Sunday, October 4, 2009

You know you are grown up when...

Last month's Real Simple magazine asked "when did you know you were a grown up?" I can't say that I can pinpoint a moment when I knew I was, but I can pinpoint a moment when I knew I wasn't.
I was 16 or 17 and full of myself as 16 year old teenage girls are. I was washing dishes with my mom and I announced that I thought I might like to move out on my own. I had an after school job and I thought I was ready for more freedom. Mom didn't answer my question directly, instead she waited until the I let the dishwater out of the sink. I made a face about the food bits left in the drain plug and told her she could rinse the sink. Mom simply said "you know when you have your own place, you'll have to empty your own drain plug and wipe out your own sink." Eureka! The voice inside my head screamed "stay here, stay here FOREVER; that is GROSS!" So, enough said. I made no more noise about moving anywhere until I went off to school. I was not a grown up.

If I had to define when I realized I was a grown up I couldn't do it. I think you are a grown up when you don't bemoan the drama of life. You just do what needs to be done and get on with it. Childhood and Adolescence are all about drama, real or imagined. When you are a "grown up" you see past the drama that is usually self-centred and focus on what is happening around you. Being grown up means being grateful, and being aware of everyone else in your life. I don't know when that hit me, sometimes I wish it hadn't -- there is great responsibility with the "grown up" title. I wish I new that BEFORE it was me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

menu planning monday (on Tuesday)

The usual menu plan sponsored by
Monday -- hidden bean chili* and fried potatoes
Tuesday -- chicken burgers
Wednesday -- meet the teacher night at school, dinner there
Thursday -- Crock Pot Maggie soup
Friday -- Tacos
Saturday -- DS is away, so we'll treat DD out

*Hidden bean chili explanation: One of the great things about chili is the beans -- they're loaded with fibre and good for you. My family doesn't like them though. So, sneaky me, I use my food chopper and chop up canned kidney and navy beans and add them to the chili. When they're all chopped up they look like hamburger and you can't tell they're in there. They regularly tell me they like my chili better than anyone else's 'cause mine doesn't have "yucky beans." I just smile 'cause what they don't know is good for them!
This is a trick I use for many recipes -- you can hide flax seed meal in almost anything. Also carrot or sweet potato puree works well in meatloaf and spaghetti sauce. I put mushrooms in my spaghetti sauce (though all 3 claim they've never eaten a mushroom!)

i'm not a redneck

DH took the kids to the Outdoor Farm Show last week. They took my dad with them. Great bonding opportunity...
Except -- they came home with a manure spreader and antique tractor. It was a good deal, I'm told. They bought the spreader and got the tractor free. You can imagine then, how great the tractor is. The thing is about a the "good deal" is that it may have been a good deal for someone who had, say, manure to spread, or acreage to put it on. We have neither. What we now have is an odd lawn ornament. It's like one of those pathetic emails that come around with the subject "you know you're a redneck when..."
'Cause you know you are a redneck when you have a *&%$ spreader in your driveway AND YOU LIVE IN TOWN! All I need to do now is plant flowers in it. Then I'll undo my top button, and suck back a cold one whilst sitting on a lawnchair, resting my feet on the tractor tire, and burping the alphabet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

deep thoughts

I'm reading a brand new "feel good" book that Library Lynn recommended. It's a novel by Claire Cook called the Wildwater Walking Club. It's about 4 ordinary ladies who connect as they meet on their daily walks. The walking becomes a daily ritual they look forward to in their lives. It's a quick, happy read.
In it one of the characters says " Sometimes you only get one good minute a day...You just have to make the most of it." This thought has stuck with me for 2 busy days, so I think that makes it "blog worthy." I have had the best sleeps the last two nights because I've drifted off thinking about how blessed I am that I can honestly say that I have many, many good minutes in that day; and when I recount them I get a great feeling of peace. I'm waiting for the day (and it will come) when I'll feel like I've only had one good minute -- and then I'll try to be thankful for that, and I'll try to make the most of it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

menu planning monday

The usual menu plan as organized by

Monday -- One-Pan Roasted Pork Supper ( recipe below)
Tuesday -- I'm at a meeting, DH, DD and DS will have to fend for themselves
Wednesday -- leftover potato soup with cheese bread and a salad
Thursday -- ham steaks with scalloped potatoes
Friday -- Chili and homemade fries
Saturday -- we'll be at the local fair all day, so supper will likely come from a booth there....

One-Pan Roasted Pork Supper
(this is a new one from a Kraft What's Cooking magazine. It's going into the Favourites book!)

1 pound potatoes (or sweet potatoes) peeled and cubed
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1/2 cup Kraft Catalina dressing
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves, divided
1 pkg Stove Top Stuffing for Chicken
1 1/2 cups water
2 small pork tenderloins (~ 1 1/2 pounds)

Preheat over to 375F. Toss potatoes and onions with dressing and 1/2 tsp of the thyme. Arrange in greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine stuffing mix with water. Cut each tenderloin diagonally into thirds. Push vegetable mixture to edges of pan. Spoon stuffing down the centre of the pan; top with meat. Sprinkle remaining 1 tsp of thyme over meat.

Bake 45-50 min or until cooked through.

note: I think next time I make this I may put about 1/4 cup Catalina over the meat and thyme part way through cooking, just to make a bit more sauce for the pork.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I don't hang my undies on the clothesline to dry.
I am all for conserving energy -- and use the clothesline in good weather for just about everything else, but I don't hang my underwear out.
This has nothing to do with modesty and everything to do with competition. A competition that is likely only in my head, and one that I can't win. My neighbour (I won't say who) has really nice gitch, and she hangs it on the line. This is the kind of underwear that I only see in movies and at La Vie En Rose. You know, coral and peach, pink, black, stripey blue, all matching bras and panties. I don't own that much underwear, and I'm lucky that mine's clean, never mind all matchy-matchy.
So, I don't hang mine out. The world can just imagine that mine's too nice, too delicate, to expose to the elements.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

perfect mate?

DH and I recently had our 17th wedding anniversary, but we've been together for more than 20 years. We had a conversation recently about "perfect mates." The crux of the conversation being the question of whether great partnerships are just natural-soul-mates-finding-each-other or is every pairing hard work. No great wisdom came of that conversation.

BUT, DH did tell me that if I only fixed qualities A and B, then I'd be perfect. ( I won't name or describe these character traits or you will discover my flaws too). The surprise to me was not the naming of the flaws -- I know I don't possess A or B, nor the desire to acquire them (no they are not breasts!) -- the surprise was that there were only 2 items on DH's perfect mate list.
My response to DH's comment about my lack of A and B was that it was a good thing I lacked such qualities, otherwise I may not be able to put up with his lack of A to Z.... (Good thing sense of humour is one of the qualities I most admire about the man.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

menu planning monday

Check out other menu plans at

Monday -- Labour Day holiday campfire fair -- s'mores, hotdogs, and pie irons
Tuesday -- grilled BBQ pizza
Wednesday -- Saucy Beef Patties (the new one, I'll let you know how it goes) with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob
Thursday -- Hawaiian Ham Steaks* with baked potatoes
Friday -- Crockpot Baked Beans with ham chunks (left over from Thursday)
Saturday -- left overs -- likely chili made with left over baked beans.

