Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Here's to a bright and blessed 2006!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Warmest wishes for the new year!

Welcome to Amy!

Just a little post to welcome Amy from Amy's Musings. She's the featured blog of the wek this week. Head on over to my sidebar and give her a click for an enjoyable read! Tell her I sent you!

From Amy: Tales from the Anti-June Cleaver, Anti-Soccer Mom. Mom of three great but strange kids contemplates family, life, and the world around her. Erma Bombeck-ish, humorous, occasionally sarcastic, opinionated, but always with an open mind...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sitting on my hands

That's about as productive as I feel in the whole car-shopping area. Will I EVER get a car??? I put off shopping after the Beastmobile got schmucked for a month till I actually had the time to go look. Now I'm waiting... and waiting... and waiting... for the bank to get back to me about extending my line of credit so I can actually PAY for it! My holidays and borrowed car time are quickly running out. ARG! Why can't timing match up? First I had no time. Now I have no money (well, ok, I had no money when I had no time, too). As soon as I have no time again, I'll have the money. Or maybe not. *sigh* I really don't want to go to Beatertown again. I've had a beater, it was fun - kinda - but I'm ready to move on. I don't need a new car (though hey, if anyone's offering... !!) but I want something reliable, with things like a working transmission. See? I don't ask much!

I need to buy a jet pack. Then I could just fly to the places I want to go. It'd really cut down on the commuting time, too!

Is it over already?

I think I'm in denial! My decorations are staying up for a while yet, and darnit, I'm NOT puting away my Christmas music. At least not yet. All the craziness leading up to Christmas, and then *poof* it's over! I'm going to do things differently next year, I think. I reeeaaalllly need to make some time to be still. Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room for him at the inn. I don't want there to be no room for him in my life, either.

That being said, it was still a wonderful Christmas. It was quite different than other years, but still full of all the traditions I love.

My aunt and uncle and cousins arrived from Edmonton on Christmas Eve and stayed for two nights. It was so great to have them with us this year. They don't come down every year, and when they do, they usually stay with grandparents, so this was such a treat! Our house was busting at the seams, and it was great! We all went to the Christmas Eve service at my parent's church, which is right next door to our house in my high school gym. It was so bizarre to be in that hated place (gym was never a happy memory for me in high school!) and seeing it all decorated for Christmas. It bacame a holy place as something in the words of O Holy Night really struck me.

We all crammed into the family room afterwards and watched Jim Carey's version of The Grinch (I've had "be it eeever so heeeiiiinnnous, there's nooo place like hooome" stuck in my head ever since!). It seemed the picture perfect Christmas Eve - the whole family (two, in fact!) plus the dog all hanging out together by the fire. After the movie, we left some treats for Santa and all the "kids" were sent off to bed.

I still wake up early Christmas morning and sneak out to look at the scene in our living room. The warm glow of the tree, the bulging stockings, the pile of gifts underneath the tree, and the MESS Santa left (Santa is always messy when he somes to our house!)... I still feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

With TWO families around the tree, opening gifts was even more chaotic than usual! Both families open gifts one at a time so we can see what everybody gets, so it took nearly two hours to open everything! I got, among other things, a drybag for kayaking, Scategories, an engraved pen, software to make a photography book, and a compact, lightweight tent which will be perfect for backpacking! The tent was one of those items on the wishlist that I thought I'd put on, but really wasn't expecting to get! Yippee!

Every year, my dad lavishes gifts on my mom. She's stopped giving him a wishlist, because he'll go and buy everything on it. This year he was left to fend for himself, and he did a pretty darn good job. Every year, my parents make a calendar with photos they've taken throughout the year. We give them to the aunts and uncles, the grandparents, etc. Mom's last gift was one of these calendars. BUT, stuffed in March's page was a CD labelled, "What's this all about?" Dad opened up his laptop and popped in the CD. A powerpoint presentation began to play. To back it up here for jsut a minute, my parents don't take lavish vacations. They'd love to, but they jsut can't. The last real vacation they went on was to Hawaii for their 25th anniversary, which was eight years ago. Also, both of my parents have had quite a tough year. So, Dad decided to do some homework. This presentation was the result of that. One of the slides asked my mom if she remembered this guy:

It tok my uncle humming a few bars of the theme song to "The Love Boat" before my mom realized what exactly she was getting...

Dad had booked a TEN day cruise of the Mexican Riviera, leaving from San Fransisco. He also booked another six days in San Fransisco at the end of the cruise, complete with tickets to a few shows and a day in the Napa Valley touring the vinyards. Because my mom only gets one week off at spring break, he had also arranged for an extra week off work for her (she teaches preschool, outside of the public system, so time off is actually quite difficult to get). WOWEE!!! I'm SO excited for them. This will be a much deserved holiday for them. Yahoooo!

The rest of the family came over in the afternoon and we did the crazy gift thing again (another two hours!) and had dinner. We had twenty-two people for Christmas dinner. TWENTY-TWO! After everybody but my aunt and uncle and cousins had left, a dance party broke out in the living room. Everybody under the age of 25 left as quickly as they could (mortified to see their parents dancing, I'm sure. It was quite funny). Although I stuck around, I didn't dance. I thought I'd let them have thier fun! ;) Once again, not a typical Christmas!

