Change of Season, Change of Pace

This past week, our Indian Summer made the full transition into Early Winter with freezing temperatures and two days of snow. This weekend, the mercury has hit +10 again, melting away most of the white stuff, but I know it is only a very temporary reprieve before winter begins in earnest.

... a reprieve that we are making full use of to finish our yard clean-up and other last-minute outside chores to prep for winter.

Jude has been driving us crazy for the last few months with comments of, "I can't wait for it to snow!" and "I wish it was winter already!" Given the brevity of our Northern summers, this has irked Jason and I, and we usually retort with, "Six months a year isn't enough for you?"

On Friday, as the kids and I were driving away from home in a snowstorm, Jabin said, "When it's summer, I want it to be colder. When it's winter, I want it to be warmer."

"Do you know what the secret to happiness is, buddy?" I asked him.


"Being content in whatever circumstances you are in." Then I explained what "contentment" is.

"Oh," he said, in that "clear as mud" tone of voice.

I guess that's a lesson we all have to learn in our own way. Sometimes, we re-learn it over, and over, and over.

Yesterday, I was surprised by a restless feeling.

"If we were in Red Deer," I commented to Jason, "this is the kind of day where I'd say 'Let's go to the mall and people-watch and have coffee.'" I think I just wanted to get out of the house, see something different, feel the crispness of the air and the bustle of a busier place. However, after seven years in Peace River, I don't get the yen for that much anymore--I'm out of the habit, I guess.

Well, since that wasn't an option, and since we wouldn't pile into the van for a two-hour trip to Grande Prairie just to have coffee at the mall, I did some digital scrapbooking instead. I managed to complete six layouts, working backwards from the present. That, plus the ones I've already completed in the last few weeks (I've been going through a miniature "scrapbooking phase") means that I have done all the photos back to mid-August already. You never know--maybe I'll actually get a whole year done digitally and print a photobook when Shutterfly has their year-end sales. That would be different. :-)

Well, I better go tackle those afore-mentioned outside chores. Here are the layouts I did yesterday:

Sneakin' in Some Scrapbookin'

As you have probably gathered, scrapbooking is not nearly so frequent of a pastime in my life as it used to be. However, I did manage one day of "paper scrappin" this summer with Amanda, and over the last few days I have snuck in a few digital layouts. I haven't scanned the paper ones, but here are the digital ones for you to enjoy. (I need to print some recent photos to inspire me to "paper scrap" more often! The most recent prints I have are from 2006!)


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:

Astute Observer

I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, my fingers tangled in my hair, just beginning to try and wrestle it into a French Braid for the day. Jabin walked in, grinning as usual, took one glance at me and said, "Mommy, you look pretty!"

I'm not sure what inspired the comment--maybe the fact that for his first view of me for the day, I already had my clothes on and my hair was at least brushed. I certainly don't look like anything special today, with my work jeans and nondescript green T-shirt. After a second glance, he changed his mind.

"Actually, you look beautiful!" he said, as he waltzed over to the toilet, dropped his pants and sat. Normally, I would chastise him for doing that while I am standing there (we are still working on the whole "ask-other-people-to-leave-the-bathroom-before-you-do-your-business" concept), but I was so distracted by all the compliments that I just smiled and said, "Thanks, buddy!"

I looked at him and grinned. He looked at me, hands holding the seat to keep him from "falling in", and grinned a crinkle-eyed, silly grin at me.

"You look smiley this morning," I teased him.

"I always look smiley!" he said. "Maybe when I was a baby, you should have called me 'Smiley'!"

"Sometimes I did," I remarked.

"I mean, as my name, instead of 'Jabin'." He hopped up and flushed, remembering to close the lid, at least.

"Oh. Well, that's not usually a name people give their babies. It's more of a nickname. We could call you that now, if you'd like." He laughed and ran to get dressed. (Oops! Forgot to wash his hands, too!)

As astute as it was to observe that about himself, he still hasn't noticed that he already gets called "Smiley" about half the time! ;-) It'll come, I'm sure!

Scrapbook Saturday at last

Well, I got in some scrapping on Saturday, albeit digitally, for the first time in a good nine or ten months. I actually had the kids help me with making a page about themselves--a little bit of "art class" on the computer. Noah still has to do his with me, but here are the two the other boys helped with:

Superkid the supergoof

Cute as can Be

I scrapped the story I posted about here in these two layouts:

Better a Brother Close By

The Way You Love

And captured part of a summer day that never made it onto the blog. Yes, I used pink and red flowers on a layout with my boys--it matches the wild rose. Sue me. I need to use every excuse I can find to use flowers, 'cause I don't often have one!

