From Zero to Hero – Day 4 and Saying Good-bye to my Son

….a challenging day overall…lots of company and one last meal with B and Az

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader, and begin finding blogs (and bloggers) you love.

One way to increase readership is to follow other people’s blogs and make comments. Invariably they will come back to your blog to check you out. Today we are encouraged to branch out and investigate topics that we haven’t considered before. I’ve chosen the following five topics (some suggested by WordPress):

Stereotypes: Livicatherine  and You’ve Got to be Kidding and Rural to Roaming

Flaneur: The English Department and Around a Red Table

Coffee Culture: Cody Delistraty and Just Add Attitude and Filter(ed)

Owls:  My Eco-centric Life and Owl Moon (it’s amazing how many sites pop up when you type the word owl)

Humour: Singing Pigs and Life With the Top Down

Day 4 – The Daily Task

Today was a busy day with saying good-bye to our son and his fiancé. My friend, L came over to say hello and good-bye all at the same time and A and J came for an hour to say a final farewell. I knew that today would be a difficult day to tackle something new so I did what I said I would and that was finish reading the book The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone. Reviewers used words like, charming, delightful, hilarious, compelling, unforgettable, unique and clever. I guarantee that you won’t want to put it down.

It’s been snowing off and on today, but mostly on and right now it’s very wet and heavy. Unfortunately I didn’t get out for my daily walk. I’ll have to do double duty tomorrow. Here’s hoping for a safe and uneventful flight back to the Netherlands for both B and Az. I miss you already. Love, hugs and kisses. Mom

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Haiku Challenge – Day 5

….Black Friday is starting to make its way into Canada

Black Friday

Insanity reigns

as shoppers flock for bargains

Merry Christmas, all!

This is the end of the five day challenge. If you’d like to see more of the Daily Post Challenges check out http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

Haiku Challenge – Day 4

….wishing all my American friends a very happy Thanksgiving Day

The Thanksgiving Turkey

Crispy, golden skin

 over succulent white meat

and chestnut  stuffing

****

Dark meat or white meat

legs, wings and breasts to choose from

Heip yourself to all

****

Cranberries, carrots

sweet potato mash, gravy

Seconds, anyone?

****

Pumpkin pie with cream

the perfect ending before

a well deserved nap

*****

For more Haiku entries check out:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

Haiku Challenge – Day 3

….this year I’m spending a lot of time with kindergarten children

Kindergarten

Day one, tears, fears, babes

clinging to mom, rules unknown

Is it home time, yet?

***

Day ten, learning rules

sitting, singing, playing, loud

friendships develop

****

Month two, confident

centre of attention, look

at me, look at me

***

December, learning

wants more, no longer afraid

I am exhausted

***

For the weekly writing challenge go to: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

Haiku Challenge – Day 2

…..winter has come upon us quickly this year

Usually winter approaches us gradually but this year the temperatures dropped below freezing overnight and we were totally unprepared for the icy temperatures. One day the ground was still soft and mushy and the next it was like a block of ice. So much for getting my tulip bulbs planted this year. Maybe we’ll have a bit of a warm spell like they had in Calgary this week.P1000029

Ode to Winter

 Cold winds bite the skin,

 dampness chills you to the core

Warmth awaits indoors

****

Frostbite nibbles cheeks,

and shows little mercy to

ears, fingers and toes

****

Clouds of CO2

emerge in foggy pillows

with each breath taken

****

Old man Winter blows

upon unsuspecting towns

frigid and ruthless

****

For more Haiku check out the Daily Post Challenge at:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

Hundertwasser

….. a Haiku challenge

Today in art class I introduced Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s art. The children are creating their own landscapes in the Hundertwasser style and are loving the assignment. I’m looking forward to seeing their final works of art. This was my inspiration for todays Haiku.

Hundertwasser, art

where lollipop trees abound

whimsical and fun

Bold and colourful

Slanted homes and onion roofs

 swaying in the wind

Image courtesy of http://www.inspirationgreen.com/hundertwasser.html

To see more examples of haiku or if you want to challenge yourself go to http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

Getting There With a Little Help

….3 hours before the end of 2012

Story #7 for Daily Post Writing Challenge

Reaching Goals

Why is it that some people achieve their goals and other hard working people don’t? I often discuss this with my students. Many people set goals to become millionaires but very few people achieve this goal. The difference is that millionaires developed a plan early in their careers to reach this status and reworked the plan until they achieved their goal. In other words they worked to achieve this goal where the rest of us only wished for it to come true.

