Dec 30, 2009

~ No time...~

I have to go back to work in order to have time to blog....sorry.

6 of 7 children are here for the week. The entire week.

Which means make a meal, serve a meal clean up a meal...repeat.

Make and activity, do the activity, clean up the activity....repeat.

Intervene a fight, settle the fight, repair the feelings....repeat.

Dress the children, undress the children, wash the children....repeat.

Play a game, fight over the game, clean up the game....repeat.

Love the kids, enjoy the time with the kids, smile as we watch them play....repeat.

See them interact with new people, discover a new family dynamic, adjust....repeat.

We're loving having the kids here...


Dec 25, 2009

~ Merry Christmas to all...and to all...~

Merry Christmas, have you heard it enough yet?

I am spending Christmas in a new place, with new people, new traditions and new food.

All good....all new.

The kids come next week. ALL of them...7 of them.

Gonna be crazy. Crazy fun, crazy amounts of food....

Love it.

Hope your Christmas is going well, and you're with the ones you love.

Dec 15, 2009

~ Dear Lynn, thanks....every year...thanks ~

Every year Lynn send out amazing Christmas stories to count down the 12 days of Christmas. I'm here are the first few. Enjoy

Christmas Story 01-2009 •
Leslie J. Wyatt

Now I Wonder...

It was the week before Christmas and the snow lay sparkling white and deep as the fence posts. What a relief to my seven-year-old heart. I wasn’t interested in playing in it so much as I was concerned that Santa’s sled could arrive. Although I knew his reindeer could fly, surely a good three feet of snow guaranteed that if they got tired of being airborne, they could still reach our tiny house in the sagebrush.

Confident that a visit on Christmas Eve was assured, my siblings and I flitted from one activity to another, willing the time to pass. My mother, however, seemed quite busy in one corner of the dining room.

“What are you sewing, Mama?” I asked. “Doll clothes?”

She rolled her finger down the thread, knotting it at the end. “Mmmhmmm.”

“For who?” I stared at the miniature bonnet taking shape in her hands. Gauzy lavender material lay like butterfly wings and matching satin ribbons trailed on her lap.

“For some little girls who need them.”

My younger sister and I eyed each other. “We need them,” we said, pressing closer.

Mama smiled, holding a bonnet up for us to see. “Well, I’m making these and leaving them for Santa Claus to pick up when he comes here. I’ll write him a note so he knows to give them to some little girls he thinks might need them for their baby dolls.”

“Oh.” Disappointment mingled with admiration. My mother – my

very own mother–was making doll clothes for Santa! I knew I should be happy for whatever child he would take the beautiful bonnets and dresses to, so I resigned myself as best I could.

Mama sewed in all her spare moments. My sister and I took to leaving our barely clothed dolls near her, hoping she’d notice how needy they were and put in a good word for us with Santa.

I’d never seen such pretty doll clothes: One set of lavender organdy containing bonnet, bloomers, and dress, complete with tiny puffed sleeves and pearl buttons, and an identical set in cotton-candy pink. I must have gazed at them a full ten minutes, visualizing how they would have looked on our dolls, thinking of how fun it would have been to dress them in such finery, and hoping that whoever got those clothes appreciated them as much as my sister and I would have.

Christmas Eve arrived at last. Mama helped us arrange a few cookies on a plate and set a glass of milk nearby in case Santa wanted a snack before he left for his next house. She even braved the cold, dark night outside to bring an armload of hay onto the porch in case Santa’s reindeer wanted a snack.

There, beside the cookie plate, she placed her finished sewing with an accompanying note that we were not allowed to read.

“Santa can’t come until you’re all asleep,” Mama reminded us, and we scurried to hide under our covers.

We were so full of anticipation that surely we could never relax long enough to drift off to dreamland. But of course we did, waking again in the wee hours of the morning and managing to rouse the rest of the sleeping house.

“Let’s go see if Santa came,” Mama said, and we blinked our way toward the glaring light of Daddy’s movie camera. Only a few crumbs were left on the cookie plate, and the milk glass was empty.

