Sunday, December 30, 2007

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight....2007

I hate to go and leave this pretty sight.

Well, kinda but not really. This Christmas has been wonderful, every year it grows less about presents and more about why Jesus was sent to earth in the first place, which is a beautiful thing. 2007 has been an amazing year for us but I look forward to the future even more because of it. And so the holidays are done and we bid au'voir to 2007 but here is one last holiday blog since there is still 34 hours until 2008.

It occured to me while watching my favorite Christmas movies this year (you know, Wizard of Oz, Anne of Green Gables, Sound of Music...hehe....traditional Christmas movies) that there was a lot to learn from these women. Some of the lessons maybe should have sunk in when I was younger but better late than never, right? So here are some things I've learned from these movies.

1. Fake it til you make it. These ladies knew they should have confidence they just weren't entirely sure how to get it. They put on a brave face and pretended they felt as confident as they acted, not allowing themselves to be bullied or walked all over. In the end they found confidence by standing up for what they believed in and succeeding.
2. You can't outrun your problems. All of these ladies ran for the hills when problems came up. problems they thought they could outrun. But the problems didn't go away, or got worse, or just seemed preferable to the problems they faced away from home. They all learned that home is where the heart is, life and all it's problems are a lot easier to face when you are with the ones you love to support you.
3. Play by your own rules. These ladies stood up for principles, they were not 'yes' women who bowed to authority just for authority's sake, they stood up for what was right, even if it meant having to break a few rules to do it. Fighting for what was important meant sometimes compromising society's 'norm' but also meant not compromising their integrity. In most cases people come to their senses and realize their unfairness, prejudice, control issues, etc. or a house falls on them.
4. Honesty is the best policy. These ladies were honest in the most blunt of ways, refusing to suck up, bow to pressure, or let other people go unchecked. But their honesty was also in their sincerity to see people just release themselves of all false pretense and just be themselves. Their honesty and sincerity won and changed the hearts of many.

I really miss movies that laid such great moral foundations and also appealed to children, but I am glad these movies are really quite timeless in their journeys and I know one day I will be sharing them with young ones who hopefully learn these lessons a lot earlier than I did.

And moving on, what's a holiday blog without some talk about presents and thankfulness. Here are my 10 Best Gifts of the 2007 Holiday Season (not in any particular order of priority)

10. The many nice comments about my homemade Christmas cards. I like to see that my effort is enjoyed and appreciated.
9. The very nice and helpful handymen who have had to do some fixit stuff around the house for little to no cost.
8. Tickets to see Big & Rich with my sweetie.
7. My sweetie dedicating an evening to watching Anne of Green Gables and Sound of Music with me.
6. Cabbage Roll leftovers.
5. The gifts that allowed me to create and fill my new crafting room, I call it my Scrappy Place (hehe, like Happy Place, lol).
4. 11 days off in a row.
3. My sister Jodi and her whole family living in Manitoba, not just for the holiday season, but most likely permanently.
2. Finding out I’m going to be an Auntie again, new little one is due in late August.
1. 30 years of a wonderful life! (which I don’t need Christmas movies to make me realize I have)

Monday, December 24, 2007

This and That

My mind and my time have been divided by so many things as of late, I don't have nearly enough of either to spread this thinly, lol. I kinda knew this would happen when I made such a large to do list (my 101 things to do in 1001 days list) because I am haunted by all the things I haven't done yet as opposed to being encouraged by how much I have accomplished. It's funny, because 99% of the time I'm an optomist, see the glass half full kinda gal, but when it comes to my goals, I see the glass as half empty. I've always been the kind of person who needs deadlines as a motivator, but when I do have a deadline I aim to finish as fast as I possibly can, always worried that if I don't then I won't make the deadline. So I work my butt off finishing my tasks and end up completing them way before I need to.
So, hear I am, only 5 months into my 32 month to do list, with 15 tasks (approx. 15%) completed and another 46 (roughly 46%) in progress and I am still madly trying to juggle my time and focus between all the different things I want to accomplish.
Organizing my home has been probably one of my highest priorities, because some of the other things I want to do (crafting, baking, hosting, etc.) hinge on having the space to do that. I'm still widdling away at those tasks but even then I'm still divided between 5 rooms that all need help. And money, which has been one of the major reasons for delay in this area. Organizing my computer has been another frustrating task as my computer is not co-operating. My burner isn't allowing me to burn so I can't back up all my information and so I don't want to add information to my hard drive (new pics, songs, scanning negatives, etc.) until the old stuff is backed up onto DVDs. Argh. Again, money is needed to get a new burner or I can transfer all the data to Sean's computer, one DVD worth at a time, but that means both computers are tied up and neither of us can use them for a large period of time.
I have also been wanting to spend more time becoming a better cook, and what I mean by that is not relying so much on microwavable, pre-processed, unhealthy, and expensive but EASY foods. I have loved the Once A Month Cooking my cousin Pam has introduced me too and it already has made cooking and eating much more enjoyable, even though I've only started to dabble in it. I wish I had more time to get into it, but I know I'm making progress and I know my tastebuds, waistline and wallet are thankful for it.
Then, there's the time I should be spending exercising. I really want to get into shape and I have the will but it's hard to dedicate time to it when I'm not seeing results. It feels like I could be much more productive doing something else on my to do list. Luckily, Tami is taking a course to become a personal trainer and I am her first client once she is done. I have always wanted to have a personal trainer but money and accessiblity have held me back, and having a sister who really cares about my success and not the money I'm paying her will be great. And I will give her permission to crack the whip so I can't talk myself out of using my time differently! I can't wait.
Then of course there are all the other things I want/need to spend time on, like; work on my photography skills, spend more time reading, relaxing and spending time with Sean, cooking and cleaning around the house, spending more time with family and friends, getting more involved at Church, spending more time with God, volunteer/charity work with Domestic Abuse victims, traveling, creative and crafting stuff, writing/blogging, and oh, ya, then there's work too. Yikes! And children haven't even been added to the mix yet. Of course, some of the reason I want to accomplish a lot of this so soon is because you never know when children will appear on the scene. Do I put to much pressure on myself? I don't know, but I do know that life is short and as long as I'm not sacrificing my health or my relationships then it's ok to be energizer-bunny-busy, when I have that much energy that is : )

Update on 101 things to do

I have updated my entry on my 101 things to do list. Slow and steady I go : ) Oops, forgot a few, added some more 01/01/08.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I was tagged by Pam (be sure and stop by and say hello!) to do this `hoopla`
Here are the rules:1. List 12 random things about yourself that has to do with Christmas 2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word 3. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere. 4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible. are my 12 Christmas Things About Me:
1. My immediate family doesn't exchange gifts, we instead use the money to spend a weekend together and enjoy each other's company. More time together, less time in malls, a win/win situation.
2. My extended family on my dad's side also does not exchange gifts, we pool money together for a donation on a decided cause. Last year we raised enough money to provide a poor community with a well for clean drinking water, through MCC. Again, what could be better, less time consumed with the consumerism of the holidays and more concerned with blessing those less fortunate.
3. The same extended family also has a tradition that has been continued since as early as I can remember, the children (children of my parents generation) sing a song, play an instrument, recite a poem or part of a story and then each adults would give us anywhere from $1 to $5 each. Now that my generation is older we instead summarize how our year has been and watch our children, neices and nephews do the performing.
4. I have a weak spot for Christmas cookies. Christmas cookies are the best cookies ever; shortbread, gingerbread, jam jams, mennonite peppernut cookies, Portzelkje, the kind with marichino cherries.....yum yum. Usually my sisters, mom and I pool our efforts and have one big day for baking, that way we can get a much bigger variety of cookies with not much more work than if we did it by ourselves. This is the first year in awhile that we are not doing it because it's become more about spending time together than having all those temptations on our kitchen counters, we forfeited the fat and will just find another way to enjoy each other's company.
5. I don't put up any Christmas decorations because my cats would most likely destroy it all while we're not home. They are not even that well behaved when we're home, and they are worse when we're not home, so I just don't bother.
6. I do however collect Christmas ornaments for the one day when I hope to be able to have a house that allows me to keep my cats out of the room with the Christmas tree. I only collect homemade ornaments, and I am trying to make one for every year of our marriage although I think I fell behind at 2006, I need to start catching up again.
7. I try to make my own Christmas cards every year because a) most of the ones in the stores I can afford don't thrill me, and b) I love an excuse to make cards, even if it can get to be a lot of work. Here are a few of my past Christmas cards.