I know this is a pretty simplistic point of view but there is some truth to it. The other thing that successful people do is network. It is often who you know that helps you on the road to success.

This holds true for bloggers as well. I was hoping or should I say wishing that my blog would reach hundreds of people around the world. I’m not sure why but when you put so much effort into something it’s nice to know that someone out there is taking the time to read your posts.

I started to read suggestions on how to make your blog more noticeable and draw more followers. I decided to visit at least 10 new blogs every night and leave a comment or a ‘like’. I routinely went to ‘freshly pressed’ and eagerly read the successful blogs that achieved this award. The styles of writing and the topics were diverse to say the least. Some I thoroughly enjoyed and immediately followed.

Soon I started to notice that some of the bloggers where I had left a comment came over to my site. I went from three or four likes to as many as twenty but how does one get into the hundreds. Well I discovered that happens when you’re ‘freshly pressed’ and when someone reblogs your post onto their site. This happened to me when Sue Llewellyn from A Word in Your Ear reblogged one of my photo challenge entries onto her site. I’ve reached over 100 likes on that post alone.

Sometimes to reach a goal you have to ask for help. Two days ago when I posted my stats for the year I told my readers that I hoped to reach 200 followers before today. I was very close. As luck would have it Rarasaur read my post and decided to help me reach my goal by following me and asking her husband and friends to do the same. As of today I have 202 followers. Thank you!

I also quietly wanted to surpass my most views for one day. I reached an all time high of 76 back in May. I’ve come close but just couldn’t seem to draw anymore attention. For whatever reason that goal also came true today. Just before I push the publish button I’m sitting at 90 views for today. Yahoo!

So to reach your goals you definitely have to do more than wish for them to come true. Hard work, perseverance, and a little help from your friends will make it happen.

Best Wishes for a happy, healthy and productive New Year on 2013.

Cheers!

Carol

“They’ll be small!”

….. famous last words from my obstetrician 

Story #6 for Daily Post Writing Challenge

December 30, 1981

When I started this blog I wanted to share memories of my childhood and life in general with my family and friends. Over the last nine months (how ironic) my family has grown to include the blogging community. Today I celebrate the 31st birthday of my twins.

The memories of that day are vividly clear. It’s not because I was going through hours of agonizing labour. In fact with this pregnancy there was no labour unless you count the five separate occasions when I experienced false contractions. Actually the contractions were real but they always stopped just before I was ready to make that trip to the hospital.

Back in late August of that year I was informed over the phone that the results of my ultrasound showed that there was definitely more than one baby in my womb. I must have been in shock because I didn’t ask how many babies they actually saw. The doctor on call did inform me though that I probably would have these babies earlier than my due date of January 7th. On average twins are born 22 days early.

A week later I saw my obstetrician and he assured me that there were only two babies on the ultrasound pictures, although a few weeks later he did question me as to why I was so big. Apparently he was so busy that he completely forgot I was having twins when he made that comment. Once again I wondered how many babies I was actually carrying.

As my due date drew closer I continued to drive the car and I routinely had to readjust the seat so that my swollen belly didn’t hit the steering wheel. I gained a total of 56 pounds but luckily I had lost a lot of weight before I became pregnant and I actually weighed less at the end of this pregnancy than I had with my first.

I loved being pregnant. I experienced very little in the way of morning sickness and all the complications that I was warned about never happened.  I looked forward to each new stage. Being pregnant with twins certainly draws a lot of stares from strangers. My first memory occurred early in the pregnancy when a complete stranger asked me my when my baby was due. At the time I was only 3 months into my pregnancy but I was already wearing maternity clothes. I just assumed that because this was my second pregnancy it wasn’t unusual to show earlier. I remember how shocked the woman looked when I told her my due date.

The other thing that my husband and I discovered was that older people who found out that I was having twins all had stories how one or both of their twins or someone else’s twins DIED. My husband was furious but I didn’t let it bother me.

I was secretly hoping that my babies would be born on Christmas Day. That wish didn’t come true. As the days wore on and Christmas came and went I knew that these babies didn’t care about arriving early. So much for averages. I was so large that my 2 year old daughter could hide herself under my belly and I could use it as a shelve to rest my cup of tea on.

