THE WHITE STUFF – FRIDAY’S PHLOG FOR DECEMBER 20, 2013

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.

HIS / HER TREE

his tree her tree

Ever since I’ve known my husband he has collected Hallmark Christmas decorations – not just any Hallmark Christmas decorations – guy Hallmark Christmas decorations.  Emmitt Smith, Ken Grifie Junior, Troy Aikman, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Captain Jack Sparrow, GI Joe in space and GI Joe solider – he’s got them all. My husband is a hoarder  –I mean collector and for years all of his collectible Hallmark Christmas decorations were neatly packed away in a bin hidden in the garage.  No one was allowed to touch them never mind decorate a tree with his prized collection. “The kids will break my decorations” he said. I don’t think he’s ever read Erma Bombeck’s list of regrets after she found out she was dying of cancer.  All of my decorations go up every year and no one seems to care if they get messed up or broken and that’s ok because I don’t care  – beautiful things are meant to be enjoyed and shared. Not sure if I can call his taste in Christmas decorations beautiful but nevertheless, his decorations are beautiful to him – beautiful enough to hide in a garage away from the kids for the last fourteen years. Every year I put up two trees -the tree  in the living room is decorated with all of the Christmas decorations that my friends and family have given me over the years (my traditional tree) and then the other tree in the family room is decorated with a blue and silver theme.  After I put up the two trees and wrapped the trees in lights and garland,  my husband walks in with his box of his precious collection and ask me “what tree he can hang his decorations on?”  After fourteen years of his decorations in a box, I’m thinking they can stay in the garage – but the Christmas Spirit in me gave him the tree in  the family room that is usually a beautiful blue and silver theme.  He happily goes over to his tree and starts to hang his Hallmark decorations while the boys and I decorate the living room tree.  After fourteen years of knowing about their father’s almighty collection, they couldn’t stand to be in the living room with me while the “sport tree” was being decorated in the other room.    Competition, let me tell you,  between the traditional family/friend tree and the sport tree – you guessed it, the sport tree won.  Both boys left me to decorate the big tree and they made their way to the family room to join their father and decorate the sport tree.  If you double click on the collage you will get a close up view of the two trees – my tree has a star on top and his tree has – yep that’s right – a football helmet!  As I always say – beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…Below Erma Bombeck’s list of regrets – I’m posting this for my husband – I have Erma’s poem posted in my office at work to remind myself everyday how precious life is..

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER – by Erma Bombeck (written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
 I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, ‘Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.’ There would have been more ‘I love you’s’ More ‘I’m sorry’s.’
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it .. live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!
Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. 

CARRYING YOUR BURDENS – FRIDAY’S PHLOG FOR DECEMBER 13, 2013

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I love this story –  a story I have to read often to remind myself not to hold on to negative emotions.  There are many versions of this story – Catholic, Jewish, Japanese and many more – this is my favourite version because I can relate to the younger monk being bewildered by the rude women’s behaviour.  As we approach the most stressful time of the year and deal with rude people in shopping malls or on busy streets –  remember to let bygones be bygones – easier said than done but not impossible.

ZEN BUDDHIST STORY

Two monks are walking along a country path. They soon are met by a caravan, a group of attendants carrying their wealthy and not-so-kindly mistress and her possessions. They come to a muddy river, and cannot cross with both mistress and packages – they must put one down and cannot figure out how to do so. So the elder monk volunteers to carry the woman across the river, on his back, allowing the attendants to carry her things, and then all can go on their way. The woman does not thank him, and rudely pushes him aside to get back to her caravan.
After traveling some way on their own, the younger monk turns to his master, and says, “I cannot believe that old woman! You kindly carried her across the muddy river, on your very own back, and not only did she not offer thanks, but she actually was quite rude to you!” The master calmly and quietly turned to his student, and offered this observation: “I put the women down some time ago. Why are you still carrying her?”