Nature's Playground 

In other news, I finished orchestrating another song for the musical last night. It is only the third one I have completed, but it was a biggie--almost eight minutes of music, a big production number that covers two scenes and is part of the opening sequence. Not including the "time off" I took in December, I think it still consumed 3-4 weeks of my life. I feel like it was quite an accomplishment to finish it! (Plus! I wrote a tango for part of it! That's a big deal... to me, at least!)

Happy Monday, friends!

Gift Wrapped

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why we call it 'The Present'."
-Eleanor Roosevelt (? - original source uncertain)

"In summer, the song sings itself."
-William Carlos Williams

It has been an interesting week, full of "things wrapped up."

On Monday, Jude did his last math test, scoring 93%. Even though we have been finished all of his other school stuff since the end of April, we had a late start on math (the books came late, 'cause they were back-ordered), so he has been working on it steadily for the last couple of months. He was pretty excited to finally finish it--and so was I!

On Wednesday, Jabin and Noah had their soccer BBQ and wrap-up. It turned out to be a beautiful day, and we all ate cheap hotdogs on cheap white buns and managed to not even pay a price for it the next day! (Sorry, I forgot the camera in the van, and was too lazy to go dig it out, so no photos.)

Also on Wednesday, I wrapped up nearly a week of intensive work on the last six months of my business books from 2009, and also getting my tax return completed. YAY! That's the earliest I have completed my tax return in five years of business. I was all caught up on my books just before we left Mena--and haven't been since. But I'm getting there!

On Thursday, Jude's golf lessons wrapped up with a putting competition and some prizes. Also, more hotdogs on white buns. At least these were half-decent hotdogs this time.

Thursday afternoon and evening, I celebrated the "finishing-of-the-taxes" with several hours of scrapbooking at Amanda's. This is one of the three layouts I completed. Why yes, I am still behind with my photos, why do you ask?

Today, Jason is wrapping up work before a week of holidays. We are very excited, because other than being sick or moving, Jason has not had any time off for, um,... I think about two years? Maybe longer? It's definitely time. We are hoping to spend a little time in Sylvan Lake, but also to get some projects done around here. I will keep you updated!

Also today, Noah is at his last day of school for the year at Kindergarten. Then, I will officially have a third grader, a first grader, and kindergartner in the house--well, "going intos", anyway.

Mark and Colleen passed through on Monday night on their way (moving) back to Yellowknife from Vancouver area. Unfortunately, Jason was away for the night for work, and it had been a long, stressful day for me with the kids (long story which I'm not sharing here), and it didn't work out to get together. However, she left me "a little something" that she picked up for me in Portland, Oregon, and I was able to get last night while at Amanda's.

A knitting coaster--combining two of my great loves in classic, vintage style. Does this girl know me, or what? Thank you, Colleen. It's perfect.

Now, without taxes looming, I am hearing the siren call of summer like a lullaby from heaven. I am looking forward to an endless string of summer afternoons at the splash park, or scrapbooking, or stitching, or knitting, or visiting friends, or gardening, or camping, or all of those on the same day (okay, maybe not quite). Somewhere in there (and soon) I have to plan school for next year, and I also have a goal of catching up on this year's books and STAYING caught up, so there will be none of this "late-with-the-taxes" nonsense next year. (Jason's pretty excited about that, too.)

What have YOU been up to this week, friends?

My Style

The hubby's sleeping. Two of the kids are sleeping. I am taking a second day "off" in a row--and scrapbooking for the first time in months.

The photos in this layout were taken in January of 2009. Here is another photo of the dress under the coat, taken last fall with my stylin', comfy (and modest! when the wind blows the dress up à la Marilyn Monroe) red-with-white-polka-dots bloomers:

I made this dress in January of '09 while Jason was in Nashville at the Financial Peace Counselor training. In fact, I believe that it was only the second time I'd worn it in the layout photos. It ended up looking much more like the cotton dresses my grandmother wore in the 50's and 60's than I thought it would, but I like it. I also like that I raided my mom's vintage button stash for it, and that there are at least three different styles and sizes of buttons on it.

Here is another example of my vintage, eclectic style: the dress I made and designed in December of 2009 out of a rather heavy denim that my mom had given me:

This was inspired by a desire to stay warm and to look stylish at the same time. The pleated ruffles are cut on the bias and unfinished, so after it had been washed a couple of times the edges got a little fuzzy and stood out more, especially the one on the skirt. Again, my favourite part is the buttons. I find that I can usually make entire dresses for under $20, but if $12-$15 of that is spent on buttons, it makes the whole dress look more expensive. (Free material really helps!)

