A New Year

I’m not a resolution kind of person, never once have I made a New Year’s resolution and I don’t feel inclined to start now.  I can’t quite subscribe to the notion that a new year requires a new me; the same one from 2011 will do just fine in 2012 thank you very much.
When New Years rolls around each year I make the choice to look back on my year and focus on the fun I’ve had, the things I’ve enjoyed and what I want to keep on doing.  I can look back on the changes I’ve made (this blog for example) that have in some way big or small made me feel better about who I am.
I think it’s a much better way to start a new year rather than looking back and berating myself on the things I should change or the negatives.  Following that train of thought it’s no wonder most resolutions fail as most of them are borne out of a negative thought and so that is where the focus lies with the negative.
Who wants to, or for that matter who can keep themselves focused on a negative? Sure there are changes I should make to better myself but do I need an arbitrary day to change them? No, tomorrow is just another day as is the day after that.  Whichever day I start to make those changes on doesn’t matter.
I try to be happy and healthy and slowly change the things I don’t like in my life, you know all that good stuff many people resolve to do each year but instead of trying to do it all at once I do it every day in little ways. 
Those little ways have a tendency to add up over the course of a year and so when I reach the end of my year I’m able to look back and focus on the positive because I know I will continue to try to improve myself every day and not just tomorrow or for the first few weeks or months but all year long.  
So I wish everyone a happy new year and would like to remind you all to take a moment at some point this New Years Eve and think on what you have accomplished this year not just on what you haven’t.  

Happy New Year

New Years is about to take center stage, the old year slowly shuffling off; exit stage right. 
I will ring out the old and in with the new surrounded by friends and loved ones. Together we will sing the first few lines of Auld Lang Syne until the combination of a rarely sung song fueled by sparkly drinks leaves us all in tears of laughter.  We will wear paper cracker hats we will smile and celebrate not only the good times we have had but that the bad times of the year have past.  
Another year of endless possibility waits.  

A Few Days Late

Winterpeg is not living up to it's name this year. We came rather close to having, while not a green Christmas, certainly not a white one. It was more of a brownish off-white Christmas. I'm not complaining, really I'm not, but I have a little secret, I like winter. Not the bitterly cold frostbite in one minute or less kind of winter but the snowy, we have ice to skate on and snow to play in kind of winter.

I know come the real cold weather, and I have no doubts that it will come, I will be longing for these beautiful days of clear and warmer weather. For today it's snowing, those big fluffy kind of flakes and I couldn't be happier.

In The Spirit of Giving.

With all of the discussions under way regarding a casino proposal in nearby Foxborough and the motives of the casino proposers Robert Kraft and Steve Wynn, I think it is interesting to learn of the respect New England Patriot personnel have toward the team's owner, Kraft. I pulled this from boston.com and it was written by Michael Whitmer:


Togetherness

When the locker room doors were opened to the media after Saturday’s game, owner Robert Kraft was spotted holding a football, and photographs were being taken with his family members holding a painting. The painting was a gift from the Patriots players to honor Kraft’s late wife, Myra. Coach Bill Belichick also presented a game ball to Kraft following the victory.

In the painting -pictures have been posted to the team’s Twitter account - a group of Patriots are in a huddle, with their hands joined and pointing up to the initials MHK, for Myra Kraft, who died July 20. The team has dedicated the season to her, and Matt Light - who missed the game with a right ankle injury - gave the painting to Kraft.


I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Ours was incredibly fun and extremely tiring!

Merry Christmas

Well the day before the night before Christmas and it's a busy busy day.  A happy busy day however, a last batch of cookies needs to be baked, the last gift needs to be picked up and the final wrapping is left to be done.

It's been a strange season for me and mine, many things have been done out of order as well as having many things and people which don't seem to be in their proper place. Yet despite many of our traditions going out the window the important ones have been kept and I've had a great season so far.

The tree is up our favorite ornaments lovingly placed the moments spent saying "remember when we got this one?" or "remember who this one is from?" are repeated and still recalled.

The house is lit inside and out the decorations make everything cheery and bright.

