Monday, December 29, 2003

The Joy of Getting Lost in Something...

Vacations are all about not watching the clock... right? I guess today counted... sort of. There were still work related things to take care of, a run to the post office in hopes of finding some fabric that is still lost in transit from the USA (no luck) and mailing out one piece that got lost in the mess of my office when we cleaned up the kitchen... There was also the hilarious scene of filling out an International waybill for the courier on my knees in the kitchen right as the fish sticks needed to come out of the oven and my kids were fighting over a new toy...

The courier guy was very patient. I’d run out of International waybills and only discovered it as I tried to get my 2 box shipment of that nice distributor order ready to go off tonight. (Isn’t that always the way... you find out that you are missing something when you need it most... like halfway through a recipe??) So here I was filling out the waybill from him... only to discover that it was one of the older type without the secondary labels for multiple box shipments! Down I run to the fax machine and put the waybill through on “copy” which we then stuff into another sticky pouch for the second box. Nick was racing around saving the fish sticks from certain cremation and trying to negotiate a cessation of the hostilities between our two daughters that did not require the establishment of a Neutral Zone....

Sometimes, I wish that I did have a loading dock, a shipping department and a cute guy Friday (actually... I DO have that last one...but he has his own career too!) until I have to do a late night commute from work that only involves walking up two flights of stairs.

Amid all this chaos... there were two fun escapes. The first was a good Nora Roberts book, the first in a new trilogy, which I inhaled today between e-mail downloads, bathroom breaks and a nice, hot bath this morning... (being a speed reader helps, except that it means the fun is over sooner) and also the Animal Crossing game that our kids got for Christmas has turned out to be quite addictive for Mommy and Daddy too! LOL!

Getting lost in something totally fun and unjustifiable really does make me feel like I am taking time off... even in little spurts!

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Happy Holiday Thoughts...

Here’s what I tried to post on Christmas Eve....

Well... the blog and website are updated... my duet at church tonight went well and neither of my kids self-destructed during the family service. Many of us burst into giggles during the children’s moment when one little girl insisted that there were elephants and giraffes in the manger because her story book said so...

We have to be up early to get the turkey in the oven... so this dragon is heading off to bed. I hope that peace prevails... that generosity outweighs commercialism... that compassion exceeds judgment... and that we never forget to have that flicker of hope in the dark of the night.

Merry Christmas!

Hiding from Boxing Day Sales.....

It was magical just spending Christmas in our own home at our own pace this year! We had fun and even some giggles when Nick found THREE lumps of pretend coal that Erin had stuffed in his stocking. The poor guy just kept saying...”I haven’t been THAT bad!!” We had some very dear friends for the holiday meal since their family has jumped from 2 kids to 4 with the additions of twins. They are 9 months old now and often crawling in opposite directions, so we invited the whole family to join us for a turkey feast. It was merry chaos indeed for all of us.

Yesterday we went down to Nick’s Mother and Step-Father’s Bed and Breakfast (closed now for the season) for another wonderful meal. We had a great time and left in the evening amid big, fat, fluffy flakes of snow falling from the sky. This morning there is just a dusting of new snow... which my kids love a lot more than the rain, so we are going to go for a walk in the nearby woods this afternoon. We had a quiet morning that was spent at HOME rather than fighting crowds at the malls. I didn’t see anything I wanted badly enough to play “body hockey” with total strangers over!

Tonight we are having a friend of the girls over for a sleep over, so the only message we will do is to head out for some snacks and maybe movies or Nintendo games to play tonight....

I’m going to put off working until Monday, except for folding some leaflets. I am enjoying this break!

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Happy Holiday Thoughts...

Well... the blog and website are updated... my duet at church tonight went well and neither of my kids self-destructed during the family service. Many of us burst into giggles during the children’s moment when one little girl insisted that there were elephants and giraffes in the manger because her story book said so...

We have to be up early to get the turkey in the oven... so this dragon is heading off to bed. I hope that peace prevails... that generosity outweighs commercialism... that compassion exceeds judgment... and that we never forget to have that flicker of hope in the dark of the night.

Merry Christmas!
Happy Holiday Thoughts...

Well... the blog and website are updated... my duet at church tonight went well and neither of my kids self-destructed during the family service. Many of us burst into giggles during the children’s moment when one little girl insisted that there were elephants and giraffes in the manger because her story book said so...

We have to be up early to get the turkey in the oven... so this dragon is heading off to bed. I hope that peace prevails... that generosity outweighs commercialism... that compassion exceeds judgment... and that we never forget to have that flicker of hope in the dark of the night.

Merry Christmas!
Happy Holiday Thoughts...

Well... the blog and website are updated... my duet at church tonight went well and neither of my kids self-destructed during the family service. Many of us burst into giggles during the children’s moment when one little girl insisted that there were elephants and giraffes in the manger because her story book said so...

We have to be up early to get the turkey in the oven... so this dragon is heading off to bed. I hope that peace prevails... that generosity outweighs commercialism... that compassion exceeds judgment... and that we never forget to have that flicker of hope in the dark of the night.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Christmas Cookies and Christmas....Rain??

I was the only one who had to get up and out to work this morning for a meeting, but Nick was SO kind... he took the girls with him to pick up the last few groceries we need before Christmas. Somehow Bethany managed to spill grape juice on herself TWICE before they came to get me, but the laundry is done now.

This afternoon we iced many dozens of cookies when one of our best friends, Karen, came over with her son (and our godson) Ben for a madcap lunch and cookie icing session. The kids ate them as fast as they could decorate them at first... but then their blood sugar probably peaked so we have some truly creative cookies to leave out for Santa and enjoy ourselves!

Nick snuck off for a workout and called from the framers to tell me that the Runekeeper piece I am releasing at the show in Nashville in February looks “TOTALLY AWESOME” and that my framers had outdone themselves this time... so I can’t wait to see it when he gets home. I’d picked out a frame that I’ve wanted to use for years.... but always worried it wouldn’t travel to trade shows well. I plan to just package the heck out of this one and not have it move around more than necessary. Many of my frames will need to be replaced in the next few years because they take so much more banging than a piece that just hangs on the wall... Ah well... that’s why it is a business deduction ...right??

They are calling for rain tonight and tomorrow night... so that doesn’t feel very Christmassy, but it shouldn’t be enough to melt the snow away completely. I am very much looking forward to celebrating Christmas in our own house this year, especially the serenity of Christmas Eve and then the excitement and chaos of Christmas Morning. The girls have already asked that their Dad make them Happy Face Pancakes and that I make the scrambled eggs.

The only task left on my list for tonight or tomorrow is to tuck two more sample charts up on the site as a final Christmas gift to all those dragon loving stitchers out there. Then I am going to take a few days off from even blogging and just spend some quality time with those I love.

May the holidays be a time of unexpected joys and thoughtful gratitude for all that we DO have... for everyone out there who reads this Dragon’s Musings

Monday, December 22, 2003

I Know Why Some Animals Eat Their Young.....

Well... it is the first true day of Christmas Vacation and I am already wishing I could shove my daughters out the door to school and daycare! Yesterday was a wonderful day, so perhaps this is some barometric abnormality... biorhythms... planetary alignment... or just two girls who have forgotten how to get along with each other for more than a weekend. I even considered shipping Erin off to La-La Land to help Linn Skinner with her book binding... but she's probably drive her crazy too!

Of course the fact that I had parcels to ship and family errands to run had nothing to do with it...right? They even fought about which restaurant we were going to eat at as a treat for lunch!!

Some parent somewhere must have had a day like this and been the first to invent the “Let’s see who can be quiet the longest in the car” game. Nick spoke almost right away... and then made me laugh out loud by saying in his wonderful French “Je pense... c’est pourquoi quelques des animaux mangent leurs petits!” Which is supposed to be “I think this is why some animals eat their young”... but the grammar was cute enough to make me giggle.

Sometimes raising responsible kids is just such a challenge! I have pretty good kids, but it is having the patience to teach them coping behaviours and proper boundaries instead of just doing what they want all the time. I’ve been reading an excellent book on the subject which is helping me not react emotionally to everything, especially Bethany’s new hissy fits or sudden “my legs won’t work any more” or “my body isn’t feeling well... I have a headache!” whenever she is asked to do something she doesn’t want to do. This morning she was complaining that her fingers were too stiff to put the crayons back in the box and that I should do it. (I thought to myself “Do I have Crayon Maid written on my forehead??”) I just firmly told her that she had to be responsible for cleaning up what she had been using... but then explained that I used to play a game when I was putting crayons away as a little girl. I pretended that the box was their cave and that I was tucking the colours away for the night. Before she knew it, she was wishing the purples “Good Night” and putting the colours away. I can still remember doing every trick from playing “beat the clock” to singing songs as I did tasks I hated. By turning them into games, it made it more bearable. Perhaps I should apply that to tidying my office!

Sigh! There.... it is amazing what a few moments of quiet head space will do to restore my sanity. No wonder my Mom would have a nap and send us each off for Quiet Time on weekend afternoons. She was probably ready to shove us out the door too!!

I can hear the occasional clunk of Lego on the hardwood floor upstairs and they play Harry Potter Lego, and my gingerbread dough for gingerbread men tomorrow with my girls and my godson should be just about ready to come out of the fridge.... Only 3 1/2 hours until they are asleep!!

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Lord of the Rings Afterglow...

Here it is almost 24 hours after seeing Return of the King, the last Lord of the Rings movie, and I am still in absolute amazement of how well crafted the whole trilogy was and how far movie making technology has jumped since I saw Star Wars on the big screen at 13 and really BELIEVED I’d been on other worlds!

