Monday, April 30, 2007

From the sidelines...

Corey, the shy boy from the other side of the crescent is often afraid to ring our doorbell, and will stand on our back step and wait till he's noticed.
We've told him that we don't mind him trying to get our attention...that's what the doorbell is for, but he can't bring himself to actually call attention to himself like that.

Yesterday I was walking downstairs to get something and was startled to find him on the step, visible only from the nose up through the window of the door.
I opened the door and asked him, "Corey, did you ring the doorbell?" He backed off the step, his eyes wide, and burst out..."I didn't touch it!!"

After I finished laughing at the look on his face I assured him again that that is THE socially acceptable way to call on the neighbours.

I also overheard the following conversation between the boys bouncing as high as possible on the trampoline:

Levi: "Do you know you have a normal brain, your civilized brain, which is meant for solving problems. Then you have a brain for dangerous situations and it's kind of like a lizards brain."

Mason: "Ya, and there's also the "vert-a-brain! It's kind of in the back of your head at the bottom!"

Us: ROFL and L and L..."Yes, and it's green!"

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Like cat hair to black socks...are boys to a trampoline.

This week the boys in our house got a new toy...a trampoline. Long story, but we returned the Nintendo wii that they purchased with their own money, (taking advantage of a momentary lapse in my ability to distinguish good ideas from crap!) and they got to keep the cash while their dad bought them a trampoline. The monetary benefits helped ease their disappointment at the fact that yes, indeed, Mom HAS come to her senses after all.

What was I thinking people??! Sure, as far as video games go, the wii is "better", but what is that saying? So they have to get off the couch and move their arms's still is a magnet that tries daily to suck all the creative energy out of our family time. Evenings went from "quiet reading and talking time" to "Can we play now? How about now? PUUULEEEEAS!!!"

I read just days after we purchased it a quote by Dr DeMille that someone posted on a TJED group...."It is impossible to have a scholar in a home with video games".


Whether or not that belief is strictly true, it soon became clear that it would be quite true in our home. It created a black hole into which all the great ideas and curiosity, that have previously bounced so freely around in our home, immediately vanished .

I discovered something else. While video game systems are a magnet that attract, absorb and negate positive energy, trampolines also have a very powerful force field of their own. They attract boys. Who knew there were so many in our neighbourhood? Where did they come from? Did they exist before we bought the trampoline, or did they materialize spontaneously upon the addition of a bouncy surface to our back yard?

Boys I have never seen before showed up at our door with notes from their Mothers (or is that motherships?") saying "Travis/Justin/Whatcha-ma-callit has my permission to play on the trampoline."
I don't know who these people are! Levi plays a lot of street hockey, so he explains to me..."oh, he lives on the other side of the crescent", or..."he lives next door to Cory's friend's cousin" as if that explains the close personal connection these parents suddenly feel with me, entrusting me as they are, with the lives of their offspring, on a dangerous, (yes, I know) totally frowned upon by responsible pediatric orthopedic surgeons, instrument of mass destruction.

Or do they know of me from their kids as the one who's always home with my boys? The one who never has babysitters? Who doesn't allow my boys inside the homes, (or usually yards) of people I've never met? The "Homeschooler"? Do any of these facts preclude me from being irresponsible?

I don't really think they have given it any thought. I think they see the trampoline as a great asset to the neighbourhood, as a way for their kids to get exercise, and they send them here as an example of their total lack of cynicism.

They must actually trust another parent, a fellow adult, as being capable of using common sense to monitor the activities of all our children, and trust me as doing what's best for our kids. That is the kind of neighbourhood I want to live in, and that's what I want to believe about these parents.

And after being rather overwhelmed and overwrought at the realities of having the equivalent of an entire public school playground in my backyard as soon as the actual public school is dismissed every day, I must admit I am seeing the situation in a more favourable light. It's an opportunity to be a light, and to give, and to provide a safe (well, relatively) place for the kids to hang out where I can see them, hear them, and have some influence over them. They are respectful. (if not they know they will be asked to leave). They watch their language (Levi informed them all on their first visit that there is a "swear jar"...$2 per violation or they are asked to leave), and they have to be respectful of the younger, smaller boys.

It's amazing to watch the dynamics play out here. They worked out a system, based on a game they play with a couple of big balls, to all get a fair turn.
Two kids jump (no tricks, flips, or somersaults) and the others take turns rolling the big ball at their feet on the tramp. If they get "tagged" with the ball, they are out and the ball-roller is on. Another boy gets a chance to be a roller, and the game goes on. Eventually everyone gets a turn, some longer, some shorter, but as it's fair, and based on skill and luck. No one argues, no one whines, no one complains.

I find it fascinating! If I went out and tried to impose my idea of "fair" on them, I'd be sitting with a stopwatch, arguing seconds, trying to compensate for those who's dismounts are slower etc.

