Monday, November 30, 2009

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Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful Saturday

In keeping with the theme of the month of thankfulness, I have another random list of things to be thankful for today:

• I am most definitely thankful for Old Man Winter taking his sweet time in arriving in southern Ontario. While we have had some rather cool days and few flurries here and there, overall it's been a very mild late fall. Right this minute, the kids and their friends are all running around outside and playing on the trampoline (which was already put away this time last year, or it would have been covered in a foot of snow), in nothing but fall jackets. I know this wont last too much longer so I'll just be very thankful for the mild weather while it's here.

• I know I've said this before but I'm going to repeat myself by saying I'm so very thankful that I have the freedom and the opportunity to work from home, doing what I love to do. Not everyone can say that, and I know I'm blessed to be in this situation.

• I am certainly thankful for my washer and dryer. While I sat in the living room earlier folding the week's worth of laundry that piled up on the guest bed in the laundry room, instead of looking at it and thinking "gack, I hate folding laundry" (which I do, by the way), I looked at it and thought "how blessed am I that I have machines that did the hard part of all of this?"

• This may sound silly, but I am thankful for slippers. More specifically, I am thankful for the kind that have really thick soles and actually keep my feet warm. Once my feet get cold it's all over for me, so keeping them from getting too cold is a priority. I have awesome slippers that do just that, and I sure am thankful for it.

• I'm thankful for Kevin's sense of humor. He doesn't ever take himself too seriously and when he does things like walk through the back door with a bouncy gait and impersonating Juan Epstein (Sweathog, Welcome Back Kotter, remember him?) and saying "hey hey Mistah Kott-tehhh" (yes, he does stuff like that all the time), he knows it will make me laugh no matter what kind of day I've had. Often, Kev and I will have a discussion about something ridiculously trivial and yet somehow we turn into George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld and start debating the finer, complex points of whatever dumb thing it is we're discussing. I'm not really sure why this happens, but it's rather funny and I'm thankful for it. People should laugh a lot more, life is too short to go through it looking like a scowling Richard Nixon.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Friday, November 27, 2009

Have a Nice Day!

Having a bad day? Feeling blue? Things not working out the way you'd hoped today? Allow me to help:

The only real question is now... is, how many times did you hit replay?

(Thankful to my daughter Jessica for linking me to this today!)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Homeschool to Public School: Update

It's been almost 3 months since the kids have been in public school, so I thought I'd post a little update with how that's going.

Overall, it's been a very positive thing for all of them. I had a meeting recently with several of the school staff and one of them commented that making the decision to enroll them must have been a very hard one. In some ways it sure was, and in other ways it was rather easy. It's a complex thing making choices about your kids education, for sure. Transitioning from being homeschooled their whole lives to suddenly being on a public school timetable and routine has actually been easier however for them, than it has for me. I'm still getting used to this whole "up at 6, breakfast at 7:30, make lunches, send them off to catch the bus at 8" thing. When I did that from 1988 through 1998 when the older girls were all in public school, it was just a normal routine. After having homeschooled since late 1999 until now, it's a little hard to get back into that schedule.

For them however, public school is proving to be all we expected it to be. They're each having the opportunity to learn French, and doing well at it. They're all very much enjoying the exposure to team sports, team projects and the awesome educational technology the school has access to. On the academic level they're being exposed to so much more than they ever could be at home, at their learning level, and I'm very glad for that. They've all joined the book club and we've noticed they're each reading quite a bit more now than they ever did when they were homeschooled. In some ways this is ironic since they have less time to read for leisure now than they ever did before, but I'm just happy that all my kids love to read.

There are a few downsides though and we knew it would be like this. One downside is that the little country school they're at doesn't have the resources or programs needed for developmentally disabled students. Jordan has this disability so after some amount of looking around and tough decisions, Jordan will be changing schools after the Christmas break. I've toured the new school, met all the staff and some of the other kids in the specialized program and think it will be an awesome opportunity for Jordan. She also loves the new school and is looking forward to being part of a smaller classroom setting, and more of an individualized learning program. With the new program she'll be in, it's very much like homeschooling, oddly enough. Smaller student/teacher ratio (the cap is 10 students per teacher), individualized curriculum with a dual focus of academics plus hands-on/applied learning. The bonus is that the school has access to much more resources than I ever did so for her it will be like the best of both worlds.