*Hawaiian Ham Steaks (from Quick Cooking magazine, Oct 2003)
2 Boneless fully cooked ham steaks
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp prepared mustard
pineapple slices

Cut each ham steak into 2 or 3 serving sized pieces. Combine brown sugar and mustard; spread over ham. Top each piece with a pineapple slice. Place in a greased 15 x10 inch baking pan. BAke at 375F for 10 minutes or until heated through.
(I've also done this one on the BBQ.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

sleeping in

It has taken nearly 11 years, but somehow we've taught the kids the art of sleeping in. Once upon a time they had me thinking that 6am was sleeping in, but no more. Yesterday I was allowed the extreme pleasure of my comfy bed until 8:45am! Several times over the summer we didn't rise til 9am. What joy!
There is something really blissful about waking on your own, without the squawk of an alarm clock or child. My slow return to consciousness yesterday put me in a great mood for the entire day -- and I got so much done without the sound of the energy-sapping beep beep of the clock to start the day.
I've had that wee taste of snoozing late and I crave more -- and I know that such peace will be denied on a relatively regular basis, especially once hockey season starts!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

bathroom reno

It's amazing to me how small, ordinary things bring joy. These are photos of my new bathroom. We did the work ourselves (except for the mudding 'cause neither DH nor I have the patience for such a tedious job) in the spring. My bathroom makes me happy.

To understand why you need to know what I had before.
When we first moved in 1996 my bathroom had peach and black tiles on the walls, a brown shag carpet, BUBBLE GUM PINK countertop, and large lime, pink and peach peony wallpaper. It was not a place in which one could relax.

I lived with the garden-gone-wrong look for about a year, then in rebellion I painted everything white. I'd already torn out the carpet (on moving day). I was quite happy with the white institutional look -- mostly because it wasn't lime, pink, peach and black anymore. What I couldn't live with was the bathtub. It had been installed when the previous owner did the room over -- in 1957 so there was no finish left in the tub. If I scrubbed too hard with a coloured sponge I stained the porcelain. In April I issued the ultimatum "we get a new tub or I will NEVER clean that bathroom again." I got the go ahead for the bathroom remodel the following week.

So now I have all the elements I required -- new tub, huge linen closet, new toilet, vanity with 6 drawers, new everything really. DH got his request -- a hotel shower curtain rod so the shower curtain doesn't stick to him (in the photo above you can see that the rod bends out to give more room in the shower).

It's been 3 1/2 months since our project was finished and I still smile whenever I walk in. It's (easy to) clean, and organized. And that small thing brings me great joy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


We're right back into the swing of school routines. We have a morning protocol that's worked for the 7 years DS has been in school, but any attempt I've made at altering that routine has been a dismal failure. It's like my body is so programmed to the timing that it is hopeless to vary from that schedule. I even practiced last week -- ya wouldn't know it yesterday morning or this. I had sincerely planned on getting up 20 minutes earlier every day -- do some blogging, maybe fold some laundry... Nope, instead of hitting "snooze" once, I hit it 3 times this morning. So 6:15 it is.
Even the kids are right into the routine. If DH is home, he completely screws up the process. His comments are usually to the effect that "how do we ever get out the door in the morning." And I can see his point -- but if he's not there, like a sudden extra cog in the wheel, we do ok.
I haven't given up hope yet -- we're only 2 days into the school year, but I'm honestly thinking my goal of a half hour work out before I wake the others is a distant dream. Maybe if I switch my motivator-- I get a chocolate donut as soon as my feet the floor will do the trick?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

menu planning monday

This week is back to school -- yikes!
You can find other menu plans and recipes at

Monday -- Meatlovers Pizza Bake (a new one, I'll let you know how it goes)
Tuesday -- Sweet and Sour Chicken (see recipe below)
Wednesday -- Lori's Oven Sausage
Thursday -- baseball banquet -- so we'll dine on tube steaks and chips!
Friday -- Oriental Chicken Dinner
Saturday -- Maggie Soup (hamburg and vegetable soup) with fresh bread
Sunday -- birthday party for father-in-law -- I'll take dessert

Sweet and Sour Chicken
1/8 cup salad oil
2 med. onions, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vinegar
1 3/4 cup ketchup

Saute onion in oil. Bring rest of ingredients to a boil. Put chicken into a baking dish and pour sauce over it. Bake at 350F, uncovered until chicken is done (about 30-40 min. for boneless chicken breasts)

This is Berta. She's a 9 week old lab-cross. Nope, she's not ours. DD and DS were dogsitting for their Auntie today. I was well warned that wee Berta was not house trained, so the cat-lover in me firmly told the kids that Berta could be outside, or in our backroom -- and any messes were their responsibility. Well Berta was in the back room for about 30 seconds, when I decided that the kitchen would be ok -- can't wreck a hardwood floor. Then the wee girl got all cute and quiet while we were having lunch. She cuddled up at DHs feet and melted his heart. I could hardly deny her access to the hallway and playroom, when she had been so good all morning. These pictures were taken about 2 minutes after that decision -- you can see she is perfectly happy on our couch. She's a wily one -- wormed her way into our house and brainwashed me into thinking that was just ok.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

kids growing up

Our kids spent 4 days at Grandma and Grandpa's farm. Had a great time (so did the parents -- it was so quiet and tidy at Shady Hall.) When we went to pick up DD and DS they told us all about G & G's new rooster and hens and how they got to pick eggs, usually 2 or 3, every morning. As we were ready to leave we heard a commotion at the edge of the wheat field. Seems Rusty Rooster was "chasing" Penny Hen and he "caught" her at the edge of the field. Well DD thought it was hilarious. She said "Rusty chases his girls all the time, then he likes to jump on their backs just to annoy them!" When I looked at DS he had an odd grin on his face -- like he KNEW what was going on. He didn't say anything, but I know he knows that I know what he knows. In a quiet time later this week, I tried to ask him about it, but he put his hand up and said "mom, I know what you want to talk about, and I really don't want to have this conversation."
DH and I have always been upfront, if the kids ask those kinds of questions -- honest, but not graphic. On a few occasions DS has asked about a word he heard. Once DH said, "I can tell you son, but it's about sex." I think DS was about 8. His response was, "I don't think I want to know then."
It's not that I don't want him to know. I do wonder about his sources and their accuracy.
The part that has me ruminating on this issue is that it means he's reached a milestone. He is growing up. I remember the days when he got most excited about a "twuck," I am not ready now (nor will I be even in 5 years) for when he is enthused about girls instead.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