The favorite sweets have been made with great care and eaten with pleasure a cup of hot chocolate enjoyed along with them.

The afternoons and evenings spent in the company of friends and families have been and will continue to be celebrated. 

The cards and thoughts have all been sent out and in turn recieved. 

See it doesn't matter when or where or how it is the time spent together that is the greatest gift of all.  The presents under the tree while pretty and nice and shiny are not what matters. They like so many other things are nothing more then another piece of the trim. 

Without the decorations and lights and cookies and gifts it certainly wouldn't be quite the same but it is the people not things and places that bring it all together.

Merry Christmas to all!    

Cookie Monsters.

If you are a reader to Sarah's blog, you know our daughters LOVE to help make cookies. And, although I do not consider myself a "cook", I also enjoy doing some baking here and there. Since this time of the year outdoor activity is limited for the girls, we try to get them involved in some baking to occupy them for awhile (even if it is less than an hour). We baked and then decorated some sugar cookies the other day...

Anna thought they were finger-licking good!



Allie - showing attention to detail.



Look at Emily's cute litte smile peeking through!



Merry Christmas everyone!

A Quiet Merry Christmas Wish

For the past few years someone has walked along the paths in the forest placing a few red Christmas bows on the trees.  I suppose they are some ones way of wishing everyone who walks along the forest paths a Merry Christmas.
This is the true meaning of Christmas to wish everyone not just those who are near and dear a happy holiday season but to everyone who may pass.  It is the season to think of others and these little bows show that someone is.  I hope the person who places these bows has a very Merry Christmas too.

Picture day - Christmas at the forks

My favorite place to spend a day during my favorite season what could be better?


Bob

Part Two   
“Hey John how’s my boy” Grandpa said without looking up from the piece of wood he was working on
“Hi” John panted” I came as fast as I could”
“What’s your rush I don’t seem to recall anything all that important?”
“Grandpa!” John exclaimed”Remember you said you would tell me all about the sea monsters.  We went down and saw one and then you told me that you had seen one too and that you named him Bob and…”John trailed off as he noticed the look of amusement  on his Grandpas face “That’s not funny”

Grandpa chuckled “Sure it is, just maybe a little more for me than you. All right come have a seat and I’ll tell you all about Bob”
“Now I know you probably have this great idea in your head that Bob and I became friends for life but it turns out he doesn’t live here he was just born here. Its part of the reason they aren’t seen very often not to mention there just aren’t enough people here to see them even if they lived here all the time.
I spent a little over a year with Bob and I’ve been waiting ever since for him to come back. See I figured out that whatever these creatures are they only come to Eyas Cove to breed.” Grandpa looked at John “You know what that means?”
“Yeah it means have babies right?”
“Yes exactly, I never saw him again but I saw others like him. They usually only stay for a few months when they come in, a little more than 3 months I’d say, they always leave before the water gets really cold.
 Bob stayed for so long I suppose because he was hurt and by the time he was strong again the seasons had changed.  I think he got stuck here.  More came the next year although different adult then the ones I had seen with him the year before; these ones had different markings. When it came time for them to leave with their baby they took Bob with them too.
He could just as easily been left here for years I don’t know if he could have found the others on his own and sometimes it’s years between a pair of them coming in to the cove. From what I’ve been able to tell they only breed once every 20 years or so.      
I have a bunch of notebooks here they have all the information I recorded over the years. I’ve seen lots of them over the years they all have different markings and I’ve only seen the same ones a handful of times and only in the past few years.
I made notebooks here of all the ones I’ve seen, I sketched out their markings and wrote down everything else I noticed about them” Grandpa nodded toward a little cabinet that John had never even noticed before which hung open. ”Go grab that top one there it should be Bob’s I’ve been looking at them again since the pair that’s in the cove showed up.
John hopped off his stool and walked over to the cabinet pulling the door open the rest of the way.  As the light reached into the recesses of the cabinet John’s mouth fell open a bit it was full of little bits of things even a few carvings of the creatures. John could spend hours looking through all the stuff in this cabinet and not find the bottom.
John picked the top most notebook of the shelf and saw a messy scrawl very much like his own which simply read “Bob 1931 –“ Johns breath caught in his throat, somehow holding this book in his hand made them seem so much more real even after having seen the little one so up close this was different. This wasn’t Grandpa playing along he saw the one tonight and he’d been seeing others for more than 50 years.   

