Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Good-bye October! Yesterday I got two last pieces of October good mail: cards from Annalisa and Jenny S. What a fun combo of birthday and Halloween cards this month!
I spent Halloween afternoon at the school; the kids had their traditional school Halloween Parade.
Chloe was hilarious during the parade doing karate chops for everyone, but she zipped along too quickly for me to catch her moves with my camera. I especially wish I'd caught the face she was making - very scary!
Carmen was a Dementor from Harry Potter. Of all our kids she was the one who stayed out trick or treating the longest with her friends, and she has twice the candy of anyone in our house to show for it.


Steven just threw on his biking gear. Gymnasium lighting is great, isn't it?


Jaclyn was of course a butterfly. Sweet and simple.

As I was out trick or treating with Chloe I heard some older children sing-song:

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat! Not too big, not too small, just the size of Montreal!

{It brought back memories}


Tuesday, 30 October 2007

I'm no expert

I'm not a great photographer, and I'm not a great photo editor, but sometimes my photo editing makes me look like a good photographer. I use two very user friendly FREE downloadable editing programs.

Picasa by Google was the first program I tried - RGLHM introduced me to it. It has a valuable "I'm feeling lucky" button that does wonders, but it also has many other tools to play with. I used the Picasa photo collage on my last SPT.

To break it down, I took the following three pictures, and combined them into a multi-exposure collage using Picasa :


No doubt the multi-exposure self portrait has lost a little of it's magic now that I've shared my trick! It's really that easy. If you want to play with your own pictures in Picasa, here is the Picasa free download.

Last year RGLHM introduced me to Shutterfly, and I made my first Shutterfly photo book. Then a few months ago another of my sisters-in-law, Natalie, asked me if I'd ever tried the Shutterfly Studio (free) software. Shutterfly has some fun features of its own such as graphic poster (see my profile picture) and oil painting. Shutterfly will even whiten your teeth!
My only caution is that both of these programs want to be your default upload program for your computer. You have to check your settings if you want to continue to upload as you have in the past without interference from these programs. So blogger beware :-)

Monday, 29 October 2007

Birthday Good Mail

Jill sent me personalized notecards in this cool green/pink combination. I also love the black and white good mail sticker that came on this package!

Jenny sent this funny Halloween/Birthday card as well as some monkey stickers that have the barrel of monkey arms going on:

And Elizabeth sent a pink and chocolate birthday card with a sweet note inside:

Lisa sent a good mail package that somehow earned personal delivery from my postal carrier - right in the middle of a presidency meeting at my house! My counsellors and secretary were stunned at the good mail package and the concept in general. I felt like a little bit of a show off, but I did offer them a chocolate covered pretzel!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Same difference

When my kids say to me same difference what they mean is close enough!

I've recently read two books that are the same but different - close enough to link together in this post. Both are somewhat autobiographical, and both present stories and reflections. Kitchen table wisdom is thoughtful; Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is comedic.


Kitchen Table Wisdom shares a story called The Container which I first heard in the January 2003 Primary Broadcast in a talk by Gayle M. Clegg. I would have read this book long ago if I had checked the source of the container story in her talk. The whole book is filled with stories and wisdom. I'll share one story.

The Task Gets Between Us is a story about a man who enjoys mountain climbing with his son until he (the dad) becomes ill and can no longer climb mountains. The father describes the change in his relationship with his son:

"I can't do much just now, so we sit and talk. I ask him about his life and how he feels about it. For the first time I know what is important to him, what sort of a man he is, what keeps him going. And I talk to him too. I know now that I am important to him, that he wants to spend time with me and not because we can do physical things together. Sometimes we just sit together, being alive. The mountain got between us before. I had not known that."

For me this was a good reminder that quality time is about relating to each other, and also made me look at the 'mountains' in my own life.

