Farewell YOG

Have you all been following the Year Of Gratitude Blog this year? I happened upon it a soon after I entered the blogosphere and have been inspired by the women who have shared their gratitude journey this year.

Alas, the YOG will come to an end tomorrow in the sense that the last entry will be posted, but it will still be out there so we can browse and find inspiration from the previous posts.

If you've been inspired by the YOG, I encourage you to pop over and leave a comment to let those fabulous YOG women know that we've apppreciated their attitude of gratitude this year!

Time for some discipline

You would think I would learn. Once again, here I am at the cusp of a new year comtemplating the weight that I have gained over the past year that now needs my attention. Once upon a time when I was younger, I could eat anything I wanted, exercise not at all, and not gain a pound. I have to keep reminding myself that those days are gone.

My clothes seem to have shrunk in my closet over the past few months, so I either need to go out and purchase an entire new wardrobe - not a bad solution actually - or muster up some discipline and get back on the healthy eating and exercise routine. To make matters worse, I have to go for another cholesterol test this week. Gulp.


Last evening, I put turkey bones into a pot to make stock for soup that we'll have for dinner tonight. This morning I got up at my regular time to get ready to go back to work after the Christmas holiday. When I turned on my radio I heard no more Christmas songs instead the format had returned to the regular contemporary Christian music that I enjoy. Our snow is mostly gone, and we've returned to the Pacific Northwest rain.

It occured to me that one of the reasons that these past four days have been so special, is that they were a break from the ordinary. We would get sick of having turkey leftovers every night (actually we already are sick of it!). Christmas songs are so special because we only hear them for a brief time each hear. While I am looking forward to retiring from my job, I know that when I do there will be a different routine established, and so a break from he ordinary will still be special.

"To everything there is a season.....". I am going to work on enjoying this new season as I return to the "real world" for a time today.

P.S. In case you're wondering, the gadget that I posted about earlier, is a Solio solar battery charger!

Memoir Challenge

The Story Circle Network is holding a challenge beginning on January 1. The idea is to choose four women's memoirs to read in four months, and then post a four sentence review of each book.

There are prizes each month, and a grand prize at the end of the four months. I encourage everyone to check it out!

The books that I have chosen to read are:
1. Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Elyse Schein
2. The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman
3. Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice
4. A London Scrapbook by Polly Grose

Gadget Girl

I love technology and gadgets and I'm fascinated by new things that I see coming out. I love browsing in stores like Brookstone, and Best Buy, although I have to admit that there are some things I see that I really have no idea what they are for.

I love my own gadgets like my Pocket PC, iPod, pink laptop and especially my Sony eReader. (I can't wait for an excuse to buy the Kindle!)

For Christmas I received the gadget pictured here. I love it, and it's going to be so useful to me.

Any ideas what it is?

Boxing Day

In Canada the day after Christmas is Boxing Day and it is also a holiday. In many ways, Boxing Day was my favorite holiday in December. The hurry and stress was behind, and it was a day for relaxation.

We usually spent a quiet day enjoying books that we have received or purchased for Christmas, eating turkey sandwiches, working on a jig-saw puzzle, and other low key things like that.

Now that we live in our "new" country, Boxing Day is no longer a holiday. I'm thankful that this year the day after Christmas is actually a day off for us so we can continue the Boxing Day tradition this year!

Merry Christmas!

Just a short post this morning as I prepare to head out into the snow yet again. (I'm sure that once again today I'll be one of the very few who make it into the office!)

I'll leave you this morning with a picture of my children from Christmas long ago. Their smiles speak of the joy of Christmas morning, don't they?

May the joy that these little faces project be yours on Christmas and always! Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

Snow days

The snow keeps falling here in the Pacific Northwest. In an area that is not prepared for the volume of snow that we are receiving that means that it's often wisest to stay off of the roads as much as possible.
This past weekend we stayed home and enjoyed our down time together. What a refreshing pause in the hustle of daily life!
I'm not sure what the morning commute will look like today, but we'll do the best we can to ease back into real life.
A weekend of rest was the silver lining in our snow-filled clouds!

