meandering simply

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

cute and corny

Did you hear about the dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac? He stayed up all night trying to decide if there really was a dog.

Q. What did the Zero say to the Eight?
A. "Nice belt!"

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Monday, January 28, 2008

phone etiquette

Today my girls had poor telephone manners. I was frustrated with them all. Usually they are relatively polite. Today they were boars.

My new employer phoned twice and each time a child took the call. Later she sent an email saying it wasn't working trying to catch me at home. I felt she was intoning that my monkeys needed to be caged and kept off the phone.

But the clincher was when I saw a long distance number written on the white board. Nothing but a number. I ask who the number was for and Hannah said, "I dunno, someone for Dad." Who? "I dunno." Well what did they want? "Dad." What did they want Dad for? "To talk."

More than a little irritated, I asked, "Hannah do you realize what you've done? You've taken the number, but we have no idea who it is for. How is Daddy going to know who to call?"

Hannah furrowed her brow like she was surprised I didn't get it. "Just phone the number. That's who he's supposed to call."

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Baby It's Cold Outside

Edmonton Weather
-33 °F / -36 °C

Windchill:
-48 °F / -44 °C

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

romie boy



I love a clean man. Roman 6 months.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Difference Between Men and Women

This is stereo-typical humour, but there is a lot of truth in it. Fascinating and funny, if you ask me.

1. NAMES If Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara go out for lunch, they will call each other Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara. If Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Head and Scrappy.

2. EATING OUT When the bill arrives, Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom will each throw in a $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. When the women get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

3. MONEY A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need, but it's on sale.

4. BATHROOMS A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Marriott. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

5. ARGUMENTS A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that... is the beginning of a new argument.

6. CATS Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

7. FUTURE A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

8. SUCCESS A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

9. MARRIAGE A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.

10. DRESSING UP A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail. A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

11. NATURAL Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

12. OFFSPRING Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

13. THOUGHT FOR THE DAY Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing.

AND FINALLY....A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position.

As they passed a barnyard of mules, jack asses, and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically, 'Relatives of yours?''

"Yep," the wife replied, "in-laws."

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bubble gum


Whatever you do, don't swallow bubble gum. This could happen to you.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

jobs and frosting

It's been a bit of a wild week around here. I've been job hunting and that is always interesting when you're mi-mi-mi-middle aged and been out of the work force for years. I got a small job early in the week. This "small job" is my spending money. More on that later.

The real job I was supposed to hear back about yesterday. I carried the phone with me to the bathroom so as not to miss anything. Finally today I called them and was told it may be Monday before they'd know. I took that as, "You crazy idiot, why would we hire someone fat and ugly and unable to make coherent conversation?"

Defeated, I told myself positive self affirmations. That didn't work so I went and got some creamy chocolate fudge frosting. I practiced self control and only ate 10, 20, maybe 30 bites. While debating purge/don't purge the phone rang. (I didn't purge, I'm still grossly over-chocolated). I got the real job. Yeah, I guess I really awed them with my amazing job-hunting-prowess. Just joking, the person they really wanted didn't apply, just joking again.

Bad news is I don't start till February 4. What is my job you ask. Well it's the only job that I really wanted. I've scoured the papers and internet and none of the jobs excited me, none but this one. It's closely related to what I did pre-Dykstra days. There's some writing, event coordination, creating promo material. That's what the ad said anyway. In practice I'll probably be an office janitor. Just joking. I am so happy with the idea of bringing my skills back up to speed. I asked for a hefty little wage and I got it AND they said I'd get a raise in three months.

And did I mention this job is only 4 hours a day. Yes, that's right. This job seems so perfect for me. I pray it's everything I think it is. I am very very happy.

Gordon and I do finances a bit different than most people. Our real jobs put money in the family account but we have other sources for our spending/allowance money. That money we can use however we wish. My discretionary money comes from my other brand new job. It's working with new moms helping them adjust to motherhood. In all truthfulness, it's glorified child-care. I go in and exhausted new mom goes for a nap while I hold newborn. Something like that anyway. I have as few or as many clients as I want. I've taken one family and the 1 year old is handicapped and there is a new one too. This job pays pretty well for what it is. I will do this 4 hours a week, but I can add hours anytime I want to. Say I decide I want a Porsche, I just pick up a few more shifts. Easy as can be....

