7 Moments: What's Been Keeping Me Busy

7 Moments: What's Been Keeping Me Busy

A photo essay of what's been filling up my blog silence.

7 Moments to Remember

7 Moments to Remember

A collection of my favourite daily moments in the last 1-2 weeks.

Five is the Oddest Number

Five is the Oddest Number

One of the ways our loved ones chose to bless us in our grieving was to give us money to take a family holiday. We were already planning to take a quick weekend trip so that Jason and the boys could run in the Spartan Race in Westlock this past Saturday. Normally, we would combine that with a weekend stay at relative's, since they are only another two hours away.

But, in light of recent events, we decided to take advantage of our "time away" option and stayed at West Edmonton Mall for three nights in the Fantasyland Hotel following the race.

I'm Not Pregnant, I'm Just Fat!

This past winter, I was tickled to discover composer/songwriter Katie Thompson's music. Whenever I need a "pick me up", I search YouTube for some of her stuff.

I'm not the only one who loves her, and there are usually many options of performances to choose from for the same song. One of the things I love about her music (besides it's quirky humour) is that it is so visual. Yep. It's actually better if you can watch the performer. And if the performer has great comedic timing.

Katie's music is funny and irreverent and so, so true to what we all really think (but don't usually put to music. ;-D)

Here are a couple of my faves:

I love Kate Jaeger's rendition of "I'm Not Pregnant, I'm Just Fat!" Not only is this the best recording of this song, it is also the best comedic performance of it I have seen. However, I also have to give a shout-out to Bonnie Milligan for her version (and her amazing voice!)

"I'm Too Pretty" was the song that introduced me to Katie's work, and Frankie Grande was the first person I heard sing it. I have watched several talented female performers do it, too, and they all did great. However, even though it is not the best recording, I still love Frankie's version, because the added irony of a male singing the song (and his amazing comedic timing) makes it even more hilarious. However, shout-outs to Marriand Torres for her amazing vocal and comedic performance and also Claire Buchignani. (This song has a LOT of versions on YouTube, and I have not had time to watch many of them. Go 'head--knock yourself out in the "related videos" suggestions.)

Happy Friday, folks! Which one was your favourite?

Things I Would Rather Be Doing

I am entering into the final phases of my first self-publishing venture.

Which means that today, I am reading user agreements. Other than a 1-hour webinar and occasional breaks for eating and playing with Levi, this is what I have been doing all. freaking. day. Oh, besides when I ran around on the deck, checked my email every 30 seconds, signed up for a new social network, made some notes about some immediate changes I want to make to improve my customer care, texted my friend about something we're planning together, and wandered aimlessly around the house, I mean.

My right brain is screaming for escape. As the day wears on, I have been looking for more and more excuses to NOT read another freaking boring page of legalese. So, a few minutes ago, it threw up a sign in front of my eyes: "Blog About Stuff You Would Rather Be Doing Than Reading This".

So, since my self-control has weakened considerably since the sun started shining in the window, here it is. :-)

Stuff I Would Rather Be Doing than Reading Legally Binding Contracts

  1. Eat Brussels sprouts.
  2. Do laundry.
  3. Iron clothes..
  4. Watch SpongeBob Squarepants. (No, not because I like it.)
  5. Clean toilets.
  6. Change a poopy diaper.
  7. Read a Nicholas Sparks novel. (No, not because I like it.)
  8. Talk to a telemarketer.
  9. Watch Avengers for the 20th time. (No, not because I am that in love with it. I liked it the first 3 times my kids chose it for Family movie night. Now? ... )
  10. Stab a plastic spork into my thigh.

Happy Wednesday, friends! What is your favourite way to procrastinate?

Sweet Dancing Moses!

I was grooving to Dora the Explorer's "We Did It" song while stirring something at the stove. (Hey, if I have to listen to it, I may as well try to enjoy it.) Levi was watching me from his chair with a look of wide-eyed astonishment. I turned around and chuckled.

"I'm 'shaking my booty,'" I said.

"Oh," he said, but his expression didn't change.

"I'm dancing!" I explained further.

"Oh," he said again. The look in his eyes was something like Elaine would get every time she tried to "dance." If that's what you want to call it, Mom.

