Tuesday, 26 June 2007

It's just about time for the Calgary Stampede and for a pre-stampede event our church held a city wide western party for teenagers ages 14-18 this past Saturday. I was there as a youth leader running the barrel racing event. I brought in 3 barrels and timed the kids who raced piggy back style against the clock. It was a blast! Here I am all duded up for Stampede.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Gimme Five!

I know I said in my 100 list that I wasn't going to return to exercise again till July, but the weather got warmer and I got interested in exercising again at the beginning of June. There aren't many days that I am home without Chloe, so my return to running schedule was irregular at best. I made a few stabs at running earlier this month and it was painful. The best I did was like 1 kilometer, and then walking the other 4K in my 5K route from last spring.
But last week on Wednesday, I gave running another try after taking 2 weeks off. I just set out without a specific goal, taking a route I hadn't run before so that I wouldn't make any comparisons, and I felt great! When I got home I wanted to jump in my car to check how far I'd gone, but Chloe (who was home with Jaclyn who is done school because honors students don't have to write finals, how great is that?) Chloe wanted to go on a run with me as soon as I got in from my solo run, and she just couldn't wait. When we got home from our run Jaclyn snapped this picture of us for Chloe's *news day* at kindergarten. Soooo, later in the afternoon I finally got to drive my new running route, and it was 5.3K! I was so excited to have ran so far - with no walking.
The next day I was pretty worn out and didn't think I could repeat my running success of Wednesday, so instead I went on a bike ride of about 15K. I figured a change was as good as a rest.
Today I set out on my new running route once more: 5.3K with the last kilometer being all uphill and I ran the whole thing again, which means Wednesday wasn't a fluke. I have no idea of how I've jumped back in to running like this. Last spring when I first took up running it took me a month of running 3x per week to get up to 5K without walking. I'm going to call my experiences earlier in June interval training, I guess, because I'm back up to my best running.
It looks like I need to challenge myself further. Maybe at the end of the summer I'll ask you to gimme 10?

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Rest in Peace, War and Peace

When I took on Amy's challenge to 'Read a Russian' I didn't know that I was signing myself up for a 4 month project. "Sure, it's a thick book, but I'm a fast reader," I thought to myself. Ha!

I had a hard time getting into it, as you can see from the lack of dog ears in the first several hundred pages. I spent three months on the first 500 pages and one month on the last 900 pages. Part of my problem at the beginning was just keeping the characters straight! The book is a bit of a soap opera with parties and travel and relationships being made and broken. Originally War and Peace was written in both French and Russian, and when it was translated into English the names were left as originally written. So for instance Marie is also called Marya and Masha. Anna is also called Annette, at least one of the Anna's is. After I conquered the more than one name for a single character issue, I then spent quite a lot of my reading waiting to figure out which characters were the main characters. Eventually I decided this was an ensemble cast with no main characters - but I was wrong on that one. At the very end the story the cast narrows down to four main characters, which almost makes me want to go back and read it again to relearn what these four characters were like at the beginning of the book. I mean, if I weren't so exhausted from reading in general right now. (See the new read on my sidebar?)
Now for a few quotes:
The war Princess Marya looked on as women do look on war. She was apprehensive for her brother who was at the front, and was horrified, without understanding it, at the cruelty of men, that led them to kill one another.
I didn't like Tolstoy's generalization about women in the first sentence, but actually, he pretty much summed up my feelings towards war in general with the last part there.
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Pierre. And he talked aloud to himself. "The soldier did not let me pass. They have taken me - shut me up. They keep me prisoner. Who is 'me'? Me? Me - my immortal soul! ha, ha, ha! . . . Ha, ha, ha! . . . And all this they caught and shut up in a shed closed in with boards!"
O.K. so Pierre is having a bit of an existential moment or a break down, but it does seem absurd that we can contain immortal souls with prisons. Actually it seems absurd that we can and do limit other people's as well as our own immortal souls in any way.
He felt like a man who finds what he has sought at his feet, when he has been straining his eyes to seek it in the distance. All his life he had been looking far away over the heads of all around him, while he need not have strained his eyes, but had only to look in front of him.
This thought is a classic theme in literature, but I don't say that to trivialize it. It seems to be a lesson that isn't quickly learned, and therefore is a lesson worth repeating in book after book.
So how do I feel now that I'm done? Well, I'm very proud of myself for sticking with it and finishing. I'm also having moments where I feel like I can hear Tolstoy narrating my actions, commenting on my motives, and exposing my thoughts. He has an interesting take on people and why they behave the way they do. I'll look at the world through Tolstoy's lenses for a little longer yet, I think.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Longest day of the year