“Well looky here,” Daddy said, picking up a note written in big letters. “Thank you for the cookies and milk. Love, Santa.”

A few scattered wisps of hay were all that the reindeer had left on the porch. Yes. Santa had definitely been here! But then I saw them, lavender and pink, laying there crisp and new, just like Mama had laid them out.

“Oh, Mama,” I wailed. “Santa forgot to take the doll clothes!”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yes, see?” I reached for the lavender set to show her. Just then I spied a note tucked under the pink bonnet.

“Dear children, Your mama asked me to give these to some little girls who needed them. I think your dollies could both use a new outfit.
Love, Santa.”

Enveloped in wonder at what Santa Claus had done, we rushed to dress our “babies” in the new finery.

“Mama, look!” we squealed. “They fit perfectly. How did Santa know?”

Mama’s eyes twinkled, but all she said was, “Now I wonder ... “

Many Christmases have come and gone since that magic morning. One never passes but that I see again my mother’s smile as she shared with us the enjoyment of the doll clothes she’d made “for some little girls who needed them” and wondered with us how “Santa” could have ever known the exact size that would fit our babies.

Christmas Story 02-2009 • Nan B. Clark
A Treasure Unspent

Like thousands of other little girls in 1932, Mother had been duly warned that Santa wouldn’t be leaving any presents that year.

It was the height of the Great Depression, a time of anxiety for most families. The familiar world had collapsed, taking with it the sense of security that all would be well. Even in a small farming town like Derry, New Hampshire, the reverberations from the stock market crash of 1929 continued to shake everyday existence into strange new forms and turn the simplest pleasures into unaffordable luxuries.

My grandfather was away in Wisconsin, working for a cousin who manufactured “billiard tables, of all things,” as my grandmother said to anyone who asked, turning it into a pun.

“I guess some folks still have deep pockets.”

But Grandfather did mail money home every two weeks, and between that and my grandmother’s pittance for taking in sewing, my mother was fed and clothed.

“You and I don’t need presents to be happy,” my grandmother started telling her at Thanksgiving. “Not as long as we have each other.”

My mother pretended to agree, but inside, she was a grievously disappointed ten-year-old.

“No tinsel, no new ornaments, no strings of lights,” Grandmother

said. “Even so, Annie, I expect the spirit of Christmas won’t be tarnished one whit,” she added.

As for cookies, cakes, pies, and fudge, those luxuries were no longer coming out of my grandmother’s kitchen-not even for the holidays. This Christmas Day they’d share a dessert of old-fashioned Indian pudding made with cornmeal and molasses, sweet enough for a child at any time but Christmas.

Although the holidays were much less commercialized back then, people of all ages still liked getting gifts and giving them. Mother cudgeled her brains trying to think of what she could make for Grandmother.

“I wasn’t like her,” Mother told me years later with a rueful laugh. “I couldn’t sew a straight seam or knit a stitch without tangling one of the needles in my hair or poking the cat with it.”

Finally, after many sleepless hours, she hit on the perfect gift. My mother would offer to clean the ashes out of the old black kitchen stove for a whole year, a chore she despised.

As for a tree, “Why chop down a poor little thing?” Grandmother said. “We’ll pop up some popcorn, string it, and put it in our big tree out front for the birds to eat.”

On Christmas Eve, the two went caroling, serenading the neighbors while a white, powdery snow swirled around them like the beneficent robes of an angel. That was wonderful enough, but early on Christmas morning, my mother opened her eyes to a miracle.

There on her little side table sat a perfect creche, a manger, two funny-looking creatures that had to be a donkey and a cow, a tiny crib with a little figure in it, and two larger kneeling figures, Mary and Joseph.

The extraordinary thing, though, was that not only could the entire tableau fit on the palm of her hand, it was light as a feather. Every piece was composed of paper in the same blended shades of green, gray, and cream.

When she held the figures closer, my mother couldn’t believe her eyes. They were made of money!