Early Christmas

Christmas came a little early for me and my family this weekend with our Christmas dinner and get together on Sunday. It was something I was a little nervous about, not making dinner no, I’d have to say I’ve gotten pretty good at making a full turkey dinner, but at transporting said dinner.
See this year we have had the unfortunate circumstance of my Mom breaking her ankle in the most severe fashion imaginable so that several weeks later she remains in hospital.  My Dad who my Mom cares for is now at a care centre which also happens to be where my brother lives.
So with Christmas fast approaching we needed to find a solution and bringing everything together at the centre my Dad and brother are at just made sense.  Using the family room no problem, getting my Mom there again no problem, getting a full turkey dinner there…..little bit problematic.
 I had no issue making the dinner and a vague idea of how I would transport it all but I admit to a few moments of trepidation and worry.  I’m happy to say it worked out absolutely beautifully.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and we even managed to make it a wonderful setting.
In addition to the food I also brought a centre piece, candles, tablecloth and the like so that the table looked like any other we have had for Christmas dinner festive and inviting.  We brought our small garage radio which meant classic Christmas music playing throughout.  Most importantly though we had each other all around one table.  
We laughed, we talked, we enjoyed the time spent together and we ate, boy did we eat. Full turkey dinner with all the trimmings cake and ice cream, wine and chocolate, mmm yum. I used our cooler and an array of foil containers to transport everything hot and it worked well everything was still steaming when served and although our gravy boat (a thermos) may have been unconventional it certainly worked well.  
If you really examined the scene there may have been faults a few small things missing but for me and I think for the rest of my family it was a perfect Christmas regardless of the location or date.   

Flu Day

The level of nausea that is accompanying my attempt at sitting upright tells me this is going to be a short post.  
A 24 hr flu bug has hit our house with a vengeance and knocked three of us off our feet.  My dear husband is the only one to escape so far; mind you he got a flu shot so maybe that will keep it from being a four out of four.
Without fail it began like so many other illnesses in the middle of the night. I was half asleep when the sound of A being sick woke me at 1:00am.  After changing sheets, pjs and spending a good twenty minutes with the mop I was able to get us both back to our beds.
Cue E less than an hour later. Sheets, pjs, rinse repeat. 
Out of all of it what was the hardest to handle was the fact that we had had red velvet cupcakes as a treat that evening.  Don’t think we will be having those again for a very, very long time.
I made it through to the morning called both girls schools and was set to deal with a long day when the vague nausea that had been following me through the night, which could easily have been attributed to my activities reared up and I officially joined the ranks of one of the sickly.
Ugh to make matters worse with the rain the other day I’d run to the garbage cans wearing my slippers. Yes I know not my brightest idea and as I should have expected I slipped and wrenched my back. The combination of flu and back is making me quite miserable today.
It’s only 8:00am and I need a nap.

A Winter Rain

It rained last night and it is raining today. As the temperatures hover a few degrees below zero the rain falls and instantly adds to the layer of ice which covers every glittering surface like glass. The trees bow down the air itself has a gleam and even dirt has a shimmer and shine to it.  Light glints off a million precious diamonds as the sun struggles to make an appearance through the swirling rain and snow laden clouds.   From the safe haven of a warm house it is nothing but sheer beauty.  
Stepping outside however is another matter entirely.

Happy Birthday!


I must of course this week wish my Mom a very happy birthday and remind her that I'm still the best birthday gift she ever got even if I was one day late!

