Midweek random ramble021


1. Overheard at the Easter dinner table…

  • “I heard these stats quoted that the functional illiteracy rate in Canada is over 40%! How can that be true?” (Check it out here)
  • “It was that time of day where the land is still dark, but the sky is light with dawn… and there they were… three heads poking out of the nest, facing the rising sun… it was SOOOOO cute!”
  • “Choir was exhausting… practises, services, emotions… but we were singing this one song and all of us were swaying to the music and I thought… wow, this is what it’s all about!”
  • “What is Twitter for anyway? I mean really… what’s the purpose of it?”
  • “So, we squirted the fake poop on their pillows, then sprayed it liberally with fart spray!”
  • “Are you wearing a suit or a tux for Grad? So, do you get your date flowers, or what?”
  • “She was down on the ground crying, and the ref didn’t even blow the whistle… he said “play on!!!”
  • “Thank you Lord, for this time together as families, even though we don’t spend nearly enough time together… thank you that we have so much to celebrate together today!”
  • “You can prank our family anytime!”

2.  So I planted some iris in the garden… striped iris!  My hubby’s in disbelief because it’s just not like me to plan something so gaudy! Maybe it’s time to branch out a little more in my planting schemes?

3.  Emmy broke her toe at the dog park a couple of weeks ago. She was running… fast… and somehow got it caught on something. Anyway, her purple cast (colour coordinated with her purple collar) is doing the trick so far, but she keeps chewing on it, licking her leg above it. I can’t imagine how itchy it must be for her, and pretty hard to explain to a dog! She’s not supposed to run on her leg, even though she wants to. She can, however, leap up the stairs on 3 legs, adapting to the ‘loss’ of her limb within 2 days of getting the cast on. Wow! Reminds me of the dog we met in Cancun who was being fitted for a wheeled cart to replace her hind legs that had been paralyzed in a hit and run. That particular dog is now living a new life in Calgary!

4.  So much laundry, so little time. One load at a time, LA, one load at a time!

5.  Trying to recapture fun and humour again… and with it some joy. Life has a way of sucking the joy out of you… if you let it! You know what I mean…

Here are some photos that reminded me of goofy, fun, happy times! Time to check out your own photos… if you need reminding!

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Voice One – Ralph Hass


So, this is the first post in what will be a new series of guest posts… celebrating the voices of people whom I am honoured to know. You’ll meet poets, writers, photographers, artists, and others who have something unique to say. I hope you are encouraged, inspired and entertained.  And, once you meet them, I hope you will drop by their blogs, and get to know them a bit more.

In the true spirit of ‘Buddy Breathing’, I trust that these voices are fresh air to your soul.

Here then is Ralph Hass… Voice One!!!

Ralph Hass voices all sorts of sports projects with exciting sprints to the finish! Clients include the NFL’s Buffalo Bills since 2008 (“Thurman Thomas Show.”); Shaw TV in Canada (2010/11 is his fourth season voicing the promos for WHL hockey games); NHL’s Buffalo Sabres (2006 to 2009).

Besides sports, longer narration projects like corporate videos and eLearning modules make up Ralph’s niche market. In the spring of 2010, he began work as the voice of training materials for NAPA Auto Parts dealers. This will result in close to 20 modules being recorded by the end of 2011. Ralph works from a home studio in one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, Kelowna, BC.

Website:              http://www.HasTheVoice.com

Blog:                          http://HasTheVoice.blogspot.com

Twitter:            @ RalphH_VO

This is from Ralph’s posting on his blog, “Has The Voice”  Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Facebook Fun! Finally Photos…Family is EVERYTHING!

I have posted quite a few videos lately but NO photos. The last one was on December 3rd when I was surrounded by a couple of Gretzkys.

So, as we set a new record for blog posts (120 for 2010 beats the combined 119 for 2008 and 2009), I wanted to share this Christmas photo when my family spent time at my parents. My dad (Emil) took the photo so he’s not in it:



Jordan snapped this one last night of my parents and myself. The clothing we are wearing is from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, LIVESTRONG, which provides support to guide people through the cancer experience, bring them together to fight cancer – and work for a world in which our fight is no longer necessary.