LET IT SNOW…

let it snow

We were blessed to have some snow here in Vancouver – not an everyday occurrence.  Last night I was about to head out to the gym when my husband showed me a posting on Facebook from a mom in our hockey community – she had posted pictures of a farmer’s field where she was at that moment with her children skating on an open rink. Open rink – brought me right back to my childhood in Quebec – I had a million things to do like Christmas cards, cook dinner, laundry but I didn’t hesitate – I called the kids, grabbed our gear and took off in the truck to find the farm.  I drove by it three times because even though I could see the lights and the people, I couldn’t figure out where to park.  It turns out the farmer had opened his front gate and invited people to park on his property and enjoy the ice rink he made by flooding his field – it was awesome – he had generators, music and lights.  He was serving hot dogs and hot chocolate for  a donation.  As I was driving out of the farm – I saw a small sign on the front gate – “Welcome to God’s Little Acre Farm.”  “I’ve heard of this farm,” I thought.  When I got home, I looked up the farm on the internet and indeed I had heard of “God’s Little Acre.”  He is a farmer who has dedicated his life to feeding the poor – he dedicates 30 acres of his land to produce food for the local food bank.  His project has grown and he has hundreds of volunteers help him sow the land and harvest the crop. He does all kinds of fundraising to make this project possible – create an ice rink and serve hot dogs and hot chocolate is one of his endeavours.   An interesting story and an example of what you can do if you’re determined…All I know is that for a small donation, we had a great time skating in the fresh air late into the evening.  Thanks Jas…

http://godslittleacrefarm.com/our-story/

THE WAY OF TRUTH ALWAYS WINS…

She walked into the room and she knew, she had never seen death before but the smell of death permeated the room.  As she got to the side of her father’s bed, she noticed that he had been stripped of all his clothing, the middle of his torso was covered with a bed sheet, he was lying vertically across the bed and his legs were dangling over the side.  Her step-mother woke her up a few moments ago and said “wake up your father says he’s having a heart-attack but he doesn’t want me to phone the ambulance.”  Standing over her father, she knew this was bullshit, his flesh was a shade of grey she had never seen before, his breathing was very shallow and the smell that filled her nostrils clearly told her that the end was near.  She knew that even if her father wanted to die, it was more natural to want to live and no human being wanted to be lying in their own filth barely breathing and in pain.  Slowly she turned to her step-mother, resisting the urge to scream, and said in a very calm but commanding voice “phone the ambulance now.”

Her mind was racing as she was standing over her father, how come the ambulance wasn’t called, how long had her father been lying like this, questions, questions, questions running through her mind.  Her mind was so pre-occupied that she barely heard it but when she focused again on her father, his lips were moving.  She bent down as close as she could and he said “where is Theresa?”  “I’m right here Dad,” she said.  She grabbed his hand and held on and she felt a tiny bit of pressure as her father squeezed her hand and through his shallow breathing she heard what was barely a whisper – “I love you more than you know.”  “I love you too Dad” she said staring at him in utter disbelief.    She looked up and saw that her father’s wife had entered the room and was watching the scene.   Theresa found it strange that her father did not ask about his wife, he asked the whereabouts of his daughter and made sure she knew that he loved her but never did he ask for his wife.

It seemed to take forever for the ambulance to arrive but finally they arrived and put an oxygen mask over her father’s face, rolled him onto a stretcher and rushed him into the ambulance.  Theresa and her step-mother raced to the car and were about to leave for the hospital when her step-mother suddenly stopped the car and asked Theresa to go inside and get a change of clothes for her father  because he would need clothes for when he came home from the hospital.   Theresa was a little perplexed because it was very obvious to her that father was not coming home.  Rather than waste time arguing, Theresa just did as she was asked – she went back to her father’s bedroom quickly put an outfit together for her father and rushed back to the car.

They arrived at the hospital where Theresa was greeted by one of the ambulance attendants and he came rushing up to her and said “your father looked good as we brought him in, he was talking, he seemed better.”  Theresa stood there and stared at the man, what a stupid thing to say to a daughter of a man who is obviously dying.  Rather than say what she thought, she kept walking.   They were ushered into a private  waiting room and Theresa was waiting for the inevitable announcement that her father was dead.  It couldn’t have been any more than 30 minutes before the doctor appeared and told her and her step-mother what Theresa already knew – her father was gone.  Her step-mother immediately started to yell “what am I going to do” and then sobbed.  Theresa was prepared to be told that her father was dead and she calmly asked the doctor if she could see her father.  As they walked into the emergency room and she approached  the bed where her father now lay, she could see that his skin was now  a blue/purple colour and he looked very puffy.  Even though the doctor told her he was dead she had to be certain.  She no longer felt his presence and from behind her she could hear her father’s wife crying.  One of the hospital workers pointed to a ring her father was wearing on his right hand and said that the ring was very tight-fitting but they would try to get the ring off in one piece and if they succeeded who should they give the ring too?  Before her step-mother could speak Theresa spoke for her brother.  “That ring belongs to my brother.”  Her step-mother went to say something but Theresa interrupted her and said ” Dad told me last night that if he should die, he wanted my brother to have this ring.”  Dad had been wearing that ring since he was seventeen years old and now his son was  about to turn seventeen years old and last night her father mentioned the irony of his son being seventeen, the same age his mother gave him the ring.  Now standing at the edge of the hospital bed where her father now laid, she was prepared to lurch anyone who dared to take the ring – it belonged to her brother, her father made that clear.

