Monday, December 15, 2008


Today was report card day for our kids and I have to say I was very impressed with the three younger kid's reports, (I don't have Jonathan's just yet), but so far, nothing below a "B" in the bunch. Sigh...I always breathe a little easier when I find out they are on track...especially in an area that has been a struggle in the past.

As Jianna came in the door from school, she let us know that she had gotten "mostly A's". While Mark and I were having a quick look at her report, she pipes up with,
"How come I didn't get any F's...for FANTASTIC ?"

Only in Jianna's world would an "F" be for Fantastic,  we assured her she never wanted to get an "F" on  a report for school, but she was still Fantastic!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is Your Joy Intact?

For a number of reasons, I have been uncharacteristically late with my Christmas preparations this year. In the past, this would have caused me extreme stress and even sleepless nights. I would have found myself up in the middle of the night, making lists in order to organize what needed to be accomplished.
Instead, I have taken the attitude that I can only accomplish what I can accomplish and anything that doesn't get done really doesn't matter. I mean, do I really need 12 dozen different varieties of treats baked and frozen in case company drops by over Christmas?
Do I need every decoration collected or handed down to me from the past three generations, on display?
I have discovered that Christmas traditions are only special if there is Joy in them, if they are fun to do, if they bring me and to others.

I have a massive Christmas village complete with an electric train. I love this village. It is a mixture of pieces my mother created to start me off, pieces I collected along the way and many pieces that my mom left to me from her own Christmas Village.

Although I love the village, my house is too small for it, and it became stressful to try and figure out how to carve out a location for it each, a few years ago, I decided not to put up the village. It was not fun any more, so I will wait, for a larger home, and I know it will have a wonderful spot that will seem as if it were created for my village.

Some things are harder to put aside, or the happiness they bring, out ways the work.
Things like shopping for gifts. Not a toy store full of gifts, but some special gifts for some special people.
My shopping has been forced into a small window of opportunity this year...much of it last night and today.
I would have preferred to have it done by now, to do it during the week, to avoid the weekend madness. I did not have that luxury this year...and I will admit, I had to do a little "self talking" in order not to panic...but I did not lose sleep either.

I got up early (well, early for me on the weekend), did a bit of Christmas baking, relaxed with my tea, showered and basically, psyched myself up for what I envisioned would be a mad, tiring, crazy day of shopping.
The traffic was bad...but Hey! It's Belleville!
I have shopped in Christmas traffic in Ottawa, many years...we really don't know what traffic is here.

The stores were busy, but not nearly as crazy as my imagination had conjured up.
As I shopped, I began to people watch. What I saw amazed and saddened me.
I began to look more closely, at more people.

I had some lunch, rested a moment and prepared myself for the one store I did not want to have to go to the second last Sat. before Christmas...WALMART!

Determined to make the best of it, I headed in. I continued to notice people around me...the crying children were hard to miss.
The checkout line was not nearly as long as I had expected.
As I waited my turn, I looked around me. What I saw that was so disturbing and left me with an ache in my heart was the faces of the shoppers. Everywhere I looked, I saw dark circles under eyes, worn down faces and demeanors. People looked beaten down, sad and somewhat vacant.
I tried really hard to find someone who looked like they were enjoying themselves...both in the mall and at Walmart. I could not, and I began to wonder if I looked as tired and worn out. I began to purposefully smile as I went about my hunt for the perfect gifts.

When I reached my check out girl, (who happened to be responsible for the front line), she was trying to make the best out of simply not having enough people to be able to open every check out. She explained to me how she had tried to get the last shift to stay later, but they could not.
We talked about her experiences with people that day, (one who had actually, physically grabbed her to try and make his point), and my observations.

That people seemed to have lost their Joy in Christmas...I expressed my views of "why bother if there is no fun in it", and that although, I would rather shop at another time, I am shopping today and possibly next Sat. too. Why would we expect to get through the cash of a super store in 5 minutes, 11 days before Christmas. That is just not you plan and prepare for it. Is it really worth, getting upset or even stressed over. Is it her fault that I had to wait until now, to do my shopping?

In case you have been wondering, we did not tie up the line with this conversation, I ended the conversation as she finished my transaction. She thanked me for our conversation...which felt really nice. Then she wished me a "Very Merry Christmas"...which practically sent me into orbit.