I hope your Christmas was happy!

Click here to see more Christmas pictures.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Who knew?

Excerpts from my letter to Santa (a little silliness on a rainy day)...

Dear Santa,
It really wasn't my fault what happened at Dave's office party... I thought it was funny when I put Jordan's tummy control panty hose on my head and danced the Merengue on the chair while singing `I Want a Hippopotumus for Christmas'... I don't remember calling Shaun's wife a lumpy goat... And when I threw up on Rachelle's husband's uvula, it was only because I ate too much of that almond... I don't think that was any reason for Rebecca to call me a droopy lemur and have me arrested for public nose picking! ... So, Santa, here I sit in my jail cell on Christmas Eve... Please bring me what I want the most---bail money!

Sincerely, Hillary

Gotta love MadLibs! Make your own here. Thanks, Shelli, for the link!

My Apologies...

First to my current and previous tenants, 'A' from Red Shoe Diaries and Grace from Life According to Princess Grace (click the thumbnail on the right to visit Grace). I've been a bad landlord (bloglord? heh heh... I like the sound of that!) I promised them both a shout-out and I never got to it. Go show them some love! Leave a comment and tell them Hillary sent you.

The second apology goes to Firefox users. Apparently those of you who use Firefox have had music playing automatically every time my blog loads for the last week or so. I thought I turned that feature off (it's off in Explorer!) but apparently Firefox doesn't recognize the code. Grrr. (And Zen, ya wuss, it's a 30 second clip! ;) ) It's off now.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, Oh night divine

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
Over the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King!
Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! And ever more we praise thee,
His power and glory
Ever more to proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Oh night devine
Oh night night when Christ was born.

Wishing you and your family many blessings this Christmas!

Christmas Eve

I'd like to say that is was the sheer excitement of the day that got me up so early. In reality, it was the pelting pouring rain and the leaky drainspout outside my window. No matter. It's Christmas! Our house is crammed with family from out of town, memories of a beautiful Christmas Eve service are still fresh, and all of us watched a favourite Christmas movie jammed into the living room last night. Most of us fell alseep! It was perfect!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Man, I'm a blogging machine. (That, or I have tons of housework to do and I'm the biggest procrastinator ever)

Looking ahead to the new year, there are a few things I'd like to do. One is, of course, continue on with my small group/Bible study. I love those folks! I couldn't imagine a week without them! I'd also like to help with my church's Alpha program. Alpha is a "come as you are and ask what you'd like" introductory course to Christianity. It's really a great program, and I've been wanting to get involved for a while now. Finally, in the spirit of trying new things and capitalizing on my hammy personality, I want to take an acting class. I actually found one that's resonably priced and starts in January, too!

The only catch? Every one of these weekly events happen on Wednesdays. AAARRRGGG!!! I don't want to have to choose! Of course, in reality, I couldn't do them all anyway, cause if you factor young adults in there, too, every other Monday, I'd have something going on four nights a week. Insanity.

This acting class looks like so much fun. I've never been in a play before (if you don't count the Sunday School Christmas pageants), and I only took drama in grade 8. I don't know if it's the higher-than-usual number of plays I've seen in the last while or what, but I have an itch to act, mostly cause I think it would be such a gas!

Anyone want to take the course with me? Details are here. It's the first course, called "Acting for the fun of it" (Though I may end up going for the improv course on Thursday nights).

ps. Elaine: I don't have your email address: send me an email (use the link in my profile) so I can add you to my address book. BTW, thanks so much for the card - your kind words meant a lot, thank you. Now quit lurking, girl! I know you're here! Leave a comment! ;)


AfricaBleu tagged me with this meme a looong time ago (woohoo! My first tag ever! :D ) so here goes! (Hey, any excuse not to go to do housework is good for me, apparently! )


....I Want To Do Before I Die:
1.) Get married
2.) Have kids
3.) Take a Carribean Cruise
4.) Go on a missions trip
5.) Travel to at least three different continents
6.) Learn to use an SLR camera
7.) Act in a play

....Things I Cannot Do:
1.) Type the word "just." It ALWAYS comes out jsut
2.) Yodel. Though sometimes I try, much to the embarassment of those around me
3.) Get to bed before 11pm, apparently. Usually it's 12 or later. No wonder I'm always so stinkin' tired!
4.) A cartwheel anymore (boo hoo!)
5.) Drive a standard
6.) See more than six inches in front of my face without glasses/contacts
7.) See a baby without holding it. Well, a baby I know. Runing up and grabbing strangers' babies would jsut (see?) land me in jail.

....Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex:
1.) A sense of siliness
2.) Godliness
3.) Attentiveness
4.) Integrity
5.) Eyes + smile
6.) A warm personality
7.) It's totally plagarism, but I HAVE to go with what AfricaBleu said: "Chest and arms. I like that broad, strong section of chest which just begs for me to lay my head against, and then giant arms to wrap me up." mmmm... yummy

....Things I say most often:
2.) "I'm not going to continue until I have ALL eyes on me and mouths are zipped!" (aw, ain't teacher talk special???)
3.) Oh dear
4.) hee hee hee (in text or in real life!)
5.) I LOVE IT! (while clapping my hands together and grinning like a fool)
6.) ta ta ti-ti ta (*laughs and rolls eyes*)
7.) I get this one said TO me the most often: "How's that go again?" This usually after some crazy dance, sound effect, or action I do to accompany one of my many stories. Or after I say, "I LOVE IT!" clap my hands together and grin like a fool.

