Sunday, December 19, 2010

Treats & Doll-Houses.

My parents live the little things better than anyone I know. 

Today they celebrate 30 years of marriage. I would like to honor them by mentioning some of those little things that have inspired me for 29 of their 30 years. I wasn’t here for the first one. I’m sure it was great. 

Mum and Dad dangled “treats” in front of us. It was sweet. What I mean is, they made lots of little things have special meaning because they were treats. For example, treat cereal. If you grew up on brand name Mini Wheats and Fruit Loops, I’m sorry. You just won’t appreciate this. My parents saved those things for special days like our birthdays. Or holidays. OR the rare occasion for no reason. Treats. Love ‘em to this day. In any form.

My parents made holidays fun for us by putting little things in place. Things like 4 different colored fluorescent hats, one for each of us. Just kidding. Those were corny. But they did do cool stuff like take us camping and encourage a different board game each summer. (Those who know me know that stuck). And they played with us. They also made craft kits for each of us for long road trips in the backward-facing puke-inducing red paneled station wagon. Who needs Fisher Price when you have Ruth and Marty. 

My parents preserve traditions around the little things. For example. For the last few years, Ry and I have not been able to be home for actual Christmas. But Dad gets this glint in his eye at 11 o’clock at night at least once during every visit: “You guys wanna do a sparkle tour?” The tradition is, we get hot drinks and drive around the city in the back of Dad’s big empty van listening to Christmas carols and looking at lights. There were no lights in August really. But it doesn’t matter. Great little tradition. (And we can’t really see from the floor of the van anyways). 

Mum and Dad raised us on home-made stuff. Love it. I saw a plastic canvas Christmas ornament today and was so delighted. Even if none of the rest of you know what plastic canvas is, my mum and sisters do. For sure. And I am so thankful for that. We learned how to make home-made cards… and rug-hook… and knit… and blow up pictures on an overhead projector… and paint nativity scene characters… because my parents took the time to invest the little things in us. No matter how busy I get, I still crave craft days. 

Mum and Dad still employ their home-made-making skills in their gift-giving. Last year, when Ry and I were in BC for Christmas, a very large package arrived at our door. I couldn’t believe it when I opened a doll house: hand-made; hand-painted; hand-wallpapered; hand-cardboard-furniture-built; hand pictures-hung-on-the-wall. Amazing. You see, when I was a kid, Dad had built us a big Barbie house, the sweetest thing ever. We haven’t been able to track it down recently, but they knew how much it meant to me. So, they took the time to build me one when I was 28 years old. 

I could go on and on… so here’s a final list to wrap things up, a “montage” of little things, if you will:
Stuffing every care package with fruit-to-go’s…
Sending home-made cards…
Constantly serving us when we come home…
Numerous boat trips at the lake…
Card games and board games…
“Slipping in” plane tickets and calling them  birthday gifts… and then also giving birthday gifts
Painting a sign that says “Hoopy 16th Birthday Deborah”…
Cheering at every high school basketball game… and even some college games…
Hosting Ry’s TWU team…
Smitty’s breakfasts…
Paper Umbrella cards and notebooks…
Encouraging Road to Avonlea in Sunday night CBC Family Hour…

For these and many more… thank you for mastering and modeling the art of the little things.
Happy Anniversary!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Top Twelve of Twenty-Nine.

I had my 29th birthday this week.
In the midst of a busy season, there were so so many little things that made me feel special. 

I have to share.

So. Here's a few. In chronological order.

1) A flight to Regina to hang with the fam. Bigger than a little thing, but you understand.

2) Presents! A few of my favorite things. They were transported back to BC inside one of my favorite of the favorite things: A box of cards labeled "Correspondence Notes." Tell me that's not a beautiful thing.

3) Riders win in double overtime. Sheesh.

4) An email from far around the world in a place I can't really say. Thoughtful. Encouraging. :)

5) A party with Settlers, brownies, and 4 of my favorite people:

6) Thoughtful texts, facebook messages, phone calls and messages, and emails all day. I've heard people say it's less meaningful because of how easy it is on facebook. But I don't choose to think so. I think it's wonderful. Wonderful that everyone gets one day where people realize it's their special day. And then they take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to let you know they thought of you. Thanks for thinking of me.

7) Now, don't be offended if your facebook message wasn't as cool at this, because this particular person tops my lists of favorites in just way too many categories. Particularly favorite person to stare at pictures of.

8) Ry made me the most delicious supper from scratch. Heavenly.

9) Some of the sweet people in my evening class sang happy birthday to me. Nice touch.