Hopefully, he's not scarred for life. :-)

And so it starts...

I am very thankful to say that 2015 has started with some family time, some fun time, and some rest time for me.

December felt especially frantic, and I was very much looking forward to some "down time" over the last couple of weeks while Jason and the kids were on holidays. Unfortunately, that didn't really happen. I got the flu bug from Levi and had to have Jason take an extra day off of work to help with the kids, as I couldn't really function. However, as soon as I could move again, it felt like I was pushing through water the rest of the week to accomplish the things that needed to be done--cleaning, cooking for the family, last night of Hanukkah, a family dinner, working on my store, working on patterns, working on a worship service, working, working, working...

I had intended to have my "days off" the following week (the one just past), but life threw a few extra curves at me that precluded that. That's okay--life is like that. But it just meant that by Friday of this week, I was So I very firmly decided that this weekend would be a complete "off" weekend for me, especially as none of us had any responsibilities at church (which is a welcome breather).

Last Saturday, I was asked to photograph a sleigh ride at Mom and Mike's for a group whose other photographer had cancelled at the last minute. I was a little stressed out about it, as I have never taken pictures in a professional capacity before (other than for my pattern photos--and the only one to answer to there is me, so I can just keep snapping and tweaking until I am satisfied). Also, I have had a notoriously difficult time taking photos in SNOW that I was happy with. And thanks to the month of fog that we have experienced in the north, plus a little snow on Christmas Day, the trees were all crusted with an inch-thick layer of hoar frost. It was beautiful. And very, very white.

I was thankful that when I was photographing my "Honey Tree" flip-top mittens, my model--the very accomplished photographer Amanda Monette, for whom I made them--also gave me some tips about photographing in snow. So, for the first time ever, I shot the day almost exclusively in Manual mode and put into practice the tips she shared. Here are some of the results:

Drew's team, ready and waiting

Drew's team again

Drew driving the team

Mike and his team of Belgians

Mike and his girls

Trish and Ariel

Then, on New Year's Day, our family and the Magnussons also got a hayride at the Eastons'. Unfortunately, it was much colder, and the hoar frost had all disappeared during some warmer weather we had earlier in the week. That's okay--the kids hooked up a couple of sleds to the back of the sleigh and had fun riding, piling on top of each other, pushing each other off, and racing to catch up the entire time--they were plenty warm!

There was much less of this...

... than this...

... or this...

... or this!

Good times had by all--especially the adults watching and laughing!

The photographer gets shot!

And since I wasn't the only photographer there, I got to be in front of the lens at least once this time. :-)

Happy January, friends! I hope yours is off to a great start, too! How did you bring in the new year?

Using the Force

Remember how Jude had a Star Wars party in November?

Remember how I was making Jedi robes for all my boys? (Except Levi, who gets to be an Ewok?)

Well, three of the planned robes are complete, for Jude, Noah, and Jabin. Other than the foam-and-duct-tape light sabres we made for the party, though, they do not have any other part of the costume as yet.

That's okay. The robes look great. And yesterday, I took advantage of all my boys being home for Easter break to get an impromptu photo shoot in.

The robes were patterned after the one that Obi-Wan Kenobe wears in the second trilogy (episodes I-III--it took the boys a while to figure out how that confusing order worked. :-D)

The design of these was aided greatly by a tutorial found at I altered the design to have a rounded bottom edge so that it would be the same length all around, and also drafted each robe to the corresponding boy's measurements.

I did quite a bit of math to figure out the formula for making each robe perfect, as I hate waste, and didn't want to be cutting off and throwing away the great deal of fabric that the linked-to tutorial suggests. Perhaps I will get my own version of the tutorial and how to draft a Jedi Robe to fit posted on my blog someday.

These turned out awesome, and my boys love them.

Star Wars Jedi and Sith robes on boys
Star Wars boy Sith

"Give me a Sith Snarl!" I said. And he did... kinda. What IS that, anyway?!!

Star Wars Jedi robe

Jason and Jude made the Light Sabres out of foam plumbing pipe insulation and coloured duct tape. They get daily use around here.

Jedi boy, blue light sabre
Jedi boy with light sabre

Young Obi-Wan. :-)

Noah got a double-ended Light Sabre.

