Thursday, July 31, 2008

And the Winner of My Most Amazing Birthday Greeting Contest is ... - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

I loved all the poems and the fun things you did. They were awesome! Thank you!

But Stephanie really went above and beyond. She took my 40 Somethings to heart and gave me 40 Gifts! She sent me virtual cards and gifts and flowers and plants, videos and you name it, she sent it! Forty of them!! She rocked in the birthday greeting thing to the max so she deserves my most awesome birthday prize.

I promised my favorite book, The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay.

However, I was so impressed by Stephanie's obvious love and adoration of me that I decided to honor her with the entire trilogy!

Thanks for making my birthday celebration fun you guys! Sorry for the depressing threads now and then, but hey, that's my life, right? It's all played a part in who I am today. Many of you suggested I ought to write my memoirs. I've thought of that from time to time, but so far, I haven't been able to wrap my head around everything that happened in my life. Maybe one day. Thanks for the encouragement, though!

Stephanie, will you please email me and let me know your mailing address? I'll get these wonderful books off to you shortly!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Final 40 Somethings!

Either you're gonna be thrilled that this is the end of my 40 Somethings, or your going to looking forward to when I turn 50 (though I'm not sure what that might be, perhaps I'll only need to add 10 more somethings!)

**let's step aside, shall we? I left my underwear showing last night! Oops! Sorry about that! I wrote this big post and it accidentally got deleted and I was so frustrated that I walked away and didn't realize I'd left the teeny part of my post that I hadn't erased! Sorry again!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled post**

Shortly after my mom decided I was grown up, which, if you figured out, meant to her that she was free to leave this world, she fell into a diabetic coma. Her doctor said her time was close and that I should call my family.

My sister, who lived in another province at the time, took a leave of absence from her work and was there by the next day. She had been there periodically to care for mom during the duration of moms' illness and I have to say I harbored a bit of resentment toward her. And she felt the same about me. She felt I was to selfish and didn't really care what was happening with our mom.

But my mom's illness, her dying, was a precious gift to my sister and I.

I dropped out of school so I could be with Mom. Heather and I worked side by side every day for almost two months, caring for Mom.

She was weak where I was strong, and I was weak where she was strong. Together, we took great care of Mom. And caring for Mom, we came to truly love and respect each other.

Mom died on December 12th, 1987 and the best thing she bequethed us was a sister, a friendship to last forever.

Fast forward through a couple long, dark years and I went to Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia (which, I realized, I put the insignia for under Guelph. Oops!) I auditioned and was accepted into the Vocal Performance program. It was awesome and I was so happy, finally.

The missionaries tracted into me while I lived in bright little apartment at the top of a hill on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. Actually, there's a whole story there, but hardly appropriate for my Somethings.

When they found me I was into the occult. Not the dark arts, but I was a healer.

I gave it all up to join the Church. I investigated for three short weeks and the day I entered the waters of baptism was the happiest of my life.

I began to have such pain in my jaw. It was hard to talk even, to smile. I saw a doctor and after a great deal of testing it was determined that because of a fall I took when I was one year old in which I had dislocated my jaw (and it had never been repaired) my jaw was in serious trouble. I was told I had to stop singing or I wouldn't even talk within five years.

My doctor even called the Dean of Music and informed him of my condition, but still I refused to quit. Then my voice teacher broke my heart. She told me I didn't really have any talent anyway and I should just quit. I was wasting her time. I believed her, and so I quit. I gave up singing altogether, barely singing in Church, even.

Instead of my days being filled with music, I filled them with political science and philosophy.

I met my hubby while going to school at Acadia. He was serving a mission there--trust me, it was strictly platonic and all that good stuff! He even encouraged me to go on a mission.

But when I saw him off at the airport at the conclusion of his airport, we shook hands and something was different.

He knew. I knew. Even the mission president's wife knew.

We were to be married.

David called me on July 12th and asked me if I would marry him. Like I said, I already knew.

We enjoyed five months of long distance phone calls and many, many letters.

I flew 5,000 miles and showed up on December 18th, all by myself, wedding dress in hand and we were married on December 27th in the Logan, Utah Temple.

I was Co-Chairman of Acadia University's Student Council in my graduating year (the year I married David.)

I loved sinking my teeth into the school's constitution and discovered a real love for constitutional law. I decided that's what I wanted to do with my life, since I couldn't sing.

When I graduated from University in the spring of 1992, David and I threw everything into the back of our little staion wagon and drove from Nova Scotia, Canada, to Rexburg, Idaho, USA.

I cried when we drove in Idaho. Everyone told me I would love it, but it was so barren and brown.

Rexburg wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be, but Boise was much, much better. We moved there when David finished his associates at Ricks'.

We lived in Boise for about five years and it was wonderful.

(I'm cheating now ...)

In Boise, on my way to work one day, I passed by the Idaho Arts building and saw a sign posted on their billboard. They were having an open call for singers to audition for the Opera Chorus.

I called to ask some questions ... after all, I couldn't sing, right? I had no talent, or so I believed. The receptionist said they had a new voice coach who had just joined them also, and so I made an appointment with her.

I wasn't in pain anymore, the dry heat of the west coast seemed to have banished the pain in my jaw. But still, I knew I had no talent.

When I met with DeNice Jensen, former principle artist for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, I asked her if she would be totally honest with me. I needed to know if I was awful, or if I could audition for the Opera Chorus.

She worked me hard and put me through my paces, but in the end I felt hope once more.