Storm warning

Today we are under a severe winter storm warning. People have been out shopping last night and this morning stocking up on supplies in case we lose power because the forecast is for cold temperatures, snow, freezing rain and high winds starting this afternoon.

Earlier, it was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the winds were non-existent. Gradually, the clouds have begun to roll in though and we know that the storm is on the way.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had storm warnings in real life? Most often the storms in life come suddenly in the form of a phone call in the middle of the night, a lump found while showering, investments losing money, or perhaps the loss of a job. We usually have no opportunity to prepare for the storms in our life and so we ride them out the best way we can.

Appearances can be deceiving, like the beautiful blue sky this morning, and storms can come unexpectedly. We have prepared the best way we can for the weather system that's on it's way this afternoon.

Tell me, is there anything that we can do to prepare for the storms in life that are sure to come?

Stroller in training

Did you ever notice how some people kind of stroll through their day, and others walk purposefully and quickly as they go about their activities? I'm one of the latter, but lately I've been observing the habits of the slower-paced folks.

My husband is one of the "strollers". He meanders throught the house as he prepares for the day in a way that suggests that he has never even heard of the word "stress". Sometimes he runs a bit late as a result of the slower pace, but he's one of the leasts stressed people I know. Quite frankly it drives me crazy

I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. I bound out of bed when the coffee-maker goes off and I'm like a woman on a mission. I've got my routine and woe to the individual, including puppies and husbands, who tries to veer me off of that routine.

I've noticed at work as well that there are folks who take their time and others who walk like they're always in a rush. Lately, I have been consciously trying to slow down my pace and I have found that it does something for the stress level. I keep thinking that in retirement, I'll turn into one of those "strollers".

For now, I'm just a "stroller in training".

And the winner is.......

Marilyn over at The Stair Landing!

Congratulations, Marilyn! Please send me your mailing address and store preference (Barnes & Noble or Borders), a gift card will be coming your way, and you'll have a perfect excuse for an hour or so browsing in the bookstore!

Thanks everyone for sharing your Christmas memories. It's so comforting to look back at our childhood dreams, isn't it?

A Christmas Story

I can only recall one Christmas when there was really something that I wanted to receive. More than anything that year I wanted a Spirograph - do you remember those? They were kits filled with colored pens, plastic circles and bars with holes in them that had cogs that fit together so that you could move them and draw the most beautiful designs.

I needed one of those Spirographs! In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I had gathered various paraphanalia from around the house in an attempt to make my own homeade version. I had mason jar lids, those plastic rubber sealers, all the colored pens I could find, and I managed to make some pretty funky designs.

On Christmas morning, there was one gift that was the last one given to me. I just knew it had to be my Spirograph, but when I opened it up I found a Hands Down game instead. I'm not sure who was more disappointed (okay, I am sure, it was me!) my Mom or I. What had happened was that she had ordered my Spirograph from the Sears catalog. I guess that Spirograph's were big sellers that year, because they ran out and shipped a substitution
Mom asked me if I wanted to keep the game, or if I wanted her to send it back and try and get the Spirograph. Hiding my disappointment, I assured her that the game would be just fine.

We played with the game off on on on Christmas Day, and I genuinely tried to muster up some enthusiasm for it. Later in the afternoon, I went to my Mom and confessed my disappointment and told her that if it was really no trouble I would prefer it if the game could be returned and we could try to get the coveted Spirograph
Well, eventually I did get my Spirograph and I loved that thing. In fact, when my kids were old enough, they also loved playing with it when we went to visit Grandma. Over the years, some pieces were lost but it was still possible to make beautiful pictures

I only just got rid of what was left of the Spirograph a couple of years ago when we moved. I wonder if part of the value was attached to my anticipation and waiting to receive it. I choose to believe that it was. Often, those things that don't come immediately or easy are the things we value the most
P.S. Stay tuned for the winner of the B&N or Border's gift card!

Support your local bookstore!

Today I'm piggy-backing on Joanne's idea for supporting the publishing and bookselling industries. (Despite what my husband thinks, I'm not keeping the industry going all by myself!)

So, here's the plan: leave a comment telling us a little something about one of the best Christmas suprises you had as a child.

I'll draw later this week and the winner will receive a gift card from either Border's or Barnes and Noble!

Slowing down and taking care

Yesterday morning I read a post by Judi over at A Baby Boomer Women's Life After 50 that I haven't been able to get out of my mind. She talks about a week of self-care she just experienced and how her perspective on what's really important has changed. For some reason this resonated strongly with me.

We had a snow day here and spent much a wonderful low key day at home. Not worrying about having to rush out to do anything we got our Christmas letters printed and ready to send, played with the dogs, played some Flinch, read books and just enjoyed being home together.

Last evening we spent a pleasant time with friends from Church in a home that is so cozy that one feels as if they could curl up and stay for a week or so just basking in the peace and welcoming that is part of that family.

Sometimes in our daily lives we can find ourselves on a treadmill of sorts where we're too busy to pay attention to our own mental and physical health. I'm "hearing" messages from everywhere lately. I need to slow down and take better care of myself and focus more on what is really important.

What messages are you "hearing" lately?

Book Report

Yesterday, I gave myself permission to set aside the book I had been reading for my reading group. I wasn't enjoying it much at all, and after hearing comments from a few others in the group who were feeling the same way, I decided to put it down.

When I was younger I forced myself to finish all books that I started. Not so any more. I've decided that there are just too many good books, and likely not enough time for me to read all that I will want to. My time is precious at this stage of life and I want to spend it the best way I can.

Yesterday, in anticipation of possible power outages due to an incoming winter storm, I download three books to my Sony eReader. They were The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, A Mercy by Toni Morrison, and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. A December feast!

I have two questions for you today. Do you finish every book you start? What are you reading (or anticipating reading) right now?

Happy Starbucks Day!

It's Friday! I always treat myself to a venti Carmel Macchiato on the way to work on Fridays. Yum!

I'm looking forward to the weekend. Thee is supposed to be bad weather coming in later today, and for me bad weather means more time to stay home and read and write. I can't think of a nicer way to pass the time time than to sit by the fire with a book and my dogs and a cozy quilt.

I'm nearing the end of a book I'm reading now and so I'll probably be on the prowl for something new this weekend as well. It's not that I don't have a number of as yet unread books in my bedside table, but really one can never have too many books on hand! With the bad weather in the forecast, I'm thankful for my Sony eReader because I can buy books without ever leaving the comfort of my home.

So, I'm treating myself to Starbucks and a new book. What treats are you giving yourself this weekend?

Stupid Stuff

This morning I was awakened by a blood curdling scream. As I struggled to surface from deep sleep, I began to realize that I was the screamer. Gerry and I were both wide awake after that, and as I moved to get out of bed to begin the day he asked what I had been dreaming.

My reply was a mumbled, "stupid stuff".

I had been dreaming that I was at a resort and for a variety of, mostly stuipd, reasons found myself unable to find my way to the beach. Sometimes one wonders why the subconscious mind entertains some of the things that come up in our dreams. Some of the reasons that I found myself unable to get to the beach last night could be classified that way - unusual and just plain stupid. The reason for the dream about the beach however, was much less mysterious.

I am living in an interesting place called pre-menopause. Many of my nights are spent alternating between feeling that I have been thrown into a furnace, then the ocean, and finally into a meat freezer and last night was no exception.

I had awakened earlier swimming in a sea of what someone has coined night sweats. Let me tell you, that doesn't even begin to describe the experience of waking up with the feeling that you have fallen asleep in a lukewarm bathtub.

Finding oneself in bed and soaking wet is one thing, but what comes next is the sense of being stranded outside in sub-zero temperatures after finding oneself soaking wet from a lukewarm bathtub. Now that's stupid!

A few months ago I purchased some pajamas called wicking pajamas that are called that, I suppose, because they are supposed to act like a wick and absorb the moisture in order to prevent the subsequent chills. I think I must have gotten a defective pair because they don't seem to be working for me.

On the bright side, I had an excuse to pull out this great picture of myself in the ocean that was taken earlier this year in Mexico and to remember how much fun that trip was. It's fun to reminisce about that trip, but tonight I'd rather look back to childhood days on the warm dry prairie.

Dad's Blog

This is a picture of my sister and I. On the back of the picture, in my Dad's handwriting, is a list of everyone that he wanted to have copies of the picture printed for:


I'm sure that, along with the picture, each person would have received a long letter full of news, and that no two letters would have been the same. My Dad was a master of communication.

Lately, I've been thinking about what he would do if he were here to experience the world of blogging. I'm convinced he would have his own blog where he would post all sorts of interesting tidbits about life in general. He would use it to keep everyone up to date on what twists and turns the lives of my sister and I were taking, and would include interesting little tidbits about not much of anything at all.

In some ways the blog is a 21st century version of the kind of letter writing that my Dad used to do. He wrote often, and wrote long newsy letters filled with his thoughts on a wide range of subjects.

The other thought that occurs to me as I ponder my Dad's hypothetical blog, is that none of the people whose names appear on the list on the back of the picture are still alive. The world today, is nothing like that simpler time when my Dad took negatives to the drug store to have copies made for family members.

How sweet it would be to turn back time for just a little while.


This is a picture of my little (three pound!) dog, Chelsea. She has her harness and leash on and is ready to go for a walk. Does she look apprehensive?

When Chelsea hears the word "walk" or sees us bring in her leash and harness, she will run and hide or try to make herself invisible by sitting as far back in the corner of the sofa as possible and she will sit there trembling as she waits for us to get going.

I sometimes feel guilty watching this reaction as we get ready for a walk. I can almost hear her saying "I don't want to go outside, I want to stay at home".

Many times as I've prepared to go somewhere new and unfamiliar I've felt the same way, and I have wanted to stay home where I feel safe and comfortable. Chelsea is fine once we get outside and begin our walk, and I too I am usually fine once I arrive at my destination.

Chelsea has no time for sniffing and looking around when we walk. She just wants to get the walk over with so she can get back home. Often, as we round the corner toward home she begins to pull on the leash wanting to get home faster.

Again, I understand her perfectly. When social events are over, I'm most always glad that I made the effort to attend, but when it's time go to home, I begin to feel the anticipation of settling back in to my home where I feel safe and secure.

Looking Ahead

It's a dark wet afternoon here in the Pacific Northwest. As I sit here at my desk looking at the rain falling, I just happened to glance over at my calendar and realized something that perked up my soggy spirits.

Two weeks from today is the longest day of the year! That means that in just two more weeks the days will start to get longer!

Now, I'm not in total denial, I know we've probably still got some winter weather in front of us, after all it's in two weeks that winter technically begins.

Winter in this new home of mine us unlike that which I've lived with all of my life, and there are certain aspects that appeal to me. I don't miss the snow, ice or freezing temperatures at all, and I'm beginning to get used to the rain. The milder weather is a definite plus, but when it's wet and gloomy it's really wet and gloomy.

It's the daylight that I miss the most at ths time of year. It can get depressing going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark day after day.

I'm looking ahead to the winter solstice when the days will start to get longer. Before you know it, the flowers will be blooming and I'll be back in my lawn swing on the patio!

Okay, maybe I should just slow down and take one extra minute of daylight per day at a time.

Lessons from the road

This picture reminds me of a favorite quote I had when I was younger. "Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it". (James Baldwin)

Somewhere, at some time, someone enterprising individual must have said "we don't have to go around the mountain, we can go through it!". I wonder if there were scoffers, those who snickered behind his back.

I find that this little saying has come true in my own life over and over again. There are little things at work that we tend to talk around and around about, when I know that if someone just sits down and does it it will be finished.

In other cases in my life, there have been situations where I, myself, have been convinced that I couldn't do something, but with the help of God and others I found the strength needed to walk through the mountain.

Have there been occasions in your life when you may have been told, either directly or indirectly, that something couldn't be done? What was your response?

A Slower Pace

Recently I waited in the car with the pups as my husband went into the grocery store. I enjoyed the opportunity to sit quietly and observe people coming and going.

There was one older woman who caught my attention as she pushed her grocery cart toward her car. She walked slowly, taking her time, each step seeming to require some thought. I wondered if she was in pain of some sort.

I lost sight of her for a time, but caught a glimpse of her again as she pushed her cart back to the cart-collection area. Again, I was struck with the slowness of her pace and the care she took with each step. I appreciated the fact that if she truly was in pain as her gait seemed to suggest, she was still willing to return the cart and not leave it in front of her car as I had seen others do.

After returning to her car in the same unhurried fashion she prepared for departure. Slowly she reached back to get her seat belt, and as she pulled it to the front to fasten it I could tell that there was something on her mind. Once buckled in, she reached into a compartment toward the top of the window and retrieved some sun glasses. Slowly and deliberately she removed the glasses she wore and replaced them with the sun glasses.

Not happy with her vision from the sun glasses, she removed them. I saw her reaching toward the passenger seat and assumed that she was rummaging through her purse. Having retrieved a tissue, she slowly began to wipe the glasses, periodically putting a lens into her mouth where she could breath on it, and then wipe some more. After wiping for a time she would hold the glasses up to the light. Eventually, satisfied that the glasses were cleaned, she started her car and began to back out of her parking space.

I hadn't watched her for more than a few minutes, yet I felt myself calm down as I vicariously experienced her lack of stress and lack of concern with time or schedule.

I look forward to the day when a trip to the grocery store is like that for me.

Book Review

I just finished Pat's new book Growing Up In the Texas Panhandle.

I know that this book will be a treasure to Pat's family in the years to come, but as one with no connection to Pat's family, I can say with surety that this is also a wonderful read for anyone with an interest in reading lifestories.

The stories of summers spent with grandparents, family picnics, roller skating, swimming, and other childhood fun made me remember back to my own childhood and the endless summer days that stretched out ahead. Pat's description of family vacations that entailed hours and hours of travel in an unairconditioned car also took me back to the days when my own mother packed wet faceclothes for us to cool ourselves in the heat of the afternoon.

Her book is filled with favorite family recipes (I am dying to try that fried chicken!) and tributes to grandparents whom she learned to appreciate only after they were gone.

Pat goes on to tell about her early working years and her experience of finally leaving her family home. This book resonated with me and left me yearning for a simpler time when we made our own fun and life was not so complicated. While Pat and I grew up in different times and in different geographic locations, many of the experiences she writes about resonate with my own memories of childhood.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to take a trip back in time to learn a bit more about how someone else grew to be the person that they finally become.

Thank you for sharing your stories, Pat!

We're home!

After a long, 14 hour trip, we are finally back home again. We had an incredible time with our children and beautiful little grandson. It's official, we DO have the cutest grandson possible, and we're only slightly biased!

We had a wonderful time, and were especially honored to be able to spend some one-on-one, (really two-on-one) time with our beautiful grandson, Jaxon!

We also spent some great times with soon-to-be-Mommy, my beautiful daughter Laurinda, who is due to deliver in one more month! She and I did some pre-baby shopping together and it was the best time one could ask for.

It's hard to express how thankful I am for everything that God has given this year. We are all blessed beyond measure!
P.S. Brandon, Gord, and Nicole....we had a wonderful time with you all as well! Just saving those memories for another day...and another post....


This is my dog Maya. She looks pretty spiffed up in this picture, but it's very likely that five minutes after this picture was taken her bow was askew, one of her ears was flopped forward, and she looked like a shaggy dog.

She has a very loving personality, she always wants to be near me no matter where I am or what I am doing. She's content to sit on my lap for the longest time when I'm working at the computer.

Maya is a rascal though. She's chewed some things in our home that ought not to be chewed, we had some potty challenges with her when she was younger, and she can be a bit yappy. She takes toys away from her sister, she wants whatever her sister has and isn't afraid of letting everyone know it.

In some ways I relate to Maya. I can get all dressed up in the morning, and by the time I get to work and look in the mirror I wonder what happened to that woman I saw in the mirror before I left home. My makeup doesn't stay put as long as I'd like, my hair doesn't always behave the way that I would like it to.

I've been know to be a rascal, doing some things that may have annoyed some other people.

I look at this little girl and my heart overflows with love for her despite her sometimes rebellious ways. She's just so darn cute!

I hope that someone looks at me in the same way sometimes!