Thursday, 28 February 2013

Harris Family Fundraiser

This week I have had the privilege of watching some amazing women from Blackfalds come together in support of their friend who recently experienced some tragic circumstances in her family.

What started out as a desire to help their friend through an online auction has turned into something more than anyone could have imagined. Donations of auction items are pouring in not just from Central Alberta, but throughout the province, even the country - the generosity of others is simply astounding.

This is what community is about. It is about taking one small step to help others in their time of need. It is about stepping up to the plate and supporting one another when times are difficult. One person can indeed make a difference - and, as evidenced by what I have witnessed this week, a group of people can do amazing things.

I am thankful for these women who have put their own lives on hold to ensure their friend is taken care of. I am thankful that they have stepped up to the plate to make a difference.

Please, I encourage you to join the Online Auction page on Facebook - there are a number of incredible items and services up for bid - a testament to the generosity of others. A number of these items can be shipped throughout the country - you do not need to be from Central Alberta to participate in this event.

You too can make a difference this week.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

I Miss You

Next month it will be Five years.

Years that have moved far to quickly, at a pace that seems impossible.

Years that have moved so slowly, so incrementally, that it feels like just yesterday that you left us.

And so I continue to walk that strange path of grief - putting one foot in front of the other, mostly continuing to move forward, yet occasionally feeling like I'm not going anywhere. Over the years, it has become easier to feel you walking with me, even though I am unable to see or hear you beside me. But I know you are there.

There are moments where I feel your presence more than others - moments when you feel so close that my heart aches and I feel a hollowness inside me that begs to hear your voice one last time, to hear your laugh, to feel your arms around me as you give me a hug. These are the moments where I miss you most. Where I wish I could sit across from you at the kitchen table and tell you all about what's been happening in my life. Where I wish I could pour you another coffee as you tell me about the crops you have planted. Where I could ask for your advice or guidance - or just see the look in your eyes that says you are proud of me and all that I've accomplished.

These are the moments where I allow myself to weep, to mourn you, to wonder how life can possibly go on without you in it. To not even try to pretend that I have an understanding of why God called you home when we were not yet ready to let you go.

And I feel you there, patiently standing beside me - your presence reminding me to be gentle with my soul, filling my hollowness with boundless love, easing the ache in my heart. Your presence dries my tears, and gives me the courage and strength to keep moving forward, safe in the knowledge that you will always be there. What a beautiful gift you have given me.

I miss you Dad. And I always will. Thank you for walking with me.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Mmmmmm .... Marshmallows


These are the words that greeted me Saturday morning. No good morning Mom. No hope you had a good sleep Mom. Not even an I'd like breakfast please.

I tried to patiently (well, as patiently as I could at 6 a.m.) explain that we were fresh out of marshmallows. No, I wasn't going to go to the store, and even if I could, the store would be closed. Like the rest of the world pining for marshmallows, you are going to have to suffer.

"Yes we DO have some - Dad hid them!"

I groggily looked over at my snoring husband, looked back at my eager son, and wondered just when the insanity was going to end.

"Well then, you are going to have to wait until Dad gets up, because I don't know where he hid them" I stated through clenched teeth, hoping the look on my face would discourage further questioning and cause my son to go running from the room. Apparently, I need to work on that look because he still stood there, whining at me.

For the next hour (ok, probably only 3 minutes but it felt much, MUCH longer), I argued with my six year old about why I would not embark upon a search mission for marshmallows at 6 in the morning.

Thankfully he forgot about his request until much later in the day; and didn't resume his demands until early afternoon.

"I don't know where Dad hid them" I exclaimed somewhat exasperated, after trying repeatedly to redirect him to a food that I did know the whereabouts of at present.

At about that point, his older brother walked into the room.

"Geeze Mom, didn't you check behind the TV?" he commented in an 'I can't believe you wouldn't think to look there first' tone of voice.

"Oh Z, that's so funny" I laughed - until I noticed he was looking at me pointedly and trying not to roll his eyes.

So I looked. You know, behind our flat screen, wall mounted TV.

Sure enough, there they were. 

I don't even want to think about the thought process that has to happen in order to come up with hiding marshmallows behind a TV. Apparently my husband doesn't either, because he had no recollection of when he might of done this.

At any rate, there were squeals of delight and excitement as I tugged that bag of hard old marshmallows from their temporary home, and handed them over to the kids. They were hard as rocks no doubt about it, but that didn't seem to matter in the least. They still managed to eat them - although it took a fairly substantial amount of time to do so. 

I can only wonder about what I'm going to find in a strange place next . . .