Going out to a movie has become a rare treat in our household... it’s just too expensive to do unless it is a movie that we REALLY want to see. Baby sitters run about 25 to 30 dollars for supper and putting the kids to bed, especially on a Friday night right before Christmas... Tickets were $10.25 each and the food was another $12.00.... but oh, this was worth every penny!! I sat spellbound through most of the movie until I had to watch Nick’s shoulder for all the spider scenes and some of the cliff or Gondor over the wall shots triggered that vertigo/lemming feeling, but I just sat in awe as incredible directing, camera angles, close-ups, lighting, dialogue (staying true to some great Tolkein lines), special effects and some truly awesome actors combined to make a magical ride. I blubbered like an idiot for most of the end too... Goodbyes always do that to me.

Most of all, I love the intricate blend of humour and wisdom in the face of impossible odds that Tolkein and many of the great fantasy writers are able to share with us. To never give up... to do what is right even though it may not be easy or safe... to be loyal to your friends.. to speak out against insanity and injustice... to face down the hope against impossible odds... and to know that death is just the beginning of a new adventure.

Tolkein made the world a whole lot richer with his imagination... and Peter Jackson has certainly created a legacy of his own with this trilogy. It makes me realize that when you strive to do your very best, in whatever creative endeavor you undertake, rather than just trying to make as much money, as quickly as you can, it really shows... and I think it will stand the test of time.

I can still remember one young artist that was the buzz of the New York art scene when I was studying Fine Arts at Mount Allison back in 1986. Everyone was calling him the next great thing in Modern Art and claiming that his paintings would be worth triple their incredible prices by the end of the 20th century... He’s still considered to be a talented artist, but there is far less hype about his work now. Was it partly marketing and hype? Should you buy a piece of art because someone tells you it will be a good investment... or because it speaks to you or moves you in some way??

I guess that whatever I chose to spend my money on... I want to feel like it was worth it.

Watching Legolas surf down that trunk... or Gandalf’s face as he comforted a hobbit... it was indeed worth it! (Now if only I could get those scuttling spider sounds out of my head!!)

Friday, December 19, 2003

Mostly Set For The Holidays....

Well, this is my last quiet day at home for a while... kind of bittersweet, but also exciting. Both girls skipped out of the house today to give their gifts to their teachers. We also handed the morning bus driver a tin of mixed holiday baking that 5 Moms had put together while the 6th & 7th bought the Tim Horton’s Gift Certificates. It was a lot more practical to all work together than duplicate our efforts by each getting little gifts. Bethany also took 8 little Santa Pins that I painted for all the workers at her daycare, but she is VERY much looking forward to the 2 week break to “stay home with Mommy...... and Daddy!”

I’m actually making headway in cleaning up older e-mail messages and sorting out the piles of paperwork and receipts that have slowly been taking over every surface in my office since the girls had chicken pox. I sometimes think that the piles multiply like Dust Bunnies overnight. This is one of those times that I miss being an “employee” with just my own little division and tasks to follow instead of having to do it all. I am so much more of the creative type than the organized, know-where-everything-is type... and yet I also HATE to not know where something is when I need it in a hurry! Filing paperwork and keeping things straight makes me feel like a kid who needs to clean their room - I don’t like doing it, but there is that sense of satisfaction when everything looks ordered. Maybe in 2004, I can actually keep things that way!! (LOL!)

I have a few more Christmas presents to finish making as well, but those are enjoyable... and then there are the stocking stuffer fun things to pick up next week. I am actually REALLY looking forward to not traveling ANYWHERE this Christmas. It will be Bethany’s first Christmas at home and she is almost 5!! With far flung families, it seems as if we’ve always been traveling during the holidays... so this will be a welcome break not to have to worry about storm delays, lost luggage etc.

Just 4 more hours to get my work done and then Nick and I are off to see the last Lord of the Rings movie tonight. Yay!!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Tell Mother Nature she can... hmmm well....

Ok... I KNOW that when I first moved to the Maritimes, they used to say that if you didn’t like the weather, you should just wait a bit...but this is just plain silly! We woke up this morning to find that the temperature had soared to well above freezing and that more than an inch of rain had fallen overnight!! Those snowy roads that haven’t been properly plowed since Monday’s snowstorm are now puddly, slushy, slippery channels of cold, grey slush. As Erin and I walked up to the bus stop in the driving rain, I discovered that some of the puddles were far deeper than they appeared. Since I was wearing my ankle high winter boots instead of my mid calf ones.... this caused the dragon to do some pretty funny leaps! I also changed my socks as soon as I got home and made myself a hot mug of tea to wrap my claws around.... but I don’t think I have been warm since. By tonight everything is supposed to freeze again into nice hard slippery puddles... so I’m going to chip at any ice left on the driveway after lunch.

I’ve spent the morning trying to archive older e-mail, catch up on stuff I missed, and find the floor of my office which seems to have disappeared in the past few weeks. Nick and the girls are very excited about tomorrow being the last day of school and the start of Christmas break.... but I am trying to be as productive as possible in the next 48 hours ... as I savour the peaceful silence of the empty house!

Monday, December 15, 2003

Of Pageants & Surprise Guests, Stalled Vans, Big Orders and Bigger Biceps...

Well... I really shouldn’t have gotten so stressed over those gingerbread houses (though I laughed my way through the article in the January Canadian Living about a Mom whose experience was almost the same) because the three families had a GREAT time decorating the three houses I put together on Friday night from the kits. I did make my OWN Royal icing, because the goopy stuff in the kit wouldn’t work at all.

Saturday was marvelous fun except for our van suddenly deciding to stop dead in its tracks at only 18 months and 36,000 km. Nick got it towed to the dealer who was just as baffled until later this morning when after a few hours in their toasty warm service bay, it started like a charm. Perhaps something got clogged or frozen in the fuel line... so we shall see.

Sunday was the day of our Christmas Pageant during the service at church. Erin and Bethany were both angels with “real” feathery wings... but the highlight of the morning for them was when Nick’s Mother and Stepfather appeared to sit in the second row!! My girls just beamed through the service and then insisted on taking their grandparents out to lunch at their favourite restaurant.

I came home to find a very nice order from one of our distributors on the fax machine as well. Nick was even smiling because it was for our process colour leaflets instead of the chartpacks and he prefers to fold rather than collate and stuff bags. The weather warnings for another massive snowstorm were also out, so we went to bed not knowing what the morning would hold and Christmas parcels to ship out overseas...

When we woke up at 6 am to catch the headlines, we learned that schools were closed all across the province, despite the fact that not a flake was falling. Since the girls were still asleep and Nick was able to doze off again, I got up and headed down to the computer. In icky weather, I love the fact that my commute is only two flights of stairs. I worked until the girls got up at 7:30... and by 8 am the flakes were really starting to fly, but there was only about and inch or so on the roads. We decided to load the parcels in our borrowed vehicle and race up to the post office before the weather got worse..... but I was 26th in line!!! Apparently all the other procrastinators out there with parcels to mail had the same idea. Nick is still teasing me that the boxes are probably all sitting at the airport unable to move... but at least I am not tripping over the boxes in MY house.

So... do I want anther snow day with my family tomorrow and have my morning meeting canceled?? Do I want to have them all get out from underfoot since they will be home over the Christmas Break and I will no doubt miss my ability to work at my own pace in a nice quiet house?? I think that for once, I will just let Mother Nature do whatever it is she has up her sleeve and not stress about it. Since I cannot push a button and stop a snow storm... there’s not much point in getting all worked up about it.... especially since it will be such a great bicep workout!!

Friday, December 12, 2003

This Old Gingerbread House...

Well.... Bob Villa is probably shaking his head somewhere and Martha Stewart would NOT be proud... but the thought was nice!

Tomorrow we are getting together with our best friends - two families with whom we have watched our children grow, shared tears, laughter and milestones.. and who are the closest things to “adopted cousins” that my children know. We are all going to a pancake breakfast with Santa to start the day, the over to Sue’s house for a morning of Christmas crafts and lunch, then over to our house for a Christmas cookie baking extravaganza and a chili supper. Since I have a WONDERFUL recipe for Gingerbread people, I gleefully announced that we should each make houses for our families.

Nick and I have poured over house plan books since we were in University and not even dating yet. He builds Lego like a champ and probably would have been an architect if the call to teaching hadn’t been stronger. Not that we were planning anything fancy like dormer windows or Victorian porches.... just a nice basic house to decorate once we baked all the pieces. So earlier this week we made cardboard templates and then last night I dug out all my ingredients and made a triple batch of dough. Oh the house smelled heavenly!!

I carefully rolled out the dough and followed all the directions in my detailed article about putting the pieces in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen them before baking etc.... but the first pieces came out HUGE!! Nick and I had forgotten to allow for the dough to expand. We didn’t want mansions!! We carefully adjusted the pieces by scaling them down an inch on all sides and started rolling out more dough. I was counting things in my head as I glanced at my watch...2 fronts + 2 sides + 2 roof pieces per house x 3 families.... oh my!

The new side pieces cooked up much smaller, though they certainly lost their nice sharp angled edges and I began to worry that they’d take a LOT of icing to hold the joints together. Then the two roof pieces came out of the oven to cool “on the greased baking sheet on a wire rack” as instructed... but for some reason, they chose to bond completely to the cookie sheet and shattered when we tried to lift them off. Things began to unravel quickly after that, and Nick headed off to bed, but I was far too stubborn to admit being bested by a mere lump of dough!! Did you know that gingerbread stuck to cookie sheets disolves rapidly to mush when placed in hot, soapy water? At least I didn’t have to scour my cookie sheets to re-use them!

I started moving pieces around from freezer in the basement to other cookie sheets so that I was only baking on the one that seemed not to stick... 4 fronts and 2 sides were safe and sound on the wire racks when the two roof pieces burned and stuck to the cookie sheet just as the clock struck midnight.

The gingerbread had won. I saved the rest of my delicious dough in the fridge to turn into the Gingerbread people that DO work out... put the pieces in a tupperware container to save for a fun dessert idea (break off bits of former roof or house front and use to make a “sandwich” around Candy Cane ice cream!) tomorrow... then went to bed.

This morning I bought 3 kits from our local supermarket... it was the thought that counted....right??

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Bulging Biceps and Christmas Concerts

Now, I just know that with a title like that, someone out there is picturing something à la Chippendales.... but the combination was just because that is the chaos of this week!

I did manage to sneak on the computer Monday during the snow day... and when it was all over, Moncton was the hardest hit with almost 70 cm (over 2 feet!) of fluffy, heavy white stuff. Erin and Bethany had a BLAST playing outside while I shoveled and Nick used the snow blower. He offered to show me how it works, but in true “paranoid artist very afraid of stuff that can munch hands” fashion, I declined. Give me a shovel and She-Hulk biceps over whirling machine parts any day!!

Tuesday was pure chaos because the snow drifts were so high and the roads so narrow, the school buses had trouble getting down the streets to pick up the kids. Schools opened on time, but buses ran at least an hour late... and Nick’s school (along with 3 others) were even late opening because the parking lots and bus zones hadn’t been fully plowed. I walked up to my Tuesday morning meeting on the main road with no sidewalks showing, jumping up onto snow banks now and then if 2 lanes of traffic were headed my way.

Today was sunny and beautiful, but the plows have been out widening streets as the panic about tomorrow’s weather sets in. Apparently there is rain on the way... possibly lots of it. With many of the storm drains and sewer openings still buried under snow, there is a push on to clear them so that all that water has somewhere to go! I hope they are wrong!! Now that the snow is here and the kids are having so much fun playing in it, I want it to just stay cold enough for snow instead of having heavy rain sink down and make it into mountains of ice you can’t play on and driveways that never quite clear until spring. The bigger the Dragon .... the harder they fall!!

Tonight was Erin’s Christmas concert and she looked wonderful singing her heart out on the stage to such memorable songs as “All I want for Christmas is a Dinosaur” or the “Reindeer Boogie”. Bethany watched most of it on my lap, wiggling when the music notes were off or holding her ears when people clapped to loudly. When she got really bored, she discovered that she could make shadow puppets with her fingers onto my chest from the bright lights of the stage! She’s got an imagination for sure!

Both are home in bed and my biceps are still throbbing from the shoveling sessions this morning. But I got 3 orders shipped off, some e-mail answered, one job off to a client to review and only one logo design left to work on before I sleep tonight!

Monday, December 08, 2003

It’s STILL Snowing!

Well.... when we emerged from our house to snow blow and shovel last night in what must have been the “eye” of the storm, Nick and I were both sure that the worst was over. Hah! When I got up for a dragon potty break around 4 am, Nick looked out the window at the wind barreling up our street at almost 80 km an hour and far more than those last few inches of snow on the ground to predict that today would be a Snow Day. (Erin watched that movie for the first time while recuperating from Chicken Pox and laughed herself silly)

I’m hiding in the basement for a few moments of “alone time” under the pretext of checking e-mail and updating my blog. I am ready to turn everyone out in the snow soon to wear off the abundance of energy. With over 2 feet of snow having fallen already, there are some pretty impressive drifts where the winds has piled things in our backyard that is much taller than Bethany. There were shrieks of sorrow this morning when they realized that Frosty (their first blobby snowman of the season) got buried overnight... but they are now determined to form a “rescue party” to uncover him. As long as I don’t have to go out and be the Saint Bernard, I am fine with that!

Thank goodness for crafts and cable. I have enough tricks up my sleeve that I should still be able to eek out an hour or two on the computer between the “I’m bored”s. Oooopppss! I spoke to soon. I hear feet coming down the stairs to the call of “Moooooooooooooooooooooooooom!”

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Of Snowstorms and Pageants...

An early Saturday morning (I know... SOMEDAY my kids will sleep in and so will I) and I am down on the computer sending over the next Sample Chart to share with stitchers for the holidays. I head out to teach an aerobics class in an hour, so Nick has already headed off to the gym to get his workout in. When the girls are both in their swimming and gymnastics, we just spend Saturday mornings there from 8 am until noon and everyone in the family gets at least an hour or two of exercise. (An important way to keep this dragon’s rump from getting bigger since I sit to work at the computer, draw or stitch...)

This morning, the news is filled with details about the first big storm to blow down on us of the season... and I can tell my girls are barometrical challenged already!! What is it with pets and kids acting squirrley before a storm?? We don’t know how the storm will track, but it could dump up to 30 cm of white stuff on us overnight, so we’ll run out and get our errands done this afternoon in case.

My only worry for the morning is that tomorrow is supposed to be the Christmas pageant at church. The kids are leading most of the service and Erin is SO excited that the angels get to wear wings with REAL feathers at this church! (Our family recently made the painful and prayerful decision to switch United Churches within the city when the Sunday School at the church we’d been attending for 15 years dwindled down to less than 6 children on a regular basis.) I am sure that they will figure out a “snow date” if needs be... but I am dying of curiosity to see how a sombrero, a cat in the hat hat, Celine Dion CDs and crazy socks fit into the Christmas play!! (I was in charge of hunting for some props... but they wouldn’t let me in on the secrets!)

The magical thing about pageants is that somehow, despite the chaos of kids lifting skirts or picking noses in the background, the message still manages to come through. It is kind of like stitching when you think about it... we make all these tiny Xs with different colours of thread on fabric, but when you put them all together and step back, a wonderful image appears to be enjoyed and treasured.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Remembering To Count My Blessings...

I was in the middle of having one of those “poor me” pity parties this morning. It was cold... VERY cold. I know why all the smart creatures sleep through winter or fly South. Not that I hate the white stuff... I just wish it didn’t have to get quite so cold at the same time. Give me a milder winter with a ton of snow to shovel than the drifting of snow and -18 degrees Celsius wind chill this morning. Now that I am a skinnier dragon, that kind of cold goes right through me!

The sudden shift in temperature caused the lock on my self-store door to freeze up again, just when I needed a few more leaflets to glue and ship to Hoffman. There I was at 8:30 am, having gotten Erin back to school and Bethany off to daycare by myself, trying to jimmy a frozen lock down near the marsh with a very raw wind blowing off the Petitcodiac river (also known as the Chocolate River for its brown colour). I finally broke down and got the nice men with the blow torch to heat up the lock for me when the cigarette lighter in the van wouldn’t do diddly.

So now cold and somewhat grumpy, I began to lift box after box to find the 2 titles that I needed amid the 60 or so boxes of leaflets in the dimly lit self-store ( it gets afternoon light...) and thinking about all of the money that I have tied up in these leaflets waiting for them to sell. I am almost out of My Sister- My Friend leaflets after reprinting them a few years ago... and they’ve been paid for ever since then.

So there I was, doing the groceries afterwards.... muttering to myself about press runs and printing on demand... hardly even hearing the lovely Carols that were playing in the background. I’m still not sure what jolted me out of that in the middle of the cereal aisle. Had I heard someone discussing prices or telling a child to put that back on the shelf? Was it the senior that I passed clutching all the coupons and peering at her list? Or was it one of those still, small voice moments that suddenly made me realize how LUCKY I was to be doing my groceries without a panic that I couldn’t afford them (not that I don’t still keep to a weekly budget!) How LUCKY I was that the shelves were full of items to choose from... How LUCKY I was to be able to make healthy choices for my family...

Even though Nick and I have had to make some lifestyle choices to be able to cope with the ups and downs of a freelance income like mine and the costs of investing in your own company and dream, we are still very blessed in so many ways. I need to remember to count those blessings and what I DO have instead of grumping about what I DON’T!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Nick’s Turn To Be Away...

It was Nick’s turn to be away and stay in a hotel bed tonight. He and some other Vice-Principals from Moncton were invited to Fredericton for some training in how to do a Principal’s Walkabout. (The term always make me think of the Australian native tradition rather than walking around a school...) This is two days full of lots of theory, practical evaluation, self-evaluation and from the sounds of it tonight on the phone, a very interesting if somewhat tiring learning experience.

It’s funny how well I understand the need to occasionally be reminded that you are an individual first. While you never sleep quite as well away from your own bed (except maybe on vacation) it is good to have some time in your own head space. I know that as busy as I am when I go away to Toronto, I like the time to be by myself on the airplane or in the hotel room at night. Nashville and Charlotte have always been different, because those aren’t shows I can do by myself.

Sometimes we keep busy so that we don’t have to spend that time being quiet and still... it is easier to just keep running at an impossible pace and then fall into bed each night only to rise and race again in the morning. You just get caught up in the movement instead of really being in the moment. I think we all need to take time to sit in silence now and then... some of my best ideas are born in those moments of quiet.

I am looking forward to a quiet house to work in tomorrow as well. Erin seems on the mend after 2 days at home with very little voice. She and Bethany were funny to watch today with the first dusting of snow outside... when we walked up to mail our letters to Santa, Bethany kept making up little snow songs that usually had lirics like “Snow... I missed you all summer.... you are back for the first time and I love you....Snow, wonderful snow!”

The first snowfall IS magical... We’ll see how I feel after the 50th! LOL!

Monday, December 01, 2003

Of Advent Beginnings and Sniffles...

Yesterday being the first Sunday in Advent, we had the fun of rooting through the shed after church to find all the boxes of ornaments and garlands so that we could begin to decorate the house for the holidays.