On the lighter side, I just finished reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I didn't connect with everything Amy Krouse Rosenthal had to share, but here is a sample that rang true to me:

People are either approachers or avoiders. Approachers will dart across a crowded room and enthusiastically state the obvious: "It's you! We went to camp together! I haven't seen you since we were ten!" An avoider, in the same situation, would make no effort whatsoever to reconnect. They reason: So we once knew each other. That in and of itself is not interesting. I have no desire to acknowledge that we once, long ago, roasted marshmallows together. It will only be awkward to make small talk, and our shared campfire history is of no consequence. I see you. And you see me. That is enough. And while the avoider chooses not to approach, the approacher really has no conscious choice in the matter; approaching is just what they do.

My inner dialogue is often about talking myself into saying hello, so I don't really fit either classification, but obviously I lean towards being an avoider. Approaching isn't just what I do.
I'm going to try to break this post up into two pieces and paste it into Good Reads. (Do you live in more than one cyber community? Good Reads is a nice neighborhood, I'd recommend it!) My next book is Lassie Come Home. Carmen gave it to me for my birthday. She saw me consider it at her school book fair, so the next day she took her own money to school and bought it for me. I think it was my favorite birthday gift.

Friday, 26 October 2007

This day in history

After more than two years of digging, the 425-mile Erie Canal was opened on October 26, 1825.

On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

1985: Singer Whitney Houston tops the charts for the first time with "Saving All My Love for You.

2007: All Halloween Merchandise at Winners marked down 50% today!
2007: {My 36th Birthday}

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

There's nothing like a deadline

I sent off my Pink Christmas gift yesterday! I am feeling a mixture of relief to have finished the project, and insecurity over whether it was good enough. I don't know why I would worry about that - I know that I will be pleased with anything I get. I love surprises, and as the master planner of Christmas in this house, I don't have very many chances to be surprised on Christmas morning.

I have Canada Post to thank for my motivation for completion. Where in the world is my Pink Sister?

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

SPT - It's all here in black and white.
So generally I prefer photographs in color. I know, it's more hip and sophisticated to go for the black and white, but I've learned that's just not me. Having said that, I do like this picture in black and white - it seems to suit the subject.
Ken's step-grandmother, Myrt, passed away a few weeks ago and Ken's mom took the time to choose a few of Myrt's belongings that we might appreciate and I now own this neat old camera. I tried to load some 35mm film into it, and it doesn't fit, so I need to go to a specialty store and see if I can find film that works in a Kando circa ??? ?I'll betcha the film I find will be black and white! I am really excited to try this camera out and enjoy some black and white pictures taken on my keepsake.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Getting into the Halloween Spirit

I don't like to spend the whole month of October on Halloween (to me that would upgrade the significance of the holiday to Christmas) but with a week and a half to go I pulled out our decorations, started working on costumes, and today we did a Halloween craft.

Some crafts we just don't get tired of, I guess. We've done this one before, but it is cheap, quick, and satisfying so we did it again today.


Mini terracotta pots, black paint, and votive candles - that's it! Just make sure you buy enough supplies for mom, too - I always forget that I'm going to want to get in on the craft myself and only buy enough materials for the kids.

I am feeling tired as I type this up. Is this post missing some pep, or is it just me? Maybe I could liven it up by changing all the font to large & bold, and then use more exclamation points and edit my pictures to saturate the colors. Or maybe I'll just change the font color to orange . . .


Friday, 19 October 2007

The end of cross country running season

We finished off another year of cross country running this week. The elementary cross country team takes in grades three through six, which created a unique opportunity for Carmen and Steven to participate in something together this year.

Carmen joined the cross country running team purely for social reasons, and she enjoyed that aspect of the team. She liked the recognition she got at the school pep ralley a few weeks ago, and she also liked seeing friends from other schools at the races.
The biggest lesson Carmen learned from running cross country was how to be happy for one of her best friends who won every single race. Carmen was quite unhappy with her 'Participant' ribbon in her first race, especially compared to Elliott's first place ribbon. This got better with every race, till she could finally be sincerely happy for her friend by the final race this week.

