One of the girls from my hockey team posted on Facebook recently “help, my kids are driving me nuts about Santa Claus, they want to know if he’s real, I don’t know what to say, I don’t feel right lying to my children.”  She got all kinds of answers, everything from you should tell them the truth to let them believe in the magic as long as they can.  My response was that my children are now 12 and 14 and I’ve never told them Santa is not real – he is real!  The next night she posted “help, my son is now searching google earth for the north pole.”  The responses were hilarious – everything from “don’t you know that there is a shield over the North Pole to prevent being discovered by google earth to the North Pole is in a different dimension.”

Brought me back when the boys were younger, Christmas was so special and magical.  Our Christmas is still special because we are a close family and we spend a lot of time together, but the magic of Christmas isn’t quite the same when your children don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore.  I always tell the boys that Santa is real and now they play along with me so they don’t ruin my Christmas.  When my oldest was about four years old, we were decorating the house for Christmas and after decorating the tree we had an extra string of lights.  I happened to go upstairs and walk past the boys’ room just in time to see my husband stringing the set of lights on a bookshelf in the boy’s room.  I walked in and asked “what are you doing, that looks like crap” and just then my son comes in and screams with delight “oh mommy, look daddy put cwistmas wites in my room, cwistmas wites in my room.”  He then ran around the room giggling the most magnificent giggle I’ve ever heard.  Funny thing is I was just about to say that the lights looked bloody tacky  – take them down.  I couldn’t, didn’t have the heart – my son was so happy and as he stood there looking up at the bright lights, his eyes were full of wonderment and magic.  It was a special moment and a moment he’s never forgotten.  My husband was the hero and I was in disbelief because the bloody string of lights looked horrendous.

That Christmas we had quite a few guests over several days and every person who walked into our house was greeted by a four-year old with blonde curly hair, big saucer eyes and a mile wide smile.  He grabbed every guest’s hand and said ” you must come and see the cwistmas wites in my room, come you have to come and see what my daddy did.”  He would then take our guest up to his room to show off his cwitmas wites.   It was a special time to see the magic in his eyes over those hideous Christmas lights – “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” and that Christmas my son taught my husband and I the true meaning of Christmas.    Last year I posted the lyrics of “Little Drummer Boy” in pa rum pum pum.   Beautiful video below of Pentatonix singing about a simple boy with a simple gift  – enjoy!

Pipe Dream #236: To Sneak in Snacks – Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

I just had to reblog this recipe. I haven’t made this this yummy cake yet, but I’m gonna. Chocolate and marshmallows -need I say more.

piping dreams

choc oat cake 1

For your cold and chocolate fixes…

{Get a looka that crinkly icing!}

…this oatmeal cake is sure to warm you up.

choc oat cake 5

This cake is so full of chocolate, I barely know where to begin. First comes the cake layer, a dense cocoa oat slice studded with semisweet chocolate chips. The oats in the cake don’t come off as oatmeal; they just keep everything moist and hearty. Then follows a sugary chocolate icing that includes MARSHMALLOWS (cue singing aloud for joy). It’s that kind of rich icing that you almost can’t eat with a spoon because of its intensity, but then you can because its fudge rippliness is so irresistible.

choc oat cake 4

I don’t often allow myself to make this kind of “snack cake.” Too much “evening out the slices,” if you catch my drift. (Can you see how I took out that little mini edge so it would be straight? Ha.) By the…

View original post 283 more words



Raking the leaves this weekend, my children looked up at the tree of the fallen leaves and said “mom – look at the size of the wasp nest.”  We never saw it all summer,  mowed the lawn right underneath it, clipped and pulled at the bushes below the nest – never noticed the wasp nest…

“Winter is the time for comfort, for food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for  talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”  Edith Sitwel


It’s no secret – I’m severely hearing impaired or a better term, I have a hidden disability.  Yes my condition is a disability, however, to my  disadvantage I look totally normal.  I can walk, run, jump, see and to a stranger, it appears that I can hear.  Appearances are not necessarily reality.  My hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss and the root of my hearing loss lies in the vestibulocochlear nerve, the inner ear or central processing centers of the brain.   Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by abnormalities in the hair cells of the organ of Corti in the cochlea.   Simply put, I’m severely hearing impaired with a very good chance of waking up one morning to be completely deaf.  Cause of this impairment can be from loud noises, infection or genes and in my case the condition runs in my family.