3D Stuff



Vis Dev and Quick Sketches



Writing Challenge

Writing Challenge prompt. Using all three items a Black light, a trap and an arrow write a horror story.
“How did it begin?” I sighed “Well it really started a few months before,…well you know, when I was using the bathroom at the bar.”
“You’re talking about The Lantern right?”
“Yeah there, anyways I was washing my hands at the sink when the lights went out and the emergency lighting didn’t come on. I have a little light on my keys so I pulled that out and turned it on. It’s one of those lights you know that makes white glow….kinda purply I can’t remember what they’re called…’I trailed off
“A black light?” She prompted
“Yeah that’s it…..a black light. So anyways I turned on the light and was heading to the door when I noticed there were arrows on the ground”
“You hadn’t seen these before?”
“huh? Well no it was my light, the black light that made them glow. I think they had a bunch of those lights once when The Lantern was more of a club less of a bar kind a thing. It’s too bad I didn’t just have a normal flashlight huh?”
She smiled at me and nodded.

I sighed once again “You know I already told the cops it was him….the one they killed it doesn’t matter exactly what happened does it?”

“It might help in their investigation, to get more information.  It also might help you now that it’s all over to share, it might help everyone to start healing”

I snorted “There’s a lot of people it won’t heal”

“Well no some people it can’t help but it also can’t hurt them. They’re gone and you’re here. Talking about these things out loud can help you to see them more clearly and start to get past them.”

“I don’t really think I want to see it more clearly.”The room fell silent I knew what it meant either I would keep talking or we would sit here in silence for the rest of the hour.
I knew she was right I needed to talk about it to face it but it was the last thing I wanted to do all I wanted to do was pretend it didn’t happen that all of us, me and Mike and Gracey and Dave were all sitting here instead of just me.

”I didn’t know what to think of the arrows and told everyone else about them, we talked about it for awhile and when we were leaving and I showed them what I ‘d seen and we found out that they kept going that the arrows made a trail that went out the door and down the street. It was cold and late so we all just brushed it off and went home.

I guess we all kept thinking about them though because every time we would get together it would come up again and we would talk about following them to wherever they led. We couldn’t seem to help it, it made us all…. Well curious I guess, I mean anyone would be wouldn’t they?”

“Yes they would”

 “It ended up being a running joke for awhile we would talk about following the arrows from time to time but I don’t think any of us were really serious.  I think we all figured the arrows were probably just some ones idea of a joke and that they would just lead us in circles or not go anywhere. It was winter too so no one wanted to go out in the cold to follow some stupid arrows on the ground”

I didn’t want to keep talking. Already I could feel the ball of anxiety in my chest growing making it hard to breathe. I didn’t want to talk about what happened when we finally decided to follow them.

“You did decide to follow them eventually”

“Yeah” I was chewing the inside of my lip ”It kept coming back up, Mike was really bugged by it I think, not that it was his fault though, I mean we all thought about it once in awhile from when I found them to when” I swallowed past the lump in my throat ”When we followed them.”

“It’s ok, none of this was your fault either”

I nodded I could feel the ball in my chest growing the urge to bury my head under a blanket growing stronger. I really didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

“You know they made me nervous, I know you probably think I’m just imaging that, that I couldn’t have known what would happen so there was no reason a bunch of stupid arrows should have made me nervous but they did. Something told me following them was a bad idea.

We did though I don’t know why we’d had a few drinks and Mike had brought along this big black light and I mean we really couldn’t help thinking that following some stupid arrows wouldn’t hurt us.” I laughed but it wasn’t really a laugh it sounded closer to a sob than anything else.

“It was stupid we followed them and they kept going so we kept following, they went south down Washburn. There was an arrow every 3 feet or so just glowing in the middle of the sidewalk bright as day. We thought we’d lost them once or twice usually when we came to an intersection and they turned off down another street.

We were on River Rd about midnight when we really thought we’d lost the trail but then Gracey saw one.

It was on the fence leading into that big industrial area.  We almost stopped cause we all knew there were a bunch of old wells and stuff we could get hung up on in there.  Well that and we did know that it was private property so we really shouldn’t but we could see more arrows on the far side of the fence.  We’d been following them for like an hour by then and it had become sort of fun. It sort of felt like when we were all little again, on one of our stupid little adventures and we didn’t really want that to end.  I mean Dave was moving away the next week so it had become like our last hurrah or something.

We decided to keep going and hopped over the fence. Once we got over the arrows were easy to see I guess because there weren’t any street lights. The spacing got a little different on the other side of the fence though so really it didn’t actually get any easier to follow the path.

