Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
We've had my brother visiting, and so that in itself makes life "better than Christmas", as one of the girlies said to me with shining eyes, the minute he stepped over our threshold. He has always been "Uncle" to them, which is apparently a combination of Best-Friend-Santa-Claus-and-Super-Man all rolled into one. We don't really NEED to plan activities for whenever he is here, because the good times just seem to roll on their own. He adores my girlies, and the feeling is MORE than mutual... They just can't wait to show him all of their stuff and activities and artwork and games and new skills and... and... and... And he gives them each his undivided attention and affection, every. single. waking. minute. of. the. day.
What more could a girl ask for in a brother?
The answer to that question is "NOTHING". Greater love hath no man.
That said, we DID actually manage to squeeze in some "planned activity" as well, this weekend:
I'm chalking the bladder control miracle up to the miraculous quality of the new animated version of the Dr Seuss classic, "Horton Hears a Who". It is truly a captivating film, based on a marvellous story, and I have to say... I haven't enjoyed a children's film this much since "Madagascar" (my all-time favourite... That Lemur King rocks. my. socks.) The only way that "Horton" could be made any better is if you are accompanied to see it by the Über-Uncle, which we were... and so the afternoon was damn near perfect.
In the evening, I whipped up a nice little dinner while the other members of the family rounded up candles, and we prepared for The Great Switch-Off of '08. The girlies had been told about Earth Hour by their school teachers the week before. Our public school decided to have a "trial-run" of Earth Hour while the kids were in class on Friday afternoon, and so all the children went home extremely well-informed and thoroughly prepared for when the clocks struck eight on Saturday evening.
It was wonderful to eat dinner by candlelight, and the youngest girls thought it quite extraordinary when I carried a few candles upstairs so that they could do their tubby-time routine... We read bedtime stories by the light of little tiny flashlights that my father gave us at Christmastime-- our very best presents. They operate without batteries, and instead have little "cranks" on the sides of them, and must be vigorously wound-up in order to generate power. Every few pages of the book we were reading, the girls would have to crank up the flashlights again, as they giggled away... Stories took rawther a long time that night, but it was good fun.
A "novelty", I thought.
Until this morning.
Because my three children have proposed that our family make Earth Hour a weekly event. Every Saturday night, between eight and nine o'clock, we're going to do our very best to "power down" in this household. And actually, I think that it's hopefully going to become a habit that does far more than just save us a tiny bit of money on our monthly electric bill, or be the merest smidgen of "help" to stave off a global-warming crisis...
I see this not only as an opportunity to teach my children to respect the environment and develop good energy conservation habits. I see it as an opportunity to work together as a family towards a common goal, and to switch off life's outside distractions for just a little while each week. Nowadays, we are all so intensely and constantly "in-tune" with the rest of the world... And while in almost every way, that is a wonderful thing, I often wish that the glut of information we are bombarded with could be "turned-down", occasionally. Just for a little while.
Because let's face it. There are periods of time when we just don't NEED to be "reachable", or to know the "latest news", or gossip, or stock quotes.
From now on, as often as we possibly can, between eight and nine o'clock on Saturday evenings, all our family is going to need is each other.
A few candles.
And hopefully... we'll be able to remember where the heck we put the matches.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:00 PM
Friday, March 28, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
If we WANT to sit around in our pyjamas until three in the afternoon, well, then, we can. (And we did.)
If we WANT to eat chocolate for every, single meal, and deem a fistful of jellybeans to be a "vegetable" serving, well then, we can. (And hoo-boy, we sure did.)
And, if we WANT to postpone Easter Dinner on Sunday, in favour of doing something that is MUCH more fun than standing around and basting a big, fat ham hock for hours on end, well then, we can. (And we did.)
People, for Easter this year, we decided to try something a little different.
I call it "The Glorified Egg-Toss":
Yep, we rounded up the kids, and took them bowling.
And I have to confess, we had a blast.
Child Number Three even managed to hold her pants up long enough to roll that enormous "extra-small" bowling ball down that alley... slooowly..... slooooooooowly....... And occasionally, she even hit a few pins down.
Child Number One has bowled before. She wowed us by getting a few strikes, and improved her game tremendously over the course of the afternoon. Number Two was the star, though. She takes after her old mum, who spent more than a few weekends at the local bowling alley as a young teenager (BOWLING, of course... I surprised my husband by showing him how to put my "signature" back-spin on the ball. Yep, the old girl's still "got it"...)
By the time we got home, we had decided to put off our Big Meal until today. Because when you don't have company, you can just DO THAT. Just put it off!! And eat pizza and bowling-alley hotdogs, instead.
Yessir, it's been a great weekend. And after last week, we all really needed it. I think Child Number Two summed it up best, in the card she made for me at school:
Sweetiepie, you did more than Rock My Easter.
You and your sisters ROCK MY WORLD, Babe.
Every. Single. Day.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 5:59 PM
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Posted by Candygirlflies at 12:49 AM
Saturday, March 22, 2008
We are gearing up for the Big Day, here! The enormous ham is in the fridge, waiting to be studded with cloves, draped with pineapple slices and maple glaze, and put into the oven... There are Yukon Gold potatoes to be "scalloped", and fresh asparagus to be steamed and drizzled with butter...
Friday, March 21, 2008
Or, so I'm told.
Although spring "officially" arrived yesterday, I am finding it extremely hard to believe. The snow still lies thick on the ground outside, the weather is dreary and dark, in spite of the dratted time-change. The Canadian Press quoted an "expert" on Wednesday morning, who hypothesized that it will be at least six more weeks before we here in Ontario even BEGIN to feel a change for the better, as far as our weather goes.
I confess it. I have been having trouble raising up my spirits this week. In SPITE of the prospect of Easter celebrations this weekend. I am having difficulty convincing myself that all of this blustery cold-ness will ever end, and that I will eventually be barefoot and back in my garden once more.
What the heck is up with Easter being so early this year, anyway?? It just doesn't FEEL right, no matter what the calendar might say. Someone told me the other night that this is the earliest that the holiday has fallen since 1913, and although I've not got the energy to actually confirm that tidbit of trivia, I'm inclined to believe it. I certainly can't remember a year like this within my own living memory.
It USED to be that the temperatures were warm, and the grass was green and lush and thick. The Easter Bunny hid chocolate eggs outside, and dotted them all around the lawn. We went egg-hunting with the girlies decked out in new spring dresses and hair ribbons... Birds were chirping in the trees, and crocuses and snow drops were peeping out of the ground. It was easily believable that it was the season of "new birth". One didn't have to make an effort, or look too far to see the hard-core evidence.
Getting worked up enough to celebrate Easter, and the Coming-of-Spring, just seems to me to be a little too much of an effort this year. I'm having to reaaaaaallly use my imagination. And the endless waiting to see some evidence... the "having faith" part of all of this... is difficult for me to muster.
At times like these, I go looking for good music to lift my spirits.
And what do you know, I found some. Guess where the inspiration came from?
My brother, of course.
Several months ago, he sent me a youtube video that he had found, of a group of highschool students performing a selection from the musical, "Godspell". I can't remember which highschool, or where they were from... I imagine, though, that it was something akin to "Anytown, USA". It wasn't a performing arts school, or anything particularly specialized.
The calibre of the performance, however was spectacular, for performers of such a tender age. Those young people literally swept me off my feet.
And it made me remember another very special performance of that musical that my family and I saw together, when I was just a kid, myself.
As you may already know, I grew up in the idyllic town of Stratford, Ontario. And we were lucky enough to be raised during some of the most magical years at Stratford: the years when many of the most wonderfully talented young performers in the world were being attracted, trained and raised-up onto the boards. Our parents, in their wisdom and generosity, enabled us to see the productions... to appreciate the talent, and to soak up all of the culture and experience that we possibly could.
I remember the tall, lythe Dennis Simpson... whom we recognized instantly from TVOntario's "Polka Dot Door". Donna Goodhand, one of the grand dames of Stratford. David Dunbar, who could sing like an angel, and yet make you fall on the floor laughing with his comedic antics. The distinguished Barry MacGregor, who surprised us all by appearing in a leather jacket, jeans, and a "greaser" hair-do that seemed a startling polar-opposite to anything we had ever seen him in before. There was also Barbara Budd, now one of the the brilliant stars of CBC's "As It Happens"-- also marvellous actress and chanteuse, who belted out a rousing "Day by Day". The formidable presence of Susan Wright (you could NEVER go wrong if Susan was a part of your cast)... But most of all, I remember Brent Carver, who played Jesus. He was young, and luminous and newly "discovered"... and gave a performance filled with sensitivity, combined with an almost other-worldly power that left us completely spellbound.
Being taken to see this show was more than a small revelation for us, as children. We were raised in a household that embraced culture with open-arms... And yet, the culture was almost entirely classical. We were read good literature. We were taken to see productions of Shakespeare and the ballet. We were taught the piano (and any number of other instruments, whether we liked it or not), and sang in the church choirs. On the long car road-trips that we embarked upon each summer, my father delighted in playing his endless supply of cassette tapes that he had recorded especially for the occasion. Since he had us "trapped" in the car, he used it as an opportunity to educate us in music appreciation... One year, we all listened to ALL of the Beethoven Piano Concertos. By the end of the holiday, we could pick out each and every one by number-- often pin-pointing musical clips right down to the movement. It wasn't as though we, the children, had much CHOICE in the matter at the time. If we wanted to get to-the-beach-and-back, we were going to have to learn Dad's Music. And so, we did... and thanked heaven above that he hadn't chosen to teach us Mozart, instead (MOZART wrote twenty-seven of them, while Beethoven wrote "only" five).
But I digress.
The point I'm getting at here is this: "Godspell" seemed to be an unusual choice of musical for my parents to be taking us to. For "Godspell", although based on the Gospel of St Matthew, is what I would describe as a "Rock Opera". NOT what we would have considered to have been my parents' cup of tea. And yet, it was. They were every bit as mesmerised by the performance as we were. Which made the experience even more fantastic.
"Godspell" may have a small cast of only ten performers, but it packs some powerful messages. The characters of Jesus and his followers not only tell, but enact the parables found in the Book of Matthew, using fabulous music, and lyrics "poached" from the Episcopal (Anglican) hymnal. Rather than focusing mainly on the life-story of Christ, the show centres in on the most important lessons that Jesus taught: love God, and love one another.
As I listened to the soundtrack the other day, and re-visited all the familiar stories, I suddenly realized something about the show that I had forgotten.
The musical takes us through the parables, through the Last Supper and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Jesus is crucified, and although we see no blood-and-gore à la Mel Gibson's "Passion of Christ", the audience is able to feel every bit of the agony, just by listening to the first part of the finale.
What I had forgotten... was that THAT is the point when the musical ends. There is no spectacular finishing-scene in which Jesus is resurrected from the dead. The life ebbs out of him... and then... there is a silence.
Silence, that is, until the small voices of a few brave women begin again. "Long live God!" they chant, over and over again, as others begin to join in. The voices begin to strengthen, the volume swells, and soon they are singing, full-out. They rise up rejoicing, right in the face of death-- filled to the brim with FAITH. Faith, that, although Jesus has left them, he will rise again. That although things seem bleak, there are better things to come.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 3:06 PM
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This is what my children told me, when I arrived at the breakfast table sporting a fresh, clean pair of socks with three-leafed-clovers on them... Admittedly, they are left-over from St Patrick's Day yesterday. But, with the stock markets being as horrific as they have been, and the US Fed announcement coming up this afternoon... I figured we could use a little boost in the "luck" department today.
(And before any of you go off on a tangent on how I shouldn't wear ONLY SOCKS to the breakfast table, I will clarify the previous paragraph to say that I WAS wearing a complete outfit, along with the socks. I save the socks-only routine for... Well, let's just suffice it to say that in THIS "family blog", you won't be getting any more details than that.)
I had actually totally forgotten that Easter falls SO EARLY this year.
And so, once we had shipped the eldest two girlies off to school, Wee Three and I trudged home, and dragged out yet another Holiday Box from the basement: the one marked "BUNNY".
We pulled out, arranged and decorated our little Easter tree. We carefully placed the china rabbit figurines underneath it, and a few tiny baskets around it... We put fresh, pink-and-green candles in all the candle holders, and flowery wreaths on the front and back doors.
We're "getting there".
Spring arrives on Thursday. Although, you'd never guess it, with all the snow, and the heavy-looking, grey clouds hanging in the sky today. But, the house is clean and freshened up, and winter is almost a thing of the past-- in our MINDS, anyway.
The girlies are SO READY for Easter to be here. They take after their mother: they're not going to let anything-- especially not a little snow and ice-- get in the way of their Chocolate. All I have to say is: The Bunny had better be a snowshoe hare, if he thinks he's got ANY chance at all of getting into this neighbourhood on Sunday...
My socks-of-choice are not the only "leftovers" from yesterday. Today for lunch, we will be finishing up the treats from last night's St. Patrick's Day dinner. The dinner that took hours to prepare, and the family only MINUTES to polish off. Yes, it was that good. We had a beautiful leek-and-potato soup that simmered gently all afternoon, before I laced it with heavy cream and sprinkled it with minced chives. We had fresh asparagus spears slathered with butter... and a beautiful, round loaf of Irish soda bread, still warm from the oven.
The soda bread recipe is one that I am especially fond of, and find to be particularly useful on those rotten days when I look in the fridge and pantry, and find nothing-in-particular to feed my children for lunch. It is quick to mix up, and calls for ingredients that, no matter what, I always seem to have on hand. The girlies just love it with a big bowl of soup, and I feel good knowing that their meal has been healthy, as well as warm and satisfying.
The woman who taught me how to make this bread has been a friend of mine, all of my life. She and my mother met years ago when they were in nursing school together, and the bond between the two of them, and indeed, between our two families, has remained firm and steadfast for well over forty years, now.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:57 AM
Monday, March 17, 2008
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ above me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:57 PM
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:01 AM
Saturday, March 15, 2008
(The eyebrows could definitely use a little lawn-mowing, though, non?)
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:53 PM
Friday, March 14, 2008
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:45 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
The birds were all out in full force, looking for their next meal! As well as pelicans, egrets and sand pipers, we caught sight of enormous flocks of Royal Terns, and Black Skimmers...
Once we had enjoyed a good swim, we waded and collected shells for decorating the day's sand castle. Clearly, Wee Three takes her job as Foreman of the Construction Team very seriously...
And a sisterly stroll along the shore...
Then, it was time to dry off, and head back up the beach for home.
All to be repeated again, tomorrow. It's heaven, I tell you...
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:38 PM
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Sweet. Merciful. Jesus.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:05 PM
Friday, March 7, 2008
We awoke this morning to brilliant sunshine, and the girlies and I dressed top-speed, and found our way down to the beach. We stopped for a moment, and relished the delicious feeling of warm-sand-between-the-toes... And then, were immediately awe-struck to find that the brilliant white sand STOPPED, suddenly, and gave way to this:
Miles and miles and MILES of beautiful sea-shells.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:41 PM