We love our long summer days here in the GWN (great white north). Today we had dawn at 4:34 am and sunrise at 5:21 am. Our sunset will be at 9:55 pm and dusk not till 10:42 pm!
My kids are asking me if they can stay up till the daylight's gone as a way to celebrate the first day of summer. Ha! I told them sorry, I didn't wake them up at 4:34, and we're still in school, so they can't stay up till 10:42. Popsicles for an after school snack were about as close as we got to a first day of summer celebration around here.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

It's all been done before

On Saturday night Ken asked me what I was working on and I said, "Guess." He knew what that meant - I was working on something for the young women. He then suggested I was adopting the philosophy (which he knows I disagree with) that Everything worth doing is worth over doing. That wasn't it at all, I just had some inspiration and made the time to follow through with the ideas. In this post there are 5 ideas I've seen elsewhere all folded into 2 projects.

I was really inspired by the *full plate* idea from Kelly's blog and I decided to apply it to my YW and use the concept to encourage them to reserve some time for working on their personal progress. I cut and punched a green paper plate, and then nested it in a blue one to make it pretty - a Martha Stewart idea. The little scroll of paper says:

Is your plate too full to fit in some personal progress? Take a close look at what's eating your time!

The double paper plate creates an opportunity for a secret message, which I'm curious if any of the young women will find. Will they separate the plates after they eat the cookies? I know I would.


On Tuesday this week we invited mothers to join their daughters at YW's to watch this DVD about dress and appearance. It was an interesting documentary involving some history of changing women's styles and interviews with young women and adults of various cultures and backgrounds on the topic of modesty.

One of the special features on the DVD was titled 'Pockets of Resistance', which made me think back to Kristi's St. Patrick's Day card, and I knew I had to do a hand out for each young woman on the subject of modesty.

I printed out some points from For the Strength of Youth that I thought were important for the young women to keep in mind this summer as they make decisions in what they wear.

And I made pockets from construction paper because construction paper is so cloth like. I divided each sheet into thirds, folded each piece, sliced off the corners, and sewed them up to look like pockets. If you have never sewed construction paper on a sewing machine, you really have to try it just to hear the sound it makes.

I went with multi colors because Elizabeth's multicolor blogger's cookbooks were so pretty!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

SPT: Chloe's photography

I hope this isn't how Chloe sees me - I did take her to the optometrist before she started kindergarten and he didn't prescribe any corrective lenses. Is it time for another visit to the eye doctor?

Figuratively, maybe Chloe does see me this way. If this picture were in focus I'd see all the little flaws I'm not so crazy about. At five years old Chloe doesn't see my flaws, and it is great to have someone in my life who thinks I do everything right, I know everything, I can do anything, and who thinks I've got it all figured out.

I don't think as adults we need to see our parents as perfect or flawless like we did when we were five, but can I say I do think we need to cut them a little slack. I know this take on SPT isn't what I was asked to reflect on, but this subject has been on my mind lately, and I think it's important. And I think a good question to ask ourselves is are we so sure that we see our parents or our history with them accurately and clearly? Maybe we need to correct our vision.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Subversive Sales / Who's side is she on, anyways?