10) A lllooonnnggg winded version of happy birthday left as a message on my phone from a group of life-filled women. 

11) Ry gave me a bag full of thoughtful little things he knows I love... and the best part was, there was a couple things I never would have guessed but that he hit right on the mark. For example, a craft magazine! Love it.

12) My verbal birthday card. Best ever. You know who you are.

Here's to the next 362 days...
Hoping to spend many of them with many of you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Best-Laid Plan.

Homework has been ruling my waking moments.

But something small happened today. And, if all goes according to plan (no pun intended, although you will not yet know what I mean by that), I will soon be so efficient at life that I may find myself with time to blog every day.

That is, if miracles only cost $12.99.
Could be.

During one of my unfortunately less interesting night classes, I have been terribly distracted by my classmate's most wonderful possession. She has a beautiful day planner. And I mean beautiful. Perfect in every way.

Every class she pulls out her beautiful day planner and amuses herself by reviewing her life schedule over and over again - crossing things out here, adding new appointments there. It's so mesmerizing.

I've been insanely jealous for weeks now.

So, today, I put an end to that.
"Ryan," I said. "I have been obsessing over something, and I realize now that I can't live without it. Please direct the car towards Chapters on the way home. Happiness waits for me there, for only $12.99."

Of course Ryan obliged - what man wouldn't indulge his wife's happiness for such a meager sum?

When we arrived (I was going to say at the pearly gates, but that's just sacreligious), I strode with no hesitation (well, except for the stockings and the children's books and the new releases that I only just briefly glanced at) to the place I've been dreaming of.

The day planner table.

I knew which one I wanted. I thoroughly checked about a dozen others, just in case I was mistaken. But I knew which one I wanted.

It's mine now.

And I am planning on being immensely happy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Attention, please.

I'm definitely one of those people who finds treasure in other people's junk.
Not in any kind of junk.
Just the special kinds. And personally, I think a lot of things are special.

My mum can attest to this adorable character trait of mine. She loves it that I have boxes of treasures sitting on her storage room shelves 10 years after moving out. Some, we have even fondly labeled "memorabilia." Isn't that a beautiful name?

Anyways, all of that is background on why I really really was tickled pink by a conversation I had today. It was with a woman who has a soft spot for something in life that few people would appreciate in the same way. And personally, I think it's neat.

She collects rocks.

For her birthday, her kids bring her rocks. Not store-bought ones. Not polished ones. Not matching ones. They pick them up off of the ground and they give them to her. Her kids are in their late twenties.

Isn't that neat?

What I love about that is this: She chose to fall in love with rocks because they speak to her when someone gives them to her, or when she finds one she really likes. She's not drawn to expensive things. She loves the thoughtfulness it takes to walk down a path and say, "Wow, I think ________ would really appreciate this rock. I should bring it to her."

I actually think that what happens with this lady and the rocks is so wonderful.

Think about how much thoughtful attention it takes to discover what that thing is for someone that just hits them in the right way. Or to discover that for yourself, even. A lot of people are great at keying in on that with things you buy, and I'm certainly not against that (please keep buying me things if you are one of those people), but hear me out.

How cool would it be if we showered our loved ones with free, but attention-requiring gifts just because it hits them in that special way? And p.s. if you can't find something for free, garage sales are pretty close to free and are very similar to hunting for something special in the chaos of nature.

Man. This idea totally rocks.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oprah & Oreos.

I'm curious about some of the little things that help you to focus.

In particular, my journey of late is the journey towards focusing on homework. Not all the time, mind you. Don't start thinkin' I'm a geek, because I'm not. I'm very cool.

Anyways, after embracing full-time school the past couple of years, I am often up to my neck in homework. And the reason I'm often up to my neck in homework is because I don't always just do it. I always get it done... but you know... when I choose to.

So here's the thing. A secret, if you will.
I actually kind of like doing homework.
When I get into it.

So here's the other thing. Not a secret.
It takes me forever to get there.

Here's a few things that I've been trying lately to get me "in the mood."

a) Tidy up like 10 little things around the house before you start... but be careful that it doesn't become cleaning.
b) Chew gum... when I'm at home, I just want to snack... mmm, oreos... so keep the mouth/teeth occupied.
c) When your spouse/roommate/parent/sibling is washing the dishes... hit the books. There's something about somebody working in the other room that is motivating. Perhaps it's just that you realize the lesser of two evils... we'll never know.
d) Turn off the TV.... tough one. I tried to write a paper on reading strategies while semi-listening to Oprah. I don't think my teacher wanted to hear about strategies for reading the emails that say your husband cheated on you with 7 other women because he... was basically an idiot. Nope, that doesn't help me. But thanks for your perspective, Oprah.
e) Close down your internet browser... while it's fun to look up a recipe that suddenly popped into your head ... that's a creek that it's hard to paddle back from. Should you still have a paddle at that point.