She saw that each dollar bill had been meticulously folded and creased. Although she hadn’t yet learned the word “origami,” my mother knew she was beholding something very special. Running to wake up my grandmother with the little paper manger scene held carefully in both hands, she wondered if a miracle had occurred for her mother, too. Naturally, in the way of all good stories that are cherished down the generations, it had. My grandfather was lying in the bed next to my grandmother.

“I hitchhiked some, and walked some, and took a train, and then a bus and then walked some more,” my grandfather said as the three of them snuggled together. “And, you know how I covered the last few miles? I hitched a ride in a sleigh pulled by the slickest reindeer you ever did see.”

My mother set up the manger scene on the quilt, so her folks could marvel at it, too. “So, Annie,” her father asked, “how are you going to spend all that money?”

My mother’s eyes widened. “Daddy, I’m never going to spend it. It’s too precious.”

He laughed and laughed, hugging her hard. “I guess that’s a good lesson for these times,” he finally said. “We all just have to remember that there really are things much more important than money.”

My mother certainly did remember and taught me this lesson too. That is why, to this day, the same little manger scene rests gently on the mantel, gathering interest with every passing Christmas.

Christmas Story 03-2009 • Wayne R. Wallace

A Bike For Christmas

Tommy Miller wanted a red Schwinn Flyer bicycle more than he had ever wanted anything in all his ten years. He had seen a picture of one in a Sears & Roebuck Co. catalog, and that had started his dream. One Saturday morning, when he accompanied his dad into town, the dream became a tangible possibility. There, in the front window of Mr. Harris’s Western Auto store, sat the most beautiful red Schwinn Flyer Tommy had ever seen. He stared at it longingly, then followed his dad inside. Tommy fingered the chrome fenders carefully as his father talked with Mr. Harris.

Tommy’s dad was a rookie Oklahoma State Trooper on his first duty station in the small southern Oklahoma town of Marietta. The family of five had rented a tiny house just outside town. It was old and drafty, but it was all they could afford on the young patrolman’s salary.

Though Tommy fell in love with the red metal dream in the window, he knew it could never be his. Where would that kind of money come from? Still, he couldn’t get it out of his mind. That night, Tommy took a deep breath and approached his parents, almost ashamed to even ask.

“Dad, you know that red Schwinn Flyer we saw at Mr. Harris’s store today?”

Ray Miller put down his paper. “Yes, it sure was a good looking bike, son.”

“Dad, I want that bike for Christmas,” Tommy blurted. “I’ll never ask for anything else, honest!”

“Tommy, I don’t know . . . It’s a lot of money, and we just don’t have it right now,” Mr. Miller explained.

“We’d love to get it for you if we could, sweetheart, but we’ll just have to see,” Tommy’s mother said as she pulled him close for a kiss. “Now off to bed, young man.”

She turned to her husband as Tommy shut the bedroom door. “Ray, I’d sure like to get Tommy that bike. He works so hard around here, and he’s done so well in school. Isn’t there something we can do?”

“We’ll work it out somehow,” he said, reassuringly. “Maybe I can get a little off-duty security work. We should be able to save enough by Thanksgiving.”

On Christmas Eve, Tommy and his brothers went to bed early. Tommy could think of nothing but the bike. It was on his mind every waking moment, and in his dreams, when he finally slept.

The next morning, the two younger boys ran into the family room and began opening packages. Tommy hung back. He knew that the bike cost a lot of money . . . money his parents didn’t have. But when Tommy walked into the family room to join his brothers, there it was, waiting for him. It wasn’t the one he’d seen in Mr. Harris’s store. This one was better. It was gorgeous: a special edition Schwinn Flyer, much fancier than the one pictured in the catalogue. This one had white wall tires, chrome handlebars, and spoke wheels. It boasted a leather seat with springs and three gears! It was the best bike in the whole world, and now, it belonged to him!

Many years later, in 1978, Tommy, his wife, Kenna, and their young daughter, Stacey, were on their way to Dallas for the Christmas holiday. As they approached the Marietta exit, Tommy asked, “Kenna, do you mind if I stop and have a look at my oId hometown? I’d like to see how it’s changed.”