This weekend Jaclyn sold her last box of chocolate covered almonds. Selling a case of chocolate covered almonds is a mandatory fundraiser for all of the junior high students who participate in school sports. She sold 2 boxes to a boy in her class before she brought the case home, and then just kept the case in her room and slowly, even patiently, waited for us to gradually buy her out.

Carmen and Chloe have been extra enthusiastic to pick up more chores and earn a toonie ( a Canadian $2 coin) which went straight to Jaclyn's collection envelope.

Steven's most recent purchases made it from under his bed to in his garbage, along with wrappers from other after bedtime snacks, before I got around to taking the picture.

Jaclyn bought a few for herself, but was far more disciplined than the rest of us.
All together we bought $46 of chocolate covered almonds from Jaclyn in two weeks. Next year I really must make her go knock on doors.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Walk, Knock, and Gawk

That's what Ken's cousin called her open house today. She and her family recently moved back in to their home after having it extensively renovated. They invited family, friends, neighbors, and passers by to come on over this afternoon and take a look around. It was beautiful, of course. They added on more square footage at the back of the house to create a modern sized kitchen. As for the rest of the house, it's more like they restored it than renovated it. I didn't walk around taking pictures of everything I loved, but here is one detail I had to pass along:
For a mailbox she had a custom made leather saddlebag done to her specifications on size, detail, and hardware. She actually googled to find someone who could do the job, and found a leather craftsman less than a mile away from her own home.
I don't think you'd need a custom made saddlebag to make this idea work - I'm sure even Ken and I could rig up some hardware to attach a recovered/used leather saddlebag and use it as a mailbox.
In our current home this idea would look really out of place, but Ken says we can remember it for our future retirement home in Montana (his new plan is for us to live in Iron Horse in Whitefish when he retires).

Friday, 15 June 2007

Making do with a black and white printer

Today I wished I had a color printer. The real issue was a break down in official routine, but a color printer would have solved the problem. When the kids come home from school they're supposed to bring their backpacks in to the kitchen, empty them, go over their agendas for assignments for the next day and put everything away. Steven left his backpack in the van yesterday, which I didn't notice until I was packing lunches this morning, so his agenda didn't get reviewed after school yesterday like it should have. I found out 15 minutes before the carpool arrived that Steven was supposed to bring a photograph of himself or his family or his dad for a Father's Day craft at school today. Now that we've gone digital with our pictures I only get photos printed for specific projects, so we didn't have any photos laying around that he could just take. If we had a color printer that wouldn't have been a problem, I could have just printed out a nice color photo for him in much less than 15 minutes. He had to take a b&w print on regular printer paper.
Most of the time I don't mind having only a b&w printer. I certainly don't mind it when I look at the price of color ink refills. I even feel like working with this limitation has increased my creativity from time to time, like when I made the last day of school t-shirts with my little girls. I printed out bubble letters and line drawings onto the iron on transfer sheets and then the girls each colored in the letters and pictures with permanent markers right on to the transfer sheet. The hand colored letters and images ironed on just as well as the black and white computer generated outlines, and the girls loved helping with the project!

We did an advance photo shoot because I'll be at work on their last morning of school, and I'm not putting 'take photos' on a honey-do list for Ken for that morning.

Rainbow colors, of course!

Chloe's kindergarten teacher is going to love this, but she's going to be sad that her daughters are older and she can't copy the idea for her own family.

Our school goes from kindergarten to grade 9, so Chloe is the class of 2016 for grade 9 grad. She colored the transfer for this arm in orange, her current favorite color.

I copied the school logo off the school website. It's so cute, but now I'm concerned because I think it might be copyrighted by the school. I thought of that after we were done.


Some things just have to be printed in color, and a personalized Guess Who! game is one of those things. I got double inspiration to do this project by a friend of an imaginary friend and from instructables. I just lost my 1st counsellor in YW's, Merrilee, to a new calling - she's the new primary president (I have 3 primary age children and she's great, so I really can't complain) - anyhow, I wanted to make something for her from all the YW she's served for so long, and this personalized game was just the thing. It looked like the FOaIF made her game by using wallet sized school pictures, which I didn't have of all the YW, and the instructables tutorial used photoshop skills I don't possess, so I came up with my own method.