AND on the subject of jobs, Gordon got a promotion this week. He's so amazing. He got a significant little raise too. Wow, all this money. What shall we do with it all???

PS About 20% of this post was pure baloney. The porsche, all the money talk, etc...

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

hammer and nail

It's been a strange night around here. First Rachael came to me and made the motion of putting her finger in the hole made by the fisted other hand. This motion, if you don't know, is slang sign language for the sexual act. In youth lingo, it's called "hammer and nail" or at least that is what my co-habiting youth tell me.

So she makes this motion and asks, "Mom, don't you think this should be called "nail and wood" rather than "hammer and nail." I thought for a nano-second and then agreed.

Moments later Hannah entered, and obviously they've talked about this because what does Hannah ask but, "Mom, don't you think this should be called "nail and wood" instead of "hammer and nail?"

I answer yes and return to my reading, grateful to have a handy diversion.

Tick tock tick tock, maybe 90 seconds pass before Hannah breaks the silence. "Mom what does sex feel like?"

I resisted the urge to slap, spit, or twitch. Instead I asked, "How long is the phase gonna last?"

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false ads

As you may remember from this post, I've always wondered about those spam emails I get that say "increase your length by 5 to 6 inches...." When I wrote that post I felt a little sick revealing my own thoughts on the matter. However I have had a breakthrough and part of me feels so silly that I never figured this out and part of me feels I should alert everyone to the false advertisement.

My friend Elaine just phoned and asked what I was doing and I told her I was looking at a naked man on the Internet. She waited for the punchline, but there wasn't one. I really was looking at a naked man. His name was Herm.

Here is how I got acquainted with Herm. There were before and after pictures of Herm and I was vaguely familiar with both "poses." I am here to reveal the truth about those ads.

First let me say I did not open a spam/junk email. I know better than that. However this email came to my inbox not my spam/junk box. It was from Eli. Eli?, the only Eli I could think of was a youth minister at a former church. When I opened the email I wasn't thinking oh this is the guy with the 13 incher. No, I was thinking, why is Eli writing me and how did he get my email address?

So I opened the email from Pastor Eli and soon realized that this wasn't Pastor Eli. Now it's true once I opened the email I had to click a link but I still was moving just a mite slow in the brain. There was the word prick, but I thought a prick was a jerk. I didn't know a prick was an unmentionable. Let this be a lesson to you. So this is how I arrived at the website of these herbs that will increase length by 3 to 5 inches.

You are about to feel very manipulated. Okay, so here's the deal. The gain 3 to 5 inches is about erect versus un-erect. I felt so mislead. Here I've thought for years those ads were claiming to take an erection and add 3-5 inches, which always sounded impossible (and painful).

I can think of lots of ways to write that ad that are less misleading.

Did everyone but Stephanie and me get this? If so, why didn't anyone tell us? I ranted to my friend Elaine. She admitted she'd not given it much thought - she seemed concerned that I had - but she said that she too thought it was adding to an erect penis. It's false advertisement pure and simple. Don't be fooled. There are no 13-inchers.

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Headlines

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
[No, really?]

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
[Now that's taking things a bit far!]

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
[What a guy!]

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
[Those -good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so 's!]

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
[See if that works any better than a fair trial!]

War Dims Hope for Peace
[I can see where it might have that effect!]

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
[You think?]

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
[Who would have thought!]

Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
[They may be on to something!]

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
[Weren't they fat enough?!]

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
[That's what he gets for eating those beans!]

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
[Taste like chicken?]

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Melody

My precious niece Melody is on her way to Madrid Spain to intern at the US Embassy. I'm so excited for her and proud of her. Pray for her safety. She's just a baby; a 21-year-old baby.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

church greeter's anxiety

I cannot think of anything to say when I'm talking to people who are super quiet. I'm seldom the person carrying the conversational ball , usually not the talkative one. So when things get really quiet when I'm trying to be friendly and getting no help on the other end of the conversation, I inadvertently go into talk-overdrive... It's really horrible. I start babbling, sweating profusely, and laughing like a cackling hyena. I hear myself and try to stop but it leads to more babblings, sweating and hyena sounds.

Several years ago a couple about 10 years younger than us started going to our church. They were an attractive couple that always stood around during coffee hour smiling. I cannot stand to see people standing around during coffee hour smiling. I mean if they're talking to someone that's okay but if they are standing there just smiling I know it's my job to go and speak to them. So week after week after bloody week I'd put on my babbling, sweating, hyena performance for Bob and Ann. They always smiled so politely as they'd see me walking over. I told Gordon that I was sure they were thinking let's see how loud we can get her to cackling today.

It was really very horrible and it seemed no one could identify with my anxiety. I'd tell people about our conversations - if you could call them that - and how I always said the same thing when we spoke. No one identified. Everyone agreed that I should "just not say it if I didn't want to say it." But it didn't work that way. No matter how hard I tried not to say it, I'd still say it.

Sunday after Sunday, unless one of us was mercifully sick or something, I'd see them standing by the coffee pot smiling. People walked by them smiled and said good morning, but no one would actually engage them. I felt like the weight of their souls somehow rested on me. I'd take a swig of whiskey (just joking) then walk bravely and confidently over to welcome them. "Hi Bob, hi Ann. Have you had a good week?" They'd smile and say, "Yes." I'd think, please say something else, but they always responded the same way. They'd smile and I'd sweat.

Then I'd pull the ole hyena trick and they'd smile. Horror would unfold. Sunday after Sunday I'd say and do the exact same thing. "Do ya'll live around here?" The answer was always the same, go figure. Yes they lived about 5 minutes away. "Oh really where?" Amazingly they didn't move the whole time we went to church together. Every time they answered that they lived in the Inglewood community. "Oh I know someone who lives there, she lives kind of close to the 7-11," I'd tell them. Bob would politely smilingly tell me they lived a bit farther west. Every week I'd say, "Oh you must be closer to the KFC" and amazingly every week without fail he told me they lived in an apartment block just a block and a half from KFC. Every week I'd act surprised and say, "really, that's pretty close." Then I'd laugh like a hyena.

I would walk away after this unique performance feeling soooo stupid - which was totally legitimate.

Then the most amazing thing happened. A new family started our church and we hit it off and became good friends. The husband reminded me of my brother so I felt such affinity with them. We had lots in common, laughed at the same things, seemed to think the same things at the same time pretty often during service. They were extroverted and soon got really involved in church, and even in greeting and welcoming people. (God knows I was glad to have the help.)

One Sunday afternoon they came over for lunch and after getting comfortable Brian said, "Man have you ever tried to talk to Bob and Ann. They have got to be the quietest people I've ever met. I always feel so stupid when I talk to them. I find myself saying the same stupid thing week after week." Was I ever relieved to find someone who identified with my anxiety.

Brian went on to tell what his conversations with Bob and Ann looked like. Do you live nearby? Oh Inglewood. Do you live near 7-11? Oh yeah I know where the KFC is. Yes, in Brian's nervousness, he asked them the same questions I did, and he even did it on a weekly basis. We compared notes and laughed and laughed so happy to find someone who identified with our feelings of ineptitude. We made fun of ourselves at great length and imagined Bob and Ann's conversations in the car on the way home wondering why we were so interested in where they lived.

After finding someone who identified with my anxiety, I somehow overcame my mental block and was actually able to change my Sunday morning topic with Bob and Ann. Weeks later I felt empowered - not comfortable, just empowered - to invite them for lunch. I made burgers. I didn't know they were vegetarians. Upon learning the vegetarian tidbit, I got terribly nervous and as I brought celery stalks, tomatoes, and carrots to the table I heard myself say, "So where do you live?"

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Friday, January 11, 2008

ouch

I fell really hard on my butt at the dog park today. Now my butt's big.

you need to know...


...just how cute my grandson is.
Roman 6 months. Feel free to click on the picture so you can see him up close. :-)

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

because I like babies....








































































































Allegedly, this fireman saved this mama dog and her puppies from a fire.