“Not at all,” Kenna replied. “It should be fun.”

Main Street was decorated with garlands and lights, but Tommy noticed that most of the businesses he remembered had closed or had been bought by more modern franchises.

When he realized that the old Western Auto Store was still open, he pulled up in front.

“Let’s go in here,” Tommy said. “Mr. Harris is an old friend.”

As soon as they entered, Tommy spotted an old man standing behind the wooden counter and smiled. He would have known Mr. Harris anywhere, even after all these years.

“Hello, Mr. Harris,” he said. “You probably don’t remember me, but-”“Tommy Miller!” Mr. Harris exclaimed. “Of course, I remember you! You used to come in here with your dad-you and your brothers.”

The display of bicycles caught Stacey’s eye, especially a small red tricycle, just her size. As Tommy watched his daughter’s eyes light up, another young child came to mind.

“I remember when my mom and dad got me my first bike for Christmas,” he murmured.

Mr. Harris chuckled. “It came from my store. Christmas of ‘55. I remember it because I had sold the only red Schwinn I had just a couple of days before your dad came in.

We had a blue one left, but it had to be red, he said. I told him I would order another one. It would be here in plenty of time for Christmas. Well, the bike didn’t come in until the day before Christmas Eve. When he came to get it, we discovered it wasn’t the same one he’d ordered, but a much more expensive model. He didn’t have the money to pay the difference, and it was way too late to re-order. He was just about the nicest fellow I’d ever met, and he did a wonderful job with the highway patrol and all, so-I just made the balance on that fancy bike a Christmas gift from me. It moved him to tears ... he thanked me over and over again.”

“I know that meant a lot to him,” Tommy replied quietly. “Dad never thought that he was anything special, but . . . he sure was to me.”

“How is your dad, Tommy?” the storekeeper asked. “I haven’t seen him in years-not since your family moved up north.”

Tommy hesitated a moment. “He was killed in the line of duty three years ago,” he said quietly. Tommy’s gaze rested on the bicycles gleaming brightly in the window, a reminder of the sacrifices his parents had made for him so long ago. “He died on Christmas Eve.”

Mr. Harris was deeply touched by Tommy’s story. Sadly, he extended his hand for Tommy’s farewell handshake. It was then that he noticed Tommy’s daughter couldn’t take her eyes off of the tricycle in his display case.

‘Just a minute,” he said. He walked to his display case and wheeled out the shiny, red tricycle. “Here you go, Miss Stacey-Merry Christmas.”

“Oh, Mr. Harris, we can’t possibly ... “ Tommy began, but the storekeeper waved him off with a grin.

“It’s a gift for the little one, Tommy.”

Mr. Harris chuckled as Stacey touched the red metal in awe and then climbed up onto the seat. He had seen that look before.

Glancing up at Tommy, he explained, “Some things never change ... like kids and bikes at Christmas.”

Dec 10, 2009

~ 10 things I've learned. ~

I need to vent for a minute.

1. Lawyers are expensive.

2. The cost is worth every penny if you're fighting for your kids.

3. Snow makes me grouchy.

4. All the snow is going to help me pay the lawyer bills, cause we have a shoveling contract. Unfortunately we have to actually shovel to complete the contracts. Rats!!

5. When you have all the stress that you can handle, tears release the pressure.

6. The best 'soaker-upper' for those tears is the shoulder of someone who loves you.

7. A busy job can distract you from a stressful life, if only for an hour.

8. There are people that step into your life, right when other's step out. Take advantage.

9. A bath before bed can have the same effects as TylenolPM.

10. Helping others through their struggles can put your own in perspective.

11. Realize when it's time to let go.

12. Grudges become heavier the longer you hold them.

13. A late night text from a friend can lighten your mood.

14. Fireplaces making getting up in the morning easier.

15. Never underestimate the soothing effects of Hot Chocolate.

16. Christmas is harder when you miss someone.

17. Christmas is easier when you're spending it with those you love the most.

18. Sister in laws can be BFF's.

19. Friends that knew you at 17, are still friends that know you at 34.

20. Blogs can be as therapeutic as Psychologists.

21. Facebook movies directed by your cousin are funny.

22. Calgarians lose their snow driving smarts way too often.

23. Nothing beats a good pen.

24. Lipgloss can sparkle a girl up.

25. Break it down - like Hammer Time.

26. Distance does make the heart grow fonder, unless I don't like you...than it also makes the heart grow fonder, from being away from you.