Steven 'placed' in most of his races, but it was still a big growth year for him as well. He went from loping through his first race to really pushing himself to the end in his last race. I was so proud of him at that last race, the way he gave everything he had to the very end. He was completely used up afterwards, and probably didn't enjoy all the praise he got from so many of the parents who saw the way he finished.
Way to go Carmen and Steven!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Self Portrait Tuesday

A: Hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. The craving usually hits around 10pm, and totally sabotages the sit-ups I do at 7am.
Yesterday morning, right as we were getting ready to go out the door to school, the phone rang. It was one of the stables I had called regarding riding lessons for Carmen. They had an opening in a group lesson Mondays at 5pm, was I interested in taking the spot? (Was I interested in Carmen no longer feeling like I was neglecting her interests? Yes!) I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to book riding lessons for Carmen this fall. Meanwhile, all the other kids have been signed up and enjoying pursuing their interests. Gail, the riding teacher, said we could start right away - did that ever change my plans for the day.
We got home from school at 3:45 which gave Carmen just enough time to eat an after school snack and change into jeans and cowboy boots before we headed out the door again, arriving at the stable around 4:30 to 'tack up'.

Picking a hoof

Carrying the saddle - I signed Carmen up for Western riding, not English. She goes to a very horsey school, and many many of her friends take English riding lessons. I specifically chose to put her in something different from her friends because Carmen sometimes gets caught up in comparisons with others. Also, as I told her, our family background (though not me, specifically) is in Western riding.

The riding arena set-up is perfect. The walls are lined with mirrors for the riders to look in and check themselves in, it's heated, which will be important in the months to come, and the observation room is also heated. The glass windows to watch through don't make for the best photos, but there is also an outdoor riding ring, so I'm sure I'll eventually be able to satisfy my desire for clear pictures of Carmen on horseback.*

I did encounter two problems with riding lessons today. The first one will never happen again and had to do with my washable-but-holey crocs:

Seriously, I wasn't standing anywhere near the horse!*

The second problem will be an ongoing challenge: with driving, tacking up, riding, and *untacking* (what is the term here, Kelly?) Carmen and I were gone for 3 hours! Can I devote this kind of time to humoring an interest of a child? I'd like some kind of guarantee that these riding lessons will eliminate middle child complaints from Carmen now and forever.


Saturday, 13 October 2007

The opposite of homeschooling

When Jaclyn was 4 years old I briefly considered homeschooling. Ken never considered it, it never would have happened, but I thought about it. This year I am doing the exact opposite of homeschooling - I am at the school all the time!
A few weeks ago one of the school secretaries called me up and asked me if I could come in and help the photographer out on school picture day. I said sure, no problem. Carmen wondered why would the school phone and ask me, and I told her it was because that secretary didn't want to phone 50 people before she got a yes. I'm not saying I was her first call, but she was looking for a sure thing.

I spent my school time this week on another all day outdoor field trip - with Steven, and in good weather.

We went to the Cross Conservation Area. I think the grasslands are breathtaking; I love the brown grass and the big blue sky.

We spent more time in the forested areas, though. Steven is studying trees and forests in science class right now.
The kids played a really fun game while we were out there that I want to remember just in case I'm ever a cub scout leader. They called it 'Camouflage' and it was exactly what it sounds like. All of the kids went and hid in the grass while the teacher turned her back, and then the teacher turned around and watched for movement or bright colors. If she could identify the kid she saw, she called out their name and they had to come out.

During the game it was my job to stand in the field as an outer perimeter of where the kids could hide. Steven came and hid right at my feet.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Not up for bids


I got some good mail today from Carlo, and on Kelly's advice I decided to document it right away. Steven was watching me take the pictures and he said, "It looks like you're going to sell it on eBay."

No Way!

Thanks for the good mail, Carlo!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Orange you glad it's SPT?

