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Reluctant Cheer Mom Tears Up, and Other Random Events…

Here’s what’s been going on around Hammond River the last little while (this stuff is true…not like my recent Mark Twain post!).

1. Regular readers of this blog know that even though three of our four daughters are or have been cheerleaders, I’m not a fan.  Anna’s first competition of the year was Sunday, and her team was so amazing, I actually stopped thinking about how much my butt hurt from sitting on the hard bleachers, and teared up a little!  Here’s Hope and Jake before we left:

Hope and Jake before competition (photo by Jim)...apparently you can tie Jake's ears in a bow...

Anna’s team made callbacks for the first time in five years! I guess those ten hours of practice the week before competition paid off! Here’s the team during the routine:

Harbour View High Cheer team...Anna is the one under the middle red banner (photo by Jim)...

The girls were even better in the callbacks, but ended up fourth (several spectators around us were as shocked as we were…we thought they’d won!). We’ll get them next week!

2.  Jim’s been buying camera equipment on Kijiji to keep up with the girls’ competitions…we met a guy in the Wendy’s parking lot on Monday night to buy a flash meter (Anna’s comment: “That wasn’t sketchy at all!”), and then drove to another guy’s house to pick up a lens.

3.  Monday night, I learned that not having a plunger in each bathroom is a mistake…Hope flushed the toilet in the “kids’ bathroom” and it started overflowing.  I panicked, and it took several minutes for me to turn the shutoff valve off.  By the time I found the “good plunger”, Jim had already used the crappy one to unclog the toilet!  Then I got to wash the mats and the dirty clothes which had been on the floor during the mini-flood.  Note to self…do not put clothing in the dryer with rubber-backed bathmats…little balls of rubber will come off, and permanently attach themselves to very expensive hoodies…

4.  Speaking of sewage, we found out this morning that the lot next to our place has been sold (bad news).  This means that the landlord is redoing the septic field (good news!), but that our yard will be torn up (it will be flatter when it’s finished…good news), and we will lose the lilac trees by our back deck that the birds like to hang out in (bad news).  On the upside, they will be redoing the driveway so that it actually drains instead of a 20-foot puddle forming in front of our garage every spring…the bad news is that the neighbours’ new driveway will be through our front lawn.

5.  Hope made cinnamon muffins, but neglected to read the mixing instructions under the ingredients in the recipe.  They tasted okay, but were rather lumpy and heavy.  She redeemed herself last night with some delicious chocolate chip cookies, which she proclaimed were better than mine!  I actually agree with her this time!

6.  Anna baked chocolate chip muffins, and almost forgot to put in the chocolate chips…she ended up poking them into the individual muffins just before putting them in the oven!

7.  Jim and I went to see the movie Source Code last night while Anna went to a school dance…I’m not usually a sci-fi fan, but I made an exception for the chance to drool over Jake Gyllenhaal.  It was quite good, and had us on the edge of our seats a lot of the time.  While we watched, I ate a couple of Lowney Cherry Marshmallow Creme Eggs…almost as yummy as Jake G.!

Jake with his "Source Code" co-star Michelle Monaghan...photo from tom-samp-journal.blogspot.com

8.  Anna found out this week that a design she submitted for the Drama Fest at her school had been the one chosen for use on posters, brochures and T-shirts!  Her teacher wanted her to submit a short bio to be included in the brochure…I wrote it for her.  We’re very proud of her!

9.  We’re hosting Easter dinner for the family at our house this year…Jim’s parents are serving Easter Breakfast at their church, and his mom says she’ll be too tired to cook.  We’re still on the hunt for a turkey (Kaylee can’t eat ham)…will try to find one tonight.  We also need to clean up our house for company!  I’m looking forward to seeing everybody, especially my “Puddin’ Pop”!

"Oh, dear...how did that get there?" Elise tries fingerpainting for the first time...

10.  I got a Facebook friend request from musician Thom Swift a couple of days ago…I “Liked” his fan page…maybe he read this piece I wrote about his concert last summer…

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“No, Virginia…There is No Fruitcake Fairy”, and Other Holiday Truths…

Well…here it is…December 6th, and I am being struck by some harsh holiday truths:

1. There is no Fruitcake Fairy.  Somehow, Jim and I completely forgot about making his Grammy Clark’s fruitcake this year (usually a project we undertake while others are getting ready for Halloween).  I remembered it this weekend…too late!  Our kids won’t care (fruitcake haters, all!), but I’m sure Jim’s relatives who we normally give it to might notice its absence!  I happen to love fruitcake…I will miss it!

2. Times have changed.  Gone are the days when I made all my own Christmas gifts (1970’s), sent a Christmas letter every year (1980’s), or had all my Christmas shopping done by the end of October (1990’s).  Crap!  I’ve got to buy the stuff to send to relatives in Ontario – mail service has also gone downhill!

3. I’d rather have a real tree.  Artificial Christmas trees shed worse than real ones…allergies prevent us from having a real one.  The poor thing looks more decrepit every year…

4. Decking the Halls is fun “De-decking” is not.  I think it was March last year before we took the lighted candy canes off the outside of the house.  They have yet to reappear.

5. Gingerbread men have lost their charm.  Children lose their enthusiasm for holiday baking as they get older.  When asked if they wanted to help make Christmas cookies this year, the girls’ response was the equivalent of “Meh!” 

6. They should sell Scotch tape equipped with a homing device.  Finding tape to wrap presents when one needs it in our house is something akin to locating the Holy Grail.  Our tape ends up in young Justin Bieber fans’ bedrooms holding up posters of their heartthrob…(and no, Hope…you can’t have JB for Christmas!  We have enough teenagers, thanks!).

7. The cost of the present the kids want is directly proportional to how much money is in your bank account.  The less you have, the more expensive the present.  Teenagers find it so much easier to spend their parents’ money than their own!  On a related note, you are obligated to spend the same amount of money on each child, down to the penny (they keep track!).

8. I still cry when I hear “Silent Night”.  No matter where I am, this song still makes me burst into tears…it reminds me of my grandparents, who died many years ago.  My family members stiffen when they see “Silent Night” in the programme of any Christmas concert we’re at…”Oh, man…get out the Kleenex!  They’re gonna sing that song!”  It’s even more embarrassing when I turn into a basket case listening to Muzak in the mall!   

9. Christmas cards are passé.  I used to send out about 40-50 cards every year.  That was back when stamps were 6 cents each (okay, I’m exaggerating…I’m not that old!).  This year, I will probably send them to elderly relatives who don’t have e-mail yet (I should probably pick some up soon – cards, not relatives).  I will also use the opportunity to get rid of the approximately 187 wallet-size school photos we purchased. 

10. Taking a decent family Christmas photo of 10 people and a dog is really difficult.  This is the one we settled on yesterday after about 20 takes (Elise was watching the Garfield Christmas special on TV):

Hammond River Holiday Photo. Front: Hope, Anna with Jake, Brianna, Devin. Back: Jim, Wendy, Dave (Grandad), Scott with Elise, Kaylee.

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