My dad is currently battling cancer. He has finished radiation treatments and chemotherapy is hopefully an option in the near future. He has always been a strong man and is a fighter but right now his kidney needs to get better. He beat prostate cancer a couple of years ago but it returned and spread to his bladder and now into the lymph nodes.

Please say a prayer for my parents as they go through this battle together. HOPE is a great thing to have!

Holding On Praying Endlessly

Midweek Random Ramble018


1. I’m taking a break from Facebook right now. No judgment, no soap box, nothing like that. Just decided that my other writing was taking a hit because I was giving away so much time to writing creative profile updates and so little time to writing other more time intensive projects. Other than peeking last night for under 2 minutes (yes, I timed it) I’ve been away for 4 days… or is it only 3? I don’t know, but it sure is hard to not go there, not wander around to see what all my friends are up to, not post witty responses to their posts and update my profile every couple of hours… oh dear… did I really update THAT OFTEN??? I’ll keep you posted apprised of my progress. And hey, have you noticed how much more blogging I’ve been doing in the last few days… could there be a connection?

2. So I got up this morning prepared for my ritual… shower, blow dry, dress, set table, wake up kids, make coffee… HALT!!!… COFFEE MACHINE NOT WORKING!!! So, I took a deep breath, held it for 10 seconds, and made tea instead. Only by about 9 AM I realized that the tea just wasn’t cutting it… the foggy feeling in my brain required more caffine than is found in Red Rose.

I got creative. Boiled some water, put the paper cone with ground coffee in it, inside a small sieve resting over my coffee cup, and poured the hot water slowly into the cone (you know, camp style!). Only the cone didn’t hold up well wet, and suddenly I’ve got this soggy, sloppy, coffee ground mess all over my counter, down the front of the cabinets, and onto my freshly mopped floor (yes, this is what happens when you mop… if you don’t mop, no mess, as soon as you mop… mess) And, after I cleaned it all up, I enjoyed a mug of hot coffee with milk and sugar and a smile.

Worth all that trouble… you betcha!!!

3. Heading out the door to the frozen dog park. YES! Frozen again. I’ve had several visits lately that were more Spring-like than Winter, and the result was mud, mess (I seem to have a mess theme going here) and then there was the head to toe shower of poop-infused water that put me over the edge. So, I’ve been away. And now it’s frozen and I’m going back. And Emmy will thank me. She’s been a little stir-crazy without the running and romping and wrestling of the dog park. I just wish there were an easier way to transition to Spring with a dog… without mud!

4. Wrote 2 3 poems these last few days. See #1. Perhaps there really is a correlation… just saying.

5. Getting ticked at WordPress and their built in ‘filters’… been having so much garbage coming at me here on my blog… one day there were 200 so-called ‘referrers’ that were not only ‘spam’, but bad, rude, inappropriate, yuck… you know what I mean. So I emailed support and asked for help… still waiting for someone to help me be proactive about this! Anyone know anything that might help?

6. So what’s with the Starbucks ‘Via’ instant coffee anyway? I mean, we’ve always mocked teased my father-in-law for not drinking ‘real’ coffee. He mixes his mug of morning coffee by the tablespoon (is it Folgers or Maxwell House?) and says it’s just fine. But, when he comes here to visit us, he does seem to really enjoy making pot fulls of the percolated kind. I’m just surprised that a die hard coffee drinking Starbucks culture would find this ‘Via’ to be an acceptable alternate to real percolated coffee? And if ‘Via’ turns out to be a successful product line, does that mean Folgers was right all along about ‘the best part of waking up’?

Maybe I won’t have to go out and buy a new coffee maker today… just little boxes of individual packets of ‘Via’? … no…I’m not convinced.

(Settled on a ‘french press’… 1/10th the cost of a percolator and strong, hot, black coffee!)

7. OK, I guess that’s it. Duty calls. The dog calls. My To Do List calls… so that I can spending some time just being when it’s done. Or, should I be being before… betwixt and between… is writing being… is blogging being… and other questions!

Peace will come,

Lesley-Anne

The ‘discipline’ of first things first.


apron garden

Image by klynslis via Flickr

I first wrote this piece in 2006, but it came to my mind this morning as I was facing yet another kitchen full of the aftermath of getting the family up and out the door to school. There were so many things I would rather do than clean up. Yet, as I reflected on the fact that putting my house in order is my ‘job’, well, I just did it. And I stood back and admired the tidy kitchen before I sat down at my computer to work on some other needful things. Better than facing the dirty kitchen later in my morning, when feelings of resentment would probably accompany my tidying efforts.

In any case, here’s what I wrote, which still rings true in my life today.

I had to apologize to my children yesterday after school.  I have been home ‘sick’ for the past few days, and after my energy level began to pick up I found myself cleaning and tidying like I haven’t done in some time.  And the only reason I can think of for the renewed interest in cleaning, is that I’m actually AT HOME.

My life as a homemaker is usually quite busy, and I don’t enjoy all of the chores that come with my job description.  Many of my tasks are outside the home too, and most of those are more enjoyable.  So, my days usually include a variety of things, from walking my dog, to helping in the classroom, to grocery shopping, to errands, and even the occasional coffee with friends.  I have tried a number of different ways to accomplish my tasks in the home, both scheduled and non-scheduled.  The scheduled approach is best for me, so that on Monday I know it’s laundry day.  There isn’t any doubt that its laundry day, it just is.  I don’t have to justify, rationalize or wonder, It’s just laundry on Monday.

Problem is, on Mondays I’m not always home for the day.  And our laundry piles are pretty prolific.  So, making it laundry day doesn’t get it done.  Only being at home and working through it systematically gets it done.

So, this week, being at home and sick, reminded me that I haven’t been home enough.  As my husband kindly reminds me from time to time, it’s all about balance.  And when the scales are full of dirty clothes on one side and no clean ones on the other side, then that’s definitely not balance.

When I was home I saw other indications of unbalance in the form of cobwebs, burnt out light bulbs, grubby bathroom taps etc.  And I felt badly for two reasons.  One, that the job that I’ve been entrusted with isn’t being done to the best of my abilities, and two, that I’m setting a less than excellent example to my kids.  How can I, with good conscience, tell them off for not making their beds, when I haven’t made mine.

So, my apology to my kids was for both of these reasons.  I want them to know that I blow it some times, and that I’m human.  But I also want them to know that our family values include doing our best, keeping our commitments, and meeting our responsibilities, even when it’s not fun stuff.  Would I rather be out grocery shopping than scrubbing toilets – absolutely!  Does the thought of 10 loads of laundry fill me with joy?  Not really, but I do feel joy when the job is complete.  Even if the hamper stays empty for only a few hours, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment at a job well done, at having given my best to the task, and at having been true to my commitment to care for my family.

Because I love words and the impact they have on me – they stick – I thought of a little line of words that I could think about when the lure of e-mail is greater than  the messy kitchen.  It’s simply this, “The discipline of first things first”.

The word discipline might not sit well with you.  It’s received a bad rap, I think, as we immediately consider the negative connotations of disciplining our children, or the stern teacher disciplining students.  But discipline has another side to it.  It’s about choosing to do what you have already committed to.  It’s about meeting priorities, even when they are not pleasant.  It’s about choosing the important things over the needful things of the moment.  It’s about lining up my behaviour with my values.

My spiritual life requires discipline.  It’s so much easier to call up a friend for emotional support than to pray to my heavenly father.  It’s easier to keep on doing chores and running errands than stop for a quiet time of reading, meditation, and praise.  It’s so tempting to sleep in on Sunday morning rather than joining together with God’s people for worship and teaching.  You may think that choosing the latter in each case sounds like legalism, but for me anyway, the discipline combined with the desire allows me to make better choices.  Better choices for me anyway.  You will have to decide what’s ‘first’ in your own life.

Today was a good day.  I chose to read my devotional before I started my day’s work. I chose to clean the kitchen before I answered personal e-mails.  I chose to finish what I had started, before beginning a new project.  Not martyrdom, simply honouring my priorities.  Everyone’s will be different.  But everyone has them.  It’s a matter of sticking to them, and that does take discipline.

Trying to be faithful in the little things,

LA

Post Christmas Random Ramble


I am so thankful for all of you. Those who drop by Buddy Breathing and stay a while, those who offer something in response to my writing, those who are regulars. This place has become a touchstone for me, somewhere to share my ideas and rants, even the messy stuff off the top of my brain that needs to come out! And knowing you are ‘out there’ makes it all the more worthwhile. So, thanks for listening.

I wish each one of you a Merry Christmas, and for the New Year may you continue to find people in your life with whom you can ‘buddy breathe’… share oxygen… fresh air… with one another. Breath deep!

Sol deo gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Things to remember for next year;

1. Absolutely, positively, (if at all possible), join in the experience of a Christmas Eve Service… VOLUNTEER…sing, usher, act, organize… whatever… just get involved! There’s a feeling of ‘bigger’ that accompanies this… not so much about having my house in order, my gifts wrapped, my cookies baked… more about preparing for others to experience the message of Christmas… Emmanuel, God with us! And if you absolutely, positively, can’t help out, then please… attend a Christmas Eve Service somewhere! Stop, consider, breathe, pray, believe in the miracle of Christmas personally.

2. Get up early… the long day was wonderful. Sure Bob and I were a little tired at first, but nothing a coffee or two with a drop of Baileys can’t help. By afternoon we were able to rest, read, relax and listen to the sounds of our kids chilling. Even the dog was happy to nap on the couch beside us. Yes, as my Dad always said, “The morning is the best time of day.” Mind you, I’m talking 7:30 AM, which probably sounds like sleeping in to those of you with teeny tiny excited kids! There are definitely some advantages to having teens!

3. Buy less. Every year it’s the same feeling… I intentionally try to buy less. I think I’ve put a lid on the excess and then I see all the presents under the tree… worse still, all the wrapping around the living room after we have finished opening up the gifts and I feel… a little nauseous. For those who say set a budget… sure, that’s fine if the bottom line is ‘value’ of what has been purchased… but I’m talking pure amount of ‘stuff’ that now needs to be put away and absorbed into our already abundant life. I mean… come on!

4.Write more Christmas cards. I enjoy writing. I love getting mail. Perhaps others feel the same? Sure I hand delivered some cards this year, but next year I’d like to mail them out early in December, perhaps tuck in a photo or two, and bless others with something they can hold in their hands. Of course email is good, and Facebook is a great way to share a greeting… but, still, the handwritten paper in hand kind of greeting is much more personal… don’t you think?

5. NEVER, EVER, EVER, cancel the caroling party again. No matter the number of folk who can’t make it, no matter if no musical accompaniment is available, no matter how easy it is to just say, “Oh well, we’ll try again next year!” DO NOT DO THIS! Even though I delivered a basket of cookies to the seniors in place of our melodious voices, still I missed sharing a meaningful evening with them. I missed our home being full of friends afterward, playing party games, sharing stories and treats, I missed the stress of ‘managing’ the crowd as we walked around the neighbourhood to sing, and I even missed the angst over whether the coffee would be ready in time, or the food enough for everyone. All of it. Mostly I missed the feeling of contentment and pure joy as we gathered to sing carols like ‘Silent Night‘ and ‘Joy to the World‘, our voices softened by the cold night air, snow gently falling as we gathered at someone’s doorway and met the smiles on their welcoming faces.

6. Let the dog chew the wrapping paper. Emmy was so good. Sure she sniffed every package, and she certainly tried to steal various presents right under our noses, but mostly she was really good. Claire wrapped a bone in paper and let her rip it open. I think Emmy enjoyed the paper as much as the bone! Not that she ‘ate’ it, but the sound it made, and the process of tearing it off the bone… I could almost swear she was smiling! We only put her in her kennel for a short time, but that was simply because we should have taken her for a walk earlier… she was a bit stir crazy by mid afternoon… yikes, earlier than 7:30 AM? Which takes me back to item #2!

7. NEVER STOP reminding myself what this season is really all about. Never stop posting reminders on Facebook, or reading the Christmas Story in Luke, or the prophecies of our Saviour in Isaiah. Never stop reflecting on the miracles found in the story, how the angels came to earth as messengers, how the shepherds found everything ‘exactly’ as they had been told, how a virgin conceived and bore a child… the son of God, how God came… in the form of a teeny tiny baby, to earth, and that’s just the beginning of the story! And most of all, how God IS with us… in each experience of who he is, every tiny little way that he shows himself to us, in creation, in music, in people. How God is here, and in the most intimate way possible, desires to be part of each of our lives.

8.Never stop sharing my story. May my life be an open book to who God is, and what he has done and is doing in my life. May I be bold, honest, transparent, reverent. May my life be filled with opportunities for God’s story to shine through me.

9. In the words, and expressed in the life, of my Uncle Dr. David James Cook, who passed away this Spring at the age of 71,

“LATHER LOVE LAVISHLY”…

on your family, your friends, your neighbours, those you meet every day…

because you never know. Time passes by so quickly, kids grow up, friends move, parents pass away…

Make the most of EVERY moment.

I miss you Uncle Dave. I miss you Art. I miss you Buddy.

Peace.


Midweek Random Ramble016


1.  Did you notice the snowflakes here at Buddy Breathing? Wait for them… wait… there they are!  Aren’t they cool? I even managed to upload a photo as a backdrop to the snow… real Canadian Rockie Mountains… for your viewing pleasure. Yes, it’s winter here. For my friends down under, I will be thinking of you basking in sunshine while we are shoveling out again and again. It’s supposed to be a very snowy winter… La Nina and all that!

2.  #1 Son and I joined the choir at Trinity, our home church. This was to some degree ‘Carpe Diem’ inspired, plus being with #1 Son inspired (he graduates from High School this year), plus watching the choir and saying, ‘Boy, I’d love to sing in the Choir’ for 17 years inspired. Getting to participate in the Christmas Eve Services… definitely inspiring!

3. What is it about renovating and decorating that’s so on steroids? Back in the day I have no recollection of my parents upgrading our family home, other than to paint it from time to time. In their home now, they’ve done a few things, like new flooring, painting kitchen cabinets, even adding ‘wallpaper’, but the trend or the mindset or whatever you want to call it these days, is complete do-overs. Anytime around the 10 year mark of being in a home it’s ‘time to upgrade’. And that usually means ripping things out and starting over. I wonder why? I could easily be swept up into this mindset, consider how my tired kitchen could be completely replaced. But is that really a good and honourable and needed use of our dollars… I mean in light of all the other needs around us in our world. Just saying…

4. My Christmas (Holy-Day) Top Ten Favourite Things;

1.  Picking up a special coffee drink, and meeting a good friend at the local garden centre. Admiring all the lavish decor.

2.  Baking my Scottish Grandmother’s shortbread cookie recipe, dipping them partly in chocolate for something extra special. Eating them with family and friends. Baking other family recipes. Eating them. Ignoring calories.

3.  Planning our family Caroling Party. Thinking up party games that we haven’t played yet. Walking around in the darkness and cold, trying to read the words off the song sheets by candle light. Being greeted by surprised neighbours who sometimes join in the singing. Coming back home to warm drinks and conversations.

4.  Adding Irish cream to our Christmas morning coffee. Having a second cup! (Bob and I, not the kids!)

5.  Setting the table for dinner each Sunday night in December, lighting the Advent candles one by one… then lighting the Christ Candle in celebration of his arrival, so many years ago, and his presence with us, today.

6.  Opening Christmas cards from far away places, like Northern Ireland. Considering how good it feels to hold snail mail in your hand.

7.   Staying up late on Christmas Eve with Bob, wrapping gifts in the quiet of the house. Looking out the window for snow. Listening to  Messiah. Putting the gifts under the tree. Standing back in relief and gratitude that we pulled it together again. Anticipating the kids happiness in the morning. Falling into flannel sheet coziness for a long short winter’s nap.

8.  The smell of the tree (yes, real).

9.  Taking out all the decorations the kids have made over the years and hanging them on the family style tree (nope, no designer tree for us!) Trying hard not to cry.

10.  Listening to Handel‘s Messiah over and over again, at high volume, and singing along wherever possible!

Well that’s all for today, folks. I must complete some out of town gift wrapping and packaging and get myself to the Post Office before the morning is over.

Have fun with your own Christmas favourite things, and why not share them here with the rest of us.

Really, what are your Christmas Top Ten Favourite Things??

Sol deo gloria,

Lesley-Anne