Singing is my life. It's where I really, finally, come alive. And for the first time in a long time, I saw a chance that it might be part of my life again.

I auditioned for the Chorus and got in.

Here we go! The very last one! And I'm going to end it on the music, I think, since it makes me happy.

I enjoyed five years singing with the Opera Idaho. I worked my way up, so to speak and left the Chorus to become a principle with the company. Oh what joy that was to me!

I sang the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Magic Flute, Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff, Guenivere in Lerner and Loewe's Camelot and the role of my life, Baby Doe in Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe.

I gave up my career when my belly was too full of my twin boys to sing any longer. After their birth, I didn't have the heart for the long hours away from the loves of my life.
I hope you enjoyed my 40 Somethings. Tomorrow I'll announce the winner of my Awesome Birthday Greeting contest!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

40 Somethings!

Oh no, I haven't forgotten! But yes, I am feeling more and more concerned about my ability to pull this off! So here we go!

When I was thirteen I woke up one Saturday morning and discovered a strange man sitting at our table having breakfast. Mom was still in bed.

He told me his name was Bosco and he was going to live with us now.

You can imagine my reaction. I didn't freak out, it was more one of those "Say what?" kind of moments. Oh and there was storming--I was a thirteen year old girl, after all. I stormed up to my mom's room to confront her on what the guy had just said.

It was true.

Bosco lived with us for six years and he was an evil, bad man.

I did not really love highschool. I was frustrated by the 'he said/she said' mentality of it and couldn't wait for everyone to just grow up. I thought University would be my ticket and I looked forward to it like crazy.

I was treasurer of my graduating class's student council.

I went to grade thirteen.

Bet you didn't know that in some places in Canada (and Ontario was one of them) that kids who wanted to go to university had to go to grade thirteen, or have five years of high school. Weird, eh?

If you didn't plan to go to university, then you could graduate after grade twelve. But if you did want to go to uni, then yeah, you needed to graduate from grade thirteen!

When I was in grade thirteen, so I was eighteen years old, my Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was liver cancer and they gave her 0-6 months to live. I found out from the evil Bosco. I thought my life was going to end right there.

When I graduated high school I thought maybe I might become a veterinarian. Either that or a lawyer. Ha! Quite the spread there, eh?

In the end, I did end up going with political science. I went to the University of Guelph Ontario in ... you guess it! Guelph, Ontario. I refused to believe that Mom was really going to die, so I went ahead and went to school. Guelph was about two hours away from London, where I lived with my Mom.

Not long after school started in the Autumn of 1987, Mom's health began to decline rapidly. I went home every weekend to be with her. Pretty soon my weekends were getting longer and longer, lasting from Thursday to Monday, because I couldn't wait to get home to her and hated to leave her again.

Remember my story earlier in my 40 Somethings when I told you about the near-suicide and my saving arm in the rearview? Fast forward to a Thursday afternoon when I dashed into our apartment already talking a mile a minute about all the fun I was having at school and everything I was learning--particularly from a political philosophy professor I was really enjoying.

Mom was sitting on the couch, her face jaundiced and drawn and she looked up and smiled at me.

"My goodness. You're all grown up!"

And you can probably guess what happened then.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

I loved this book! I liked it much better than the Twilight Series, though I liked those too.

In this story, relationships are built between humans and an invader race of aliens. You'd expect to just hate the invaders, but Stephanie Meyer manages to make them likeable, even sympathetic. There are interesting twists and turns between the relationships that develop between humans, between aliens and even between the human/aliens, or hosts and souls.

Stephanie Meyer's writing has matured a great deal from the Twilight books and really stands up to scrutiny in The Host.

I would definitely recommend this book!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Paying it Forward

I have an amazing friend who I have known for about nine years now. Her name is Janis--she's smart, witty and full of life and zeal. Janis and I became friends when we both became pregnant with twins. I had Charlie and Xander in September of 2000 and she had Jimmy and Joe in October of that year.

Jimmy & Joe

A few years ago Janis was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was far advanced before it was found and caused her to lose her breast. She beat the disease at the time and has enjoyed perhaps a year of freedom from her illness. However recently, she has been experiencing pain in her legs and pelvis.

Several doctor visits later and it has become clear that Janis once again has breast cancer, except now it has metastasized into her bones. She will not be leaving us any time soon, in the measurement of days, but she won't live a long life like the rest of us expect for ourselves. Janis says she can see three years for herself, but at the moment she isn't expecting more--if she can have that much, she'll be happy.


That's pretty harsh, isn't it? Could you say that for yourself, honestly? Don't get me wrong. Janis says, every day, "Cancer sucks." But she's choosing to face her future with grace, and ... realism.

Part of Janis' reality is that she can't do all the things that she needs to do in life. She's in pain. And things are going to become even more difficult as she endures the endless treatments ahead. Ever pragmatic, Janis went about trying to find ways to deal with the realities of her future.

A friend recommended a wonderful philanthropic organization, Cleaning for a Reason. "This newly formed nonprofit offers free professional housecleaning services to improve the lives of women undergoing treatment for cancer" (from the website.)

Janis contacted them, however they didn't have a cleaning service participating in their program in Janis' area. Not one to be denied, Janis contacted a local Molly Maids service in Michigan and spoke with the owner, Tim Shellen.

Unfortunately, Mr. Shellen was not able to help her because he doesn't service her county in Michigan. He expressed interest in the organization but suggested that Janis contact someone in her own area for her needs.

It was a good conversation, but ultimately fairly useless.

Until Mr. Shellen called Janis back.

