Sunday, November 29, 2015

And the Christmas Season Officially Begins Today

First Sunday of Advent = Traditional OBros Bake Off:

Drew is first up to bat, rolling out the dough I prepared in the morning (with yeast) (so it needed a few hours to rise):

These two? Are old pro's at this.

Meanwhile, Clint was carving up a ham while frying 100 pounds of lean ground beef:

And Amy n Max chopped and diced vegies:

Then they took a turn rolling out dough for Eis Gipfel:

Amy spread the butter with a butter knife as instructed, perfectly.
Max assisted. By using his Save On more card.

Big and lil bro, still slicing and dicing. Those pots on the stove behind Clint?
Triple batch of spaghetti meat sauce. Quadruple batch of vegetable beef soup. Two pots of ham n cauliflower soup. And in the crock pot a triple batch of beef stew.

Everyone left with 3 ice-cream buckets of soups and stews as well as a platter of baked goods.

One group shot before they all left.

"Wait. Someone should put their arm around Clint so he doesn't feel left out.... Amy?" says Drew.

Awkward pause.



Happy Advent from my house to yours.

Advent is that time before Christmas where we prepare our hearts and homes for December 25.
Whatever yours looks like, I hope there is some joy, some love, and some  peace for you in the coming weeks.

Three things I'm thankful for: 

1. Today turned out just fine in the end. After Friday night's melt down (O the Sobbing) which eased up on Saturday but can I just say something here? Don't get your face threaded the day after A Great Sadness because with each hair that is ripped out, a tiny tear forms in the back of your face. And when you sit up after its over, they all leak out. Horrifically embarrassing. She was great though. Kept telling me I had beautiful blonde hair... and pretty eyes. Haha. ANYWAY - no tears or lingering sadness today. So yay for emotions not lasting forever.

2. Thankful for kids who show up and do this. Yes, I know I'm very lucky.

3. I have meals for the next two weeks all looked after.


If my boys are the Obros  - and I am their mom... then I am TheOBroMa?

(Thanks, Kim, for the photo.)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dad and Glen

Oh my goodness.
I am a weepy, snotty, puffy-eyed, aching, blubbery mess.

This is probably another thing I should not have done in November.

My dad has been on my mind these past few days.
For the last 7 years of his life, I missed the man he used to be (before his brain, and then his body were broken). I missed the vibrant, loud, story-telling, hard-working, incredibly generous, loving man of yesteryear,

But this week, I was missing the dad who had made his peace about living on a lumpy narrow bed in a room at the end of the hall. I was remembering those slow gentle evenings where I'd sit beside him while we watched North to Alaska for the 79th time and he reminded me who I was ("you're my oldest. Your name is Jane. You have three sons. You are divorced. You used to have a plum tree in your back yard. You're a smarty pants") and how he felt about me ("I love you").

And I'm recognizing that our family has not been the same since his dementia took hold. I'm not a fan of this season. Which has nothing to do with my dad but I thought I'd mention it.

Anyway, it's been a lovely week. I've been out with various friends, saw a movie, (Brooklyn. I recommend it) no one died or lost an eye at work, (so every crisis was manageable) PLUS IT WAS CLEAR AND SUNNY EVERY SINGLE DAY. Seeing Advent begins on Sunday, I thought I'd jumpstart the Christmas season by spending the evening with friends wandering through some festive and merry shops that were sure to be dripping with sparkles and snowflakes. (Potters, Pier One, Homesense and Chapters.) We finished the night with a late dinner at Browns. (I recommend the Potato Crusted Halibut and Almond Rice. Yum x 100).

I've done everything I could think of to remain calm and bright this month. (One has to be very intentional about this. And I have been, Very intentional.) So I should have known that settling in at midnight to watch that Glen Campbell bio was going to rip my heart apart. And boy howdy. Did it ever get shredded.

Alzheimers is just awful.

SO much of Glen's journey reminded me of my dad's.

Heart wrenching.

My eyes are burning so hard right now. And I can't breathe out of my nose.
This movie? Completely undid me.

My dad was a Glen Campbell fan; we listened to his music all the time. I know all the lyrics.
I was singing and crying to all the oldies.
It's a wonderful movie. You should probably watch it.
(Rotten Tomatoes gave it 100%, so you just know it's good.)