 I know there are a lot of legitimate stresses this time of year, I also know that there are losses and gaps that  CAN make it difficult, (but don't HAVE to)...I have felt them personally; but really, it all comes back to choices. Will I choose to allow these things to steal my Joy, or will I choose to focus on what really counts, what I love about the season, what I DO have, who I Do have and above all, the birth of the ONE who came for my Joy?

Will I choose to go around, so focused on what I have yet to accomplish, that I look miserable...or do what I need to with a smile and a kind word?
When all the gifts are unwrapped, the goodies eaten and the decorations pulled down...will I smile with Joy, knowing that my celebrations brought honor to the ONE who it is really all about anyway or simply sigh with relief?

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year....I don't want to miss a moment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Doos for Christmas

                   The girls finally got their Christmas wish...Hair cuts!! Maria likes hers, but may go shorter over Christmas... Judging by the poses in front of the mirror, I'd say Jianna LOVES hers, (though she originally wanted a chin length bob!).
I was proud of myself, no tears, no fainting as the first beautiful long locks hit the floor....actually, I think they both look better in the shorter styles.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today's the Day...
I was 20, he was 23.
He'd asked to hold my hand,
then walked me to my front door.

As we said good bye, he came a little closer.
 My mind whirled as I sank into the most glorious of kisses.
That was the beginning...
 Who knew one kiss could lead to all of this 20 years later?
Happy Anniversary of our first kiss baby.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Something light my mother in law sent me. 
I hope they make you chuckle and if your kids are anything like mine, they will remind you of a few of your own, "kids say the darndest things"

1) NUDITY I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, 'Mom, that lady isn't wearing a seat belt!'(this one reminded me of the first time Jonathan saw an extremely obese, very dark, African American man...he was about 4 and I was sure I would be faced with a comment about either his color or size. As I prepared for the inevitable, Jonathan piped up with disbelief in his voice..."mommy, that man's head is SOOOOOO small!!!")

2) OPINIONS On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, 'The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents.'(I should send this note with at least my oldest and youngest child every year!)

3) KETCHUP A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone. 'Mommy can't come to the phone to talk to you right now. She's hitting the bottle.'

4) MORE NUDITY A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, 'What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a little boy before?'

5) POLICE # 1 While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, 'Are you a cop? Yes,' I answered and continued writing the report. My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?' 'Yes, that's right,' I told her. 'Well, then,' she said as she extended her foot toward me, 'would you please tie my shoe?'

6) POLICE # 2 It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me. 'Is that a dog you got back there?' he asked. 'It sure is,' I replied. Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, 'What'd he do?'

7) ELDERLY While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my 4-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, 'The tooth fairy will never believe this!'

8) DRESS-UP A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, 'Daddy, you shouldn't wear that suit.' 'And why not, darling?' 'You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning.'

9) DEATH While walking along the sidewalk in front of his church, our minister heard the in toning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his 5-year- old son and his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box and cotton batting, then dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased. The minister's son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: 'Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes.' ( I am thinking I should request this one at my grave side, what do you think?)

10) SCHOOL A little girl had just finished her first week o f school. 'I'm just wasting my time,' she said to her mother. 'I can't read, I can't write , and they won't let me talk!'

11) BIBLE A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. 'Mama, look what I found,' the boy called out. 'What have you got there, dear?' With astonishment in the young boy's voice, he answered, 'I think it's Adam's underwear!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Count Down to Christmas

Three Weeks to Christmas Day!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas, Surprises and Chocolate

I am rewriting the lyrics to a well known classic...

"Christmas, Surprises and Chocolate...these are a few of my favorite things"

We have been busily decorating, shopping, planning, wrapping and scheduling since we got home a week ago...and the concerts and Christmas outings have also begun.

The relaxing pace and uninterrupted time together for Mark and I seems to have been left behind on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean.

Somehow, amid my hubby's busy chauffeur schedule tonight, he made time to combine three of my favorite things into a special, somewhat nastalgic treat for me.

He came home and surprised me with a Laura Secord Chocolate Advent Calendar!
WE have a wonderful wooden advent calendar for the children that we add their favorite treats to, but I have not had an advent calendar myself, since I was a little girl.

After the over indulgence of chocolate at the chocolate buffet on the cruise, I was actually kind of sick at the idea of chocolate ....I know, UNBELIEVABLE!
Alas, My beloved hubby and my beloved Laura Secord have restored my heart and pallet to the ecstasy of a single divinely created piece of chocolate.

In my world one taste of chocolate perfection trumps an entire buffet without the slightest hesitation.