Thursday, October 31, 2013

Waiting for Ghosts & Goblins

In just a few short hours the sounds of "Trick or Treat" will be ringing through the neighbourhood.  Back in Montreal where I grew up, we rang the doorbell.  The tradition is different in the west.  They holler as they come up the path.  You can hear them through the door and closed windows.  I quite like it!

I think we are ready.  The blow up pumpkin has been erected on the front lawn.  We finally gave into this kitchy kind of decor.  A last minute purchase that had us buying the floor model at Wal-Mart.  I have to say that it looks pretty awesome when it is all lit up at night and the cat's head even rotates back and forth.


Tacky window clings have been applied to the front door at the perfect eye level of little trick or treaters.


Goody bags are ready for fast and efficient passing out.


A box of chips is on stand by incase we get more visitors than we anticipate.  It is warm and mild despite a strong and somewhat spooky howling wind.


And... a last minute trip to Michael's found a huge 80% off sale which allowed me to pick up all of these goodies for under $7!


What kid doesn't want a pair of freaky glasses, or a monster finger puppet?


The witch fingers are my favourite!


All that's left to do is plug in the plastic pumpkin.  Yes, my pumpkin carving days are over.  I seem to have gotten lazy.  ;)  Most importantly, this year I'm going to try to hand out all of the treats solo.  I usually jam out about three trips to the door in,  so this year it's my turn and the Big Guy gets to relax in his recliner.

I'll leave you with a few photos of Little Tom enjoying the Halloween goodies I sent home with his mom and dad.  Tonight he is Spiderman!  :)





Wishing you all a Happy Halloween!!

Jen


Monday, October 28, 2013

Catching Up

It's one of those days ... a catch up day.  When I worked in an elementary school years ago, I remember how some teachers would occasionally have what they called "Catch Up Day".  It was a day where things were finished up,  tiny details attended to and organization for the next phase was done.  Well for me, it is not quite about this.  It is more of a "I don't feel like cleaning my messy house, so what else can I do and still feel somewhat productive?"  ;)

Laundry is in the process and crafty "stuff" that has been lurking on the main level has been put away in the studio.   Then I remembered the Fall jacket that is missing buttons and the good flannel nightshirts whose wooden buttons cracked after repeated washing.  So off to the fabric store I went and arrived home with these!


Then I remembered that LO done in early October that never made it to the blog.  My friend's children when her daughter was a newborn.  I love this photo of proud big brother.


I was lucky enough to come upon an assortment of BG embellishments from the Mint Julep collection at HomeSense.  They were a steal at $5.99 for a pack of three.  So I picked up a few sheets of paper from the line at my LSS and was ready to create.





Here's the sketch I used from Page Maps.


Well, it's time to get out my sewing threads and begin sewing on buttons!  And just so I feel organized, I have assigned a special notebook to make a list of all of the little things I need to get done around here in order to catch up.  Catching up is always such a great feeling.  :)


Thanks for stopping by.

Jen

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday at the Dog Park

Diane invited Rob and I to the dog park that she often brings Jack to.  It was the perfect fall day to be outside enjoying the season before the snow hits.  Rumour has it, it may snow tomorrow and we will be onto the next season.  Winter is good too though, so I'm not complaining.


The best thing about walking with dogs is that dogs will always stop to visit with every dog that they meet along the way.  This forces the humans to visit too.  You end up meeting some lovely people who you may have otherwise just smiled at as you passed had it not been for our furry friends reminding us how it should be done.



I must have pet over 50 different dogs today.  This guy made me smile.


This dog park even has a spot where the dogs can run down to the river and have a swim.  We saw lots of big wet dogs today.  It is great for the "water dogs" to have this place to swim.


Needless to say,  Jack had a blast and was a tired little pup by the time we got home.


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to bring my two girls along.  Their knees would never have made it through the 5 km trail.  They were not too happy when I arrived home and they could smell the scents of so many dogs on me. Poor girlies. :(  I'll make it up to them with a walk through the park near our house tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jen

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Summer Mini Album

Susan and I got together one day this week to finally finish our mini album made from Christine Middlecamp's Layer by Layer class.  The class ran the month of August, but it was a busy summer and many crafty days were cancelled along the way.  Feels great to finally have this gem completed.



Christine Middlecamp is the queen of layers.  Look at all of this paper goodness!


Since the album was a summer theme and I needed small photos, I turned to my old photo box of photos dated 1993 ~ 1997.  The girlies were little then.  I looked for cute snapshots that I could crop down.  Why is it the so many of my pre-digital photos have very tiny images of people and lots of background!  These poor photography skills payed off for the needs of this mini.

Playing with the gold gel pen here.  (Feel free to mock my 90's fashion choices here and apparently "safety first" was not our priority.  Look at those wobbly helmets on the girls!)



Using a photo transparency.



Making a flower.



Making a banner, stamping and using Stickles!



Drawing borders with white gel pen.



Using glitter tape and a hand drawn grid!



Sloppy cutting and painting with acrylic gold!  My favourite page.  :)



Three tiny cameras all in a row.



Fun with tags.



Flowers and rhinestones.



It was such a fun project and I was truly sad to see it come to an end.  While my mini album mojo is at a premium I am planning my next one, hoping to incorporate some of the techniques I have learned.  I have selected more photos of the girlies using a "sisters" theme.  I will be using the new Maggie Holmes line from Crate "Flea Market".  I have sketched out some plans based on this album and some using ideas from the designers on the Crate blog.  I know that I won't get my layering as detailed as Christine.  My mind just doesn't work that way.  I am however hoping to find my own mini album style.

Oh, and some new yarn is awaiting me too. A new winter jacket purchase calls for some new mittens!


Thanks for stopping by.  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend with the ones you love.

Jen

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I have been absent as of late.  Sadly, my mother passed away on Sunday October 6,  just shy of her 80th birthday.  Susan and I were with her when she passed and for this I am so grateful.  It was hard to watch our mother slowly leave us for two days.  There were many times on Saturday that she would stop breathing and then struggle to come back to us.  She passed away on Sunday afternoon around the same time that we would say goodbye to her each Sunday, at the end of our visits.  She always made sure that we knew to turn around and wave one last time before walking out of her line of vision.

Last week was a busy one with being there for my father, planning the funeral and cleaning out my mother's room at the long term home where she had lived since her massive stroke in February of 2012.  Throughout the week I was told by so many that I seem to be so strong.  I had to explain that I fall apart after the fact.  It would be a slippery slope to begin to crack.  There is no time for it when there are things to arrange,  details to remember and people to thank.

As I always do in times of great sorrow,  I turn to nature for comfort.  Each day that we drove South, was an amazing bright, crisp and sunny day.  The foliage was at a premium gold,  standing out against a deep blue sky.  On numerous occasions I would witness large gold leaves floating to the ground.  Even last night, Susan and I walked through heaps of leaves sitting on the front lawn of my father's apartment building.  We walked slowly and listened to the leaves crunch under our feet, remembering how we used to do this together as children while walking home from elementary school,  sometimes leaving the sidewalk to walk in the gutter where the leaves were deeper.

On Monday I took comfort from a beautiful little cat who was just past kittenhood.  This little white creature ran out to greet us all as we headed up the path of my father's building.  I took a moment to love her up.  She wanted to come into the building with us and so Susan left the door open only a crack as she waited for me.  I later teased my family that it was Mom.  She was after all white, my mother's surname.   She had pink spots on her as if she had gotten too close to a child colouring with markers.  Pink was my mother's favourite colour.  Most importantly, she was friendly and very chatty, just like Mom.  When we came out of the building with my Dad to head over to the funeral home to make arrangements, she greeted us once again following us to the sidewalk.  I almost expected her to jump into the car.  At last she spied a leaf blowing by, chased it and then ran away.  I told my father later the next day, that if he ever saw that beautiful little cat again, to be sure to stop and say, "Hello Patsy." Patsy was my father's term of endearment for my mother.  I still look for that little cat each time I go to Dad's.

On Wednesday, we stopped by the graveyard to view what would be my mother's final resting place.  We drove in and there stood a beautiful two point buck.  He froze when he saw us, looking so majestic.  Rob stopped the car so we could just take in his beauty.  It was a peaceful moment.

Planning a funeral is a strange event.  Throughout the week, Susan and I were often heard saying to each other, "I wish Mom was here to see this.  She would really like this."  The service was lovely.   There was  even a passage read about knitting, my mother's favourite hobby.  As I sat next to Susan listening to the words spoken of my mother, I could hear in the background, the gentle and happy cooing of my second cousin's baby daughter.  This symbol of youth soothed me.  It reminded me that  in this life we are all born and we all must die.  I am usually a person who values my own personal space but this week found me hugging every person I could get my hands on.  I usually enjoy the peacefulness of my time alone but this week I wanted to be surrounded by people.

I always try to find the ray of hope and happiness during bad times.  This week I got to spend time with my brother Andrew and Chantal.  Although it was a very sad circumstance, I was so happy to be in their company.


Little Thomas stayed home in Montreal with his other granny but I did get to enjoy hearing him on the phone chatting with his Mama.  I got to tell him that I was sending home some Halloween goodies for him.  I got to hear him telling his Mama in a heartfelt voice how he had a big problem.  A look of worry came across Chantal's face only to disappear when she realized that the big problem was something regarding his M&M's.


Last night we gathered at my mother's favourite restaurant for dinner.  This is the same place that we celebrated my parent's 50th anniversary two years ago.  I felt sad to be there without Mom.  I knew I would be before we even got there.  We had just got in and seated when faintly in the background I could hear a Johnny Cash song playing.  My mother loved Johnny Cash.  We had listened to him while driving home earlier in the week and mentioned how much Mom had enjoyed his music.  Hearing his song at the restaurant gave me a feeling of comfort.  Maybe my mother was with us in some small way.

When we got back to my father's I insisted on a small photo session.  Apparently, I am taking over for my mother.  It was always she who lined us up for a series of photos featuring different combinations of  family members.   There was good natured grumbling and Susan was even heard to say, "Okay Mom".  I know it was a sad time but I still wanted photos of my family together.  Now we are four.


Earlier in the week I sat in our car and watched my father heading into his apartment building.  It hit me that he is truly alone now.  We have all been slowly mourning the loss of my mother since her stroke.  New Mom was different from Old Mom but we still had her with us.  I can't say that she is in a better place because even while in the home, my mother had a very good quality of life for the most part.  She accepted her new life better than I could have.  She was pleasant and undemanding of the staff.  I saw the red eyes and tears of some of the staff on the day she died.  I know she will be missed.

I am not sure what this next week will hold for me.  Life gets back to normal and there is more time alone.   More time to think.  Since the funeral, sleep does not come easy.  I lay awake for hours with my mind running.   The walls that I put up to help me get through the funeral duties are starting to slowly crumble,  now that it is okay to fall apart.  Part of me wants to hide in my studio and create, part of me wants to embark on a huge Fall deep clean, just to stay busy and part of me wants to just lay on the sofa with the dogs.  This stage of life, this losing parents,  is a hard one.

I will leave you with a photo that I took of my mother in 2008, that we displayed at the service.


Pat White
Sunday October 15th 1933 ~ Sunday October 6th 2013

Jen


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