And thus ends Black Friday 2015.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. My eyeballs are clean now.
2. Gonna sleep well tonight.
3. So thankful that Clint is winterizing the cabin this weekend.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Just a List

  • Let them know you care.
  • Are your eyes working today? Can you see? Celebrate THAT.
  • Randomly put quarters in bubble gum machines. Make some kid's day.
  • Take a photo of the contents of your wallet. 
  • Christmas is just a day. Its not the end of the world if yours sucks. 
  • Forgive 'em. And then do it again.
  • Buy yourself some new socks already. 
  • Sit in a different spot next time. Choose that chair instead.
  • Just do it. It's not going to disappear off your To Do list so quit whining and get er done.
  • Have an apple. 
  • Use lotion. 
  • Throw it out. 
  • Ask them. You won't know otherwise.
  • Drop a tradition. Pick up a new one.
  • Crying isn't a bad activity. 
  • You can totally pray about that thing. He's waiting for you to. 
  • If you can? Hold hands. 
  • Try. At least once. 
  • Take Vitamin D this winter.
  • Is it time to get new pillows? 
  • Fear is shitty. Don't let it paralyse you.
  • Budgeting probably isn't bad thing. 
  • Quit it. You know what. 


Thinking of K, J, R, M, C, L, L, P, B, C, S, G, J

Dear God.

Your will be done.

Your will be done.


Today. Right now.

These folks are struggling with addiction and You totally already know that. And You are so on it. I am thankful that You have gone ahead and are putting sponsors, mentors, friends and counsellors in place to walk alongside. Thank you. Thank you. You are preparing places in NA or AA communities, in rehab facilities. in recovery houses, in detox centers, in health facilities for the people I care about. Thank you.

Please stir their hearts and minds with a desire to get clean/sober. Open their eyes and enable them to see clearly the impact that their addiction is having on their relationships, their health, their future, their children, their jobs, their reputations...  God if they have to hit bottom, or lose something precious, please allow that to happen according to Your will. Have Your handpicked team ready to be mobilized when they cry out for help.

Give them strength and courage to give up the drugs, pot or alcohol. Give their families wisdom and patience. Provide their friends with insight and loyalty.

God? Don't stop pursuing them. Call, whisper, knock on their heart's doors, protect their minds and bodies, surround them with people of Your choosing, place Your angels on their roofs and in the doorways, remind them of things they've forgotten to be true, provide them with a vision for a new life, hold their hands as they stumble, speak to them while they sleep, let them hear Your truth in the music they listen to, the internet sites they visit, the articles they read, the conversations they are apart of. USE ALL OF CREATION TO GET THEIR ATTENTION. You know the issues, the pain, the struggles and the lies that brought them to this place. Please work on healing all the hurts.

God? Your will be done. Right now. In Canada. In the US. In Europe.
Please don't get weary calling, caring, loving, holding, protecting, and healing them.

I pray these things in the powerful, Holy name of Jesus,

Book Club and Life Intersect

It's November.

And our book this month was:

It's about ageing. End of life discussions and circumstances. Care-giving. Housing options. Heath. Frailty. Questions you should ask. Being prepared. The role of doctors and hospitals. Family considerations.

Atul Gawande is an incredible author. This book is full of facts, statistics, history, and real stories that help you understand what all the options look like. And it's easy to read.

Everybody should. (Read it.) (And then talk to their parents and spouses about a few things...)

I highly, highly recommend it.
Just don't read it in November.
And probably don't read it a few months after your dad has passed away and you're living with your mom.

But seriously.
This is a must-read.


Random quotes:

“Your chances of avoiding the nursing home are directly related to the number of children you have,” and having at least one daughter seems crucial to the amount of care you'll receive."

“Life is choices, and they are relentless. No sooner have you made one choice than another is upon you.” 

“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”

“The problem with medicine and the institutions it has spawned for the care of the sick and the old is not that they have had an incorrect view of what makes life significant. The problem is that they have had almost no view at all. Medicine’s focus is narrow. Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul. Yet—and this is the painful paradox—we have decided that they should be the ones who largely define how we live in our waning days.” 

“the purpose of medical schooling was to teach how to save lives, not how to tend to their demise.” 

“The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task. Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And, in a war that you cannot win, you don't want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don't want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knew how to fight for territory when he could and how to surrender when he couldn't, someone who understood that the damage is greatest if all you do is fight to the bitter end.” 

“Block has a list of questions that she aims to cover with sick patients in the time before decisions have to be made: What do they understand their prognosis to be, what are their concerns about what lies ahead, what kinds of trade-offs are they willing to make, how do they want to spend their time if their health worsens, who do they want to make decisions if they can’t?

“A family meeting is a procedure, and it requires no less skill than performing an operation.” One basic mistake is conceptual. To most doctors, the primary purpose of a discussion about terminal illness is to determine what people want—whether they want chemo or not, whether they want to be resuscitated or not, whether they want hospice or not. We focus on laying out the facts and the options. But that’s a mistake, Block said. “A large part of the task is helping people negotiate the overwhelming anxiety—anxiety about death, anxiety about suffering, anxiety about loved ones, anxiety about finances,” she explained. “There are many worries and real terrors.”

"...our most cruel failure in how we treat the sick and the aged is the failure to recognize that they have priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer..."

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. These two:

2. This one:

3. Our team.


Sunday, November 22, 2015


So after work on Friday, Heather and I drove into Vancouver (because it wasn't raining) so that we could walk around.

We parked in a parking garage from hell. 70 million levels. Three buildings. 250,000 reserved spaces. And sections locked off entirely.

It's a wonder we got out of there alive. Twas a Christmas miracle, really.

The elevator waiting rooms are areas of refuge. No bad guys allowed. You're safe in there.


And this is what one section of the parking garage looked like from the road. What?
You didn't come here to look at photos of parking garages?


Maybe did you want to see how my face has healed from that surgery I had beside my eye in June?


OK then.

(For the record, it's much better than it was all summer...)

Gastown pics:

You can never have too many twinkle lights. Ever.

Cambie Street:

Water Street:

Loading dock:

Vancouver's equivalent to Big Ben ...

The SteamClock at 8 pm:

And then we walked back to the parking garage.

To get my truck.

We missed our target by 1 floor and 1 building.
(That's my truck on the far right.)

We might be getting too old for Vancouver adventures.


Was the book launch for Jenn's latest book:

The Coquitlam Chapters hosted the event:

Here she is, signing MY book:

Oh writers.
They just do the loveliest things with words.

I am so proud of her.
She has worked like a dog these past few years...

This is Brodie. One of the store managers.
"I love this. You've worked hard, Jenn. And this is the payoff. I love supporting local writers. Just look at you! You're glowing. This is where you belong.... we should do this every Saturday."

So thankful for folks who can open doors for others.


On the drive home, at 4:14, the sun was setting.
So I opened my passenger window, pointed my camera west, then randomly took photos from the freeway.

My camera was still in my right hand which was still stretched across the front seats of my truck, still pointed out the window as I crossed the bridge, so I kept snapping.

(NOTE: I was not focusing on taking photos. I was driving. My eyes were facing forward, on the road ahead of me. What my right hand was doing was none of my business. I wasn't aware of what shots I was getting until I got home.)

Some were good (like this one):


Not so much:

And then I walked a few hills in the 'hood, started doing my laundry, went to church. Followed by an evening spent with a girlfriend. (In case you were wondering just how much awesomeness I can cram into 24 hours.)

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. God. He hears us when we pray. And when we ask for stuff, He's like, "Yup. On it. Have been for awhile. Glad you're on board... was part of My plan all along. I've got this."

2. Church. Seriously. There are few places I'd rather be on a Saturday night. There's just something about walking into a place filled with like-minded folk, who seemingly can all sing like rock-star angels. Especially the guy sitting behind me tonight. Man. So good. I just kept my mouth closed and listened to him.

3. People who write books. People who act in films. People who sing songs. People who paint pictures. People who repair roofs. People who push pixels. People who clean messes. People who walk alongside.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Thankful for Three:

1. Seriously soft blanket/throws
2. Comfortable couches
3. Quiet evenings
4. Inspiring friends who bubble with life
5. Lobster Mac and Cheese (who knew?)
6. Patient people
7. Second chances
8. Third chances
9. Recovery communities
10. Friends who help friends
11. Big smiles
12. Rock bottoms
13. Hoodies
14. Advent
15. Mandarin oranges - the tiny ones
16. Rain-free days
17. Star-filled nights
18. Unexpected joy

Shalom friends.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday Monday

So 2,000 envelopes were supposed to be delivered to Cambridge over the weekend so that our team would have them for the event taking place there tonight. (Monday night.)

This delivery date was discussed last Tuesday.
Confirmed on Thursday.
And then I was assured with an Oh My Goodness, YES I SAID, they will be there today or tomorrow, Jane, on Friday.

Today at noon I got an email from L, "Jane. They are not here."
So I emailed our supplier with a reminder that we absolutely had to have them there for tonight's event. He called me back, promising to get to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile, whilst waiting for him to get to someone's bottom, I went to the courier's website and entered the tracking code. Where I was told in big bold letters it would be delivered tomorrow.

Which would be 12 hours too late.

My supplier, in Delta, called me back, very apologetic. His person had keyed in the wrong address "Only was out by one number... she added an extra zero at the end", so when the courier tried to deliver on Saturday, they obviously couldn't find the correct house. And seeing my supplier doesn't work on Saturday, and seeing Ontario is 75 time zones away, it wasn't til 1 pm eastern time that they got the correct address, and by then it was too late to try again today.

First thing in the morning then.


While on their site, I saw a nifty little link to an online chat.
I pressed it.

And got Sophie.

I asked her if there was ANY way we could PLEASE get that package today. We needed it for an event that evening.

She put me on hold.

The package was in Guelph. The recipient was welcome to pick it up there. He'd need to bring ID.

The recipient however, was not available, as he was setting up for the event in Cambridge. So I asked about sending an alternative person.

Sure, that was a possibility:  The original recipient would have to prepare a legal document assigning the new person the right to pick it up.

That was not going to happen.

Meanwhile, I'm emailing L in Cambridge, who is with E the original recipient. She suggests, maybe S can pick it up. He was at the airport picking up our President.

And then she stopped emailing, so I couldn't get any further details from her.

I've got my supplier on the phone and he is wondering what he can do to help.

I've got Sophie in New Brunswick on chat advising me that if the sender forwards a fax to the main office in Toronto, advising them of the new pick up plans, they will release it to S. How soon could he get there?

I don't know. I told her I was in Vancouver and S was just arriving in Ontario. She'd have to give me a sec to track him down.

So I wander around the building checking to see if anyone knows S's cell phone number and home address. This is the information that must be on the new shipping document. (Yes, the parcel is sitting in Guelph with a new address, FROM ABBOTSFORD on it.)

I track down his phone number and call it.
His wife answers.
(I assume he's left his phone at home, and she's answered it from Abbotsford. I am incorrect in this assumption, so there's that to sort through.)
Eventually. I talk to S via his wife (he's driving) who confirms they can go to Guelph. Could I text them the information.

So I call my supplier in Delta and ask him to change the shipping instructions, which is when he advises me, they originated in Winnipeg, and someone from THAT office will have to prepare and fax the info. Could I forward all the numbers and details to Suki?

Meanwhile, L in Cambridge gets back online and sends me an email wondering what's happening.

So I send her a complete summary assuring her that the envelopes will be at the event by 6:30. PLENTY OF TIME before the 7 pm start.

Two hours, 4 time zones, 8 people, 7 texts, (actually 14, because the first batch I sent went to the wrong number) 2 faxes, 18 emails, 3 very long chats, and a dozen phone calls later, two thousand envelopes were dropped off at the church.

Boo yah.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Technology.
2. Businesses with chat options.
3. The willingness of so many people to help.

4. Also thankful for the opportunity to meet amazing people. Had dinner tonight with a Facebook friend and blog reader who I'd been saving my purple, green and yellow sweet tarts for. We'd never met before, so this was a stretch. But not really. Because? People are generally awesome and have fascinating stories.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What, then, is our response?

I first became aware of the Paris situation while at work. My twitter account was open and I started seeing tweets - one of the first ones was a retweet from someone inside a theatre, asking for help because people were being executed.

I cancelled my evening plans, came straight home, ate two hotdogs and went to bed. The sadness just overtook me.

When I woke up at midnight, I went back to the internet to see what was happening and wrote the following:
(I never posted it because the formatting went wonky and the whole bottom part is centered, not left justified and it drove me mental. Still does. And it will not adjust not matter how many times I redo it.)

What? What should I do?

My first response is always to feel.

Let the feels just wash over me. The sadness. The fear. The anger. The longing.

And then pray. Because, obvs.

But there are other things one can do...

  • Add a France flag background to your Facebook profile pic:

  • Repost some positive images to your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instragram and Blog.

Dear God,

We are a mess. 

You must be grieving about us all the time.


Be generous with wisdom for our leaders.
Comfort and love on those who have lost loved ones. The are grieving. They need peace, and their hearts need healing.
Provide extra measures of strength and energy to those who are protecting and rescuing and saving and doctoring and digging and especially to those trying to restore order.

And God? We pray for justice. You are a just God. 
May Your will be done.



Surely though, I should do more? 

Praying is a good start. 

Being kind always is a lovely idea. 

Donating some money is likely helpful.

What else?
What else can a mom from this corner of Canada do?