"talking"

The Classic Question

"If you had to choose, would you marry Ginger or Mary Ann?"


My jaw dropped in surprise, then laughter, as I realized my seven-year-old had asked the question.

This summer has seen a resurgence in the popularity of "Gilligan's Island" in our house, and the boys are about halfway through the third and final season of the show. I never watched this show as a kid, so most of the episodes are new to me, too... well, kind of. It didn't take me long to realize that the show used the same two or three plot lines on a heavy rotation and none of the characters ever changed. And it was less than a week before I was beyond done with the ever-loving theme song. And stereotyped, one-dimensional quaint and charming characters.

At any rate, the boys have been loving it, and as long as they stick to their max limit of two episodes a day, I can handle it.

But I never did expect any of them to come up with the hypothetical "Ginger or Mary Ann" question... at least, not yet.


As it turns out, all the men-folk of the house, except Noah, voted for Mary Ann. (Well, also except Levi, who abstained from the vote.) I am glad. Noah gave his reason as "she's pretty."

Yes, she is, but I was relieved to hear that the votes for Mary Ann had a few more supporting reasons. Among them:
  • She's pretty, too.
  • She's nice.
  • She can do more than bat her eyelashes.
  • She can cook, and sew, and clean, and do stuff outside.
I can just never figure out why Ginger didn't convert her glittery, slinky gowns (WHY was she wearing that dress on a "three-hour tour?" when it is meant for a night on the red carpet? Does the woman not own a good set of designer cigarette pants, or anything?) into something much more practical and ripped-off within the first week of being stuck there. And knock the heels off her shoes. In fact, almost everything about that woman irritates me.

I am a strong admirer of the practical, as well as the beautiful. And every time she tries to manipulate a man into doing things her way by tickling his cheeks with her false eyelashes, I want to smack her.

(Aside: Also, I want to know how Mary Ann and Gilligan (the designated laundry-doers most of the time) managed to keep everyone's clothes so immaculate for three years on an island with no power or detergent. Seriously, I want their secret. No one ever gets so much as a worn cuff! Ahem. End aside.)

So, I guess I cast my vote with the majority: Mary Ann. Except I don't want to marry her. I bet she and I could have been friends, though. :-)


Bring on the Comic Books!

Some people "poo-poo" comic books for their children. I don't--chosen appropriately by the parents, I think they are a wonderful motivational and--dare I say it?--educational tool.

This epiphany came the first time I purchased a comic book for my boys to read. It was Sonic the Hedgehog. My two oldest, who usually did nothing but bicker with each other, sat quietly in a chair and read the whole thing. Together. And again. And did I say "quietly?"

As they got older, they discovered Jason's and my "Calvin and Hobbes" books. We only had a few at the time, but they devoured them--to the point that I need to have one of them rebound. Despite the fact that most of the humour is over the head of an actual six-year-old, I loved that they loved them. I mean, C'mon! Calvin sometimes uses words that I have to look up! Eventually, we got the entire collection (which we doled out on special occasions and birthdays for at least a year).

The obsession with Garfield is one that Jason and I have been less fond of--we haven't purchased any, but they borrow them from the library. Jason and I both find Garfield to be kind of a negative jerk. Oh, well. None of the characters wear spandex, or have unrealistically-proportioned body parts, or is shown mostly naked, or--oh, wait. Yes they do. But in a funny way, not the give-you-nightmares-or-make-you-horny way. Could be worse.

Sonic comics have continued to be motivational to my children. After reading 10 books aloud to me (or 5 chapter books with book reports as they get older), they get a Sonic comic. It's a reward that is easy on the pocket book, and we thus reward reading with... Surprise! More reading!! What surprises me is that they haven't just figured out that they can buy the comics themselves with their "spend" money... but I'm glad!

The latest comic obsession has had a result that I didn't expect. My kids are devouring the "Bone" books by Jeff Smith as quickly as we can buy them or borrow them from the library. So far, we own the first four.

Apparently, one of the characters likes quiche. So there's vocabulary and culinary expansion right there--after I corrected their pronunciation, and explained what it is, they said, "That sounds good!" I said, "It is! I've made it, but it's been a while. I'll make it again soon." "Okay!" Yay! for getting them to want to try new things! :-)

Apparently also, one of the characters is obsessed with the book "Moby Dick." So, after a search through our Penguin Classics came up null, and then finding it among the books on our Aurora eReader, guess what Jude started reading last night?

He's already on chapter six, or something.