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Race - Guest Post

Today’s post is courtesy of my amazing sister, Karen Copeland. I believe her words are powerful, and her analogy is a good reminder about what we choose to make important, along with the impact our own perceptions can have on others. I think in our day to day ‘go go go’ mode, we can forget that just because we do things in a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the best or only way. Just because we can finish something quickly, doesn’t mean that we are better than someone who takes a bit longer to get the job done. We all bring our own strengths and talents to the table – let us not be so quick to move on that we forget about those who are still working hard behind us. Chances are we might just learn a thing or two about patience and perseverance in the process. Enjoy!

The Race

I was talking with my son today about how his brain works. I used the analogy of runners, running a race around the track. Sometimes there is one runner who sprints ahead and finishes faster than everyone else. Then there are a great many who run and finish around the same time.  There is always a runner who takes a bit (or sometimes much) longer than everyone else. But that runner still finishes the race! I explained that this runner is how my son's brain works. It takes a bit (or sometimes much) longer than others, but it does eventually complete the race. 

Sometimes though, sometimes just because the runner is even in the race, other people will think the runner is faster than he really is! And they will get impatient, anxious, frustrated. Why isn't the runner running faster? And then there is almost an anger that happens? Why didn't he run faster? What a disappointment! There is no celebration when he finally finishes the race. Only negative thoughts, feelings.

But this should not be the runner's concern. Pleasing all the others who think he should be going faster is not what he needs to be focusing on. He needs to be focusing on finishing the race. In his own time. In his own way. And it might look different from what everyone else expects. And that is okay! Shouldn't we be celebrating when he finishes the race?

I know my son will complete the race, he will get there in his own time and in his own way. And I celebrate that. You can bet I will be cheering him on the whole way. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Family Day

It's Family Day here in Alberta today. That means time off of school (and work for some people) to do family related activities.

I don't want to be a spoil sport, but here in my house, we didn't do anything in honour of the holiday. My hubby went back to work as usual, the kids and I played around as usual, and I'm once again procrastinating cooking dinner - as usual.

The thing is, I feel like most days we are running around here, there, and everywhere trying to fit in all the various activities the kids are involved in. We make a point of trying to do at least one family activity each weekend, and this past one was no exception.

So today, I made an executive decision and we didn't do anything except go to Tim Horton's to grab a coffee for me, and hang out with each other. I'll be honest, the kids were disappointed that we weren't heading out skating or swimming or shopping for toys - but sometimes, being a family doesn't necessarily mean getting away from the house and doing something fun. Sometimes it means taking the time to just be with one another, in our home, without worrying about chores, cleaning, homework, or where we need to be next. Having a pyjama day, relaxing and watching a movie. Working on a puzzle. Smiling, laughing, and sincerely enjoying one another's company. And it was a good day.

I can only wish that my husband and oldest daughter had been here to enjoy it with us as well, but I hope they know that they were each in my heart and on my mind - just like every other day. After all, we are a family - even though they aren't always here with us.

Happy Family Day everyone!

Check it Out! I recently became a contributing writer for Canadian Moms Online - check out their website for the occasional extra shot of Gin not found on this blog ;)

Canadian Moms Online

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ah Valentine's Day, my favorite day of the year. Well, not really - my birthday is actually my favorite day, but since it's several months away, I'll settle for a chocolate treat today.

But I digress. Last year I worked really hard to create an extra special, made with love card for my hubby . . .
Highlighting my stellar cutting skills

He didn't believe I was being sincere. Pfffftttt . . . .

So this year, I've found something even better! I'm going to print this off and put it on the front of the card ... cute, right?

But the best part is the gift that will go along with it - I'm giving him a mood guide as well, so I can just circle how I'm feeling each morning, and he can decide what the best way to interact with me will be. It looks like this . . .

Brilliant, right?

I just KNOW he's gonna love it!

Happy Love Day Folks!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Case for Quality Control

Last Wednesday there was a flurry of activity in our house as we madly completed making our Valentine's for school. Somehow I missed the memo that Valentine's was actually THIS week, and I'm feeling a little 'out of sorts' without the pressure of last minute Valentine writing to contend with today.

Now before you start bowing at my feet and praising me for having the kids 'make' their valentines, please understand that I simply used my paper cutter to make card sized squares and then gave the kids some puffy stickers to put on the front. There isn't none of that Pinterest craziness happening in this house (at least when it comes to Valentine's Day).

For the most part the cards turned out great - and aside from having to remove a couple of hearts and re-place them so they were not hanging over the edge of the card, the decorating part went pretty smoothly. As you can imagine, with three enthusiastic children fighting over puffy stickers, the scene was rather chaotic, so I was unable to check each and every card made at the time.

Later that evening as I was cross checking names to be sure everyone had been made a card, I came across this beauty . . .