I love getting out my Christmas CD collection and having that on in the background as I get the tree ready. The girls each have their own little 3 foot high tree for their rooms where they can put all their homemade ornaments and the tiniest ones that friends or family have begun to get for them... but when it comes to the family tree, I get to be the boss! I like having a “base” underneath to help tie all the various ornaments together, so the white lights and white bead garland go on first. Luckily this year all the lights worked (except for one minor panic when the middle strands of the 200 light set suddenly blinked off when I bumped one bulb!) and I even remembered which way to “chain” the lights thanks to Nick! Then the silver balls go on, nestled deep in the gaps that are bound to happen with an artificial tree, even when you fluff it out carefully. These reflect the light and colours of the other ornaments back outwards, but still sway and shimmer nicely. Finally, I add on a selection of bows in the colours of choice. I am staying with the deep burgundy and sparkly plaid from last year because it goes so well with our decor.

I’d planned to start putting up the special ornaments tonight. Those take a bit longer because the girls like to help and hear the story behind each one. Some have been with me since MY childhood trees and others are gifts to them from their first few Christmases, so they like to hear all the details.

But instead, I am driving Erin up to the nearby clinic to get her throat checked. She called home about 40 minutes before school finished, in tears, because her head hurt so much... but Mondays Nick has the car, so I had to ask her to hang in there just a little longer. (Boy... do you ever feel rotten when you have to do that. Blood or something broken, I’d take a cab for... but this was one of those “be brave” things) I walked up to the bus stop and kept her company in the rainy drizzle as we walked home. Warm homemade turkey and rice soup for supper hasn’t really helped much, but at least she could swallow it. Her tonsils look pretty red and swollen, and she’s running a fever, so off we go.

Sigh! I had SO hoped to enjoy a few weeks of healthy kids!!

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I Love Planning Surprises!

I just can’t help it... I love planning gifts and surprises this time of year (well... OK... all year long!) for everyone from the stitchers who visit our website to members of my family.

For the next 3 weekends, I am adding a sample chart to our newsletter page each time for a total of 3 charts which stitchers can enjoy. The first one is the little tiny dragon that I had prepared to submit to the JCS Ornament issue until my invitation got eaten by the mail :(
We gave it out to shops in Charlotte this summer, but it is now up for stitchers all over the world to enjoy.

The only hard part was writing the copyright notice. To think that when I first started putting charts up on the site for stitchers to enjoy, I only put the copyright symbol with the date and our company name. Sigh! Then they started showing up elsewhere on the Internet or being kitted up for sale on Ebay... Now I have to write more than I want to just to be sure I spell things out. Does it stop the most determined pattern sharers? No... Does it make people more aware of how much copyright abuse has hurt our industry in the past 2 years? I’m not sure the message is getting through. Most people are far more willing to blame the economy or just the cyclical nature of the industry (both of which are valid points...) but when I look at how closely our plight matches that of the recording industry (without the big dollars and deeper pockets) I can indeed see a parallel. When you find something to enjoy on the Internet that doesn’t cost you anything, it is like finding money in an old coat pocket... or getting an unexpected present in the mail. Everyone likes getting something for nothing... or for a good bargain. I know that this is why many of us designers began putting up small charts on our websites in the first place - we wanted to give something back to those who had made supported us.

Then... someone discovered that you could put the actual patterns purchased from a store onto scanners, scan them in and start sharing THEM with others... just like MP3 files of hit songs. Why buy a whole magazine or hard cover book when you only wanted one pattern?? Why buy a whole album when you really only want the single you hear on the radio?? If you look at a newsstand now, you’ll see that the number of North American stitching magazines has dwindled. I’ve watched editors come and go, magazines be bought out by larger companies or fold completely. Now, there are fewer magazines for new or non-stitchers to stumble across.. so less people have exposure to the craft. How do you know that one of the other designs in the magazine might not have been a perfect gift for someone a few months later? How could you ever fall in love with another song on the CD that you ended up liking better than the “hit single” if you only downloaded the one file??

I certainly haven’t found the answers to this issue yet... but I do keep hoping that the words I write will be respected by most... even if they are ignored by some.

I’m also planning stuff for Nashville, which will be here before I know it. The Runekeeper Saga is being stitched by one of my talented model stitchers as I try to sort out page layout with the printer to fit story and charts into one booklet. I’ve added a border and some other fun things, but I’m trying to keep it to 16 pages instead of 24 if I can...

My favourite Fantasy designers and I have also decided that we want to make Nashville a FUN place for shop owners to come. Many shops prefer not to travel to events like these anymore since they can find most of the new things on-line... but it is the camaraderie, the chance to exchange ideas about how to help our industry and the one on one contact between members of the industry that can really help you grow in what you do. So last year a few of us sat down and thought... what could WE do to make this show more fun?? We decided to have a FANTASY FAIRE... so we’re all going to be in one row of the hotel and have a TON of surprizes and fun. All I will say for now is that it involves special things for shops to collect and many of us in costume. I’ve even found a 41” sword (dull edges... don’t worry) to wear and I can’t wait!! Now we’re just going to leak little clues and details a few at a time. Heh! Heh! Heh! I love it!

I also can’t wait until tomorrow (the first Sunday in Advent) when I get to put my tree up and get out the Christmas music......YAY!!

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Reality vs. Fantasy.... (or Gamers Never Really Grow Up)

About 25 years ago when this game called DUNGEONS and DRAGONS first came out and I started playing with the other fantasy-reading kids on our block, there was much concern about the fact that this would encourage kids to “escape from reality”. There were stories of kids who had gone down into New York Sewers or gotten lost in woods trying to live out the game. Depending on what your source for these stories were, some of them took on an almost Urban Legend like gruesomeness. We all had fun, laughter and a chance to stretch our imaginations. Many of us went on to have interesting and even fantasy based careers. One of my fellow players ended up being a programmer at MicroSoft and I continue to doodle dragons just like I did waiting for my turn to roll the dice.

Then, I went off to University which was not only a hall of higher learning, but a chance to meet other gamers and stay up most weekends until the wee hours of the morning on adventures as well as assignments. I even met my husband, Nick, at the very first D&D game I ever played at Mount Allison. The gang had been gaming together for a whole year before I arrived as a gangly freshette wearing my artist’s tam and trying not to look to awestruck being away at University at 17. I didn’t pick up on many of the game’s undercurrents for weeks and I wasn’t sure if Nick was a very good actor playing his paranoid fighter... or whether the man really wasn’t quite all there. (His first impression of me was equally appalling, so you never can tell what will happen sometimes!)

Even though I devour Mercedes Lackey books instead of rolling dice or doodle fantasy designs instead of character sketches... that gamer side of me is still lurking very close to the surface. A few of us have decided that we are going to make the show in Nashville next February a bit more exciting for the shops who attend... and a bit more fun for ourselves. Only other gamers or SCA people will understand when I tell them how much fun I am having planning what I will wear.... because I have found a SWORD long enough to match my 6’5” frame!! (no sharp edges... Nick teases me that ALL my dexterity is in my fingers rather than my feet!!) I’m not going to say much more for now... but I can’t wait to see the looks on some faces!!

In the midst of planning Fantasy stuff, and watching the “Big Lie” episode of Survivor last night, I got to thinking what a misnomer “REALITY TV” really is. Though I will admit, rather shamefacedly, to watching CUPID while batching orders this summer and am known to rearrange my schedule so as not to miss an episode of THE AMAZING RACE... Survivor has always fascinated and repelled me the most. As a Photography major and former copywriter/editor, I find it fascinating to think how they actually craft our entire perception of the people involved and how each episode will play out, simply by how they edit the footage and which bits they choose to keep. If that is not creating Fantasy from Reality... then I’m not sure what is.

Was I the only one who kept waiting for the host, Jeff, to announce John’s lie to the rest of the players to see their reactions? But then I remembered that the camera people all have to promise not to interfere with anything, even if there is an injury... so I guess that includes not revealing falsehoods. I just know that after watching someone play that kind of game to get ahead no matter what.... I’ll take the dragons, a paladin’s sense of honour and the escaping into a good fantasy tale over reality any day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Smells and Memories

Isn’t it funny how certain smells can take you right back to a memory or a moment in time? Ivory Soap will forever remind me of my grandparents house in Connecticut. I hold a bar of that soap in my hands and suddenly I am a little girl in a bathtub full of bubbles, looking up through their bathroom skylight as my grandfather points out Castor and Pollux in the night sky. Oatmeal cooking makes me think of staying over at my Nanny & Grampy’s house in Montreal and my Grampy stomping down the stairs saying “Somebody’s been sitting in my chair!” to his little golden-haired granddaughter who is shivering with excitement and terror, her bowl of warm oatmeal in front of her.
Tonight, as I mixed up the dough to make my Gingerbread people for the Christmas Tea on Saturday, Bethany came up and leaned over the bowl to take a big sniff. She looked at me with her eyes shinning and said “Mommy, that smells like Christmas!!”
I know that there are all kinds of scientific explanations for why smells trigger memories... but all I do know is that certain smells are like little keys back to precious moments in time. Tonight I got to treasure mine and watch one of MY daughters make her own memory that I am sure this smell will take her back to many times.
Of Cookies, Consequences and Sweating The Small Stuff....

I actually took most of the weekend to just do stuff with my family...and it felt wonderful! Since the girls have missed most of this swimming and gymnastics session due to the chicken pox, we decided to skip the last day when all the badges were handed out. Nick went for his workout and then I went off to teach the Circuit class at 10 am, but not before the girls and I had made a batch of squares for the Christmas Tea next weekend.