Another downside, and it's a big one, is the ungodly setting. Of course we knew it would be like this, but the things the kids come home telling us is rather disheartening. Kids at school that use profane and obscene language every day, kids who are prone to violent behavior, and kids who are already "dating". Keep in mind our kids are in grades 4, 5 and 7 and these are the things they're exposed to every day, at their ages. It's a little hard to get my head around kids this age engaging in this kind of behavior but this is the world we live in. It has most certainly given us ample opportunities to discuss, reinforce and encourage in them the Christian morals we are bringing them up with. For them it's been a definite culture shock, since the kind of language and behavior they see in other kids is the kind of language and behavior we wont even let them see in movies, if it's in there. Thankfully, the teachers and staff at the school do take this kind of conduct seriously and take appropriate action when warranted. As we all know, the way kids speak and act is a direct result of what they learn at home, and these kids acting in inappropriate ways are just products of their home environment. If they hear swearing at home all the time, that's the way they'll speak as well. If their parents are letting them "date" at age 10, if their parents are letting them watch raunchy tv shows and movies, this is how they'll turn out. "Garbage in - garbage out" may be a cliche', but it's often most clearly evidenced in the way kids act. In many ways it's not really the fault of the kids at this age, but the parents. Kids just emulate what they've been exposed to. We pray every day that OUR kids will not be adversly influenced by this, but instead will be a positive influence on the kids they've befriended.

So while there are negatives to be sure, there are also definite positives. Academically, socially and spiritually as well, they're being stretched and challenged and growing. There are some struggles here and there and there are also some pretty awesome successes as well. So at the 3 month mark, I still think it was the best decision for them, to transition from homeschool to public school.

We'll see if I still feel the same way at the Spring break point, come next March.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Reflections Goodies on SALE!

Normally I reserve "store stuff" posts for my Reflections Apparel blog, but this is such a great sale I didn't want my readers here to miss it:

Kick off your Christmas shopping with these amazing deals:

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BONUS: FREE SHIPPING on orders of $35 or more!

Use the promo code ZAZZLEFRIDAY to save huge! But hurry, sale ends Friday November 27, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific time.

At Reflections Cafepress:

FREE SHIPPING on orders of $75 or more! Promotion starts on November 27, 2009, at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and ends on Friday, November 27, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. (PST).Use the promo code TGIF75 at checkout

At Mom's Kitchen:

Knock 25% off your order of any of the awesome glass recipe cutting boards or totes! Spend $25, and save 25% - easy! Use promo code SAVE25 at checkout. Sale ends Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 11:59pm MST.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

The other day, Kev went to Tim Horton's for our usual round of coffee treats. When he got to the drive thru window to pay, the cashier told him the lady in front of him had already paid for his order. Now I ask you, just HOW cool is that!?

As soon as he told me this when he got home, I decided right then and there that the next time I go through the drive through for coffees, I'm paying for the order of the people behind me, and doing a pay-it-forward sort of thing.

I'd like to encourage YOU to do the same, if at all possible. It doesn't have to be a drive thru thing, you could do it at the store for the person in front of you with a small amount of groceries (or a whole basketful if you can swing that!), or the person at the post office buying a book of stamps, or the person at the gas bar just in front of you paying for his or her gas. Those are just off the top of my head, so if you have other ideas on how to pay-it-forward this Christmas season, please do leave a comment and share! Also, if you've had this happen to you or if you've done it yourself, I'd love to hear from you. I realize this isn't an original idea, but it's the first time someone did this for us and I just find it so cool I want to shine some light on it, and maybe motivate others to do the same!

Please do spread the word, I'd love to see tons of comments on this from folks who paid it forward, or were the recipients of such kindness. It's not every day the kindness of a stranger brings a smile to someone's face, so we were sure thankful for that. Let's all be a kind stranger this Christmas season, and who knows... maybe it'll become an awesome trend!

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Tribe

my tribe

When you have seven kids (3 grown, 1 with a husband and 2 with fiance's), work schedules, school schedules, weather and all sorts of other things tend to get in the way of family holidays and seeing all your kids in one place at one time.

Even though we're in Canada, we're a mixed American-Canadian family and we still celebrate American Thanksgiving. It's also Kevin and Nick (daughter #2's fiance) birthdays, so we have 3 reasons to celebrate, if we can pull off a Saturday that no one has to work an everything else falls into place for our entire tribe to gather. Today was our Thanksgiving dinner and it was so good to see all my kids, grandkids, inlaws, outlaws and others, at the table at the same time.

I'm very thankful for that. :-)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankfulness: Being a Stay at Home Mom, and LIKING It!

Happy Retro Lady - bakes cookies all day and greets children and hubby with a smile

I am incredibly blessed, and I know it.

While back in the 1950's it was commonplace for the wife to be at home during the day while the husband worked, the 1950's gave way to all sorts of revolutions, movements, social paradigm shifts and all sorts of other cultural upheavals. Some would say these things were for the best, while others would say they only contributed to the breakdown of families, and society in general. Either way you look at it, our culture is certainly very different than the way it was in Anytown, USA in the 1950's. Gone is the era of June Cleaver, for good.