Hit me with your suggestions. If that's all I've come up with so far, it looks like I have a semi-tidy house, cavities, a husband with dish-pan hands, a dull silence, and a lame supper....

And, potentially, a pile of homework up to my clavicle.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


October 6, 1979.

I wasn't alive then, but that was a day that has forever changed my future. It brought me the man that I now share a last name with... and basically all my earthly possessions.

On his birthday, a tribute to the little things I appreciate about Ryan:

- He is kind. Yeah, we have our moments where we're upset with each other and I don't think so, but Ry is kind. He doesn't hold things against people, and is aware of people who need someone to talk to. He notices the poor and needy, be that outward or inward.
- He doesn't hold a grudge. We argue (see above), but he gets over everything quickly and doesn't hold on to it.
- He always wants to get better at things.
- He appreciates my humor. I know this because he reads my little comments and chuckles. I like that.
- He is low maintenance. He doesn't put a lot of value in things that really don't matter, that are here today and gone tomorrow.
- He eats anything I make.
- He really cares about family. His. Mine. And our family of two.
- He grows a wicked beard.

Here's to 31.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Bahamian Bee.

Today I am thankful.
For quite a few things - little things - that contributed to a satisfying day.

Context: I had to write an exam for a distance ed course in downtown Vancouver. No, I won't go as far as beeing thankful for the exam, I really did not like it. But, here's what I am thankful for:

- My wonderful husband drove me there, so I didn't have to go by myself at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.
- My wonderful husband driving me there meant I could study (a very little) in the car.
- The exam center had a bathroom. I could not have made it through the exam without that. Beecause I drank a tea first.
- The directions for where to go for the exam were clearly posted. I appreciate that. I hate beeing a bit stressed about something, then also having to stress about how to get to that something. Thankful.
- Even though I knew almost none of the short answers... I did know the essay questions!
- Mostly, I am very thankful to bee done. Done. (How many of us don't love that feeling of finishing something you've been kind of dreading?)

But the day continued to bring little things to bee thankful for:

- I found shoes. I've been needing shoes, and I found some, so I'm thankful. The bottoms are made from car tires. Kinda neat, eh? Yeah. I mean, I'm thankful they aren't made from a wasp nest or something.
- Ryan had his iPod with him, so he could play games while I tried shoes on. I'm thankful beecause an over-shopped husband could bee a grumpy husband. In general, I'm sure, not just mine. (Thank-you Apple).
- We got to use an Entertainment Book coupon for lunch. 2 for 1. Always thankful for a bargain.
- I'm thankful for a big thing. Well, she's not big, but I'm just saying she's more important than a little thing. She's my favorite sister (ha, just kidding Jules). Lydia. An amazing sister and friend, who turned 27 today.
- I'm thankful for sand in my shoes... A Bahamian phrase I love. But today, it's actually sand. In my flip-flops. The remnants of a beach nap in the October sunshine.
- McDonald's coffee. Post-beach-nap, on the way back to the slow-moving highway. Only $1.39 for very satisfying coffee. You should try it if you haven't. (And every May I think it is, they give it away for free. You will bee very thankful).

So. Some of you avid grammar appreciators have observed my misuse of the word bee. But uh-uh, it's not a misuse.
Today I use bee in honor of a very good friend of mine who I taught with in the Bahamas. Melissa. She taught Grade 1. On the corner of her board she had a tiny picture of a bee with 2 words beeside it: be thankful.
I often think of that, and of her thankful attitude. Consider this my bibliography at the end of my essay, admitting that the idea of beeing thankful is not original. But it's a gooder.

p.s. oh, oh... also, thankful that the f.f.'s are now 99% contained in the bee.bee.'s! (banana bowls)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eleven Steps to Happy Grapes.

Little things are everywhere.
Little things are on my pear.
Little things are in our sink.
Little things... you really stink.

They start with an f.
Actually, f. f.

Fruit flies. Gross.

We had like one or two last week, I think. Yeah, bad batch of grapes, you know how it is.
Then Ryan and I both went away for the weekend, and phoom... whoosh... flap...? The f.f.'s moved in and did whatever it is they do to produce many more little f.f.'s.(sheesh, ever heard of renting a movie?)