I guess because the arrows couldn’t be drawn on the grass all that open space made where he could put them a little harder.

We got to the building by the river and we almost didn’t go in I mean being outside running around was one thing but we weren’t kids anymore if we got caught tresspassing we’d have been in trouble especially if we went inside of a building. I don’t think any of us really wanted to just walk away from it though we’d followed them for such a long time and it
sure didn’t look like the building was being used for anything so we went inside. 

It wasn’t locked or anything but it was dark and we couldn’t really see except when we’d shut the door behind us a little light came on.  It was in the back of the building that had been sectioned off almost like a hallway.

I don’t know why but we all realized that the light was tied into the door somehow. Well no it was because Gracey had opened the door again when the light came on and it had gone out right away and so she closed it again and the light came back on. I don’t know I guess we realized it was like some sort of reverse fridge light.

I think we were all pretty nervous by then I mean this old half falling down building shouldn’t have had power and we were all wondering why that light was there like that.  At least I think we were all a little nervous by then I mean we’d pretty much stopped talking so I can’t be sure but it really didn’t feel right.

It was the light that made us go in further, I mean why would a little building that looked about ready to fall over have power?  So we all walked over towards it and that’s when everything went wrong. 

We had all went into that little part where the light was and there was a switch beside it and Dave, at least I think it was Dave might have been Mike flipped the switch and the ground disappeared. There was literally no warning one second it seemed we were standing on something solid and the next second we were falling.

I’m not sure how far we fell the police told me that it was about 16ft deep. The bottom was all squishy I guess because it was so close to the river and it smelt terrible it had that wet earth smell but it also smelt like mold and like something rotten.

I don’t think any of us were really hurt in the fall but then Dave screamed like a real scream.  He had put his hand out to push himself up and had hit something that cracked and cut his hand open.  Mike turned on his cell to see what it was and that’s when we first realized how much trouble we were in. 

Dave had put his hand into a skull that was on the ground. I guess it was pretty old skull cause it had cracked just from the weight he’d put against it.  He started freaking out and I do mean totally freaking out he started clawing at the walls trying to climb them. To be honest we were all freaking out a bit by then but he was the first to panic. I don’t know how but Mike managed to get him to calm down I think he might have actually slapped him like you see in the movies.

He said something about how we were going to get out of this that we needed to calm down that we all had cell phones. I don’t think any of us would have gotten out if he hadn’t calmed us down.

The phones didn’t matter though none of them were working, none of them could find any type of signal. So we tried to climb up on each other’s shoulders to reach the top and get at least one of us out.  We figured if we could do that we could get help and everything would be fine.

It had to be either me or Gracey who got out the guys were too heavy for us to hold up so Gracey tried first. She had made it to the top but when she grabbed the edge her fingers cut right into the edge of the hole.  The lip was like a razor blade and when she grabbed it she couldn’t help but let go right away and fell back down. 

She broke her ankle or her leg or something when she fell so I had to try. I don’t know how long it took for us to get her calmed so I could give it a shot but when she was calmed down I tried climbing up. I knew not to grab the edge and was able to grab a big weed growing beside the hole and pulled myself about halfway up before having to lean onto the edge. I didn’t really feel it though when it cut into my stomach it just felt warm but I was out of the hole so I didn’t care.

Gracey started screaming when I got out to pull her up and so instead of going for help right away the guys and I tried to get her out. She got cut on the edge again when we’d gotten her up but I was able to pull her past it.  It must have taken us 15, 20 minutes to get her out too.

I think that’s what haunts me the most if I had just run for it as soon as I got out and called 911 a few minutes earlier maybe it would have been enough time to save us all. If I’d just ignored her screams and worried about calling for help first what would have been different?

I mean we should have realized that someone had made it on purpose I mean the trail, the hole, the light everything it was all one big trap.  We should have realized that the person who had set this whole thing up wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble without having some way of knowing when his trap caught someone.

“Can you believe 20 years no one else ever got out of it? Gracey and I are the only people to ever make it out and well Gracey isn’t really Gracey anymore.