Not unlike many my age, I grew up in a one parent home. Mom worked because she had kids to feed and a mortgage to pay, and that's just the way it was. It was partly because mom had to work that I think I never really wanted to. I didn't want to grow up and get up at 5:30 am and be away from home all day, then come home and make dinner, do laundry, clean the house and tuck my kids into bed. Nope, I wanted to be home making my house a home, and bake cookies and greet the kids at the door when they came home from school. I know, it all sounds horrible, doesn't it? I think every time a conservative, family woman says that, a liberal career woman somewhere breaks a heel on her office shoe. That's just a rumor, I can't prove that it's true.

In any event, I am incredibly blessed to be able to live the life that I always wanted to. No, I don't dress like June Cleaver (my t-shirts are cooler than her dresses anyway), and no, there aren't always cookies and milk at the end of the day (sometimes it's rice cakes or brownies), but I am at home where I want to be while hubby works all day and it works out quite well for everyone. Of course it does mean that we don't have all the latest tech-toys that a two-income family has, but we're all okay with that too. Kevin's job is as secure as any job could be and it affords us the opportunity of me being a stay at home mom.

Today (and every day), I am most certainly thankful for that.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankfulness: Yummy Food Stuffs

Today I am very thankful to four awesome people who shared recipes with me. I know that might not sound like much to be thankful for, but when you're a mom with "what to make" burnout (and we all get it from time to time, don't we?), they all came at the perfect time.

So today my hat is off to Mom, Rosemarie, James and Eddie. Now I can make yummy new stuff that my family will enjoy!

Oh... and one more thing:

While grocery shopping today, the store had Christmas music playing. Not just any old Christmas music, but Bing Crosby Christmas music! I don't know what it is about that magical, marvellous sound that always makes me feel like I'm 8 years old and all is right with the world, but I sure love it. I'm definitely thankful for that today :-)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thankfulness: My Children

It's sort of funny the things you notice when your circumstances change, that you never noticed before.

For example, I've noticed that when all the kids are home on the weekends, how hectic it is in my house. When we were homeschooling all of them, I never really noticed that. But now during the day it's just Ruth and I most days, and it's very quiet. We have our school time and then she finds something to entertain herself with, and it's just a very quiet home. It's been a really long time since it was quiet in my home during the day and I while I dearly love the quiet, it's a little unsettling sometimes. I think I'm just so used to the hectic, quiet seems unnatural now. It's a sneak peak I think of what it might be like many years from now if I am still here Lord willing, when all my kids are grown and on their own.

For me, this is a very odd sort of transition time. With my oldest three already being grown and on their own, two of them having children already and the other planning for children very soon (you heard me Caryn and Eric, babies!!! lol), the youngest four still at home and two of them entering into the teen years very soon. With three of them in public school this year and one still at home, I'm wearing so many hats at once it's rather odd when I really think about it. I am mom, grandma, mother in law, teacher, taxi driver, and more. I can't recall a time in my nearly 27 years of being a mom that this role had as many diverse aspects than it does right now. While I talk to my oldest three on messenger almost every day, sometimes I sure wish I could just shrink them all down to little girls again and have them all at home.

Grandma and HaileyEven though it's an odd transition time, it's a very, very good time. Today after church daughter #3 and soon to be son in law brought my pleasantly plump, adorably cute grand daughter out and had dinner with us. A good example of how odd it feels to wear different hats all at once, was while I was sitting on the floor playing with Hailey and Ruth. I wonder if it sounds weird for Ruth to hear others call me grandma, while she calls me mom? It does for me sometimes, as I still don't feel old enough to qualify for grandma status. For some goofy reason, I think I'm supposed to look like Mrs. Doubtfire before I can rightfully claim that title.

In any event, I'm so very thankful for all my kids. Caryn, Eric, Jennifer, Nick, Jocelyn, Jessica, Joost, Hailey, Jordan, Rachel, Samuel and Ruth. Yep, all 12 of them :-) In their own ways, they're all crazy, silly, brilliant, beautiful, faulty, funny, loud, introspective, idealistic, artistic, stubborn, independant, determined and very much loved. Likewise, I am most certainly the furthest thing from the perfect mom or grandma, but I am honored to be called that by them.

We are family and that means the world to me.