27. Wet socks are irritating.

28. Cold water and skin should be avoided.

29. Sometimes you just need to rock it out.

30. Three Day's Grace often sings how I feel.

31. Michael Buble has a lisp, listen carefully.

32. Plastic containers that get warped in the dishwasher should just be thrown out.

33. Pack away clothes that are too small, no need for that downer everyday.

34. Sleep

35. Perspective can hurt and heal.

36. Warm slows your heart back to it's regular pace.

37. If you are really healthy, which it seems I am, you get a further 25% off your quoted life insurance policy. Nice!!

38. The piles on your desk stay smaller if you play dumb and make a lot of mistakes....sheesh, I should have thought of that.

39. FB chat can get you through a day you thought would be your demise.

40. Chocolate, always have some handy.

41. Typing as fast as you think is just a time saver.

41. Keep a list, its fun to cross stuff off.

42. Sometimes you need a substitute mom.

43. Mommy, I wub you...need I say more?!

44. Headaches cause me to deal with life less effectively.

45. Gaining a new big little brother, priceless.

46. Pajama pants, big T-shirt and a hoody - required after work wear.

47. Sometimes you need to sings along, at the top of your lungs.

48. The Blackberry may be the best invention ever.

49. TV can let you escape.

50. Friends come, friends go. It's the ones that stay that are worth it.

Maybe a few more than 10...

Dec 3, 2009

~ Yep, another one ~

Two posts in one day?! Yes, the pigs have taken flight.

I posted, and then was doing my blog rounds. I haven't touched blogs or FB all week, stupid busy job.

So reading the Mare, who rocks...and lives too far away, and she wrote something that hit me.

...we still have fun together and laugh (alot) and do nice things for each other and all that stuff that I just knew it was supposed to be like...

I smiled.

For her, and for me...cause I too am in a "I just knew it was supposed to be like this".

~ Grab my arm and yank ~

Just pull me where ever you need me to go, cause I ain't gettin' there on my own.

What a week!! and not in an "that was the best week of my whole gosh darn life".


"That was the most emotionally and physically draining week that has hit the charts yet!"

K, here's the run down.

And now that I'm thinking of's been two weeks.

Nov 19...picked up the kids for their first sleep over at mom's house. We've been working up to this. Had a 'late over' the week before. My children have not done a lot of sleep overs. They live close to their grandparents, and are not allowed to sleep over at friends. It's a rule of mine, you can challenge me on it a different day. I don't have the energy today. So come over friday night for pizza and movie. Miss S had announced that she didn't want to sleep over. I didn't sweat it, I know how she is. She's just nervous about not being at her own house. So I didn't say anything. Unbeknownst to her...I had an ace up my sleeve. Waahaha. I've been preparing for the kids to come and stay for a bit. New toothbrushes, pj's and toys that stay at mom's house. No need to pack anything really...I gotcha covered. So they were pretty stocked about new stuff, every kid is right? Miss S love to design clothing and accessories. She is constantly making new dresses and outfits for her dolls and barbies. I found this Project Runway type dealy that you create the outfits for the paper dolls. It's more sophisticated than paper dolls...but whatever. You get the idea...I had new stuff for her to play with. She rocked it. It wasn't a bribe, just a means of helping her be comfortable in a new environment. So she designed....and Mr O built endless cars, trucks and buildings with Lego. JJ man...he played computer. Lego is a little above him, and he's just as happy to be on Nick Jr.