As her memory raced back to the night before, Theresa was now certain that something was different about her father.  He spoke of so many things he had never spoken to her about.  He spoke about the reasons and ramifications of his divorce to her mother ten years earlier, he spoke of his recent troubles at work, his time spent in the Navy during the war and he spoke of his love for all of his children.   She realized now that this was God’s gift to her – her last moments with her father.  She felt closer to her father that night than she ever had and now standing by her father’s body demanding that her father’s wishes be kept regarding his ring she looked down at the bag she was holding and she felt angry. 

All the while waiting in the hospital room to hear of her father’s impending death, she was holding that stupid bag and now as she looked down she could see the brown loafer shoes, the brown dress pants and the checkered sweater she quickly grabbed at the insistence of her father’s wife.   Theresa knew her father wasn’t coming home and she angrily thought as she listened to the howl of his wife “how could she not get he was a goner.”  As they walked out into the hallway of the emergency area of the hospital, her stepsister, Kerry, came rushing in asking the whereabouts of her father.  All three woman were  pulled into a private room where Kerry, was told that her step-father had died and immediately Kerry started to sob.  Through her sobbing Theresa heard her say “I knew when I got up for work at 5:30 am that something was really wrong, he was crying out in pain.”

Moments later in the hallway before the entrance way to the emergency room, Theresa pulled Kerry aside.  “Did you say Dad was crying out in pain when you got up for work this morning.”  “Yes,” Kerry said, “he was in obvious pain and very uncomfortable.”  Theresa’s eyes flashed an anger that she was sure her step-sister recognized.  Between the hours of 5:30 am and 8:30 am when her step-mother woke Theresa up to announce that she thought her father was having a heart-attack, her father had been lying in pain.  Did he try to get up?  Is that why he was lying vertically across the bed with his legs dangling over the side of his bed?   Did her step-mother leave and not realize he was in pain?  “Impossible” Theresa thought, she must have known he was in pain.  By the time Theresa was woken out of her sleep, her step-mother was all ready for work; did she sit in front of her mirror and fix her hair and make-up while her father was yelling out in pain?  The thoughts overwhelmed Theresa as she tried to push the horrible scenes out of her mind.

All three of them walked out of the hospital and as Theresa looked down into the brown bag holding her father’s clothes, she started to feel a numbness go through her whole body.  She couldn’t think anymore – her father was gone and it was obvious he had been deprived of a right that Theresa felt that everyone deserved – the right to die with dignity.  Theresa knew all too well what was next, she had to contact her siblings, and other family members, a funeral would be planned and she would greet her siblings and family as they arrived from near and far.  She tried desperately to push the thoughts of her father’s last moments here on this earth aside as she prepared to spend the next few days honouring her father.

The next few days during the viewings and the funeral were a blur to Theresa, she kept going back over the last conversation she had with her father the night before his death and it was clear to her he knew he was going to die.  Thinking about her father’s health, she was sure that if the ambulance had been called earlier he would have been more comfortable but she didn’t think it would have made the difference in the outcome.