By the way, we've officially now run out of seating in the living room. If anyone knows of a local source for a used couch in good condition, I'm in the market. Thanks. :-)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thursday, November 12, 2009


In keeping with the thankful theme all month long, I'd like to take this opportunity to express how thankful I am for Dr. James R. White, Rich Pierce, and Alpha and Omega Ministries. In all honesty, I could go on and on (and on) about how these brothers have blessed my life and my Christian walk for the last 11 years. It was 1998 when I first discovered this ministry and it completely blew my shakey, mixed up theology out of the water, and set me straight.

To this very day, I listen to the Dividing Line every Tuesday and Thursday (and have withdrawls when it's not on) and almost without fail, there is a topic, a doctrine or a question that comes up that edifies or encourages me. While I have not read all of Dr. White's books, I have read many of them and they are rich with solid Biblical teaching in a language that even the babe in Christ would not have difficulty understanding. Drawn by the Father and The God Who Justifies are my top two favorites. I cannot recommend this ministry highly enough. These brothers truly take it to heart to give an answer with gentleness and reverence.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UPDATED: Christian Worldviews? YOU'RE FIRED!


I first read about this a week or so ago and I just can't get it out of my head. There are just too many complicated, unanswered questions and concerns that arise from such a scenario.

From what the media reports, here is the scenario:

A young Christian man at work is approached by a homosexual female co-worker. Knowing how the young man feels about homosexuality due to his Christian worldview, the female co-worker mentions four seperate times about her wedding to her homosexual partner. After the fourth mention the young man calmly responds with his opinion on homosexuality. Not long after, the young man is fired and receives a letter from his former employer stating in part "While you are entitled to your own beliefs, imposing them upon others in the workplace is not acceptable and in this case, by telling a colleague that she is deviant and immoral, constitutes discrimination and harassment". The young man denies ever using those words to the co-worker, but instead says that what he told her was "Regarding your homosexuality, I think that's bad stuff." The young man says he feels he was intentionally goaded into commenting about the homosexual marriage.

Peter VadalaIn case you haven't heard about this case, I am referring to the case of Peter Vadala being fired from the Brookstone store at Logan airport in Boston, Mass. The news article is here.

WND also has an article here, with a bit more detail.

The first question that comes up for me is this:

If, according to the employer's policy, imposing your own personal beliefs on others in the workplace is unacceptable, was the homosexual co-worker also fired for her conduct? If not, why not? It certainly seems to me that this is exactly what was done on her part, and yet it was the straight, Christian man who gets fired.

This brings me to my next question:

Let's pretend the young man in the story was a Muslim. In our culture of political correctness gone insane and acceptance of marginalizing those with a Christian worldview, do you think the young Muslim man would have been fired? I think we all know the answer to that question, if we stop for a minute and think about it.

Which brings me to my next question and one that is more important than anything else:

If this were you, how would you respond? Let's say you're approached by a co-worker or a fellow student in school, and they go on and on about their homosexual relationship. Do you tell them the truth in love, or do you remain silent for fear of repercussions from your workplace or school? I think this is very important question, since this is the world we all now live in.

I find it rather interesting that at least in this case, a Christian was expected to tolerate offensive subject matter, and when he didn't he was fired for it. I wonder if we'll ever see lawsuits brought against employers for subjecting Christian people to offensive subject matter in the workplace? Somehow, I seriously doubt it. It would certainly seem in our day, that the days of free speech are in serious jeopardy... that is, if you're a Christian with a Christian worldview. For at least this young man, being a Christian in the USA cost him his job. I honestly never thought I'd live to see the day, but it's here.

So what would YOU have done if you were this young man?


A friend pointed me to a short post and long discussion thread here this morning, on this very case. Some very good points have been made and I would encourage anyone to go and read it.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ohhhh Canada

A friend sent me this in email (thanks Mr. P!) and it was too funny to keep to myself. Enjoy this complimentary culture lesson:

Now that Vancouver will be hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, these are some questions people from all over the world are asking. Believe it or not these questions about Canada were posted on an International Tourism Website. Obviously the answers are a joke; but the questions were really asked!

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? ( England )
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? ( USA )
A: Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto - can I follow the Railroad tracks? ( Sweden )
A: Sure, it's only Four thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada ? ( Sweden )
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATM's (cash machines) in Canada ? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto , Vancouver , Edmonton andHalifax ? ( England )
A: No, but you'd better bring a few extra furs for trading purposes.

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada ? ( USA )
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe Ca-na-da is that big country to your North...oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Canada ? ( USA )
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada ? ( England )
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? ( USA )
A: Aus-t ri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary , straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada ? ( Germany )
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada ? ( USA )
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? ( Italy )
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada ? ( USA )
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? ( Germany )
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gathers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada , but I forget its name. It's a kind of big horse with horns. ( USA )
A: It's called a Moose. They are tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? ( USA )
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe


terrorist disguised in cuteIt happens every year. Some years are worse than others, and for whatever reason only really smart people understand, this year seems to be shaping up to be one of "those" years we're all going to remember. For a really long time.