"The way they write the English takes a little getting used to," was his comment to me this afternoon.

After all my years trying to get my children interested in reading the classics--and trust me, I own and have available nearly every age-appropriate classic I can find, and have tried repeatedly to get them interested in them via reading aloud to them--who knew that a comic book would be the trigger that got them started on it?

So, yep, I like comic books. No one can tell me they aren't educational!!

Whose Shirt Is It, Anyway?

Fall. The time when the leaves fall from the trees, the garden gets harvested... and the clothing gets exchanged.

Yesterday was the day when the winter coats, scarves, mitts, and hats got brought out, sorted out, and hung up. There was much excitement when each boy got a "new" coat (really his older brother's from last year. The only one with a "new" coat is Jude, who got a nearly-new coat that was a hand-me-down from someone else.) Since we haven't actually had snow, yet, the winter boots are still tucked into an easily-accessible box in our Sea Can.

Yesterday was also the day of the seasonal clothing shift. Starting at the top, each boy's clothes were sorted and re-assigned to the boy they now fit better.

Now it is just up to Mommy to remember which boy was last wearing which shirt when she is sorting out the clean clothes next week. :-)


India, Revisited

I've had a rather long, exhausting, but rewarding day.

Tonight, Amanda had a Jolica Jewellery fundraiser with an Indian theme. The benefit was for a pastor I know in India who runs an orphanage. In keeping with the theme, we went with Indian food as the snacks, which I cooked.

Since visiting India in 2007-2008, I have learned how to cook quite a few Indian dishes. But this is the first time I have made Indian appetizers.

So, I pored over cookbooks and did internet searches, and decided to make vegetable samosas, bhajjia (fritters), cucumber raita and coriander chutney. Everything turned out great, but my inexperience with these dishes meant it all took a LONG time! In fact, I actually started cooking last night, and other than a short trip to town this morning to watch Jude's class lead assembly at school (and run into the grocery store for a few last-minute supplies), managed to cook for most of today, too, guiding my own students through their lessons from my position by the kitchen counter.

The snacks weren't perfect, but they were yummy. There was a great turnout at the party, and the ladies there enjoyed the food (despite it's deep-fried nature) and chai (from scratch), also.

I meant to take photos, as I was rather proud of my made-from-scratch samosas... but I didn't! :-) Oh, well.

Also, I made WAY too many, so I guess I get to take a break from cooking tomorrow! Yay!

And! I even got to wear my sari (a once-every-three-year event these days!)

Happy Wednesday, friends! What have YOU been up to this week?

You Know It's Cold When...

...the plug of your block heater cable snaps off when you try to use it! (Yes, this happened to my poor van this morning!)

I guess we all (and by "we all," I mean everyone living north of the 49th) knew that winter couldn't be confused with spring for all of January. But the sudden transition from +1 last week to -36 this week has been a bit of a shock to more than just my and my van's systems, I'm sure.

As a result, I have been trying to stay close to home. Well, I haven't had to try that hard, actually, as my van was in the shop all weekend, and Jason took it to work today since the heater in his truck didn't seem to be working.

That's the thing about the cold weather--it points out all the issues you didn't know you had with your vehicle.

I know it looks like I haven't been doing any writing lately, but besides getting my family newsletter put together on Friday (which I am part-way through the mail-out process for), I have written four songs in the past week, and I have also been blogging over on my music website. Go check it out at www.talenawinters.com.

Noah is playing "My Favourite Things" on my Yamaha's pre-recorded demoes behind me. I'm pretty sure that there should be a line in that song about "warm, blazing woodstoves!"

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It's too cold for this now! The boys were sledding on our dugout during the holidays--it was warm enough to be hatless!

Stay warm, friends!

Where Did They Go?

The holidays, I mean. Jude just finished making his lunch for his first day back tomorrow. Can the holidays have passed already?

The only reason is, along with all that "nothing" that I had on my mental "to do list" (Check!), I also had a few "somethings" that have rather empty-looking checkboxes beside them. Sigh.

I didn't even go near the bathroom with a paintbrush. I didn't write a single note on my musical. And there are several outstanding "tea dates" which never got filled.

However, I did almost finish my year's books. I did get quite a LOT of visiting in with certain friends, including Mark and Colleen, who surprised us by coming down to visit from Yellowknife for about a week over New Year's. (Old friends of ours, as well as the Burdicks.) And I am just about to crack the cover on a "learn-how-to-use-my-recording-software" text that I bought last summer.