So, we've done some research, and I want to share it with you all in case you ever get bad grapes.

1) Bleach everything.
2) Put pop or juice in a bowl.
3) Cover the bowl tightly with saran wrap. (Or no-name plastic wrap. Cheapest).
4) Poke holes in the saran/plastic wrap.
5) Watch in dismay as no f.f.'s get trapped. 
6) Change your mind and put cut-up bananas in the bowl instead.
7) Change your mind again and realize that yes, bananas are good. But that it's really because the holes weren't big enough that the f.f.'s didn't go in.
8) Poke bigger holes.
9) Bleach everything again.
10) Keep an eye on the bowl.
11) Giggle in delight when you see one... then two... then twelve little f.f. suckers get trapped in the banana bowl.

Yeah, so that's what we've been doin':

Running to check the f.f. count in the bowl.

Not eating bananas.

And smelling like bleach every minute of every day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teenage White Elephants. My Favorite.

What kinds of little things do you think would be important to making a good movie? Like, a good movie.
I know a few.

Mm, how about character development? Yeah, I think that's a pretty standard expectation.

Okay, how about an exciting plot that is dynamic in some way, like you know... it builds, it changes, it reels you in. Yeah, I think that's one too.

Kay, how about this. How about at least some sense of being able to relate to the characters. Maybe they're passionate and purpose-driven... like you. Maybe they're developing in their personality... like you. Maybe they have a great sense of humour... like you.

Now, let's say that you sit down to watch a movie that has none of these elements, these "little things" that are so obviously crucial to any half-decent movie. That probably means you're watching a no-name, one-copy-in-the-video-store, low-budget film, eh?


What's more likely is that you're sitting in the theater (or in front of your pirated version) of yep, you got it, the Twilight saga. Little rant here on behalf of myself and my also-little-things-appreciative husband. Together, we wasted 2 hours (well, 6 really if you count all 3 in the series) on the following:

- A teenage girl with no personality. Geez, I wish I could have no personality and have 2 guys that want to marry me... while I'm like 17. I also wish that I could kiss them in front of each other - or curl up in a tent with the shirtless one while the pale-faced one watches. Yeah, that would be really really cool. Nope.
- A love story that goes noooowhere. nowhere. Again, there was the kissing in front of each other. The I-love-you's. Oh, and I-love-you-too's. The long melancholy gazes. True love at it's finest... (ugh, I actually puked in my mouth). What are they building their love for each other around? Shared experiences of some kind? A road trip or a games night or something?
- The white elephant in the room: why is every character in this movie revolving their very lives around this straight-faced, personality-less, 2-timing highschool... young lady? Oh, right, I forgot. She has nice blood.

The thing I'm looking forward to... is not the 4th in the series. No, no no.

The thing I'm looking forward to is those of you who've read the books telling me how it's not the way the Adams family is seeing it (that's me and my man for any new readers). How Stephenie Meyer has actually created this way-cool world in her novels, that people are all about because they've read the book and can fill in the pieces - pieces full of intrigue and character-shaping events and maybe even some humour. Because, really? Really?

Okay, I'm done.

Shoot... I forgot to chuckle.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

C'mon. Just Chuckle.

Since I've created this blog, I'm going to use it to better myself.

Wanna know how?

In my pondering of little things... I was thinking today how changing one little thing consistently could easily change a lot. I mean, that's the point of the whole little things thing anyways, right?

Here's the little thing I want to add to my repertoire of daily digestion of life:
A hearty chuckle.

I'm going to give you a basic example to illustrate.
This morning, I was at a meeting where I had to bring some forms I had filled out. There were quite a few pages, perhaps excessively so. Anyways, the administrator collected my form, immediately turned to the third page and said, "Oh here, I'll just check off the 'female' box for you." Ha, okay (ahem, chuckle).
But her comment walking away was "I can always spot the administrative people when they come in because they have everything filled out, even the little things on the form."
Alright, ouch.I actually am an administrative-ish person. Honestly. Not only that, I just started a part-time job as an administrative assistant, so... am I going to suck at it?!?...

So, here's the thing, and work with me on this one: Do I take offense, absolutely mild though it may be... or do I...

Yep. Chuckle.

I'm gonna have to go with chuckle. Maybe even really loud?!
Here's what I'm putting out there... A good, out-loud chuckle can do a few things:

1) Make the person realize what they said (Alright, in her case, she's the sweetest person. I'm the non-sweet one, because I'm using her for my purposes as the antagonist in my story), and then they can chuckle with you. Ha, ha... everybody's happy. Happy, happy.