I had one meeting after lunch that couldn’t be moved, so Nick dropped me off and took his girls on a movie date to see Looney Tunes (and they have been trying to describe the WHOLE movie scene by scene to me ever since because they feel sorry for me missing it!) then we all baked a few more dozen cookies to ice later this week for the same Tea. Now that Erin is reading, following recipes becomes a read and do the math exercise (not that I tell her she’s working grey matter....) and Bethany is at the “I’ll HELP Do IT!” stage where the dumping of flour requires MUCHO supervision and cleanup.

Sunday I led the craft station for Erin’s age level at Church because they needed an extra set of hands and I almost NEVER turn down the chance to play with art supplies, especially stamps, drawing and glitter glue! We were making up gift certificates so that the kids could “Give of Themselves” this holiday season and some of the things that they thought would be helpful were priceless. Almost NONE of them would do the “Keep my room tidy for a week” option... I wonder why??

Sunday night was a bit hard for Erin. She was caught telling a lie that could have gotten another friend in trouble with her parents when she hadn’t even been involved in the incident, so after finally getting the real story straight, I walked over to the friend’s house with Erin so that she could apologize to the parent and child in question. I know how hard those last few steps up to the door to ring the bell were... I could feel how tense and scared she was, and yet how much better she felt once she had admitted her lie and said “I’m Sorry!”
Who says Learning Experiences are only hard on the kids? At least she went to bed with the matter resolved instead of dreading the next day.

Today I learned how difficult it is for me to “Not Sweat The Small Stuff”. I’ve always known that I have a real perfectionist streak... Nick helps to point out that I am a bit of a control freak, with obsessive tendencies, but that can also be a strength when you ARE your own company. I do need to know when to set that “super quality control” streak aside. Erin’s school is doing a float for the Santa Clause Parade and the Home & School President found an old banner at the school which she and a few others cheerfully cut up so that it could be turned into a long horizontal banner instead of the gigantic wall hanging that it may have once been. They asked me to sew up the ragged edges and then make two side channels so that a pair of broomsticks could be inserted as poles..... sounds simple enough, right?

This morning, when I get home and unroll the huge bit of fabric that I was handed at the bus stop, I discovered two things.... It is larger than any area in my house where I might actually lay this whole things out flat... and that someone else’s idea of straight and mine differ greatly! I managed to get the ends rolled under and pinned to stitch, but there was just NO WAY that this was ever going to lie perfectly flat or not look puckered (the old felt on the banner was already creating that effect without my help!) I was ready to despair when Nick looked at me and gently said. “How close do you think people are going to be looking at this when the float goes by??” BINGO!!

So is there a way to turn it off?? I’m not sure. At least I am more aware of when it is happening on the “small stuff”.... but it has been a thought provoking day. Just as music is boring when it is all played at the same intensity...I can’t always apply the same exacting standards to EVERYTHING I do.... that is just too draining.

Ahh.... but it is sometimes so hard to find the OFF switch!!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Of Couriers, Mail and Tantrums...

One of the best things about blogging is coming up with titles. One of the hardest, this week at least, was finding the few minutes to blog. Not because that meant sending over a file to blogger, but because it meant gathering my scattered thoughts together long enough to not only write coherently, but actually have something to say! Perhaps it is because I can still hear my grandmother’s voice over my shoulder...”If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything!”

I’ve always believed in counting my blessings... so here goes:

Thank goodness for model stitchers, even if couriers that are supposed to deliver something overnight to a city less than 3 hours away take OVER 24 hours to do so.

Thank goodness for shops who think to check with me when something takes too long to arrive in the mail... so that we can find out that the parcel has gone missing instead of me wondering why my cheque is late and them wondering where the stuff they ordered is...

Thank goodness that both my girls have recovered enough to have fights with me and pick on each other instead of “being nice to her because she’s sick”...

Thank goodness that once they fall asleep, they can’t have any more tantrums (and they look SO cute when they are asleep!)

Thank goodness I found all the stitches I dropped in my knitting tonight when I tried to watch TV instead of just listen....

Thank goodness that the past few days have been filled with fun as well as challenges and that each tomorrow is always full of unexpected possibilities.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Thinking Long TerM and Short Term at the same time

Ah the chaos and joy of Monday mornings. This was such a busy weekend that it doesn’t feel as if I have rested much.. but it is nice to have the quite house.

I sat down to try to plan out long term projects for 2004. I wonder if this is how swimsuit models feel trying to look warm and sunny on a beach somewhere in the middle of December... I know that many industries work far ahead, but sometimes my brain has trouble with that. I also need to keep things flexible, because you just never know when a new design idea will bump something out of your “lineup” and demand to butt ahead!

I’m also looking at how many weeks there are until Christmas (anyone else counted and panicked yet?) to break down both work and gift making agendas into manageable loads. (deep breath... no panicking!) I am amazed at how my calendar is cluttering up with events and activities too. Not that this is a bad thing, it is fun to be social! Most of all I am looking forward to NOT going anywhere this year. As much fun as it is to get together with family, I am looking forward to one Christmas in our own house... something Bethany has yet to experience!

Back to work... I never thought I would make up little to do lists like my Mom, but they come in handy!

Friday, November 14, 2003

Enjoying Someone Else’s Designs...

Last night, after a full day to myself to get some work done and sort through the piles that are trying to take over my office, I decided to get out the piece that I took to retreat last weekend. It is called SNOWMAN, by Sisters and Best Friends, featuring a cheery snowman in a cap, some garlands, patterns and the words “Just Add Snow”.

As I write this, the first few flakes of some snow are falling outside after torrential rain yesterday. Funny how temperatures can change so quickly, isn’t it?

I think that one of the reasons that I am enjoying this design so much is that I am like most stitchers now... I have all the pleasure of seeing how much better it looks in my hands that in the photograph. ( Designers have to deal with the frustration of knowing that you can never get it to look quite like the model!) I am also enjoying this piece because the colours are so very different that the ones I normally use in my designs. There is a certain fun and wildness about stitching the teal next to the purple and red to see something jump out at you. I am feeling like I did when I first started stitching “I’m just going to see what this next little bit looks like....”

Yet, having watched the incredible speeds of some of the stitchers in Toronto, and some who work for me, there is also the knowledge of how slow my hands go some days. Since I am a slow stitcher, I tend to take comfort in being neat and taking pleasure in what progress IS made , rather than how fast I am progressing. Thank goodness for talented model stitchers to help! I think the only way Nick and I ever turned out the designs we did was to stitch stuff in tandem and for me to stay up until midnight on a regular basis for me to get the models done!

I almost felt guilty stitching on something “just for fun” last night... which made me giggle. Though I come close sometimes, I hope I never see designing as a J..O..B! Hard work perhaps.... but never just a job!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Why are Good-Byes Always Hard?

The house seems so empty now. I had to get everyone off today, including my Mum and John as they headed home. Erin was almost in tears at the bus stop... Bethany was a little easier to coax because their Cairn Terrier, Maggie, came in to see her class at the daycare when we dropped Bethany off and gave sloppy puppy kisses to the kids.

No matter how grown up I am, part of me wishes my Mom lived in the same city as me. I am lucky enough to have a great relationship with her and my stepfather, John, has brought so much love, music and silliness into our lives that I wish it could happen more often.

Yet, I also love this city and where Nick and I have chosen to raise our family and be part of a community... just as my sister has done in Vancouver and my brother with his wife in Switzerland. When you love a place, it is hard not to want to stay there... but I can’t help wish that all my family were closer. At least on a day where I have just had to say goodbyes.

I am sure that there will be some “Nanny Hangover” with the girls over the next few days, but I will just try to be more patient with them, struggling to keep that post-retreat glow and serenity about me.

Today there are orders to ship, orders to pack, a model to get to the framers, a publisher to contact, paperwork to handle and a nice, quiet house in which to do that... at least for the next few hours. I’d better go make a dent in the piles!

Monday, November 10, 2003

The Sheer MAGIC of Cross Stitch Retreats....

It’s like a magic potion... getting away to the cross stitch retreat this weekend has put so much bounce back in my step that I have to be careful when I go through the doorways! (bonk! bonk!)

I don’t even know when it really began... as I was picking out a project that WASN’T mine to stitch on for the weekend and packing up my stitching box? When I got into the car with my friend Sue to drive up to retreat and the two of us just had a chance to talk on the 35 minute drive out of town? When I stepped into the cozy lodge and saw so many familiar faces already stitching and chatting away? I could literally feel the tension drain from my body.

Friday night is fun because the possibilities are endless...there are old friends to see and chat with that I only get to be with twice a year at these retreats. (Some drive over 14 hours to be there!) Since most of the “stitching circles” had already been set up by the time Sue and I got there, we put our stuff up on the stage. I faced out towards everyone, because as a tall, nosy dragon, I like to see what it going on. At one point in the weekend, one group got the giggles and told me later that they suddenly realized if aliens had landed among us to observe the scene... they would have though I was the Leader! LOL!!! Sue and I were tired enough from our weeks that we headed off to bed before 11 pm... but at least we’d set up our “nook” and started on some stitching.