My cell still didn’t have a signal when we got out so I went out the door, Gracie was screaming at me to take her with her but something had finally told me I needed to get help sooner rather than later. 

I had gone about 200 feet when I finally got a signal and just as I went to dial I saw a
flashlight and a man heading towards the building we had all been stuck in. I ducked behind another building and let him get past me before flipping my phone back open so he wouldn’t see the light it made and dialed 911.

I could hear Dave and Mike and Gracie yelling but the 911 operator told me not to go back. I had to though if you had heard the sounds they were making you would have too. I had to these were my friends…..”

I stopped I couldn’t keep going I couldn’t say out loud what had happened next the sounds I heard and the things I saw “I want to go back to my room now”

“Ok, you did real good today and you gave me a lot of information that can help” The doctor walked across the room and patted my shoulder “you really did good, I’m proud of you” she said before helping me to turn and head back to my room.




I stopped this story here as I really didn’t know where this story was carrying me and to be frank I don’t want to know what my mind can come up with if I keep going.

Le monde est petit, apres tout!

This past week Christmas has come in with a roar, concerts, get togethers and parties have all begun in earnest and our days are filled with bright colours and joyful sounds. 
The beginning was A’s Christmas concert this past Tuesday.  There is nothing quite like waiting to see your child (and let’s face it none of us would be there if our child wasn’t) in a blazing hot gymnasium full of parents and adults trying to find some small degree of comfort in the stack of winter clothes on the world’s most uncomfortable fold out chairs to usher in that Christmassy spirit.
It’s worth it though to see your child with all their classmates dressed in their Sunday best bright eyed and eager to sing their hearts out.  Admittedly many don’t know all the words but those few phrases they all seem to remember which are actually sung in unison sound sweet in a way no adult choir can quite muster.
Without fail there is always one child or another who does something to draw the eye, a boisterous singer, one who fidgets or quite clearly has to pee, one with a dress pulled high above their stockings or even memorably a child who lifted his shirt to show the Hi! he had written on his stomach.
This year was a very nice production with the theme Christmas around the world and was well put together.  Even if it came with the discovery that It’s a Small World is even more annoying in French. It also apparently gets wedged in my head just as firmly as the english version.
   

Cards

Well time has again slipped away from me and I’ve suddenly developed a new mantra.  That would be “the cards, the cards, when am I going to do the cards!”.  Obviously that means I have yet to do my Christmas cards which I send quite a few of.
So today I’m taking my blog time and doing cards because quite honestly if I don’t get them done and ready for the mail by Monday I might not get it done at all and that would irritate me to no end so that shall be it for today.
I will however leave you with this:


This is my solution to a lack of shopping time this year, baskets, and lots of them made with my care and love. What could be better than that really?

Puzzling

When I was a little girl I found a puzzle made out of a wire hanger which had been shaped into two joined hearts.  I’ve loved any type of mechanical or wire puzzle ever since. There is something quite satisfying in having discovered the simple little trick at the heart of these types of puzzles.
I figured that one out quickly however the most famous mechanical puzzle of all has always left me stymied.  More than 20 years after having seen one for the first time I finally got the trick.  
Now to see if I can do it again.

CTN 2011 - My First Art Book - Some Sketches



Some quick sketches, Vis Dev stuff =)



About 3 weeks ago I published my first art book! I have a few copies, basically, this book is more of a portfolio, I created it for the CTN Animation Expo 2011 that took place in Burbank, CA last month, I had a great, awesome time, met a lot of artists, showed my portfolio to major studios. Everything went awesome. I really had a great time. I'd like to thank everybody who helped me with my art at the con, thanks to everybody who gave me feedback about my art. Special thanks to John Nevarez and Blue Sky Studio's Tyler Carter for all the help. It was awesome meeting you guys.

Check out John Nevarez's art: http://john-nevarez.blogspot.com/

And here's Tyler Carter's art: http://tycarter.com/

These guys are two of my fav artists of all time. Here are some pics of my first art book.