He is going to provide her with housecleaning services one to two times a month for as long as she needs it. When she related this story to me, she said, "I am so extremely grateful. I told him he just doesn't know how much this means to me. this is just a blessing, more than anyone can imagine."

But when she asked Mr. Shellen what she could do to repay him? He said, "Pay it forward."

Benjamin Franklin, is first attributed with the concept of paying it forward in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22, 1784:

"I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money."

Janis asked all of her friends to write Mr. Shellen a thank you note--and she has a lot of friends! And I thought, I would write about him here and encourage all of you to look around you and see how you have been blessed and how you might pay it forward.

I love Mr. Franklin's concept of doing much with a little money--and I might add, with a little effort, a little time. If we all strove to pay it forward, to do a little good as it was done to us, we might find ourselves living in a much better, a much happier, world.

40 Somethings!

Well, today's the big day! I am, officially, forty years old.

Today has been really quiet and not much happened, but not because my family doesn't love me and want to spoil me ... but being a Sunday and having not been paid in over a month, well, doesn't amount for a very exciting day. BUT at least now I know my birthday will be spread out and will last even longer! Cool!

So, I thought I would do birthdays for my somethings today. I have two favorite birthdays from my childhood:

One summer my mom rented a camp spot in Grand Bend, Ontario. It had a beach and a small hip town on a lake so large you couldn't see the other side of it. It was like being at the ocean--it was awesome.

For my birthday we loaded up the car and headed to Grand Bend. We would turn the volume up loud in the car, as we listened to a 50's cassette on the 8-Track. (Oh yeah, I'm that old.) We bopped with our arms flailing out the windows singing our hearts out to to "Rockin' Robin." Good times.

I barely remember the birthday, only that it was awesome. I felt loved and happy. Good times, for sure.

My most favorite childhood birthday was my sixteenth. Heather was in town (she lived in Nova Scotia by this time, so it was a treat to have her home.) She and Mom put on a scavenger hunt through our backyard. I'd never had anything like that before and it was so much fun. Mom gave me a boom box (for you young un's that's a huge portable CD player, except in those days it also sported a dual cassette so you could record one cassette to another. Very high tech.)

Laurie was with us and she was just awesome What a great friend she was. We had cake together and then my mom, bless her, put on "Sixteen Candles" (the song, not the movie.) She took me by the hand and danced with me.

She hugged me close and said, "I love you, Baby."

It was the sweetest moment of my childhood.

Thank you all for the awesome birthday wishes! I love you all for brightening my day!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston

My first book review for my Summer Book Trek 2008 is Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston.

I have never read a book like Season of Sacrifice before. The closest I've come is Gerald Lund's series The Work and The Glory. However, unlike The Work and The Glory, Season of Sacrifice takes very little creative license with the historical facts.

Season of Sacrifice tells the story of those Mormon pioneers who were called to establish a route between southern Utah and the San Juan valley. They are respectively referred to as the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers because they had to blast their way through a small crevice in the rock to make a road wide enough for the wagon train to pass through.

In particular, the story follows the lives of Ben Perkins, Mary Ann Perkins and her sister, Sarah--Sarah and Ben are Tristi's own ancestors, so the story was close to her heart and I believe she does it justice.

I enjoyed the book and was fascinated by all the challenges the pioneers were forced to overcome. They lived by the theme that if God had willed for them to cross the rocky desert, He must have provided a way for them to do so. That kind of obedience and faithful dedication is inspiring to me and I enjoyed reading about all the opportunities they had to prove themselves to Father and He to them. They obeyed and He never failed to reward them.

My one disappointment with this book was that I felt that in an effort to not spare any important historical information, Tristi sacrificed some storytelling. There were a few scenes where I felt rushed and didn't have a good handle on what was happening in the scene all around and I wished things could just slow down a little bit and let me feel, see, hear and taste what was happening.

However, if you're interested in Church history, or even just the history of the settling of the west, I would still highly recommend this book. If you're looking for more information on polygamy, A this would not be the book for you: While the topic is addressed, it is done so quite briefly and without any specific information. But as a telling of the epic adventure of a small group of Saints who undertook a death defying trek to obey the command of their God, this is a true star in the heavens. A worthy addition to your collection of 'good books'--Tristi Pinkston's Season of Sacrifice.

40 Somethings!

Ack! What have I done!

I tend to bite off a bit more than I can chew. With all the best intentions, of course! Like my 40 Somethings blog-craziness ... what was I thinking? So ... I can no longer vouch for my amazing story-telling abilities or the quality of the Somethings themselves (ha!) because I've got to get these done, boys and girls!

I remembered another funny from when I was like 11 years old or so. Ya ready? This pretty much sums up my need to be liked and the general neurosis that is, well, me.

So I was on my way home from equestrian camp (the best thing my Mom ever did for me--she had me take horse back riding lessons for several years including camp for much of the summer every summer for several years. I know it was very expensive and difficult for her but it was the love of my life and made me SO happy) one summer afternoon. The seats were crowded and my arms would rub against my neighbors because there just wasn't room to have space between us.

On this particular drive, this girl, my friend, said "Eww! Your arms are so hairy! And your eyebrows are growing together too!"


I had never really considered my eyebrows up until this moment, but I could barely stand the thought of anyone else looking at me because they must be just awful! Bride of Frankenstein and all that.

As soon as I got home, I ran up the stairs and straight into the bathroom. What did I do there? Well, I bet you can guess. Here, guess .... Did you guess?