I use the term hidden disability because it describes my situation.  People don’t necessarily notice my hearing aids (even though I never attempt to hide them) and even if people notice the hearing aids, there is no way for a stranger to understand the implications of my deafness.  Approximately eight years ago while using the phone at work, suddenly the sound of the person’s voice on the other end of the connection sounded hollow and as if I was talking through a tunnel.  After a series of in-depth tests it was revealed what I feared.  My hearing had deteriorated and there is no way to know if and when my hearing will completely leave me.   The tests also revealed that I am a candidate for a cochlear implant.   I haven’t signed on to be on the waiting list for an implant simply because the procedure scares me and it’s an adventure into unknown territory.    Right now I get by with the help of hearing aids, lip-reading and at times I piece  words from a conversation together like piecing a jigsaw puzzle.

I’ve been blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life, family and friends, but it is frustrating how a deaf or severely hearing impaired person can be treated.  I mostly ignore this treatment, but I have to admit at times it’s hard.  People treat you like you are lacking in  intelligence, or worse, like you don’t exist at all.   Sometimes this treatment isn’t from strangers; it can be from family and friends.  Lack of understanding or ignorance is at the root of this treatment and I try to remind myself of that every time an incident occurs.

A long time ago before I was married and  before I met my husband – I was in a relationship with a man for a few years.  One time over coffee a girlfriend says to me ” I’m really surprised you have a boyfriend.”  I was somewhat confused and I asked her why this would surprise her?  She said “because of your deafness, I’m surprised that you have found a man who would go out with you especially with your condition.”   It’s very rare that I am silent,  but I was stunned into silence.  My first reaction was anger and I thought “does she think that you need to hear to be loving, sensual, sexy and desired.”  “Believe me honey you don’t need to hear to be all of that and more.”   Just as I was about to blurt out something nasty and full of anger, a thought occurred to me that made  me feel sad for her.  She was relating her own fears, her belief that you have to be perfect in order to be loved.  Instead of an angry response, I said “I feel sorry for you if you think you have to be perfect to be loved, you don’t, that’s not how real love works.”  The effect was stunned silence from her.  She never said anything like that ever again.

All my life I’ve dealt with inconsiderate comments – something I’ve accepted and usually I use wit and  humour to deal with these comments.  I am at ease with my hearing loss and can laugh at some of the humorous situations that I get myself into.  I grew up with two brothers who loved to tease and what better person to tease than the hearing impaired person.  Their teasing was never about being condescending, it was about loving and accepting me as a whole.    However, in the real world people are not like that.   I can’t tell you how often, in a group setting, where I encounter the most difficulty, I’ve asked a person to repeat something and they either ignore me or wave me off like I’m not there – makes me feel left out and isolated.   When I confided at work that my hearing had become worse making phone use even more difficult a co-worker said to me  “you should apply for disability.”  My response was “disability is  for people who can’t work, I am fully able to work.” Her comment lacked empathy and after I had time away, I realized, again this was about her fears not my disability.  These types of incidences happen to me on a daily basis and I fight very hard not to feel isolated, not to withdraw myself from society and remain social.

The one positive aspect I can take from my lack of hearing is I know who my friends are, the friend who supports me whether I hear them or not, the friend who knows when I’m not hearing at a party and fills me in as soon as she gets the chance, the friend who uses my choice of communication (e-mail, facebook or skype) rather than phoning because she knows how difficult the phone can be, the friend who whispers into my ear scene by scene of what’s happening in a movie while at a theatre so I don’t miss any of the story, consequently totally screwing me up and I’ve never had the heart to tell her that I didn’t hear a damn thing she said (thank God for movie theatre closed caption devices) and the friend that takes the time to make sure we get together and purposely chooses a quiet restaurant because she knows I don’t do well in loud settings.

So Many blessings in so many areas of my life, a prayer of gratitude every day.  My morning routine is to get out of bed walk over to my bureau pick up my hearing aids and place them in my ears.  Within that split second between putting the hearing aids in my ears and turning on the device I wonder “will I hear today?”  The moment I hear sound I know it’s  a good day because today I will hear my children’s laughter, hear my youngest son singing along to the radio in the car, hear my husband’s constant jokes and teases throughout the day and  there are days if I stand very still outside amongst the trees and a bird is close enough, I may hear that bird chirping knowing that today could be the last day I hear her beautiful song.  Below a story I can relate.  A story of two girls and how they get through severe hearing impairment.  You must choose to see yourself as beautiful  and immerse  your soul in complete acceptance in this complex world – the choice is really the only choice someone with deafness or severe hearing impairment can make because any other choice means going in the wrong direction as in one of these girls….