So, while I don't feel like the holidays were a loss by any stretch, I just wish I could stretch them out a little longer. By about a week.

Hmm... maybe I will... :-)

To Everything There is a Season

Nearly two months ago, only days before Thanksgiving, I broke one of my favourite and most-used pieces of Pampered Chef Stoneware--my Rectangular Baker. I had received it as a wedding shower present, and it was well worth the investment of the lady that bought it for me! That item had been used in my house nearly every day for the last seven years, since the family grew large enough to require it.

Unfortunately, while I was still getting used to the stove in our new trailer (which was laid out a little backwards from our other one), I set it on a back burner, and turned what I thought was a front burner on high to boil water in a pot. Only a few minutes later, an ear-splitting CRACK was heard and my beloved Baker jumped apart into several jagged pieces.

I nearly wept.

This piece normally goes for somewhere in the $60 range which didn't really fit into our budget in October, but I knew I would need to replace it right away. So, with the help of a few friends (who supported my catalogue show), I was able to get a new one on the November 60% off hostess special from Pampered Chef. And with my Hostess Bucks I got a Rectangular Flat stone, replacing my last one which broke several years ago. Yay!

Brand new Pampered Chef Stoneware! Yay!

When it came last week, I couldn't resist photographing my new baker with the Rectangular Baker lid which I earned in 2003 when I was a consultant for the Pampered Chef. It has been used nearly as much as my original Baker was, and therefore has approximately the same amount of "seasoning".

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Thing of beauty, isn't it? Believe it or not, all that "ugly" brown look is desirable in this kind of cookware!

As thrilled as Jason was that I replaced these pieces so economically, when he saw that new stoneware sitting there with it's virgin, still-rough surface his reaction was, "Great! More stoneware that I won't want to touch for five years." To him, the effect is akin to the sound of fingernails on a blackboard. I don't understand it, but I love him, anyway! ;-)

Ironically, only days after the Thermal Shock incident, Jason replaced the offending stove with the one from our last trailer because the "new" one's oven (which was actually much older) went kaput. He used its parts to fix some of the issues that the other one had given me trouble with, and so far, it seems to be doing its job admirably.

Chalk up one more for the "parts trailer!"

Pampered

On Friday, I hosted a party at my home for the first time in three years. It was a jewellery party fundraiser. The jewellery was Jolica, which my friend Amanda has just started selling. The "company that gives back" concept seems to have been taken many levels above what I have seen any other home-based business do with this one, and I can see why Amanda chose to support it. The fundraiser was to support some family friends, who are going on a missions trip to Jamaica in the New Year. The living room was full of smiling faces, the air was full of the smell of spiced hot apple cider and women laughing, and my home was full of warmth. Thank you, ladies (you know who you are), for helping that to happen.

Last weekend, I started my twelfth pair of knit socks ever. (I only started knitting socks in February 2010.) These are the first ones I've ever made for myself. (I figured it was high time, and my chillified toes agreed.) Since I had just got this fun yarn, whose colours make me swoon (and which has the romantic name of "Tuscany", from which culture's goddess of love my name is derived), I thought I would try something a little different than the 3/1 rib which is my go-to standard for quick socks for my kids.

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Branching out is good--I chose this pattern because I was hoping the yarn would stripe. It didn't. Oh, well--it still seems to be complementing the yarn nicely. And I am so thrilled at the idea of having my own pair of hand-knit wool socks!

Tonight, my mother took me to a gala dinner for women put on by one of the local churches. I have never been to the "Crimson and Ice" event before, although I had heard it was lovely. Many of my friends were there, the decorations were amazing, the music was relaxing and inspiring, and it was so nice to have a wonderful dinner in the company of so many beautiful women.

I haven't had this much "girl time" in a long time--and it's been wonderful. It has given me a renewed sense of appreciation for the amazing women in my life. Thank you, ladies--whether I know you well or only a little, your beautiful spirits minister to me, for I see a piece of God in you. I hope that you, too, get to have a little bit of pampering this week.

Not Quite a Thousand

I've been feeling the effects lately of two handicaps to my blogging creativity: one, being sick all last week (which I am blaming on the dog/chicken episode of the Friday before), meaning that most of the time when I was not absolutely required to be vertical (and some of the time when I should have been) I was relationship-building with my pillow.

Second, while I was gone to Red Deer a few weeks ago, I had Jason reformat my desktop computer and rebuild it. He finally installed Windows 7 (which I have already been running on my laptop for a while, now), and now my photo-editing software is too old to work with it. So. That means that I have no pictures until my new version comes in the mail.