If you guessed that I ran right upstairs, locked myself into my bathroom and shaved right down the middle of my eyebrows, you'd be totally right!

Not only did I take a razor and run it right between my eyebrows (which pretty much just left a small half of my eyebrows,) but I shaved my arms and my legs, because it was only a matter of time before someone noticed my hideously hairy legs too.

Oh yeah. If you thought I was sexy with my skin tight white jeans, you would have loved to have seen me after my advanced hair treatments. I was seriously H-O-T.

Of course my mom freaked. Not because I had done it, so much as that now she would have to teach me how to shave my legs for real and how to pluck my eyebrows.

Thankfully, I've completely blocked out how anyone else responded to my new trend-setting look. I'm sure it couldn't have been good. But then I moved into my new special look; that of the only eleven girl you'd ever meet with pencil thin eyebrows a la the fifties which is where my mom learned her beauty techniques.

And then Brooke Shields came out flaunting her gorgeously bushy eyebrows and I was pitiful with my tiny line of brow. Oh the shame.

When I was growing up my mom tortured me on my birthday by not even acknowledging that it was my birthday until 4:15 in the afternoon which was when I was born. Now that, seriously twisted.

Okay, back to thirteen. At thirteen I got my first real boyfriend. I'd had boyfriends before, but they were the kind of school boyfriends--you know, you hang out with them at recess and woo you're going steady. But now there was Zini and he was sixteen years old.

He was a dangerous boy (think James Dean) and introduced me to the dark side of life. Mom was working full time and going to singles dances very often and I was ... lonely. Zini and his crowd filled my need.

They were into drugs and drinking and all that stuff. I don't remember ever seeing parents at his house and he had this cool basement where we would all hang out. I'd tell you about what it was like there, but this is a relatively clean blog. The good news is that drugs and drinking didn't do anything for me. Yes, I tried them. But thankfully I didn't like them. I would sit with my friends while they did their things though. I'm sure there was some second-hand buzz that I enjoyed, but I don't remember.

What I do remember is Zini's sister telling me that she was glad I was Zini's girlfriend because I was a good influence on him. I wondered at that, since he was still not a good guy, but she said without me he was really bad.

That feeling that I was could sacrifice my own happiness for the good of someone else became a bit of a theme song for me and dictated my relationship choices for the next several years.

For some reason I didn't hang out with my best friend Laurie during the summer after elementary school. I got chubby. And my first year of high school I was lonely and fat and a far cry from the 'prettiest girl in school.' But toward the end of grade nine Laurie took me under her wing again and decided taht I should try out for the cheerleading squad with her.

It was a total fluke, but I loved Laurie, was grateful for the attention and since Laurie was cool, it made me feel a bit better about myself too. I trained for the cheerleading audition with her all summer long. I lost the weight, got fit and in grade ten I went back to high school a cheerleader, and with a few more friends than I'd had the year before.

And, I was a cheerleader! How weird is that? Can you pick me out? Ahh, nah. You wouldn't be able to because the pic is so small. But that's me on your far right sitting on the back of a girl.

Hmmm, hmmm. I'm feeling tapped out. What comes next?

For lack of any other inspiration, let me tell you about cheerleading in Canada. It is totally not like it is in the United States. We weren't well funded, so our uniforms were handed down year after year. Except we bought our own undies, thank goodness for that!

We weren't the most popular girls or the hottest girls (well, okay, maybe we were pretty darn cute,) we were just fun and peppy girls who liked to bounce around at sporting events. Oh yeah, and that's the other thing that was different about us ... we cheered at just about every sporting event. from track and field to hockey. Oh yeah, hockey. You try cheering at a hockey arena. Somehow, we managed!

Cats, Cats, we'll show them where it's at,
come on (clap clap)
come on (clap clap)
Cats, Cats, we'll show them where it's at,
come on (clap clap)
come on (clap clap)
The Cats are in the huddle, all dressed in brown in gold
The captain puts his head in, and this is what we're told...
WE'RE ROUGH (clap clap) WE'RE TOUGH (clap clap)
WE'RE READY (clap clap) TO FIGHT (clap clap)
WE'RE ROUGH (clap clap) WE'RE TOUGH (clap clap)
WE'RE READY (clap clap) TO FIGHT (clap clap)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beck '08

Tonight my great friend (and YW President), Wendy, took me and David out to see Glenn Beck's live Election '08 show. I wish we'd gotten a picture!

It was a great show. For one thing, there were two theaters filled to capacity at our local movie place, and there were theaters around the country hosting the show as well. It was inspiring and made me feel hopeful that there were other people nationwide who felt as we do about this great nation and its potential for good in the world.

Glenn told a story that sums up how I feel about this great country. He talked about his little girl who, at the age of eight told him that she wanted to attend Yale University when she grew up.

At the time, Glenn was barely making ends meet and could barely afford to pay is meager $695/month rent payment. How in the world would he ever pay for Yale?

He told his little girl that he bet if she worked really hard, she could one day go to Yale, if she really wanted to, and secretly he hoped that she would work hard enough to earn herself scholarships!

Well, this spring he walked with his daughter on the campus of an ivy league school. He painted the picture for us:

A lovely spring day walking among the old ivy-covered stone buildings. He strode behind his daughter who walked side by side a professor while the cherry blossoms were caught on the breeze and swirled to the ground at their feet.

"This," he thought, "this is the moment to remember." This was the moment he had worked hard for--and his daughter both, had worked for. She, to earn a place in that esteemed institution, and he to achieve economic freedom sufficient to help his daughter fulfill her dreams.