Their system works much better! I am very proud to say that Josh and Levi have not tried to pull rank as owners, and make the others subject to pettiness or tyranny. They respect the rules as somewhat sacred, and all are subject to this unwritten law...fair's fair.

I watch from a few yards away, through the kitchen window, where I'm usually preparing supper while the backyard teems with sweaty, healthy boys. There may yet be a broken bone or two. I hope and pray no one has a litigious disposition if another's child gets hurt. But what price can I put on this opportunity to allow these boys to learn to govern themselves and get in this much innocent, healthy entertainment?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kit and Kaboodle

The Phappers (and cake) in all their glory...

A Major Award!

This my friends is a cake....
and THIS, is the "Phapper of the Year Award".

I was the recent recipient of this highly coveted, never before bestowed trophy.
Why was I so honored, you ask?

The said Cake.
That's right, cake.
CHOCOLATE cake to be exact. (as if there's any other kind).

It was PHAP's 2nd birthday, and I made a cake for the auspicious occasion.
Well, with a room full of women and hungry young men, (and without Rae the Nutman there to indulge our sweet teeth), I was immediately propelled to instant fame and glory. As they carried me around the room on their shoulders, shouting and cheering I knew I finally had it cinched.

Artistes and chocolate are a natural, winning combination.

So though I'm a little late in posting the proof, I knew I had to immortalize the occasion, and it was now or never.

Because the "Phapper of the Year Award" is, of course, awarded every month.
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I made these asymmetrical earings...same...but different.
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Fabric ATC's

I made these fabric atc's to swap with the PHAP'ers.

The photo's are of my mom and her sister. I printed them on fabic in my Epson printer. There's also rubber stamps, old lace, paper...and whatever else was lying around.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Is it True...?

We all get the emails. They're usually forwards from people we know, and are heart wrenching. They cause outrage and call for sending it on to everyone in our cyber sphere. Sometimes they promise blessings if we do, or bad luck if we don't.

But what if the stories of courage and faith aren't true? Does it matter? If it builds our faith and makes us *feel* good about being a Christian, isn't that enough?

I think Truth should speak for itself. When I get these forwards, Nialle always suggests looking them up on the Snopes site, (see link) to see if they are fact or fluff.

I agree. God doesn't need lies or exaggerations to get his point across.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Art de Josh

Josh signed up for a swap and had to make 6 pendant type charms.

This is what he did, with polymer clay, inks, stamps and embossing powder, not to mention a bunch of imagination.

I helped him with the metal hardware. The pendants were too big for regular jump rings so we had to come up with something else. I bent, and he pounded some really thick copper wire, and we fooled with it a bit and we made the rings and hangers.

They look great, they're very un-frou-frou, and if he ends up getting charms that are obviously girly in return he can always pass them to Moi!

Doing really hard things over and over and over...

One step's all we can hope to accomplish each day isn't it? We know we have something really amazing to do with our lives, and Liam shows how it's done....

What kind of music do you think he'll make? How about you? I can't wait to find out!

Monday, April 16, 2007


What could be better than family?

From the youngest member of our clan, to Grandad (on his birthday), to some of the girls, and Liam and Nessa , it's all good!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


When I met him, I was not ready to be kind to a man. He was oh, so patient, having NO idea what to do to make me happy. But the day we were driving up north so he could meet my parents for the first time, he did it. He made me love him for the good man that he is.

It was snowing sleet sideways, wet, cold, miserable. I was nervous and edgy about the coming family gathering. We stopped for...?...something I've forgotten, in a parking lot on a long street crowded with strip malls. We had been on a few dates, he had already taken me to several movies, so he knew I loved popcorn. He told me to wait in the car, which annoyed me, because he didn't tell me what he was doing. He disappeared for a while, and I waited, thinking,"why am I even bothering".
Then I saw him, inexplicably dodging through the traffic in that horrible weather, carrying something under his jacket, getting soaked and I could tell, frozen. He made it back to the car, dived into the passenger seat soaking wet, and proudly pulled from his coat a HUGE, steaming hot bag of fresh popped corn, with lots of salt and a little bit of butter, just the way I love it.

I looked at him, looked out the window at the crazy traffic whizzing along the street, knowing that he had just risked life and limb to get me something he thought would, at that moment, make me happy. I looked at that bag of popcorn, then into his eyes, and I felt cared for in a totally new way.
I just knew that this man could be trusted to be real. I was right.

I've never liked diamonds anyway.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Little Bird

Just an observation of patient and her husband on 2nd balcony; from 3rd floor at Royal Alex hospital.

Such a little woman, and birdlike. Tiny face overwhelmed by beak and bright eyes.
Wings flip out and in; little claws close and open, then scritch-scratch at feathery hair.
Tiny bones; probably hollow. Delicate and careful. Beautiful.
Aware of everything, yet self absorbed.. Tipping her thin throat up, and back, to drink a tiny drop of water. Waiting, waiting. Ready to fly away if it weren't for the bars of this earthly cage.
Alas, no song.