unexpected inspiration

Today should have been a difficult day -- in fact it was for a few hours, but it ended with inspiration and blessing.
I had to have a tough conversation with one of my staff members this morning-- potentially, due to bureaucracy and union rules, she could lose her job. She was most gracious about it though I expected nothing less. I agreed to call her by the end of the afternoon with whatever decision had been made (both out of her control and mine.) I prayed hard and thought good thoughts.
My wishes came true and she was allowed to keep her position. Good news.
But the best news -- my soul-filling news -- came from her description of her afternoon. This is paraphrasing what she told me:
She said "K, I called the mother of a girl I used to work with. My mother always said that if you are feeling blue, you should help someone else. Her child is severely handicapped and I just figured there is never enough respite care. I told the mother she should go out and get a coffee, or do something for herself. Then I spent the afternoon with her daughter. I could tell by her smiles and drools that she was really happy. When the mother returned I walked outside, looked at the sky and said 'God whatever happens, happens, because I am blessed."
So this is what I learned from an extraordinary lady -- I learned today to be gracious, even in the face of bad news; I learned to be selfless and compassionate, and I learned to recognize how blessed I am. I also learned to recognize the angels in my life -- the ones that turn bad days into inspirations.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

inbox junk mail

My inbox had 13 new messages -- 4 were from people offering either a penis implant or Viagara. Now I"m not sure how exactly my name got on this list; or who believes a mother of 2 requires Viagara (or a penis for that matter) but I'm resenting the fact that such ideas are in my mailbox. I also notice that I've received nothing offering breast implants. I'm not sure whether to be pleased or insulted, really.

Monday, August 24, 2009

menu planning monday

The usual menu plan hosted by

-- kids are visiting Grandma and Grandpa, so I get my favourite August light supper -- Toasted Bacon and Tomato sandwiches with corn-on-the-cob (DH doesn't do veggies so he had bacon on toast...)
Tuesday -- going to pick up kids, supper on the way
Wednesday -- Pulled Pork on a bun with corn on the cob
Thursday -- Chicken and Rice bake (new recipe, I'll let you know how it goes)
Friday -- Grilled pizzas (recipe below)
Saturday -- steak, baked potatoes, roasted veggies
Sunday -- leftovers

Easy Grilled Pizzas
(hint: have all your toppings ready in advance)
Use tortillas for the crust. Spray one side with Pam or spritz with olive oil and place on grill.
Top with pizza sauce (I use the squeeze bottle kind 'cause it's less messy),
pepperoni, ham, bacon, green pepper, shredded mozzarella etc.
I can fit 2 large tortillas on the grill at once. Put the lid down and cook for about 4-5 minutes. You'll know its done when the "crust" is firm and the cheese is melted.

Sometimes I do a carmalized red onion and chicken version. For that sauce I use equal parts bbq sauce and pizza sauce.

naked laundry day?

I like doing laundry. I'd never confess this to my kids, but it is one chore that I like doing. I love the smell of clean laundry, like the warmth of clothes fresh out of the dryer,and I like the melodic rhythm of ironing. Crazy but true.
I also like that my laundry room is truly the only space where anyone rarely ventures to interrupt me, unlike the washroom... My laundry room is in my basement. If anyone comes down while I am working they know they are likely to be asked to sort or carry up a load, so they leave me alone. It's a good space for hiding and for thinking. Sad but true.
My only issue with laundry is that it is never, ever done. It's the only chore I can think of that even while doing it more is being created. While I am scrubbing whites, the ones I am wearing are getting dirty. I advocate for a Naked Laundry Day. Certainly not a PUBLIC naked laundry day, but rather a day where everyone stays home and finishes their laundry while in the buff. If Naked Laundry Day was Tuesdays we could all have No Load Wednesday. I realize this could be a hard sell to anyone who doesn't do laundry (ie DH); who wants to stay home naked while someone else washes clothes -- but there is the naked aspect to consider...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I remember reading parenting advice, once upon a time (likely before I had kids, when there was time to read manuals for advice) that said that parents are often too quick to say "no." I've solved that issue with the terms: "possibly," "perhaps later," "now is not the best time," "remind me tomorrow," "ask your father," "not right now," "give me a few minutes to consider..." etc. When the kids press for a straight answer my reply is usually something to this effect: "I can't tell you yes or no right now. I don't want to lie to you and have you be disappointed. I will give you yes or no when I know what dad has planned/what the weather is/what tomorrow will bring etc."
Truthfully, in my own mind I'm often saying "no way" but DS and DD haven't quite figured that out yet.
When DS was small my standard answer was usually "later." So much so that he became quite confused about timelines. He would often ask "when is later?" Tell me, how do you define that? He got so that he believed a day consisted of morning, afternoon, later, evening, night. But sometimes "later" came before afternoon, or after evening. It was all very confusing for him. The seasons also got muddled up -- spring, summer, later, fall, winter OR summer, fall, later, winter, spring?
I believe the reason for not giving a quick "no" to children is so that parents are more open to children's needs and adventures. I'm not sure though, I'll figure it out later.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I resent the question "so, what did you do today?" because either a) you won't believe the answer, b) if you are a mom you go "well, that was like ___day when..." or c) if you are DH you really don't want to know the all the details, you just think you are making polite conversation.
So here is my answer for what I did yesterday, in case DH reads my blog:
7:15 -- wake up (I hit snooze first, twice because the alarm really went off at 7am)
shower, dress, load of laundry in, breakfast for me, empty dishwasher, wake kids, get them dressed, teeth brushed etc.
8:10 -- drop kids off at babysitters head to meeting for 9am
9-11:15 -- meeting on School Improvement Planning (interesting, but now I've added to my to do list...)
11:20-12:00 -- drive home -- listen to ABBA on the way
12 noon -- pick up kids
then lunch, laundry, house tidy, do books for Bible School treasury, homework...
12:45 -- hair cut for DS, trim for me.
1:15 -- Back home for housework and homework.
3pm -- to public library with kids
3:25pm -- pick up DS's friend to take both to a birthday party in BigTown. Drive is 20 min.
4pm -- DD and I had pedicures booked (a gift from a friend) -- what a treat! -- but it took longer than we had
6pm -- RACE to Tim Horton's for take out sandwiches
6:15 -- back to birthday party to pick up DS. Had to stay 10 min. longer than planned to watch a rocket being launched.... Drive 20 min., ate on the way.
6:40 -- home for quick change, grab hockey equipment then leave for BiggerTown. Drive 25 min.
7:10 -- hockey school
7:30 -- enjoyed walking track around the top of arena (what a brilliant idea, by the way!)-- did only 2 miles 'cause I got side-tracked talking to a friend.
9:10 -- head to Marble Slab for ice cream for DS. Then drive 25 min.
9:45 -- home -- kids to bed, sort laundry, get things ready at launching pad for morning
10:15 -- bed time.

So that's what I did yesterday. And yes, my toes look wonderful!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I have a theory. The female brain (well, my brain specifically) has infinite capacity for new knowledge but limited capacity for remembering "things." Therefore, since I must remember EVERYTHING for EVERYONE else in my house, I sometimes forget things for myself.
What do I need to remember? Case in point, heading out to hockey school this week I have said each night to DS "Do you have your stick, hockey bag, water bottle?" Reply. "Yes." Reality -- Monday night I had to spend $1.75 for a bottle of water for DS.
Every morning of their lives DS and DD have heard me ask "Did you brush your teeth? Wash your face? Comb your hair? Put your dishes in the dishwasher? Etc. Etc. Etc." I have come to realize that if I don't remind, it won't happen. When we go on a trip DH teases me that I am always last in the car -- that is because I have packed everyone's bag, charged cell phones, written out emergency numbers, made reservations, etc. etc. I'm last because everyone else gets to walk out the door empty-minded and empty-handed while I lag behind as pack mule and secretary.
I often think I am an enabler. No one else needs to remember anything, because I do it for them. Then I decide I will not remind "them" of the details! and I merely ask "Do you have what you need?" That is how one week we ended up at Figure Skating without skates, and at a hockey game without helmet, chest protector or jock. You can guess who had to do the running to go back for the missing equipment?
MY life is easier if I am an enabler. That is also why I am last in the car, with messy hair and a full bladder!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I tried the Bacon and Cheeseburger Spaghetti recipe that I noted on Menu Planning Monday. It was not a success. Rarely do I say I don't like something, especially if I've made it myself; I can choke down just about anything (I would do well on Survivor in this regard) but this was just yucky. And I just don't understand it -- it had all the makings of something wonderful but ended up really strong -- too much mustard or something.... DS and DD tried one or two bites and then stopped abruptly. After I had my bite, I immediately pulled out the old peanut butter, jam and bread, no questions asked. I also called DH and told him to stop somewhere for supper on the way home unless he felt like PB and J.
When DD saw me dump the entire casserole she said "but what about all those starving kids in Africa you talk out?" My response "they will thank me this time, I think!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This is a crazy busy week at our house, so our menu reflects tried, true and FAST. I went back to school yesterday to set up for September, DH started hockey school last night and both kids are at Bible School all week -- and I"m still in summertime mode!

Monday -- western sandwiches (eaten on the run)
Tuesday -- crockpot stew
Wednesday -- bacon and cheeseburger casserole (we didn't get to it last week, so I'll try this new recipe this week)
Thursday -- DD and I are going for a pedicure and then we'll have dinner in the park; DS is at a birthday party and DH will have to fend for himself
Friday -- BBQ burgers with garden salad
Saturday -- our 17th anniversary -- I'll take DH out for dinner

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I have an addiction (well more than one, if you count chocolate). I am addicted to Spider Solitaire and Free Cell games on the computer. I tell myself that they are good "thinking" games which is important to keep the brain stimulated to ward off dementia (DH might suggest I need to play more!). I do my work, answer emails, blog etc. but before I hit "shut down" I have to run through a couple of games of each. Some days it feels like those games are the only thing that is going right (those are the winning days) other days I tell myself my luck will be better tomorrow. I realize what a waste of time this habit is; I realize I have better things to do but I am compelled to try my luck at a good hand once a day. I think I better stay out of Los Vegas...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon and left one unexpended effort which might have saved the world."
~Jane Addams, joint winner of 1931 Nobel Peace Prize

Friday, August 14, 2009

I love my jeep. I can't post a picture 'cause DH would never allow a photo of a dirty vehicle, and mine definitely needs to meet the powerwasher soon. My jeep is a "non-colour" beige. Nothing special, except that I rely on it to help me run my life. It has never let me down (touch wood) and is always ready to roll. Currently there are 2 mismatched Barbie shoes, a granola bar wrapper, Nintento DS game case, dolly blanket and empty water bottle rolling around on the floor of the back seat. Front seat only has empty CD case and pen out of place. In the bull-pen at the back there is everything a busy sports mom needs -- rubber backed blanket for watching ball games in the rain, warm fleece for cold hockey arenas (I'll need that next week), enviro-grocery bags, umbrella (also for ball game rain outs), first aid kit, and baby wipes (for sticky fingers and faces). It tells the story of my days, and helps prepare me for the next one.

Recently I've become sentimental about my mode of transport. DH has been talking about looking for a new vehicle for me. Jeep Jeep is nearing 300 000 km and he says this is her last winter. I know that this is a practical decision, but somehow I've adopted the male trait of seeing some human qualities in my vehicle. I mean my body is a bit rusty and not as firm and shiny as it used to be, and I've got many K on me too. I'd hate to think of being traded just because I'm nearing a number (and I am...)
DH says we've been together over 20 years, think of how many vehicles he's had in that time. Problem is, I don't know if I should take that as a compliment, or warning....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I watched a few minutes of Regis and Kelly this morning while I had my get-up-and-go-tea. Kate from "Jon and Kate Plus 8" was on. Apparently Jon left her in June (I don't watch the show, didn't know) with the EIGHT kids. Yikes! She was talking about the show for the fall and about she is managing the change in her life. I just can't fathom how one could go through this with paparazzi following her everywhere. Kate was saying that the show cameras are one thing because they are respectful and there is some control there, but the paparazzi are entirely different.
Honestly, I wouldn't do well with either. The world does not need to see "R and Lunatic K with Two."
Viewers may take exception with my advice, borne of desperation a couple of weeks ago. DS has decided that the best fun is to tease his sister until she squeals. She squeals alot. ALOT! It's a loud, finger-nails on chalk-board scream/cry/squeal. I've talked to DS, but that has minimal effect. My solution was to go to DD. This was our converstion:
Me: Clearly, screaming and squealing has not been effective in dealing with your brother.
DD: I know.
Me: So you need another solution.
DD: I don't know what to do, he makes me so MAD (voice starting to get that baby-pig squeal again...)
Me: You could try asking him in a NORMAL voice to stop. You could leave the room. You could choose a different activity. You could come to me and ask for help, in a NORMAL voice. If all else fails -- hit him!
(Yep, I suggested hitting him -- 'cause a) I knew she'd never hurt him and b) I would rather she did something to help herself rather than squeal and wait for someone to solve her problems for her -- yes, I realize this won't get me Mother of the Year again this year.)
DD: Hit him? I can hit him?
Me: I'm not giving you permission to hit him whenever you want. You may still be in trouble for hitting, but if that is your very last resort then you need to take action to solve your own problems.

So it's been about a week and half since I broke the "mother code" with my advice for physical aggression, but DD, bless her heart, has not hit DS. Though I believe in a couple of instances I would have if I were in her place. My house is a little quieter... at least it doesn't sound like I have an injured piggy anymore.

Come to think of it, maybe I should be filming DS and DD, then I could play back their behaviour over and over and over and let them enjoy the sounds of "just playing around!"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I attended a funeral with my dad yesterday. It was for a friend of the family who had long been battling Parkinson's Disease. On the ride home I listened as my dad talked about his own funeral plans and shared his thoughts on the rituals of death in general. It got me thinking...

First, the eulogy at the funeral we attended was wonderful, just the right amount of humour, mixed with thought-filled remembrances that would mean something to everyone in attendance. I was thinking that it is too bad that we wait until a person has passed on to list their attributes, accomplishments and value to us. Wouldn't it be wonderful if, say, on your 30th, 60th, 75th birthdays if your family and friends could put an announcement in the paper just to say -- "hey I love this person, and this is why she is great and I'm glad she's in my life."

Secondly -- I spent some time reading obituaries this week and noticed that some are very long and detailed, and some are short, one or two paragraphs. The nosy-parker in me wanted more information on the short-obit folks. While the long versions usually give family connections they also reveal community involvements, awards, professional information and accomplishments. I think that the short-obits are that way because there aren't accolades for a life well-lived. Good people who just choose to do the right thing and take care of others don't necessarily win awards or receive certificates. Wouldn't it be wonderful to make a point of thanking those around us who do good for good's sake; who are good neighbours and friends that we know we can count on. I don't do it enough; rarely, if I'm honest. Busy lives mean taking small measures for granted. My friend's passing has reminded me that it's time to stop, look around, notice and give thanks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

menu planning monday

My usual menu plan as organized by -- posted a bit late as the storm yesterday messed up our hydro and my internet connection.
Monday -- Chicken Suisse (we didn't have it last week so I've put it on tonight's menu)
Tuesday -- Crockpot stew (no oven, busy day)
Wednesday -- Sour sausage (see recipe below), baked potatoes, cucumber salad
Thursday -- Bacon and Cheeseburger Spaghetti (this is a new one, I'll let you know if it's worth passing along), garlic bread, spinach salad
Friday -- ham steaks, bbq scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob (I hope!)
Saturday -- someone is taking me out for pizza?
Sunday -- leftovers or campfire pie irons, spiders and s'mores!

Sour Sausage (my mother-in-law's recipe for a sweet and sour sausage gravy)
your favourite sausage (we like farmer's or honey garlic)
1 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 small onion, finely chopped
cornstarch or flour

Fry sausage until brown. Remove sausages and keep warm. Drain off grease and add water. Add vinegar, brown sugar and onion. Let this boil slowly for 10-15 minutes, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan. Thicken gravy with cornstarch or flour.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Voices in my head

I have voices in my head. I can admit that because every mother on the planet hears the same ones.
I heard the voices loud and clear this week at the dentists office. While DD was getting her check up one voice was saying "the dentist has been looking in there a long time. You should have made her brush more often. You know sometimes she just wets her toothbrush. If she has a mouthful of cavities it will be your fault." This is voice that makes us want to do the right thing. This voice is the voice of guilt.
The other voice was saying "well, if she's got cavities it will be her own fault. You told her every morning and every night to brush. If she didn't do what she was told it was her own fault. Maybe now she'll know you were right." This is the voice that needs to be right. Some days it is just as loud as the guilty voice but it is a lot bitchier.
I hadn't really thought about these voices until this week. They have been around for 10 years, 8 months so I am used to them. Neither voice is good on its own -- moms already carry much guilt about everything, and I certainly don't need to be bitchier. But I think maybe both voices balanced out lead to sanity. The do-right voice leads us to make better choices and the be-right voice helps us to see that children need to make their own choices and live with consequences.
So I am ok with these voices. It is the voice that interrupts and says "Me want chocolate" that I struggle with!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I don't do spontaneous. I am a planner. I need time to process and think. I make no apologies for not EVER being a last minute fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl.
So imagine my panic when DH appeared home on Wednesday afternoon and said "can we (meaning me) be ready to take the kids to Niagara Falls/Marineland in about 1/2 an hour. And I'd like to surprise them!"
Yikes! My packing lists, my carefully co ordinated outfits, my multiple shoes, my household chores, my suitcase(s).... But I said "sure, just keep them busy, and you stay out of my way..." Well we were packed and on the road and kept up the surprise until we reached the Falls themselves. I tried really hard to keep my shoulders from tensing to my ears and my voice from squeaking like a too-wound watch.

The other things to consider here are that I really am uncomfortable with 401 driving, with large crowds and with not having a PLAN! No room booked? "No worries" says DH we'll find something. Something? Something (voice shrill and sqeaky!) 'cause I am not doing motel-with-someone-else's-hair-in-the-sink -- you already know about my camping issues...

The vacation was wonderful. We got a great room at a Best Western. The kids were thrilled with the surprise. I really enjoyed the whales at Marineland and Magic Mountain roller coaster. We had a great day as a family today.

I'd like to be able to say I conquered my fears and am much more flexible-see-how-it-goes after this experience. But this is not a novel -- I am still the planner, will still be uncomfortable in 4 lanes of traffic and large crowds. But once again I have reminded myself that I can do anything...(well, almost anything -- no way could I do Roach Motel!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's always a little celebration (little party in my head) when I find something my whole family likes to eat. I've been warned to not try to "sneak" more than one new recipe in a week. We are a family of habits and pickiness. I really don't like to cook, and what I like to cook is either not very healthy (ie desserts!) or my fam won't like it. New recipes are a treat for me.
I organized my collection of "to try" recipes last week. I got a binder and filled it with page protectors, the pocket kind. Then I labelled each pocket with a recipe category -- beef, crockpot, chicken, pork, pasta, breakfast, salads, soups, cookies, cakes, pastry, squares (notice the heavy emphasis on desserts....) Whenever I cut out a recipe I think might go over, I place it in the appropriate pocket. Then once a week I go through the binder to find the recipe worthy of this week's "new try."
Last night's new try was Italian Pot Roast on the BBQ. It was originally intended for the crockpot, but you know I don't always like to follow instructions. It's from Simple and Delicious magazine May/June 2009.

Italian Pot Roast
1 boneless beef chuck (3-4 lbs) -- I used a 2 1/2 lb frozen short rib roast, cause that's what was handy in the freezer
1 can diced tomatoes
3/4 chopped onion
3/4 cup beef broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or minced garlic)
1/4 tsp pepper

BBQ instructions -- I put the roast in a tinfoil baking pan, added the tomatoes, onion, beef broth and spices. Then I put a second tinfoil baking pan (same size) over top for a lid. Wrap the whole thing in tinfoil to help seal in the steam. Roast on low heat for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. (I kept 2 burners on low and turned the other one off.) The temp gauge stayed about 300F.

When roast is done remove meat. I strained out the juices from the tomatoes (knew that tomato chunks wouldn't go over with the fam). Then put the juices in a saucepan with cornstarch to make gravy.

Crockpot instructions are the same except it suggests cutting the roast in half and cooking on low for 5 - 5 1/2 hours. (If I was doing it from frozen I'd do 8-10 hours.) If you don't have a picky family you could include the tomatoes in the gravy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Menu Planning Monday -- hosted this week by The Happy Housewife

Monday -- italian pot roast on the BBQ (new recipe, I'll let you know if it becomes a favourite), with herb and garlic roast potatoes, spinach salad
Tuesday -- chili with home made fries
Wednesday -- Chicken Suisse with vegetable fried rice*
Thursday -- hot roast beef sandwiches, cucumber salad, mashed potatoes
Friday -- chili dogs
Saturday -- bbq sausage and potatoes

Vegetable Fried Rice
Cook as much rice as your family usually eats (if I'm in a hurry I use Minute rice) according to package directions.
As rice cooks julienne or finely chop a handful of favourite vegetables (I use carrots, celery and/or peas)
Stir fry veggies in a little olive oil for a minute or 2 in a big frying pan. Add the rice and stir together.
Push rice and vegetable mixture to one side of the pan. Scramble an egg on the other side. When egg is cooked mix it all together. Add a dash of ginger and and 2-3 tablespoons of soya sauce.
DH claims I have ADHD. I am kind of an expert on the issue, and I don't think so. BUT, I can maybe see where he gets that diagnosis, and I am working on tackling my focus issues. I believe I am not alone.
How many times have you worked at straightening up the house and on the way to somewhere, say with a load of laundry, you notice something out of place. So you move that about, head back for the laundry and get side-tracked by some other duty. I have, on occasion, been very, very busy all day, and at the end of it discovered that it really looks like I got nothing done. Flylady refers to this syndrome as being SHE (side-tracked home executive.) Imagine if aliens were spying on my house -- they would see me busy as a bee but they'd never be able to figure out what my original task/goal was.
I used to pride myself on often doing 2 things at once-- eat breakfast and make the grocery list; answer email and balance cheque book; fold laundry and talk on the phone etc. I thought I was being productive. I think not so much productive as side-tracked and probably less effective (my apologies to those who were on the phone while I focused on a load of whites!)
Solution? I am concentrating on only doing one thing at a time. If I'm loading the dishwasher then I don't wipe down the counter until the dishwasher is loaded. If I'm gathering laundry then I just make a note to come back to the bathroom when the load is in. I've been at my One-thing-at-a-time for about 2 weeks and I really have no idea if anyone else in the house has noticed (or the aliens for that matter) but I have noticed a difference. Less hurried, less stressed, more accomplished off the to-do list and faster.
Yeah me...although I've heard that Ritalin can be a wonder drug....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I am declaring WAR. And not environmentally-friendly, globally responsible war. I mean globally-damaging, chemical-warfare! I have ants in my garden. They built their hill under my coral bells -- killed the plant. Now they have also moved to my lavender bush. There are hundreds, possible thousands as far down as my shovel will dig. They are killing my garden; I am waiting for home invasion. I have tried the environmentally friendly methods. One internet site suggested icing sugar and baking soda. The ants just walked over it. Then we've had so much rain my white killing powder washed away. Another site suggested boiling water. Yep, it kills the ants it touches -- boils the little bastards and drowns the rest in the top inch of the hill. The queen and her warriors just move the eggs deeper. Human urine is suggested and DS is keen to contribute, but that's a bit gross and as far as I can tell has a rather uncertain success rate.
So, yesterday I went to Home Hardware and bought 3 cans of the Raid home invasion foam. It's the kind advertised on TV that you insert the nozzle down the ant hill and it foams throughout the tunnels. I emptied one entire can on the hill that was where my coral bells used to be. I used TWO cans on the hill growing under my lavender. 2 cans!! That is how deep the tunnels were.
Today I counted only 1 ant. I figured he must have been away yesterday and missed the massacre 'cause there was no other action on either hill.
I won't declare the war over for a day or 2 'cause they could just be underground plotting revenge. You'll know I've surrendered if you see DS out peeing on my lavender bush!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I don't get it. Camping, that is. Most of my friends disappear to a campground of some sort for a few days or weekends each summer. It's not that I'm anti-camping, I just truly fail to see the attraction.
We'll start with tenting. Can't see the fun in sleeping on the ground (or air mattress) in a mosquito (bear?) filled bush, peeing in a hole/latrine/public washroom, cooking my own food and fending off blackflies (bears?). I don't get it.
Even RV or trailer-type camping is beyond my comprehension (though certainly more within my realm of possibility than a tent). Still have to cook my own food, still have to clean up after everyone, still mosquitos (bears?). I don't get it. If I need a holiday it better not be spent living in the same conditions as someone struggling in a third world country (only they don't have to consider bears!)
So I don't camp. I do, however, long for a 5-star with a spa 'cause my holiday DOES include a massage and pedicure!

Friday, July 31, 2009

This is my purse. It's big. It's turquoise. It fits EVERYTHING in it that I need, including a flashlight (ya never know...), my book and cross-stitching ('cause one can only watch so many baseball practices), wallet, keys, kleenex, bank book(s), notebook, IPod (again with the baseball thing and my ADHD) etc. No different than any other woman's purse.

I went shopping with my friend Lynn today. Visited some neat little shops; it figures that I came home with many more bags that she did. Amongst my purchases is a new black purse. I already have 5 black purses, but I will justify this one in that it is a leather backpack purse. Perfect for the trip to the zoo we have planned as I can carry everyone's "stuff" and not break my back like my big turquoise suitcase/purse would.

In our trek today I found a new favourite thing! It's called a Pouchee and it's like a little purse/wallet all in one. It's meant to sit inside a bigger purse and and make it easy to switch between purses. It's 18cm long by 13 cm high and 8 cm wide. There's room for credit and bank cards, lipstick (2 in my case), keys, my Advil bottle, small brush, change purse, money and cell phone. Each has it's own wee pocket. It looks good enough that you could likely carry it on it's own if you needed to. I love that I can switch from Big Turquoise to my new black backpack in just a second; to get ready to go for an outing requiring a smaller black purse (of which, I am sure there will be many ...)

This is a close up of the pouchee. Purchased at the coolest shop called "Is this Chair Taken?" in New Hamburg, Ontario.

So why the obsession with purses? I'd say it ranks up there with shoes. And I know it's not just me, 'cause too many other ladies comment on my purse(s) or shoes and compare notes. My theory is that with shoes and purses you really only need to consider colour and size and they will always look good. With jeans, bathing suits (heaven forbid) and everything else we buy we need to spend more time pondering body type, big this, not enough that etc. Purses and shoes don't require such consideration -- in that way they are very practical. Can it fit all my stuff? Do I like the colour? Will it match anything I already own? Do they pinch my feet anywhere? Done.

Next time I will take Lynn shoe-shopping. I need shoes to go with my new bag!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is Reebok, the wonder cat. She's as much a part of our family as any of the 4 humans that reside at Shady Hall. She is nearly 17 years old. The vet calls her a "geriatric cat" but Reebok takes great offense to this label and refuses to behave as if she is in her golden years. For example, while we have perfectly good doors for entry and exit on the first floor, she prefers to enter the house through our small second story door. This means she must climb our deck, launch herself straight upwards to the awning which she grabs with her front claws, then she flips her hind end up over top of the awning. She then jumps to the roof above our kitchen, walks across that roof and knocks at the door of our small second story porch.
In addition to defying gravity, she denies her age in that she still loves to play like a kitten. I often wake in the middle of night to the sound of a rolling marble, barbie shoe or some other tiny toy that Reebok is batting around and chasing through the house. She catches mice and birds with great regularity, though she has given up bringing them to the door as she rarely got the high praise she was expecting.
This cat is also aware that she is Princess Purrfect around here. She has various demands that WILL be met. The craziest being that she will only drink water from a Dixie Cup placed on a stool in the bathroom. And, it must be a fresh Dixie cup; if you merely refill yesterday's she will knock it over with her paw and give a disgusted look. Also, the cup cannot be placed on the floor (because what cat drinks off the floor?) or it will meet the same fate. I think she likes the cup on the stool so she doesn't have to bend over. We know when Reebok is seeking fresh water as she will knock on the bathroom door, usually while the occupant is "busy." When she is allowed in, she meows and stands on the stool waiting for her beverage.
Crazy cat? Nope, crazy family.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I am pretty excited about some new underwear I just found. It's "boycut" from JoeFresh (purchased at, of all places, Zehrs grocery store.) It's just plain white cotton, but it sits and stays where it is supposed to and it washes well. Underwear is an issue in my life. I've been known to wear a thong, simply because if fabric is going to be "up there" anyway, it might as well be as little as possible.