I didn't realize how much I now rely on photos to blog with--but since most of my blog-fodder these days comes from the adorable antics of my three boys, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, I don't consider it "cheating" to save time typing by just posting photos.

Anyway, although the software still isn't here, I am feeling much, much better today, thankfully--there are way too many things on my "to-do" list that have now been carried over from last week, which I am less-than-thrilled about. However, I'm going to take a few minutes and see if I can make up for the lack of photos with actual text. Ha!

So, here are a few stories that have not been typed out, that had no photos to go with them, anyway.

-----

On our last night in Red Deer, after having been away from home for ten nights, I was saying prayers with Jabin and Noah. "Thankful-fors" are everybody's favourite part.

Jabin: I'm thankful that we're going home tomorrow. I miss my big yard.

Me: I bet it misses you, too!

Noah: I'm thankful we're going home tomorrow, too. I miss my Xbox, and it misses me, too!

Me: Ah.

-----


On Saturday night, Jabin was stalling before bed, which sometimes actually brings up the neatest conversations, like this one:

Jabin: Mom, you know what I wish? I wish that there were no bad dreams.

Me: That would be nice, wouldn't it?

Jabin: And I wish God didn't make people be sick.

Me: God doesn't make people be sick. Sickness came into the world when the first person sinned--it's because of sin we get sick. And someday, when God makes the Earth new again, we won't have any more sickness and no more bad dreams. Cool, eh?

Jabin jumped up and down, doing a rocker-type "Yes! Yes!" with clenched eyes and arms upraised and pointing.

A few minutes later, he comes back and asks, "Mom, in the New Earth, will it ever be dark?"

I was surprised at the thought that went into this subject by a five-year-old. Smiling, I answered, "In the Bible, it says God will sit in the middle of the Holy City and his glory will be so bright that there will be no darkness in it, it will be light all the time."

"Cool!" said Jabin, and ran to get his pajamas on, singing God Is Bigger Than The Boogeyman.

I sat thinking about his question for a few more minutes. I like looking at the stars, and the feel of a summer's night when the mosquitoes have all gone back to bed. God made so many wonderful night-time things to enjoy, I bet we'll still get to enjoy them later, too! I'm thinking that the Holy City may be everbright, but I bet we can still go to the other side of the planet to enjoy a night of star-gazing--sans mosquitoes, hopefully! That's what I think, anyway.

Stay warm, friends, and hold on--spring is coming!

Hello, Sun

Last week, I was cursing snow. It just wouldn't stop coming.

I was doing mental math figuring out the amount of time that I had invested just digging my van out of places, or having other people do it for me. (At least 200 minutes.)

I was grumbling about having to stay home because I was snowed in (okay, not really), then I was grumbling at the amount of physical effort it took to finally leave my yard.

It's hard to find a silver lining when the whole world is a monotone gray.

But today...

Today, the sun is pouring over me, wrapping me in a golden hug even as I type. It makes me want to hug it back.

All things bright and beautiful

My tangled mess of a basil plant is echoing my sentiments. The sun makes me think of planting seeds, planning gardens...

Reach for the sun

Even the chickens enjoyed the sun--since the temperatures are above zero, we left the coop door open for a few hours. Which reminds me... the sun has me thinking of buying and hatching chicks. (I've never hatched my own... could be interesting.)

Basil flower

The sun also reveals the dust on the dresser top, and I have this uncontrollable desire to start Spring Cleaning. And planning summer projects. And trips.

Hello, Sun!

The sun makes me forget that it is only January 24.


The sun is a like a drug that completely erases my memory of winter. And I want more.

Snow Much?

Yesterday, we had a good ol'-fashioned, snow-up-to-the-rafters snowstorm.

Snow much?

Coop in the storm.

Not only was visibility bad, we got snowed in.

Comin' down fast!
Yesterday around 2 p.m.

Snowed in like we haven't been since we moved here.

Snowy snowy coop
Coop In a Blanket--The Aftermath.

Even today. Jason can get in and out with his 4x4, but my l'il ol' mini-van was completely out of its league.

Just a little snow!
This baby ain't goin' NOWHERE!

Thank goodness we have friends that have toys that push snow around, and not enough excuses to use them! (We should no longer be snow-locked by tomorrow afternoon. I hope. At least, I think I hope. Sometimes it's nice to have an excuse to not have to go anywhere.)

Cheetahboy and Koda in a drift
Jude and Koda in a drift--notice the snow up to Jude's knees?