Bed time arrives. O is a super sleeper. Takes him about 2.5 seconds to hit the hay and saw the logs. Princess S does a lot of tossing and turning, but then knocks out like a fighter. JJ man however, he's terrible to get to sleep. Partly because if he's had any type of nap...even 10 minutes he's hit the second wind like I'd main lined him Red Bull.

So JJ man and I hit the Where's Waldo Tour. Even at 3 years old, he can pick that guy out of a Chinese intersection.

By this time I'm dying, can't keep my eyes open. Had already fallen asleep while they watched Ice Age 3. So Sista S and I put the JJ man between us, and we nod off. This works fine. At some point JJ fell asleep cause I was rudely awaken in the night with a head in my back, then a good swift kick...then the slap across the face as he's turning.

I remember at 4 am saying..."J, move over"....and Princess S replying from the other side of the bed..."He is over, I'm gonna fall off soon".

Needless to say, it was not a restful sleep fro the women. The little man though, he was primed for the day. slept over.

Saturday, spent the morning and early afternoon with the rats...then dropped them at home so they could go to a birthday party.

Saturday night....Gerry Dee. So funny.

Sunday....spent the whole day trying to help our family/friends get through a very tough, emotional and confrontational time. 7 hours. It was very hard, took hours for us to come down off the stress after. I can't give details, they are not my details to give. But it was a lot.

Monday - FOCIS - Focus on Communication in Separation

This is another free class offered by the court systems. It was a two night opportunity to learn some new strategies to communicate with others, and especially the person we're trying to co-parent with.

Tuesday...our only night home. I think we even made real food rather than take out.

Wednesday - starts as a regular day. Work, the other half of the FOCIS class. THEN....oh yes...THEN. We get out of the class to find missed called, txt messages and emails. "Come now, emergency...warning, warning".

So we run home...well drove, cause Strathmore is very far to run. Pack a quick over night bag...and head out. Time check 10:06.

A few lessons learned in this little night of adventure.

1. If you drive too fast trying to achieve a destination, you will over heat your small car and break stuff.

2. If you break stuff on your car, you have to sit on the side of the highway.

3. If you sit on the highway at midnight, it gets cold.

4. If you can't fix your broken stuff, you have to drive/coast back to your home...and pick up the other vehicle.

5. Trying to achieve destination part 2 - Time Check 12:45 am.

All the while trying to talk, console, locate, reassure, joke, lecture, listen, cry...oh so many things that can happen with a cell phone.

Achieve Destination - Time Check 2:30 am.

Locate Emergency Victim - take away the alcohol. Send to bed.

What we thought would be a over night visit to help a situation, turned into a three days excursion. It was fine, we were needed, we stayed.

Friday night and Saturday - we were already planning to be in Lethbridge, so we just stayed. Spent an entire evening and next day making chocolates.

Did you think the adventures were over?!! Oh no, no no.

Drive home Saturday night, and start to pack. WE'RE SUPPOSED TO MOVE STILL!

The commuting is finally over, the long hours of driving, driving, driving. We made it. Three months of endless driving has finally come to an end.

Destination of New Habitation - Cochrane, or as I like to call it..."In the shadow of the rocky mountains". That's my new return address. Look for it on your Christmas cards.

Hours to pack truck 2

Trips to Cochrane to unload 2

Rad guys that helped us 2

Hours cut off commute everday - = 2!!

Does the adventure end now? no no.

Car is still broken, and stuck in Strathmore. Fortunately we are a two vehicle house big deal.

Everything is moved into the garage of new house...but the owners are staying for two more days. We are house sitting for 7 months for them. It's fine, no problem. We feeling like we're having a sleep over...but they'll leave eventually.

Wednesday - owners leave, finally have house to ourselves. It's 8 times the size of the apartment...we have decided. Not sure what to do with all the space.

It snows. Just to top off the adventure of a snows. We are shovelling the postal boxes again this year. So guess what we did last night? And will be doing again tonight? And likely Saturday evening as guessed it.

AND....AND AND AND....this weekend marks the first of kids starting to come for the weekends.

My mailing address for your chocolates, tranquilizers and letters of condolences.

In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.