peaceThis weekend is Remembrance Day weekend in Canada.  November 11th we honour all of the men and women, by land, sea and air, who have lost their lives to give all of us and future generations something we desperately take for granted – “freedom.”  I read this in the Vancouver Sun today, Peter McMartin is my favourite columnist, I read everything he writes – guess you can say I’m a big fan.  Today he posted a simple letter from a pilot who had joined the ranks of the air force to face the enemy many moons ago.  Tom Walmsley was this man’s name and his simple wishes for his son became a “life manual” for his two-year old son.  A life manual Tom’s son never took for granted and based his whole life on his father’s simple wishes – read below – I promise after reading it you will be filled with gratitude for what you have and cherish the freedoms we all have been given because of the great men and women before us…..May we never forget and continue to support the many men and women who continue to fight for our freedom.    Double click below:


boy and his gun

A vintage picture of my brother as a boy and like so many boys, yesterday and today, they like to play with guns.  Thought the picture was appropriate because  this Friday’s phlog is posted just before Rememembrance Day, November 11th.  When I look at this photo I see a little boy, but I also see a boy, like my own boys, who thinks that war is fun; fun to hide behind trees and jump out and attack your friends.  I sincerely wish that war was about make-believe.  Speak to our fathers or grandfathers and we know by their harrowing experiences that war is not fun.  So many times you hear people say ” we won the war” when talking about world-wars – I’ve just got to wonder about the guys who didn’t make it, all the honourable men who were slaughtered, I wonder if they feel like they won the war.

The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Lieutenant Colonel John McCraeIn Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium


pretzel collage

My children really get bored with sandwiches and every night I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what to do for lunch.  I’ve started to get the boys more involved in packing their own lunch and rather than just a sandwich, I have a variety of items available.   I separate the items into different bins and label the bins – i.e. – chips /crackers,  snacks/ fruit  yogurt / cheese or miscellaneous.  The bins are either in my pantry or in the refrigerator depending on the item.  The bins kind of look like the picture below except the tags shown are far fancier thanlunch mine  – My labels are hand-written on a plain piece of paper and taped onto the bins.  Every morning I take all the bins out and put them on the counter and the boys pick items from each bin and put the item in their lunch bag.  I am surprised how much smoother my morning is with this simple organization tip.   Yesterday I had some extra time on my hands so I made some pizza dough in my bread machine and baked some pizza pretzels for this week’s lunches.  This recipe comes from an oldie but goodie recipe book called Canadian Bread Machine Baking with Roxanne McQuilkin.  When I first bought my bread machine I learned that there is a difference between Canadian and American flour and most bread machine recipe books are written with US measurements that doesn’t always work with Canadian flour.  Roxanne wrote this book with that thought in mind and all of her recipes are tested with Canadian flour.  Below is the recipe from Roxanne’s book for Pizza Pretzels.  The dough for this recipe is made with both whole wheat and white flour making it a healthier choice.   If you have any pizza sauce around, put some in a small container so your child can dip the pretzels in pizza sauce making it a complete snack!

15 – 20 pretzels


All-Purpose flour            1 1/2 cups

Whole wheat flour        1 1/2 cups

Chopped Pepperoni    1/3 cup

Salt                                     1 1/2 tsp

Dried Oregano               1 tsp

Garlic powder                 1/2 tsp

Margarine or oil             2 tbsp

Water                                1 1/4 cups

Yeast                                 2 tsp

(Yeast for bread machines)



Egg white                                    1

Water                                           1 tsp

Cut up Mozzarella Cheese   1 1/2 cups


Prepare dough using the dough ingredients.  I always start with the water and work my way up to the top of the ingredients ending with the yeast.

Grease baking sheets, cut cheese in thin pieces, small enough to fit on the narrow pretzel surface.

Knead dough a few times.  Flour large chef’s knife and cut dough in 10 or 15 equal pieces.  Shape each piece in log  (8″) long, by rolling between floured hands or on floured surface.  Twist logs in pretzel shape and place on baking sheet(s).

Brush pretzels with oil, cover and let rise in warm place until double in size, about 40 minutes.  Brush tops of pretzels with beaten egg and water.  spread cheese over the tops.

Bake in preheated 400 F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until brown.  Watch them as thinner pretzels cook more quickly and the cheese can make them burn easily.

Fill them in one of your lunch bins and voila there is plenty of variety to choose from for an exciting lunch!

Picture of bins comes from:

Get Organized: Make Packing School Lunch Easy

You can still purchase this book on Amazon:

If you ever see this book at a thrift store or at a garage sale – grab it – the book is  a great resource for bread machines and the book contains wonderful recipes from bread, dough, sweet rolls and even dog biscuits!


My husband made a comment to me the other day that couldn’t of been more true.  He said to me “you’re not a girlie girl.”   He’s right, I’m not, never have been ever since I was a little girl.  I played with Barbie but I always wanted Ken to play along as well.  When my brother got bored with Ken, I stole him and hid him in my Barbie box.  I had no illusions about Barbie and Ken being romantically involved, I just wanted my Barbie to hang out with a cool guy who liked to fish, hunt, camp and do all the guy stuff.   My Barbie stayed in pants, she rarely wore dresses or skirts and I couldn’t have cared less about doing her hair and make-up.  I wanted my Barbie to travel to Africa with Ken,  go on cool Safaris, I wanted her to camp, hike and dig in the dirt!  By the same token I preferred to hang out with the boys in the neighbourhood not because I was enamored with boys, I found girl play rather boring and I didn’t really have time to sit and gossip about this one or that one!  I talked like the boys, acted like the boys and I can remember frustrating my mother as she was constantly putting my dresses back on because the first thing I did when she put a dress on me was take it off and change back into my pants and t-shirt.   Sometimes I would sneak out wearing just pants and bare-chested like the boys.  Less clothes made more sense to me – hassle free when you’re digging up in the dirt and climbing trees.