Yes, our house is swarming with LADY BUGS. I don't know how they get in, I don't know why they come in, I only know they do, they are, and they're seriously annoying. Now, don't get me wrong, I think they're as cute as the next person, and I'm not "anti-ladybug" or anything like that, but they truly are are annoying. Here are two examples of how annoying they are:

• Last night before bed I was standing in the bathroom washing my face. I noticed a few of them on the mirror and just ignored them. Well, not to be ignored, one flew off the mirror and landed on my face just under my left nostril. Yes, he (or she?) proceeded to begin the climb toward the nostril. Of course I did what any rational person would do and I began to slap myself silly to get the nostril invading beast off my face. It worked, and he flew away. The minor bruising shouldn't be too noticable.

• This morning as I was minding my own business eating my blueberry frosted mini-wheats, I looked down at my bowl to get another bite and lo and behold, what do I see? Yes indeed, a ladybug surfing on a mini-wheat in my bowl! I'm just glad I looked at my bowl first, or breakfast today would have been a completely different experience.

These things are in just about every room, and nothing we've tried keeps them out. We just have to put up with them until the cold weather arrives and they do whatever ladybugs do when it gets cold. I'm not sure if they take a nap, die or fly off to someone else's house where it's warmer, but it's one of the only reasons to look forward to colder, winter weather.

So today, as much as I detest the cold, I am thankful for it. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thankful for Growing in Grace

On any given day, at pretty much any time of the day, I can come online and see a wide variety of things posted by folks, that I disagree with or that might get on my nerves, or that are outright offensive or just plain wrong on multiple levels. There was a time when I would feel the need to sound off (sometimes in great detail) on things like that. I'm not even sure really, why I felt compelled to do that as often as I did. Some reasons I suppose were and are valid, others may likely just be a lot of sounding off for the sake of sounding off.

Today I am thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart and mind that enables me to just let these things ride without my added two cents. Of course that doesn't apply to all topics across the boards, but it sure does apply to a lot more today, than it ever did before.

It's a rather liberating feeling, and I'm liking it a lot.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thought Bubble Head

Carla, the thought bubble headThis is a post in which I reveal a little bit about myself that my readers may not know.

I am a monumental klutz. Terminally clumsy, my nickname for years among those who know me well, is Grace. Because... I'm so not graceful, at all.

Today is a good example of this. I informed the kids it was time to get dressed for church, and we all headed down the game room stairs. I stopped and picked up my bowls from chips and dip last night, and as I headed down the stairs with at least 400 billion thoughts in my head... down I went. I have no idea how it happened, because I wasn't actually paying attention to walking down the stairs. Nope, I had all kinds of things on my mind, and before I knew it was going down. I reached out to grab hold of something (there is nothing, no handrail on those stairs) and smashed the glass bowl into the wall, which in turn sliced the palm of my hand open. Not a really big slice, but a slice nevertheless. Somehow my left leg decided it was time to quick working and it crumpled, twisted and folded under me as I went down the stairs.

The bad news was, we missed church again today and I'm in a lot of pain. The good news is, nothing is broken, just jolted, twisted and bruised.

I got to thinking about my clumsiness, and have concluded that it's because I have too many thoughts running around in my head all at once. I've always been this way, and for as long as I can remember when I have accidents it's because I was thinking about something else, rather than paying attention to what I was doing. Now you'd think by nearly 45 years old I would have conquered this wee beastie, but no. In fact, if there were a special camera lense that could capture the thought bubbles above everyone's heads (pfft, of course they're real!) mine would quite likely be bigger than most and contain thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with what I'm currently doing. Always thinking, always planning, always running over ideas. I don't know if it's because I'm artistic-minded, and all of us artistic minded folks are the same way (I know at least one of my brilliantly artistic minded daughters is clumsy like me), or if there is some other explanation for it. I just know, its the way it is.

After my nasty spill down the stairs, Kev and all the kids came running and before I knew it I was at the kitchen table with an ice pack on my ankle and an advil and glass of water in front of me. Rachel brought me what I needed to clean up my hand, as I sat there and tried to figure out what in the world just happened. One of the first new thoughts to enter my already-too-large-thought bubble: "you don't bounce very well at 44 years old". No, at this age it's more of a splat & crunch kind of thing. I do not recommend it.

So today gave me LOTS to be thankful for. I know it could have been much worse, but it wasn't. I know I could have been here alone, but I wasn't. The advil kicked in quite well and I was at least able to make it upstairs and go back to bed for 3 hours.