...Celebrity Crushes: (the few I can come up with were all from when I was little...)
1.) Raffi (I was SIX, ok!?!?!)
2.) Michael J Fox as Alex P. Keaton (inexplicable, really. )
3.) ummm...
4.) thinking...
5.) I know this is kinda cheating....
6.) but I honestly can't think of anyone...
7.) I've never been big on celebrity crushes! I must be a wacko!

... People I want to do this
1.) Cathy
2.) Brad
3.) Ann
4.) Paul
5.) Liisa (but she has to create a blog first! Go Liisa, go! Doowiiit!)
6.) Anyone else who'd like to do it!
7.) You!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Me?! Alternative?!

Under the encouragement of a friend of mine, I'm going to look seriously at joining the co-operative auto network instead of buying a new (to me) car to replace the beastmobile. Basically, you become a member fo the co-op and then there are cars stationned all over the city. You reserve a car and just go to the nearest location to pick it up. It's obviously a little more complicated than that, but the idea is that memebers of the co-op share a whole fleet of all kinds of different vehicles. You pay by kilometer, so the less you use, the less you pay. It's a really great way to have use of a car when you need one, and encourages you to use other transportation (bike, bus, your feet!) when you can. Plus it's waaaay cheaper than owning your own car and is more environmentally friendly, too!

My friend is pretty sold on the idea, and it sounds pretty good to me. The only reason he's not using it is because he does a lot of driving for his work and needs to get up and go at the drop of a hat. I guess there has to be a little bit of planning ahead of time to use a co-op car. I'd just have to get better at planning my life!

Does anyone out there use this network in Vancouver or elsewhere? Have you got any pros/cons you'd like to share? Leave a comment or email me (use the link in my profile)!

I want to be... an ACT-TOOOOR

6-8 plays in the last 2 years
being chosen as first star of the improv at my language school in 2001
the desire to try something different
a generally hammy personality

Mix together and let simmer, and voila! You'll get the crazy notion of enrolling in a community acting program.

I've been thinking about donig somehitng like this for a while. Acting just looks like so much fun! I never did drama in highschool, and I think it would be neat to try my hand at a little play or something. I wonder if there are any (low cost!)acting programs out there. Some people take a photography course (which I'd like to do, too), some people learn how to arrange flowers, I want to try my hand at the theatah, dahling. I sense a new year's resolution coming on...

Of course for now, all I can think about is the Jack McFarland Acting School. That scares me. :P

Just Jack!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Birthday to my blog!

My blog is one year old today! One sentence in my first post makes me laugh and laugh... Well, we'll see how often I use it, but why not try! Oh my. If only I'd know how addicted I would get! Hee hee hee...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Waves of grace

Once again, God has blown me away by his grace and unexpected surprises.

On the way home from the play last night, my friend Dave and I were chatting about him heading home to Toronto for Christmas. I asked him how he was getting to the airport (I would have offered to drive him, but, well, I'd need a car for that!). He mentioned that his roommate was probably going to drive him and then leave the car in front of their place while they were both away for Christmas. He'd have his landlord keep an eye on it for those two weeks. In the very next breath he asked me, "Hey! Do you want to borrow my car while I'm away?" OH. MY. GOODNESS! I was speechless. "Really?!?! Uuuh... wow!" I hope he didn't think I was trying to lead him to that conclusion! I totally wasn't! The use of a car over the holiday alleviates SO much stress for me. I don't have to worry about Christmas shopping taking forever (yes, I still have shopping to do!), I can actually GET myself to my parent's place for Christmas, the whole bit! And hey, it's going to make shopping for my own car SOOOO much easier! His reasoning? He tries to remember that everything he has doesn't belong to him, but to God, and so wants to use what he has to help others whenever possible. Just another glimpse of a character that reflects Christ in so many different ways. I want to be more like that.

Then today I found an envelope from the Canadian Teacher's Federation (CTF) among my mail. That seemed somewhat odd. During the teacher's strike back on October, teacher's took a big financial hit, and the CTF set up a "Teacher Hardship Fund" to give grants to teachers who qualified. I applied, and got a letter about two weeks ago saying that I wasn't going to get a grant/assistance. So today's letter from the CTF was kind of strange. I guess they got more money for the fund, or something, because there was my cheque! WOW!

Even as I write tonight, I think back to one of the things I wrote last night - that I was beginning to fear that God would begin to lose patience with ever-wandering me. I know that's not true, but sometimes that thought still creeps in. After all, Jesus isn't just a meek little infant in the manger. He's also a pretty fiesty character. He's the Lamb of God, but also the Lion of Judah. Is there a limit to his grace? It's in gifts like the use of Dave's car for two weeks and some unexpected money right when I need it the most that I hear God's voice gently answering my question. Grace and blessings have no limit, and are not dependent on me deserving them. Once again, God is wooing me to himself. How can I resist a love like that?

