Friday, December 30, 2005


Found a fabulous spot to take the kids. What fun. The kind of place we have thought about opening many times! They beat us to it. And have done a wonderful job. We quickly spent 2 hours there this afternoon - the big bug and a new friend creating the most wonderful magic fairy wands and heart treasure boxes. Do check it out if you are nearby...

Roll 168 - 19

2006 TO DO

1. Become a Treeperson. This was actually a promise I made to myself on my birthday but have yet to follow through on. Let this be the year! Try to make the local elementary school our starting point.

2. Foster a sense of community. Start by planting some trees with our neighbours. (See 1.)

3. Become the driver of a walking schoolbus. (Also See 2.)

4. Learn to knit socks. Inspired by these, these and these.

5. Read more. On my list, this, this, this and this for starters...

6. Walk more / Drive Less. (See 3.)

7. Be patient.

8. Take the bugs back home for a visit.

9. Only take on what I can do to the standards I am happiest with.

10. Simplify.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A very merry Christmas

Another Christmas has passed. It was one of only two in 35 years that I haven't spent with my mom, who this year celebrated with my brother and his girlfriend up in Canada, in the small city of my childhood. And the fourth without my dad, who died of complications during heart surgery in early 2002. It was just my little family for the morning. And a flurry of wrapping paper. The oldest bug woke early to tear into her stocking, waking the younger one in the process. "Oh how did Santa know Mommy?!" (Who would have guessed that a remote control snake could bring a four year old girl such joy?!) The stockings emptied and the paper packages torn open, we had a late leisurely breakfast. Took a walk to enjoy the unseasonably warm day. Then returned home to bury ourselves in the new books Santa brought, and eventually nap in front of the Christmas tree.

We woke up to load into the car and drive across this big big city, leaving the sunshine and blue skies of our valley for the cooler temps and fog of the coast, to our dear friend's, to be included in their feast and festivities. I feel so lucky to have friends like these in this big big city. Sam and I arrived here at the same time (it will be ten years in September) and worked together, met our future husbands, then married them within a week of each other. My four year old adores her almost three year old. And my 18 month old is fascinated by their family "dogdog"! And I am overwhelmed, continuously, by Sam's culinary prowess, and decorating mastery! Thanks for making our day extra special and for taking my mind off those who weren't able to be with me.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Memories

I never really gave much thought to all of the work that went into making the holidays of my childhood so memorable. It didn't occur to me that my mom's constant baking, sewing, shopping , wrapping, writing, mailing, cooking - alongside the extra activities of Christmas pageants and holiday recitals - would make her holiday hectic. I never recall her appearing stressed or anxious as I so often have felt over the last few weeks preparing for the "Big Day".

I asked my mom a few weeks back which toy waiting for me Christmas morning did she think had the biggest impact on me. She thought that it was likely a "Baby That Away" doll I received when I was 7 or so. We travelled to British Columbia that Christmas to spend it with family there. I know the pictures of me clutching my new doll during that vacation. I remember wanting it, and being enthralled upon receiving her by her endless crawling, punctuated by temper tantrum style flailings of her arms and legs. But I don't remember much of the doll after that. She was hard, painted plastic and didn't offer the same comfort I found in my tattered old beanbag doll that accompanied me everywhere.

What I really remember most from Christmas past is the feeling of comfort home provided. As a child I loved the holidays, which inevitably included various members of our extended famly descending on our home and a chance to play with cousins I rarely got to see. I remember the carefully prepared baking that stayed in the freezer until the holidays were upon us and we could enjoy the treats we only had once a year. I remember the nightgowns under the tree that were opened Christmas eve and floor-length dresses sewn by my mom that I would wear with pride to the dinner table Christmas day. The table was always carefully set. Even the children were allowed to eat off the china and use the good silver. I remember my dad carving the turkey, and how my younger brother would always want the drumstick. I remember the fun of wearing the paper crown that emerged from our crackers before dessert and the struggles to keep the Christmas pudding alight. I remember smiles and laughter so strong it knocked me out of my seat.

Almost all the toys I received from Christmases past are gone. I have no idea when Baby That Away left me. But I cherish all those memories. Those smiles and that laughter. And I know I can keep that forever. Wherever I am and wherever I go. Whomever I spend Christmas with. Those memories are with me.

I am working hard to make those memories for my bugs. So that they can have them forever too.

Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Eating my way from Christmas to New Years

My dad always said "It isn't what you eat between Christmas and New Years - it's what you eat between New Years and Christmas."

Our family Christmas was always celebrated with the inclusion of so many delicious things to eat. My mom would prepare baking through the year that would be put aside until the holidays began. There was fruit cake in its brown paper wrapping, whipped shortbread with red cherries, nanaimo bars, gingerbread people with raisin eyes and buttons and piped trousers and pinafores, thimble cookes and apricot swirls. And of course my dad's favorite - and now my husband's - butter tarts.

There was the traditional Christmas day turkey feast with all the fixings - rice stuffing, brussel sprouts, tomato aspic, riced potatoes, cranberries, carrots and parsnips and of course a flaming pudding for dessert. And on New Years my mom would present her tortiere (a French Canadian meat pie) - the recipe for which was passed on to her by a woman my dad had working for him many years ago. I still haven't tasted pastry better than my mom's.

This year I have only managed the gingerbread people, whipped shortbread (which failed miserably) and the butter tarts.

I never appreciated the years of practice - coupled with a very talented touch - that pulled off these holiday culinary delights. Mom, I am in awe!

Roll 165 - 17

Monday, December 19, 2005

It is the thought that counts...