Yes, even a thought bubble head like me has lots to be thankful for today.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's the Little Things

I'm not exactly sure what all the factors are that create the monumental difference between big city attitude and small town attitude, but there is a remarkable difference indeed.

The closest little town to my house is a five minute drive up the highway. One of 13 communities that make up the township I live in and I'd guess the population is around 500 people. It's a very small village but they have just about anything you'd need. Gas stations, a grocery store, doctors, dentists, hardware stores, coffee shops, cafes, post office even a bridal shop and a physical therapist office. It's where I go if I just need a few things.

Today I needed a couple of boxes of replacement lights for our Christmas lights, and I knew the hardware store was open until 4:30, so that's where I went. As I remarked to Kev later, you know you're in a small town when you walk into a busy hardware store full of complete strangers on a Saturday afternoon, but the atmosphere and the attitude is so welcoming you feel like you just walked into Grandma's house on a family holiday.

The thing about living in a small community like this is that no matter where you go, folks smile and nod and say hello. If you ask for help in a store, they genuinely care about helping you find what you need. If they don't have what you need, they'll offer to order it and give you a call when it comes in - or send you across the street to the other store that might carry it.

Living in this community reminds me so much of the town I grew up in, and the friendly community it was 30 years ago. Today (and every day) I am deeply thankful for small town attitude. Too bad we can't bottle that and sprinkle it over larger towns and big cities.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Friday, November 6, 2009

No Shovels!

Yesterday we had our first snow. It was the big, fat snowglobe kind, where the flakes are so big, they look fake. It snowed hard, several times throughout the day, then it rained some, then we even had some hail. So much hail in fact, at one point the trampoline was entirely covered in a layer of it.

I am tremendously thankful however, that the ground is still too warm for the snow to stick, and for me to have to go out and shovel. Oh yes, NOT shovelling is something to be incredibly thankful for.

There will be plenty of that to come in the next 5 months.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In The News: Pure Garbage

Some days, I just hate reading the news. While you don't want to stick your head in the sand and be ignorant of what is going on in your local community and the world around you, you also don't want to be assulted with headline after headline that is nothing but gloom, doom, depravity and death. It's the proverbial rock and hard place, I guess.

This morning I was directed to an article at I generally don't read over there only because it's not a dial up friendly site, but today I went ahead and let the article load as I was told "you NEED to read this". So I'm going to pass the link on to my readers with a big, fat disclaimer: you really don't NEED to read this, but you probably should.

This article reports on a possible MPAA "advisory" label being slapped on a movie called Antichrist, which is currently unrated. You can read the article yourself to see what this movie is all about, but one reviewer made it pretty clear what he thought of it when he said "I thought I had my head down a lavatory, frankly". The movie's writer and director Lars von Trier has been quoted as saying he's quite "fond" of his little film, and doesn't believe he owes anyone an explanation for it. According to the article, the movie is so perverse, so graphic, so violent and so gruesome, that were it submitted for a rating in the first place (by the MPAA) it would have certainly received an NC-17 rating.

For those of you who aren't aware, according to the MPAA an NC-17 rating means "An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that, in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under. No children will be admitted." In other words, its the strongest rating a film can have. That used to be called X rated. The MPAA changed the X rating in September of 1990 to NC-17 because "The X rating over the years appeared to have taken on a surly meaning in the minds of many people, something that was never intended when the system was created. Therefore, the board chose to reaffirm the original intent of the design that was installed on November 1, 1968, in which the adults only category explicitly describes a movie that most parents would want to have barred to viewing by their children." (source)

Gee Wally, maybe an X rated film had taken on a surly meaning because anyone and everyone with a brain and half a moral fiber knew that an X rated movie had pornographic, brutally violent and/or graphic content in it? Oh I know, dumb down the ratings, dumb down the public and we'll all be tricked in to thinking NC-17 isn't as bad as it could be because it's not X rated! Yay, brilliant strategy.

It's absolute garbage like this that makes me genuinely concerned for where our culture is headed. It just makes me wonder how long it will be before there is nothing off limits, nothing taboo, and we're all raising our families in cities exactly like Soddom and Gommorah. Some might suggest we're already there, but I suspect it has to get much worse to reach that level, and that's the part that really creeps me out. What's even worse than the fact that there is a supplier for such filth, is that there is a demand for it.

With that said, I am indeed thankful today after reading this article, that there are still lots of folks in our society that are ready, willing and able to stand up and say NO, this is wrong, this crosses the line, and this should not be tolerated, ever. In our day, standing up for morality is never a popular position since it appears that the immoral, the depraved and the licentious are now in the majority in our culture.