Ummmmmmm . . . yeah. You can call me a pervert, but my mind DID NOT scream valentine when I saw this. Needless to say, I took the liberty of re-arranging the placement of these stickers before putting them in the bag. I can only imagine what would have happened if this had been inadvertently sent to school - and my son may have never lived it down. He'd be in Grade 12 and someone would say, 'remember when you gave that girl a valentine with stickers shaped like a penis in Kindergarten?!?' and then laugh hysterically. Ok, who am I kidding - it'll probably be me saying it and showing everyone the picture. You know, cause I'm a nice loving mother like that.

In the end, our Valentine's project was fairly painless - perhaps we will try to do it again next year. Who knows what might end up on a card next time ... 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Kiss My Grits!!!!

The woman I aspired to be
When I was younger, I had an unhealthy obsession with being a waitress in a restaurant. So much so that I would save my allowance in order to purchase order pads from the local Thirsks store, and torment my parents with endless demands for what they would like for dinner. At the end of the day,  I would tally up everything they owed, and present them with a bill. Consistent failure to pay resulted in me spending more of my hard earned money towards the purchase of Duplicate Order forms. I still didn't get paid for the incredible service I was providing. Perhaps it was because after every order I would state "Kiss My Grits" just like Flo from the sitcom 'Alice'. Eventually I got tired of being stiffed grew up, and decided that a waitress life wasn't for me.

Flash forward 30 +a few years - apparently my children think I am a short order cook as well as a waitress, and not very good at either vocation. The other night I made a beautiful dinner (chicken, vegetables, rice, etc.) and my son complained that I never serve 'real food'.

Uncertain as to what 'real food' actually implies, he informed me that in his world, if the meal didn't contain hot dogs and mustard, then it was crap. While it is tempting to only serve hot dogs for the next couple of weeks, I can't bring myself to do it. I blame it on a weiner documentary I saw a couple years ago. Ugh. (Side note: Don't ever watch a weiner documentary . . . just, don't. It isn't pretty and you will be scarred for life.)

I can live with this constant berating of my food however. I think it is a phase - made particularly more difficult by the fact that my oldest son is could be classified as a very picky eater. Eventually he will grow out of it - or become hungry enough he will try something new. I hope. Yes, I can grin and bear it for a while longer.

What I struggle with is this (and please, please, PLEASE tell me I am not the only one) ... When I put on my waitress cap and pose the question to my husband "What would you like for dinner?", I am greeted with responses such as:

'Doesn't matter to me - whatever you want'
'I don't care - whatever you feel like cooking'
'I have no preference really'

and I'm all like HUH?

I sigh in exasperation. I stomp over to the freezer, open the door and stare at its contents, trying to determine what I could pull out that at least 75% of the family might eat. And mentally I don my beehive wig, unbutton my pink uniform a bit and conjuring up the best southern drawl I can manage, I bellow "KISS MY GRITS"!

The thing is this - I only cook because I have to. My bank account can't afford take out on a nightly basis, and frankly, neither can the seat of my jeans. So I have no choice but to spend the better part of my day trying to determine what to make for dinner. Will they eat fish? What will I cook to go with it? Didn't we just have spaghetti yesterday? What the h-e-double hockey sticks can you make with ground turkey?

So for you my darling husband and love of my life (because I know you are reading this), here is your homework:

(If this happens in your house as well, you may wish to consider doing the same ....)

1. Identify 3 meals that you enjoy eating (preferably ones that do not involve hot dogs).
2. Memorize them.
3. When I ask what you would like for dinner, tell me one of them.
4. Receive undying gratitude and devotion from your wife. Or at least not be told "Kiss My Grits".

And now, I'm off to search in my freezer for something to make for dinner tonight, because apparently popcorn doesn't quite cut it for nutritional value. If you don't hear from me for a while, I've probably caught a cold from standing in the cool air for so long and am sick in bed. Send gin. Thanks in advance for your thoughtfulness and caring.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Now That's ... Odd ...

My sister was in town visiting a while ago, and for fun, we thought we would check out an Antique Store to see if we could re-create any childhood memories.

There were several items we could recall from our childhood there, along with a few others that quite frankly, made me wonder who ever thought to make such a thing.

For instance, this beautiful piece was calling my name; however in a house full of children, it would likely not last very long. Plus, I'm thinking it might look kind of scary if one was to put it in a backlit cabinet ....

On second thought, having this sit on top of the piano with a light inside of it, to greet the children as they came downstairs in the middle of the night for a snuggle might just solve our little problem of keeping them in their beds . . . Hmmmm . . . I wonder if it is still there?

If it isn't, this little gem just might do the trick. I'm not normally a fan of monkeys, but when I came across this piece I stopped dead in my tracks.

Nothing screams 'CREEPY' quite like looking at a smoking circus monkey. If we could somehow rig the end of the pipe to glow red, and the occasional puff of smoke to come out of it, we may just be able to convince the kids he's real and will chase them back upstairs if they dare to crawl out of their beds.

But enough about scaring the kids . . .