My mother would become exasperated with me because she was a girlie girl and my older sister was a girlie girl.   Mom would get me ready for church on Sundays and the last thing she would say to me as I headed out the door “don’t go playing in the mud and dirty up your dress.”  She shouldn’t have said that because in my mind that was a challenge and the first thing I’d do was go find the biggest puddle I could find and jump in the middle of it knowing full well that I was pissing my mother off and I couldn’t have cared less.  After all she made me wear this ridiculous outfit and if I was miserable , she might as well be miserable too.  How I didn’t end up six feet under as a little girl is beyond me, because I can still see my mother’s face, all twisted up and mad as hell.   Once we got to church I’m sure I heard her praying “God why did you give me this tomboy of a girl who lives in pants and refuses to wear the adorable dresses I buy her, Lord what am I supposed to do with this one?”  One time Mom tried to cure my tomboy ways by taking me on a shopping excursion downtown Montreal and the whole day I bitched and whined that I wanted out of the store and to make matters worse, she dressed me up in a dress so we could spend the day together dressed up looking at more uggggg- dresses!  I hated the day, hated the mall, hated my mother for making me do the dress-up thing, wasting my day and I let her know how I felt loud and clear.  My mother would say to me “why can’t you be more like your sister, she likes shopping, she likes wearing pretty clothes and fixing herself up.”   The fact that I was so vocal drove my mother nuts as well  – she was always commenting that I had to have the “last word” and I would always come up with some smart ass comment after she made that statement because again she challenged me so I had to have the last word!   I wasn’t an easy child and now that I have a son just like me, I realize how frustrating I must have been!  I am more prepared than my mother as I completely understand my son.  For the longest time I thought my mother hated me because I could never conform to what she wanted me to be but as I grew up I realized just how much she loved me and she just wanted things to be easier for me as she felt that my personality brought certain hardships that I could avoid.  Mom use to say, “can’t you just go with the flow stop being so you.”

Funny thing is mom usually went with the flow unless something really rubbed her the wrong way or she had a fierce belief, she could attack like a tiger and you wouldn’t know what hit you.  Didn’t happen often but every now and then she would surprise me.  I remember one such incident, the two of us were flying from Vancouver to Toronto to visit family.  My stepfather worked for Air Canada so we had family airline passes and could fly stand-by.    I remember the flight was packed that day and we were lucky to get seats, we had to sit separately but we made it on the plane and we were both only too happy not to wait another couple of hours for the next flight.  Halfway through the flight I hear my mother’s raised voice plain as day, “you bastard, how can you be such an ass and admit something like that.”  Mom’s voice was really loud and then she went on to call the man a few more names I’d rather not mention.  I was shocked, the stewardess came running down the aisle and the man was yelling that he wanted this crazy lady moved to another seat.  The crazy lady was my mother and she yelled, “I’ll gladly switch seats because I don’t want to sit beside this cheating son of a bitch.”  Mom ended up sitting somewhere else for the duration of the flight leaving me to wonder what the hell was going on.   I couldn’t wait to land and get off the plane to talk to my mother.    When I found my mother she recounted that this man was flying with his mistress and both he and his mistress were laughing about the affair they were having and laughing about the fact that this man’s wife was at home.  “How on earth did you get into a conversation like that mom,” I asked.  Mom had a few glasses of wine which made her very opinionated but she said this man and woman just told her, weird if you ask me, but mom did not hesitate to put this man and woman in their place.

Truth be known my mother was no stranger to extramarital affairs, her husband, my father, left our family for another woman so my mother was angry to the core when these passengers made light of the affair they were having.  Then mom said to me ” we might not be able to fly on passes anymore because the stewardess told me that if a complaint goes in against me I might lose my passes for being an unruly passenger. I don’t care, she said, because I’d do it again.”  “Wow mom, so much for going with the flow, ” I said.    Nothing ever became of the threat, I don’t think that man put in a complaint, frankly because he was probably scared what my mother would do – crazy lady might go to the newspaper and frankly when my mother believed in something to the core of her being – I could see her screaming loud and long all the way to the editor’s office.  As much as my mother tried to stop me from being me, the apple didn’t really fall that far from the tree!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA