Monday, November 30, 2009

Bench Talk: Do Home Renovations Ever End?

Do home renovations ever end? We ladies have all moved into new (previously owned) homes. They all need renos. The homes are nice, (natch), however they are still in the 70's and we are bringing them up to date.

We are doing the renos ourselves......well, our husbands are! Bathrooms, floors, kitchens and major paint jobs.

Here are some of our adventures!

(Sunshine) Well, we are in the midst of renovations and have been since we moved in three years ago. The room that we have been working on now for some time is the family room. It had a brick fireplace, no lighting at all and some very old dated carpet. Well, the new gas fireplace is in. The walls and ceiling are painted and the pot lights are almost in. As Mr. Sunshine was installing them he ran into a problem and asked me to call Cathy's husband for I don't know a sea saw or something. Cathy's husband knew exactly what I needed and I will pick it up sometime this morning (when I go for my annual wish and a stir, thanks so much Cathy) . (When I was at Cathy's today I saw her newly renovated bath room, it looks really good). After the lights are in the hardwood floor needs to be installed and then the TV gets mounted and finally all of the furniture and drapes and accessories (all of which we have none) will be put in. Oh, yes and hopefully I can find the perfect area rug. This room has been a huge undertaking. We started the project almost two years ago. I hope that we will finally be using our family room by the end of this year.

We have done so many other renovations since we moved in but there seems to be an endless list still ahead. We totally gutted the kitchen and redid it. Then we did the dining room. Every room in the house has been painted with the exception of one bathroom (it needs a paint job badly), the living room (this will be our next project) and the hall way (that will be the last project ) the basement has not been painted but that is because it is the one room that we really liked just as it was (it was just recently done by the owners and they did a great j0b with it). In between all of this we have torn out the carpet in the master bathroom (yuk!) and replaced it with some ceramic tile.

The hall way upstairs has only particle board no floor yet and all of the carpet upstairs needs to be removed and replace with hard wood. I don't even want to mention the deck outside. It needs some major work. Well despite all of this I really love our new home. It is really cool to see how things can be transformed. All you need is a whole lot of money(which we don't have that's why the family room has taken us two years) a lot of elbow grease and an extraordinary amount of patience. Even in the midst of continuous renovations you can still manage to have a loving home. This is still the house in which both sides of the family seem to gather the most. To be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am looking forward to seeing the family room and watching the New Years count down on your new big TV! I really hope that it will be ready by then. Seeing this in writing really makes me have a need to thank my husband for all of his hard work. I had not realized how much we have done in three years. Between his endless job at work and the endless honey do list of things at home, he has been extremely busy. I am grateful that he has the patience to work on weekends after a busy week. Sometimes I am on his case to get going on the next project or finish an existing one but really I don't know how he fits it all in and for the most part he manages to do it all with a smile on his face. Thanks Mr. Sunshine, your the best!!!!!! Oh, yes I forgot to mention that the windows will need replacing in the next few years. Well at least the skunk problem is solved.

We also moved (8 years ago now) to an older home (30 + years old). And we also loved the house but it as well needed a fair amount of work. Over the past 8 years I have stripped wallpaper from just about every room, there is only one room left with the nasty stuff. Thanks for reminding me, the wall paper removal was a huge job in itself. We had five rooms in the house with wall paper on them and in some of the rooms there were about three layers of it. It took me almost an entire year to get rid of all of that stuff. The husband has remodeled all three bathrooms. Two years ago we had a new kitchen put in. All of the floors on the main floor have been converted to hardwood. And we installed click floor in both the girls bedrooms as they had each destroyed their carpets with makeup, markers, nail polish etc. Though the previous owner had installed good quality carpets through out the house they were an older couple with grown kids and their choice of white carpet just didn't work for us. We still have the white carpet in our bedroom with all our stains. One being a can of diet coke that I dropped last week. The one thing with a house is there is always something that could be done, repainting, replacing and the never ending work outside. The husband has mentioned that we will need to replace the roof within the next two years. Yuk!

(Cathy)We moved into our older home (26 years?) and thankfully the previous owners had painted in neutral colours so it was livable for the moment. We realised soon why they painted to sell. We could see, under the paint, the original colours. All bright blues and greens! I can only imagine what their real-estate agent must have thought, anyways, I am grateful they painted. That being said, our master bathroom was straight out of the 70's, complete with plush bathroom Sunshine said, "yuck!!!". Picture an olive green tub and toilet with green walls and cream carpet. The finish was off the bathtub. I refused to use it. There was a separate shower stall which was so dark it was like showering in a cave!

I had wanted to reno our bathroom first but Hubby decided to reno the kitchen first. We painted and replaced the counter tops with granite. Also, we updated the fridge and installed a gas stove. (I love cooking on a gas stove!)

We also had an issue out in the backyard with the brick patio. It sloped toward the house. Hubby took two seasons to lift, regrade and replace all the stones. So, finally it was the second fall when our bathroom was gutted. We opened up the space and added a soaker tub, light and tiles. What a transformation! I call it our magazine bathroom! (yes, I'm bragging) As Sunshine said, Hubby is just finishing the main (or kids) bathroom. Again, we gutted and added light and tiles, a new tub, sink and toilet. It feels so clean now!

We are trying to decide what is next. We have added insulation to the roof to improve the 'r' value. All the window are new as is the roof. The living room is still pink, (why???) and the basement is very crude and needs warming up. At least fixing up so the kids can hang out there with their friends.

There has been a lot done in three years. Hubby has done it all spec! ( I keep bugging him because I have been watching a lot of, "Holmes on Homes". I keep trying to 'nicely' ask if he is using this material or that method. He is. His dad has built four homes from scratch that I know of. Renos are tons of work. I love that Hubby can do the work himself and it looks great! Sometimes I look around and there is still so much to do...... oh, honey......!!!

But least we keep our problems in prospective, we have roofs over our heads, food in our belly and people who love us.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Dancing with the stars season #9 grand finale

Monday night on Dancing with the stars the three remaining contestants danced off for the mirrorball trophy. I felt that they all did well but I was surprised with the free style portion of the night. That is always my favourite part of the year as each couple gets to be original and decide to dance what ever they want. It is usually the most creative portion of the show. Well Mya was ready to pull out all of the stops but her partner convinced her that they should not go too far. Well her routine was very good but also very boring. Kelly's routine was also good but very safe. Donny was last and he had the best routine of the night. At the end of the show I remember thinking that it really didn't matter to me who won. It was any body's game at this point.

Well Tuesday evening came and I watched as Whitney Houston sang and the next thing I knew it was six o'clock in the morning. I fell asleep and missed the whole show. Mr Sunshine was away and when he called int he morning he informed me that (drum roll please) the winner of the Dancing with the stars season #9 is Mr Entertainment himself Donny Osmond (I'm sure that Marie will never hear the end of it).

Congratulations Donny (congratulations Cathy).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursdays on the bench

Hi everyone, Cathy here, well, it's been a hard week for me so far. The last of the 'greats' on my mom's side of the family passed away. My aunt was 92 and she didn't look a day over 80! She still maintained the same home she has lived in for the past at least 40 years. She had a great sense of dignity and humour. She will be missed.
I am sorry to hear about your great aunt. Please pass my condolences on to your Mom.
I am so sorry Cathy.

The same day my aunt passed away there was a terrible accident at work. The word terrible doesn't even begin to describe it. I still do not even know how to describe it. I know in time the horror will fade, however, it will fade a lot sooner for me than for the family who lost their little one. I was not 'at scene' but did hear over the radio the chaos. Aftereffects..... silence. It has been silent at work for the past week. Everyone speaks of feeling 'off'. They have grief counselors available and management has been very good, well, they were there too and had to deal with the situation personally. It's like a black cloud is hanging over us. Even the public has been good. That too will fade, in time. All I can offer is my prayers and tears. I pray to God to look after the family and I know he now has a new little angel. Amen.

I read about the accident in the paper, it is very sad. The poor mother and family, I have always had this fear around balcony's and bridges it reminds me of that time a number of years ago when the mother lost her grip on her child while on a bridge in BC. But in that case the child survived.
What a terrible accident. In my 15 years of working in theme parks I was present in the park for 2 fatal accidents but not at the scene. For a third I was actually at the scene when we were called for crowd control. I will never forget any of the three incidents. A fatality will stay with you forever.

So on a lighter note, I saw Anita Renfroe last Saturday night. Cathy may remember who she is as she had FWed Anita's Mom's Song that is on YouTube. I saw her last year and again this year. She is very funny but never strays from the salvation message. I went with a bunch of women from my Wednesday night bible study. We then went to Kelsey's afterwards for food. When we were leaving Kelsey's the waitress came up to Gonzo (remember her, the teenager's summer camp director) and commented how happy she was to see Gonzo lead us all in prayer before we ate our meal. It just goes to show us once again we (as representatives of Jesus) never know who is watching us.

Anyway while at the show Anita talked about her starting to experience Peri Menopause. I was sure she read our last Thursday's on the bench and then worked her show around us! Ha, ha

Hey Sunshine, did you go see New Moon yet? I was picking up the little one from the movie theater last Friday night and briefly saw Louise there. She was going to see New Moon with her cousin. I spoke to her just for a minute I wasn't feeling very well and needed to get the little one so we could go home and to bed! While I was at the movies though I did pick up close to $200.00 in gift cards and got a pile of Christmas shopping done. The teenger mailed the box of gifts and gift cards out to my sister in Alberta and I mailed a box up north. I went through the closet and organized what I had and think I am pretty well done for both my girls. But I don't have anything for my Mom and I need to get a few more things for the husband. But what? ... I have no clue.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bench Talk: Cookie Exchange

Happy Monday Everyone!

"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat....."

The season is upon us and it's time for Christmas baking! We ladies have had a Christmas cookie exchange for many years now. Each of us bakes a dozen cookies of our choice for each person taking part in the cookie exchange. We get together one evening and go home with quite a few dozen different cookies to last the season. Ha, Ha, Ha

We thought we would share with you some of our favourite cookie recipes and tips for dressing them up for the giving.


(Cathy) Hi everyone. Baking is really not my thing. I love to cook and cooking is different from baking. The first few years I baked squares. They are a great way to get many dozen cookies or 'bars' at one baking. I did this until the ladies forbade me from baking them :)! (Sunshine) I am also not much of a baker but with Carolin's help I have managed to be able to bake some amazing pies (crust made from scratch) and some great quiche's. I have also made her pecan tazzie cookies and her ch0colate chip cookies. Let me tell you if you are lucky enough to have Caroline on the other end of your phone then anyone can bake like a world renowned pastry chef.

Magic cookie bar:

2 cups graham crumbs
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 can condensed milk
1 cup each: chopped pecans, semi-sweet chocolate chips, flaked coconut

-combine crumbs with butter and press into 13x9 pan
-pour condensed milk evenly over crumbs
-sprinkle pecans, chocolate chips, coconut, press down firmly
-bake in preheated 350 F oven for 20-25 minutes, until lightly brown
-cool then cut into 24 bars

I think I then moved to 'thimble cookies' :

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
jam of choice

-blend butter and sugar
-add egg, flour, salt and vanilla; mix together
-roll into balls and dent with thimble (or thumb)
-bake in preheated 350 F oven for 15 minutes
-take pan out of oven and make dents again; fill dents with jam of choice
-bake until light brown

I wrote down the recipe from an elementary school reader. Yes, I still have the same paper from elementary school!(Carolin) And why does that not surprise me! Remember the day Sunshine broke your 30 year old elastic band, we thought you were going to cry. Ha, ha, ha I still fell so bad about the antique elastics.

Now I make a whipped shortbread:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

-combine ingredients and beat until colour changes and batter becomes light and fluffy
-drop onto cookie sheet with a spoon, decorate with sprinkles if desired and bake in preheated 350 F oven for approx. 17 minutes or until bottoms and sides are light brown

Last year I found a recipe for a chocolate shortbread:

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 package white chocolate chipets

-preheat oven to 350 F
-in large bowl, beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add cocoa; blend well. Gradually add flour, stirring until smooth.
-roll or pat dough to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured surface; with cookie cutters, cut into holiday shapes. Re-roll dough scraps at end, cutting cookies until dough is used
-bake 15-20 minutes or just until firm. Immediately place white chocolate chips, flat side down . Let cool.

Very tasty! I think this year I will again make shortbread......unless the ladies say otherwise :)!
Sounds good to me.

Firstly, let me say that comment at the beginning about the cookies lasting the season. I am sure that only is the case in Cathy's house cause within a week they are all gone here! I freeze mine as soon as they get in the door so that I will have some cookies to share on New Years Eve.

I have always enjoyed baking but this year it has lost some of it's appeal. As now I am baking 15 dozen or more cookies every week. I have no idea what I am going to bake for the cookie exchange. In the past I would have all my recipes picked out by mid November. Usually 10 to 12 different cookies and I would make the dough in November and then freeze it. I always admired your organization and love for baking. Then in December I would just have to take out the dough and cook up the cookies. I found it a lot easier that way. But this year I have no space in my freezer for dough and I am tired. I hope that you can find that Christmas Baking Spirit that we all love so much.

This cookie exchange is all about presentation. Each year we try to come up with something different to present our cookies in. One year Sunshine gave out her cookies in a old fashion candy jar that I use to this day. Another friend attached measuring cups and spoons with her cookies and I use them at work almost daily. I am going to have to start keeping my eye out for something to serve my cookies in this year. So far I haven't any ideas. I still like my see-through cookie bags, or those plastic containers with lids the grocery store sells at Christmas time! I have also had my eye out for some cookie containers, so far nothing has really caught my eye. We have been doing this for sometime now so its hard to find something new. My younger sister who has never really understood about our cookie exchange said that she has been asked to participate in one this year at work. I think that we will get together one weekend and bake our cookies together and get all of the kids evolved if they are not too busy. Cathy it just wouldn't be the same without your see-through cookie bags or plastic containers and lids.

I am really looking forward to our annual cookie exchange

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thursdays on the Bench

(Carolin) Well it was a bit of a shock logging into At The Park and going to Thursday on the Bench and finding a blank screen. What is going on Cathy? I have become very used to you doing all the work and I just have to come in and fill in the blanks and of course put my two cents worth in. Me too.

(Cathy) I'm on a new shift and I am confused. I thought today was Saturday and when I received the text from the boys that they were at school, well it's going to take a few more days to get used to it. I thought today was Friday.

I know that Carolin will chew me out when I say this, however, I have really started with the peri-menopause stuff. I am trying not to let it get to me and I am just accepting the physical stuff and keeping the mental stuff to a minimum. I have read about ways to reduce the symptoms and they are the usual: eat healthy, exercise and get sleep. Let's start with sleep.....what sleep! I have not slept in two weeks! The night sweats keep me awake. No, let me correct myself, the night soaks! I will be in the middle of a dream and without warning I am awake and soaked! So starts the cycle of flinging off the covers until the sweat evaporates which leaves me 'freezing cold'. On goes the covers until.... this continues all night long. Even hubby is suffering from sleep deprivation! I will even have hot flashes 4 to 5 times a day. This is not in my head! I do not want this and I did not wish for it. I would tease about hot flashes in the past, but I had no idea. I understand this is natural and that is how I wish to deal with it. I do not wish to go running to my doctor to get a prescription for anything. I understand that this will run it's course. I have no idea how long but I have been told it could take a few years. My periods are still pretty regular although now that I think about it they have been coming earlier each month and lasting longer. ( I know, t.m.i. ) There are other symptoms that I am not too pleased to be dealing with, however I think I have grossed out Carolin enough for now. If anyone has any advise I would love to read it. You are going through menopause cause that's all you have talked about for the past 3 years. You wished upon yourself and now you are paying the price! (Sunshine) I wonder if I am going through the same thing. You two are killin me, can't you just enjoy being in your 40's. There are some women who are still having babies at our age. The way you two talk you will be trading 'always pads' for 'depends underwear'.

Other than being beyond tired if I have not already said, I have finished my Christmas shopping and am looking forward to an enjoyable Christmas season filled with cookies, carols and crafts. N0w you are just pissing me off. No I am not near done Christmas shopping, I have done some mind you. As some of you know the next two weeks are crazy for me as I prepare for the annual school family breakfast. It is called the Bethlehem Breakfast and it takes up most of my time getting it organized. So after December 5th then I will be in some serious Christmas shopping mode. I have not even thought about any Christmas shopping at all.

I just got a phone call from Mommie (remember her) anyway she has 7 extra Jimmy Buffet tickets for tonight. Wish I could go but the husband and teenager are at work and it is just me and the little one. I don't think Jimmy Buffet is appropriate for a 9 year old. I did call KD to see if her and her husband (albatross) wanted to go. Albatross is a big parrot head fan but unfortunately he is at work as well. Darn these afternoon shifts. Well I need to go eat some dinner and get the little one out of the shower, it has been over 45 minutes since she first went in. Who is Jimmy Buffet? Who's Jimmy Buffet? Why he is the Margarittaville guy. It is his music that they play when you are down south (Florida)

Well my day was uneventful. Just driving around to and from my kids schools and work in between that. The cafeteria that I work in is in a brand new school so our equipment is also brand new. Well from day one there has been a steady breeze in the cafeteria. The hood system is designed to take outside air and exchange it for the air inside so it is always a nice cool temperature in the cafeteria. This really helps me seeing as I am always so hot. Well the manager of the cafeteria is constantly complaining about the breeze so someone fooled around with the air exchange today (that can't be good) and now it is like a sauna in there. I told the manager that her new job while we are serving lunch will be to wipe my face with a paper towel so that I don't drip on the food as I am serving it.

Mr Sunshine has been away all week so we are all looking forward to his return tomorrow night. Friday is the opening of New Moon and I am hoping to see it sometime this weekend. Teen Sunshine has had tickets for weeks and will be seeing it with her friends on Friday.

Nothing else new to report. Have a great weekend.

Dancing with the stars semi finals

Monday night on Dancing with the Stars each of the four remaining celebrities performed 3 dances each. Mya and Joanna were both incredible. Donny stumbled on his first number in part due to a wardrobe malfunction and Kelly was a crowd favourite.

Well on Tuesday night the votes were in and to a lot of peoples surprise Joanna was eliminated.

Next week will be the finals so keep watching.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bench Talk: About Nothing in Partiucular

The trials and tribulations of life. What do we do when things in life don't really work out as we have planed them to? Life can take us for a tail spin and yet we are left to somehow pick up the pieces and go on. Not only are we to go on but we must find a way to do it gracefully and to be happy with our tomorrow's. How does your heart overcome hardship? How do we start to heal?

(Carolin) I have a zillion things to do and don't really have the patience for this emotional stuff. So my two cents (which I know will drive Sunshine crazy) is 'Suck it up and get on with it'! I know it doesn't sound all mushy and kind but if you continue to wallow in your crap you will never get past it. So the reality is there are times in our lives when life just sucks but Nobody said life was going to be fair. And this little bit of wisdom, Fair does not mean the same. So stop comparing your circumstances with others. Wow Carolin, I think that you should tell me how you really feel.

Well, for a topic about nothing in particular......

Carolin's correct. Life happens and we, at times, can do absolutely nothing about it, so, to quote 'Father Tim':

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13


The Twilight book series has its second movie sequel premiering this Friday. New Moon is the second book in the Twilight series. A lot of teens are so into the series. I have read them because my daughter was so engrossed in the books that it intrigued me to see what was so fascinating. Well I really loved all of the books. I am clearly an Edward Fan. The books include characters that are vampires and others that are werewolves and then there are also regular human beings living amongst the vampires and werewolves. Bella Swan falls in love with Edward and has very strong feeling for Jacob. Amongst the teen population and some adults too the votes are split between Robert Patterson (Edward) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob). Joining the teem of young and talented actors this week is Dakota Fanning who plays a villain in this movie. I can't wait to see the movie this week.

click below to view the latest new moon trailer.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dancing with the stars week#7

This week on Dancing With The Stars, each couple had to perform two dances. The first round was ballroom dancing which was very elegant. The second round was Latin dances from different eras. My favourites were Joana and Donny. They were both amazing. Truthfully at this stage of the game they are all doing amazingly well.

Eliminated this week was Aaron Carter. He was so very dedicated and he pushed himself to do well. His attitude was always a little bit off putting.

Its getting close now so stay tuned next week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thursdays on the Bench

Good day all.

Yesterday was Remembrance Day.

I'm glad we do have one day a year dedicated to remembering everyone who has made a great personal sacrifice in order to allow us to live as we do now. I'm sure we all take time throughout the year to remember, however, it's especially poignant on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th year. I attend the school assemblies. The children are so small and they really do not comprehend the what or why of this day. They do understand that it is a solemn day. The children stay quiet and still without the teachers having to shush them. Remarkable.

I cannot get through this day without tears. I am both sad and grateful. I am full of feeling. I think. I have been told many stories first hand by wartime survivors. I listen to these veterans tell their stories and remember that many of them were teenagers when they went off to war. My firstborn is only a year younger than my father-in-law was at the time he went to fight for his country. When my father-in-law speaks of his experiences, we listen in awe. It sounds like a movie and the telling stops you cold. There is nothing to say except: THANK-YOU!

I too, find Remembrance Day to be one of my favourites. I am glad that it no longer is a holiday. I understand the banks and government still get the day off but for everyone else it is a work day. When I was a kid it was a day off school, I don't remember much about celebrating our veterans when I was young. I like that our children spend the week before learning about what people have done so they can live a country that allows them to be free. Yesterdays celebration was very moving as it usually is. I was not able to watch the whole thing as I had to supervise a group of students who were preparing a lunch for a group of veterans and seniors who came to the school celebrations. I was listening to some stories on my way to work and one of the women on the radio just came home a little while ago. The announcer asked her what the hardest part of her job was and she said that they are all alone and their survival depends on them. They are the line of defence and sometimes thinking about that really scares her too.

Our small group meets tomorrow night and we have been discussing different projects we would like to do that would include the kids. KD was looking into getting Remembrance day cards from Hallmark (they are free) and then getting the kids to write to the men and women who are over seas right now. What a great idea.

I have had another busy week and the husband has come in just about everyday to help (thank goodness). We have sold over 12 dozen bagels! My one concern is my sandwich sales are down this week. I am hoping it is just a fluke and people are not having a bagel instead. I will have to see as the weeks go by. Our special this week was chicken or Vegetable fajitas. They went well, sold 20 on Wednesday and 17 today plus all the other stuff. I am so happy that business is going so well.

I am looking forward to this Saturday night. The husband and I are going to a Gala Dinner and show with Mr. & Mrs Sunshine. Teen Sunshine is in the play and I am excited to go out and of course to see Teen Sunshine on stage. I am really looking forward to that evening. We are all so busy and I hardly see anyone any more. Mr. Sunshine and Little Miss Sunshine went to see the performance last night and they really liked it. I was working late, we had a blessing at the school so I worked a 13 hour shift. I am so looking forward to the weekend.

Keep smiling!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bench Talk - Keeping Christ in Christmas

46 days to go until Christmas!

The stores are getting ready. Some stores have had Christmas items on display since September. We had our first snowfall last week! (even if it didn't make it all the way to the ground) (Caroline)We Did? Darn I missed it. (Sunshine) It was hailing on Tuesday afternoon around 1:20 pm. It was pretty freaky and then the sun was shining moments later. Sunday was gorgeous! 17 degrees Celsius and sunny., just wonderful! Guess where I was.... in my garden. It was a great break from shopping! Sunday was great, the husband put up the Christmas lights, and I Christmasized my Iron Urn at the front of the house.

People are starting to gear up for Christmas. I wonder, how does your family gear up for Christmas, or do they? Everyone asks me to do their Christmas shopping for them and usually I do as I am out there doing mine anyway. I always take a weeks vacation and go shopping with my mom and sister. We have a great time! We go for lunch and the malls are usually quiet so it's not all rushed and crazy. We also have a big family Christmas party at the beginning of December. We picked the start of December as few families have other obligations. It's a nice time to reconnect and the kids have great fun! I have done some shopping and made some list. On Sunday the teenager and I went over the list and decided what we were getting for who. Looks like I will be buying a lot of gift certificates. I guess that is what happens when the nieces and nephews start to grow up.

One thing I have been doing with my kids since the teenager was 2 is starting December 1st I hide for the teenager a little Christmas bear and for the little one a Christmas angel around the house for them to find each day. I always try to keep it vi sable but in a different place each day. Sometimes it will be in there shoe, or sleeve of their coat another day they might find it laying beside them when they wake up in the morning. The teenager says she is to old for her bear but I wonder if I didn't do it would she be upset. Last year we had a bit of a panic as I couldn't find the bears by December 1st. We had to put up all the decoration before normally would so I could find the bears. Hopefully I will find the bears with out a problem. But at this point I cant remember where I put them!

Will there be CHRISTmas trees around? Will store workers be able to wish customers a 'Merry CHRISTmas'? Will you send CHRISTmas cards? I usually send Christmas cards. It is the one time of year that I actually connect with all of my family. The cards are fun to give and fun to receive. Will there be a cookie exchange this year? I hope so. I already know what I'm going to bake! A few years ago at work we were told by memo not to wish people a Merry Christmas. We were advised only to say, "Happy Holidays". It ways funny because the public continued to wish us a Merry Christmas and no-one seemed to be insulted! Thankfully, things have changed and during the last few years we have been allowed to say, "Merry Christmas!" I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and have know patience for the liberal minded people who think it is OK to insult my faith. For 7 years I worked for a professional photographer who was Jewish. Half of our clientele was Jewish and the other half Christian. I don't remember anyone being by wishing them a Merry Christmas. If I knew they were Jewish I would wish them Happy Hanukkah and they would wish me Merry Christmas. Such nonsense now a days. I in the past have sent Christmas cards and usually type up a what has been going on letter for the people who I only connect with at this time of year. If I can find where I put the cards I bought on sale last year I will send them out this year.

Do you get it yet? Will this year be different from years past? Will Christ once again take his rightful place and will his birth be celebrated on December 25th? Good point Cathy. I hope Christ comes first but to be honest on the 25th it is so busy that he is easily forgotten in the bustle of the day. I do look forward to going to our Christmas Eve service at church. I think it really helps for me to keep my mind centred on Christ with the fact that the little one goes to a christian school.

We are going to our Church's family Christmas dinner Friday December 4. In the past it has been a fun filled evening. This year the husband will be involved in a skit with some of the other volunteers who work with the children. I bought him a pair of black tights (he needs them for the skit) and I am looking forward to seeing him and laughing my head off. The very next day we have our annual Christmas Breakfast at the little ones school. I have been involved with this annual breakfast for over 10 years now and I stress over it every year through the month of November.

You might think it's a little early for this topic of conversation, however, 'tis the season!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursdays on the Bench

Hi all, Cathy here, I am on vacation this week. This is the week when I get together with my mom and sister and we do our Christmas shopping. It's fun! No crowds and we have lunch and have a great time! I hope everyone is feeling better this week! I am so glad Donny is doing well in Dancing with the stars. I laugh at myself because I didn't realize that I still had a 'thing' for Donny Osmond. It must be left over from when I was a kid. Or maybe I am still a kid! Anyways, I hope he does well and my thanks to Sunshine for keeping me updated. I work both Monday and Tuesday nights so do not get a chance to watch the show. (Sunshine) Yes Donny is doing very well. My family is doing well too. We are pretty much over the flu and are finally feeling much better. I hope that is stays that way. It is now our turn with illness. The little one has been off school for a day and half and thankfully today and tomorrow are PD days so we can all be together enjoying her Royal Grumpiness! I hope that you all feel better really soon.

Well, that's all for me as mom is waiting for me to pick her up. Have a good week everyone!

Cathy I hope that you and your mom and your sister have a great week together, it sounds like so much fun.

This week has been good so far. Work is good and the girls and me and Mr Sunshine are all feeling better. The family room renovations are going well for a change. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product. With any luck it may be finished by Christmas. it sounds like a long time away but really it is right around the corner.

(Carolin)Yes it does feel like Christmas is just around the corner. I have some of my shopping done but not much. I do have a lot of gift cards to buy so that does make it easier. Yesterday my Canadian Living magazine came in the mail. I have subscribed to it for years and always have enjoyed it. I find it to be a conservative magazines that represents the family. But (and I know you knew there was going to be a but) this months (Decembers) has a small picture of a Christmas tree on the editorial page. The caption reads and I quote "On the holiday tree grow many things -love, family memories, hope and joy." HOLIDAY TREE!!!! it is called a Christmas tree. Why do some people feel it is OK to take Christ out of Christmas. It is bad enough that Christmas has become a commercial cow and employees at some of the retail shops can't even wish someone Merry Christmas. Please leave our CHRISTmas tree alone Canadian Living I absolutely love the subscription that you gave me for my birthday this year. It is such a treat to receive it, thanks again so much.

As I try to type the little one is doing some homework and cutting up my sears catalogue. Good thing I don't usually read it. The teenager went to the Gala/Awards dinner last night. She won a $1000.00 scholarship for an essay she wrote on buying her first thong! Makes a mother proud now don't it? Anyway she said it was a nice evening she enjoyed the people she sat with (all strangers to her). She was given a cheque for $1000.00 which I deposited into her university account this afternoon. She said that was the easiest $1000.00 she has ever made. She has filled out more applications for scholarships and is reading The Fountain Head right now and then will write an essay on the book for another scholarship. Congratulations that's amazing. How was Mike Holmes? The teenager says all he talked about was contracting and it was boring for her, but there was a lot of others who had questions for him. I guess his target audience is not 17 year old girls.

Well must be off and start some dinner, hope everyone has a great week.

Dancing with the stars week#7

It was a fun night on Dancing with the stars. Donny Osmond was one of my favorite performances this week. I think that in the end Donny and Joanna will be fighting it out for the trophy.

Eliminated this week were Mark (Host of Iron Chef) and Michael Irwin (NFL Hall of Famer). Both competitors were very charismatic and although it is sad to see them go I do agree with both decisions. Michael and Aaron were in the dance off on Tuesday night and the judges made the decision on who was going to leave. Although Michael seems to be a great guy, Aaron Carter is clearly the better dancer of the two.

The dancers that are left are all good. They have all come a long way since he beginning of the show. The excitement level is rising.

I will update you all again next week.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bench Talk: H1N1- How Scary is it?

The public is faced with another flu pandemic. H1N1 is making everyone afraid to be in public! Just how serious is this new version of the flu? Is it really serious or has the 'Media' once again turned H1N1 into something more than it really is?

What decisions have you made for yourself and your family?

Will you get the vaccine?

Well, once again my opinion is that the media have blown this all out of proportion. I understand the media has the duty to publish all the facts and opinions that they get. I believe, however, that the information is spun by the media to achieve whatever the desired result is at any particular point in time.

On the one hand I will hear in a news broadcast the seriousness of the H1N1. Yet in another broadcast I will hear the opinions of doctors and nurses advising the public that H1N1 is just a new strain of flu and it carries the same risk as any other flu.

I work with the public and when our union asks the company if we can wear masks and gloves we are told no, as it might insult the customers! It doesn't matter how often you wash your hands, when you have a sick customer cough in your face, chances are you will get sick!

At home, we do as we have always done - we wash our hands, eat healthy food, get fresh air and rest. We are lucky not to have any preexisting conditions which would make catching the flu more serious, for example, asthma or heart conditions. I actually think we all had mild cases of H1N1 a month ago. All the symptoms matched. What did we do? I made batches of homemade chicken noodle soup, drank green and mint tea and rested. It took about two weeks for it to work it's way through our systems. The last symptoms, if you want to call them that, were occasional dizziness and sinus pain.

Will we get the vaccine? Hubby thinks we should, but them he was the first to get the regular flu vaccine. I am on the fence. My gut says no. I think I would like to wait a year and see what happens. Some people claim I'm playing Russian roulette with the kids. The kids are not in what the medical field term, 'the high risk zone', so I will continue to gather information and hope to make the best decision for my family.

I personally feel the media has gone overboard once again. Flu season has started but I can't seem to get clear information. I would like to know how many people are sick with the seasonal flu and what is the death rate. I did read today in the Toronto Star that the cocktail mixture used in the flu shot that is being given out now has not gone through the normal drug tests. This very much concerns me, just what are they injecting into people? They do not know what the short term or long term side effects are going to be.

When you hear the public health professionals on the news, they say that most people getting the H1N1 flu will be fine. And the flu shot is for the people who are at high risk.

I have no plans to get the shot or to give the shot to the little one. She does have asthma and when she gets a cold it does go to her chest so we need to be careful and make sure she has her puffers as soon as we notice anything. I just asked my husband if he plans to get the flu shot and he said "no". As far as I know the teenager is not getting the shot either. I have a concern that if we don't let our bodies fight bacteria and virus then it wont be able to fight the more dangerous disease. I am no doctor but I have read stuff in relation to allergies and I am leaning towards the idea that we have an increase to allergies and asthma because the our bodies have never had to fight less dangerous bacteria and virus.

The 13 year old boy who died this week from what the media is saying was H1N1 is very sad and upsetting. The media has claimed that he was a healthy 13 year old boy who got sick and then died. It is very sad and my heart goes out to the family. But once again I ask how many apparent healthy people die from the flu every year and we don't hear about it on the news. Because of this one child there is now a panic all over the GTA (greater Toronto area) to get the flu shot.

With all this being said I am still concerned enough not to intentionally expose my family to the flu. Last weekend the little one was not well and has been using her puffers for most of the week. She seems to be fine now. The teenager also was sick last week with a fever (she just complained she was cold) stubborn cough and stuffed nose. This past Wednesday she woke up in the morning and said she was to tired from coughing to go to school. Since she had a first period spare I told her to sleep and if she felt better around 9:30 then her Dad could take her to school. I guess that wasn't the answer she wanted as she then got up and went to school! I spoke to Sunshine today and all her family is now sick so I have decided to just come home after the Harvest Party at the church instead of going to her home for a party. I don't think it is wise to expose the little one to another virus as she is just getting over one and Sunshine and her family should take it easy and rest. Hopefully they do get some sleep early tonight.

(Sunshine) I am so afraid after hearing about the death of those two children because of H1N1. Teen Sunshine started feeling sick last Sunday and was really not doing well on Monday and Tuesday. She had a high fever and a head ache and she was exhausted and dizzy. She is in her first year of high school and has so much going on so she took some Advil and went to school. She looked much better on Wednesday night but then on Thursday she was worse again. She went to school all week until Friday came along and she was too tired to even get up. She is still sick. The fever lasted about two days. Then she started with a stuffy nose and now she has an awful cough and is still exhausted and on occasion dizzy. She joined us for trick or treating for about half an hour on Saturday and then she went home. She had some friends over and I was searching for her and found her in bed trying to sleep. I asked her to come and spend time with her friends and she came downstairs and fell asleep on the couch next to her aunt.

Little Miss Sunshine started to feel sick on Wednesday night. She had a very high fever and a head ache and stuffy nose on Thursday and Friday. She stayed home from school on Thursday and went to school on Friday as she did not want to miss all of the Halloween festivities. When I went to pick her up on Friday she looked and felt awful. She spent most of Saturday in bed until about 5:0o pm and then I helped her to get dressed and she was ready to go trick or treating. We went out for several hours but I was really worried about her cough but I was so happy that she had no fever. When we got home she was tired but she was playing and she looked much better. When our guests left she quickly fell asleep in my bed.

I started feeling sick on Thursday. But my symptoms are a little different. I have chills and sweats on and off all day and night. I also have an upset stomach in the morning and in the evenings and a bit of a cough. I am also exhausted and a bit dizzy at times.

On Thursday evening the three of us went to the walk in clinic. It was a three hour wait. Thankfully my walk in clinic allows you to register and then go home and come back at a given time. I still had to wait an hour in the waiting room but at least the first two hours wait we did from the comfort of our home. When we arrived at the clinic everyone had masks on so we also put on masks. The doctor checked our ears and throats and listened to our chests and to our symptoms. He said that we all had symptoms of H1N1. They did not run any tests or prescribe any medication. He said to continue life as normal if you are feeling well. Take care of your self if you are sick and come back if you get worse. That's all??????

When I asked whether or not I should alert the schools or work he simply asked what I would tell them. He reminded me that they are unconfirmed cases. When he finished he left the room and then came back and told me that if I wanted to be a responsible parent then I could call the schools and let them know what my daughters symptoms are. That's what I did.

Mr Sunshine thankfully is still ok, (sorry I lied it's now Sunday morning and he is sick ). I am more worried about him as he is a diabetic and I am also very concerned about Teen Sunshine because she gets asthmatic when she is sick and has had several bouts of Bronchitis and Pneumonia over the years. Really I am so concerned about everyone and I don't really know what to do about the shot that is available. I know that if I call the pediatrician he will tell me to give the kids the shot. We all got the flu shot one season and we were all the sickest that we had ever been that year. I know that it is not supposed to have any relation to getting the flu shot, I am only stating the fact that we were all really sick all season. I don't know what to do, I am really concerned and the two young deaths have made me really scared.

I did alert everyone for Halloween that we were all sick and some people decided to come and others decided to stay home. My sister and her boyfriend and his daughter were all already sick so they decided that they would join us. My other sister said that she was not coming near any sick people and then she showed up anyways. I was concerned for my dad and his friend as they are both well into their 70's but he also decided to come. As we were on our way back from trick or treating we ran into Louise and her cousin and their families so they also decided to come. Another friend whose daughter was trick or treating with my daughter said that her whole house had been sick for about a month so they also decided to come.

Although I enjoyed seeing everyone, I felt really bad that we were all there and Cathy and Carolin's families were not. I understand their decisions and I am so sorry that it worked out this way. I just really felt that everyone needed to know that we were all sick and that it was going to be a very low key evening and that they were still welcome to join us if they wanted to. I missed the Halloween night that we all use to have all together and I hope that next year it will be better. I tried to spend some time with our guests but truly half of the evening I spent in the Living room cuddled up on the couch beside my dad. I have not seen him in a month now. I really didn't cook much and I was disappointed because usually I really enjoy getting ready for the evening but my energy supply was so low and Little Miss Sunshine wants me to never leave her side when she is sick.

H1N1, I really don't like you. You really scare me and confuse me. I hope that we will all be healthy soon and stay healthy for the rest of the season. I am sure that the media does blow things out of proportion but at the same time they did not fabricate the fact that those two young people died from H1N1. I don't really know what my opinion is on the media. I just want us all to be well.