I carry a little handmade journal with me all the time, for those moments when I see something that just touches me. I try to have a gluestick and a pair of scissors with me too, so I can do a collage, or just stick in a label or ticket or bit of ephemra from this amazing everyday journey.

It's usually the little things that I observe that really make an impression.
The day I did this I was taking a break from sitting in my Dad's hospital room (he's home now) and I went to sit on a balcony in a common area of the hospital and just watch the drama around me. It's everywhere, especially in a hospital. I had a couple of magazines too, and someone had left a newspaper on the table beside me. Perfect for ripping and clipping...very unplanned.

I saw a couple sitting together; she was in a wheelchair, he was busy on his cell phone. It was very touching and I had to jot this down.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Gift of Love

15 years with my Best Friend

15 years ago I lived in Castle Downs. I had a 10 year old son, a rental condo, and a little Nissan Micra car.

Daniel and I had been dating for 4 years and had survived my moving away for a new job, and moving back when I had to give it up.

We were in debt over a failed business venture. A LOT in debt.

One day, a Thursday evening, we decided to get married. Just like that.

On Saturday, April fourth, it was snowing and blizzarding. My friend Kandis came over to see me, baked a wonderful carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and decorated it with some fresh flowers. Then we went shopping for a wedding dress. (That raised some eyebrows in the stores we visited...but I found a perfect outfit! )

Fran made a bouquet of roses; cream and coral...and tied them with a beautiful silk ribbon.

Lisa lit a fire in her fireplace, put a lunch together and acted as best man.
Kandis was maid of honour.

That evening, by candlelight, and with Bette Midler singing "The Gift of Love", Nialle gave me away to Daniel. (poor Nialle; he was kind of shell shocked at the suddenness of it all!)
We went to the boardwalk to The Old Spaghetti Factory for our celebration dinner.

Because we just did it so fast and didn't have the time leading up to our wedding to sear the date into our brains, for years Daniel and I were confused over our actual anniversary date.
I thought it was the 5th; he thought it was the 2nd. (We both often wondered if it wasn't actually April Fools day!! LOL)
I found our marriage license in a box in the garage a couple years ago and we discovered we were both wrong. It 4th.

We are celebrating our anniversary tonight, a day late, but that is rather appropriate, No?

This photo is from that summer before we got married. No wonder I was so distracted!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I was at the Farmers Market in Old Strathcona this past Saturday with my friend Linda, and I saw the most beautiful bags. They were beautiful...delicious colours and luscious fabrics. I must admit, my heart was lusting after them, but the $70 price tag was a lot too much!

Well, Linda and I ogled them, walked away, looked at each other and said..."we could make some!"

When we got home that afternoon I made a quick trip to the local fabric store and picked up a few yards of fabric and interfacing on SALE. ( While there, I entered a draw and won a $30 gift certificate!! Yay, more bags to come!)

Back at home, I dug out a
book on the subject that I purchased a year ago, put on my Pointy Hat for inspiration, and got out my sewing machine.

Before the weekend was over I had three bags of my very own! The first I made with hand painted fabric I had left over from another project. It's the smallest, but just the right size to carry some small projects to our Pointy Hat Art Posse meetings.

The second is a denim bag, lined and trimmed in a fun cotton print. I sewed lots of pockets inside, and put a snap closure in the lining.

The third is a pretty fabric with a surprising zing of colour for a lining. It's loaded with pockets, and snaps closed too. It's my favorite.

The moral here (and why not moralize?), is that if you really want something, it is very satisfying to make it instead of paying someone else to do it for you.

My father in law makes everything himself. He always says..."He has two hands; and I have two hands. If he can do it, I can do it too!"

Now I need to go back to the fabric store!

What's new around Hair....

My Dad is going through chemo, and he and my Mom have been back and forth from their home to mine a lot.
I see them every week, so I didn't see too much of a change...except that he's lost a lot of weight. Until I looked at these pictures. There is one of my Dad and I at the lake last summer; he was teaching me how to fillet fish. I've never been crazy about fishing, but last summer I discovered how much fun it is! He even taught the boys and I how to make our fish appear as large as possible in a photo
...hold it out towards the camera!

Vanessa made my Dad this crazy, Mohawk hat to wear to his appointments, or just to make him smile. His hair is falling out and he's upset about that. Considering the fact that his Dad lost all his hair as a very young man, and none of his children ever saw their father with hair at all, I was surprised. Which is insensitive of me...his hair is a symbol of the fact that he is sick, and of course it would bother him.

But the hat did make him smile, and the fact that Vanessa made it especially for him brought him happiness.

We are all looking forward to going to the lake this summer for our annual camping trip. Mom and Dad actually bought a new trailer that has a bigger, more comfortable bed. We have our trusty tent. We are trusting and believing that Dad WILL be well, and that our trip will be as sweet as ever. Now we just have to wait for this snow to melt!