DH and I made a pact when we got married that included amongst other things, that there would be no "big mama underwear." He said there are few things that are a greater turn off than seeing ladies underwear "big enough to sail a ship" hanging from the clothes line as you are coming home for the day. What, you say? You let him tell you what underwear to buy? Well, when I made the pact I was teeny tiny wearing teeny tiny unders. Had no perspective on child-bearing wear and tear. (I did get a concession to the agreement while I was pregnant. I need the stretch to hold up baby-belly.) Now, believe it or not, I am grateful for this deal. Can't imagine feeling pretty in great big poly-stretch gitch.
However, I am now well acquainted with child-bearing/age-wear-and-tear so my search for acceptable underwear is never ending. And while my boy-cut briefs will never be accused of being "sexy," I figure if Jennifer Anistin can wear them in the movies, they cannot be labelled "appropriate for sailing the BlueNose!"

Further suggestions for my great underwear search are always welcome!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There are only 4 people who live in my house. 3 of those people would like me to be a short-order cook. DH is a picky eater, but he thinks he is easy to please -- meat and potatoes; but no chicken, pork (except sausage), roast beef, steak, fish, lamb, vegetarian anything and as little pasta and rice as possible. In my book that pretty much leaves hamburger. When DS was little he had a severe milk allergy. DD would be happy to survive on yogurt, pickles, crackers, grapes and popcorn. And somehow I have to come up with a single meal (because I'm NOT running a restaurant) to satisfy everyone. Maybe "satisfy" isn't the word, maybe just "feed so they aren't malnourished and I don't go crazy" is more accurate.

My solution? I have created a "Boyd Family Favourites" binder. Each week I try one new recipe. Everyone has to vote on whether or not it is worthy of the title "Favourite." Sometimes I have to make it again another week just to be sure about it. Once voted a favourite I type it out on the computer and it goes into our binder. When I'm looking for something to make I just pull out the binder because everything in there has been agreed upon by everyone. If I hear any complaints I tell them "it was in the Favourites Binder." That ends the discussion. I've saved all of these recipes to disk. When the kiddies are ready to fly my coop, they'll get a copy of the disk so they can feed themselves on favourites.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Menu Planning Monday as organized by
Monday -- Chicken Parmesan, spinach salad, raspberry pie (leftover)
Tuesday -- spaghetti with garlic bread
Wednesday -- Pizza Casserole
Thursday -- Pork Roast with skinny mashed potatoes and vegetables
Friday -- leftover buffet
Saturday -- Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu (recipe below)
Sunday -- BBQ sausage on a bun (weather cooperating)

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
1 pkg stuffing mix
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices deli ham
1 can low fat condensed cream of chicken soup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I use mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 440F. Prepare stuffing as directed on package. Set aside. Place chicken in greased baking dish. Cover with ham. Mix soup and mustard; spoon over chicken. Top with prepared stuffing. Bake 25 min or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted
I have spent much time reading and searching other blogs to figure out how to do things. In the process I have learned a lot (not just about blogging) and been inspired by moving stories and beautiful pictures. One blog I especially like is zenhabits which led me to Both of these come under the category of "productivity blogs." To help with productivity one suggestion is to make your "systems" more efficient, or to develop "systems" for work and home if you don't already have them.

Systems. I have systems. Difficulty is getting the other people, big and little, to follow MY systems. I have a laundry system -- one load per day. It's taken to the machine in the evening after I've put the kids to bed. It goes on the line or in the dryer in the morning. It's put away when I get home from work. Simple. Not simple, if you are one of the other people in the house and you cannot find the laundry hamper. I've considered signage with a big arrow, but I fear that the arrow will only lead to the floor beside the hamper because it seems aim is a problem.
I have a dirty dishes system. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. When it is full, turn it on. When they are clean put them away. Apparently this is also complicated and that the other system in the house that runs counter to mine means leave dishes wherever you are -- beside a chair or on the floor in the playroom. I consider myself blessed if they make it to the sink (beside the dishwasher!)
I have a system for groceries. When we are out of something, or almost out, write it on the list beside the frig. I even have TWO pens there in case one goes missing. Invariably I hear "did you get___" and I always respond with "was it on the list?" One would think that if you wanted something bad enough you would write it on the list the next time. Nope. Different system -- yell at mom and maybe she'll remember in 7 days!

Systems for productivity? I have systems. What I lack is either the ability to motivate, or the ability to instill enough fear to make others follow them. It's a toss up.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

If you follow Oprah you know that one of the practices she follows and advocates is showing gratitude. I believe she keeps a gratitude journal. Many of the books I have read suggest the same. I have discovered on nights when the brain just won't shut off that a silent list of things to be thankful for works even better than counting sheep. In a sermon at church a few years ago, on a hot June day, the minister spoke of things to be thankful for. Someone spoke up and said "air conditioning and round bales!" I think gratitude is different for everyone, and changes each day. Some days it is just as important to recognize the little things, as it is to praise the big ones

Part 1: My gratitude list in no particular order (except the first 2 will always be at the top of list)
-fly swatters
-shiny sink
-soft pillow

Enjoy your Sunday. Be grateful, rain and all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I took my son to see the Stanley Cup yesterday. It was visiting a town near us. He was over-the-moon-excited about seeing it. He kept saying "I may touch the cup that all the greats have touched -- Rocket Richard, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Sydney Crosby...." I was proud that he recognized the historical significance, not just the recent Penguins victory. I could literally feel the energy buzzing off him when they brought it into the room.

The thing about DS is that he truly, truly LOVES hockey. He loves playing, watching, researching stats, the history, all of it. He tells me his favourite place in the world is the arena (sad, 'cause as his mom I'd rather he said "home with you."). Every hockey season I pray that whatever coach or team he has recognizes this passion and doesn't do anything to dampen it. Every year we've been lucky. Come April he is still as enthused about the game as he is in September. It's inspiring, really. There is something magical about seeing someone you love, find and celebrate the thing they love. It's a privilege to be part of that (and I tell myself that often while sitting in another cold arena on another early Saturday morning.)

In Dr. Baylis's Rough Guide to Happiness he argues that "...the very nature of our passions is that they are never mastered, never domesticated, never channelled and always wild. Perhaps passions would not be passions if they were under our control; they would be skills." I'm not sure I agree because I'm not sure passions can be defined; what makes each person's heart sing is so different. Could you say that because Wayne Gretzky is a hockey master that hockey can no longer be his passion? I doubt it. Sometimes I think the pursuit of the passion is part of the attraction, but I don't think that is the end. I look at DS's passion about hockey and I think that it's just a calling to his intellect and heart simultaneously that fuel his energy for the game. Lucky him. Lucky me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I found this quote on The link is at the bottom of the blog. It's quite an inspiring site. I recommend you go to the "Getting Started" link on the right side of Zenhabits if you decide to check it out. This is a huge site and it makes sense to start at the beginning.