While I had no intention of originally including this, here is a perfect example of what I refer to when I mention that some might say we're already living in Soddom and Gommorah, when you read the news these days. Yes, this is a real news item from the London Free Press, London Ontario. I suspect most parents probably have no idea this play even exists, let alone is a "hot ticket" at Centennial Hall.

Welcome to the gutter.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Product Review: WOWZERS!

Okay... calling all homemakers, pet owners, carpet owners and people that live in houses. Pay attention because I've got some GREAT news.

You know all those products that say they remove pet stains and odors, and all kinds of other wild claims about how the product will remove such stains as urine, blood, vomit, feces, hairballs, bad attitudes,  mud, dirt and grass, coffee, tea, red wine, cola, fruit juice, etc. - then after paying entirely way too much money for them you get them home just to find out they do NOT work as advertised?
Yep, we all hate that. You feel like you've been scammed and wasted your money on yet another high-priced bottle of junk that doesn't work. But I have some amazingly cool news - there really IS a product available that works exactly as it claims. No, it's not a flamethrower.

While in the grocery store the other day (for you folks in Canada, I found this at Zehrs) I walked past a display in the eco-friendly aisle and saw this product. Having never seen it before I figured "why not?" and decided to give it a try. We live in a house that the previous owner had a dog. That dog liked to use the living room and dining room to do his business in, and from the day we moved in nearly 8 years ago, it's been a losing battle to keep our dogs and cats from following suit.
I rent an industrial carpet cleaner several times a year to do the big jobs, but I'm constantly trying new products for spot clean ups and they NEVER work.

Well, I brought this stuff home and followed the directions: spray and walk away. Yes, that's what it actually says. So I sprayed the toughest, ugliest, darkest stains, and walked away. It says on the bottle that stains and odors will gradually disappear over a 48 hour period but just out of curiosity I went back into the living room a few hours later and immediately noticed the smell was already gone. Then I went to look at the stain and to my huge surprise, I couldn't find it! Nor could I find the other one I sprayed, or the other one, or the OTHER one. Yep, true story, they were already completely gone after just a few hours!

Since then I've walked through the house and zonked every single stain on the carpets I could find (we have 7 kids, 2 grand kids, 2 cats, 2 dogs, in-laws, outlaws and guests, we acquire plenty of carpet gremlins) and so far, this product has removed all but one stain. The one it didn't remove has been there for years, but all the others are GONE.

In summary, this product seriously rocks. I paid 6.99 for it at the grocery store and that's a pretty amazing price for a product like this. So, if you're like me and have tried everything and nothing works, and really LOVE the idea of a non-toxic, biodegradable, hypo-allergenic cleaner that is safe to use around pets and kids, and need something that really works, this is the product for you. In case you're wondering, no, I was not paid for this review. It's just such an awesome thing to find something that works like the marketing ads claim, I had to pass it on.

Thankful Misc. Stuff

Today I have a whole list of things I'm thankful for, so lets begin!

• I'm thankful for Rebecca today, for kicking off another November Thankfulness theme. It's been a nice motivator for me to get back to daily blogging and to do it with uplifting and hopefully encouraging things.

• I'm thankful for the genius that put programmable timers on coffee pots. I love him, or her, or them, or whoever it was that first did that.

• I'm thankful Doc didn't boot me out of #pros for life when he got his package yesterday. It's a very good thing to have friend with a sense of humor as goofy as your own. For those of you that have NO idea what I'm talking about, listen to the first 12 minutes or so of yesterday's DL, and you'll know. (and for the record, Leigh Ann and I are actually TWO different people [although it is rather odd sometimes how alike we really are], and I do not say "eh" as falsely reported in the cataloging of said items in the box! I am an American. Americans do not say eh, ever. It's against all the rules of being an American. Yes, I checked.)

• I'm thankful for Febreze plug in night light/scented oil warmers. They make my living room and dining room smell like happy Christmas memory land.

• I'm thankful that my kids like their school and are (overall) doing well making the transition from homeschool to public school. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but it was the right one and the right time for all of them.

• I'm thankful that our family has 2 running vehicles. This wasn't always the case, and compared to most people in the world its a real luxury. It truly has made life a lot easier.

I could go on, but I'll stop there for now. Funny thing is, the more you really think about all the things in life you're thankful for, the longer your list will get. Try it, and you'll see what I mean.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Were he still alive, today would be my grandpa's 100th birthday. He's been gone for 17 years now, and sometimes it's still somewhat odd for me to think of him as "gone".