That is America.

The land of opportunity. Each of us has the opportunity, the right, to be all that we dream we can be--through hard work and perseverance. It doesn't require a government hand out. Not a stimulus check or free healthcare. What it requires is guts.

I sat in a room tonight with thousands of other people across the country who all believe in the same thing ... our God given freedom and right to be all that He created us to be. I will stand in defense of that freedom. Will you?

Holy Birthday Greetings Batman!

Well, color me Lov-Ed. I put out a call for some feel-good vibes and you have not failed me! No, not a whit!

I am crackin' up laughing at some of your attempts at poetry (and you call yourself writers? hahahaha!) Okay, okay, my bad. I did say they could be corny. But still. Really?

But some of you! My oh my, you're getting perty darn creative (Stephanie!) and I'm just tickled.

Thank you! You guys R-O-C-K!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

40 Somethings #14

Don't forget! My birthday is in just a few days and so far no one has tried to win my heart with an awesome birthday greeting! Either ya'll don't love me (perish the thought!) or you're lazy. Nah, that couldn't be it! Come on, with all the creative types that read my blog? Surely someone can come up with a little poem ... something ... anything ... to make my day? I told you I'd give you a prize!

Ok, so back to the game.

When I was about 13, I lived in London, Ontario with my mom. My brother Richard, who I didn't know very well, suddenly out of nowhere invited me to visit him in Toronto. I rode the train to TO by myself (very cool, I liked the independence) then met up with Rick who took me to his downtown condo. It was very nice--much nicer than any place I'd ever stayed in before.

I remember odd things about this visit. Like the special drain cover he had in the shower to catch loose hair. Odd, eh?

The main reason Rick had me come was because he wanted to take me to see the Tutankhamen Exhibit that had come to the big museum there (was it the Royal Ontario Museum, Rick?)

I distinctly remember standing across the street from the museum in the lights of a city evening. The Museum was bright and exciting looking and I felt ... so ... special.

I remember the exhibit in great detail, but I think the really special thing was that Rick wanted to share it with me. Rick has always been an enigma to me, but he stands out in my memory with these big, tender things that make my heart swell with love for him. Like the time when I was a very little girl and he took me downtown to see the Santa Clause parade--he sat me on his shoulders for the whole time so I could see. It was the best parade ever.

I felt the exact same way at the Exhibit ... like I was on top of the world and Rick had put me there.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Closer Look Tag and FlyLady

When I did the Closer Look Tag, Stephanie commented:

"I'd say you have a very spotless home. Looks pretty good for a "tag" and I couldn't help but notice the "flylady" by your sink. So, have you always been so orderly or have you become more so having followed "flylady?" I used to try that but I got so many emails I quit."

So, I thought I'd answer her questions. Absolutely, undeniably I have not always been so orderly. I have always been, and still really am, a pretty terrible housekeeper. My house is relatively 'tidy' but I could not say that it is clean. changed my life. I know that sounds awfully dramatic, but it's true. I found her when my babies were about 5 months old and I was drowning in mess. Her simple approach, her baby steps, toward cleanliness helped me to establish basic routines that allowed me get and keep my head above water.

From there I started to declutter and to organize rooms in my house one room at a time, fifteen minutes at a time, just like Flylady says. I've slipped off the bandwagon a time or two. And I've stayed off the wagon for months at a time. But I always end up going back to her.

Nowadays I don't do it all, just as she suggests. I take what I need and can use and leave the rest. I don't get the emails anymore, but now and then I'll start them back up if I'm having an especially difficult time getting back into the groove. It's true that it's a boat load of messages! But, for me, they helped, so it was a small price to pay.

I regularly repeat FlyLady's mantra "Even housework done incorrectly blesses the family." I choose to believe this wholeheartedly because otherwise I'd be doomed! Thankfully my family loves me anyway, even if my floors are not always spotless or there's still dust on the walls. But my sink is always shiney and my laundry is almost always done or at least not behind - hence why I looked good in the tag.

I love FlyLady!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

40 Somethings #'s 10, 11, 12 & 13

Looks like I left you high and dry there for a bit, eh? Sorry 'bout that. It's been a wild ride the past few days. Nothing big, just life. You all know how that goes, right?

But I think I still have a lot of 40 Somethings to share, don't I? Glad ya'll got a kick out of the frog story. Believe it or not, I have another one but it's icky in a different sort of way.

So, let's see, where was I?

My oldest brother, Rick, and his wife Judith, did two things when I was about 9 or so that changed my life:

They gave me the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander and they gave me a journal.

This book series opened my eyes to a whole new world and I never looked back. I loved Taran, the pig herder and all of his adventures. I became a true fantasy lover, right then and there.

The journal was difficult at first. What should I write? What should I say? But soon I filled it from cover to cover with poetry and thoughts. Who knew I'd be laying the foundation for a future in writing.

I went on to fill a huge binder with my poetry and doodles. Some of it's not too bad, lol! If you're really nice maybe I'll post one of my old poems just for amusement.

From the Prydain Chronicles I moved on to the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McAffrey.

Since my dad left, Mom had been so busy that I don't remember her having much time for me or much interest in, well, my interests. However, she was a book lover too and when I found out that Anne McAffrey was coming to Toronto and would be doing a book signing, she actually agreed to take me. I was astounded. So wonderful! I'd get to meet Anne McAffrey!

We drove downtown, and went to the huge bookstore there. We stood in line forever to meet Ms. McAffrey.