The journaling on my layout reads:

"If it's a little vintage,
A little unique,
A little modern
A little chic,
A little classy,
A little sweet,
A little homemade,
A little neat,
A little red,
And versatile,
Once all that's said
It's Just My Style."


This has been a pitiful scrapbooking year for me. Yes, I know I have a legitimate excuse, but honestly, even though I have had my supplies available, and time I could have spent doing it, I have mostly been sewing during my "hobby time" this year. Therefore, I am pitifully behind on Project 365, having only recently completed Week 12.

However, I'm starting to feel a bit "scrappy" again (don't worry, Honey, I won't take it out on you!), so today I spent a few hours downloading the newest free stuff from shabbyprincess.com and designerdigitals.com. Then, I just made this layout from the one of the gorgeous kits that the Princess had to offer.

Now, I just have to decide whether to be foolish and stay up for the extra hour afforded by the time change tonight, or go get a good night's sleep. Hmmm... Maybe I could get Week 13 done...

All By Myself

Okay, okay... I know that living with my mom and step-dad does not exactly make the title of this post one hundred percent accurate. But I am definitely spouse-less at the moment. This is the beginning of our three month separation while I wait for warmer weather in Northern climes to be more conducive to moving all our worldly possessions. (Hey, honey--maybe we should freak everyone out by saying we are going through a "trial separation!" Whatdya think? :-D)

Jason left for Peace River on Thursday. I dropped him off at the airport in Fort Smith after leaving home around 3:30 a.m. After a few hours of choppy sleep in my mom's car, I then went and did some shopping in the city before coming home. It was wonderful. I got cute new shoes on sale. What? Retail therapy? No way! Um... okay, maybe a little.

So, this weekend I did a little more sewing, and enjoyed the beautiful weather we were blessed with. Yippee! Oh, and also, caught up a bit on Project 365. Enjoy:

On the 8th Day of Hannukah...

What a great, great day... and week...

Admittedly, like every week, it had it's ups and downs. But, since it is very late, and I am very tired, I am going to try to limit my rambling and write this post in an eight-point list, one for each day of Hannukah. (That does not necessarily mean that each point will correlate with events from the same-numbered day! Just warnin' ya.)

1. A brief explanation: Jason and I decided to stop celebrating Christmas in 2003, after being shown a video that had much of the same information as this article. (Thank you to my cousin Alex for bringing the article to my attention.) I highly recommend that if you only have time to either a) read the rest of this blog post or b) read the article, pick B. Trust me, I won't be offended. (Plus, B is much more likely to have a lasting impact on your life than the next 7 points I'm going to expound on at this late hour.)

Since that time, we have not really "celebrated" anything at this time of year. And, contrary to what some people may think, our kids are not emotionally scarred by growing up knowing that not only does Santa Claus not exist, but that Jesus was not born on December 25th, and this time of year is not about getting whatever we ask and beg and plead for, and that Mommy and Daddy won't lie to them, even for fun. Our Decembers have passed nearly stress-free while we watch the buying frenzy over a quiet cup of hot chocolate from corner coffee stands in the mall, and perhaps scoop up an after-Christmas deal on the yearly board game we buy for our family's trove, or Noah's birthday in February. Our wallets are not any more pinched in January than any other month (especially now that we are not paying the heating bills for our drafty "ex"-house in forty below weather), and we feel much more at liberty to bless friends and family with gifts at any time of the year we pleased, instead of playing the "political gift-giving" game every December.

However, over time we have had a growing interest in the Judaic roots of our faith--the "root" of the tree to which we, as Gentiles, are grafted into. While Hannukah is not one of the 7 major feasts on the Jewish Calendar, we thought this would be as good a time as any to start learning more about it. Thus, we celebrated our first Hannukah this year, replete with gelt, and Spin the Dreidel, and lots and lots of latkes. Yum!

2. I love holidays. And by "holidays," I mean "days off," of course. Even if it means that I just get to work in a different way, I have been enjoying my fair share of relaxing, too. Plus, I mended at least 7 items on the pile, including a favourite red sweater of mine that needed the zipper replaced for at least a year.