First in my photo editing program (google's Picasa) I cropped down pictures of each YW to head and shoulders shots. I used pictures from past YW activities, and I'm sure Merrilee will recognize which event each picture is from despite the aggressive cropping. Then I pasted all the pictures into columns in Microsoft word - that way I could type out each girl's name under each picture. Then Jaclyn helped me make 3 copies of the document with 3 different background colors. In case you don't have any more Microsoft word knowledge than I do and you don't have a junior high student at your disposal I'll explain that step. Click format in the bar at the top of the page, and then scroll down to background and choose a color. I just eyeballed the color that I thought would match the game cards, and it worked out great. A white background would not have turned out nearly as well.

In these situations I email my documents to Staples and have them print my document for me. Even if I had a color printer I would have sent these pages in. Just think how much color ink it uses up to saturate 3 whole pages.

Because the photos were printed in straight columns my rotary cutter trimmed the game pictures down in a jiffy. Then I just had to glue stick my pictures over the game pictures, assemble, and I was done. It's so cute I almost want to keep it. I highly recommend this project, but honestly, I wouldn't put this much work into a gift for one of my kid's friends.

One more Staples-assisted project this week:

Below are my Father's Day cards for both Grandpas this year. I got doubly introduced to this idea, too. I saw the Tabblo Photo Cube on How About Orange and on Goody, who also saw it on How About Orange - both are on my sidebar. I'm giving the photo cubes in big envelopes, unassembled. I'm not really confident either of them will put their cubes together, but that's okay.

The one for my dad I made from pictures of us at the Alberta Birds of Prey field trip we went on with my parents last weekend.

The card for Ken's dad I made with pictures of us at Ken's parents' ranch.

Edit/Disclaimer: Ken just phoned to tell me that his parents will be back from the ranch before Father's Day after all, which means they'll return to internet access before we get to give his dad the card, which means he may see it before he gets it. Sorry if my blog ruins the surprise!

(My own dad doesn't read my blog much if at all, and even if he does see his card early that's alright with me because I was late mailing it, and there's no way the real card will arrive by Sunday)

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Good Mail

Right on, I got a card from Jill with a *Queen of Good Mail* stamp on the envelope. I know Jill feels maybe a little foolish sending out her face on the front of a stamp, but to me it's just natural. Mail and Jill go together. So here's the rest of the story: until the end of June all the personalized stamps ordered are automatically entered into a contest to have that stamp featured in an exhibit at the Smithsonian. I'm sure someone will come up with something profound for a personalized stamp that will be clearly deserving of the honor, but I wrote in to the contest and told them all about good mail and the girl who has increased the use of mail for many people. Jill, you deserve the Smithsonian in my book. Alright, enough about the envelope, look at that cute card! I'm pretty sure that's a Parisian pastries picture on the front. A little piece of Paris. Perfect.

I got another card from Elizabeth. I love homemade cards, and aqua and chocolate brown together? This card matches my house and my wardrobe!

And here's my copy of the Blogger's Summer Cook Book! I was impressed with how quickly it arrived. Elizabeth, I know how long that must have taken to put these cute books together for everyone, and I really appreciated it.

I have a little bit of self-induced good mail, also. These are some chocolate medallions I ordered for YW in Excellence, which won't be till November, but I'm all about working ahead. If you are in YW you should really check these out at White Elegance. I thought I ordered the medallions with the YW girl on them, but I was shipped the temple spires medallions, which I guess is also very YW's-y. I think I want to bind something like a book for each YW with velvet ribbon, and attach one of these medallions on top, or something like that. I don't know, I'm just typing out loud here.

And last, but certainly not least, I bought back a piece of my childhood on eBay. I loved this book when I was little, and I am so happy to have reclaimed it. How does a mom know which childhood things to hold on to for her own kids and which childhood things can hit the donation pile?