I had brought two of my books with me, Dragondrums and Dragonsinger, for her to sign. She signed them both and when I told her I wanted to be a writer like her, she looked at me and smiled. Her hair was pure white but her skin seemed young, it was an odd mixture, but she was entirely likeable.

She said, "Never give up on your dreams, no matter what anyone tells you. Just never, ever, give up."

And I never, ever will!

Just before my thirteenth birthday, my mom moved us to London, Ontario. Until then, we'd had one or two brothers living with us all the time, now it was just the two of us. We moved into a small townhouse in a nice development.

She bought me a puppy just before we moved, I named her Yenta because she was always talking, little wimpers all the way to yelps. (I was a big fan of Fiddler on the Roof) Yenta was part German Shepard and part Australian Sheepdog. She was one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen.

We moved, as I said, in early July, but there were no kids my age around, or at least not that I could see. I spent all my summer days with Yenta. We roamed the fields behind our townhouse, went for long walks and I trained and trained her. I was alone, but not lonely - I loved Yenta with all my heart.

Except Yenta lived up to her name and talked too much for our neighbors to bear. We had to give her away and it broke my heart. Mom worked hard to find a good place for her, and I know she did. But luck was not with Yenta, because just a few short months after moving to her new place she was hit by a car and died.

I cried more upon learning she had died than I did when I had to send her away. It was more heartbreaking to me to know she was just gone, than it was to think she was only gone from my life. She was such a beautiful girl, such a good, sweet girl. I still miss her.

So I can't leave you on that sad note, can I?

When I started school, grade eight, I created quite a stir. I hadn't met anyone yet, even though I'd been there for two months already, so and I was the only new girl the school got that year. Very exciting!

Right away I met Laurie, who took me under her wing and made me her new BFF (though we didn't have BFF's back then, at least not in the acronym sort of way!)

I got voted Prettiest Girl in School that year. Can you believe it? Shocked me!

I think I got voted that because of the jeans I wore. Oh yes, I had quite the look going:

Hair just past the shoulders, parted in the middle, bangs frayed a la Charlie's Angels. Blue eyeshadow, of course. Pin stripe blouse with the little rounded white collar with ribbon tie at the neck (anyone remember those?) And the the pies de resistance, the white Jordache jeans with requisit blue comb in the back pocket. One boy told me my jeans were so tight he could read the date of the quarter in my back pocket. Ha! He must've been lookin' at my bottom awfully close, then, eh? And then to top it all off, or bottom it all off, I had blue Nike runners (remember the ones with the big white swoosh?) with the tongues sticking out.

Ahh yeah, I was stylin. I mean, of course I won prettiest girl - I was undeniably hot.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

40 Somethings About Me, #'s 8 & 9

For those of you who are just chiming in, the purpose of the 40 Somethings is to take a little peak into my whole forty years on this earth as this month I AM CELEBRATING MY 40TH BIRTHDAY!!!

And, in case you missed it, I'm also having a contest to celebrate. Click here to find out how you can win a copy of my favorite book!

So, let's see. I'm feeling the need to lighten things up a bit, so, what can I say?

The very first popular music I remember loving was "Pop Musik" by M.

I actually bought the 45 and would turn the record player up very loud and bounce up and down, over and over again. The first real album I bought was Breakfast in America by Supertramp. Now that was good stuff!

What was your first album?

Ooh, ooh! This is backing up a bit, but you'll get a kick out of this memory:

Around ten years old I had a crush on a boy (I was always boy crazy, I don't remember it starting or ending!) The thing about boys and girls at that age is, they show their affection for one another through mutual violence. You know, I would run up and kick a boy in the shins and that meant that I thought he was swell and he would respond by punching me in the shoulder. It was LOVE!

Well, one boy must've really loved me--and oh, how I loved him--because one school day during recess he found a frog. He dared me to put it in my mouth. Well, I sure did like him, but really? A frog in my mouth?

He grabbed me and held me down and with the help of his friends he got that frog into my mouth. Wanna know the worst part?

I struggled so much and they held my mouth closed and frog jumped around in there so much that ... that ... I swallowed it.


Gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

The bell rang and all the kids ran back to class. I was left in the mud, crying my eyes out, having just swallowed, blahhhh, a frog.

After a while a teacher came out to get me.

I never did like that boy too much after that.

Monday, July 07, 2008

40 Somethings About Me, # 7

When I was about ten years old, I did something that I still think of as super amazing. I don't recall thinking so highly of my efforts then, but in retrospect, I gotta give myself some props for this one.

I heard an advertisement on the radio that the producers for Annie were coming to Toronto looking for the next Annie. They were touring all over trying to find their next big star. This girl would not just perform in Toronto, oh no ... this girl was going to Broadway.

Oh, how I wanted to be that girl!

But, Mom said no. I begged and pleaded but still, she said no. I don't remember if I got upset or angry (probably.)

What I do remember is scouring the newspaper for details and finding them. There would be a cattle call where any girl was welcome to come and be heard. However, it was in downtown Toronto and I lived in a suburb called Bramalea at the time. Not sure how far, maybe 45 minutes away?

My sister also did something amazing: She said YES when I asked her if she would take me.

I think she was probably somewhat disapproving, but she always admired my spunk, I think, so she agreed. It was amazing for her because she hadn't been driving long and had never driven into Toronto - particularly by herself. She was maybe sixteen or seventeen.

I don't remember what I wore, how I dressed myself, or anything of myself from that day. But I do remember Heather getting me there, and dropping me off at the nondescript old brick building tucked in between many that looked just the same.

"Just go on in," she instructed me. "I'll come in and meet you as soon as I park the car." Gosh I loved her. Still, I didn't hesitate - I walked in and added my name to the list of hopefuls.

It was a long wait. Heather came and sat with me. We mostly sat in stunned silence, watching all the little girls and their mothers around us. Most were dressed as Annie, in little blue or white dresses with their hair in curls. They practiced their songs with their moms the whole time they waited. I didn't practice anything.

When it was finally my turn, I went into the room by myself. It was a dance hall type of room--long and narrow with wooden floors and mirrors on one wall. In front of me was a long table behind which three people sat, a woman and two men. They had papers in front of them.

The woman asked me if I had brought my portfolio with me. Or a resume. Or at least a headshot.

No. What were those things? The woman kindly told me that normally you come prepared with that sort of thing.

They asked me what I had prepared to read. Well, I hadn't prepared to read anything, I only came prepared to sing something. Again, they told me I should have prepared to read, but they would be happy to read with me.

One of the men handed me a copy with words on it. He told me to read Annie's part and he would read Uncle Ben's. And so I did my first "scene."

And then I sang "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow."

When I was finished, all three of them clapped for me. They told me I had done a wonderful job. However, I wasn't quite professional enough for what they needed. But they told me I had real talent and that if I could get an agent or my mother to help me, I could have a real chance. I thanked them. I didn't cry.

Heather hugged me when I joined her in the other room.

She was my hero that day--as she has remained.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Heath Report!

I did it! I did it! I did it!

Well, I did something, anyway!

I did the hundred push up challenge - didn't skip that at all. I started out doing traditional push ups but by midway through the second day, I switched to the knee push ups. This felt a bit like cheating because it's much easier but they say it's okay and heck - if I can do even a hundred knee push ups I'll be happy. Plus, then it'll give me another goal to work toward - to be able to do 100 regular push ups. I'm definitely already feeling a bit stronger, which is a very happy feeling.

I did do my glider thingie (which is like cross country skiing) twice for forty minutes, and I rode my bike for about 25 minutes one day. I said I would exercise four - five times though, and I fell short by one. Oh well, I'm still quite pleased with myself.

I must say, I love riding my bike. I'm going to take a big risk here and say out loud (sort of) that I would really like to be a cyclist. Like you hear people say "some day I'm going to run a marathon!", well, I have zero interest in running a marathon. The whole pounding the pavement thing just doesn't do it for me. Riding a bike, now, that's thrilling. I love the wind in my face, the zoomy feel going around corners and over bumps ... it's just fun. I don't know what the equivalent of a marathon in biking is (Rick'll know this one!) but that might be something I'd consider. Except I don't know if I'd like to do road racing or mountain biking. I think mountain biking could be a ton of fun, but perhaps too terrifying.

All in all, a good week. I'm going to stick with the same plan, except I want to try to bike more. That was a lot of fun. How did you guys do with your push ups this week?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

40 Somethings About Me, #'s 3, 4, 5 & 6!

Kristi asked if my Mom ever came around to being glad she had kept me, rather than having an abortion. Honestly I can't say that she did. However, we did go on to develop quite a co-dependent relationship, so in a way she was glad ... know what I mean?

I wasn't going to share this story, because I can't verify it's truth, but I suppose that doesn't matter because it's MY truth, so here goes:

My mom told me that when I was about a year old, she wanted to end her life. In the middle of one night, she acted on the impulse and got her in car. As she sped toward a freeway underpass, planning to smash headlong at full speed into the giant cement wall, she happened to look into her rearview mirror.

Why look back there when the road was deserted? Why look back at all, when the end was so near?

And in that moment, she saw a tiny arm stretched up in a yawn.

She slammed on the brakes in a desperate effort to avoid hitting the wall and thus ending my life, along with hers. She had no problem with taking her own life, but could not bring herself to end mine in the process.

My thought on that was that she was willing to leave me without a mother, and with a father who never wanted me, but she wouldn't go so far as to physically take my life.

Nevertheless, she lived, as did I. She claimed she had no idea how I got into the backseat--that she did not put me there. She felt it was a miracle and that I had saved her life. She vowed that she would never leave me until I was grown.

My Dad left when I was about four years old. He really didn't take an active role in my life--I can only remember seeing him a handful of times through my whole life.

But seriously! I am not going to make all of these depressing!

So, I wanted to tell you about my brothers and their enabling of my dinky car obsession.

dinky cars

My brothers had this coolest thing going on, or should I say, I had a cool thing going on: Every time they would go to the store, they would bring me back dinky car.

Before long, I had a wicked collection going on! I don't think I liked dolls much until I was at least eight years old--I was all about the cars. I still love the little things!

One of my brothers, Brian (the youngest, about ten years older than me,) loved motorcycles. He got his first motorcycle when I was somewhere between the ages of 6 and 8. I remember he would take it apart, laying out all the pieces very carefully, and then polish them to a high gleam. Then he would painstakingly reassemble the whole thing. A process I still find mind boggling.

But occasionally, his love for his bike would spread to me and he would take me along for a ride. I remember these little outings as the glory days of my youth.

Here's a pic of my big bro nowadays--still lovin' his bikes. Except now he takes his other two girls (wife and daughter) for rides. Boo hoo.


Another favorite memory from my childhood is how I spent my summers around the ages 7 to 10 or 11. I would put on elaborate plays with my friends in my back yard.