Theresa’s life moved on but she found she was haunted by her father’s last moment.  Theresa felt if she had woken up earlier, she could have made the difference in her father’s death.  The constant flashbacks bothered her so much that Theresa fell into a deep depression a year after her father’s death.   Not sure where to turn she started to see a counsellor who told her that something shocking or devastating had to have happened to her.   Theresa continued to deny that anything shocking or devastating had happened to her unable to process her father’s death.  Several months into the depression, Theresa had a vivid dream.   In her dream she was back at the kitchen table with her father having that last conversation before he died.   In her dream she told her father that it was late and she was tired that they must really get to bed.  He walked her up to her room and gave her a kiss on her forehead and said goodnight – as she walked into the room he said “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” as he slowly closed the door.  Theresa said “no dad – don’t close the door, you know how I hate to sleep with the door closed.”  Her father said “I don’t want you to be disturbed by people getting ready for work in the morning.”  “It’s ok dad, I’m so tired a bomb wouldn’t wake me up.”  “Ok sweetheart, I’ll leave the door open – goodnight – I love you.”  “Love you too dad.”  In the dream Theresa watched as her father walked away from the doorway to his bedroom.   Theresa woke with a start as the dream was so vivid and the dream revealed the very last moments she spent with her father.   Theresa now understood what had been haunting her for the last year or so – when Theresa’s step-mother came in the room to wake her up to declare “your father is having a heart attack, but he doesn’t want me to call the ambulance.”  Theresa was already awake,  she was stirring from a deep sleep and now Theresa remembered clearly  – her step-mother came barging into her bedroom after she opened the bedroom door.  Someone had closed that door and she was sure it wasn’t her father.   Someone didn’t want her to hear the commotion going on in the house that morning.

Theresa believed the vivid dream was a confirmation of what she felt was true all along.  Her father was neglected when he needed his loved ones the most.  The dream also served as a message from Theresa’s father – it was time to embrace fully what happened, forgive and move on.  As Theresa slowly started letting go of the haunting she read a quote by Gandhi and kept that quote close to her heart – “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won.  There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall.  Think of it always.”

by momwhearingloss

A winter Storm – Friday’s Phlog for December 6, 2013

snow collage

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,  stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Dr. Seuss


	

DIY – CREATING CHRISTMAS CARDS ON MONKEY-PIC

If you follow this blog, I’m sure you have figured out I’m not the best DIY person – I don’t really have the patience or the time for crafts.  Give me a computer and a camera and I can DIY all day long.   I’m assuming that most bloggers have heard of Monkey-Pic the free photo editor.  If you want to get some of Monkey-Pic’s cool features you have to pay – you do get a lot for free but I love using all of the features so I signed on for the year – think it cost me $30.00 for an entire year.    So here it goes – my first DIY post.  Usually every year I order photo cards from Costco – it can get expensive by the time you get cards and then send the cards in the mail.  With Monkey-Pic you can create your own cards for a fraction of the price.  I created personal Christmas cards and I decided to do 5 x 7 card – with Monkey-Pic you can choose 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10  -heck you can even create a facebook cover.  I also created Christmas cards for my work.  I work at a Catholic High School so I created a card with a Religious theme – I’m not going to share the cards I created this year because I will be sending them out in the next few days and I know some of my family reads my blog – like my brother and I don’t want to show him my cool cards before they arrive in the mail!  To start out – go to www.picmonkey.com and you will be greeted with:

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To create your Christmas card you need to create a collage first -go to create a collage and from there you can pick the layout you want – keep in mind whether your card is going to be portrait or landscape.

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Using the various buttons down the left hand side – you can add coloured frames and different patterns – I’ve created a very simple style but you can do so much more – experiment.  Once you have created the collage you want – save it to your computer.

Go back to the start menu of pic-monkey and select design.  From here you can pick your layout – 4 x 6, 5 x 7.  I f you pick 4 x 6 it is very cost-effective – you don’t need special envelopes and the pictures are anywhere from .10 – .14 cents a piece.

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Once you pick your layout – go to editor to rotate your canvas to portrait or landscape.   From here pick your canvas colour – I picked a plain colour and then use the overlay section for more design.

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From here I went to the butterfly item in the left hand menu and used my own overlay by picking the collage I saved.

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On the left editor menu – now go to NEW and select Santa Land or winterland – both have cool features to help create beautiful cards –  I chose Santa Land.  From there you can add holiday cutouts to create some different layouts for a more polished looking card.  Using the different text items you can now add your personal message… Once you create the card you want – save to your computer.  It is recommended that you save in jpg format as this is the format that will work at Costco or Walmart – go on-line to your preferred store to order your pictures and voila you will have beautiful picture cards ready the very next day.

christmas cards example

The  original card I created for work was a little nicer than the one I created below – but you get the drift  – cards for all occasions and easy on the pocket book..

religious card 1

This may be my first and last DIY post – so I hope you enjoy.  If you’ve never created your own cards, you’re missing out on some creative fun!