Saturday is my favourite day of the retreat. I get to sleep in until at least 7:30 or 8:00. Since the accommodations are all bunk beds and I tend to hang over the end a bit too much, I take one of the mattresses and put in on the floor with my cozy sleeping bag... but by that time of day, someone usually trips over me getting up or I have to pee! When I wander up to the main lodge, there is the smell of a breakfast that I don’t have to cook and the pleasant sound of chatter as we all try to squeeze in some stitching time before breakfast.
This year, there was not only a craft sale at the nearby craft hall, we also held one amongst ourselves. What incredible talent in one small group!! Not only did I pick up some wonderful Christmas presents early, I even ended up with a stuffed animal for myself! The knitted bunny was intended for Bethany...but I tested it out Saturday night and now it is mine. (Mine! Mine! Mine! à a seagulls in Finding Nemo) Amid all of this on Saturday morning, there was also plenty of time to stitch. Many of us braved the icy wind after lunch for a brief walk... some took naps... some of us took a “make your own cards” workshop after supper.. drew names for fabulous door prizes... stitched some more... nibbled on the delicious late-night snacks etc. The evening was even capped off by the fact that there was a lunar eclipse of the full moon that was visible right outside the main lodge (we kept running in and out because it was just so darn cold out there!!) Saturday night ends up being jammie night too... as everyone tries to stay up and get a lot of stitching and giggling done. (can you say “Milk Factory”? Do you have a pink flamingo on your Dazor? Were you in the “fruit n’ toot corner”?...sorry.... just inside jokes for those who were there) By the time we all head off to bed on Saturday, the twinge of regret has started to seep in. Tomorrow will be our last day together for 6 months.

Sunday mornings are actually a little bit earlier than at home. There is a time of fellowship in the morning that I never want to miss. After breakfast, there are door prizes to finish and a wonderful ornament exchange to draw for. Most of us are still stitching on the fabulous “quick 20 minute project” that Elizabeth has created for all of us with our registration goody bags. As usual, I complicate my life considerably by trying to design my own thing. Thank goodness when I mess up and twiddle with it, no one else knows what I thought it was going to look like! Lunch comes all too quickly and then by 1 pm, most of us are packing up and heading off after many hugs and “see you next retreat”s.

What is the single, magic ingredient? I’m not sure it is only one. There are so many stories of courage among the women who attend. Tragedies and triumphs... chances to smile at shiny engagement rings... moments to hug in sympathy and support... time to miss those we have lost to cancer.. Retreat is like a wonderful piece of needlework with all its special stitches, dark and bright colours, and magical threads. We may only see the one thread that we bring to the event, but it weaves into a beautiful design when everything is combined.

Even with all the e-mail to answer this morning and tasks to do, I am refreshed and restored by the weekend and that will linger with me, along with the fun memories, for many weeks to come!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

The Cavalry Has Arrived!!

I do indeed know what it is like to be a cruise director... to one tiny little hard to please customer! Bethany was definitely feeling better today and kept ordering me to produce new activities whenever she got bored. Of course, having some work to do, I didn’t always respond fast enough for her liking. She is still sick enough (and at 4 still egocentric enough) that this produced several tantrums today when I didn’t bow to her every wish.

But now Nanny and Grr ( Erin couldn’t quite say Granddad when she was little and the nickname stuck) are here and there is an endless parade of new things to show and share that they haven’t heard 14 million times like Mommy and Daddy have!

I am also looking forward to retreat... so if I am not blogging much in the next few days... you will know that I am off relaxing and recharging batteries. I’ll try to post tomorrow before I waltz off and leave the girls in the capable hands here.... (hee! Hee!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

I Think She Must Be Feeling A Bit Better....

Isn’t it amazing how you know when your child is on the mend... because they want to be entertained... and yet they have the attention span of a fruit fly!!

I have felt like a cruise director all day! Thank goodness that I had some beads to couch down on a model, some yarn to knit with and graph paper to draw on during the brief DVD break today...because other than that this has been a day of playdough, paints, bead necklaces, construction paper to snip and “help” with the household chores.

I know that she still isn’t herself because whenever she meets with frustration, such as spilling or not having something go her way, there are the tears and tantrums that only a 4 year old can pull. We’ve had one less baking soda bath than yesterday and no new crops of spots... so perhaps we’ve crested the hill on this.

My Mom and stepfather arrive tomorrow and the girls are also in that pre-grandparents high of not wanting to sleep tonight. Is it selfish of me to be looking forward to the escape of the stitching retreat this weekend? (I can’t wait!!!) I’ve been tempted to just take someone else’s design up with me... yes, stitch something that’s NOT mine just to have fun (because even though I like stitching my stuff, I KNOW what it will look like... there’s no fun of anticipation!) The only fly in that ointment is that I just got a really neat idea for a design....
We shall see!!

I have a graphics job for a client that has been almost impossible to work on this week, even though they understand about Bethany being sick, so I am going to work on it tonight once I get the girls down instead of going to choir practice. Maybe I will just hum as I type tonight!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Mommy Dragon Wishes She Could Flame the Germs Away!

There is something so frustratingly helpless about watching your child suffer. I wish that I had magic enough to flame germs at the microscopic level in which they exist... but all I can do is watch how they are making Bethany suffer. Yesterday, it got so bad that we had to take her into Outpatients at the hospital. She has developed a host of chicken pox in a place that little girls (and even big girls) do NOT want to have them. The doctor said that it was one of the worst he’d ever seen and gave us some topical anesthetic to use VERY sparingly. I think she would live in a baking soda bath 24/7 right now if she didn’t keep looking like a little pink raisin!

This morning, I think that we have turned the corner (although she still has a crop of new ones elsewhere on her body) because she is in much better humour and at least willing to eat a bit of food or play.

How hard it must be for parents who face more serious illnesses with their children. At least I have had the comfort all along of knowing that, though painful as this outbreak has been for both my girls, it IS something from which they can recover. It has been a wonderful way to teach them both to count your blessings even in the midst of a yucky experience. It is also good to know that when 30 years have passed, thinking back to this illness, as I have been remembering my own bout with Chicken Pox, the memories will be vague and distant instead of vivid.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Here come the spots on Bethany!!

Well... I spent the whole week resizing photos to get the web site updated last night after Trick or Treating. It was a great evening... clear but not too cold. Erin was dressed up as a “nice” vampire (“the kind that only scares bad guys, Mom”) and Bethany was an adorable princess who kept trying to out race every one to the door. We went out with 4 other kids and 2 other Moms who were also in costume. For some funny reason, even though I was in costume, all my neighbours knew it was me!?!

After about an hour and a half, Erin started feeling itchy and funny again, so we came home to get an antihistamine while Bethany tagged along to the last 2 houses with the others. The doctor warned Erin that this type of flare-up would happen for a while with excitement or stress. Then everyone came to our house for a little play and peek at the loot.

Just as everyone was heading home, Bethany suddenly bolted for the bathroom and began begin violently ill to her stomach. I assumed that she was overtired and over-candied until I saw the first spots on her back... yup...Round 2 of Chicken Pox here we go!!!

At least they are happening now before I head off to Cross Stitch Retreat next weekend. If both my girls had broken out while I was away... I think my name would have been MUD!!

So now I have put up the results of the Dani the Dragon contest... and it was SO hard to pick winners. I am worried that lots of people won’t agree with my choices... that there will be hurt feelings... but I just kept coming back to some designs more than others and so did the people I asked to help me whittle the top 10 down to 3. Nick thinks it is funny that with all the colour choices I received... the 3 winners are green dragons... but it was the extras that tipped the balance... not the colours. That’s why I have so many Honorable Mentions!!

Bethany was a warm, sooky bundle on my lap as I started to type this blog. 2 hours later, after an Aveeno bath, medicine and bed (for her) I can finally finish my blog!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Brisk Walks and Arms Full of Leaves...

The kids in our School District have no school today or tomorrow as teachers do Parent/Teacher interviews and Professional Development days. I think that will Halloween falling on a Friday this year that was a clever way to avoid the excitement overload of kids whose brains are more set on trick-or-treating than learning!

Erin had a friend over to play this morning, so I did get a bit caught up on e-mail... but my office is a total disaster zone and this weekend I simply must go through all that kitchen counter clutter that piled up while Erin was sick. It isn’t just possessions that clutter up our houses. .. there is simply to much paper everywhere!! From school memos and the latest fundraiser to business information, cheques and bills. Too much!! Give me a town crier and less possessions any day!!

After the interview with Erin’s teacher, Nick dropped Erin and I off at the post office about 15 minutes from home so that I could send out a model to a stitcher. Erin and I then walked home in the blustery fall afternoon. I usually make that walk fairly quickly... but I haven’t had a child to it with me in a while. Erin was fascinated with the large gold maple leaves and kept picking up every “perfect” specimen (ie. no spots, tears or big blemishes) so that she could press then when we got home. (Oh... MORE clutter!!) She was skipping along in sheer joy with this huge armful of leaves, so totally caught up in the moment. Kids are a great reminder about just living life and enjoying each moment. I must learn to do that myself more often!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Playing Courier Tag... or A Dragon Chasing Her Tail

Why is is that couriers always seem to come to your house to deliver things during the small window that you might NOT be there instead of during the many hours that you are? I am waiting for more bags... so that I can batch up some orders that are ready, except for the bags, and came home to find the note stuck to the mail box that the courier had been in our neighbourhood early today. Arrrgh!

Tomorrow I have a meeting at Erin’s school since I have been elected to sit on the PSSC (A Parent Advisory Committee to help with school improvement) and so I had to fill out this long list of instructions of where they could leave said boxes... and hope that they find it in the brass mailbox since the weatherman is calling for blowing wind and rain tomorrow. Will they find it? Will they follow instructions? Will I have another note left and have to drive to the opposite end of the city tomorrow night to get my bags?

There are times when having an office staff or secretary would be nice... even a well trained pet! But at least this means that the bags are in the city. Won’t Nick be overjoyed to know that we have more bagging to do! (I can see the nervous tick starting up again already!)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

The Joy of How Voices Blend...

For once, thanks to the time change, getting everyone out to church this morning and making it to rehearsal for choir was relatively easy! We were singing an anthem with the most glorious harmonies.. and at first I was a bit panicky about having missed choir practice last Wednesday to look after Erin. I have a good ear but my sight reading can be a bit slow sometimes. Thankfully, the tenor line came back quickly considering that I’ve only sung the anthem through a few times before today.

There is nothing quite like the moment when all the parts blend to make such a wonderful, musical whole! To hear your own voice and how it blends in with the others to keep the parts distinct and yet blending is something I absolutely love. The only other thing that has ever come close has been the joy and privilege of designing with Karen Weaver and Teresa Wentzler on the Legends pieces... that blending of talents that makes a greater whole and the sheer joy of spending time with two such special and talented ladies.

I came home and indulged in an afternoon nap (since I got up with the wide-awake kids early this morning) and then worked some more on the illustrations that had troubled me so much on Friday. This time, my hands seemed much more cooperative... so it was good to make some headway.

I snuck down to write this as my girls are watching “The Wizard of Oz” on TV upstairs. This is one of our favourite family movies... though Bethany still finds the “mean green witchy” kind of scary.

Erin will be heading back to school tomorrow.. and so far Bethany hasn’t broken out in spots... so I will indeed enjoy a quiet house to work in tomorrow morning!!

Friday, October 24, 2003

When Hands Don’t Work.. Or I Am My Own Worst Critic...

Erin had another rough day. She seemed fine this morning and even played with her friend who also has had chicken pox this week at our house so that the other mother could have a break like I did yesterday... but then by mid-afternoon she had another painful “flare-up” and was running a low grade fever again.

I’ve been working on some illustrations, because it is easier to draw near her than be down in the basement office on the computer, yet my hands just are not cooperating today and it is VERY frustrating. This is one of those days where I can see the images so clearly in my head... yet I am just not satisfied with what is coming out on the pages before me. Drawing is like that sometimes. It’s not really a block, just a sense of regret that my hands don’t seem to be living up to the images I can see in my head. Nick always tells me I am being picky at this stage... but I can’t help it!!

It’s also been a few weeks since I have drawn on anything but graph paper... and there is no doubt that it is a transition back to pencil, pen and ink. I often think that I should find an hour each day to just draw... so that my hands will keep limber... but where do I squeeze it in?? I shall just push on and know that either the flow will be easier in the next couple of days, or I shall get an outside opinion to tell if I am being too picky or hard on myself.

But those beautiful images in my head still haunt me... sometimes it is so hard to be able to see one way and have my hands feel so clumsy trying to bring them to life. It is like trying to hold on to a shimmering soap bubble or a summer afternoon or the last hug with someone you love before they leave...

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Erin is finally feeling better enough to drive us both crazy today. Actually, that isn’t really fair. Considering all the itchy-scratchiness she’s been through, she’s been a real trouper ...but it has been grey and rainy and cold here all week...she misses her friends and she is starting to get a bit bored. She did go across the street to play with her friend who was 12 hours behind her catching chicken pox, but they both got a bit tired and cranky.

I keep peering at Bethany in the bath at night watching for spots. It is so much harder with the second child!! With Erin, I knew she was a bit “off” on that last day home with me before Toronto, but I never imagined it would be chicken pox!! Now we know that Bethany has been exposed to them, and are truly hoping to just get this over and done with, she is getting just a wee bit tired of Mommy pulling up her shirt to see if she has any spots yet, and yet also hoping for her turn to stay home and “be sick and spoiled by Mommy”!

I’d best get Miss Erin some paper to draw on or a mug of hot chocolate... but at least I had a chance to check e-mail while she was out and can now stitch on something while she watches a movie! I’ve been trying not to do work in the evenings this week and just knit on the scarf I am making with the BOA yarn. It is much more fun and relaxing to “play” than work in the evening!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Back From Toronto To Save Super Dad... ‘Cause What Are The Odds?

I got in from Toronto late last night to a bitter wind and the sight of softly falling snowflakes as I was driven home from the airport. Nick was waiting for me eagerly... because, as those taking classes from me this weekend heard, Erin broke out with CHICKEN POX on Friday night!!! The poor thing has got a very bad case indeed and is not only covered from head to toe in the telltale red spots, she also has waves of getting huge welts and sudden almost shingle-like rashes whenever the Benadryll wears off. Yesterday morning she could hardly move her hands because they had swollen so badly, but Nick took her up to the clinic to be seen and they said to just keep doing all the things he was. I know that he’s glad to have me home to help nurse her through this, especially since Bethany may be a few days or even weeks behind, but right now doesn't understand why pestering her big sister reduces Erin to tears. Poor Nick... what are the odds that he’d have to cope with this on top of just being a single dad for the weekend?? At least that explains why she was feeling so sick on Thursday as I was getting ready to head off to Toronto!

The show was SO much fun!! I truly enjoy spending time with stitchers, seeing familiar faces and getting to know people face to face when I’ve only had a chance to talk by e-mail. I found it a bit grueling on Friday and Saturday to be teaching 2 classes each day, so I am going to be more careful next year when I submit my class proposals. I also really valued the feedback that many stitchers/students shared about what they like, what they’d like to see in the future and what keeps them passionate about needlework. While I never had the chance to meet her, I did hear about one woman at the show who had won some money in the lottery and was there to spend her winnings on things that she’d always dreamed of but never been able to justify. Sound like the ultimate stash enhancing experience and a dream come true if I ever heard it! The most incredible thing about the CSNF in Toronto is that it combines SO many different things in one show; quilting, knitting, sewing, weaving, beading, needlework, crochet, doll-making, teddy bears, soap and candle-making, scrap booking, tole painting and much more!! I simply don’t have enough lifetimes to do all the wonderful things I saw in 4 days!!

I also really enjoyed the intimacy of teaching/spending time with a limited bunch of people for a 2 hour or half day class. The camaraderie among stitchers, to be among people who share the same love of seeing rows of colours or discovering new fibres or techniques, really does recharge my creative batteries on some deep level.

Even now that I am considered a more “established” designer, I still incredibly humbled by the fact that people want to spend time with me or consider that a big deal! (I guess since I live with me 24/7, I don’t see what all the excitement is about! ) I am just another human being, more scatterbrained that some... a bit less shy and demure than others... but still just a person following a dream and working hard to make it a reality. It is I that should be thanking all the stitchers out there who stitch up the designs my crazy imagination has come up with!!

Now that I have caught up on the blog and downloaded my e-mail, I am going to take the rest of today and just spend it with my two girls... who have been down about 3 times to check on me as I write this. It is cold and grey and rainy, so I think perhaps some warm chocolate chip cookies are in order.. and tonight I will look forward to knitting with the incredibly cool BOA yarn (Nick thought it would be CONSTRICTOR colours... not fuzzy like a feather boa!) that I picked up in Toronto at the show.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Toronto Bound Until Tuesday

Today was my last day to get everything wrapped up for the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival in Toronto this weekend. The alarm is set to wake me at 4:15 so that I can get out to the airport for the first flight out. It is harder on my body to get up that early and teach all day, but much easier on my girls to have one less night of Mom not there to tuck them in.

Today was also supposed to be picture day for Erin at school. We were in the process of curling the ends of her hair under with the curling iron after bringing some of it back in a ponytail when Erin was suddenly and violently ill into the bathroom sink.... so she stayed home with me. Was it the flu making a rebound in our house or was she just very aware that Mommy was heading off and had a “nervous tummy” as Nick’s mother calls it?

I always find I am more nervous in the last 24 hours as I try to remember everything I need to do or bring. I can’t exactly run home if I forget something important!! Once I am there, I love being with people.... the extrovert in me loves being out and sharing my love of needlework. Nick calls it being “ON”, kind of like the same high you get acting in a play, but I get to be myself.

Yet it is also such a wrench when Bethany burst into tears. I had been saying good night to her when she replied “See you.... when you get back and NOT in the morning!” and then began to cry in big gut-wrenching sobs. Last year at 3 1/2, her mantra was “Mommy don’t go to ‘Ronto!”

My sister, Laurie, once gave me a wonderful book called “A Question of Balance” by Judith Pierce Rosenberg which profiled artists and writers to see how they had balanced Motherhood and the professions. It is going with me on the plane instead of a new novel to read because I remember loving it so much when she first gave it to me as I struggled to start my freelance business from home with a newborn underfoot.

I won’t be blogging until at least Tuesday afternoon... so until then, the Dragon will be keeping her musings to herself and her journal. May your dreams be inspiring!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Do I need more hours in the day... more time on task ... or just more hands?

The thing about Nick and I being the only ones in the company until Erin’s concept of straight and mine get a little closer (as in glued on straight or cut straight) is that there are just the two of us to do everything, and he already has a very demanding full time job. He is a permanent member of the “Honey can do no wrong” club for even offering to help after a full day of being a Vice-Principal... but the fact remains that big projects or shows leave me more acutely aware of the time crunch. So once Toronto is done, I need to sit down and look at my plate again... make some notes about things I could have done differently... and how to change some of the time crunch issues.

I know that it is always hard to be objective right before a big deadline like this show in Toronto... but part of the “growing pains” is also to determine if I want to grow in a particular direction. I always wanted a job that would dovetail with my family more than it would take me away from it....

Maybe this dragon needs to contemplate her navel (doesn’t that just make me giggle at the image in my head) once she gets back from Toronto!

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Of Apple Orchards, Loose Teeth, Turkey Feasts and Floss Snipping...

We’ve been looking forward to yesterday for weeks.... For eight years now, we’ve been driving down the Dieppe side of the Petitcodiac River towards the Belliveau orchard to pick apples as a family. Most of the time, we’ve been accompanied by the same two sets of families and so the photos I take of each family in the orchard have chronicled our children as they grow. There have certainly been changes since that first picture of Erin as a toddler holding a juicy, red apple beneath a tree. The Tremblay clan has jumped from two to four kids with the addition of twins..and at almost seven months, we had the fun of watching them gnaw on their first apples.

