Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An Instructive Christmas

Well, we had a wonderful Boxing Day. Kaetlyn went to the first day of her first job - covering for holiday time at Silver Star. Andrew spent the day at a friends house playing games and Dean and Rhiannon and I hung out in a quiet house, eating apple pie for breakfast and playing games. Rhiannon made Dean breakfast in bed and we went for a hike in Kal Lake Park, pulling Rhiannon on the sled from time to time and sliding down all the hills in the gloaming. Kaetlyn and Drew were home and happy in the evening and we visited and laughed and went to bed early.

Christmas Day was another story. I know that Christmas can be stressful for many people - we have so many expectations and pressure to meet others' expectations. Or it can be that way. I've thought that we had a pretty good grip on these things and our Christmases have been relaxed and fun. I have always put a great deal of effort in making our Christmases magical. Althought my children make and buy gifts for each other on their own, I am certainly the band leader, orchestrating everything. I learned something very important this Christmas Day. I learned that anytime I 'do it all' for my family I am robbing them of many things. Not only of the opportunity to participate but also of the opportunity to see how much they affect other people - what they do to contribute to the atmosphere. And robbing them of these things can come back and bite me in the ass.

Because of the 14 year spread in years in my children's ages, Santa has come for the older children long after what would be appropriate if their youngest sibling wasn't 6. It was what my parents did for me. I was 18 the last time Santa came for me. And I have done all the Santa-ing for my children despite their advancing ages on my own. And I have done it happily - sometimes stressfully, but always with love and with hopes of their enjoyment. This will be the last year that happens. My two oldest daughters behaved abominably on Christmas Day. I'm sure there is a nicer way to put that - one that doesn't imply judgement but at this point, I am judging their behaviour. There was jealousy and comparing and complaining. There was mean-ness in the full meaning of the word - meaning petty and stingy and smallness of spirit.

I was hurt, of course. And disappointed. But mostly, I realized that I had missed something. I am the master of my own destiny and I had to admit that I had created this scenario. Not that I am responsible for their behaviour. But that I had set myself up by not requiring more of them - not that I assign them tasks but that I include their input and make them apart of creating the magic of Christmas. Dinner was pretty much ruined but I have been enjoying the left overs...

So next year at the beginning of October we are going to have a family meeting (7 year old not included) and we will decide together what we are going to do for Christmas and we will divide up the responsibilities. And you know what? Its been 23 years since I had a stocking. And I've been making them for 20 years. I think it is about time I got one, don't you? If we decide to do stockings, that is. That will be a group decision.

So my Christmas was not as relaxing and happy as I would have liked but I learned something very important. Something I seem to continue to learn in different ways. I learned about letting go. I learned about the importance of helping my children to grow up and share in creating our family environment. I learned more than I can possibly put into a blog. It has been my curse and my blessing to have such a strong personality. It has served me well in many situations but there have also been times when I have learned that the kindest thing is really to step back and allow others to join with me. Just because I CAN do it all myself doesn't mean it is a good idea to do that.

So, Merry Christmas everyone. If yours wasn't as happy as you would have liked, I hope you learned something to. Learning is good.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Aren't those just the cutest little pj's? I wish I had some like that. I've had that fabric forever waiting for the right thing to do with it... Can you see the solid blue heart sewed onto the right side? Once I did that and looked at it, and thought, hmmm, that looks rather mom-ish.

So I am done my gifts. These are for Rhiannon. I realized that I have never sewed her any clothing. We have such an amazing supply of second hand clothing that she wants for nothing. I hope she likes these. The bottoms are not really solid blue but a smaller check pattern than the top.

Its quarter to 2 in the morning. The kitchen is a mess but I am going to bed. By now my husband is on the road coming home to us. 'Christmas is coming/It's practically here'

Saturday, December 23, 2006

And Another One Down

Okay so it is a bad picture... but you get the idea. It is 1:45am and I am finished Dean's Christmas present. It is a pair of charcoal grey fleece pants. He loves to lounge in cozy things. The flash makes the grey look much lighter than it really is. Really it is a pretty dark grey - Kaetlyn even likes it... I found this fleece in a box of fabric. I can't remember when I bought it or what I bought it for.... I had just the right amount... So, I am going to bed now. Only 4 more gifts to go...

Friday, December 22, 2006

One Down

Here is what my kitchen table looked like today. Remember that theory about having a craft room so that my kitchen table didn't look like this? yah.... there's too much stuff all over the table in there....heh
And here is the finished product. This is Kaetlyn's present - a new cover for her duvet. She is doing her room in an enchanted forest with greens and purples. I hope she likes it. The other side is dark green flannel. And see that stripe at the bottom of the back side that I flipped over so you could see? That is a stripe of flannel that I made her a nightshirt out of for Christmas when she was 4. She LOVED that nightshirt - it fit in with a makebelieve game she used to play with her friend Chris - they were whales, Sampson and Sally. I wonder if she will remember?

Okay so it is 10:00pm. So what? I'm finished the first one.... Time to start the next one...

Deck the Tree

After learning the song "Deck the Halls", Rhiannon has been begging to 'deck' the tree. We have been sick and things have just been happening a little behind schedule around here (can I postpone Christmas?). But last night, on the longest, darkest night of the year, we finally got around to decorating our tree. And here it is. I am not one for fancy matching decorations. Most of ours are gifts from special people or homemade. See those felt hearts? Each one has been decorated by one of my children - the lowest one has Rhiannon's wee hand from her second Christmas. Our tree means something to us. Too bad flash photography won't ever capture the magic of the soft Christmas lights in the dark.

So, Dean is off for Fernie. He left this morning at 4:45am. He'll be back on Christmas Eve. Pray for safe passage for my husband over the Crow's Nest Pass. I miss him already.

We are having a homemade Christmas. Everything we give each other has to be homemade. We do this from time to time to help us all get out of the commercial drive of Christmas. I have to say, though, that since cutting off the cable, that has been a lot easier to do. I sure don't miss the barrage of Christmas advertisements! But I digress. Here is my confessional. I don't actually have a single gift finished. Okay, that is not quite right. I don't actually have any gift started.... I have been sick and trying to deny it but by 8pm, I've been totally exhausted and achey. So that means that I now have to make 2 gifts a day. Do you think I can make a quilt in half a day? How do you feel about gift certificates....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Christmas Piano Recital

Tonight was the Christmas Concert for Rhiannon's piano class. She was SO excited. She lives to perform! She reminds me of my brother, John, who at 3, cried on the first day of Junior Sunday School because they didn't ask him to give a talk...

She arrived at the church where we have our recitals bouncing and beaming, hoping she was first on the program. But no, she was not first, she was, in fact, near the end of the 'young' half of the program. Which led to some lip pulling here...

But here she is finally playing her pieces. She played 'Little Drummer Boy' and 'Flemmish Dance' perfectly. (don't you dig those purple boots?) And you should have seen the grin on her face when she was finished! Unfortunately you can't because the batteries are low in the camera and she had moved on by the time the cameral went off (grrrr).

I love Christmas Concerts but I sure don't mind now when my kids are not in school and I just have the piano one to go to....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gosh, Mom! You are so talented!

Isn't it wonderful when you child is 6 and all it takes is a couple of cut potatoes for them to think you are awesome?

Rhiannon was so eager to wrap the presents she has made for people so today I set her to making her own wrapping paper. I made a couple of potato stamps - a whimsical star, tree, candy cane and Christmas ball (looks like a pumpkin to me). As she watched me do this, she was SO excited and in her exuberance she says to me, "Gosh Mom! You are so talented!"

And look at that beautiful wrapping paper she is making... I think she is pretty talented, too!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Music

Couldn't resist adding this picture - taken during the snow storm yesterday afternoon. This is the view from the window by the computer. Isn't the lilac bush beautiful in the snow?

So, for most of my childhood my favourite Christmas Song was "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day". I liked it for the second to last verse: "Then peeled the bells more loud and deep/God is not dead nor doth he sleep/The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/With peace on Earth, good will to men". The idea of peace on earth prevailing has always appealed to me. I have come to believe as I've gotten older that it is something that each of us must create - starting in our own hearts and in our homes. I no longer believe it is something that will be thrust upon us - I don't think it is possible that it would work that way.

But these days I have a new favourite. Its "Little Drummer Boy". I've always enjoyed that song - since I was a child. The last few years it has really been speaking to me. I think I finally 'get' the meaning of the song. More than a cute story about a poor drummer boy's imaginary encounter with baby Jesus, it is about (to me) the purpose of life. You know the song - the little drummer boy is invited to come to see the 'new born King' and bring his finest gift. He has nothing to bring that is 'fit to give a King' but asks to play his drum. He is permitted and then plays his very 'best for him' and is rewarded with a smile. It occurs to me that this is all that is required of any of us - not expensive gifts of fine things but simply to do what we love and what we are good at. I believe that our purpose in life is to be our best self. Not to try to be like anyone else but to bring what is inside of us, out - the be who we honestly and truly are - to do what we love and what brings us joy. Like the Little Drummer Boy. This is why we are born.

So that's my favourite Christmas song. What's yours and why?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More on a Winter's Dawn

I couldn't resist taking another picture of the winter dawn. (although as Rhiannon would point out, it is not yet winter...) Here is the view out of my kitchen window as I stood there cooking hashbrowns and eggs for Kaetlyn and her friend this morning. I love dawn - the sunrise.

What is it I love about dawn so much. I suppose it is the same thing I love about piles of fabric and piles of wool - it is the potential. Dawn is so quiet and still, there is a peace about it. A promise. Nothing has happened yet in the day. Everything is possible.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another Song In My Soundtrack

So this song has been inspiring me lately. I love Annie Lennox most of the time, anyways but these lyrics have been resonating with me. Especially this part " Give me the strength to carry on/Till I can lay this burden down/Give me the strength to lay this burden down down down yeah/Give me the strength to lay it down

I have really been thinking about that. The strength to lay a burden down. We think of needing strength to bare our burdens and we speak of someone 'baring their burdens well'. But what about strength to lay them down? It does require strength to lay down our burdens - our limiting beliefs, our habits of thinking, our worries and cares. They may be burdens, it is true but they are also what we are used to - the travel-worn passages in our brain - ingrained habits. What would happen if we were to have the strength to lay down our burdens? What would our lives be like? What would mine be like?

Its a great song - listen to it!


"Little Bird"

I look up to the little bird
That glides across the sky
He sings the clearest melody
It makes me want to cry
It makes me want to sit right down
and cry cry cry
I walk along the city streets
So dark with rage and fear
And I...
I wish that I could be that bird
And fly away from here
I wish I had the wings to fly away from here

But Mama I feel so low
Mama where do I go ?
Mama what do I know ?
Mama we reap what we sow
They always said that you knew best
But this little bird's fallen out of that nest now
I've got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I've just got to put these wings to test

For I am just a troubled soul
Who's weighted...
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay this burden down
Give me the strength to lay this burden down down down yeah
Give me the strength to lay it down

But Mama I feel so low
Mama where do I go ?
Mama we reap what we sow
They always said that you knew best
But this little bird's fallen out of that nest now
I've got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I've just got to put these wings to test

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winter Dawn

Here is what this morning looks like at my house. The Black Locust trees - so artisitc in the way they grow they look beautiful without leaves even. And the elm trees with several empty bird nests. Will they return? And then the line of willows to the east - a pretty yellowy brown against the more somber winter colours. Here is the winter dawn with the pheasants squawking and running hurridly through the trees. Why are they always in a hurry?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Hats

Check out the new hats I crocheted last night and today. I had such fun! And I have a bunch more wool to make new things with!

Friday, December 08, 2006

His Royal Marmalade Majesty

So, he hasn't taken long to make himself at home. Maybe his point had nothing to do with annoying dogs or other cats.... maybe in his cat old age, he went looking for more comfortable accommodations - someone to let him sleep on the couch, maybe? On a feather pillow (so he could dream of all the birds he's killed?

You can get an idea here of his increased girth.

It didn't take him long to fit right in with the other felines in this house... a furry, cuddly mound of black, grey and orange...

But please, please tell me that these 13 hives she woke up with have nothing to do with the fat orange cat currently prowling the premises... She's only ever had 1 or 2 hives and they have always been from high emotions, not from environmental stuff... They're itchy and they're not going away....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Cat Came Back

Okay, so he didn't come back... I had to go and fetch him and force him to come back.... but he is back, nonetheless.

I feel a little weird about it. Like I've been snubbed by my own cat... We have had Tigger since he was 6 weeks old and we got him more than 11 years ago. He has been a constant in our changing lives. He was Erin's cat - well beloved by us all. He was born in the Toporchuk barn and was always a mainly outdoor cat. And always very loyal. Although he roamed far and wide, he was always home for dinner at 5pm. He loved it when we moved here and spent hours in the fields catching mouse after mouse - gorging on them until he would throw up....

Then something happened. He disappeared for a couple of days and then he was back... then it was a few more days.... and then a week... and then he didn't come back. His food sat on the back porch uneaten. I didn't feel like he was dead... We called and called and called and reported him missing to the lost cat registry. Nothing. We look for him around the neighbourhood. Nothing. 2 months go by and I still don't feel like he is dead but I am beginning to think that he has moved in with someone else...

Then I get a call from the cat registry. There is a cat near us. Someone has been feeding him for 2 weeks. Turns out it is him. He was just across the field from us. I have a hard time believing that after spending a lifetime outdoors, he got lost across a field and couldn't find his way home.... I have to believe that he chose to leave. Why? After all these years? Was it the new dog next door that was harrassing him? The black male cat that he was fighting with at night? Unlike him to back down in a fight with a dog or a cat... Was it the addition of Coppelia and Sampson? Was it that Sampson turned out to be a male, too? But we have had so many other cats - some male - and he has never left before; he always makes friends with them.

So it is kind of weird to have him here. He runs to the back door where we have always fed him when it is feeding time. But he is slow to come to his name which he always ran to before. It annoys me that other people took him in and fed him without trying to find out who he belonged to for so long - he's fat for the first time in his life - he's been fed a little too well... He has an obvious tattoo in his ear but no one called it in for 2 months to find out who he was. So, is it safe to let him outside again? Will he run away? Do I make him come back? What do you do when your cat wants to move out?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Website Fun

While creating my hippie hat blog I learned a couple of new things. I wanted to find a way of tracking how many people viewed my hats. So I discovered Google analytics. It is invisible to the blog visitor but tells me how many new visitors, return visitors and from where that the blog receives. It has been facinating! Thanks to all the people in my address book that I spammed and all of you, I have had people as far away as Singapore, Madras, India, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Antalya, Turkey, Madrid Spain, Austin, Texas, Raleigh, North Carolina and places ALL OVER BC. My biggest day was 74 new viewers with a total of 111 page views. I have been facinated to watch it all unfold. And I sold a hat within a couple of hours of publishing the blog. Since then traffic has steadily decreased and who knows what will happen. I've exhausted all the goodwill of my friends and family who have diligently spread the word. Not sure what else to do for marketing. But they are there and I've sold a few locally from people seeing them on the blog.

And then, I was having so much fun watching the statistics from that blog, I inserted the same code into this blog. And that was truly inspiring and surprising. I have had readers from as far away as Waresly, UK and several in North Carolina (is that you, Vid?) And many places in the Okanagan, BC - small little places I had to look up like Alluvia. I hope you don't feel spied on. I am having great fun discovering all of this. And it was very easy to do - google gives very good instructions. I highly recommend it.

There you go, technical tips from the untechnical!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Parenting Conundrum

I have been having a discussion about parenting with some friends. Parenting - something we all agonize over... I was laying in bed this morning thinking about it - about all the parenting theories that I have learned about, all the things I have tried and struggled with and thinking about the thoughts of my friends. And this is what I have come up with....

You know, 20 years ago (or 22 years ago when I started studying it formally) when I first became a parent, Adlerian pyschology was all the rage. STEP (systematic training for effective parenting) was the accepted 'way' to parent loosely based on Behavioural Psychology. Books like "Children the Challenge" by Dreikers was a popular parenting standard. Rewards were encouraged and the shaping of children's behaviour was accepted. Training kids.

Now, there are books like "Punished by Rewards" by Alfie Kohn which bring up very good points about the downside of rewards. And books by Gordon Neufeld about attachment. And all the ways people parented before are wrong and there is a new way - let your children find their own boundaries and limits.

Its all so confusing. And all so misleading. There are two underlying themes - parents are responsible for how their kids behave and you can tell bad parenting by how the kids act and if you can figure out the right parenting technique, then everything will be perfect. Seems to add up to a lot of parenting guilt. The problem is that there is a kernal of truth in it all. It is true that how we treat our children affects them. It is true that there is a downside to rewards and that attachment is very important. And it is true that children need to know what is acceptable behaviour in society. It is actually true that we reward and punish our children in millions of subtle ways everyday with our approval and disapproval. It is unavoidable unless we are emotionless robots who respond exactly the same way for everything. And what would be the point of that? And that would actually damage them considerably. We all thrive on human interaction. We all need it. And we are all shaped by it for good and bad.

It seems to me that it all misses the point. There is one single thing that effects our children more than anything else. How we treat ourselves. How we love ourselves. How we respect our own boundaries. How strong we are in ourselves. This one thing affects EVERYTHING we do. We can have the perfect parenting 'technique' but it will fail if we don't love ourselves. Of course there is value in learning different parenting styles and techniques. But it is secondary. If we don't have the first it is all pointless. Why? Because love is the key. When we love and accept ourselves, we can love and accept our children. And if we judge and shame ourselves, no matter how hard we try with different techniques, we will do it to our children. We may not see it at the time, but it always comes out in the end.

So what is the point of all of this? That the most important thing we can do for our kids is to look after ourselves, to be honest about our boundaries; to respect ourselves. When we live in this environment, then the love and respect spill over to our children, our spouses, our friends. It all starts with the self. After that, choose the kind of parenting technique that resonates with you and works with your children. There is no one right way. Love is the way. There are no two parents that are exactly the same and there are no two children who are exactly the same.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Dream

Did I ever have a dream the other night. I dreamt there was a pregnant woman - hugely pregnant - 8 to 9 months. This man was angry at her. He was furious. He threw her down on the floor and ripped her clothes off (it wasn't a sexual thing - it was anger) and he started beating her with both hands, beating her in a frenzy on her pregnant stomache. She was writhing on the floor, laying on her side, trying to curl up into the fetal position. I could see that she was pregnant with twins. I was horrified and scared and I had to stop the man. I ran over and pulled him up off of her. He was like an automaton - he was now standing but his arms were continuing to move - in a chopping motion - like he was a robot and couldn't tell that he was no longer hitting her.

I woke up with my heart pounding.

As I was driving Rhiannon to her piano lesson, my mind went over the dream again and I was wondering what it meant and it suddenly came to me. I believe that in dreams we are actually every person in the dream - every person represents an aspect of myself. (which is really true in life as well) The pregnant woman represents things that are about to be brought into fruition by a higher part of myself - my dreams for my family and the Inner World School and the work I have to do in the world. She is obviously a good omen - many good things (twins) about to be born. The man represents a lower part of myself. A part concerned with survival. A part which has been freaking out since it got way too cold to wash windows. A part afraid that we will not survive the winter. And it was mercilessly beating that higher part of myself - the one about to birth great things - with fears, stress and worry. Interestingly the end of the dream shows that the beating was not actually malicious - but an automatic response.

As soon as I processed the dream, a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. It really is pointless to worry and project all those negative ideas and experiences into my present and the future. I only rob the moment of happiness and joy. Faith. I need to have faith in the birth of 'the twins'. I could see them moving vigorously inside her stomach. They were large and strong.

So I have been feeling better. I have a ways to go to let go of all my worry but I am doing better. And I will keep working on it. I always come back to this place but I am getting out of it faster and faster. One day I won't come here at all.

So thank you to all of you for your support. I sold a hat already - my favourite one that I almost kept for myself. That fills me with hope, too.

I love you all!