I wonder what I've tossed that my kids will buy for themselves on eBay or in Value Village someday. . .

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

SPT - a Canadiana on Americana

Oh, I was stuck on this SPT, but then I made a visit to The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre on the weekend, and voila!
I found an American symbol in my own back yard.

They let me hold the owls, but not the bald eagle - I guess there was a chance he'd break my arm with the strength of his talons.

So this is as close as I got. He's a very striking bird, and fits my image of America much better than a turkey!

Welcome home Michelle!

Friday, 8 June 2007


We had a flash rainstorm on Tuesday afternoon, which was over by the time school let out. Usually when I pick up the kids after school, I just wait in the car for them to straggle out, but I wanted a little hustle from them that day, so I went walking toward the school to find them. As I reached the sidewalk at the corner of the 3rd & 4th grade wing I saw a small group of kids gathered, and as I looked closer I saw a child just taking her head out from under the downspout which was still pouring water from the rainstorm. I looked at her and said, "Chloe???"
She looked up and saw me and said, "I wanted to be cold!"
(Translation: Darn, I'm cold, but I'm not going to admit I made an error in judgement.)
She was more than happy to do it again for a picture.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

"I have taught thee all the Law of the Jungle for all the peoples of the jungle . . . "
Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

Steven had his last night as a cub scout tonight. He received his 6th star and his 6th award as well as a few more badges for me to sew on his sash. He has just enough room left on that sash for me to squeeze it all in.

He's very happy to be leaving cubs and moving up to scouts - he's been feeling a lot older than the tenderfoot cubs for quite a while.

Last night I had Steven paste this vintage wolf cub picture onto the front of a card, and write a note thanking his Akela for being his cub leader - I think it's just as important to teach the boys to be thoughtful and write thank you notes as the girls.

I found these excellent vintage pictures at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery (on my sidebar). They have so many great historic documents, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, and illustrated books. The images may be freely downloaded for personal, research, and study purposes. It is such a great resource!

Good mail a little out of balance this week


My envelope for the Butterfly Project


Thank you card from Lisa

Thank you card from Crystalyn

A flower delivery from my dad:

His personal hobby is gardening, and in the last few years he's started a *grow-op* in his basement with automatic lights and sprinklers. His specialty is geraniums, but he tried a few new things this year, and I think next spring he might even take special orders. Usually the free plants come with free delivery as well as free installation, but not this time. I'm sure he's not ready to do any more work in my back yard this year. When he and my mom watched the kids for the corporate retreat in April my dad dug out all the substandard dirt from my garden, brought in new dirt, and did all of our planting from seed for us. I can definitely handle throwing a few flowers in the ground myself this year. Thanks Dad!

Good mail from Lisa:
A yummy Dagoba chocolate bar - the antioxidants were all mine because Chloe tried a taste and didn't like the dark chocolate. Also she sent these cute chicken note cards and a matching magnet. The sunflower seeds are great - my dad left one spot empty against my fence in the back yard, perfect for sunflowers. The girls will love the flowers, and my boy will like the homegrown spitz!

And I got my first wedding invitation for the wedding of a girl I've served in YW. It was such a pretty invitation, and I tried to take a picture while respecting their privacy (names and all that) but I just couldn't do it! But here's where they're getting married:

SPT: Name that color

Maybe it's juvenile, but I do have a favorite color. The problem is figuring out what to call it. Some of my favorite things have come with the name of the color printed on the label, some haven't.

Santana Album Cover:

My bedroom door nob sign:

Christmas gift from Kelly:
Abalone Blue

Carpet by the patio door:
Danube Blue

Police Concert Shirt:
??? 'Police Concert Shirt Blue' ???

Mary Jane Crocs:

YW binder:

YW bag:
Robin's Egg

Throw Blanket:
Ocean Spray

What would you call it?

You can always turn to Crayola for a little bit of help from their current crayon color chart.

Even more fun is the Crayola Color History.