recycling has suffered since moving to a town that doesn't have the awesome recycling program Edmonton has.)
Status: I've done very well. It's been a grind as I've hauled my recycling to Edmonton all month. I work in the city, so this is really no big deal. Just hauling my blue bags around is a drag.

4)- Work towards running 10K. (This is my loftiest goal of the year.)
Status: I'm running two miles (about 3+ kilometers) a day three days a week. I am happy.

5)- Keep laundry current.
Status: I'm rocking. But I must admit it's all in the huge-capacity washer. I never want to go back to a normal-capacity.

6)- Keep bathroom floors clean.
Status: I'm doing well. It's not a job I cherish, but I'm staying on top of it.

7)- Keep up my Club Fit regimen and continue to intensify it.
Status: I'm doing well.

8)- Buy a new carbon steel paddle for dragon boating.
Status: I'm looking on the net, shopping around. But nothing yet.

9)- Buy a new PFD for dragon boating.
Status: I've looked on ebay hoping to find a used one. No luck yet.

10)- Get fence fixed.
Status: I've warned Gordon that it's important to me and that I will be nagging come the Big Melt. Of course nothing can happen before Spring. You know, that white fluffy stuff makes fence building ridiculously difficult this time of year.

11)- Drop melaleuca.
Status: Did it. I'll miss some of the stuff, but I'll save about $100 month.

12)- Lower grocery budget by $25 a pay period.
Status: This one is really hard. I succeeded one pay period and didn't the other. Perhaps this goal is going to be more difficult than I imagined.

13)- Work on Christmas Child Shoeboxes throughout the year.
Status: I am so rocking on this. I've got a box in my closet filled with my cache. Crayons, My Little Ponies, hair brushes, tiny little crafty things, little stuffies, soap... I want to have supplies for 12 boxes by Christmas time.

14)- Vacuum at least once a week.
Status: I'm doing well. But like my huge-capacity washer, it's all in the equipment. I have central vac now and I love it. This is the first time I've ever had central vac. It's still a novelty and I actually enjoy vacuuming. I know the thrill will wane. Sigh.

15)- Get to know new neighbors.
Status: Not happening so far.

16)- Build a website.
Status: I look around for what I like, but that's as far as that's gone.

17)- Take swimming lessons.
Status: I'm booked for April to June.

18)- Take square dancing lessons. (Don't laugh at me.)
Status: I looked for a club to join. None take new members mid-year. But I'm on the "please call when registrations open again" list. I'm already psyching Gordon up by calling him my Dosido Boy. Smiles.

19)- Blog more steadily; pace better. I'm thinking Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Status: Have you noticed? I'm right on target.

20)- Lose 20 pounds.
Status: You know this one really sucks. I exercise but don't lose weight. Must be all that eatin' I'm doing. Oh what I wouldn't give to hate pastries, cookies, chocolate, and every other kind of tasty foods. It would be so nice to be one of those people who have to remind themselves to eat. But I'm not. However, I have added a goal to my original 2009 Goals List. You'll read about it soon.

21)- Improve photography skills. Play along with Mindi's challenges.
Status: I'm working on it but was totally shocked to learn that many (perhaps most) photos I adore have been photoshopped. I was sad to learn that photoshop is very expensive and something I most likely will not invest in. My photos may never look amazing.

22)- Embrace winter.
Status: This one is so subjective, it's hard to measure. All I can say is I've not been growelly about it. So I think I'm not doing poorly.

23)- Read Deuteronomy and the Psalms.
Status: I'm right on schedule.

24)- Actively participate in my new book club.
Status: My bookclub's first book is fiction. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. On February 1 I will begin it and try to catch up with my mates who are enjoying the book. :-)

25)- Practice thinking about what I'm thinking about. Meaning, clean up my thought life.
Status: Again, it's subjective and hard to measure. However several times when I've felt negativity taking over, I've changed my thoughts to something more positive. I read someone recently who said when something horrible happens they ask themselves, "What is awesome about this situation?" It takes lots of practice and training, but I'm trying to apply that idea.

Goals I've added since the original list are:

26) Join Weight Watchers. I am not happy about this as all my life I've thought of Weight Watchers as middle-aged fat ladies. Reality check!! Valerie, you are a middle aged fat lady. :-)

27) Volunteer at a Seniors' Home with Deborah and Hannah.
Status: I've filled out the forms, visited the volunteer recruitment fellow, and got the police check. We're well on our way.

28) Phone my daddy more often. Our relationship is far from the traditional father/daughter type. But I love him and don't want him to doubt that. I am going to call him more this year. (Thanks for the photo Lawana. I love it.)

30) Don't buy junk food, ever. I don't buy junk food often but when I do I make it worth my effort. I'm going to give it up. :-)

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Deborah's Recital

Perhaps you recall that one of my 2009 goals is to post regularly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I hope you've noticed so far, so good.

Tuesday evening Deborah had a piano recital. I videoed her at the recital but I couldn't capture her face. I videoed her at home too and captured her sweet little face and hands. It's a sweet video of my little musician. She plays four songs. The last one is called Alien Abduction. She made it up herself. She's gifted, you know.

Please enjoy my little Dobber's music. And if you see fit, Deborah and I both would like to hear your praises.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My 2008 Favorite Books List


I belong to Goodreads.com and I really like it. Put simply, it's a place to record what I read and see what a few friends are reading too. I used write notes about good books in a notebook. Now I don't have to do the notebook thing. I just record my thoughts or notes from the book on my goodreads site. Much easier to refer back to.

You'll see that my reviews usually aren't real reviews. They are simply my notes about the book.

From the books I read in 2008, these are my favorite. Drumroll please...

The Shack by William P. Young Read my notes from this amazing book here.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert Read my gleanings here.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs I really enjoyed his falling in love with the sacred. Read my notes here.

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back by Frank Schaeffer I laughed a number of times during this book. It's not for everyone and might offend some terribly but I really liked it. Read my review here.

Fit From Within: 101 Simple Secrets to Change Your Body and Your Life - Starting Today and Lasting Forever by Victoria Moran A nice easy read on a subject I love. Read my notes here.

Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck A touching memoir about a little girl who lost everything. Read my review here.

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure A fun insightful read. Read my thoughts here.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I didn't write a review but I loved the book and gave it 4 stars.

Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs by Ergun Mehmet Caner Not exactly an easy read, but hugely insightful. I learned a ton. Read my review here.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Mom brings the cake

Here is a super short video that my mom sent to me today. Funny.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

what it takes to be a successful writer

A woman asked a writer what was needed to become a successful writer.

The writer responded with, "A husband with a good paying job."

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A funny that made me laugh tears


I stole this from starrgazr.com If you can read it without laughing out loud, you and I aren't on the same page.

A Texas Chili Cookoff

Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL. Frank: “Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table, asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy; and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge 3.”

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:

CHILI # 1 - MIKE’S MANIAC MONSTER CHILI

Judge # 1 — A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 — Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) — Holy crap, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

CHILI # 2 - AUSTIN’S AFTERBURNER CHILI

Judge # 1 — Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 — Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 — Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

CHILI # 3 - FRED’S FAMOUS BURN DOWN THE BARN CHILI

Judge # 1 — Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge # 2 — A bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 — Call the EPA. I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest.

CHILI # 4 - BUBBA’S BLACK MAGIC

Judge # 1 — Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 — Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 — I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 300 lb. woman is starting to look HOT… just like this nuclear waste I’m eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?

CHILI # 5 LISA’S LEGAL LIP REMOVER

Judge # 1 — Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 — Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 — My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.

CHILI # 6 - VERA’S VERY VEGETARIAN VARIETY

Judge # 1 — Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 — The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb
Judge # 3 — My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I messed on myself when I farted, and I’m worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except for Sally. Can’t feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my rear with a snow cone.

CHILI # 7 - SUSAN’S SCREAMING SENSATION CHILI

Judge # 1 — A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 — Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge #3. He appears to be a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 — You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they’ll know what killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing, it’s too painful. Screw it; I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

CHILI # 8 - BIG TOM’S TOENAIL CURLING CHILI

Judge # 1 — The perfect ending, this is a nice blend of chili’s. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 — This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it, poor feller, wonder how he’d have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 - No Report

Did you laugh tears?

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blue Photo Challenge

One of my 2009 goals is to improve my photography skills. My niece Mindi is my inspiration. A few weeks ago she issued a photo challenge. Read her explanation of the challenge here.

So far these are the respondants to the challenge.

A few peeks of blue by Mindi.

Shanna has a couple very blue pictures here.

Enjoy Lisa's collage here.

These girls are artsy fartsy kind of girls. I'm a beginner and of a different generation than these girls. But 2009 is a year of improving my picture-taking abilities and I think Mindi's monthly challenge is going to help me. Here is my blue photo challenge collage.

Click on the collage to make it bigger.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Goals for 2009

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” ~Voltaire

Regarding New Years Resolutions, Mark Twain said this on a January 2nd years ago. "Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community." That is good for a smile isn't it?

Over the past two weeks I cannot count the times I've heard "80% of the people who make resolutions have fogotten about them by February." But I still make them and I still keep some of them. I never keep them all, but maybe that's because I make too many. It's something I love to do. I really really love starting the year with a new set of goals.

My 2009 goals for this year, in no particular order.

1)- Give up fiction for January and Lent. (so far, so good)
2)- Give blood 4 times.
3)- Clean up my recycling act. (My recycling has suffered since moving to a town that doesn't have the awesome recycling program Edmonton has.)
4)- Work towards running 10K. (This is my loftiest goal of the year.)
5)- Keep laundry current.
6)- Keep bathroom floors clean.
7)- Keep up my Club Fit regimen and continue to intensify it.
8)- Buy a new carbon steel paddle for dragon boating.
9)- Buy a new PFD for dragon boating.
10)- Get fence fixed.
11)- Drop melaleuca.
12)- Lower grocery budget by $25 a pay period.
13)- Work on Christmas Child Shoeboxes throughout the year.
14)- Vacuum at least once a week.
15)- Get to know new neighbors.
16)- Build a website.
17)- Take swimming lessons.
18)- Take square dancing lessons. (Don't laugh at me.)
19)- Blog more steadily; pace better. I'm thinking Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
20)- Lose 20 pounds.
21)- Improve photography skills. Play along with Mindi's challenges.
22)- Embrace winter.
23)- Read Deuteronomy and the Psalms.
24)- Activly participate in my new book club.
25)- Practice thinking about what I'm thinking about. Meaning, clean up my thought life.

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Embracing Winter

A neighbour's yard.

The snow keeps coming. And coming. Thankfully my efforts to "embrace winter" are working. I look at the snow and gray sky with mature neutrality. The real test will come in February when I've had it with winter.

On warmer days I've enjoyed getting out and embracing winter through photography. I'm not a photographer by any stretch but I'm hoping to improve lots in 2009. The most practical way I can think to embrace this season is through finding beauty in it and photography forces me to look for the beauty. It's been a delightful exercise and I think it's really working. These are some of my photographs from this week.


Our backyard.

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what makes you smile?


“If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.” - Andy Rooney

I read this little doozy this morning on the bridgemaker I like it. I smile when no one is around quite a lot so this quote made me feel good.

I thought of people who smile when no one is looking. I thought of my friend Debbie Tannehill who smiles and laughs lots, even when she's not feeling well. I thought of my mom, who smiles when she sees preschoolers and cute dogs. I thought of all my sibs who smile and laugh when they remember funny things. Smiling and laughing when no one is around is a really cool thing.

You know that saying, "Smile! It increases your face value"? There's truth in that. One of my aspirations is to smile when I'm out it public even if I'm just smiling for the sake of smiling. First, smiling people look nicer. Secondly, I'm pretty sure smiling is a de-stresser. Thirdly, it spreads goodwill and that leads to others smiling. Fourth, generally people are nice to me and I think it has something to do with my smiling at them. (Then too, maybe I'm full of it.)

I smile when:

I see something cute, bumper sticker, t-shirt,...
I see that puppy from the next door office.
I think of something romantic or loving that Gordon does.
I hear Deborah playing the piano.
I hear Hannah playing with pets.
The girls are being kind and/or playing together.
I think of Romie Boy.

Makes me wonder what makes other people smile. What makes you smile?

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

2008 reflections

"Every day that you do the right thing is one day closer to the results you want." Jeff on My Super Charged Life

I love this time of year. I love reflecting on the past year and the new year. I love assessing personal progress and ascertaining weaknesses, (as if those aren't easy to see). In 2007 I discovered that growth is made by taking baby steps -- that every step in the right direction is indeed a step in the right direction. This was a revelation to me. I thought to be successful I had to be totally successful. I never saw moving in the right direction as valuable if I didn't fully reach the goal. That's all changed. If I've made progress I'm happy. The more progress the happier. But even a little progress is enough to be thankful.

Here were my goals for 2008 and my progress:

- De-clutter more. I've recently realized that I have more seasonal decorations than I need. I can part with some fall and Christmas decorations and with other things in closets in the basement. ** I seriously rocked in this department. I have to say I'm well on my way to being a minimalist. And I love it!

- Get a job. I really don't want to work retail, but retail has always worked with my scheduling needs. I'm going to try to find a job that isn't retail. Something new and improved. ** This turned out even better than I ever could have dreamed. I got a great job with great hours and it's close to home too. I'm so so thankful. Bonus! I got a Tuesday evening job too and it's my spending money. It too is a great job.

- Spend an hour a week with my friend Colleen. ** This became impossible with my new jobs. I didn't have that kind of time any more.

- Take the dogs to the off leash park on Thursday mornings with my friend Elaine. ** This too became impractical once I got the job.

- Take the dogs to the off leash park on Saturdays with Hannah and Deborah. (These off leash dates serve several purposes; strengthening relationships with the girls, getting the dogs out where they can run like the wind, getting me into nature, getting me physical.) ** I did this pretty often until the price of gasoline sky-rocketed. When gas prices came down we had moved even farther from the park by then.

- Use Rosary Beads regularly for focusing me in prayer. (I'm not Catholic but I've found Rosary Beads beneficial in keeping me focused in prayer.) ** Yes, I do this. Many a morning I find my beads in bed with me. That means I fell asleep while praying. That's a good way to fall asleep.

- Join a dragon boat racing team. ** Woohoo. I didn't just join a team, I joined a competitive team that rocks.

- Get Rachael into drawing or cartooning lessons. ** Accomplished. She really enjoyed it.

- Go for a walk in the river valley with Rachael once a week. ** Didn't do.

- Give up sugar for Lent. ** Accomplished.

- Mall walk once a week. Once the snow melts, move this walk outside. ** I didn't mall walk once, unless I was shopping, which happens very infrequently. But I did walk frequently outside after the melt.

- Reduce portion sizes at meal time. ** I didn't do great, but I didn't do horribly either.

- Finish New Testament reading. ** Accomplished. :-)

- Lay with each girl at bedtime once a week. ** I do this fairly regularly, but not once a week. It's more like I lay with a child once a week but not every child once a week. I improved, but I didn't accomplish my goal.

More recaps of the 2008: The single best thing from my year was my visit from Stephanie and Christopher. I don't see my American kids nearly enough so I cherish deeply every moment.

Boot Camp! Good gravy, what was I thinking? But I did it and I'm so proud of myself. I didn't die and I'm seriously grateful for that. There were plenty of times when I was thinking, I wonder if this is what it feels like right before the killer stroke. Boot Camp was a huge accomplishment for me.

Using just a few words to describe 2008, I'd say challenging, invigorating, satisfying. Not a bad set of words, eh? A few days ago I was reading from Deuteronomy 1 when God said to Moses, "You've stayed on this mountain long enough. It's time to break camp and move on." As I read that I thought how it was sort of like when God convicted me of inactivity. I knew I'd been on the lethargic mountain long enough and that God was saying it was time to break out and carve a new way. I'm so glad he did. But the most beautiful thing is that he didn't just convict me, he gave me the desire and the strength to carry through. I'm so so thankful for that. He's been strong in my weakness.

Shortly after reading the verse about the mountain I was thinking about Moses on that mountain and wondered the time frame. I went back to Deuteronomy 1 and read, "But forty years after the Israelites left Mount Sinai, on a day in midwinter..." Guess how old I was and what time of year it was when I was convicted of my inactivity? It was a cold winter morning when I was 40 years old. How cool is that? Me and Moses, we're buds.

Through the encouragement of one of the blogs I read, Simple Mom, I created a phrase to describe my 2008. "Much ventured, much gained." Hallelujah.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stephie Pooh's Family

Stephanie, John Mark and Romie Boy. A lovely little family, don't you think?

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dancing

In P.E. these days Rachael and Hannah are learning dance. Rachael really enjoys it and her class put on a very good production a couple weeks ago. Now they are working on another performance and she loves to practice.

I have to admit I still have residual feelings from my childhood. I don't think dancing is necessarily wrong, but it isn't a pursuit I encourage. I'm well aware this stems from my childhood brainwashing.

Yesterday Rachael was showing me one of her new spins. Since I'm mildly uncomfortable with the enthusiasm she has with dancing I said, "You know what? When I was your age the good kids never went to dances. They were just for the bad kids."

Amazed, she responded, "You mean the only kids that went to dances were the druggies and gangsters?"

I replied, "No actually I mean only the Catholics and Methodists."

+++++++

For a smile read what my brother says about dancing and here too.

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Chickpea Soup and Gordon

Tonight we had vegetable soup for the third night. Yes I know, that's kind of boring. However the soup changes from night to night. We eat it down and then I think, hey I could alter this into a different soup by adding corn, or peas, or broccoli... You get the idea? (And by the way, the soup has been good every night and different enough every night that no one has complained. But three nights is stretching it so I knew we had to finish it off.)

Tonight I didn't quite have enough left for a full meal but I needed to get rid of it. So to make it stretch I added chickpeas.

As we ate, I asked Gordon if he liked the soup and he said, "Well I'm getting kind of ready for some protein."

I pointed out that the chickpeas are loaded with protein and there were lots of them in the new soup.

He replied, "No kidding, there are enough chickpeas in here to blow up the Empire State building."

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 most memorable moments

A few weeks ago someone posed the question what my three most memorable moments in 2008. This was my answer.

1) Becoming a Canadian citizen

2) Crossing the finish line for my first gold medal in dragon boating.

3) My grandson’s face when he got off the plane when he and my daughter came to visit.

I would have felt very blessed by any one of these things. Experiencing all three helped create an exceptionally good year.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

links to some good reading

I have an annoying habit of sending myself emails. Usually they are notes to remind me of something I need to do at work or at home depending on where I sent the email of course.

I subscribe to a number of blogs that challenge and encourage me. Through bloglines.com new posts come to me instead of me searching all my favorite blogs looking for updates. We all know how annoying that is. :) Wonderful helpful info just shows up for me to read at my leisure. Often times I just skim it yet other times there is some great info that I'm grateful to learn or be challenged to think about.

Presently my inbox is full of things from me to me and I need to dump them somewhere. Remember that this blog is my magnificent virtual filing cabinet serving me remarkably well as a record of stuff. So this is an email dump posting. These are links that I've emailed myself so I can store them here on this blog. Maybe you'll glean something from them too.

I love some of these quotes.

I love this picture and found this post a sweet meditation for Christmas. I should have linked to this last week as maybe one of you would have found it inspirational as well.

I love setting goals for each new year and I find doing so extremely beneficial. I think this post is really good for anyone who struggles with the particulars of making goals.

I am a journal-er. I write down tons of thoughts, feelings, prayers, etc. I told a friend recently that it is imperative that I write things down. If I didn't write things down I wouldn't know what I think. I feel things easily, but often until I write it out, I may not know what I think on the subject. For instance tonight was incredibly stressful for me. I thought my head was going to blow off with emotions. I needed to get my journal out ASAP to figure out what was going on. I'm not saying writing things down solves my problems but it goes a long long ways to give me perspective.

Several months ago I was terribly agitated by a meeting at work. I was tapped right out emotionally by the time it was over. That night as I dumped my feelings into my journal, God gave me incredible insight into why I got so agitated. I might still have heart palpitations to think of that meeting had it not been for journalling. Journalling saved the day and I cannot count the times that has happened. That is why this article is significant to me. The numbered points that he makes are so bang on for how I experience journaling.

Being a stay-at-home mom when my kids were little was one of the best choices/sacrifices I ever made. I haven't one regret in that department. I'm out of that stage of life now that the kids are bigger, but the subject matter is still near and dear to my heart. That is why this article is special.

As you may have deduced from my blog and other things I've said or done, I love simple living and am on a continual quest for simplicity. Articles like this one remind me of why I embrace it. They make me smile and think, "Yes, this is it!"

Similar to the above article, this one itemizes some of the benefits very succinctly.I love simplicity and this article lists many of the reasons why very well.

And here's just one more article on simplicity. The paragraph that mentions CS Lewis is the one that made this post especially noteworthy.

This article was good for me to see ways to reduce stress in home life. I'm still a nag in plenty of ways, (the article didn't cure me), but I found her observations clever and insightful.

And lastly, I emailed myself this quote: “If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” - Mary Engelbreit

The reason this quote is presently striking a chord with me is simply this; winter. Right now it's -30 and it's just, well, it's cold. Several months ago a friend astonded me by saying that winter is her favorite season. Honestly, it had never occured to me that winter was anyone's favorite season. I was flabbergasted. Winter is my least favorite season which explains very logically why I moved 2500 miles north to live where it's winter nearly half the year. I love Canada but I wish it was a mite warmer. :)

This quote encourages me to change the way I think about winter. I'm trying to find things to enjoy and love and embrace about this cold white season. A few years ago I was able to change my thinking about mosquitoes. I still don't like them but I don't hate them passionately like I used to. If I can change my attitude toward mosquitoes I figure I can do it with winter too. I'm trying and this quote helps me.

So there you have it. This post went a long ways to cleaning out my inbox. There is a lot of good reading represented here. Let me know what you think.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hannah's Video

I got a new camera for Christmas. My old one was on its way out but I wasn't expecting it to die. However after giving it to Rachael it passed on to Canon Camera heaven.

I think I've told you these things:

1) Hannah is a goon. She's always coming up with weird zany things to say and do, sometimes producing some hilarious concoctions.

2) We have extra dogs in the house, creating some interesting scenarios.

My neice Mindi is an amazing photographer. I'll never be as good as her but I do hope to improve this year. That to say, I'm playing lots with my new camera and in my play I captured this video of Hannah being goofy.

The context of this video is the dogs chasing the cat. One dog actually got her cornered and, bam, Tawny surprised the dog with a paw in the face.

Which is now a saying we are over-using around here: "Bam, paw in the face."

Enjoy. And please comment as Hannah is so embarrassed that I put this on youtube.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mug shots

Our house is presently overrun by dogs. We are dog-sitting and it's been kinda "wild." Here are some cute profile shots of the poochies.

Shelby, the pastor's dog.
Lucy, our beloved dog who isn't really ours anymore. I am so blessed to get to babysit her though.
And this is my little Bearsie Boy. He's the only one that is actually ours.

Aren't they all so cute?

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone


Merry Christmas. From our house to yours. Love to you all.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

The evening began with a service at church where Deborah sang.
Then home to supper in the family room. Christmas Eve is the only time of year we eat here.
A lovely little clan enjoying sausage, cheese and crackers.
Bear loves the sausage especially.
Next is stocking time. Panties are a stocking staple, especially if the panties have turtles on them. Hannah is 12.
Everyone loves the cracker crowns. Rachael is 13.
Daddy and 9-year-old Deborah.
Nice undies, eh?

After stockings, we watched The Nativity Story, a lovely movie.

Next, bed time calls.
This is Frank, Myrrh, and Merry.
Since the girls were wee, on Christmas Eve they've slept with these bears. This year was no different. They are growing up, but they still took their bears to bed.
Before the girls went to bed they each took their gifts to the tree. The evening began with no gifts under the tree.

Night night little ones. In the morning you'll see that Santa came.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Picture Roulette



I got an interesting challenge from Joan today. Go to your pictures, open the 5th folder and post the 5th picture in the folder. It's cool how for me that was a Christmas folder. This is 2005 when each girl got a hamster for Christmas. Have I mentioned we like hamsters around here?

Have I mentioned Hannah bought two guinea pigs a few months ago? When we moved to this house she decided to take them to the SPCA to give them to someone else. Turns out the SPCA wanted $60 to take Daisy and Flossy off Hannah's hands. Ugh, I don't think so. However we left the SPCA with a new hamster. We went to drop off two guinea pigs and left with two guinea pigs PLUS a hamster. We are suckers.

I'm about to randomly go to my picture files and continue Joan's picture roulette game. The last photo in the 12th folder.

And I didn't plan that the 12th folder was a Christmas folder. This is from last year's Christmas.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Foto



Remember my little Senor Frodo? He loved to sleep under the Christmas tree.

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a note from Deborah

This was in my email inbox this morning:

Hi, mom you are the best mom in the world! Thank you for making sure I was o.k. when I had that nightmare! I hope Jesus comes before you die! I just wanted to say thank you for being sooooooooooooooooooooooo good to me LOVE DEBORAH I LOVE YOU!

She's a sweet Dear.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

bob carlisle

Do you remember the song "Butterfly Kisses?" It's a snappy little ditty (NOT) about a dad and his little girl growing up. It was an instant success in the 90's and went straight to the top of the charts on several billboards.

I can not hear that song without smiling.

After Bob's rise to fame I heard a most funny testimony from him. In the testimony he tried valiantly to be humble but fell terribly short. Of course I can't quote him exactly but it went something like this.

"When people tell me they have nothing to give, I say 'Hey man, if God can use me he can use anybody. Who am I? I'm just a guy. (Insert humble pause here). I'm just a songwriter, producer, recorder of a number 1 hit, 1998's hit recording artist with more that ???? record sales.'"

Is that as funny to you as it is to me? {Smiles}

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fushia thong (made you look)

A few days ago at the gym I had the pleasure of standing behind a fit little thing in the dressing room. As she disrobed she took great interest in her toes. Seemingly she had lots of lint between them and needed to tidy things up. The whole time I changed clothes she was bent over cleaning between her toes.

Her thong was fushia and I'd be remiss to not admit she wore it quite nicely and proudly. But the toe thing,... I got a little suspicious. I think she wanted me to see her cute butt and how fit she was. Truly it was a bit odd how long she stayed bent over with her butt as the main attraction.

Well once that suspicion kicked in, I could barely control my giggles. Everything in me wanted to tap her shoulder and say, "Excuse me, you've got something in your butt crack."

When I left her she was still toying with her toes. Sure she looked better in a fushia thong than I would, but I think I have the better time. "Excuse me, you've got something in your butt crack." I so amuse myself.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lessons from Charles Shultz, from Peanuts

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.

You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read it straight through, and you'll get the point.
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
These are no second-rate achievers.
They are the best in their fields.
But the applause dies..
Awards tarnish.
Achievements are forgotten.
Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!!
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
Easier?

The lesson:
The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.
They simply are the ones who care the most.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The Memory Tree

Christmas trees are a beautiful thing. I like to think of them as lights pointing heavenward. So many trees are majestically big and dynamic. Mine isn't huge, it's actually on the small side. (The tree was inexpensive which is why I bought it.) Yet still I wouldn't trade my Christmas tree for any beautiful tree in the world. My tree is 100% memories, precious memories. That's why I call it my memory tree.

One of our family traditions is getting a special family ornament every year that symbolizes something special about that year. For instance, this year I'll get a "New House 2008" ornament. Also, if something special happens in the lives of one the kiddos (or Gordon or me) I commemerate it with an ornament. For example, if I can find something symbolizing Deborah's baptism this year, I'll get it. Or my Canadian citizenship...

Here's a little history from our family.


The Memory Tree. 2008
Our angel topping the tree, handmade by our dear friends and pastors (the Wests) at Crossroads in 1996.
2002, the year of getting a new church. Zion.
The "first grandchild, 2007". The back of it tells the pertinent info on Romie Boy.
Mt Rushmore, 1991.
Deborah made this candle in Kindergarten, 2004.
That's my man Christopher, 4 years old, 1992.
The oldest ornament on the tree, from 1981. I bought it at my first job, Village Florist.
Deborah's first ornament, 1999.
2005, Gordon and I went away without kids for the first time ever. That's two moose in a bed if you can't tell.

Rachael
"became a woman". 2007
The girls and I spent a month in the States in 2004. This is a smore holding a US flag, if you can't tell. I got it in North Carolina.
Stephanie and John Mark, 2006.
2008, a new little lady from Lawana. (It's red because of my big fat thumb over the flash.)
I bought this little angel in China when I smuggled Bibles in. 1991.
This picture is red because my hand was over the flash. It's actually a sepia colored globe and perhaps my favorite on the tree. From Stacie, "our love could easily stretch around the globe." 1998
2006, Family holiday at Capernwray Habour, Thetis Island. (The guy at the Christmas store misspelled Capernwray.)
The year of the girls' first airplane ride. 2001
Frodo, our perfect little dog who got run over. 2005
The Memory Tree. 2008 Doesn't it seem more special having heard some of its history? Of all my possessions, our pictures, my prayer journals and these ornaments are the most valuable.

Some of my favorites are plain ornaments that have pictures of the kids glued to the back. These are from years when finances were too lean to buy a special ornament.

(And you only heard the history of but a few of my ornaments.)

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