Sunday, December 18, 2005


I don't even know where to start. My head is so full of thoughts, all swirling, all needing to be savoured, to be left to percolate. I want them to touch me deeply, but I'm afraid that with the fragile state they're in now, they'll be lost too soon. I always seem to be left with just a taste in my mouth. Never the whole meal, never enough to satisfy. I want to chew each thought slowly and let it fill me up. Of course, then there's the issue of what to write here. Who will see it? Do I want to be that raw, that open, for everyone to see?

Love? Something is stirring in me. I pray and I pray for it to go away. I'm afraid that nothing will ever come of it, and I don't want to feel that pain.

Disappointment. Or rather, a great fear of disappointment. I try so hard not to get my hopes up, for fear they will come crashing down. Again.

Hope. False or founded? I want to simultaneously squash it and do everything possible to keep it alive. It's not just about him - about everything. Particularily about finding the "me" I seem to have lost somewhere along the way this year.

Longing. To be me again. To not be overwhelmed. To slip my hand into his. To be so much more of the person God wants me to be. Longing that sometimes is barely noticeable, but sometimes comes to the surface and is so strong my chest aches.

Fear. "I fell funny. Funny-bad." This year has been hard. I haven't felt like myself. To look at me, one would say that everything is going well. Work friends, family, church - all good. I almost feel ungrateful when I say that something just feels wrong. I had to fight away tears at the play tonight when the actor read a monologue that could have been about me. Fear that all I hope for won't happen. Fear that I won't be "good enough" in what I do. Fear that my Jesus will stop having patience with ever-wandering me.

As the author of that monologue had finally been able to put his finger on what had been nagging at him, I came to see that for me it was the same thing. Even as I'm writing this, I see how much fear is at the root of what I'm feeling. It's not a knee knocking horror film type terror. It's not even a tangible worry that I can identify and deal with. Instead it seems to be a subtle change in character, a timidness about life. It's as if I'm afraid to really live, to put my heart out there. At a deep, nearly unrecognizable leve, I'm afraid to risk. I didn't used to be that way. It feels like this year I've become jaded. Lost something.

Fear is a funny thing. It seems to sneak up on you. It slowly coils around you and starts to restict your movement. I see now why the words "paralysing" and "fear" are used together. And I see how the paralysis can be so much more than physical.

As Chrsitmas apporaches, I find myself thinking about the angels that came to Mary, to Jospeh, and to the shepherds in vast multitues. The first thing on their lips was "Do not be afraid." Then I think to all the times in the Bible that phrase has been uttered.

"I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you... The Lord will say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be stong. Do not fear. Your God will come.'... Do not be afraid, for I am with you and I will rescue you... Don't be afraid, just believe... Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid...

As I sit and think about Christmas, I'm reminded that I have no reason to fear. My past is redeemed and my future is secure. As I muddle along in the present, I'll try to keep this in mind.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid.
Love has found it's way to you.
Do not be afraid.

Friday, December 16, 2005


I've FINALLY got my blog the way I wanted it (for now!) After I had changed from the standard blogger template, I did the all-beige thing. It was kinda warm and cozy, but, well, kinda beige. I made a tester blog, but the template was horribly messed up when viewed in Firefox. After a few desperate pleas ("My site is broken! Fix it!") to some HTML savvy friends, and a few jaunts through the codes of some similar sites, I got some tips and hopefully there aren't any problems with the way it looks in either IE or Firefox. Let me know if there are any issues!

A HUGE thank you to Brad and Paul for wading through mygibbled code and getting me going again!

Bits 'n' bites

Yippeee! School's out for Christmas! I SO need a break. I'm telling ya, I was barely hanging together this past week. And of course, just in time for vacation, I'm sick! Typical! I could feel it coming Wednesday. It was the weirdest thing: like a hard ball of sick deep in my head that just began to grow and grow. Bah!

I'm hoping this will be a relaxing break. The goal is to get my house clean and my leftover marking/recording done this weekend, then have the two weeks to enjoy. Nevermind the fact that I've got to go car shopping now, still have appointments to go to for my back (which is still bugging me from the accident) and haven't yet bought gifts for any of my immediate family! *sigh* I did ALL my shopping in one day last year, every last bit of it. All on December 21. I was insane. Definitely not gonna go that route again, but I have a feeling it will be close. It will be so much easier if I get a car sooner rather than later.

On the way home from work/school today (I still don't know what to call it!) I witnessed the most abominable display of self-centered childish snark I have seen in a very very long time. I was on a crowded bus reading a book when I heard a string of profanities coming from a woman who liked to be in about her early twenties. I had no idea what had happened, but saw a woman trying to squeeze past snark-girl to get off the bus. As the woman was stepping off the bus, snark-girl replied, loudly, "Do that again and I'll *@#* bite them off!" Huh? Her phone rang just after that and in a hugely exasperated tone, she snarked "WHAT," then proceeded to recount what had happened - extremely loudly with great profanity - what had happened. I guess the woman who was trying to get off the bus was a little unsteady on her feet and went to grab the pole to steady herself as the bus stopped suddenly, but missed and touched snark-girl's mouth. OK, yeah, gross, but have a little grace, lady! As her conversation proceeded, you could tell that she was angry, angry, angry, and apparently was a drama queen and wanted the whole world to know about it. Passengers around her started to talk, because she was being SO ridiculous. We were all stupified at how this girl was carrying on. As my stop came up and I got all my stuff together, I guess she had seen me looking at her in astonishment and started in on me. I got ranted at for an entire block and a half and she was still going as I got off the bus.

Look, snark-face, you're right. I have no idea what's going on in your life. It might be really horrible, and if so, I really am sorry. But the way you treated that woman (and your friend on the phone, for that matter) was atrocious and there's no need to make everyone around you miserable, too. And ranting at a stranger? Classy.

I was really picked at her, because it was such a great afternoon - school had just gotten out, it was a beautiful day, I was enjoying my book, and she totally poisoned the good mood I was in. Normally I can just let stuff like that roll off, but today it really stuck with me. I need to go blast some happy music or something to wash all that nastiness out of my head. Blech!

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
Then I don't feel so bad!
What are a few of your favourite things?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tuesday's Tale of Christmas

Every year everyone in my family clears an evening in their schedule and we all go to mom and dad's house to decorate teh family Christmas tree. Ours is NOT a "Martha Stewart" tree. It's a real live, sap-oozing, needle-dropping, scent-giving showcase of our family history. Every ornament on our tree has a story behind it: this one was made by Great-Grandma Friesen. She knitted one for each of us when she was nearly blind... that one was given to you by that little old lady who always sat behind us at church. She loved you kids so much! ... this one came from our language student in Korea... do you remeber making this one? We had all the neighbourhood kids over and I baked dough ornaments for hours! ... These baubles were a weding present: they've been on our tree for thirty-two years... and on and on the story goes. Decorating the tree is a little time warp into our family's past. It's also a noisy, hilarious, crowded (there's always friends or language students or boyfriends/girlfriends, or some combination of those added to the mix), treat-filled evening. Did I mention it was noisy?

Dad always gets the tree set up before dinner. Because our Christmas tree stand is now ROUNDED on the bottom (DAD! Just get a new one!!!), the tree has to be secured to the wall/window ledges with string. I'm pretty sure the string is the only thing holding it up this year. "Is it straight?" Nope, a little to the left. "Umf! Is it straight?" Not quite. "Now?" Well now it's off center. "Yeah, but is it straight?" ...

This continues for who knows how long, then it's time for the lights. They get strewn all the way down the hallway and dad cirlces them aroud the tree while one of us feeds them to him. Sometimes things get a little tangled up...

Our family has a two set-in-stone traditions when it comes to our Christmas tree. The first one is the "squint test." Nobody wants a Christmas tree with big dark spots on it... the lights have to be evenly distributed. When dad's about halfweay through the lights, it's time to the "squint test." One (or more!) of us stand in the hallway and scrunch up our eyes to blur the lights. It's much easier to spot light-deficient places on the tree that way! Of course, if someone happens to be standing there with a camera, you end up with a picture of yourself that looks like this.

The second started back in 1994. My brother was 11 when he wrote this note, and every year when we put away the decorations, it gets tucked carefully back into the box. I'm going to let the note tell the story for me on this one. (Click on the picture if you need a larger view.)

After all the decorating was done, it was my turn (according to the note!) to put the angel on the tree. It really doesn't matter to us now, but mom still insists we follow the order. It's fun!

And of course, some typical sibling goofiness, just for fun!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

2005 In Review - Blog Style

I got this idea from Steve... want a review of your year? Go through your archives and copy the first line (or lines) of the first post of every month, and voila! You've got a recap of your year. Click the titles to read the rest of the posts if it strikes your fancy! :-)

January - Staving off boredom
Well, it's been 4 days holed up at home feeling crappy... I've been going insane! (hee hee, my insanity isn't WHY I was holed up, just a by-product)...

February - Happy Birthday to me!
It's my blog, I'm allowed to be shameless! Happy birthday to me, and Happy Groundhog Day to all of you! ...

March - So close!
It is SOOO exciting to see God working in people's hearts! I have a friend who I don't see very often (maybe even once a year, which is ridiculous, because she onle lives a few blocks away), but every time we hang out we end up talking about Christianity...

April - Fill in the blank
I like big ____ and I cannot lie, you other brothers can't deny......Well, you may be thinking "butts" and you'd be right... unless of course, you're listening to this...

Reader, beware. This is a rant. HONESTLY! We can't eat ANYTHING anymore without it being bad for you. All of a sudden EVERYTHING is off limits. Eat more of this, eat less of that. This causes cancer, that will make your hair fall out...

June - Show N Shine
I went to my first classic car show last weekend... how fun! I have a friend who is really into classic cars, and my parents were volunteering at the refreshments booth (as a fundraiser) so my friend and I went together...

July - Questions
Why does God's voice always seem clearer to me after the fact? Over the last year, it seems that only after something happens can I look back and go, "Ah, yes, God was telling me this or that." Is it because I'm not in the practice of hearing his voice? Or have I heard it and chosen not to listen?...

August - Variations on a theme
Sometimes things people say or phrases I hear just stick in my head... then, even months later, a little lightbulb goes on and I realize that they are all related. Hmm... could God be trying to tell me something?...

September - Tick. Tick. Tick.
The hours are quickly sliding away... I'll be walking through those big blue doors in nine and a half hours...

October - What was I THINKING???
Oh wow. I'm shaking my head in disbelief. I actually WORE that?...

November - The aforementionned "cool stuff"
On October 15, I went to a housewarming party at a friend's place. My friend, we'll call her Jane, pulled me aside and told me she had something for me...

December - What's in a name?
Merry Christmas! Not "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" or "Have a good winter vacation." Merry Christmas...

Friday, December 09, 2005

You know you're a music teacher when... can supply seven people with seven different musical instruments all from your living room. That's not counting the clarinet and flute I have in my bedroom. Can you name all seven instruments? (Click for a larger view)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The best weekend ever!

Ok, so this is a little late coming, but last weekend was the bestest!

Saturday I spent cleaning up my mess of a house and baking mass quantities of gingerbread. I then had some friends over for a Christmas party. We cranked up the Chrsitmas carols (including the horrible horrible "Christmas Dance Party" CD my mom gave me a few years back. Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Disco should stay far, far away from eachother!), decorated my house with oodles of lights and garland, and made real live gingerbread houses! I haven't done that since I was probably 10 or 11 years old!
It was quite the night! We ended with a few games of Rook while the movie A Christmas Story played in the background. You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

Go check out some photographic evidence of Saturday evening's craziness!

Sunday was the first week back at church in three weeks for me, and it was SO good to be back (I didn't go anywhere but work for about two weeks after my car accident. I was in a major self-pity funk). PLUS, when I woke up Sunday morning, it was snowing! After church some friends and I went out for lunch to this little cafe on Main Street. It's a cozy little place, and every Sunday afternoon there's an older man who sits at the piano and just plays and plays and plays. Well last Sunday he was playing Christmas carols. So with live Chrsitmas music filling the cafe, I enjoyed a cozy luch with some good friends while watching the snow come down outside. Mmmmmmmm, it was perfect!

That evening was the church's Chrsitmas party. I decided to walk the 40 blocks or so and enjoy the snow. The party was fun - carols, kids stories, lots of laughs and some good eats. AND, by pure serendipity, when some friends decided to go ice skating afterwards, we were just in time to catch the full public skate session. It couldn't have been a more perfect weekend!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The shabby green door

Last night I listened to a talk by Dave Gotts, who is the director of International China Concern, an organization who works with abandoned babies, children, and young people in China. It left me rather overwhelmed.

There are over one million children abandonned in China every year. Eighty percent of them die.

Dave decribed the scene at a particular orphanage in China... One worker caring for fourty children, many of whom had some sort of mental or physical disability, or both. Four or five children sharing one wooden cot to sleep on. Children going wild when the meager meal was brought in, swarming the servers, stuffing the food into their mouths as fast as they could for fear another child would steal it from their hands and crawling along the filthy floor picking up any leftover grain of rice they could find; anything that they could put in their mouths. Bones that had been chewed clean and tossed on the floor would be picked up by someone else, sucked clean and tossed away once more, only to be picked up by another child, then another, then another. The light of hope extinguished from a child's eyes because they knew that they were most likely going to die. All humanity had gone from that place.

Then there was the shabby green padlocked door. This is where kids go when there are too many children in the orphanage. It's off in a corner beside a noisy water system, which would drown out the sound of a child crying or pleading for food. Eventually, the child stops crying, stops pleading, and quietly starves to death.

What kind of world lets children die cold and alone padlocked behind a door. What kind of world leaves a child on the street to die just because it's a girl and not a boy? Things like this happen all over the world. Extreme povery and suffering in India, in Africa. Even right here in my own neighbourhood. A homeless man died on Sunday morning on Hastings Street. He froze to death. What kind of world are we living in???

I cannot shake the image of that door. I don't think I want to. It's so easy to hear a story like that and feel so far removed from it. It's overwheming. It's so far away. What could I possibly do? But I don't want to just slough it off, letting it bring a tear to my eye and then carrying on with my life as if it never happened. I want it to affect me, to motivate me to action, but I'm scared of what that means, and don't even know where to start.

What? Two days of snow in a row?

OK, so this is a little late to be relevant, but it's so great I had to post it anyway! Here's what happens when snow hits Vancouver! Thanks Pelalusa for the article.

Day 2 - Vancouver Blizzard 2005 - Revenge of the Commuters

Chilled Vancouver commuters faced their second day of winter hell today, as an additional ¼ centimeter of the peculiar white stuff fell, bringing the lower mainland to its knees and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the marijuana crops. Scientists suspect that the substance is some form of frozen water particles and experts from Saskatchewan are being flown in. With temperatures dipping to the almost but not quite near zero mark, Vancouverites were warned to double insulate their lattes before venturing out.

Vancouver police recommended that people stay inside except for emergencies, such as running out of espresso or biscotti to see them through Vancouver's most terrible storm to date. The local Canadian Tire reported that they had completely sold out of fur-lined sandals.

Drivers were cautioned to put their convertible tops up, and several have been shocked to learn that their SUV's actually have four wheel drive, although most have no idea how to use it.

Weary commuters faced soggy sushi, and the threat of frozen breast implants. Although Dr. John Blatherwick, of the Coastal Health Authority reassured everyone that most breast implants were perfectly safe to 25 below, down-filled bras are flying off the shelves at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

"The government has to do something," snarled an angry Trevor Warburton. "I didn't pay $540,000 for my one bedroom condo so I could sit around and be treated like someone from Toronto."

Tuesday's tale of Christmas Past

I love warm fuzzy Christmas memories. I was at an event last night where the "icebreaker" activity was sharing your memories of a Christmas 'high' and a Christmas 'low.' I had lots of highs, but couldn't really think of many lows. I'm sure I had a few, but if they weren't coming to mind, I figured, why try to dig them up? I decided to post every Tuesday about a Christmas tradition or a Christmas memory that I have. I'd love to hear your stories, too! Either leave them in the comments, or write your own Tuesday Tale of Christmasses Past and notify me, and I'll link to you! Maybe we can get a lil' trend going!

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Santa is always messy when he comes to my parent's house. The grate in the fireplace gets knocked over, the decorative logs on the hearth are all spilled. Apparently the snack we leave for him isn't enough, so Santa has to meander over into the kitchen to have his fill. He invariably knock over dining room chairs and leaves a trail of paper towels, crumbs, etc as he goes. Mandarin orange wrappers are everywhere. This hasn't changed as my brother and sister and I have gotten older and moved out. Santa still comes. Santa still leaves a mess.

One year, when I was maybe eight or nine, Santa was particularly messy. So messy, in fact, that he got a few gifts stuck in the chimney.

Stockings were opened, all the gifts were unwrapped, and we were enjoying mom's candy cane loaf (bread stuffed with nuts and dried fruit that was shaped like a candy cane) for breakfast. All of a sudden, Dad's ears perked up: "Did you hear that? What was that sound? ... I think it was coming from the chimney!" He went to check it out, and came back amazed. "Santa got something stuck in the chimney. I'm going to go downstairs and get some tools to try to get it out. You stay here."

We were so excited! We stayed in the kitchen, which was - conveniently - around the corner from the living room, while dad went downstairs and got his tools. When he returned, the banging and clanging of a man trying to dislodge another one of Santa's treasures made us so excited we could hardly breathe. After what seemed like forever, we were allowed to round the corner and see what had been stuck. There in the middle of the living room was a brand new tricycle for my brother, who was maybe three at the time. We stood in amazement (all except my brother, who was already riding the trike around the living room.

"Now hang on a second, while I was getting this out, I think I saw something else up there, too. You go finish your breakfast, I'm going to go down and get some more tools." We tried to sneak a peek up the chimney before mom shooed us back into the kitchen, but alas! It was far too dark to see anything. More clanging, more banging, and when we got called back, there was another bike, this time for my sister!

Once more, dad saw something ELSE up the chimney. Once more he went to get just a few more tools. I of course knew what was up there this time around, but that didn't stop me from practically jumping up and down in the kitchen the entire time dad was trying to extract the gift.

Miraculously, dad had managed to dislodge three bicycles from our chimney that year. I loved that bike so much, partly because it was a beautiful pink Strawberry Shortcake bike with a banana seat, but partly because it was the gift we almost didn't get because Santa just didn't take the time to be neat and tidy!

I only have a fuzzy memory of that bike today, but I sure am grateful for a daddy who knew so much about getting bicycles out of chimneys!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Southern Gal goes North

Share the love! Go check out my blog of the week. Dana is a woman from the South (Alabama?) who is now living in Chicago. She's got a great blog going. Give her a click (on the sidebar under "Welcome to my Tenant") and say hello!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Random bits

W O U L D Y O U RA T H E R . . .
1) Pierce your nose or tongue: nose, definitely!
2) Be serious or be funny: overall, funny. But sometimes I think I could be a little more serious sometimes.
3) Drink whole or skim milk: skim

A R E Y O U . . .
4) Simple or complicated: both (how's that for a simple, yet complicated, answer!)
5) Flowers or angels: flowers
6) Grey or gray: grey
7) Color or black-and-white photos: colour for every day, B&W for artsy shots
8) Sunrise or sunset: sunrise
9) M&Ms or Skittles: M&Ms ... mmmm, peanuts
10) Rap or rock: rock
11) Staying up late or waking up early: LATE!
12) TV or radio: TV
13) Apples or oranges: oranges. Except in pie. I mean really, who ever heard of orange pie?

A N S W E R T R U T H F U L L Y . . .
14) Do you have a crush: about the biggest one ever (oops, not anymore. When I wrote this I did)
15) Who is it: he's got my blog addy, so I'm not gonna say. Hmm... hints... his cow is missing

D O Y O U P R E F E R . . .
16) Being hot or cold: hot
17) Tall or short people: what? Do I have to like one over the other?
18) Sun or moon: moon
19) Emeralds or rubies: emeralds
20) Left or right: left
21) Having ten acquaintances or one best friend?: best friend
22) Sun or rain: sun, but I love the sound of rain
23) Vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream: vanilla

M I S C E L L A N E O U S . . .
24) Kids or no kids: want kinds, don't have them
25) Cat or dog: dog, but it's a close call
26) Half empty or half full: half full! :)
27) Mustard or ketchup: ketchup
28) Hardcover books or soft cover books: soft. They're cheaper, and lighter!
29) Newspaper or magazine?: magazine
30) Sandals or sneakers: me loves me Chacos! (sandals)
31) Wonder or amazement: wonder
32) Red car or white car: torn... so torn... red
33) Happy and poor or sad and rich: happy and poor!
34) Singing or dancing: singing

A B O U T Y O U . . .
35) What time is it: 9:15 pm
36) Number of siblings: 2
37) Birthdate: February 2
38) Height: Um, 5'7''? 5'8''?
39) Eye color: hazel
40) Hair color: brown
41) Piercing(s): one in each ear

W H A T D O Y O U W A N T . . .
42) How many kids do you want: 3 or 4

W H I C H I S B E T T E R . . .
43) Two doors or four (on a car): four
44) Coffee or ice cream: ice cream
45) Bridges or tunnels: tunnels (can you hold your breath???)

F A V O R I T E S . . .
46) Color of socks: black, or funsocks (like the ones with monkey pom poms that I'm wearing now!)
47) Food: mexican
48) Non-alcoholic drink: orange juice
49) Alcoholic drink: blue hawaiian (malibu rum, sprite, pineapple juice, and blue curacao - mmm!)

Friday, December 02, 2005

What's in a name?

Merry Christmas!

Not "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" or "Have a good winter vacation." Merry Christmas.

Honestly, I get so sick of hearing well wishes and seeing Christmas decorations that so blatantly avoid the use of the the word Christmas it's laughable. What are we trying to hide here, folks? The holiday is called Christmas. I understand that there are also many other celebrations that take place in and around December. Hanukkah (or is it Chanukah?), Kwanzaa, sometimes Ramadan, etc. I agree that it's important not to forget about these celebrations and to acknowledge that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but it's SOOO over-the-top politically correct nonsense to remove all mention of the name "Christmas" from our lips. It's a struggle to even find greeting cards ... ahem... Christmas cards that use the ever-increasingly "dirty word."

Community centers put on events like "Frosty's Winterfest" and kids now go on "Winter Break." And apparently, even our beloved decorated evergreens are falling victim to this trend. In November, officials in Boston called a symbolic gift from the town of Oxford, Nova Scotia a "holiday tree," causing such a ruckus that the city council in Oxford made a decree that December was to be known as none other than the Christmas Season. Even Canada's Governor General told her officials to stop calling the the decorated trees at her residence "holiday trees," preferring instead the more traditional term.

It's important to be sensitive to people who don't celebrate this particular holiday. Don't go up to someone who you know doesn't celebrate Christ's birth and wish them "Merry Christmas." However, I don't think people are as offended as officials worry they are when they hear a cheery greeting using the name of the holiday instead of some watered-down don't-offend-anyone euphemism. How do you feel about the use, or lack thereof, of the word Christmas?

Regardless of how the culture changes and how much people try to push this fact to the background, Christmas will always be about Christ. It will always be about a baby born in a dirty, mucky stable in a nowhere town in Palestine two thousand years ago. But most importantly, it will always point to a cross, an empty grave, and the best Christmas gift ever given.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pint-sized con artists

It amazes me what kids come up with.

Today at school/work (I never know what to call it!) the bell had just rung, signalling the beginning of lunch hour. I was rounding the corner in the hallway and was facing one of the doors to outside when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a white streak, hear a loud BANG and saw kids outside startle.

What on earth???

I took a peek outside the door and quickly figured out what had happened. Some kid had thrown a milk container (thankfully plastic!) out the second floor window. No sooner had I seen this than I heard the thundering sound of kids running down the stairway behind me.

"Wow! That was cool!" --- "Quick! Let's go see it!" --- "We have to get out of here before we get in trouble!" and general giggling and noise.

As they rounded the corner, the three "usual suspects" almost ran smack into me. "One, two, three!" said I, pointing at each culprit. "Busted!" Very quickly the third grade boys had confused looks on their faces and Ringleader started asking, "What? What do you mean? We were just going down to use hte bathroom then heading outside!" [insert batting eyelashes and sickly sweet tone of voice here] Nuh uh!! Ah don't THINK so!

I proceeded to tell them what I saw and heard and saw the second milk bomb in one of the boys hands, surely ready for a second launch. It disturbed me how well Ringleader could lie. Too bad his buddies didn't have his same skill. Somehow they wanted me to believe that the milk "accidentally" fell out of the window, which only opened wide enough for them to force the milk cup through with lots and lots of wiggling over about three different lips. I had the boys clean up the milk, and walked them to the office.

While there, they got the standard teacher lecture, including the "What if it hit someone?" and "Now you've made it worse by lying about it." Ringleader's buddies tried to get off using a myriad of excuses, one of which was the best excuse I've ever heard:

"I didn't do anything, Ringleader threw it out the window."
"Yeah but it was your idea!"
"And you held the window open."

And here's the excuse... can we say, victim syndrome???

"Yeah, but I would never have thought of that if Ringleader hadn't told me to do it... because I'm not a very good thinker."

You're smarter than you think you are, kiddo, now if only you would use your powers for good and not evil. Heh.