As we got closer to the end of the month, my doctor and I decided to prebook the surgery for my C-section. We always knew that it would probably end up this way unless the babies came early and were small enough for me to deliver naturally. The date was set; December 30th, 1981.

The morning of my surgery I started to feel that things were different. I often wonder if the twins would have come on their own that day or on New Years Eve but I was happy to finally have it over with. I didn’t know if I was having two boys or two girls or one of each. For some reason I really didn’t want two boys. I grew up in a family of all girls and I think I was a little leary of raising boys. I also hoped that If I had two girls that they would be identical. I can’t imagine the conflict that could ensue if one sister was prettier than the other.

As I was being prepped for surgery my doctor informed me that these babies would be small. Famous last words. I was awake for the procedure so as soon as each baby was pulled from my womb they were held up over the drape so that I could see them. The first baby was a girl and I felt a sense of relief. She was beautiful and weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces. The second baby was a boy. I remembered that he was long and not as round as his sister but he weighed in at a respectable 7 pounds and 4 ounces. So much for small babies. I had carried almost 14 pounds of baby in the last month of my pregnancy.

So the day is memorable on many counts. I had two healthy babies, one boy and one girl. My son was the first male born on my side of the family in over 50 years and my husband’s father was happy because he finally had a grandson to carry on the family name. It would be another 7 1/2 years before another child would be born into our family but once the first cousin arrived the other 3 followed soon after.

The miracle of birth is just that; a miracle. It doesn’t matter how they’re born, where or when. Each child is special and brings new life and hope to this sometimes bleak world. Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and productive New Year in 2013.

Snow

…. it snowed again today

Story #5 for the Daily Post Writing Challenge

Snow

It snowed again today

Like icing sugar falling from the sky

it was soft, dry and cold on the skin

A new layer of pristine lacy crystals

blanketed the already greying layer of snow

that had fallen the day before

P1000037Walking was not without effort

With each step the powdery stuff reached the top of our boots

as we carved new trails  into the virgin snow

P1000041The dog was in paradise

She leaped like a deer and buried her nose

in the freshly fallen mana from heaven

P1000036Once we reached the wooded area in the park

the stillness and serenity were deafening

The sounds of the city were completely muffled by the blanket of snow

It felt like we were a hundred miles from civilization

with only the birds and snow covered boughs surrounding us

For an hour we were transported to a

magical fantasy world

My only regret is that I didn’t lie in the snow and make

a snow angel

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Rhapsody in Blue

Story #4 in Daily Post Writing Challenge: Just Do It

My fingers hovered over the keyboard of the computer as if wanting to play along with the Gershwin tune on the radio. The music on the classical station spontaneously made my fingers move to the rhythms of the Steinway grand piano but it didn’t help me find the words for my next story. I was hoping that they would magically appear on my laptop as I hummed to the music. I tried closing my eyes but I felt myself dozing off so I quickly refocused on the blank screen in front of me.

I randomly typed a few words looking for inspiration in the formation of the letters. Nothing. I continued to bob and sway to the music. Such a classic piece. Oh how I love  Rhapsody in Blue! The music ends abruptly. Now what?

I go to Youtube and type in Rhapsody in Blue and I find the original performance. So different from what I just heard. Much faster and a tinnier sound. Now I really can’t focus on my writing. I’m totally enthralled with this music. It’s times like this when I wish I could play the piano. The irony is that I have a baby grand sitting in my livingroom and I never learned to play it.

When my son was 10 years old we discovered he had a natural musical gift and he started learning how to play the piano on an old upright that I had purchased from my choir when they were ready to buy a new one. On a whim one weekend, a year or so after our son started playing, we bought a baby grand we saw at the Home Show. Who does that? Well, we do apparently.baby grand

We never regretted our purchase. Two of our three children learned how to play it. The parents, however never did. I tried a couple of times to teach myself and I started to get the hang of it but I didn’t persevere and soon gave up practising. We’ve contemplated selling it, especially now that all our children are adults and have left the nest. The piano is in bad need of tuning but it is a beautiful piece of furniture.

I was almost ready to give in to the idea of selling it when my husband decided that he wants to learn how to play it. I can’t argue with that. If anyone can do it, he can. I’m just not sure when he wants to get started. When he does, I know it won’t be Rhapsody in Blue but  Chopsticks might be a good start.

I leave you with this recording, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, as I continue to ponder on what I’m going to write.