8. I still have no clue how to cook a turkey.
9. I sang one of the verses to Silent Night as a solo in a Christmas pagent in grade 2. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I sang in a pagent/production of some kind for every Christmas until I was 17.
10. Christmas is my very favorite holiday of the year. I love that everyone makes time to spend time with friends and family, a great opportunity to see those you may not see very often during the year. I love GIVING gifts. Although receiving is nice too, I prefer to see people's faces light up when they receive something from me because I know I've brought someone else some happiness. I love food, and especially all the family favorites that come out during the holidays. I love the pretty lights and decorated Christmas trees, even if I can't have it in my own home just yet. I love the movies that come on t.v., like A Christmas Carol, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music (despite that some aren't really about Christmas, lol). I love singing Christmas carols (see #9) but the real carols, not ones about frosty or rudolf. I'd rather hear Carol of the Bells, Oh Holy Night, Handel's Messiah, or any of Boney M's or Amy Grant's. Most of all I love the celebration of the birth of our saviour.
11. Every year I struggle with what to get Sean, since he's got very few hobbies, one that costs next to no money and the other is Stephen King books, which don't come out often enough to give at every cause for a present. He's a picky dresser and doesn't really collect anything. The last few years I've barely managed with a leather jacket he knew he was getting because he had to pick it, and tools, which was fairly easy since he had none, so I just bought everything. Luckily the last two years there have been major concerts we've wanted to attend so we've just bought tickets for each other. It makes it easy for me, but I also don't get the wonderful presents Sean is so good at picking out. He always amazes me with the thoughtfulness of his gifts and that is something I've missed out on for the last two years.
12. Not one present I bought this year was from a mall (granted I only had to buy a few). My shopping locations this year were Toys R' Us, Staples Online, The Bomber Store, Starbucks, and the last one will either be from Princess Auto or The Fishing Hole. Yeah for avoiding malls!
And I can't really tag anyone because I honestly don't know anyone who reads my blog who has a blog, other than Pam, and I was tagged by her, so the hoopla ends with me.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Much ado about nothing/everything

My thoughts are a little random and all over the map so here are just a few things I’m muttering about lately.

How, in WINTERPEG, where it often feels like it is winter 7 months of the year, can people forget how to drive in snow? And I’m all for being cautious, but seriously, 40 kms per hour on Bishop Grandin, on a day where it was actually very clean and not icy (thanks to quick cleaning and high traffic). Yikes! And I am soooo thankful for our decision to get a 4X4, as well as a vehicle with ABS as I know I would have been in 3 fender benders already if we had been in the old Contour. One was my fault, was a little too confident and going a little too fast (even though I was under the speed limit), but the other two were people pulling too far in or not far enough out of a lane without enough time for me to stop. Seriously!

I’ve been only too happy to stay indoors recently, feeling quite like a couch potato this last week, so I’ve been watching more t.v. than normal. I noticed two newer shows that I hadn’t really paid much attention to before, the Reaper & the Collector, two shows about people collecting souls for the devil. At first this kinda disturbed me, I mean two shows prominently featuring satan. And The Collector’s portrayal of satan is that he’s omniscient, yeah right, don’t make me laugh. So, yeah, I wasn’t thrilled. Until. I was watching Criminal Minds and they were having a discussion about evil and it led to the statement (not a direct quote), ‘you can’t believe in the devil without believing in God, and vice versa. And if you have a weak belief in one then you most likely have a weak belief in the other.’ Not only did this discussion about God (as well as the plot including a lot about God lately) excite me tremendously, but it led me to the conclusion that the stronger the belief in satan the stronger the belief in God should also grow. Now there is a big difference between what people know and how they act, but if there is belief at least a seed has been planted.

It only occurred to me after I got my tattoo that I probably wouldn’t have much of a chance to display it except when it was hot out, and the summer was already half over. I’ve had a few chances here and there, but I’m very excited because I found this really beautiful top to wear for our semi-formal Christmas party for work, and its halter style so you can see my tattoo! I actually have my co-worker Tanyss to thank for that, I totally looked over the top because I’m not normally a lover of busy patterns, not to mention I didn’t think halter style would suite me, but I tried it on and it looked really good (if I do say so myself)! I can’t wait for next Saturday to wear it!

So, I finally had my doctor’s appointment, and it’s too bad the substitute is semi-retired because I really liked her. The important thing though is that I got the two referrals to specialists that I was hoping for, and she ran a few blood tests herself. She talked me through my concerns and took me seriously, even though she didn’t know my history or family history like my other doctor does. Now, I know you all aren’t the prying type so I don’t want you to worry, it’s nothing life endangering, it’s more about quality of life. Well, I might as well just spill the beans. First confession, I snore and I think it’s affecting my quality of sleep. Second confession, Sean and I have been off birth control for almost two years and obviously there is no baby yet so we’re checking into why. At first it was, hey lets just stop interrupting nature and release our ‘control’ of the situation to see what God has in store. We didn’t label ourselves as ‘trying’ so we kept this our little secret, not wanting to instigate the questions that would surely follow that knowledge going public. Now, faced with seeing specialists it’s kinda awkward telling everyone that this is where we’re at because no one even knew babies were on our mind. Sean doesn't have the same eagerness I have for children, but over the last 2 years we've both really learned it doesn't matter what we wanted or planned, it's all in God's hands, and whatever He has in store is meant to be.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Not everything that is Golden is Gold

Ok, this is a long entry today. I am all fired up! I have recently heard of the controversy regarding The Golden Compass and have been compelled to comment. Over the last few months I have seen snippets here and there of the previews and thought the movie looked quite good. Almost ‘Narnia-esc”. But through my cousin Pam’s blog I discovered a link to this blog which led me to search out the truth behind this movie and the books that inspired it. I believe this movie and the controversy around it is something every Christian needs to know about. I’d like to preface the rest of this blog by letting you know I am not a band-wagon Bible thumper who jumps at every opportunity to join a campaign against non-Christians. Every ‘campaign’ or ‘petition’ email I get is skeptically run through and before I give it any credence at all, and even then I find most of them are working harder to reject non-Christians than to reach out to them. I’m not out to stop non-Christian media, I do believe we have a choice in what we watch, read, hear. I just think people have the right to know what they are being exposed to, that the truth should not be hidden in order to get a bigger audience at the box office. This one has gotten under my skin for a few reasons though, which I will get to later. First I want to tell you about the movie, the book, and ultimately the author., a site that looks into popular email rumours in an effort to verify their authenticity, looked into the email rumor that the movie The Golden Compass had anti-religious themes. They summarized the plot of the movie and series of books as following “an adventure of a street-wise girl who travels through multiple worlds populated by witches, armor-plated bears, and sinister ecclesiastical assassins to defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God.” Other than the senile God part, you could think this movie and these books are very similar to the Narnia series, a well known Christian themed series. If you like Narnia, you would probably be very interested in seeing this movie just from seeing its previews alone. I was.

I am not aware of what instigated a deeper investigation into the intentions of the author but I am thankful someone decided to take a closer look at this seemingly innocent movie. Now, the movie doesn’t literally portray a senile God, and may not seem, on the surface, to be anti-religous, however the movie has been sanitized. According to Wikipedia the Director, Chris Weitz said "in the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic Church gone wildly astray from its roots" but that the organization portrayed in his film would not directly match that of Pullman's books. Instead, the Magisterium will represent all dogmatic organizations. Weitz said that New Line Cinema had feared the story's anti-religious themes would make the film financially unviable in the US, and so religion and God will not be referenced directly. Attempting to reassure fans of the novels, Weitz said that religion would instead appear in euphemistic terms”. However, how many people have become fanatics of a series of books because the movies have been an introduction to the author. And if you already are uncomfortable with the movie from that quote, the books are much more sinister.

If you read the blog I mentioned earlier, you’ll find that objective reviews such as the examination from, have researched the author and point out that Philip Pullman was very clear on his intentions with his writings, especially in the Dark Materials Trilogy, where The Golden Compass is from. Quoted from their article on The Golden Compass, “Although literary works are subject to a variety of interpretations, Pullman left little doubt about his books intended meanings when he said in a 2003 interview that ‘My books are about killing God’ and in a 2001 interview that he was ‘trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief’”. And (another email hoax/rumor research site), in their examination of the anti-religious claims shows a passage from one of Pullman’s novels where a character, a fallen angel says “The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves – the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself.” Although I have yet to read the books, I trust the research from these non-religious sources, and the undermining of Christian beliefs can not be doubted.

Now, I really question Pullman’s public stance when he says “I don’t think it’s possible there is a God”. The reason is this. What is the one reason that after thousands of years of corruption in religion that a belief in God has not died? It’s because of our personal experiences with God, it’s because I have, and millions of other people have, heard God’s voice and felt God’s touch. Pullman knows that and so in order to ‘kill God’ you have to make people believe that personal experience they have had with God was a deception. Pullman’s angle is that, ok, Yahweh may have spoken to you, and told you He is I Am, He is your Father, He revealed himself to you but He is not God. He is a delusional angel who is deceiving you. But, if angels exist, powerful angels that have the ability to seem God-like in our minds, who created them? Pullman’s book says, “He was never the creator.” Who was? “he was formed of Dust as we are” Who formed him? Maybe it’s just me but this ‘powerful angel’ bit does not explain away God in the least. It seems to me he is a pretty bad atheist.

Now, to the heart of the matter, the controversy. So, he’s an atheist, trying to ‘kill God’, trying to ‘undermine the basis for Christian belief’, so what? Don’t go see the movie. Well, I don’t necessarily agree with avoiding the movie altogether. What I don’t agree with is the movie being sanitized to make it ‘financially viable’ and hiding the agenda of the author. Parents should have the choice whether they want their children exposed to beliefs that are contrary to their own, not have it coated in sugar to hide the pill Pullman wants our children to swallow. They need the opportunity to give their children perspective, if they are going to watch or read the story, not blindly believe their child is delving into something innocent. I think it would be fine to watch this movie as long as the parents are aware and have the chance to discuss philosophy with their children. I don’t think children should be excluded from hearing about other religions and beliefs, that they shouldn’t be given an opportunity to make up their own mind, however, how they are presented that information is a whole other story. So it really makes me mad that the media covers a story like this with headlines like “Libraries are banning The Golden Compass because the author is an atheist”. I know it’s a trick of the trade, flashy, partial truth headlines to gain an audience, but even in the full coverage I watched, they barely distinguished that it is ONLY libraries in Catholic schools (which due to separation of Church and State, ALL Catholic schools are private and parents are choosing to put them in a faith based institution). Throughout most of the news story they mostly eliminated that fact. That’s what gets me really upset. How dare we object to and attempt to eliminate material designed to 'undermine our faith' in our faith-based schools! Solely faith-based organizations are not even allowed to help their members take precautions to shield our children from doctrine opposite of ours. Public schools are allowed to throw out doctrine to ‘protect’ those students who may disagree with it due to their own doctrine, but when it’s a faith-based organization doing the exact same thing it’s discrimination. Personally, I’m not trying to discriminate against atheistic free speech, we should just be allowed to choose how that message is introduced to our children. In fact, I agree with anti-censorship groups who object to censorship of the movie, I wish they had left it just as it was for people to see the real message that Pullman is trying to convey. Pullman isn’t upset that the movie isn’t true to his intentions, but that’s because he knows that it being kid-friendly is how to draw us in. Kids have more power over what they read and see today than ever before, if he captivates them as an audience, he knows his message will spread like wild fire. It is up to us as a Christian community to not stay in the dark about his message and be prepared to bring clarity to the confusion that will arise in our kids because of it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Avery!

My neice Avery is turning one year old today. It hardly seems she is that old already, partly because, as always, time flies by way too fast, partly because she was gone 5 months of the last year, and partly because she is still sooooo tiny! She was wearing 6 mo. clothes up until just the last few month or so! She's just taken her first steps in the last month, still hasn't said a word (da da da da when John isn't even in the room doesn't count) and doesn't have nearly the amount of teeth that Brooklynn had at this age. She's defying all the second child stereotypes of learning fast (due to the typical 'trying to keep up with older sibling' syndrome). She's still been our tiny baby and I seem to remember a lot more independence from Brooklynn at this age than I see in Avery. Although she's getting there, especially now that she's taking steps, last I heard she was up to 11 at a time.

But today is not only a celebration of her turning one, it's also a celebration that we get to be with her at all on this special day (and with the whole Reddekopp family) because 9 months ago we thought we may not even see her or Brooklynn on their birthdays due to living in Saskatchewan. Even at the end of their visit in August, before they had decided to move back, they didn't think they'd be back before Christmas. But thankfully they are back, and all those things I lamented I would miss, I haven't. I haven't missed many of her firsts, she started crawling on a visit here in May, she took her first steps holding on to something with me in the nursery in July, and since she's been back has started standing and walking on her own. But most importantly, I didn't want her to lose the recognition that comes across her face, that lights up her eyes and spreads a big smile on her face when she sees me. I didn't want to have to be a stranger, for no matter how brief a time, to my precious neice. I had that feeling for about 5 minutes with Brooklynn during their first return in May and my heart plummeted. It was one of the worst feelings I've ever had. But no worries, it seems like danger of that ever happening again is minimal (yay!).

So today I celebrate my angel's first year in our lives and a future filled with many more moments to celebrate with her.

I'm heading off to the birthday bash now, I'll have a birthday picture posted soon.

This is the birthday girl enjoying her birthday cupcake. She looks kinda like "I'm not supposed to be doing this, am I? Mommy never lets me get my hands in my food!" She thoroughly enjoyed her just desserts : ) I'll be posting more birthday pics on Facebook.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mississippi Girl vs. the Canadian Man

I must admit, for not being much of a country music fan until I met my cowboy, it has quickly become my favorite genre now. I still love my eighties, disco, worship, classic rock, dance music, and top 40 music, but nothing beats the way country just moves me, inside and out. It is the rare song from another genre that can do that to me the way country music does. I've always been a huge music lover, mostly loving songs I could sing a long to and for the most part the message of the lyrics wasn't my main reason for liking the music. When I was interested in the lyrics it was so I could project my own feelings into the song and made them about what I wanted them to be about. Country music has been different, and I think it's because of the artists, not necessarily the music. Some of the songs I love the most could have just as easily been playing on 94 fm or 103 fm.
One of the artists who was a stepping stone into liking country was Faith Hill. She had a very pop-sounding album around that time and so she weened me onto artists like the Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban, and Leann Rimes, and from there I allowed myself to try the more twangy (to me anyway) Colin Raye, George Strait, Lonestar, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Tim McGraw and Paul Brandt.
I have stayed a fan of Faith Hill and grown to love her husband's music as well. I watched their Oprah interview and just paid attention to them in general, not entirely sure why I started, maybe because they are the American dream, beautiful, talented, in love, rich, with 3 beautiful children. What don't they have? And the fact that they seem so down to earth despite it all. Not to mention their music, each individually, and their steamy duets. I was so ecstatic to be able to attend their concert this past June, a possibly once in a life time opportunity. They put on a really great show, it was everything I expected and more. The highlights being their amazing stage that allowed us to feel as if we were 10 rows away instead of 20, their cover songs like Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol cover), Abba, and The Joker, and making Faith cry with a standing O. She also surprised me by singing Amazing Grace after that. She hasn't been shy about her gospel roots however the only time I've heard her sing something belief based was on Oprah when Oprah mentioned Faith sang gospel music to warm up during rehearsal.
Yet, as amazing as that concert was, it couldn't beat Paul Brandt. And no, not just because he's Canadian and wore a Bomber jersey on stage last Monday. It's because of many, many things. First, he's there as much for his fans' as he is for his own enjoyment, he chooses small venues (he could have gone bigger than the Pantages because his show sold out in minutes, just as fast as Faith & Tim's) for a couple reasons I suspect, such as; smaller audience for a more personable interaction and cheaper tickets so his fans can afford it (something he also furthers by having a very limited exhibition, just a few lights, nothing fancy). He interacts a lot with the audience, waving to us a lot, responding to the "I love you Paul's" with an "I love you too!". He's sometimes part-standup comedian and sometimes just baring his soul. You begin to feel like you know him during his shows. We've been way more entertained at each of his shows than we were at Tim & Faith.
Second, we always fall in love with his opening act. He has a tremendous nack for choosing who he tours with. First time we went it was Doc Walker. This was before they were really big, and even though we somewhat liked what we heard from them before the concert, we absolutely loved their music after we heard music they didn't release to the radio. Second time we saw Paul he was with Derric Ruttan, who has surprised us by not hitting it big because we thought he was amazing. He has a real talent for telling a story with his lyrics, his writing style is very distinguishable and we love his sound as well. We've become big fans of his. And this last concert was no exception, he brought out Jason Blaine who we haven't been drawn to through his radio releases, but once again, fell hard for him when we heard his unreleased repetoire. This guy sings songs very similar to Derric Ruttan's style, has a voice very similar to Paul's (and personality too, he was very funny) and he's as cute as Dierks Bentely. This guy is going to be a hit.
Third, Paul has never shied away from letting his faith permeate his songs. Sean and I had suspected for awhile that Paul was a Christian but you can never assume based on songs, or even what you hear from the media. Then when we bought Paul's album "This Time Around" and his song "That's What I Love About Jesus", we knew for sure. After that we read on his web page that he and his wife attend a Church in Calgary where they once again reside and we were happy to see how much he was revealing to the public about his faith. Not that his actions haven't spoken much louder than words already. He moved back to Calgary after 9 years in Nashville so that he could put family first, even though he thought it might mean early retirement (people losing interest), but his popularity actually grew! And then there is his involvement in World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, and not just the normal celebrity routine but sacrificing a lot of his own income to furthering their cause. He is even selecting one person who donates $100 to his latest Samaritan's Purse campaign who will join him for a trip to Africa to see their dollars at work first hand. Now what celebrity does that?
And being Canadian doesn't hurt. I may be a little bias, but I kinda like to think that it's partially because he's Canadian that he is such an outstanding human being. I don't want to turn this to a Maple Leaf vs. Stars & Stripes thing, but I do think there is a certain humbleness and compassion that we have that seems more absent from the pursuit of the American dream. There are exceptions, I know some wonderful Americans, but this my general perspective. So, no contest, Paul wins hands down. I will probably never spend money to see Faith Hill & Tim McGraw again, been there, done that, but we will go see Paul Brandt every chance we get.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Revelations

It’s strange how life puts circumstances in your path and what seems like such an insignificant occurrence becomes an eye opening experience. At work I was presented with a letter I needed to type in order to notify an organization we would be making a financial contribution to a fundraiser. I was also handed their information package to peruse. It turns out this is for a woman’s resource center, and it would seem they are geared to helping women (and their children) who are being or have been abused. As I started flipping through their pamphlets I was literally struck by what I read. Realizations I had never made before just kinda floored me for a few moments as it sunk in.

One pamphlet was about stalking and criminal harassment and it listed a few examples of behaviours which now seems so obvious, but at the time I chalked it up to my ex not being able to let go. For reasons I’ve already mentioned, my judgement was cloudy, and so I didn’t see that he what he was doing constituted stalking me. Up until now I didn’t see that. The day I got married it all stopped, because then I had my husband Sean living with me, but from the time Sean and I dated until our wedding he would often show up at my door unexpectedly, or call and say he had just been hanging around outside my apartment door but never knocked. He did the vandalizing thing. He made threats, not to physically harm but harm my reputation, my relationships, my career. I would get calls in the middle of the night, from a blocked number, just breathing on the other end. My number was not listed, very few people had it, I knew it was him. And I would just hang up and go back to bed, never confronting him on it, pretending it wasn’t happening. I actually hid it from Sean, or so I thought, because I didn’t want a confrontation, however just the other day we got a call in the middle of the night and Sean immediately suspected it was him. As I grow more aware of my past, I also grow more aware of how much this must have affected Sean, and how stoically and silently he has dealt with that. He’s shown so much restraint that I am only now aware of. He never stops trying to protect me, even if it’s sparing me from adding his burdens to the ones I already have.

The other thing that blind-sided me while reading this literature was a fact sheet on Traumatic Stress Disorder. To me, this is something people who have experienced horrific events suffer from. Not me. But as I read the information about how it’s an anxiety disorder, one triggered by living through frightening or stressful experiences, it dawned on me. As I slowly began to get over our break up, it seemed I should have been getting healthier, but for about 6 months in 2000 I considered going to a doctor because I just couldn’t handle my anxiety anymore. I had a lot of nightmares about my ex. I stressed out and got angered by very miniscule issues. I had quite a bit of tension that manifested only when I slept. I remember Googling anxiety/stress disorders and realizing the kind of distress I was experiencing was lasting a lot longer than it should. I was having minor panic attacks, I constantly worried about every nuance of my life, always expecting the worst outcome. The strange thing is, I just seemed to get over it. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not, but right around that time is when I started having feelings for Sean. The anxiety just seemed to disappear and I don’t remember giving it a second thought until today.

I still don’t feel like that woman who needed the services of this woman’s resource center, even though I obviously did. I sometimes wonder why the obvious wasn’t so obvious to me. It certainly would have been nice to see the obvious when I first dated him, but maybe the same oblivion that got me into that mess also spared me from a victim mentality. Looking back it would seem my naivety of my situation allowed me to move on without a lot of anger, guilt, and pain holding me back. It’s a miracle that I came through what I did as healthy as I am, especially with no counselling. Sure, those emotions have surfaced since my ‘wake up call’ but I am in a much better place to deal with them now. God was definitely looking out for me and working all things for the good.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Where have all the fans gone?

Sporting events have always been a family affair in my life. My dad took me to my first Edmonton Oilers game when I was just a few months old. My dad also wasted no time with his first grand daughter, who was also less than a year when she went to her first sporting event. My parents frequent the Manitoba Moose, The Winnipeg Gold Eyes, campaigned to save the Winnipeg Jets, and of course, are BIG Blue Bomber fans. My dad just recently bought my neice a Milt Stegall jersey, and she's only 2. My sisters and our husbands also patronize our local sports, but are all especially fans of the Bombers. My first brother-in-law, hubby's brother, is also a huge football, and Winnipeg Blue Bomber, fanatic. It's a great way to spend time as a family and share our mutual love of the game and our hometown team. I expect we are not the only family who is like this, and I suspect most people got their love of sports because it was a family interest. For our family, it's the way it has always been, and Bomber games were a nice family tradition.........until the last few years.
It started with a time a few years ago when my parents, just a couple sections over from my husband, BIL #1 and I, were sitting in front of some very rowdy individuals. My parents noticed they were bringing in their own alcohol and getting rip roaring drunk. They began to spill beer with every move they made and were spilling it on my parents. My parents, for the sake of the love of the game, put up with the, too often found, lewdness of their fellow fans but my dad drew the line at spilling beer all over my mom. He nicely ask that they refrain from doing so and all he got was a string of expletives and derogatory comments about his wife, as well as an invitation to take it outside. Of course my dad declined and just asked for a little respect, so that they weren't receiving a beer bath. They just got more incensed and for the rest of the game intentionally razzed my parents. We were too far over to notice and do anything to help either. As I remember it, dad did report it to security but I can't remember if they just took the alcohol away or if they just ignored dad's concern altogether, but what they should have done was kicked these guys out, not only for bringing in contraban, but because they were disturbing the people who were there just trying to enjoy the game, not to enjoy alcohol. That's right, they didn't even kick them out.
Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if you bring your own alcohol in or not, because you can get just as drunk by buying their booze, they seem to have no limits on how much they will sell to one person (unlike bars and other liquor-serving establishment who by law are required to stop selling to someone who appears intoxicated). And with the incidents piling up of drunk misconduct it's amazing that they just beef up security and not correlate that their lack of regulations on liquor might have something to do with drunk idiots. I mean, there was the drunk who ran out on the field a couple years ago and the Bomber players were more effective than security. Just a few months ago a man was trying to be helpful by cleaning up empty cups lying around, touched the wrong drunk's cup and was beat by this drunk and some drunk cohort within an inch of his life. Where was the beefed up security then? It's obviously not doing anything.
I don't understand why they think they have to cater to these intoxicated maniacs in order to keep butts in the seats. They should have full stands everytime by those assumptions, but they can't even fill the stands to a play off game. Do you know why? Because sports are a family affair. We want to bring our children, our grand children, our neices, nephews, our Little Brother or Sister, and instill in them a love for the game. We want to share our love of football with those we love. But would you bring your children to that type of environment? My husband won't even bring me to that type of environment, says he's too worried about my safety there. And so the love of the game is not being passed on to the next generation, or at least not in the same numbers. And they are losing real fans, and the next generations of fans, by trying to buy full seats with unlimited liquor. To those who say that is why the family fun zone is there, they have obviously not witnessed that it is not immune to 'un-family friendly' lewdness, and even if it was, it's such a small section compared to the percent of people coming who would want to be in a 'family fun zone' type atmosphere. The family is obviously not recognized as the reason for a continuing loyal fan base.
And so where have all the fans gone? Watching the game from the safety of their home, someone else's home, or a bar (yes, there are some who consider some bars more safe than the stadium). Watching on t.v. is just not the same, it loses some of the excitement, the passion, the exhileration. There is nothing that brings a city closer together than the bonding you can have with strangers just because you've shared hometown victory. But you can't really get that on your couch or even at a bar. But at least we won't end up in the hospital. Even though it makes Bomber fans look kinda like fairweather fans. Heck, we've had offers from our Saskatoon branch (former Winnipegers) to come and help fill our stands! It's sad when a city 1/3 our size can draw in spectators from 3 hours away, who will drive that distance and back every home game, and almost always have every seat full. It's even more sad that we have to choose to keep my neices safe as opposed to being able to share that kind of hometown loyalty with them.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pressure Points & 101 To Do List

I have found my perfect motivator. Peer pressure. Now it’s nothing that will inspire a scolding “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” It’s more like, I have friends making a difference in their community, political change, the environment, or cousins who have tremendously busy lives yet find ways to cook fabulous meals, or even just my co-workers who are athletic and motivated to stay fit. It all inspires me.
At work we are actually having a contest with another branch to see who can travel the most kilometers through exercise, the first team to Miami, Florida (figuratively speaking) wins. Now, everyone is gung ho about it, and so am I because this is just the kind of pressure and group accountability that pushes me to follow through with my own good intentions. Not only that, but even before this contest began our office has been trying to find a way for ourselves to be more active and we’re thinking of bringing in a yoga instructor once a week to lead who ever wants to join. That’s perfect for me because I hate doing things alone, and having to travel to a place on my own time to exercise is a DE-motivator for me. I am really hoping this sets the flame under my butt I think it will.
And on this subject, I think I am doing pretty well in my 101 Things To Do in 1001 days. This was another peer pressure motivated challenge for me. My cousin Pam had this on her blog and so I joined her in late July. It was another one of those things I knew I needed to do because I would have accountability to Pam and anyone else reading my blog after I posted it, motivating me to actually work towards crossing every last thing off. It was actually hard to come up with that many things I wanted to accomplish but now it has inspired me so much I have actually added to it : ) I think I have it up to 110 things I want to do in 1001 days now.

Here is my updated list of accomplishments:
Out of 101 to dos - 55 Completed ~ 19 In Progress ~ 13 daily/weekly/etc. items implemented~9 Added ~ 8 No Can Dos15 LEFT TO DO! With 345 days to go! (as of last update - 05/09/09)

House & Home1. Finish curtains for living room on MIL's sewing machine - just bought new ones so they can stay with the house when we sell
2. Buy new curtains for dining room - bought new ones
3. Find a better shoe shelf, to keep shoes off the floor – built in shoe rack at new house
4. Replace old light fixtures with same as ones already replaced - done by BIL!
5. Buy new couch and love seat, something smaller and cat hair resistant – bought new love seat, recliner and couch, chocolate brown microsuede
6. Buy a new coffee table with drawers and cubby holes to hide junk in – found a storage ottoman, can be a seat, foot stool, or the lid flips into a tray, and there is storage inside
7. Have or share a garage sale - block garage sale May 10th
8. Continue working on growing grass in back yard - grass has fully grown in

9. Re-do sidewalk to garage - something we might possibly do for new yard10. Add step for garage entrance - won't be completing after all because of moving
11. Replace bedroom doors with doors with vents - not doing this because of moving
12. Back up and reformat computer - done
13. Have Dutch Elm Diseased trees removed - all removed, unfortunately the half dead oak is not going to be done by the city for free and we don't have the money to remove the eye soar, but at least les DED trees means less worms.

14. Childproof the house for babysitting: managed two occasions of babysitting with no incidents, new house and furniture much more kid friendly15. - door blocking mudroom (with cat door) - will block too much of hallway for moving furniture out of upstairs, so not doing after all16. - reorganize shelves close to the ground - done
17. Rebuild mudroom, with drywall and linoleum, and depending on money, a more energy efficient furnace and water tank (if we don't move first : ) - settling for replacing flooring because we're going to sell and move, BIL laid down plywood and we laid peel and stick tiles....looks good!
18. Match siding on house to garage (if we don't move first) - done, been painted to match garage
19. Make a timeline for moving into a bigger house, if not actually move - house sold as of June 25th and new house bought as of June 26th, moved in as of August 16th
20. Replace locks for the house/fix the front & back screen doors - didn’t end up needing to replace them, just fix them
21. Replace broken drawers/cupboards in counter - BIL finished fixing

22. Make one BBQ usable - decided we'll buy a new one or a BBQ pit with house sale proceeds
23. Clean off the deck and patio set, and protect from fall/winter weather - cleaned and placed in shed.

24. Scan negatives, as well as family members negatives – finally bought scanner to start this but waiting for some free time!
25. Go through clothes and make a pile to give to charity - done
26. Finish going through still packed items for 'keep' and 'garage sale' piles - done
27. Organize craft supplies so I can find what I am looking for – have organizational furniture, getting even more now that my new craft room will just be a craft room.
28. De-clutter shelves in living room, less décor, better storage - done
29. Burn back up DVDs of computer in more organized fashion – bought a second hard drive to use for backing up our computers

Academics/Work30. Finish on the job training - done31. Take at least one Golder U course per year - 2- 07/08, 2 - 08/09
32. Re-organize office library - done
33. Organize server room - done
34. Create a birthday list and start birthday celebrations - done
35. Create a better manual for my job responsibilities – finished for new admin hire
36. Aim to use less than 5 days of sick time per year - 07/08 =6.5/5 days, 08/09 = 4/5, 09/10 = 0/5

37. Renew passports - renewed in April for Sean's trip to Vegas and our trip to Nashville
38. Driving vacation through Saskatchawan & Alberta, Edmonton, Calgary,and Rockies – hopefully next year39. Attend a Big & Rich concert – on January 21st, 2008
40. Attend as many Paul Brandt concerts as we can – on November 19th, 2007
41. A long weekend with Sean in a major US city - went to Nashville for more than long weekend, June 5-11th42. A long weekend with Sean at a cabin -hopefully next year43. Go to a State or Province we've both never been before – going to Nashville
44. Go horseback riding with Sean - maybe in Alberta if we go next year45. Girls only road trip/shopping trip
46. Collect DVDs of favorite movies and t.v. shows – now have PVR so that we can record shows and watch them at our leisure instead of our favourite shows becoming a leash, so that was my ultimate goal, I'm technically done
47. Eat at Confusion Corner Grill, on the building top patio
48. Eat at Café Inferno – ate there for my birthday, done!
49. Eat at the Tavern, on the building top patio
50. Have a BBQ in our back yard with at least 2 other people over - waiting till we have new BBQ

51. Plan an amazing 5 year anniversary date! (since the odd years are my turn) – had a wonderful 24 hours at the Inn at the Forks, in the Riverstone room, fireplace, waterfall, jacuzzi, bathroom as big as our bedroom!52. A romantic stay somewhere in the mountains with a hot spring – hopefully next year53. Once a month, not including date night, do something as a couple that will allow us to carry on a long conversation (no t.v./movies/video game), such as; boardgames, walks, car rides, bike rides, etc. – once a month dedicating one weekend to spend time just the two of us54. Continue dedicating each July to the Honoring Husband Challenge – did my third July of this challenge and it still is continuing to teach me more about being a great wife. 3/3 July's done.55. Go out for a one-on-one coffee/dinner with at least 6 family members each year – 11/1656. Organize a day of scrapbooking for the females in the Braun family
57. Have a WOG friends get together - have hung out with 2 old WOG friends seperately, hopefully can with at least one more couple before this is over
58. Have an ECC friends get together
59. Go out for a coffee/dinner with at least one friend each month – 17/3260. Babysit my neices or nephew - babysat Landon once overnight and Brooklynn and Landon together overnight
61. Organize a 'paper crafting' club that will meet every other month
62. Become a mom (even though this one is a little out of my control) - my cycle was regular for 6 months and now the last two have not been again...not sure what's up


63. Join a cell group/Bible study
64. Copy sermon notes from Church into my notebook - done
65. Make entries in a prayer journal at least once a week, including a weekly list of people to pray for – a sermon on prayer has changed my perspective on this and I am still journaling but without time constraints.
66. Post scripture around me to remind me of important verses to me – working on this
67. Make a song book (just lyrics) of my favorite worship songs – working on this
68. Read the whole Bible – 14/66 books, had a lapse in this but back on track

69. Find and implement ways to reduce allergies (and therefore snoring) – have noticed an improvement, don't have anything to attribute it to70. Follow 1200 calories per day meal plan (snacks incl) until I lose 30 lbs - re-adjusted to range of 1100-1700 calories, but trying not to exceed 1450 calories per day. Have lost 27 lbs
71. 30-60 minutes of walking & orbitrek each 3 times a week until I lose 40 lbs - working out 180 min.+ per week
72. 30-60 minute bike ride once a week until I lose 30 lbs - part of above plan
73. After reaching goal weight, maintain weight with 5 hrs weekly exercise and healthy meals - reducing that to 1.5 weekly
74. Drink 8 cups of water a day – been doing really well at this lately, I’ve been averaging 2 litres a day
75. No more than 250 ml of a sugary drink per week (pop, Starbucks, slurpees) – need to get back on track here
76. Start taking vitamins again – daily multi-vitamin, plus Omega 3-6-9 and vitamin C too
77. Get into the WPG Sleep Clinic – 2-5 year waiting list so will be talked to the specialist (#69) instead.78. Start regular massage therapy – bookings are a regular

Purchases to make79. My second tattoo – had my consult, can't do my design as small as I wanted it, going to go back to an original design which will be actually 3 smaller tattoos80. New cell phones and new cell phone plan - Sean gets a free phone through work now so I switched to a new provider (keeping my same number) and cheaper plan, and got a new Razr phone, yay!81. Manicure & pedicure - got both82. Get fitted properly for a bra and then purchase some in correct size (not sure if before and/or after #73) - I know my proper size now but will have to get this re-measured after weightloss.83. At least 2 new casual-dressy tops for each season - did a mini-shopping trip because all clothes way too big
84. At least 2 new casual-dressy bottoms for each season - did a mini-shopping trip because all clothes way too big
85. Buy a new two piece swimsuit - got a new suit because the other one was falling off me, couldn't go swimming like that

86. Cheap/small digital camera for events I can't bring the big camera too - finally bought it 50% off!
87. New video camera - using one on second camera, does decent videos for now88. Upgrade computer to be able to upload and edit videos - bought a laptop, haven't put on video editing software yet though
89. Stampin Spot ink pads from Stampin Up! – done thanks to my turn to host
90. At least 10 stamp sets from Stampin Up! - thanks to it being my turn to host, I now have more than 10!

Hobbies/Crafts91. Finish wedding album by our 5th year anniversary – 7/19 pages, didn't finish on time but still trucking!
92. Make a scrapbook for Brooklynn & Avery's first years - journaling my memories of them currently
93. Finish the Braun Family Wedding Album I started – working on this
94. Finish one digital design kit/month – 3.5/32 - decided to quit making these95. Make at least 100 cards for at least 10 different occasions, to have ready on hand for each year's events – created 58/10096. Take different photos to test out camera capabilities in different modes – working on this
97. Read about one book/month – read 16/32
98. Finish the poems I have started but left incomplete – done
99. Make at least two journal entries per week, on blog or on paper - 265/284
100. Finish the memories book mom asked me to make her – turned this into a blog, which is much easier and adds to my journal entries each week!
101. On day 1001 post a new 101/1001 list

102. Have the house reinsulated - cancelled due to moving
103. Buy plastic garbage bin to alleviate cat in garbage worries – we bought one for the new house
104. Try ethnic foods I haven’t tried before; Japanese, Caribbean, French – tried all three, Japanese at Shogun, French at Inferno's Bistro, and Caribbean at the Forks.
105. Make guest room into craft room also – done at old house, new house has both craft and guest room
106. Get a computer armoire to hide computer in dining room - done
107. Buy new Tupperware, especially collapsible kind to save room in kitchen cupboards - done
108. Buy kitchen organizing tools (racks, dividers, etc.) - done

109. Buy a smaller oven - changed plans, we're now spending money on home renos to make house more sellable, this one's a no can do too.
110. Buy a portable island cupboard to replace microwave cart (for more counter space) - cancelled, had BIL build a pantry instead for more storage, and microwave cart would give more counter space we wanted.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Batter Up

I have admittedly taken a very passive role in my own life up until now.

In dating I have definately avoided pursuing. A little because I'm an old fashioned romantic, with silly girl notions of being swept off my feet. A lot more to do with self-esteem issues. In fact, I would rarely even start a crush without some evidence (using the word loosely) he might like me back (conveniently forgetting how fickle 'like' was in my school years).
Same with what you could call my career. With the exception of one promotion back in my telemarketing days, I have not really pursued advancement or getting a better job, once I already had a job. My Human Resources position, they approached me to move up from Supervisor. My switch to Payroll was also offered to me due to circumstances in HR at the time, and my second attempt at Payroll, I was pursued by a third party agency even though I wasn't entirely sure I was looking for something different. And my job at Golder, a co-worker of my husband asked if he knew anyone qualified, he gave her my resume, and the rest is history.
The same has happened with our house, we never had to house hunt, the opportunity landed in our laps, as did our first car. This has been a blessing in many ways, one we have not taken for granted, however it has all of a sudden hit me that what has seemed 'meant to be' may be just be second best because I have been a bystander. I have a life I have been living but I have not been living my life.
I realized this due to the message on prayer we had at Church recently. Before that message I felt I was praying for God's will, that I would be happy to fulfill his purpose for my life. I kept asking for Him to give me my purpose, wondering why He is waiting so long to reveal it to me. But now I see that it's just another example of me sitting on the sidelines, waiting for life to happen to me. But my paradigm is changing. God isn't the kind of boss who just wants to tell you what to do and have you do it, He wants us to be a team with Him, participating in developing the purpose He has for us, working with Him to figure out the best way to do that. He wants to be our mentor, sharing the ways He can help us reach our goals. I wonder how much closer I would be now to fulfilling my purpose if I hadn't been the hesitant, unconfident bystander I've been. It's still a bit of a foreign concept to me, but there is no use in being unconfident, doubting you can live up to your purpose, because we were created to be successful in our purpose.
"Life is not a spectator sport", finally, this point has hit home with me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

70s, 80s, & 90s

I was tagged by Pam to do this....

10 years ago today (1997):
I had just recently moved away from Langside Street, one of the worst areas of Winnipeg at that time, much to the relief of those who cared about me. I also just recently started a part time job at Black's Photography in Polo Park shopping center, which I loved, renenwing my passion for photography. I learned a lot about the new high tech camera just coming out at that time, called the digital camera. They were huge and only had about 256 kb of memory. Through a co-worker of my boyfriend at the time we purchased two Siamese kittens, Sony and China and I fell in love with the Siamese breed, going on to eventually breed them myself, and I still own one to this day.

20 years ago today (1987):
I just started grade 5 at my still fairly new school, as only 7 months earlier we had moved to Steinbach from Edmonton. I was learning a lot about being in a small town, like being new made you popular, but once the new wore off so did the popularity. I was vainly attempting to do what I could to stay popular this year but to no avail, which now I am very grateful for. Even though I didn't get to fully enjoy the amenities of a big city, after all I was only 10, I did miss a few things like the huge wave pool we took swimming lessons at, West Edmonton Mall, and just the overall sense of busyiness and opportunity the city had. Of course, that was greatly compensated by being amongst a close knit family and cousins for the first time ever. Other than on visits, we had never had holidays with more than just us 5 around the table. It was really nice to feel like I belonged to something bigger than myself.

30 years ago today (1977)
I was an almost 3 month old baby who had already lived in Winnipeg and Calgary. I was probably hugely relieved that my first winter would be in the Shinook country of Calgary instead of Winterpeg. I was the first born and son-hopeful, my first toys were a tow truck and a car. I was lucky not to be a boy, my name would have been Lowell Douglas. Someone gave me a hand-made crocheted baby blanket that is white and peach that I still have today, in order to pass on to any future children we may have, but right now it is on loan to my two adorable neices.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Clean Sweep - Mennonite Edition

Well, all my ranting inspired me to search the internet for all the ideas I could find on organization for small spaces. There were tons of great ideas and organizing tools, unfortunetly most were at a cost. We're still paying off our new garage and don't exactly have the budget but the great thing is I can still start with the small things/costs and start making a difference in each room a little at a time. I'm actually quite pumped about the potential in my home now!

I've started with the dining room and guest room, I will be moving my crafts into the guest room and reducing the "guest" part of that room. For now we are storing the bed at my parents until we have a place with a 3rd bedroom, and eventually I will put one of our futons up there, so we can still host guests, but only once I have new storage chairs to replace the futon in the living room.
Seeing as I don't have a lot of surface space in my house I needed some for my new craft room, and my current desk is ideal, but that meant getting a new desk for the dining room/office. My first cost : ( Luckily there was a small unexpected amount of money left over from a utility bill that wasn't as high as we thought, and paired with my allowance I was able to afford a computer armoire! I found this brilliant idea in my organizing research and realized it was the perfect solution to an office in a dining room. I searched for one of these online but the costs were high, not to mention the shipping costs were almost 1/3 of the price of the desk! I lucked out and found this piece and we're picking it up Sunday! I am so excited. Not only is it a great deal but our dining room will soon have 1/3 more room! I'd like to get one to replace Sean's desk too....when we have the money.
The last thing that we can do, at little or no cost, is reduce our clothes and the space that holds our clothes. We have to use the guest room as a closet because our closets are 3 ft wide and 1 ft deep, on a slanting ceiling. I want to get that out of the guest room but that means making room in the Master bedroom. I've been weeding my clothes about once a year, but Sean has a big weeding to do, and hopefully soon. There are some drawers I don't think he's opened since we've moved in. After thinning the quantity, I'm going to re-evaluate how we can use the space better. Such as, I haven't been filling drawers all the way in order to keep like things seperated. Between those two things I think we can get rid of a dresser. Then the space that dresser was using can be used for the closet organizer we've had in the other room. And once I clean out the closet of a little storage, the rest of what's hanging on the organizer can go in our closet. If that is not enough, I think I will purchase some cheap storage bins to fit under our bed for our out of season clothes and then we will rotate our clothes according to the season.

So, folks, that is how with less than $300 I managed to give myself 1/3 more space in my dining room, still maintain the possibility of a guest room, feel more comfortable inviting guests over (for lack of clutter), actually get to eat at my dining room table, and feel good about donating clothes to charity. Stay tuned for more Clean Sweep - Mennonite style (that means cheaply)!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is Dr. McDreamy taking patients?

I know I’m not the most political minded person out there, even with Healthcare being a big issue these last few years, I’ve never put much thought into our system, figuring, at least it’s better than our southern neighbors and many other countries. But now, that I’m not a spring chicken anymore, it’s beginning to weigh on my mind.

For the first few years of adulthood, when I finally had the responsibility of taking care of myself, I didn’t do a very good job. *Wry smile* Big surprise. Healthcare was just one of those “ignorance is bliss” situations. I am not really sure what I was afraid of not being ignorant about, but at that time in my life, staying ignorant was my convenient copout. It only took me about 3 years to start caring (medically speaking) and I realized it was scarier not to know, but by the time I actually wanted to get a doctor, it was next to impossible. I had one briefly at the Health Science Center but one time they said she was no longer there, they could not find my file and so I hadn’t been assigned to a new doctor either. So began my years as a walk-in patient. I tried calling around to different doctors but they all said they were not taking any new patients or they needed a letter from my previous doctor. Well that was an impossible task since my last regular doctor up and disappeared with my file, and the one before that was in Steinbach when I was 17 years old. I was frustrated but I figured, that’s just the system.

I lucked out a few years ago when my parent’s doctor moved to Winnipeg and agreed to take me on as a patient. The only thing he wouldn’t handle was pregnancies but he said he would refer me to someone if and when that time came. I thought I was set until he retired. But now I am not so sure. My first issue is that it takes 3 months to make an appointment for my yearly exam, I called in August I get one in November. I realize that there is a shortage of family doctors in Manitoba, so ok, but recently some issues have come up that I had planned to talk to him about, certain issues that are time sensitive, and so I was frustrated it was going to take 3 months to even begin to look into them, never mind be tested, and if my suspicions are right, get referred to specialists. Now I’ve just been told my doctor decided to just take a few months off and hand off his appointments to a ‘substitute’ doctor who isn’t even full time so she can’t take on the appointment when I had it, I have to wait until December. Now I am really unimpressed! With a shortage of family doctors, to just decide with no notice that you are going to take months off! I realize emergencies do happen, maybe that is the case, they didn’t say, but if it is not, my quality of life has just been lowered so he can have a vacation.

So do I bother looking for another doctor? First I’ll probably need a letter, which I can’t get until Doc is back. Second, will that improve the wait times? Will I just have to wait another 3-4 months from the time they accept me as a patient to get an appointment? I’m finding it hard to know what to do. I can’t help but feel bad when I think of all the people who are much worse off than me, medically speaking, and how much harder this must be for them. But in the mean time I still have to live my life, live with my concerns.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Molehill or Mountain

In theory, I love the idea of being a minimalist. I think trying to do with the basics is an honorable goal, leading a simpler life takes the focus away from us and frees up our time for what God wants for us. I don't need to keep up with the Jones', we're fine with one vehicle, we don't need the huge home theater, or most up to date computers, and I think more than sufficient space would be around 2000 sq ft (including basement). Right now our home is just over 1000 sq ft with no basement. It should be enough for two people, but when one of those people is a 'collector' it is challenging.
The trouble is I was born of two pack rats. I have this need to collect! First, there is the 'just in case' collecting - don't throw that out just in case I need it or can make it useful. I am getting this obession a little more under control. I will go through things every few years and if I haven't needed it or thought of how to make it useful, I will get rid of it. Sean thinks this should be more often than every few years, but that is all I'm comfortable with at this point. He is a REAL minimalist.
Then there is my 'it makes me feel good' collecting. My 'feel good' collecting is what really makes 1000 sq ft inadequate. For example, I have our spare bedroom as a guest room, and not just a bed thrown in a storage room but a pretty, homey guest room. I've collected a pretty bed and pretty decor because decorating makes me feel good, and having my guests feel 'at home' makes me feel good. Unfortunately, we've only had one guest stay in 2 years (others were invited, it just never worked out). Then there is all my crafting supplies and scrapbooks. I love creating and colorful crafts, but it also makes me feel good giving people personalized cards and making memories more than just a photo. Unfortunately, our dining room already also functions as an office with a computer for each of us, a little bit of storage and then ALL my craft stuff. It's an unattractive, cluttered mess. Then there's the kitchen. I really do love to cook and bake, and not only so I can eat the feel good food, but it also makes me feel good to be able to create food for other people to enjoy as well. I have collected so many fun appliances (even an Icecream Maker!) back when I had a big kitchen but now I don't even have room for my crock pot, my collection of toys is just collecting dust in a closet. I even had to turn down a free dishwasher because there is absolutely no room! I would love to host a dinner party, another feel good activity I haven't done in about 3 years because of my cluttered and cramped home.
So, would being a minimalist solve my problems? Does being a minimalist mean I give up on my 'feel good' activities? I just don't think that's a sacrifice I want to make. I also don't think God would want me to sacrifice my creativity and hospitality, things I believe He uses, just for the sake of simplicity. Of course buying a new house is not very appealing either, not in our market at the moment. Maybe I just need Clean Sweep! They always have amazing furniture that hides everything away and have terrific organizational skills. Anyone want to nominate me???

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

in HIS hands

So I was trying to come up with a title for my blog and the song "He's got the whole world in His hands" popped into my head. I thought it was a strange correlation, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it. My blog is intended to be about my life, all about me, my relationships, my job, maybe another 'meme' about my favorite purchases. I will most likely talk about my past, my present, my future. And all of that is "in His hands". How very deep, hey? I think God was trying to dive a little deeper with this thought though.

I often struggle with personalizing my faith. I often see myself as being as part of His family rather than being His child. I apply my faith outwardly much more than I do inwardly. He's got the whole world in His hands.....and hey, what do you know, that includes me.

Funny as this sounds, it's something I've only recently begun to really realize. I mean, I know He has a purpose for my life, He has spoken to me, and listened to me, all very personal interactions, yet I still find myself thinking of myself as just one out of many. But lately I have found myself caught off guard at the emotions I have when a song during worship is personal, for example, singing lyrics like "I love You" or "He calls me friend". When the song, "He's got the whole world in His hands" popped in my head, it struck me in the same way, I am in His hands. It's hard to put into words the way that made me feel, mostly warm fuzzies, but also an uneasiness as I realized why I've had a hard time personaling my faith.

I don't feel all that worthy of being in His hands, all by myself. My head knows that as an individual I am undoubtedly important and special to God, it's in the Bible, Psalm 139 and Luke 12:7 are just some examples, and I trust God's word implicitly. Yet. This hasn't seemed to sink deep enough into my heart. While my self-esteem has taken many healthy steps in the last number of years, it would seem trust in my self worth still evades me. I still struggle with believing I am valuable to others, especially to the omnisient, omnipotent, almighty, and holy Creator of the universe. But He is also the Creator of me. And He holds His creation, each and every one of them, intimately, tenderly, securely, and lovingly in His hands.

And so through my ramblings here, I hope this blog sings:
He's got my job and my money in His hands
He's got my friends and my family in His hands
He's got my present and my future in His hands
He's got my whole life in His hands.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

About Me ~ Lori in*His*hands

Hello and welcome to Lori *in His hands*. I, of course, am Lori and here is a little about me.

I am a woman with many loves, my motto is "Love and Be Loved". I commit to the people and things I love passionately and whole-heartedly, I wear all my emotions on my sleeve and they spill honestly through my fingertips here.

The not-at-all-inclusive list of things you will see me write about here are;
~My faith in the one magnificent God, father of my redeemer Jesus Christ, and the truths he reveals to me in my walk with him.
~My tremendous husband who joined me in marriage March 1, 2003 on a blustery, blizzardy day, but he warms me through and through, and I love getting to share my life with him.
~My awesome family who I love so dearly, my mom and dad, my two sisters/dear friends, their husbands, my 2 nieces and 2 nephews, and 2 potential Ethiopian neices/nephews that have yet to be chosen. Also my husbands family, mom and dad-in-law, and the bro-in-law. And I also include in my family my closest friends, who sometimes happen to blood related, who are part of my treasured support team.
~My Church and my serving there.
~My work as an office administrator at an environmental consulting company and my family of co-workers who I really cherish.
~My health, a lot to do with weight struggles, but also a balance of overall health, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
~My love of children and my journey with infertility, although I do have a blog dedicated to that journey specifically, I do mention it here as well.
~My desire to learn and grow, especially learning how to be a good steward of my time, my money, my home, my gifts/talents, my relationships, and a good steward of His wonderful creation, our earth!
~My creative endevours, such as: crafting - especially greeting cards & scrapbooking, photography & digital photo design, poetry, writing, creative journalling, jewellry making, crochet, home decor/art, etc. I again have a blog dedicated to all things crafty :)
~My sense of humor - I love to laugh, I am actually known for my laugh, people say they know my laugh anywhere and when they remember me so many people say they remember my laugh.
~Other passions/fascinations I have are music-especially Country, cooking/food/eating, travel, tattoos, justice, reading, being exceptionally organized and meticulate, blog memes, and being a girly girl who doesn't mind getting dirty as long as she has the right shoes on!

Thank you for caring to learn a little more about me and why I blog! Feel free to become a follower of mine and join my wonderful blogger community :)

Once upon a blog

Welcome to my new blog home. I've moved to Blogger for a few reasons, Facebook being one of them....easy access due to my other Blogger sites......and I was going to recreate my blog anyway since Sean's participation was involuntary : ) So this is just my little patch of interweb space. Thanks for following me here and I hope to see many of you here 'in HIS hands'.
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