Somewhere in the mess of things I have left over from my childhood, there's this great picture of me (Juliet), lying 'dead' on my picnic table while a neighbor boy (Romeo), decked out in radiant parents-closet royal garments, 'thrusts' his blade into his chest. Ahh, I remember the moment well. We were fabulous.

I'm not sure who watched us do these little plays. I'm pretty sure I roped my sister into watching more than she would have cared to. But I also think my cat was a regular audience member too.

No matter, those were good times, good times.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

40 Somethings About Me #2

This story comes from my sister, Heather. She says, when I was a very little girl, I would sit in our backyard having parties and such, like any normal little girl. Except, I wasn't surrounded by teddies and dolls--I was accompanied by my Invisible Friend.

Here is a picture of Him:

He was my first and best friend.

My sister discovered my Special Friend one day when she came out to talk to me. I was about three years old. When she spoke, I shushed her, saying, "Shhh, I'm talking to Jesus!"

It's interesting to note that as Heather recalls, we didn't go to church much at that time, nor did we have what anyone might consider a religious home.

It just goes to show that He never leaves us comfortless--even the smallest of us benefits from His love and care.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Closer Look Tag

Stephanie tagged me for this fun little game. It's kinda goofy, but the what the hay. Here goes!

1. My Kitchen Sink
Notice the little (old and faded) FLY wall clingie? Anyone recognize it?
Also, notice that sad looking little aloe plant beside the sink? I've had that little plant for about three years and I swear it has not grown at all. It's healthy-ish - I mean, it's a nice green color, the umm, stems or whatever they are have aloe in them, but it hasn't grown any larger at all in three years. Anyone know what I can do for it? I've tried to research it, but haven't found any magic I wasn't already doing. I'm stumped. But I wanna help the little guy.

2. Inside My FridgeUmm, there's like no food in my fridge. What's up with that? It's like, filled up with stuff to drink. No wonder I couldn't find anything to eat when I stood staring into it a few minutes ago. Time to go shopping! One of my very least favorite things to do. Blech.

3. & 8. My Favorite Shoes AND My Most Recent Purchase
I love, love, LOVE Converse sneakers. I haven't had a pair in umpteen years, but I finally got a pair today! YAY!

4. My ClosetThere ya go. *U* Not much to say, I guess.

5. Oops. This was supposed to be The Laundry Pile, and I just took a picture of my Laundry Room.
There wouldn't be much to see with my laundry pile, either. I have three of those mesh bag thingies that hang on pvc pipes - know the kind I mean. A white, a dark and a colored one. They're about half full ... I'll do laundry tomorrow. I do a good job at staying on top of my laundry.

6. What My Kids Are Doing Right Now

Well, right now they are sleeping (or, at least supposedly.) But at the time I took the pictures they were outside.

CJ on the left (the tall guy with his eyes closed) with his best friend Parker, getting Ceej's new bike ready for its inaugural ride.

Xan on the right toolin' around the cul de sac with a rescued piece of junk he was doin' somethin' with.

7. My Favorite Room

Shoot it's kinda dark. Sorry. This is my office. It faces the front of the house, so I can see the guys out front playing - shooting hoops, mainly. On the wall is a cellophane wall hanging of a Disney castle. David had it as a decoration for my birthday last year (because the theme was on dreams coming true - he always has a theme for my birthday). I liked it so much, I had him hang it on my wall. Kinda tacky, but I like it. :) One day I'll go all fancy like Shanna did. Till then, I'm going low-class. ;)

8. My Recent Purchase ... see above (#3)!

9. My Fantasy Vacation

Maybe not my all-time favorite fantasy vacation, but the trip I most want to take right now in my life. I'd like to take a road trip - with my guys, of course - and drive through important historic Church sites and end up in Nova Scotia where I could visit with my sister and her family. I'd give almost anything to have that vacation this summer. We'd planned it, but then David lost his job so ... Bummer, eh?

10. Self PortraitOne can't take oneself too seriously. Can one?

And there you have it!

And now I'm going to pass on the glorious funness to Shanna, Danyelle and April! Have at it girls--and have fun!

40 Somethings About Me #1

Guess what? This month I turn forty years old! Believe it or not, I'm rather excited about it, though I couldn't say why.

birthday cake

To celebrate, I'm going to write 40 blogs this month, each with a special little tidbit about me :)

Because of course, I know you are dying to know yet more juicy facts about yours truly.

I want to do a contest too. I was sort of stumped on what to do, until Danyelle came up with a great idea. Thanks Danyelle!

Whomever comes up with the most creative, fun or just plain tickles-my-fancy Birthday Greeting for me sometime in the month of July, I will give THEM a gift in honor of my birthday: My very most favorite ever book: Book One of The Fionavar Tapestry, The Summer Tree.

So, here's my first tidbit about me: I was never meant to happen ... at least not in my mom's opinion. My parents had four children, nicely spaced, ages, 8, 10, 12 and 15 (or something like that.) My parents' marriage was on the rocks so my mom didn't want to have me. However, in those days, both parents had to agree to the abortion--Dad did not agree (obviously.)

Little did Mom know that Heavenly Father had a plan that was entirely different from hers and that I was, in fact, meant to be.

I was born on the 20th of July at 4:15 in the afternoon. For the rest of my life, my Mom wouldn't even wish me Happy Birthday until 4:15. I think that qualifies as some sort of child abuse, don't you?

I have three brothers, the oldest of the kids, and then my sister. She was thrilled to get me ... her own little baby doll to play with.

Happy Birthday Month to Me!