Tag Archives: childhood memories

theme week: 10 things my parents did right

happy monday, everyone, and welcome to theme week!

every day this week, i’m going to explore a topic/ideaover-used title that is common in the blogging world.

for the past few mondays, stacie has been participating in monday listicles:


last week’s subject totally grabbed my interest and i thought, as i read stacie’s blog entry, “hey! i want to write about 10 things my parents did right, too!” i love how the very nature of this list is positive and we are not slamming and bemoaning how our parents raised us.

as a refresher, my mom and dad and i live in side-by-side condo buildings. i count my parents as my closest friends, and they are awesome people [of course, when i was 12-18 years old, they frustrated me much more frequently than now – haha!].

so, looking back on my growing-up years, here are:


1. surprise us with mcdonalds for lunch on sundays. i wrote a blog post here about my memories of these special outings, and this is what i said:

our family was not rolling in money when the brother and i were little – my mom stayed at home and my dad worked for a local insurance company. we were very comfortable, but my parents had to watch the budget a bit. a real treat was when we would go to mcdonalds for lunch after church on sunday. we did not go every week. and we never knew if we were going to go until the drive home at noon – if dad took a certain road, we knew it was a mcdonalds day! the brother and i would clap and practically dance in the back seat of the car. i think this memory is so special because it was family time all together, i loved the fillet o’ fish/fries food, and the joyful surprise factor was just too much fun.

2. instill a love of reading: books were a part of our childhood from babyhood onwards. when we went to the library, we could choose the same number of books as our age, i recall. one other memory: mom would read to us after supper, before kitchen clean-up time: the story girl, robinson crusoe, the swiss family robinson, the five little peppers and how they grew…thanks to the importance placed on enjoying works of fiction, i still love reading to this day.

3. arrange to have a stay-at-home mom during our formative years: this situation was the right decision in this era for our family. mom went back to work as a supply teacher (which led to a permanent classroom position as a kindergarten teacher) when i was in grade six. [sidenote: i want to emphasize that i have full respect for, and totally support my friends who work outside the home and also are moms]. prominent memories: riding our bikes to go on picnics to parks with a lunchbox lunch; one-to-one time (making my own alphabet book at age four); homemade (sometimes fiddly and labour-intensive) suppers; a generally relaxed home environment.

4. encourage creative and imaginative play: tv time was limited to 30-60 minutes per day; most of our toys did not require batteries; we were allowed to spread out our villages and families all over the living room and rec room and leave them in place for days on end!

5. vacation in a variety of ways during the summers: we took long trips both to eastern and western canada; we rented cottages for a week or two at a time; we took day trips to southern ontario tourist spots while maintaining a home base.

at storybook gardens, london (ontario), 1975

6. limit tv time: see #4, above. we played outside, inside, upstairs, downstairs, in the garage a lot more frequently than we watched tv! however, we DID view the popular childrens’ shows of the time [my stance is that kids have to know who mickey mouse and big bird are in order to be *with it* members of society]. tv was a special treat rather than a major time-filler.

7. prioritize time with grandparents, family, family friends: my grandma and grandpa c lived just a five minute drive away, so it was nbd to pop over to visit, get together for birthdays, etc. we were also close with my aunt and uncle who lived locally. and, our family visited back and forth with other families a lot!

g’ma and g’pa c!

8. encourage laughter: cracking hardboiled eggs on our foreheads, burping and farting (not in public!!), making dad wear a bread basket on his head over dinner-hour, just being silly because it is fun to laugh…we had a pretty joyful household (most of the time!!).

9. teach manners and accepted etiquette: i remember being so peeved because mom made us write thank you notes after birthdays and christmas!! i wanted to play with new toys, not write about them! but it was the right life lesson to teach us. not to boast, but mom and dad used to get compliments from perfect strangers about how well-behaved and polite the brother and i were, so they taught us well!

10. take us to church: let’s call a spade a spade – i no longer attend church, but i am grateful for the fact that we went to church every sunday (except in the summers) from birth to university-age. my feeling is that you don’t have to go to church to live ethically, practice kindness, and believe in God, and i am thankful for my mennonite church/faith upbringing.

what is something that YOUR parents did right, and something that you wish they had done differently? i wish that my parents had let me give up on piano lessons and let me take dance lessons instead. [please note that my parents are fully aware of my feelings, we have discussed the past, it is bygones, i DID learn valuable life lessons by achieving my grade eight in piano, and we have no hard feelings!].

stacie, i am glad you participated in this listicle as you inspired me, and i got to reflect on much happiness from many years ago!

tomorrow: we have another list of TEN!

vancouver ’84

whew, i am so very glad i remembered about this family vacation to vancouver way back in 1984. otherwise, i would have been forced to become vegan for a week, just to fulfill my letter “v” obligations for this great blogging from a-z challenge. [i do not know enough about either vampires or volcanos to put together a coherent and educational blog post on these subjects. oh, and i have no objections to trying veganism (aka extreme vegetarianism?! )sometime, i just can’t be bothered, right now].

even after all these years, when i stop to reflect, i can pull up so many memories of our family trip out west in the summer of 1984 (i was 14 and going into grade 9, and the brother was 11, going into grade 6). our holiday was about two weeks in length. we flew from toronto to calgary, then rented a car and did a tour from calgary -> banff -> jasper -> kelowna and kamloops -> vancouver -> victoria -> back to calgary and home again via airplane to toronto.

calgary was exciting to my fourteen year old self because of the time change (we went back two hours) and because the air was so dry! (southern ontario is known for its humidity). i distinctly remember all of us waking up in the morning in calgary absolutely parched!

i searched through my photo albums for visuals to share with you…and came up with a measly four photos. i guess karma is trying to tell me to keep this blog post short. [mom and dad, i think you must have a larger collection??!]

dad, the brother and mom on the columbia icefields

we took a formal tour of the columbia icefields, one day. the strongest memory is of how impressed we were with the huge tires on the bus-thing that we rode on! we were also amazed at the vast scope of the icefields…and that there was all this ice in july!

the view of downtown vancouver

in both vancouver and calgary, we stayed in hotels (holiday inn, maybe??) that had many floors. the brother and i begged to stay as high up as we could, and the parents obliged…although, i do remember that mom got so nervous when we went out on the balcony because she feared the swirling winds would suck us over the edge (we mocked her greatly for this, as only a 14 and an 11 year old can do).

me on the grounds of the capilano suspension bridge - check out the size of that maple leaf i am showing off!

we LOVED our day at the capilano suspension bridge. we felt like adventurers as we gleefully traipsed across the gaping expanse!


injecting some fun into our visit to butchart gardens, victoria

butchart gardens is a big tourist attraction. all i remember is flowers…flowers…more flowers (yawn)…still more – you got it – flowers…is it time to swim at the hotel yet??

a few other vivid memories:

~ going to a cfl football game: the b.c. lions played the ottawa rough riders. we cheered loudly and frequently for the ontario visitors which did not make us very popular with the home crowd!

~ shopping in vancouver’s chinatown: we had never seen whole chickens hanging from shop windows before!

~ dad treating us to a swanky dinner one night at a fancy seafood restaurant. i had scallops for the first time, and loved them!

~ trying to find the hoodoos in drumheller, alberta. we drove and drove and drove and drove some more…the brother and i were bored out of our minds, and mom and dad were squabbling over directions…when we finally found the land formations, we were all like, woop-dee-doo, that’s how tired and out-of-sorts we were. the brother and i just wanted to get back to the hotel to swim!


guess what – i still have two souvenirs from the vancouver ’84 trip. it will come as no surprise to you that they are…


and i still wear them!

the inspiration behind today's title

my tee from vancouver's chinatown - we all got the same design on a different background colour! (yellow, blue, red...what was the 4th one?!).

i am so very grateful to mom and dad for the family vacations that we all enjoyed, growing up (florida in grade 3 and a tour of eastern canada in 1981 come first to mind). travel is such a gift to give to children.

you can hop on a plane today to VACATION anywhere in the world. where are you going? i’ll pick hawaii! never been, and it’s got sun and heat!

george and marshmallow

ours was not a pet-centric family. no parade of cats, dogs, mice, parakeets for us – it was just two parents and two kids inhabiting our suburban bungalow, back in the 70s. except for one brief interlude! the era of george and marshmallow:

i think my very body language speaks volumes, here - not exactly at ease around furry creatures! (thanks, mom, for noting the date in my photo album!).

[how completely appropriate that i can reminisce about bunny rabbits on easter weekend!]

as you can see, george and marshmallow became a part of our family when the brother and i were about ages four and seven, respectively. thinking back, i don’t recall clamouring for a pet, or begging my parents to get us a cute and cuddly something that we could name, play with and pet (after all, why else have an animal in the house when you are little? it was certainly not for the desire to spill out their food, clean up their poop, or discipline them).

since my memories of george and marshmallow are more impressionistic rather than detailed, i emailed mom and asked her how/why george and marshmallow ended up in our family. i’ll share mom’s account:

You and your brother asked for/campaigned for a pet, some kind of pet, and one that you could pet, so no fish aquarium  again. Since this mama was not about to include a dog or cat in the household, we tried to think of an alternative.  It was actually [some family friends] who mentioned the possibility of a rabbit.  Mrs B’s brother, I forget his name, had a Bunny Business.  So we drove to their mini farm, just outside of Waterloo, and you and your brother chose your bunnies from the stock available.  George was named after the George and Martha books, and you named yours Marshmallow because it was all white.  I did not see the necessity of you having pets, to be honest.  I thought that you could get that desire fulfilled second-hand at either [family friends] the M’s or the C’s.  But I caved and George and Marshmallow took up residence in the – I can’t believe this – garage.  Dad built little hutches, and you and your brother fed them faithfully.  I remember adding extra lettuce and carrots to our grocery order.  I do not remember who cleaned the cages, but it was not me.  Must have been Dad.

whatever became of george and marshmallow, you ask? again, let’s let mom tell the story…

After they seemed to run their course/wear out their welcome, we took them to the C’s farm where they resided for a very short span of time before a wily Mr. Fox found them.  Mr C did not know how to share this info because he thought that you would be very sad and upset.  But, as I remember it, you and your brother took the news quite well [we did – i do not remember being heartbroken – sorry!].  And that was the end of the can-we-have-a-pet era.  I remember that my favourite line was, “If a dog (or cat) moves in, I move out,”  and fortunately you thought it was better to have a live-in mommy than a live in animal.

it’s funny what sticks in your head – the biggest memory i have of george and marshmallow is of the smell! to this day, i can clearly recall the stench distinct odour of the rabbits’ cage. i swear our garage retained the scent of rabbit poop for many, many years.

pets: feel free to share the who/what/where/when/why/how of your childhood! our other caring-for-a-pet exposure was for my favourite dog, ever!

darling gretel! note the increased level of comfort level i am exhibiting!

we would take care of dad’s boss’ miniature schnauzer from time to time – long weekends, summer vacations, winter get-away weeks. gretel is the only dog i have never feared, even a tiny bit.

temporary dog-sitting - it was the perfect scenario for our family

new experience #37: watch “a charlie brown christmas”

on the twelfth day of december...

i know!!! who gets to be my age and hasn’t seen this christmas classic?? i am chagrined.

pause to reflect: we watched oodles of christmas specials, when we were kids: frosty, rudolph, grinchie…all these, and more, were holiday favourites. but never charlie brown! [i can only surmise my parents were not cb fans??]. and in school, in those final, high-energy days before christmas holidays, weary teachers would play christmas cartoons for the class – somehow, my teachers did not include charlie brown in the mix. [tangent: i do know the supporting characters – linus, lucy, snoopie, et al because i had a peanuts jigsaw puzzle when i was little].

so here we are, christmas 2011, and it’s time to see what “a charlie brown christmas” is all about.

dad pvr’d this classic for me last week (i fear mom and dad are going to start charging me an admission fee -> lotsa tv time at their place already this month! i’m thinking of pitching a tent in front of their home theatre system, and just watching all tv specials all the time).

friday eve, i snuggled into comfy sweats (not quite as cosy as the pajama sleepers with feet that we had as kids), and trundled over to the ‘rents.

all we were missing was the popcorn!

the eve’s tv viewing agenda: a charlie brown christmas and how the grinch stole christmas. might as well add on my favourite christmas show ever, while i’m already plopped in front of the tv!

we started with charlie brown.


right from the opening scenes and song (i DID recognize the song) i enjoyed it. what a delightful little story! we all laughed out loud, even, from the cuteness! i esp appreciated the inclusion of the biblical christmas story – that is rare, nowadays, and was interwoven into the storyline very effectively. also, the simple anti-commercialism and true-meaning-of-christmas messages are good reminders for kids.


my favourite character? lucy!


we all laughed at her bossiness and take-charge attitude…because i am lucy, lucy is me! at the end of the 30 minutes, i was all full of warm fuzzies. add a charlie brown christmas to my list of annual must-watch shows. i’d love to watch it with little e! she’d be all over the singing, dancing, and acting.


next, dad queued up the grinch…except he pvr’d the jim carey movie instead of the boris karloff cartoon! oops! luckily, grinchie is being shown about 37 times between now and xmas, so we are all set to tape it again, tonight.

and…i finished mitten #2 during charlie brown!

perfectly pumpkin-y!

it’s official: christmas knitting is finit-o.

i think.

what is your favourite christmas special? there was one the brother and i loved when we were kids called emmett otter’s jugband christmas that i have not seen on tv for years. on the other hand, i have adamantly refused to watch the little drummer boy for about 30 years – it is way too sad when the little lamb gets run over – i can’t handle it. in our teens, we started watching this version of a christmas carol, starring george c scott, or this musical version featuring albert finney, every year!

a bday tribute

well, this is it: today is dad’s 70th birthday!

i can’t believe he’s that old it! and if i can’t believe it, i wonder how dad feels?! 🙂

dad will receive his gifts later today. then, tomorrow we have a special family celebration!

in honour of dad’s milestone day, we have a list of 26 things about dad (because it’s november 26th, hence my choice of 26 items). i would have done seventy (twenty-six was surprisingly easy to find) but then i’d have to delve into even more embarrassing stories, so twenty-six shall suffice!

happy birthday, dad!

26 reasons we love dad

1. dad was that neighbourhood father who spent evenings and weekend afternoons outside with all the kids, playing baseball, driveway hockey, football tossing, frisbee flinging…

2. dad is the author of  my favourite quote of all-time: the world is full of idiots. classic.

3. “everything in moderation” is another life expression dad espouses – and it makes so much sense.

4. dad can check “run a marathon” off his bucket list – we ran our first marathons at the same race! (niagara, 1996).

5. dad is always the first one to reach for the bill when out with friends or family, at a restaurant or coffee shop.

6. dad loves a bowl of cereal.

7. dad is an ace at sudoku puzzles.

8. dad has a warm smile and kind eyes.

9. dad will always win at the board game “risk” because of his never-fail strategy of taking over all of australia, then attacking outwards from there (we used to get soooo mad, as kids!).

10. dad is a willing and un-complaining dish-washer for mom when she bakes and cooks.

11. at various stages of his life, dad has played recreation-league hockey and baseball; he has been a curling squad (team? crew? foursome?), he took yoga, and now, he still golfs regularly.

12. dad is willing to have his photo on the blog at any time, even when wearing his pajamas.

13. dad worked for the same company for his entire 45+ year professional career – that kind of loyalty is rather uncommon.

14. dad is skilled at painting and wallpapering – his attention to detail is phenomenal.

15. dad taught me to ice skate when i was two.

16. dad has a deep bass singing voice, and can carry a tune marvelously.

17. dad let me learn to drive standard – and taught me himself! – on his beloved 1981 toyota celica.

18. dad can bbq a mean medium-rare steak; we’ll forget about the time he accidentally melted his sunglasses by placing them on top of a hot bbq!

19. dad has impeccable style and is a dapper dresser.

20. dad held my hand at the 9k mark of my first 10k race and encouraged me not to walk – that can-do attitude has stayed with me ever since.

21. in his role as g’pa, dad gives pony rides to little e and cutie c, and lets them walk on his feet.

22. dad made up stories for us when we were little, featuring “the little man” (he’d walk his fingers to be the little man) and “susie and freddy” (a little girl and her dog).

23. dad slipped me french fries on the sly beginning when i was about a year old. mom found out when i started pointing and going “ugh ugh!” for fries, upon spying them!

24. dad keeps his vehicles in pristine and mint condition – both the interiors and the exteriors. that begs the question: why are the brother and i so lax??!

25. dad is bilingual – german and english. he failed grade nine french, though.

26. thanks to dad, i have green eyes, too.

happy saturday, friends!


november thankfulness:

(for friday november 25th): yesterday i was thankful for my longstanding friendship with lisa.

friends since the early '90's!

it was her birthday yesterday! i am happy that we have plans for coffee to meet up next week!

way back playback: ghosts of hallowe’ens past

ok, technically, i never dressed up as a ghost when i was little. that would have been way too boring!

hallowe'en, age 22 months: first costume - a little witch!

from age four on, my costume ideas needed to include either makeup, jewellery, and wigs or fancy dresses in order to be considered as possibilities. while we never had hand-sewn costumes, we never ever had store-bought outfits purchased from zellers – you know, the plastic pull-on ones. rather, our costumes were a mix of dress-up box items, mom’s closet finds or stuff from our own wardrobe. i was always very happy with my final choices!

hallowe'en age two: a cat! remember how those plastic masks would make your face sweat?!

and boy oh boy, did i love hallowe’en! seriously, i would have been hard pressed to tell you which was better: hallowe’en or christmas.

hallowe'en, age three: a teddy bear! (mom had the costume from when she taught kindergarten!)

so many parts of hallowe’en were just too much fun: dressing up; parties and special activities at school; evening trick or treating traditions. i DID like getting all the treats, but to be honest, that was not the highlight of hallowe’en – i’d have to give that honour to dressing up.

hallowe'en, age four: an old lady. this is the first year i remember picking my own costume idea

here’s what went down at our place on hallowe’en evening (these memories come from the ages of five to about twelve, i’d say)…

hallowe'en age five: a witch! the obvious choice that year because i was missing a front tooth!

same year - this time the brother was the teddy!

my mom would stay at home and hand out the candy while dad took us out and about in the neighbourhood to collect our candy. the brother and i always went door-to-door with vfbf joanne, her sister, and their dad. we’d do quite a tour through our neighbourhood. hey – didn’t you always hate the years when it was chilly and you had to wear a coat over your costume?

hallowe'en age seven - mickey mouse (daytime for school)...

...and night-time for trick-or-treating!

we never went crazy-heads with the candy collecting. i remember gazing in astonishment at the kids who ran around – literally – with pillow cases. we were more moderate in style.

hallowe'en, age eight - a gypsy. FAVOURITE COSTUME EVER.

with joanne and wanda. we've always loved the orange squiggles emanating from the jack o'lantern in this photo!

so, after going door-to-door, we’d come home and the brother and i would dump our candy collections on the living room floor. honestly, this was the most fun to me – sorting through all the treats, and organizing them into categories: chips, chocolate bars, candies, crackerjack, miscellaneous [see, i’ve always been an organizer at heart!]. mom and dad would allow us to enjoy a couple of treats of our choice [i always picked a chocolate bar and sweet tart candies!], then we’d pile everything back into our bags and they’d be stored in our bedrooms.

hallowe'en, age nine: a scarecrow (did you collect for unicef, too?)

vfbf joanne was princess leia this year! love wanda's (genuine) dutch girl outfit

call me weird, but i never consumed treats on the sly, and we didn’t take sugary snacks for recess time. and i don’t believe that mom and dad ever snuck their favourites out of our collections, either! [now’s the time to ‘fess up, guys, if so…!]

hallowe'en, age ten - cowgirl!

the rule was that whatever was still left over by early december would be tossed out. all our favourites would be long gone by then, anyhow, and what was left would be stale. plus, by then, it was time to get ready for christmas goodies!

hallowe'en, age eleven - a queen (2nd fave idea, ever)

tonight i am working or else i would take a walk through the neighbourhood to see all the excited children. i still love hallowe’en!




what was your first hallowe’en costume OR your favourite hallowe’en costume OR did you dress up this year?…or answer all three! this year, i did not wear a costume, per se, but saturday, sunday and today to work, i DID wear my spider bracelet

sparkly spidey - and you can move his legs!

…and my jack o’ lantern earrings!

wish i had three pairs!

(you don't need a huge shot of my ear)


way back playback: apple pickin’ saturday

good morning!


thanksgiving weekend is here – for us canadians, anyway. u.s. friends, you’re welcome to celebrate and be thankful, too!

how did it get to be turkey weekend already? didn’t i just wish you happy canada day?!

our family is big on traditions. when we were little, the saturday morning of thanksgiving weekend featured our annual trip to the apple orchard. we would drive down to st george (just south of cambridge, maybe a 30 minute trip) and pick our bushel baskets of apples. we would go with our grandpa and grandma c (my mom’s parents). we wouldn’t all drive together, though – two empty trunks were needed to take home all the apples.

i remember that the apple orchard was divided into different sections for different types. back in the 70’s, there weren’t as many varieties or hybrids of apples as we have today. we only could pick types that were natural to southern ontario: macs, ida reds, spies…those are the names that stick in my head.

after entering the farm, we’d bumpity bump down the lane to our first stop. everyone would hop out of the cars. mom, dad, grandma and grandpa would do the actual picking. the brother and i got to play!! we excitedly climbed trees, jumped on picked up fallen apples, plucked and munched apples right off the trees, ran around…man, it was a good time.

archive photos from thanksgiving '74 - i would have been 4.5 years old, the brother 18 months

when we got a bit older, the best part by far was the travel from one part of the orchard to another. now, remember: this was the 70’s, and ideas on safety were different than today! since we were going 5 mph for 100 feet from the macs to the ida red’s (or whatever), the brother and i were allowed to sit in the trunk of the car (it was open, of course), along with the apples and the bushel baskets. this was just about as exciting as life could get – we would be beside ourselves with glee at this hilarious ride. i wish i had a photo!

my grandparents and my parents would each pick bushel upon basket of apples. both houses had fruit cellars, so the apples would keep through the winter. and my grandpa loved to make his own applesauce. many a cold winter night, our family would enjoy homemade apple crisp or pie from our thanksgiving apples!

thanksgiving weekend, 1977 - looks like it was a beauty of a sunny day!

after the picking was over, it was picnic time! mom and grandma would co-ordinate a simple lunch of sandwiches, coffee for the adults and juice for the kids, fingerfood munchies, dessert. i clearly recall that we always had my grandma’s lemon squares. to this day, no one makes a lemon square – even if it’s her recipe! – that matches hers. also totally 70’s: everything we brought for the picnic was re-useable: tupperware, thermoses, cutlery, plates…and a blanket to sit upon!

that year, our friends the c's (mr & mrs + 3 kids) joined us! gram and gramps are in the lawn chairs

just this week, my neighbourhood and blogging friend, tricia, posted about her family going apple picking. that’s what triggered my memories! i’m glad to see the tradition continues in other families – such a simple outing that is such a lot of fun.

ever picked your own apples? i have not been apple picking since this childhood era!

what’s your favourite type of apple? i love crunchy, tart, apples – faves would be honeycrisp, gala and red delicious if they’re not mealy (you have to know how to pick ’em with that variety). on these childhood apple picking outings, i loved eating the ida reds right off the tree – they were tart enough to make your eyes water!


way back playback: labour day + back to school

happy monday morning!

we can say that today because chances are you are off and relaxing at home instead of going about your normal monday morning routine.

don’t you just love a holiday!

and you can bet that by the time this evening rolls around, i will still have the biggest smile on my face [as i lollygag on the new couch]. i may even pick up the phone and call mom just to gleefully chuckle with her as we say, “we are so happy not to be going back to school!” with both of us being former teachers, labour day evening now is truly a time of relaxation. [i don’t know of one teacher who will sleep well tonight – just goes with the territory. that being said, i do wish all my teacher friends the very best tomorrow!]

growing up, i truly loved going back to school. [it was only my three years of teaching where the night-before-the-return-to-the-classroom was anxiety-filled]. the newness of the whole first-day-of-school experience really appealed to me. we always had a brand new outfit to wear, new backpack or tote bag of some sort, and the usual assortment of untouched school supplies.

another tradition: the first day of school photo! always taken in the same spot on our front porch, as you can see!

i don’t have too many clear memories of how we spent labour day itself, when we were young. i do know that we were always at home – we weren’t the type to come home from vacation or a day trip on this last weekend before school. so, the monday holiday would have been spent around the home, playing with neighbourhood friends, or in the teen years, watching tv.

that being said, we did have one annual tradition that i remember with extreme clarity!

on labour day monday evening, mom, dad, the brother and i would all go out to tim horton donuts.


we’d all choose a treat [chocolate glazed was my go-to!] and then sit around a table, chat, and get ready for…

…dad’s annual back-to-school speech.

poor dad. to this day, we still tease him every year about giving us that speech. at the time, however, it was no joke! after we’d inhaled enjoyed our donut, dad would turn all serious, and in a tone more solemn and stern than usual, he would lecture rally us for the upcoming school year.

i don’t remember exactly what dad would say, but it was along the lines of how we would need to work hard at our school work, stay focussed, and not be swayed by outside forces. the funny part is that the brother and i were both straight “a” students, so the relevance of this speech is what is questionable!

then, dad would turn his attention to our futures and remind us that hard work would allow us to pursue whatever career we desired. [i also distinctly remember an era where dad was very gung-ho about the fact that the brother and i should both be dentists in a joint practice, and he would be our business manager – sorry, dad, that this did not come to pass!].

for sure, dad’s heart was in the right place. but there was much eye-rolling and shoulder-heaving sighing from the brother and i as we anticipated dad’s back-to-school speech. and like i said, to this day, we tease dad, and every year we make some smart-ass comment, asking if he’ll be delivering his lecture to us. good thing dad can put up with teasing!

any back-to-school traditions from your past? it was always exciting to find out who my teacher would be and which friends would be in my class, too, on that tuesday morning back!

p.s. – > dad, if you want to buy me a donut later today, i won’t say no. just no speeches, ok?!!


new experience #26: knit with silk

i learned to knit when i was five. my beloved grandma c taught me, and i think i fell in love with knitting solely because of the variegated yarn that we used for my first project.

i still have that doll's skirt!

since that time, yea so many years ago, i have:

~knit on planes, trains and in automobiles

~knit through church services (!), while watching movies in theatres, during book club meetings, while talking on the phone

~knit for money, knit for charity projects, knit for family and friends, knit for myself

~knit patterns from books and from designs that i created in my head

~knit with mohair, cotton, acrylic, wool, and combinations thereof

[ i would love to know how many gazillion miles i have knit, over the past 36 years].

~i have never knit while running, walking, driving a car or operating heavy machinery

~i have never knit with silk.

until now.

i finished the baby blanket project!

i am really not sure how practical a 100% silk blanket is for a baby. but, boy, you should feel how incredibly soft and silky (natch) the blanket feels.

i saw this yarn at last year’s knitter’s fair and had to pick it up. four skeins cost me $160 plus tax. i was so eager for the tactile experience of creating something with this glorious yarn that i put the money aspect of the purchase aside and just went for it.

hand dyed made in canada

the yarn sat in the condo casa while i worked on other projects until march. then i had to wind the skeins into balls. remember this mess?!

it took me 6-8 HOURS to wind each skein - what a disaster!

happily, this…

what a bird's nest!

…turned into this:

the finished blanket

can you see the slight variegation in shades of blue? it's quite subtle

overall, i’m happy with how the project turned out. i am very glad i used an aran pattern (that’s the cables and twists) as the yarn helps that patterning of the diamonds and seed stitch to pop right out.

i’m a little disappointed at the sizing:

the blanket is a bit longer and shorter than i would like it to be

because i had the four skeins of yarn, i simply knit four strips, then sewed them together (at the price of that yarn, you don’t exactly want to waste any of it!). ideally, each section would a be little longer and a bit more narrow. however, i realize i’m being rather picky with this observation. the dimensions really are just fine for a baby blanket.

i’d definitely knit with silk again, the feeling of working with the yarn did not disappoint at all. but next time, i will have dad wind the yarn into the balls, and i will just knit!!

is there a september outing you are anticipating with glee? mom and i have only missed ONE knitter’s fair in over 15 years! five sleeps til we go!

when the body says no

i’m really not surprised at all that i got sick last week.

there’s been ongoing stressful issues, and my body reached it’s tipping point on wednesday.


it was so weird! literally, i was feeling fine, and at 9:30 a.m., i suddenly got the shakes and shivers, the chills, a queasy stomach, and a pounding headache. i lay down for a bit, hoping i’d feel better asap, because we had plans to return to ikea to purchase the new condo casa couch, then go on to toronto to visit cutie c and adorable e.

against my better judgment, and instinct, at 11 a.m., we decided to set out, as planned. i really was excited to go back to ikea and to see the girlies! well, we got as far as cambridge, and had to turn around. i could not wait to get home and crawl under the covers (and relieve my roiling tummy). in retrospect, i’m glad we did not get as far as ikea; if we had made the couch purchase, the karma would be all wrong, forever and ever! buying a piece of furniture when you’re sick?! the negative vibe would be forever in the home, no?!

getting the stomach flu has been my body’s default mechanism for dealing with stress my entire life:

~the day of my great-grandma’s funeral, when i was in high school: the flu hit in the car, on the way back from the cemetery, when we were caught in a traffic jam on the conestoga parkway (seriously – i could not make that up, and it was very unpleasant for all of us in the car!).

~my first weekend home from teacher’s college – slammed by the flu, practically the minute i walked in the door.

~my bout with mono was an upscaled form of the flu (first year university).

i find it fascinating how our bodies let us know when it’s time to slow down and rest. some people come down with a migraine. back spasms, cold sores, fainting…i know people for whom each of these reactions is the tell-tale sign of a high-stress life period.

it’s also crazy how timing works: i was off work on wednesday and not scheduled for another shift til thursday eve. my body knew that it *could* get sick since my agenda was relatively clear of hard-to-get-out obligations.

for a fascinating read on the interaction between stress and illness, i highly recommend this book:

my copy

(for more information, click here to see what the book’s about, and here for a couple of brief reviews).

i first read gabor maté’s non-fiction work about ten years ago.

make that eight years ago! just found my receipt tucked in between the pages!

and, i’ve returned to it a few times since then.

dr maté is preaching to the converted, as i am a firm believer in the mind-body connection anyway, but if you have even the slightest interest in the link between stress and disease, check out this book. it’s a quick read, filled with stories and anecdotes, and is not too highbrow or dry in tone. his examples of illness are more extreme than the flu, but his view regarding stress can be applied to anyone.

what’s your body’s “default mode” when it needs a break? i have another freaky story to share with you some time about what happened the morning of a race that i was supposed to compete in – my body told me in no uncertain terms that it was having none of it!