Winnipeg's Little Drummer Boy


 

Talented young man who just so happens to be the brother of one of A's teachers assistants. He played all the instruments and sang the song.  I think he did a wonderful job putting this together and I thought it was definitely worth sharing. Some beautiful shots from around Winnipeg and Charleswood.

Part Three

It seemed to take Grandpa a lot longer to go up the roughly hewn path than it had on the way down. He even seemed to be a little bit sad to John his normally smiling face set in a thoughtful scowl that John had never really seen before.
As they came up to the house and walked in through the side door the smell of dinner reached their noses and John suddenly realized just how hungry he was. He took an appreciative sniff and ran into the kitchen to give his mother a hug and set the table.
“You’re going to make yourself sick sitting in the wet grass this time of year” She admonished accepting his hug and reaching past him to  brush a bit of grass from Grandpas hair as he walked in.  John’s baby brother Jake screeched his greeting from the high chair and John went over to pick up the toys scattered around the highchairs wheels. 
 “You’re a good daughter Merry Berry you know that don’t you?” Grandpa asked smiling as she continued brushing bits of grass and imaginary dirt from his forehead.
“Of course I do, how else would I be able to put up with the likes of you?” She replied kissing his cheek. She walked back over to the stove and suddenly stopped to eye Grandpa suspiciously “You feeling all right Dad? You haven’t called me Merry Berry in years”
Grandpa smiled back at her “I’m fine Meredith, what’s for dinner? It smells like it might be at least half as good as your moms’ cooking was” he said winking at John.
“I made a pot roast and it is just as good as Mom’s I assure you” Meredith replied ”Trust me I’ve already checked a few times. Now sit down at the table.”
“Yes ma’am” Grandpa said taking his usual seat beside John and pulling the wheeled highchair with a now fussing Jack sitting in it closer to the table. “Ready for some dinner little man?” 
After supper Grandpa stood up and stretching said “I’ve got some work to get to, thanks for the wonderful supper Meredith “he leant over and kissed the crown of her head while she sat trying to feed Jake “Was just as good as your Moms”
John jumped up from his chair “I’ll come help you Grandpa!”
“Not so fast you, first of all you need to put your plate away and second I seem to recall that I’ve been asking you to clean up your room for a few days now and it’s still quite the pigpen” Mom said giving him a look.
“Aww but c’mon mom I want to help Grandpa” He looked at his mother face with his best puppy dog look  and instantly realized he wasn’t going to get out of it. “Fine” he grumbled picking up his plate and carrying it over to the sink watching as Grandpa walked out the back door with a little wave and headed across the lawn.
He ran up the stairs to his room and quickly shoved as much stuff under the bed as he could and the rest into the bottom of the closet and bolted right back down.
“John you stop right there” called his mother from the kitchen.  She walked into the mudroom and gave him one of her best Mom looks “There is no way you cleaned up properly that fast.” John opened his mouth to argue “If I go up there right now how many things might I find under your bed? Now do you want a few more minutes or should I go check now?”
With a sigh John retraced his steps back up to his room and crawled under his bed to begin shoveling the mess back out.  After nearly half an hour he finally thought his room would pass inspection and headed across the hall where Mom was now giving Jake a bath. “I’m done”
Mom gave him an appraising look “All right I believe you, you can go help Grandpa but be back up by bedtime”
John jumped down the stairs two at a time and ran out the mudroom door pausing just long enough to step into his rubber boots and pull his jacket of his hook. He barely noticed the drizzle falling down around him as he ran towards the light shining from Grandpas workshop. 

Christmas Shopping

Thanks to friends of ours with whom we visited the Winnipeg art gallery this weekend I now have a new fun little place to find gifts and unique little items.  It’s a teeny little store tucked into the corner of a building on Academy Rd.  by the name of Michael Rodent’s Bed, Bath and Kitchen.
It also solved a dilemma I’ve been having.  For Christmas I’ve been struggling with trying to find items with Snoopy on them.  Since our last visit to Minneapolis and Planet Snoopy in Valleyfair A has become absolutely obsessed with the little beagle.
She has 4 snoopy shirts and wears each one every single week. She draws Snoopy and Woodstock over and over again.  We’ve recorded each of the Peanut specials that have aired since the summer and her most prized book is now The Great Pumpkin.   About a month ago I found a plush snoopy carrying Woodstock for her and it has become her constant companion.
Her Christmas letter to Santa includes the following line; I want a Snoopy book and a Snoopy toy and a Snoopy and Woodstock toy and a Snoopy and Woodstock baby for Christmas.
On the bottom she has even included a drawing of Snoopy and Woodstock I suppose in case Santa isn’t sure who they are. So long story short I’ve been after Snoopy stuff and haven’t had much luck. Any items I have found are very specifically Christmas items and I wanted to get her things which she can use year round.  
I had a couple of shopping hours on Saturday night and so found myself on a mission.  At the one store I’ve seen Snoopy items I asked a clerk to dig out the non Christmas Snoopy stuff from the back of the store which she happily obliged for me and the first item was procured.
Now back to this store I was speaking off at the beginning. This store is full of novelty and character items including Snoopy.  They have an amazing selection crammed into such a small space and not only did I purchase some Snoopy items for A but several other unique gifts. 
Thanks to the last few items I picked up here I solved the problems of a few hard to shop for people and am now 90% done my own Christmas shopping.  The only things left to pick up are very small simple items that are easy to find. So I may be slightly behind my normal Christmas schedule but I must concede I’m not doing to bad.

The Leaves Have Fallen

Despite the higher than normal temperatures the past couple of months, one cannot ignore the sound of winter knocking on the door in Massachusetts. Cold and snow is inevitable around here. It is not a question of IF. It is a question of WHEN. So, when possible, I try to take advantage of mild days in the Fall and Spring. While running along the Charles River last week I took notice of the leafless trees and thought about how much outdoor fun I have had with our daughters since winter ended last year.

Just last week the girls had a blast running through leaves in our back yard. Here is a clip of the fun:




Things the girls say Emily, after being told I am 45 years old: "Wow, Daddy you are a BIG boy now!"

Between the Yellow Lines

Parking fees are really beginning to tick me off. Last night I ended up parking a bit of a ways from the entrance to the health centre as I’m really trying to avoid racking up any more parking fees than I already have.  I got just a wee bit chilly on the way in, and a little more on my way out. Of course on my way out I was also heading for a very cold car. Brrrr.
As I turned on the heater driving home a collection of half a dozen parking slips flew off the dash into my face.  Thankfully they didn’t distract me from my driving at all (yes sarcasm) and after narrowly avoiding a bloody calming circle (that’s a whole other rant) I realized that those little slips represented 30 or 40 dollars and I got all riled up.
In the past month, although I’ve admittedly spent a great deal of time at hospitals or health centers, I have ended up spending around a hundred dollars on parking alone.  These days it’s an annoyance (albeit a big annoyance) and not a disastrous impact on our budget but still it hurts.
Ten years ago we were in a much different financial situation and that extra hundred would have had a much larger impact on us.  I can’t help but think of those who are either ill or caring for loved ones who are on fixed incomes and what the parking fees must do to them.
The fact of the matter is for some driving is the only way to get to a hospital, and some cannot park farther away as I do due to illness or disability. Having parking near a hospital is simply a necessity however are parking fees? Not only any parking fees either but the highest fees found anywhere in the city?
Now coincidentally The Globe and Mail printed an article about this very issue a few days ago and there have been several others since (CBCThe StarGlobal) . I’ve read them all with interest and I must say I find myself in favor of abolishing parking fees.  At the very least I wish a way could be found to make parking more affordable and accessible to those on fixed incomes or who are facing a long term illness or have immediate family expecting a long term stay.
The only question in my mind that really carries weight on this issue is this: Do parking fees in any way hinder access to our health care system?   The fact of the matter is that yes it is sometimes a hindrance to receiving care, as is not having relatives able to afford to visit a hindrance to healing. 
That right there is the only thing that matters and why a validated parking system or the abolishment of parking fees surrounding hospitals needs to be considered.  I believe as do most other Canadians that we all deserve equal access to our health care system, it’s why we have this system in the first place, if parking fees are presenting a barrier to some it needs to be remedied.