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catholic kids say...

WHEN CATHOLIC SCHOOL CHILDREN WERE ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS:

CHRISTIANS HAVE ONLY ONE SPOUSE. THIS IS
CALLED MONOTONY.

ONE OF THE OPPOSSUMS WAS ST. MATTHEW WHO WAS
ALSO A TAXIMAN.

JESUS WAS BORN BECAUSE MARY HAD AN IMMACULATE
CONTRAPTION.

SOLOMON, ONE OF DAVIDS SONS, HAD 300 WIVES AND
700 PORCUPINES.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT IS THOU SHALT NOT
ADMIT ADULTERY.

SAMPSON WAS A STRONGMAN WHO LET HIMSELF BE LED
ASTRAY BY A JEZEBEL LIKE DELILAH.

THE JEWS WERE A PROUD PEOPLE AND THROUGHOUT
HISTORY THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH UNSYMPATHETIC
GENITALS.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

anne lamott

I just finished a book by Anne Lamott. She is a Christian lady who is a writer. Notice I didn't say she is a Christian writer. That's because I wouldn't want to mislead anyone into thinking she is anything like other Christians they may ever read. She is everything I grew up hearing was "un-Christian" personified. I have no doubt about her authenticity, but I'm telling you, she says some things that would make my fundalmentalists ancestors roll over in their graves and kick up a storm too.

I love Anne Lamott. She is radical. She is irreverent. She is relevant. She is hilarious. She is refreshing. I don't believe everything she writes, but I agree with a whole lot and since she makes me laugh, I actually like to read lots of her stuff.

Anne has a troubled background. She's been an alcoholic, addicted to drugs, promiscuous, had an abortion, had affairs, .... She's pretty well covered the bases, and she doesn't deny any of it. This latest book I read is called "Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith." She's a Christian and the book is about her faith in God, but I'm pretty sure a Christian bookstore wouldn't carry any of Anne's books. She's not that kind of Christian.

So if you're feeling like stepping out of the normal Christian literature zone, check out Anne. You may really like her.

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breastfeeding

Because evidently there's been a breastfeeding debate on Facebook...

I thought this was super sweet.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

rcmp stop

After school today I took Rachael to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) station to pick up her criminal record check. She needed the check done before volunteering at the nursing home.

There were no cars in the parking lot so I assumed it would be a very quick stop. She went in alone and I stayed in the van with the other girls. We waited and waited and waited. Deborah lamented, "What if they kidnapped her?"

I responded with, "Well if they kidnapped her, they'll give her back when she starts telling them how to do everything. That won't take long."

Hannah piped in, "Yeah she'll come back with a note that says, 'Sorry for the inconvenience. We overestimated her worth to us.'"

When she came out, she found us laughing. I told her what we'd said and she laughed with us. Really, she did.

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Gratitude Campaign

A cool patriotic kindness. Try it.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

2008 goals

Baby Steps.
From 2007 I learned that baby steps are what make lasting change. I will take baby steps again in 2008. Most of the changes in 2007 were in the physical and environmental departments. For 2008 I need to focus more on relationships, especially with Gordon and the kids. The second area of focus will be physical activity.

Goals for 2008
- De-clutter more. I've recently realized that I have more seasonal decorations than I need. I can part with some fall and Christmas decorations and with other things in closets in the basement.
- Get a job. I really don't want to work retail, but retail has always worked with my scheduling needs. I'm going to try to find a job that isn't retail. Something new and improved.
- Spend an hour a week with my friend Colleen.
- Take the dogs to the off leash park on Thursday mornings with my friend Elaine.
- Take the dogs to the off leash park on Saturdays with Hannah and Deborah. (These off leash dates serve several purposes; strengthening relationships with these people, getting the dogs out where they can run like the wind, getting me into nature, getting me physical.) .
- Use Rosary Beads regularly for focusing me in prayer. (I'm not Catholic but I've found Rosary Beads beneficial in keeping me focused in prayer.)
- Join a dragon boat racing team.
- Get Rachael into drawing or cartooning lessons.
- Go for a walk in the river valley with Rachael once a week.
- Give up sugar for Lent.
- Mall walk once a week. Once the snow melts, move this walk outside.
- Reduce portion sizes at meal time.
- Finish New Testament reading.
- Lay with each girl at bedtime once a week.

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Disappointments/Failures 2007

- Didn't walk dogs enough.
- Didn't get into nature more.
- Didn't lose much weight.
- Freelance writing really sucked this year.
- Didn't do anything mensurable to strengthen relationships with Gordon and the girls.
- Became somewhat more reclusive.
- Didn't entertain much.
- Disillusioned and noncommittal with church.
- Went into debt.
- When I went to Arkansas in October, I got out of Bible reading and praying habit.
- Had a bad attitude toward P G---.
- Ended the year angry with someone.
- Fostering didn't pan out (after spending lots of time preparing for it).

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2007 Accomplishments

Be warned, this post is boring for anyone other than myself. However this blog is my record keeping system and I want these things to be recorded in an easy-to-get-to way. When I look at 2007's accomplishments, I see so clearly that it's the baby steps that make a difference. So I am about to list a whole lot of weird little things that I have affectionately dubbed my baby steps. (I learned recently that being told "you're weird" is a common experience for those with bi-polar disorder. I've been told that a number of times and when you read this list, you will think, "she's weird." I know, because I've shared a few of these baby steps with others and as their eyes glazed over, just before they hit the floor in a death like sleep, they uttered the profound words of encouragement, "you're weird.") So you have been warned, should you not wish to be bored, don't continue to read. On the other hand if my baby steps might encourage you, please continue.

Body Department:
- Began parking far from entrances to force myself into more physical activity. It worked like a charm and has become a habit.
- Radically increased my fruit and vegetable intake. I modified nearly all my recipes to include vegetables.
- Started buying more low sodium items.
- Started rinsing canned vegetables to eliminate some of the sodium. (Did you know canned veggies have lots of added salt?)
- Developed a taste for V8, low-sodium V8 of course.
- All Bran is the only cereal I buy now.
- Started reading food labels (and actually "get it").
- Started taking calcium supplements.

Environmental Department:
- Reduced family meat intake. Two or three evening meals per week are meatless.
- Didn't use my clothes dryer all summer and into the fall. I line dried my clothes.
- Gave up candles. I still love them but chose to keep our house air purer. I don't know if it changes anything.
- Didn't use my car air conditioning all summer. Even in 100 degrees, I used my windows. On our holidays to the coast, the family out-voted me and we used the ac. That was it.
- Never idled my van in the cold. I put fleece blankets in the van and when I have to wait in the van, I use a blanket rather than run the engine.
- Always use canvas bags for grocery shopping instead of plastic.
- Made cloth gift bags for Christmas "wrap" to use year after year.
- Used the dishwasher four times all year.

Other:
- Got Deborah and Hannah into piano lessons.
- Got house renos and updates done.
- Read lots and lots expanding my repertoire of writers and styles.
- Wrote my great aunt Alta several times.
- Had no major "set-to's" with anyone (except Gordon and everyone knows we're happily incompatible).
- Worked one year at the fabric store and bettered my sewing skills in so doing.
- Had my Christmas shopping done well before Christmas.
- Eliminated more clutter from the house.
- Didn't "lose it" with rage when someone majorly violated me.
- Developed the habit of scrubbing bathroom on Tuesdays.
- Found Shelly and Odetta, dear friends from youth.
- Handled Rachael's rebellion relatively well and reaped the rewards.

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just wondering

I just got a spam email (get tons of those, growl) and the subject line was "increase your man part." I do not suffer from erectile dysfunction - never have, and for that matter, never expect to. Why do I always get these emails? When I was in Arkansas, Stephanie and I for some unexplainable reason decided to open one of these emails on this subject. In it we read, "Increase your erection size by three inches immediately..."

Stephanie and I pondered this a few seconds when she responded, "wouldn't that be scary?" After thinking about it, it seems to me that it would be problematic for a fella if his erection grew an additional three inches. Am I (and Stephanie) missing something here?

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the tots

Yesterday Rachael started to ask a grown-up question. She paused midway through and glanced at her sisters. Then she said, "Never mind. Better not talk about this in front of the tots."

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

a real good friend

Today Deborah's best friend wanted Deborah to come and play. Kalyna wanted to build a snowman, Deborah did not. As she was putting on all her winter attire I saw she was crying. I asked why she was crying and she told me she didn't want to go outside and build a snowman. I suggested she tell Kalyna that. She responded with, "I don't want to hurt her feelings."

I thought that was very sweet and kind. They had a great time and spent at least an hour outside. Now they're warm inside and Kalyna's here for a sleepover.

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2007 Dykstra Christmas Letter

December 2007

Greetings from the Dykstra Family,

Here we are at the end of another year. For us, the year has been a pleasant one. We enjoyed health, holidays, and happiness and for all those things we are grateful.

To recap the year, I’ll start with the most noteworthy. I became a grandma; a “Beppie” to be more accurate. Stephanie gave birth to Roman Carter Laney on July 11. Oh, is he ever a dandy!! Stephanie and John Mark are such good parents and I’m very proud of them and their priorities. Stephanie continued working as a nurse pretty much till little Roman debuted. John Mark continues to work in Wal-Mart Corporate Offices (where he got a significant promotion this year) and he is still working toward his business degree. They have a lovely home in Northwest Arkansas. I spent the month of October with them getting to know my grandson and watching the dynamics of the Laney home. It was such a joy. I enjoyed many hours on their porch swing holding little Romie Boy. From that pristine vantage point, I could hear nothing but sounds of nature and Roman’s coos and fist-sucking-sounds. It was truly delightful.

Christopher is 18, soon to be 19. He is in his first year at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He got a very significant four-year football scholarship. In a couple years I hope to be a goofy, crazed football mom cheering deliriously in the stands. He too is studying business. He is still gentle, easy going, and kind. He gives me lots of reasons to be proud. I was thrilled with the bit of time I spent with him in October.

Rachael is 12 and in grade 7. Junior High has given us lots of new challenges, but we are still going forward and improving (or trying to) with the newly presented challenges. Until recently Rachael had two jobs; a paper route and a Saturday babysitting job. Shortly after school began, we discovered that with Junior High homework the paper route was too much for her. She kept it for nine months and we were so proud of her for her hard work. When we went on holidays this summer, our neighbor did Rachael’s paper route for her. He was amazed at the hard work she did on a regular basis. She is indeed a hard worker. She got braces this year and looks so cute. She has an iron will that we pray will be used to the glory of God.

Hannah is 11 and in grade 6. She too has a job; her very own dog-walking service. She walks two dogs and gets paid very well for it. We joke that our kids have more expendable money than their parents. She is remarkably responsible with her job and we are proud of her tenacity. In October she broke her arm and endured that hardship like a real trooper. Thankfully that was the sum of our family injuries this year. Hannah is in piano lessons and doing well. She is our stubborn child and we pray that that stubbornness will be used to God’s glory too. Surely He can do something with it; we don’t seem to be able to. She is the family clown always finding zany spins to put on things.

Deborah, the social butterfly of the family, is 8 and in grade 3. She is a good student and known for her kindness and politeness. She is headed toward being an accomplished musician. She is in piano and doing extremely well. We’ve told the kids for several years that when they become teenagers they will lose their minds and that will be a good time for us to do their thinking for them. Rachael has lost a bit of her mind and Deborah has thoughtfully observed this. More than a couple times she’s watched Rachael and remarked, “I sure hope I don’t lose my mind when I’m 12.” All the kids give us lots of opportunities to smile, laugh, and thank God for our blessings.

Gordon is still working for Edmonton Transit. Since April he’s been on a special assignment in the Planning and Development Department. He gets lots of accolades in his work. He enjoys teaching an adult Sunday school class. When Rachael gave up her paper route, Gordon took it. The paper route forces him to exercise and he likes the extra spending money. The same would be true if I took the route but I prefer being broke and chubby to lugging papers all over the neighborhood in minus 20 degrees. He still enjoys his close friendships and is a bit of a techno-geek. (I mean that with utmost respect).