Feeling inspired - and refreshed - after reading Keri's post today. Thank you for reminding me what it is really all about.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hanukah gifting

I stayed up too late last night (after a visit to our neighbours and friends Joe and Robin to pick-up some tees for holiday giving) trying to make a beautiful square of crazy quilt into a pillow. I believe that the quilting was done by my husband's great grandmother. It was found, alongside 3 more squares and an unfinished satin quilt in the garage of my in-laws when they moved a few years ago. My older bug chose this square for the pillow as she loved the handpainted swan at its center. It is now a Hanukah gift for my ever generous, talented mother-in-law, whose name I drew from the hat for gifting this year. She is hard to shop for so I decided to make something for her instead. I'll take the finished pillow to the family Hanukah celebration where her four children, their spouses, and eleven of her thirteen granchildren will descend on her home for candle lighting, dreidel spinning and of course eating!

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thank you thank you

I managed to make it to the post office yesterday to mail some last minute gifts and to pick-up my lovely packet of felt from Alicia of Posie Gets Cozy. Thank you so very much for this generous stash! The wheels are already turning...

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Papa Cezanne

This morning I took K to LACMA to view the Cezanne & Pissarro exhibition. So beautiful. Overwhelmed by brushstrokes and colour play and the thought of these two men together - going against convention and creating a pictorial world of their own. My favorite were Cezanne's "The House of the Hanged Man Auvers-sur- Oise" 1873 (to think Van Gogh died in these fields only a few years later) and "View from the Jas de Bouffan" 1873-76.

I will have to bring the bugs with me to see it over the holidays. See it if you can.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tea and a Holiday Hippo too

Went for Holiday Tea at the amazing old Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena with the big bug, along with her best friend and her mom and grandma. (Thanks for all the planning Ellen!!)So lovely - and as an extra special bonus Bob Baker and his marionettes (an L.A. institution since 1961!). My favorite (which I unfortunately didn't get a photo of) was a young girl complete with red nightgown, singing "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". She "walked" around the circle of kids, sitting on the occasional lap, and pleading for this gift from Santa. Oh what fun! Santa, of course was there too. And lovely teas and dainties with special trays for the kids. Think this should become a holiday tradition.

Roll 163 - 4Roll 163 - 97Roll 163 - 100Roll 163 - 98

By the way, "I Want a Hippopotamus..." is one of my favorite Christmas songs. And one my mom remembers from her childhood. As the story goes, it was written in 1950 by John Rox and became a nationwide hit in 1953 when ten-year-old Oklahoma native and child star, Gayla Peevey recorded it with the Mitch Miller Orchestra for Columbia Records. It caught on as a way to raise money for the Oklahoma City Zoo for acquisition of a hippopotamus. They urged children to send in their nickels to buy Gayla her wish. In December of that year Gayla received Matilda the hippo for Christmas. She donated her gift to the city and Matilda lived at the zoo until her death in 1998.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Taking inspiration from various bloggers we jumped on the bandwagon and have been undertaking a different activity (or as my older bug calls them "chore") each evening to mark the countdown to Christmas. We started out easy with a bubble bath, followed by snapping portraits of each, hot cocoa with all the fixings, stargazing before bed, building a fort, and making paper snowflakes. Last night was to have been an indoor picnic. Somehow in the rush of picking up the kids, visiting the post office to get a much anticipated package from Grammy, and making it home for dinner, we forgot to make it a picnic. As the dinner plates were being cleared my 4 year old exclaimed "Oh Mom, we forgot our picnic. I am soooo sad!". "Oh dear", I replied. "I am disappointed too. Maybe we can switch it with tomorrow's activity?" I suggested hoping to ward of the less and less frequent but still present 4 year old tantrum. "Or Mommy, we could pretend we did have a picnic, and we brought our table." I love love love this girl! For sooo many reasons!

Tonight we are our own marching band!

See more pictures of our activities here.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Education of Me

I attended the PTA meeting for our community elementary school last night. I joined the PTA last month even though we won't be ready for kindergarten until next year. I really wanted to find out more about the school and it's staff and families and thought this would be a great way to do so. It would. If anyone ever showed up for the meetings! I can't help but be disappointed that I was the only parent in attendance last night. Four of the six on the executive were also there as was the school principal.

But no teachers.

And no other parents. I was told that there was a lot of flu/colds going around and that they expected this was the reason for the low (non-existent!) turn out.

Should this be telling me something?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Knit one knit one....

I am so enjoying knitting. I had no idea. I had tried my hand at knitting a little cap when I was pregnant with bug #1 and found it a little frustrating. I seemed to be constantly dropping stitches and knit so tightly I had callouses. This time around is completely different. Two babies later I find it therapeutic to work my needles, concentrating at one point and focusing on one thing, instead of all the various "things" that crowd my days.

Knit one purl one

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Up and running

Maybe this should be a once a week thing a la little birds (a source of real awe and inspiration). And to be able to go on about my kids, and my creativity is all I could wish for! It is hard when there is so much out there. I so enjoy the craftiness, and mothering anecdotes of soulemama, loobylu, and others. And the beautiful work of bird in the hand (what a family!), Camilla Engman and (fellow Canuck displaced to sunny So-Cal) Keri Smith. I could go on and on.

I will find my way.

I did just pick up some new yummy yarn - chosen by my four-year old daughter with aspirations of becoming a poncho (the yarn not my daughter). Will see how it goes. And I finally ordered the print gocco I have been going on about for the last year or so. Hoping it will satisfy my print-making dreams for now. Will let you know.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I have been putting this off and putting this off. Wondering if I really want to do this. Wondering why I am interested in doing this. Keeping in touch seems to be a big part of it. Getting me motivated seems another. Perhaps the sense of community attracts me as well. I go through people's blogs looking for their first entry. It always seems so "un-first". No introduction just dive right in. (I guess this preamble is somewhat of an introduction anyway.)

It is the beginning of a new month. So here I go.