The weather was just perfect! It was so warm and sunny that many people wore t-shirts... and no one brought a jacket this year, yet the fall leaves around us on the drive down where in their glory thanks to a few cool nights earlier in the week. The tractor pulled wagons led us over bumpy, winding paths into the orchard, past trees that were laden down with apples of all kinds. We bought our bags and began to fill them.. the kids taking the low branches, our friends the middle branches and of course Nick and I reaching up on our tiptoes to get all of the nice, big apples that no one else had been able to reach without a ladder. We’ve each got one built in!

All was going fine until the kids asked if they could each eat one apple, as is the tradition. Bethany took a big bite of the hard, crunchy apple and let out a howl!! She began to cry and gibber that she’d broken her tooth... so when I looked inside her mouth, sure enough, one of her baby middle teeth on the bottom was bleeding and loose. She’s going to take after me and loose her first tooth at 4 1/2 instead of after she’s 5... but since I’d never noticed that it was even getting loose, and Erin hasn’t lost a tooth in a few months, Bethany hadn’t really figured out that HER teeth would get loose someday. She thought she’d done something wrong and BROKEN it!! The hard apple probably did snap the baby tooth’s root a bit and speed up the process, but for about 10 minutes, she was inconsolable!

Finally, as each older child tried to help by explaining about THEIR loose teeth and Tooth Fairy Loot (leading to a rather over-inflated idea of what she can buy with her “monies”) we got her calmed down enough for the yearly pictures. I took everyone else’s photos first to give her blotchy face time to calm down a bit. As is the nature with kids, but the end of the car ride home, she was joyfully showing us how she could use her tongue to push that tooth forward!

Now... the only dilemma I have with this as a designer... is that the Tooth Fairy Pillow I designed for Erin (almost a year before she ever lost her first tooth since a magazine asked me to create one) has her name on it. It is also only fair that I create something new for Bethany (you just can’t have a “Hand-me-Down” with your sister’s name on it!) but what are the odds of this happening right before I leave for Toronto?? We may have to come up with something fun and temporary since I doubt that tooth will hang on until I get back. I am hoping she will lose if before I go...just to share in her milestone. I’d better design something on the plane or in my hotel room!

After the orchard, with apples, pumpkins, apple wine and fresh veggies in tow, we headed back to the home of one of our friends for a “potluck” Thanksgiving dinner. I’d cooked the turkey Friday while I was home working on the computer, so we brought it already sliced. One family looked after snacks and beverages, while the other handled veggies and amazing pumpkin pie!

I still had to bring a bit of work along... boxes of floss to snip and assemble on cards for the show in Toronto...but that was actually a fun thing to do as the big kids played downstairs, the twins rolled around on the floor at our feet and the grown-ups had a chance to talk. Nick even joked “So is this what’s it’s like to be a famous, glamorous designer?” as I sat in my jeans with piles of 18” strands of floss down one leg of my jeans (I have a nice long space from hip to knee) and the floss cards on the other leg as I looped each bundle through the cards in a half-hitch. No Martha Stewart or Debbie Travis gophers behind the scenes for me... but Nick did sit and stick needles into little bits of aida last night to help out, so I do at least have a “hunky helper”!

It was also wonderful to gather around the table...squeezing all 13 of us on chairs, stools and lap (for the twins when they got fussy) to eat the meal that we had prepared in friendship, and each come up with one thing that we were thankful for as our grace.

Today, after church, we head down the other side of the river to Nick’s Mom’s bed and breakfast for a meal with family. I know that even after the chaos of the past few weeks, I feel truly blessed and very thankful.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

I am done crying over spilt milk...

I’m over the urge to put my fist through the computer or just sit in the middle of my office floor and scream... so I can write a semi-coherent blog now.

Tuesday night was a late night getting all the cow files done for Milk Maritime and I made jpgs of the files for the client before shutting down the computer and crawling off to bed. Others who had this flu warned me that there was a backlash a few days after you started feeling better, and yesterday was definitely an off day... and a hectic one with Bethany “helping” do groceries and other errands. Erin had a marvelous run at cross country practice and I had choir practice, so by the time I got home, I went right to bed intending to start fresh this morning.

This morning when I turned on the computer and went to make the three tiny final corrections to the Teacher’s newsletter files, that both the French file and the most recent English version were somehow corrupted and unable to open. Talk about feeling sick to your stomach!! I now know how stitchers who have something spill onto a piece of needlework that they have put countless hours of time into feel when they first see the ruins of their work.

I did get a few graphics friends around town with the same or newer versions of the program to see if they could open the files, but alas... no luck. All my other files are fine and the Parent Newsletter built in a separate program is fine, but the task of recreating and re-typesetting the French version (and bringing the older English version in line with the newer one will have to take up the whole night. Final electronic proofs have to be sent off to Fredericton for government approval tomorrow morning no matter what.

I love the lamentations in the Psalms... because the writer goes ahead and rants to God at the beginning... WHY did this have to happen?? WHY me?? WHY now!! WHAT are the odds and why couldn’t they have been the lottery type instead of the unlucky type.... but like the psalmist by the end of the passage, I can only think of what I DO have...

The files will build faster the second time around....

Nick has been an angel helping with the kids and giving up a night at the gym for his workout so that I have extra time on the computer....

Only the files are toast, not my computer....

Nobody got hurt....

I live in a country of more than plenty....

I can’t wait to teach my classes in Toronto...

“I complained I had no shoes... until I met someone who had no feet....”

Sometimes you just can’t cry over spilled milk. You just do what needs to be done and count the blessings that you do have!

Monday, October 06, 2003

Two steps forward... one step back...

Another nice, quiet Monday morning.. and yet I seem to have so little energy. Perhaps a rebound from the flu that hit our house last week, perhaps a reaction to so much elephant left to eat... but I feel about as sharp as a sack of wet mice!

I slogged away on the corrections to the English Teacher’s newsletter and got all of the French translations in place except one recipe which they forgot to send the French version of... but then the English layout got all moved around about 3 pm this afternoon! I could have just screamed! Now I have to try to compare the French version and figure out which paragraphs to move where... so it is a darned good thing that I can speak both languages to make heads or tails of what I am doing! It would have been SO much easier if they could have gotten the English version to EXACTLY what they wanted and THEN sent if for translation!!!

This morning Bethany asked about next Monday (which is Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada). She knows that she won’t have to go to daycare and that Erin and Nick won’t have to go to school... but then she looks up at me with those big blue eyes and says “can you take a break from your computer too, Mommy?” Ouch! Out of the mouth of babes!

I told her that I would try to have a whole family lazy day... but with leaving for Toronto on the 17th... and all these changes to Milk stuff that should have been wrapped up two weeks ago if the information had been on time may make for some late nights!

This will give me one more twisted grin to make when someone says “Oh... you must love having so much control over your own time working from home!!”

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Of Rummage Sales and Fall Delights...

I had forgotten just how much fun a rummage sale could be when you are a child! As adults, we tend to love the bargains that are available, as well as the possibilities of finding treasures in someone else’s junk... but we tend to look things over with a critical eye. Erin and Bethany were in their element at our church rummage sale... poking through the piles with a five dollar bill clutched tightly in their fists.

Bethany found a giant ziplock bag of assorted plastic farm animals and equipment (though there was also a hippo, a cactus, a palm tree, a stop light, two construction workers and a few road signs... so that sounds like a pretty neat farm to me!) Erin had seen a small plush kitten last Sunday in the piles of stuff waiting to be sorted for the rummage sale. When I brought my own boxes of stuff in to donate (does it ever feel good to clean out some closets!) and told them that Erin had her eye on that kitten, the plush toy disappeared into the kitchen to keep it safe for her. Erin also found a rose pin and a small wooden chest with 3 drawers that is also a music box... and her eyes just shone as she brought everything to the cash. Bethany has still not grasped the concept of how much “monnies” really are, but Erin was just thrilled when the lady at the cash told her that the prices of things depended on your age!! She charged a dollar and a quarter for all of Erin’s treasures and so Erin was thrilled with the amount of change she was able to keep.... then she turned to Nick and I and announced “Well, you’ll have to pay a lot more because you are both so OLD!” (Hmmmmph!)

After all our workouts, swimming lessons and gymnastics this morning, we got the laundry on the line in the crisp fall breeze and I made myself a big mug of tea to stave off the urge to have a LONG afternoon nap. I have finished all of the English layouts for the School Milk pieces and the teacher’s newsletter, but it was time to squash and squeeze all of the French translations into place. While the basic layout remains the same, you often have to really play with the type sizes and move things around to get the longer sentences to fit in the same amount of space and still look nice.

Erin has been studying apples in her French Immersion class and had a recipe for microwaved apples to make, so I tried to find that fine line between letting her do it all and helping her learn how to do stuff like cream margarine and brown sugar together without sending the sugar everywhere. I must call my Mom tonight and thank her for all her patience in teaching ME how to cook.

Now that the girls are down for the night, it is time to assemble the 300 chartpacks, whose covers printed out in batches on the other computer while I worked on the Milk stuff this afternoon, while we watch a DVD.

Friday, October 03, 2003

On the Mend...

Our family is on the mend at last.. though I am still VERY tired. Nick went back to work today having spent most of yesterday sleeping or taking it easy like I tried to do. It is a struggle... when you know there are things that are supposed to get done and you just don’t have the strength to do them. Today, I feel at least 75 percent back to being myself, but I can tell it will still be an early night... and my shortest blog yet.