Gpa was always in my life from my earliest memory right up until a week before he died, when I was in my late twenties. When I was in grade school I went to gma & gpa's house for an hour after school everyday, so I saw him every day. Up until I was about 17, our family had Wednesday night and Sunday night dinner at gma & gpa's house every week, so I saw him then too. Any time I had a doctor or dental appointment during the day when my mom was at work, it was gpa that took me. While I didn't have a dad in my life growing up, I did have my gpa and probably saw him and talked with him and learned from him, quite a bit more than most kids interact with their own dad. Gpa was retired so he was just always there. Gma and Gpa came to my baseball games, and travelled around the state to my tournaments. Gma and gpa went on summer vacations with us, made the trek with us each year to eastern Washington for Memorial Day, and were there for every holiday. My family has a strong sense of family and the grandparents, kids, grandkids, cousins, aunts, uncles, inlaws and even the outlaws were the way we all grew up, together. It was a really good way to grow up, firmly anchored in family, and what family means.

The last conversation I had with my gpa was on Halloween night, a little over a week before he passed away. When my brother and sister and I were kids, we'd always go to gma & gpa's house first to trick or treat and show off our costumes, then trick or treat down their street before heading back to our neighborhood a few blocks away. After we all grew up and had kids of our own, that tradition was passed down and my kids would hit gma & gpa's house first just like I did when I was little. That year I had on a witch hat and when I came in gpa said in his joking way "hey, someone get that witch outta my house!" I replied "grandpa! it's just me!" Oh, he said, well you can stay then (or something to that affect). That was the extent of our conversation before we left to take the kids trick or treating down their street. Nine days later gpa went home to heaven at 83 years old.

I still miss my gpa very much, but I am so incredibly thankful I had him in my life for as long as I did, and even more so that he trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior. Knowing that I will see him again someday in glory makes missing him much more bearable.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thankful Bonus

I wasn't planning on adding a second Thanks today, but this warrants it. I am definitely thankful for friends like Dr. James White who do things like this. Having friends who appreciate and support what I do in the field of graphic design really means a lot to me. So thanks Doc, even though you're a mean old Calvinist, I'm thankful for the friendship and the bloggy goodness.


Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thankfulness: Christian Fellowship

Several years ago I was having a conversation online with a fellow Christian who had been going through a very difficult time. After being married, she had become a Christian and her husband did not. They had a child and she was raising him with Christian values and it bothered her husband so much he just up and walked out one day. She was devastated, but hanging on tightly to her faith, and trusting in the Lord to keep her strong for her five year old son. She said to me "Carla, I just keep reminding myself every day to have an attitude of gratitude, and not let the hard things get me down". This conversation took place more than 10 years ago now and while I do not know what became of her and her family I know that what she said to me really stuck well since I think of her often, and think of her attitude of gratitude.

The Bible says in Proverbs 27:17 that just as iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another. Every Christian can testify that this is most certainly true when it comes to encouragement, edification, and even rebukes and chastisement done in love.

I can't even begin to count the numbers of conversations I've had with other Christians where something was said that I had maybe never thought of before, or maybe needed to hear just at that moment.

Even though we weren't able to be at church yesterday and share in that face to face fellowship since most of us either have the flu or are getting over the flu, this very thing happened several times just yesterday. I received an email from my pastor sharing a thought that greatly encouraged me, and twice online I read something from other Christians that really made me stop and give thought to the statement. While the internet certainly can't replace face to face fellowship, today I'm definitely thankful for that iron that sharpens iron, whether it be in person or not. We all really need that, and it's very good that we have it.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe...

to sit around moaning and complaining about the miserable things in your life, Rebecca goes and starts her month of November Thanks once again. I had forgot she was going to do this, and today was one of those days where if it can go wrong, it did, in spades. So, in light of the way things went today (I'll spare you the details because that's not what this is about) I was really glad to read Rebecca's post.

So today begins an entire month of thanks. I've followed along with this theme in years past and find it quite encouraging to focus on thankfulness each day for an entire month. You might find it boring to read happy, thankful, grateful posts every day so feel free to skip off to something more controversial or exciting.

Customizable Family Recipe BinderSo what am I thankful for today? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is this. I know that might sound strange, but it's true. Every time one of these binders sell, it makes me feel happy that I was able to create something for someone's home, that they will use and enjoy for years to come. Knowing that they customized it with their own family name, and that it will be filled with family favorite recipes that makes everyone smile when they smell it cooking or baking... well, that surely makes me happy. In a small way, I get to feel like I'm teeny tiny little part of the families that buy these, and that's a pretty awesome feeling.

The very idea that I have the tools to be able to design things like this that other folks use and appreciate, well that makes me thankful. So my thankful today is that I can do what I do and in doing that, it makes other people happy. I like being a part of happy. :-)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe