Zoom! There went December. And holidays. And 2012.

Despite the fact that we were on holidays from school from about the 8th, the month was very full. My list had several things checked off, but not as many as I liked. We got to see friends that the busy-ness of fall schedules had been keeping us from for several months. My old, second-or-third-hand oven finally bit the dust on Dec. 22, and we got a new one (which I LOVE!) And Jason got a promotion.

There is more to each of those stories, but they all seem a little too lengthy to try to cram into one post. Suffice it to say that Jason is now working as a System Analyst, a position that was handed to him within minutes of him receiving a job offer as a Project Manager for another company. The jobs were so similar as far as benefits, pay, and other things, that Jason struggled with the decision for about a week, initially thinking he would take the Project Manager job. He had no peace about it until he decided to stay with Northlands School Division as System Analyst, however, so that is what he did. We are very grateful that our belts can loosen a little, and that Jason gets to stay in a work environment he enjoys, making a wage he is happy with.

The kids were happy to start school again after our four weeks off. Last Sunday night, Jabin commented that he thought the holiday was TOO long. Didn't expect that. I could definitely have used another week, but my "to-do" list has significantly more items on it than theirs does! Especially for the last two weeks of the break, when Jason was off, too--there were a great deal of video games played during that time. It's good to know that they do see the value of structure and learning at times. :-)

My To-Do was more various forms of work, but fortunately, they were mostly ones I enjoyed:
  • sew
  • knit
  • write patterns
  • update web stores (all of them)
  • start newsletter mailing lists for various businesses
  • Plan Science for the remainder of the school year
  • do my books for the past year
It's the last one I have yet to tackle. I'll get to it soon. Most of the sewing was to make things like pajamas, mitts, and toques that my kids (or other family's kids) were short on. I am very much looking forward to making myself a new dress, which I purchased the fabric for a month ago and have been looking longingly at ever since.

Maybe this week...

That's What He Said...

Overheard on Thursday morning:

Jabin: I wish that you could rewind, because it was really fun in Grande Pairie [sic] yesterday.

Jude: We were in the van almost the whole day!!

Jabin: Yeah, but it was fun watching movies and playing on Dad's tablet.

Hee hee.
The boys and I have been on holidays from school for a week, now. That doesn't necessarily mean I have been on a complete holiday, though. I have been doing various and sundry business-related activities that I have been putting off until this very time of year, which I planned to devote to "catch-up." Still, the activities seem to be piling up a little, and despite the progress made this week, I felt a little overwhelmed by Thursday at the total amount of things still left on the "to-do" list.

Still, I'll just keep plugging away at them, one thing at a time, and get as much accomplished as I can before school starts again. Weekends are reserved for family and friends and play time, so I don't get totally bogged down in work... that whole "Too much work, not enough play, dull girl" thing sounds like something I want to avoid, if possible.

Hanukkah ended yesterday, and we gave each of the boys a little gift on the last day. Jason found this cool online service (U Star Novels) where you can substitute someone's name so they can "star" in a novel. He bought one for Jude using the Adventures of Tom Sawyer--Jude is Tom, and his friend's names are substituted for some of the other main characters.

Then he surprised me with a copy of Pride and Prejudice starring moi! "Mr. Darcy" has become "Mr. Winters", of course, and the Bennett family was transformed to the Hilmans. A quick flip through the book revealed that several other family members and and friends got supporting parts.

It's kind of cool, in a weird sort of way. I want to read through it again (never need much excuse to re-read P&P) just to see who gets to make appearances. But now I think I know how my junior-high classmates felt when it became known I had written a short sci-fi story starring all of them--fascinated and freaked out, all at the same time. (At least I know I like the story, which wasn't the case with all of my hapless classmates. Lesson learned on my part.)

And really, what woman reading Jane's most popular novel doesn't identify with Lizzy Bennett in some way?

Happy holidays, 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... :-)

Festival of Dedication

We have been celebrating Hanukkah for three or four years, now, but after this year, it holds more meaning than ever. That can be attributed to the wonderful information we found in an eBook I got last year in a newsletter from First Fruits of Zion called "Light in the Darkness". (I'd link to it, but can't seem to find it on the site--must have been a one-time thing.)

As we celebrated the eighth night of Hanukkah tonight, we had all gained a deeper appreciation of how lighting the hanukkiah (the Hanukkah menorah) represented the Light of the World, Jesus Christ--for the Temple menorah was also known as the Light of the World. We understood that we were choosing to rededicate the temples of ourselves to be a light to those around us, and to stand for truth and share God's love with others. And we understood how God had helped his people in the events that led to the Hanukkah festival, and that a Great Miracle Happened There.

And by the end of the week, the kids were almost able to remember the name of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid general who defiled the temple and murdered so many Jews in the first place! (Maybe next year will be better! :-D)

(I accidentally broke our home-made clay hanukkiah on the third night, so we improvised with tea lights for the rest of the week. Oh well, it worked--and was less messy, too!)

DSC04133 cropped web.jpg

Happy Hanukkah, friends!


Wow, how long can I be "meaning to post" and not do it? I'm on holidays right now--you'd think it wouldn't be that hard!

So, yet again, the main activity of my first week off last week was catching up on my year's books. I got to the end of August, so I'm not doing too bad. I probably only have three more days of work on that.

Jude began his holiday on Thursday, and the dynamic between the three boys had to be shifted subtly again. However, Jude being the "ideas man" that he is, they did have an easier time coming up with things to play. The costume box got aired out, the Legos got spread out, and the sleds got dragged out (the last at Mom's behest, but they spent an hour and a half sledding at the dugout anyway).

Jason's holidays began at Friday around noon, and he and I both spent the weekend doing a lot of much-needed NOTHING!! We never really got a break this year, so he and I are both going to use this week to recuperate from our long, exhausting, and busy year. We started by playing a lot of Kinnect sports (my muscles say "ouch" to prove it), a game of Scrabble with Jude, spending an hour or two outside sledding and walking with the kids, playing various other games, and I did some scrapbooking, both paper and digital.

It has been so long since I really scrapbooked, I spent about an hour yesterday getting my bearings. What photos have been done? Where is everything? (I haven't done any since we moved this summer, so I had to figure out what I put where.) What is my highest priority? Then, I "went to town." Over the weekend, I completed 17 pages. Here are a few of the digital ones:

Holiday Time

As of Friday, I started my holiday break. Not that I will be doing nothing for at least a few more days--I have to finish catching up on my books for the year. While I am not as far behind as I was at this point last year (I have, at least, started them this year, after all), it will likely consume the better part of the rest of my week.

However, to celebrate and get into the spirit of "I-get-a-break" time, I did a little scrapbooking this weekend. First, two layouts using photos I had printed of renovations in 2006, just to get back into the groove. Sorry, haven't scanned 'em, but they weren't anything fancy anyway--basically putting old blog posts on paper. Then, a digital layout of two of my sweet boys:

Expect to see more coming! :-)

It could be an interesting week--we'll see if these same two boys can remember how to play together creatively without Mommy "directing traffic" 24/7, as they will be having to find their own entertainment (which I am adamant will not include any more video games or movies than normal) while I work. Jude will be on holidays starting Thursday, so that gives Jabin and Noah three days to get their creative brains in gear. I guess we'll see how the week goes! :-)

Happy Monday, friends!

Holiday Highlights

I can hardly believe that our month off of home schooling is over already, but here we are, day 3 "back to the grind", and December is but a blurry memory. Before it becomes much blurrier, I'm going to give you the bullet-list of what happened last month.
  • Kids began holidays on Dec. 3. Mommy sighed as she looked forward to a month of paperwork and school planning. (Remember how I finished 2009's books and taxes in June? I hadn't even started 2010's until December 5 of this year--but at least I was in the same calendar year! That is step up. I have been playing "catch-up" ever since March of '08 when I left Arkansas.)
  • Kids get to watch movies, play outside, play Wii. Mommy gets to do paperwork and play taxi, as there was still Swim Club and Squirt's kindergarten until Dec. 17.
  • All other activities finished, Mommy takes a small break from the books to clean house thoroughly and attack a few projects--company is showing up on the 25th.
  • Got to spend a couple of Saturdays at D&A's playing board games and visiting. Been missing that.
  • Started watching the Season 1 DVDs of "Battlestar Galactica" that my brother Logan gave us (in September!) on Dec. 23. 
  • Finished a few knitting projects. Started a couple more.
    Lace-edge jacket 2

    Squirt's lined seamless mittens 2010 #3

    Mom's socks 2010 2
  • Had lots of fun with the Xbox 360 and Kinect that my brother brought up on the 25th to totally spoil his nephews with. There were plenty of sore gluteus maximus' (among other things) from the bowling, jumping, and lunging, I tell ya!
  • Played numerous board games with family, including my dad and brother. The obligatory Scrabble game was included, as well as "Apples to Apples" (so fun for groups) and "Pandemic" (a co-operative game that is surprisingly a lot harder than it looks.)
  • Started Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica on Dec. 31.
  • Spent New Year's Day at a sledding party. The kids did "Extreme Tobogganing"; well, not Jabin--I took him to a tamer hill and he slid up and down for a while. This was followed by a delicious potluck supper. One of my best New Year's parties in years.
  • And, to sum up, I finished my 2010 books at about 11 p.m. last night! Yippee!
I have to say, though, it didn't really feel like a holiday--and I still have school units to plan. Phooey. No sewing, like I'd hoped. Very little work completed on the musical, on which I had hoped to gain some extra ground. And no chickens butchered--my girls would appreciate a couple less boys in their midst, but although I bought a nice new sharp axe for the purpose, the cold weather (and full list) deterred me.

Still, it was a good month, albeit a busy one. And currently, we are enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures of around -4C in the day (which showed up just in time for the sledding party on Saturday), so who can complain about that in January?

Happy New Year, friends!

My three favourite smiles.

The Most Difficult Time of the Year

I get very frustrated during this season. As someone trying to live out my faith in Yeshua (Jesus) the way that He would have me do, I am very saddened to see so many celebrating a festival that is only nominally in his honour, and which has origins that are surprisingly dark. Each passing year, this holiday gets more difficult for me to accept and even tolerate. For anyone wondering about where the many traditions of Christmas actually came from, and what the Bible really has to say about it, I recommend reading the following article.

The Shocking Origins of Christmas: Should Christians today celebrate this ancient festival? Many today may think it is all right, but the opinions of men are not our standard or authority. What does the Word of YEHOVAH God itself say about this matter? It is a very serious question. Is it all right in the sight of YEHOVAH for men to take pagan customs and traditions, and to observe them, calling them "Christian"? Is it all right to merge and combine PAGAN practices with the truth of YEHOVAH God?

According to the prophet Malachi, YEHOVAH does not change (Mal.3:8). His laws and commandments are eternal (Psa. 111:7-8). Does YEHOVAH say it is all right to observe the traditions and customs of the pagans?

May you and your family be blessed.

Because It Doesn't Get Much Cooler Than A Car That Turns Into A Robot

Yesterday was Noah's last day in "school", working with his aide in the PUF program. In the morning, I had the boys draw her pictures as a gift. Here's Noah's, (which I had to help guide his hand on for the outlines, at least):

Jude drew this one:

Jabin didn't do much, so I didn't scan his red scribble.

When I picked Noah up, I was surprised to see him clutching the handles on a good-sized gift bag. Apparently Mrs. Soucy had thought of a "last-day-of-school" gift, too--a Lightning McQueen puzzle (one of Noah's favourite activities), and a largish Bumblebee Transformer toy.

My kids had never heard of Transformers before.

And they haven't stopped talking about it since.

There were pictures of five of the other Transformers on the back of the package. Jude kept asking me questions I did not know the answers to, never having really been "into" Transformers--that was more my brother's thing. However, I knew that Jason had been fairly into the brand when he was a kid, so I kept telling the kids "ask Daddy when he gets home." This didn't seem to be satisfying the cravings for knowledge quickly enough, so I eventually went to find out information on-line.

Noah came home with the toy at 3:30. By the time Jason got home at 5, Jude knew nearly all of the "good guy" names and several of the bad guys, and he still wanted to keep re-hashing the limited knowledge he already had, as well as any more he though he could glean from us, like a new crush that substitutes non-stop discussion of the subject when forced to actually be out of their presence. Having seen nothing more than a couple of movie trailers and toy commercials on-line, their play still revolved around "being" the various Transformers all night and morning. (Of course, Bumblebee is the favourite, with Optimus Prime being a close second.)

"This is what you must have been like as a kid," my husband observed, referring to the way that Jude was suddenly obsessed. True, except I got obsessed with stories, not necessarily the products that went with them, if there even were any. Jude got obsessed with a story he does not even know because of a product. Interesting.


On Sunday, I set this up (mostly) by myself:

Then hurriedly took it down Tuesday night as the storm clouds threatened. See, we didn't want to have to pack a wet tent when we leave for our camping trip today!!

Some of my best memories as a kid were out camping. My dad was a professional guide and outfitter until I was twelve, and I have some very vivid memories that took place out at "Ram Camp" (thus named because of it's location on the Ram River.) Also, my mom took my brother and I camping about once a year as well. Then there were Youth Group camp-outs, which were excuses to flirt almost-non-stop with the boy I had a crush on. Oh, and the never-to-be-forgotten trip I took with three of my girlfriends when we were all sixteen, fresh with driver's licenses and a couple of vehicles between the four of us. Good times.

Since high school, I have gone camping a grand total of twice. Both were with Jason. The first time was in the summer after my first year of college. Knowing how much I love camping, and missed it, he said he wanted to take me camping for my birthday in August. He had been acting strangely, considering we had tried dating for about a month early in the year, and decided that it worked better for us to be friends. Strange comments had been coming from his mouth. Comments that made me raise my brow and say, "Now, what is that boy thinking?"

Not to mention, there was obviously some kind of conspiracy going on between him and my roommate, Candace, but I could not glean any information about it, other than that she was lending us her tent and some of her camping supplies. Well, fortunately he didn't keep me guessing too long--on the way out there, he stopped the car in the middle of the (deserted) highway, and asked to court me with the intentions of marriage. I was floored. Especially when he told me he already had permission from my dad. But that's another story. Ahem.

After that, we went camping late in September the year we got married with our good friends Chris and Tegan, and it was cold and miserable and wet for most of the trip. But still, we have some good memories from that weekend, too.

Unfortunately, we haven't gone camping since.

The reasons are various, but mostly having to do with the fact that during our four years at Sunnyside Camp, Jason was not allowed to take summer holidays, due to the nature of the job. So that left us May-Long Weekend, notorious for being snowy, rainy, or hail-y, or late in September, with it wind and dropping leaves and temperatures. With small children, neither of these options was very appealing.

We did have a trip all planned for May-Long one year, and canceled at the last minute due to a nasty weather forecast. I could practically taste the disappointment I felt.

So, since this is the first time we have been camping in seven years, and the first time ever with the kids, I am both unbelievably excited, and unbelievably stressed. This has been a week from heck, schedule-wise, so I have been squeezing preparations into those hours of the day when I should be doing things like, um, sleeping. But, one way or the other, we'll get out the door today, and if I forgot anything--oh, well. It will help me remember it next time!

Meanwhile, I hope the sun finds you wherever you are this weekend.

Happy First Day Of Summer tomorrow!

If Little Tiny Birdies Fly Beyond The Rainbow, Why Oh Why Can't I?

Here I am, back at the keyboard. Back in the saddle. Or whatever. (Okay, the saddle is definitely figurative.)

Whew! What a great, busy, full, amazing week! Since I only have limited time to post right now (read: I really want to go work up a sweat playing Dance Dance Revolution some more), I will summarize in a bullet list. Get ready to duck, 'cause here they come atcha:
  • Great Easter weekend with a whole lotta family. There was a baby shower for my cousin Robin's first baby Owen on Saturday. What a little sweet pickle! Well, maybe more like a peach. Definitely edible. That was followed by Easter Dinner at my in-laws, where we got to meet my nine-month-old nephew Kayden for the first time. (That is definitely one of my favourite ages.) Also, for the first time, Jude and Noah "clicked" with Kayden's older sister Kayla (who is Jude's age), and they got along famously. I think Jude was just thrilled to find out he has a cousin his age, since all of his friends up here are cousins with each other, and he definitely feels the exclusion of not being "in the family."
  • The next day, Sunday, was followed by more food, as well as the momentous occasion of meeting my dad's girlfriend Tina. *wolf-whistle in Tina's general direction* I think ya' got a keeper there, Dad.
  • After a weekend of gluttony, we left our kids with Jason's mom and sister for the day on Monday while I drove Jason to the airport. (Don't ask about the reasons for that yet--I'm not at liberty to talk about it.) While I was in Edmonton, I went to a LASIK clinic for a consultation. And booked a surgery for Thursday!
  • The intervening two days were spent doing a LOT of shopping (or so it felt like, with three little boys and a momma who are unused to spending that much time stepping in and out of stores anymore) and hanging out with my brother and father. Also, desperately trying to find a babysitter for while I was in Edmonton on Thursday.
  • Said babysitter emerged--the kids were once again safely ensconced at their grandmother's house, and I was on my merry--if somewhat anxious--way to Edmonton with my brother as driver. We arrived in good time for my 11:45 appointment, and by 1:00 it was all over. I sat in the post-op room with Logan, trying to subdue the "fight-or-flight" mode my body had gone into from all the weird experiences it had just gone through, but already seeing better with my naked eyes than I had in years.
  • The rest of the day was mostly spent sleeping and putting drops in my eyes, as well as getting used to the sexy goggles you have to wear while sleeping. (I could audition for The Fly--Resurrection in those babies, I tell ya'.) By the next morning at my 8:00 a.m. follow-up appointment, I was seeing 20/20 in each eye individually, and 20/15 with them together! WHOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! (I have needed glasses since I was nine years old. This is a really big deal.)
  • We flew back to Sylvan from Edmonton. Okay, not really. My brother drove his little Honda at a very legal speed-limity pace, whilst trying to addict me to a PlayStation Portable game called Patapon. (It was pretty fun, I have to admit.) I packed up my kids and the remainder of our things into the van, then drove back to Edmonton to pick up Jason from the airport, from whence we wound our wonderful way to where we wiv. Uh, I mean, "live."
So, that's pretty much it. Now, as per usual when I return from holidays, I am trying to postpone diving back into "work mode" until the last possible second, because once it starts it just never seems to stop. I can be thankful that, as far as I am concerned, summer starts in only eight weeks.

Don't mind me if I start counting sleeps already. (Only fifty-six more to go...)