2) Make the person feel bad. If they are a mean person, this is probably a good one. I don't know that I know any mean people, really, but I am prepared to use this on them when we meet.

3) Buy you some time. Because I've found that when I react quickly... emotionally... sensitively... a little while later I feel dumb. I don't want to feel dumb. I want to chuckle. And then later, if it feels more legit, then I will get mad and let them have it. Yep, I will.

So... I'm on a quest to change my world through chuckling.


p.s. I chuckled in class the other night when my middle-aged teacher started having a hot-flash in the middle of her lecture... I thought it would break the ice, you know?... now I'm wondering if there's a chance I'm the antagonist in her blog...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The British and the Luxurious go for a Bath.

If you stick around long enough - and I hope you will - you will find a recurring theme in my appreciation for life: British novels. Whether from the influence of my mother's Scottish heritage, or an attraction to all things quaint and precious, I reside somewhere on the thick line between dabbling and divulging.

One of my favorite heroines is from the novel The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher. (isn't her name even quaint? I wonder if it's real. Huh.).


This heroine, Penelope (um, okay), asks her lover-boy which things in life are luxuries to him. He's thinking yachts, fine dining. Maybe a honeymoon in Paris with you-my-dear...

But she explains that no, those aren't the real luxuries of life. Those are only available to a select few - and rarely appreciated as luxury by those who frequent them. No, the luxuries she's talking about are personal ones. Like, say, taking a bubble bath with a candle or two (or a spouse, if you have the 'luxury')... be right back...

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, personal luxuries. (Sorry, just let me get the water out of my ears here). To borrow from a New Age philosophy - to which I do not subscribe, but will make use of - luxury is whatever you want it to be. And it takes practice to find your luxury in every day, but you can do it.

Here's some luxuries I have discovered:

- Coffee pots with timers: How amazing is that to wake up to coffee?
- Finding $5.00 in the pocket of a coat you haven't worn for a while; Just enough to buy something, but not enough to ruin it by telling everyone you know about your find... a personal luxury.
- Waking up at 3am. I realize this seems un-luxurious to most, but stick with me. It means I still have at least 4 more hours to sleep. Imagine if it was 6 already?!... hardly worth going back to bed. But 3am... luxury.
- When double doors open automatically for you as you're leaving a store. Seriously! It's like they're saying "You, my dear, are far too important to push on us with your delicate hands. Now, go, seize the big wide world before you!"


Would love to hear about your luxuries. You really don't have to look too far...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why the Blog? And a Basket of Fruit.

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately.
And a number of good books.

Between them, among a few of my own experiences, I have come to the realization that I need to blog. I need to.

I used to be an avid journaler. I have written - hand-written even! - record of my daily thoughts between about ages 13 and 25. But for some reason, my written thoughts from the last 3 or 4 years can easily fit into one or two journals. Disappointing.

So, it wasn't hard for me to decide what I want to blog about. It happened one cloudy morning in Langley.
That morning was this morning.

I love the little things in life. This one little thing changed my day, and is therefore noteworthy.

But first, a side-note:

You know a little thing that can ruin your day more than anything? It's picking the wrong line-up in the grocery store. You know the process I'm talking about. You look down the row at all the lighted numbers. Half-way down, you pick the one that's the shortest you've seen... and you stand in line, but being kind of tall, you try to peer over the stands to see if there was perhaps a better choice than the one you made. But it's such a gamble to give up the place you've got. Now you look more closely at the cashier and you realize - yep, you picked the wrong line. No doubt about it. She's sweet. But you're not looking for sweet, you're looking for Type A, swipe-em-through-and-move-em-on. Anyways, that's the stuff of little-things nightmares.

So, today was not that day. Here's the story:

I took my basket full of fruit to, of course, the shortest check-out line. I noticed an owner-less basket sitting on the conveyor belt, but still felt optimistic about the sweet girl behind the counter. The owner returned shortly, and here's the little thing that changed my day: "Here, you should go ahead of me, you have less than me." What?! I had 4 things, and she honestly had maybe 7. Are you sure?? "Oh, totally, you'll be quick." Of course you know what happened next. The cashier loosened up, noticing this selfless act. The three of us (myself, sweet cashier, sweetest of ladies) engaged in pleasant conversation about coconut lime cookies, and I swear the sun broke through the clouds right above Save-On.

That's it. That's the little thing that made a cloudy day into a cloudy day filled with fruit and a happy peaceful feeling. Huh. There's gotta be more where that came from.