Next up was an item that was rather puzzling. It was an ice cream mould like none I've ever seen before - not that I've seen a lot of ice cream moulds in my time mind you. However, back in the day, I suppose  it was the thing to do ....

Yes, if I hadn't been too cheap to pay the $45 asking price, you too could have been served ice cream in the form of a baby lamb the next time I invited you to dinner. Of course, I don't really have dinner parties, so the chances of you getting an invitation and being served a fancy schmancy dessert like this are slim and none. Phew . . . it's a good thing I saved my money.

Last, but certainly not least, was this darling wicker pig.

I really don't have anything to say about this beauty, other than I've never seen a wicker pig before and I probably never will again so I took a picture. It's obvious a great deal of care and craftsmanship went into this piece, and I am ever hopeful that this precious item has been purchased and placed in a loving 'forever' home. It's no less than he (or she - it's hard to tell) deserves.

How about you? What interesting things have you found when out shopping?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bad Hair Day

What is it about kids and scissors?

Has anyone had a child that hasn't used scissors to cut their own, or even worse, someone else's beautiful golden (or brown or auburn) locks in an effort to prove they are the next great stylists of their generation?

Do the falling chunks of hair stimulate chemicals in the brain that scream "cut it off - cut it all off!"?

All of my children have partaken in the beauty ritual otherwise known as 'the hairstylist who has to fix this is going to remember me forever'. Sometimes I notice right away. Other times, it isn't until I pull out the bed to vacuum that I notice long forgotten about clumps of hair that have been carefully hidden lest I discover what they have done. 

I remember finding lovely long locks in the sock drawer when my oldest daughter was very young. While she was thrilled with her new 'do', I sobbed for hours at the loss of her beautiful hair. Of course, it eventually grew back - and since then, I've had a less dramatic outlook on this seemingly normal rite of passage.

Last year, my kids went to play at a friends house. When we picked them up, I was sure E looked different, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why. It wasn't until I was brushing her hair for swimming lessons that I realized she didn't previously have bangs in the front - or the back for that matter - but she sure did now! I'm sure our hair dresser still remembers trying to fix it, and I give her full props for her creative work in hiding the back bangs!

Two weeks later, the scissors reared their ugly head again. This time, it was B who ended up with a new style. It was an interesting look, and sadly, very difficult to disguise.

Let's just say, February isn't the greatest time of year to have to shave your head.  Thankfully it grew out quickly; however to this day that patch of hair is darker than the rest. It serves as a constant reminder to keep the scissors hidden away.

And a bottle of Gin on the counter.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

LEG--O My Freaking Foot!

My oldest boy LOVES LEGO. I mean, really, really loves it. For Christmas he got several new LEGO sets, and he was in his glory just building, building, building. It brings me great joy (and wonder!) at how he is so skilled at reading the directions and making helicopters, trucks, cars, etc. with such ease.

The downside? There is always a piece of LEGO laying on the floor somewhere. I try to vacuum up the strays every once and a while, but nine times out of ten, there is at least one brick hiding - just waiting to stir up some trouble.

Last night, after a long day and heck of a time getting the kids to finally go to sleep, I discovered one of these rogue bricks. Hiding in the shag carpet. Biding its time - waiting to inflict pain and suffering. Quite honestly, I think I would rather go through childbirth again instead of stepping on a LEGO brick. But I fooled it. I spotted it before it could become a weapon in the war against my feet. Yes! Score one for the Momma!

As I excitedly stepped forward to pick up that little sucker I learned a very hard lesson. It was a decoy. Under my broken toe (story for another day) lay the real 'brick of pain'. I screamed. I cried. The kids woke up scared and screaming and crying. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to convince them that no major tragedy occurred and they could go back to sleep, all the while mentally plotting the many ways I could get rid of each and every last piece of LEGO in this house.

And then I checked my Twitter feed, and this is what I saw ... 


Needless to say, my throbbing toe and I had a long, restless night dreaming of being chased by LEGO mini figures whose weapon of choice were bricks designed to inflict maximum damage. 

I've decided my soft cushy feet are no match for LEGO. From now on, I'm wearing shoes in the house. And if you come to visit me? You might be wise to leave your shoes on too. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Missing: My Sanity

This card says it all. My sanity up and left me. More to the point, it was driven away by too many late nights worrying about stuff I can't change, running in the hamster wheel called "clean up the house", and not enough Gin & Tonic to get me through. It got fed up. The weather got colder and poof, it ran off faster than I could gobble up a box of chocolates - leaving me behind as it pursued a life of freedom and glory.

Last I heard it was whooping it up in Hawaii, surfing some waves with the firefighters and sucking back Mai Tai's like you wouldn't believe.

I'm sure it will come back soon, right? If you happen to see it running around being all goofy, could you please remind it to come home? I kind of miss it.