This week's challenge asks, "how do you feel about the color orange . . . "
Looks like I love it, right? Well, actually orange and I have had a difficult relationship. I went through a time where orange was all warm and nice to me in public, but then not in private. It was confusing.

I've moved on, and I'm good with it, but I still think of orange sometimes when I go shopping.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Last week my visiting teaching companion and I put together these little treat bags for our R.S. sisters we visit. My companion, Angela, and I each have a Cricut, but different cartridges, so it is fun to get together and share. Angela has the cartridge for making the bags, and I have the cartridge for animals, which obviously had the turkey.
Angela's daughter wasn't feeling well that day, and since she stayed home from school she came along with her mom for our creative Monday. I could not get over that girl's enunciation! Especially her 'T's. Her dad is British. He really encourages his children to speak correctly, and boy is it paying off!

Ken and Steven got in a little Thanksgiving football today. I actually checked into tickets for today's Calgary Stampeders' game, but I found out that for long weekend Monday games and Saskatchewan Rough Rider's games (today's game was both) THEY RAISE THE PRICES!
I know this makes good capitalist sense, but it discouraged me from buying tickets.

So instead Steven learned how to put on his dad's football quarterback *game face*.

I have some good mail to be thankful for today:

Halloween socks from Marie.
Marie: Did you know that way-back-when, Marlys and I used to exchange goofy or seasonal socks with each other?

I got a pink envelope in the mail this week. I instantly recognized that it had to be good mail, but I didn't clue in right away that it was my Pink Christmas envelope! Duh! (I am mildly freaking out about taking on this project.)


Ken noticed both the enormity of my Pink Christmas package as well as the enormity of this package from Michelle: 2 crochet belts, 3 crochet pumpkins, soap, lip balm, bubblegum, a card, and silk autumn maple leaves.


Carmen and Chloe both love their crochet belts, but only Carmen would pose for a picture.


And Kelly, I actually got this card a long, long time ago. It wasn't a victim of international snail mail, just personal snail documentation.

He who thanks but with the lips

Thanks but in part;

The full, the true Thanksgiving

Comes from the heart.

~J.A. Shedd

From my lips & heart: thank you for the good mail, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

My oven konked out on me on Sunday, can you believe it? I'm not going to write up a tally of recent appliance fatalities here, but come on! The universe is conspiring against me ever getting a grand piano.
I have a gas oven and the igniter fizzled out. I knew it was coming because it's happened once before, and the signs were there: slow to preheat, food taking slightly longer than usual to cook through. But on Sunday it wouldn't preheat at all, and the smell of gas was obvious, so no pear pie for Steven - too bad! On Monday I made up a batch of pear jam instead.
It was actually Jaclyn who was the most concerned about the oven. She doesn't like pear pie at all, and she was more than okay with hot fudge sundaes on Sunday, but she was a little worried I wouldn't be able to bake her birthday cake this week.

An igniter is supposed to last 5 years, but I do a lot of baking, which puts Ken on a 3.5 year schedule with this home repair. He took care of it on Monday night, days before I needed to make Jaclyn her birthday cake. She asked for a black forest cake, same as last year.

Jaclyn scored on the birthday present this year. Ken bought a beautiful cruiser 3-speed for her down at the Interbike show last week. She was completely thrilled with it, and what girl wouldn't be? I forgot to take a picture of the seat, well not so much forgot as she wouldn't get off the bike, but here's the rest of it:

The bike is pink and brown, with a grip gear shift. The paint job is beautiful, and I love Love LOVE! the flower tire tread. I just need to attach her wicker bike basket, and she will be the show!

At school Jaclyn's friends decorated her locker and posted a blank sheet of paper to allow all passers by to write Jaclyn a birthday note. Then in science class her teacher caught wind of the birthday and tricked Jaclyn into going up to the front of the class. Mr. D. then had all the boys in the room get down on one knee and sing her *Happy Birthday*!
She's pretty happy to be 14!