3. Red is my favourite colour. For years, I've been saying I have no favourite colour, but when I look into my closet and realize that I reach for red more often than anything else, and love just adding a hint of red to whatever I'm wearing (or scrapbooking!), I have to admit that yes, I do have a favourite colour. And that's okay! :-D

4. I promised myself I would not gloat to folks back home about the weather here when we moved, because I remember how I would feel when my mother would call me on Christmas Day and brag about the fact that she was wearing shorts, while I had to put on at least fifteen layers to cross the street and get the mail. SO! I just want to clarify that this is not a brag--this is a recording for posterity. (This is my journal, after all.) Today, for church, I wore what many would consider a "summer" cotton dress. I wore tights, and calf-high leather boots, and a longish sweater, and a scarf. That's it. December 28th. It was awesome.

5. The reason I needed to record that for posterity is that it is nearly official that our sojourn to warmer temperatures has a soon-coming end. With the economic slowdown, it looks like we will be heading north by spring. (Hopefully not before, as moving to Alberta at the end of January is definitely NOT our idea of a good time!) God could work a miracle, and January could be amazing, but statistically-speaking, that is not likely to happen. So. That's that. Needless to say, we have mixed feelings about it all. You'll probably get to hear lots more about those in future posts, so I won't keep on about it right now.

6. Wowee, have I been doing a lot of cooking this week. We had a planned Hannukah party tonight, to which we invited our pastors Victor and Susan and their kids, and the youth pastor Adam and his wife Alicia and their kids. That was really, really fun, and we had a blast getting to know them a little bit better. Of course, there was lots of food, with latkes being an integral part of the menu! (A latke is a cake fried in oil. Tonight's were potato and apple latkes with home-made applesauce. Yum!)

However, one of the families I invited were not able to come tonight, so at the last minute we had them on Friday night instead. They are a wonderful couple named Gerald and Bonnie Nipp. We met them because they run an organic chicken and egg operation, and we tracked them down on the internet. Without going into too much detail, I just want to say that I love these people in an inexplicable, "soul-attraction" sort of way. We have so, so much in common. Anyway, that night we had cheese latkes (which I made) and zucchini latkes (which Bonnie made) to accompany a chicken dinner with lots and lots more food!

And on Thursday, although we were not celebrating Christmas, I was still planning on cooking. Obviously, we still need to eat, so I thought this would be a good night for East Indian food. Lamb and Mint curry, Dahl curry, basmati rice, chapatis, and salad made for a wonderful feast. We found out that two of Mom and Mike's friends were both alone that day, so we invited them to share the meal. One of the guests brought a Singaporean dessert that was fantastic, and the perfect end to the meal. Surprisingly, no latkes that night. (I think we had had them for lunch.)

7. I have also managed to squeeze in a scrapbook layout here and there. I haven't scanned them all, but here's a couple that I really love:

8. "Latke" is really fun to say. Try it: "Latke, latke, latke..."

Happy Monday, friends! I hope your holidays were blessed!

... And a Partridge In A Pear Tree

If last weekend was beyond crazy, schedule-wise, this weekend was a refreshing opposite--staying at home all weekend, being productive, spending a little time on the phone with loved ones, and "centering myself."

In fact, I'm so darn proud of what I've accomplished in only one weekend, I need to record it for posterity:
  • made 12 cards (thank-yous and birthdays)
  • made one camouflage-print flannel pajama set for Jude, including shorts, pants, and a button-down shirt. He likes it so much, he's been wearing the shirt all day.
  • scrapbooked two layouts (see below--one of the layouts is from several weeks ago.)
  • watched "School of Rock" again. Still a great movie.
  • talked to all four member of my immediate family. (Okay, I know I live with my mom, so that one was a no-brainer. But hey--I actually talked to the other two that I don't live with, too! I can't remember that last time that happened all in one weekend!)
  • planned my year-end photo-gift/address change/update newsletter project. As you can tell, I like to make my projects multi-task!
Jason took our Wii to the office to use the high-speed internet and download an update. The Mario Kart game we got for Jude for his birthday didn't like our old technology, or something, so after Jason fixed it on Saturday, the kids (including the biggest one--Jason!) had a blast playing it all afternoon Sunday.

Jabin hasn't been feeling well the last couple of days--hasn't eaten much, and has a bit of a fever. I gotta say, he is the happiest sick kid I know. Even when he's sick, he's still smiling and congenial, singing songs to himself and being sweet. What a little sunshine he is!

Here are the layouts:

These photos were all taken when Jude was about 15 months old--just before Noah was born. Reiteration from last Monday's post: WHERE DID THAT BABY GO?!!!!