The quote: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle. So I figure this is going to be my response when DH or co-workers, friends call me "anal." I realize I am a bit uptight about some (many) things -- shiny sink, not leaving socks on the floor, making beds etc. Now I have a reason -- the quest for excellence is a habit that I am unwilling to break. So there.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I told myself I would learn one new thing about blogging every day. Yesterday I figured out how to post a comment on someone else's blog. Today I figured out how to post a picture. Yeah me! This is a photo of a dragonfly I discovered in my uncle's garden.
DH's (dear hubby) birthday was this week. Got me thinking that in a few years (notice I qualified that) I'll meet the big 4-0 head on. I remember as a teenager being deathly afraid of forty. I feared being "frumpy." I wanted to be sure at 40 I would still be stylish and modern. HA! Someone should have told me "frumpy" would not be the issue -- "flabby" would. Seriously, you know "flabby" when you pull up your pj bottoms and the elastic does a happy snap sound over your belly.
It's not that I'm terribly out of shape, I just don't love exercise. And it's not really the exercise I dislike; I don't mind the muscle burn or effort at all. What I don't like is the sweat. There's something really yucky about damp, sweaty bra and panties. I've (briefly) considered exercising in the nude to avoid damp nether-regions but I'd only do that if I was thin, toned and didn't really need to exercise. Naked flabby is bad. Although, my other thought is that if I were naked on the tread mill maybe the extra miles my flab bounced would burn more calories....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I saw my friend Library Lynn yesterday. I was telling her about my blog and she said "My goodness K, you are as excited about this as you were about Flylady." True enough! I think I figured out the question I posed on yesterday's of the things that makes "life worthwhile, worth getting out of bed" is the excitement of learning something new. When there is challenge to overcome (in the case of blogging the obstacle was absolute ignorance) then the excitement is just that much greater. There, one mystery of my world solved.

So Flylady (link is at the bottom of my blog) was my discovery on my year off. She changed my life, literally. I have always been organized (though DH can't see it) but Flylady gave me a system to motivate me. On Flylady this month's habit is "Swish and Swipe." I used to think that cleaning the bathroom was an hour job. Nope. I swish the toilet bowl every morning (10 seconds) and wipe the counter, sink, shower faucet and tap and toilet seat and bowl top (30-45 seconds depending on how many males have used the toilet since the day before!). Bathroom cleaned 1 minute tops! I give the tub and shower a good scrub once a week during my house blessing. Easy -- life changing, really.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I am reading a great book by Dr. Nick Baylis called A Rough Guide to Happiness; Practical Steps for All-round Well-Being. It's a bit like a psychology textbook, but easier to read. I'm about half-way through, but so far the premise seems to be that happiness is about balance. I remember taking a Psych course in university on Positive Psychology. There I learned that we should continually seek out the positive and you can only know positive because negative exists (not an exact summary, as that was a few years ago.) Dr. Baylis's book says the opposite. Happiness comes not just from the positive. Think how many times we've heard of someone having something great happen out of something bad. I'm thinking Lance Armstrong's Tour do France win after cancer. Lance says he was strong enough to win because of the cancer, not despite it. Happiness therefore is more how you react to an event rather than whether or not the event itself is negative or positive. Hence, balance (wholeness) is necessary to both recognize happiness and to be in the frame of mind to embrace it. (I"m really taking liberty here with this author's work, but you get the drift.)
One particular section of the book has caught my imagination. P. 138 "What is the meaning of life? is a common enough question, but it makes no sense. It's like asking the meaning of air or water or wood. Life, just like those element, is a limited natural resource, so a more helpful question is "What can we do with our life that would seem wonderfully worthwhile to us? ....Who or what excites us that we bother to get out of bed early, break a sweat, be brave and stay sober so we can get a good night's sleep, wake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and try it all again tomorrow?" That is the question that's been rolling around in my mind; that and, how do I find the time anyway?

Monday, July 20, 2009

menu planning monday

I found a cool blog in my web-searching yesterday. It's found at There is a neat section on Menu Planning Monday. Each week over 300 people post their menu plans for the week. It looks like some have recipes attached. I'm going to follow the advice on this blog and see if I can link and post MPM to mine.
Monday -- DD (dear daughter) away -- Ham and Cheese on a bun, Potato soup, cucumber salad
Tuesday -- Shepherd's pie, spinach salad
Wednesday -- spaghetti supper, garlic bread, salad
Thursday -- CocaCola Chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies
Friday -- hope someone's taking me out....
Saturday -- Pulled Pork sandwiches
Sunday -- big family potluck for birthday party

CocaCola Chicken Recipe
1 cup of coke
1 cup of ketchup
Stir together (don't stir too fast as you don't want it too foamy)
Salt and pepper chicken breasts or pieces. Put in pan and pour coke mixture over top. Cook in 350F oven, covered, for 15 min. Uncover and cook another 15 min. or until chicken is cooked.
I was driving home from swimming lessons today when I noticed a woman (notice I said "woman" not "girl") pushing stroller and walking with another child. Not remarkable in itself; what caught my eye was her trackpants with "Precious" on the rear-end. "Precious?" Come on. So I have a new pet-peeve. Pants with a word on the ass. I've seen "Sweet" and "Princess" too. I wonder if this outfit is meant as a statement? What kind of statement, you ask? I'm thinking maybe a sad grasp at youth. Or possibly advertising the potential for bill-board work on a walking mommy -- you know like 18-wheelers do. Then I ask myself, if I was going to send a one-word "ass message" I wonder what it would be?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I just read an article in the farm paper by John Parsons, called "Rurals keep old-fashioned work ethic alive." Made me think... He says "Farmers over the centuries have measured the completion of a work day by when the chores are finished. Whether it took until just mid-afternoon or late into the moonlight didn't matter. The only use for a clock on the farm was to time things so that one could make it back to the barn for the cows' regular milking schedule." His article basically says that work ethic is going by the wayside as our society is one of entitlement influenced by union and public sector workplaces. Interesting. I was thinking that these sentiments of working until everything is done could be said about mothers. Wouldn't it be nice if the clock said 5pm, or 8pm for that matter that we could just shut down for the day? Leave laundry and other chores for the next 12 hour shift? Truthfully, I don't think think that kind of thinking would sit well with me most days. Maybe there is too much old farmer in my genes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My challenge for the summer is this blog. I want to join the Web 3.0 world, so that I can intelligently converse with my students. The best way to learn, is to just jump in and give it a try.
I'm told that the best blogs have a theme -- I wanted to call my blog "how I am trying to get my sh*& together," but I figured that might attract the wrong audience. Instead I will use it to post stuff that I have been working on/thinking about/trying to accomplish...all about being busy mom, educator, friend and work in progress. Anything you post or add, can only add to my learning -- as blogger and human being.

I'm thinking I'll post interesting quotes, recipes, great websites to check out, my booklist and random thoughts.