Jedi boy using the Force

He is also proficient in using The Force. :-)

While I was at it yesterday, I also photographed the costumes I made for their Christmas plays, neither of which they got to use. (Jude and Noah both got sick and missed their plays. Jabin was in his, but his costume was supplied by the school. Oh, well, there is always this year.)

I wanted Noah's angel costume to look a little more masculine and modern than the traditional "robe and sash and wings" look. So I bought an oversized white T-shirt, cream knit carf, and women's size small military-inspired jacket in cream from the thrift store, then made the felt top hat and bought the gold cord. Presto! Boy angel!

Modern boy angel
Boy angel costume

Noah wanted a "jumping shot"--so he could look like he was flying, I think.

Jude was supposed to be a shepherd. I had some tweedy-looking striped fabric and some nubbly-looking polyester "linen" fabric in my stash that I had intended to turn into a shepherd costume for years, so he got the whole shebang--right down to the kippah. For design inspiration, I looked at the costumes from the movie "The Nativity Story", from which I copied details like the reversed seams whip-stitched down, and yarn whip-stitched onto the sleeves for a piping detail.

Shepherd costume

Jude had the robe inside-out for this photo, unfortunately. The wind is whipping the hood over his right shoulder, which makes it look even more wonky.

Kippah detail

While most of the kippah was machine-stitched, I added hand-stitching details by top-stitching in contrasting thread. I am really happy with how this turned out.

Little shepherd boy--with glasses?

Detail of cuff with yarn "piping". I miscalculated the neck size on the tunic an had to correct my error by deepening the gash and stitching the edges under--but it turned out okay, for the most part.

Love this face!

You see that snow that is just hanging around in the shadows of the trees in these photos I took yesterday? You see those dark clouds behind Jude's head in that last photo?

Yeah. They proceeded to turn into rain clouds, then snow clouds. It's been snowing since some time last night, and hasn't stopped since. Today, there has to be at least four inches sitting on the ground. Grr.

Not so bad in November... but it ain't November.


The Science of a Happy Marriage

Last year, I signed up as one of the "Pioneer" members of Happify , a site that promotes personal happiness through daily activities. Confession: I haven't been a very good pioneer member. Since I am, in general, a pretty happy person (other than, you know, those three or four days a month that hormones are to blame for), and the few "tracks" I tried were not earth-shattering news to me (Yes, I know that finding positive in my children and spouse allows me to be in a better mood, rather than dwelling on the negative; Yes, I know that acts of service for others make me appreciate them more and feel better about myself), I think that the site is a FABULOUS idea, and know of many others, including many Christians, who may benefit from time spent thinking about what really brings happiness and meaning to their lives. The activities are fun and easy, and really only take about 5 minutes per day most of the time.

Happify just created the following "infographic" about what scientists have discovered about happy marriages. I thought it was pretty interesting, and a bit fun to read, so I am resharing with you.

If you would like to increase your happiness on a daily basis, I recommend checking "Happify" out. (Click on the image to be taken to the full-page version--BIGGER TEXT!!)

The Science of a Happy Marriage by Happify

What's a Flulk?

Jabin burst into the living room between the two chairs where Jason and I were seated as we waited for the kids to get themselves ready for bed. I was bent over some hand-stitching work and Jason was browsing the internet on his iPad, but not for long--Jabin is never one to simply enter a room. He makes an entrance.

"Look! I'm The Flulk!" he exclaimed, arms wide in the well-practised flourish a magician gives after he has just done his latest incredible, belief-defying trick, grinning from ear to ear. Jason and I looked up and burst out laughing.

Jabin had his pajamas on--but the pants were the red-legged, yellow-lightning-booted flannel ones I had made for his "The Flash" pjs a couple of months ago, while the shirt was the sleeveless black-and-green knit top of a set of "Hulk" pajamas, a screened rubber image of The Hulk ripping through the fabric on the front.

"Maybe you're 'The Hash', instead," suggested Jason.

I love how Jabin laughed at both his own joke, and the one that Jason made, for at least sixty seconds straight.

I may have gotten a giggle or two of my own out of it, too... :-)

Happy New Week, friends!

Good. Plain. Fun.

Laundry basket rides.

Can't beat the classics. :-)