This summer our family holidays took us to Capernwray Harbour on Thetis Island off Vancouver Island BC. It was a remarkable holiday that we’ll never forget and one that we’d like to do every year. We shall see if it becomes an annual pilgrimage. We’re all hoping so.

Our big projects this year were some much needed house renovations. We got our hardwood floors refinished, painted the interior, re-did our bathroom and numerous small jobs along the way. We are pleased with the results. But as always, there’s more work to be done.

The girls started new schools this year. They’re in St Albert public schools in a Logos program. Our church is in St Albert and so are the girls’ piano lessons. This means I spend a lot of time in the van driving to and from St Albert. It’s actually a pretty short drive, but it’s a drive still.

I quit my retail job to spend October with Stephanie. I worked there for a year. My next challenge is foster parenting. We’re just a couple steps away from being approved to do this again. I’m excited about it. We are going to foster 0-3 years old. I look forward to doing the “baby-thing” again. As you may recall we did this from 1998 -2002 when we had a deplorable experience. We said we’d never do it again, but here we are looking forward to the challenge again.

2008 looks to be an eventful year for us. We have several changes in the works and look forward to seeing what the new year brings our way. However it would be presumptuous to tell you about those changes as I’ve been told not to count my chickens before they hatch. But maybe next year’s Christmas letter will be full and juicy.

As usual, we delight in hearing from our family and friends in this festive season. We hope you’re doing well and enjoying the plentiful good things this time of year offers. God bless you this Christmas and in the coming year.

Love,
Valerie
(For the Gordon Dykstra Family)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Review of 2007's Goals

About a year ago today, I posted my goals for 2007. Here is what I wrote last year and how I did.

1) Read the New Testament through.
I got to the Thessalonians. I will finish this year.

2) Walk Lucy more. My Lucy is a delightful furry friend and she loves walking the neighborhood. Hannah walks her every day, but I want to walk her too. Good for me, good for Lucy.
Unsuccessful. But I did pick up my activity in other areas.

3) Eat 6-7 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. That's the daily recommended allowance and what my dietitian advises.
Successful. I have soooo improved in this department.

4) Lose a bajillion pounds. If I succeed you'll know because I'll be plastering pictures of myself all over the world wide web. Move over Babes, hear I come.
Hummm. Ok, so I was unsuccessful in this department too. However for the first year in several years, I held steady. For that matter I lost a two pounds, but I certainly didn't lose that bajillion. 2008 will be the year for that.

5) Do 10 more quilt squares. Lordy, that's depressing to write. Will I ever finish it? Slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady wins the race. Chant with me please. Slow and steady wins the race.
I did two or three.

6) Send out 24 manuscripts.
>I sent 19.

7) Get Christmas cards out by December 1. So it's January 8 and some of my southern relatives haven't received my Christmas card. This makes me look like a loser and that isn't the look I desire. I mailed them on the 15th of December.
I mailed my cards on the 10th of December.

8) Give blood 4 times in 2007.
Successful.

9) Get my hair one length again. I admit it's not my best look, but it's the easiest. Hey, once I've lost a bajillion pounds, nobody's gonna be looking at the hair.
Successful. It doesn't look too great, but it's one length and just weeks away from being long enough to be in a pony tail, my low-maintenance doo of choice.

10) Find or create a yard manger scene.
Unfortunately I didn't find it in time for this Christmas, but I did find one and am having it built. I hope it is nice.

11) Have my mother-in-law to dinner at least twice a month.
The invitation was extended, but she thought that was too big of a commitment. But all in all, we didn't do too badly in this department. She'd rather have us over to her house, so that's pretty much the pattern for most Saturday evenings.

12) Give up Sudoku for Lent.
I gave it up for Lent and during that time lost my passion for it. Now I keep a puzzle book in the van and play only when I'm waiting for children.

13) Start buying 1% milk. (That's exciting, eh?)
It seems like I've always bought 1% milk, I hardly realized until I re-read these goals from a year ago that I've only been buying 1% for a year.

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