• "Oh, if I could only put things into words as I see them! Mr. Carpenter says, 'Strive, strive -- keep on. Words are your medium -- make them your slaves -- until they will say for you what you want them to say.' That is true, and I do try, but it seems to me there is something beyond words -- any words -- all words -- something that always escapes you when you try to grasp it -- yet leaves something in your hand which you wouldn't have had if you hadn't reached for it. ... I have written myself out for tonight, and am going to bed."
    - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Emily Climbs

    This is my place to "write myself out" -- sharing both my day-by-day thoughts and my artistic output. Thank you for visiting! - Carmen Pauls Orthner
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Grace for the solstice

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @ December 21, 2010

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” – Isaiah 9:2

After lunch today, I was in a foul mood. The Christmas tree was still “naked”, and the only decoration up was a wreath on the front door (not even hung by me); I felt it advisable to cancel plans to have my mother-in-law babysit after I called to confirm and heard how worn out she was feeling, and I concluded that with the baby here, I wouldn’t get to do any of the “catch up” cleaning or paperwork I had planned for today; my “time of the month” arrived on this cold, soon-to-be-dark day (the shortest of the year, and right after a total lunar eclipse, no less — the first to occur in conjunction with the winter solstice since the year 1638!); we got up late and I had no time for a shower or a proper breakfast, and found myself eating way too many cookies at the Parents and Tots Christmas festivities; and the baby was cranky — oy vey, was she cranky — so exhausted that she couldn’t even keep her balance, but there she was standing up in her crib every time we tried to put her down for her afternoon nap, rubbing her eyes, crying great fat tears and wailing like a banshee.

But Bryan had to do some at-home testing of the office’s virtual private network (VPN), so he was home long enough for me to call about some potential contract work for January, which sounds promising, and he got our dental appointments booked in Prince Albert at Bouverie Dental for the day after Sara’s CT scan, which will save us making an extra trip and also have a legitimate excuse not to drive back all the way from Saskatoon the night before. And he got Sara bundled up into her fuzzy orange Tigger jacket and into her carseat, and she was nearly asleep before we even left to go get the mail (a flyer for Princess Cruise Lines’ Caribbean vacations (sigh), an “O” magazine for me, and a “Bloomberg Business Week” for Bryan).

Who is the best energy supplier? MGE is serious about our responsibility to provide safe, reliable energy at competitive prices. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin reviewed our recent Fuel Cost Plan and granted a slight increase of 0.13% in overall electric rates effective Jan. 1, 2018.

She snoozed through our stop at the post office, and gave me a chance to rest and drink a peppermint chai latte downtown at the Java Shack, and she was still asleep when I got her back in the van. And as I looked through my windshield toward Lac la Ronge, I noticed how the frost had made lovely, intricate patterns on the glass, and outside, the clouds were streaked with pink and gold, in sharp contrast to the ghostly sculptures that hoarfrost had made of the trees on Kitsaki Island. I could still feel the tightness in my neck and the weariness in my limbs, and on the spur of the moment, I decided to do something I used to do when I had had a rough day at the newspaper office and it was nearing sunset like this (yes, at 4 p.m. — this being the winter solstice and all): head to Big Stone Lake.

So I turned the van out to the highway, turned off again by the First Nations-owned gas station, Kathy’s Korner, and drove toward the lake. There is something about driving down the gravel-lined road through that forest corridor, the Montreal River glimpsed in flashes through the trees, that always fills up the depleted parts of me, but particularly so today — maybe because it had been a few months, maybe just because God knew I needed it — and as I got toward the bend where you can see the river most clearly, I rolled down the window and just had to breathe in with amazement as I heard the music of the water rushing over the river rocks, and saw the mist rising up and the trees silhouetted against the radiant pink sky. I will go back tomorrow with my camera and see it again, because it is hard even an hour or so later to believe it was beautiful as that. After a few minutes, I put my foot to the gas pedal again, and listened, as I drove, to the crunch of the snow-coated gravel until I reached the end of the road and the lake spread out before me. I saw the wreath on the small red cross someone put on the shoreline years ago, and the vast sky and the golden sun, low on the horizon, and the trees, and I got out of the van — leaving Sara still asleep in her car seat and the window rolled down — to lift my hands up and breathe a short prayer of thanks.

Surprised by joy

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @ December 20, 2010

This is an excerpt from my journal, written Dec. 1, 2009. (I am including it here in response to the Dec. 20 prompt from Journal Your Christmas, about “unexpected surprises”.)

“Come on, ring those bells / light the Christmas tree / Jesus is the king / born for you and me / Come on, ring those bells / Everybody say, / Jesus, we remember / this your birthday.” – Evie Tornquist

“Ring the bells that still can ring / forget your perfect offering / There’s a crack in everything / that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

As I’ve been reflecting on why I’m so determined to document my thoughts on Christmas – past, present and future – these two lines keep coming back to me, with their curious similarities.

I remember setting up our old record player, with its needle that had to be carefully placed on the right groove, and then sitting (or, more likely, dancing around on the carpet in front of the record player) in my parents’ living room, and the fire crackling in the fireplace and the lights of the tree reflecting off the picture windows as Evie’s clear, sweet voice filled the room with “Come on, ring those bells.”

Cohen’s poem, “Anthem”, is a more recent discovery – and it speaks of brokenness and lost trust, and how signs were sought, and how “every heart to love will come, but like a refugee.” It’s a strange and difficult poem that I don’t understand, but I find that some things in it resonate with me.

This November has been a very difficult one for both of us, dominated by the Sunday night just over a week ago when we came home and discovered that our basement window had been forced open, my office and our bedrooms rifled through, and the keys to both our cars – and my car – had been stolen.

The sense of violation, loss and anger ran very deep, especially as we learned that over 50 break-ins had been committed over the last two months with no public notice, and that the thief (who was eventually caught on Friday, with our keys still in his possession) has likely committed most of them. I have wept many hot tears in my husband’s arms, spent a lot of time both raging and in searching prayer, talked to many friends and family members, and eventually come to terms with the fact that the car I had taken such good care of since I bought it brand-new eight years ago is irrevocably gone, despite the fact that it has been physically recovered.

The rollercoaster of emotions has been horrible, as we heard through the week about the car being involved in two high-speed chases with police, likely used as a getaway car for several out-of-town break-ins, and then it being found on Tuesday and, by the time we got back out there with the officer, taken again. Attending the 17-year-old accused’s first court appearance didn’t help much either, as he preened himself, fixing his hair, throwing his head back and looking alternately bored or pleased with himself as the charges were read, and then, during breaks, bragging to his friends about his use of the stolen cars (at least three, including ours) and how he was going to get a light sentence.

But then, on Sunday – the first Sunday of Advent – we had a chance to share about our experience and ask for prayer during the worship service. And after the service, 11-year-old Jessica Tonn came up to Bryan and pressed a folded piece of paper into his hands. Inside (and yes, my eyes are welling up again writing this) was a handwritten note that said, “I hope you get enough money for another car! May the Lord be with you!” And attached was a loonie – a one-dollar coin. I couldn’t help thinking of the reflecting I had done on the “widow’s mite” during my retreat at Queen’s House the previous weekend, and how her gift to the temple, while small, had worth far greater than its face value.

A witness of true grace and generosity in the midst of brokenness and defeat, a small package worth so much more than its “face value”, an offering of sacrificial love – isn’t that what Christmas is truly about, in God’s giving of His Son?

As I think about this Christmas, seven months into my first pregnancy, I feel a closer identification with Jesus’ mother Mary than I ever have. Carrying God’s promise in her womb, she nonetheless must have been worn, even exhausted, cranky perhaps, as she travelled those rutted dirt roads, jolting along on the back of a donkey. Perhaps her faith even wavered a little, wondering if she would be a capable mother to God incarnate in the flesh of a squirming baby boy. Fear, uncertainty, and definitely a strong sense of anticipation and amazement over the miracle of this child – I can’t even imagine what she must have felt, but now, I can more easily guess.

Our baby is very much a gift of God, not of medical science – I shouldn’t even be pregnant, if logic and reason were the sole determinants. And yet, here he or she is, growing strong in my womb and we’re already thinking on getting everything necessary for him, from the cloth to a comfortable Comfortable Baby Stroller to carry him around. On the night our house was broken into, we slept at Bryan’s parents’ home, in his old bedroom – tried to sleep, at least. And baby chose that occasion to kick hard enough that Bryan was able to feel it for the first time, like he or she was saying, “Hello, I’m here.”

That’s the meaning of Christmas – God with us. “Hello,” He says to us. “I’m here.” And we are here, together, attempting to connect with one another, to show our love for one another, imperfect though our offerings may be.

Last night, we attended a recitation of “A Christmas Carol” by actor John Huston at the La Ronge United Church. Not only did he know it by heart, he played all the characters – complete with mannerisms and accents – but with only a velvet-covered lectern as a prop, and he did it dressed as (and speaking as) Charles Dickens himself.

I had never realized just how funny the actual story can be, at least when interpreted by a superb performer, and while I’ve seen countless take-offs on Scrooge’s story, I realized afresh how complex and relevant a story it is. It’s not the sacred story, and it’s not the Santa and reindeer fantasy story, either – it’s something else entirely.

And that’s what struck me so profoundly, in the context of everything we’ve been going through over these last few weeks: it’s a story about becoming aware of what paths you’ve taken in your life, and how your choices have affected both you and the people you’ve encountered. It’s about (quite literally) becoming aware of the past, the present and the future. It’s about generosity, compassion, and self-awareness – as well as their dark opposites, want and ignorance (the twisted children the Ghost of Christmas Present has hiding beneath his robes) and realizing that how we relate to one another is central to the quality of our lives. That’s what it means, I think, when Scrooge says, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived for others is worth living,” and Christ, the God who chose to be with us, and who ultimately sacrificed Himself for us, is the ultimate example of that. But we can try to model it too, as Scrooge learned, in giving ourselves as “imperfect offerings” and ringing what bells we can to gladden other hearts.

Our thief didn’t understand that, but little Jessica did – and as Dickens put it, “it’s good to be children sometimes and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” I don’t think he was just talking chronological age, but an attitude of joy, of anticipation, of generosity of spirit.

I want to be reminded of these lessons, and this journal seems like a very good place to start. And so, “as Tiny Tim observed, ‘God bless us, every one.’”

That’s a wrap…

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @ December 19, 2010

No, no, I’m not caught up — I’m just finished with another entry for the journal, this time in response to the Dec. 10 prompt, about wrapping paper, and I’m feeling relieved that I can post it, after dealing with some weird technical glitch that was sending me to another site when I tried to access my blog. It seemed appropriate to write this entry tonight, after we’ve been working today on getting some of our gifts wrapped in order to mail them tomorrow to my brother and his family in British Columbia — perhaps I will shuffle the pages in the journal around to put this entry alongside today’s “daily notes”. Anyhow, here are my thoughts on wrapping paper:

Every year at the start of the Christmas season, I have visions of what my wrapped gifts will look like.

Sometimes I dream of beautifully packages, resplendent with real fabric ribbon and done up in gorgeous reds, or gold and silver (an ideal planted in my head by an article that appeared in the Dec. 1982 issue of Canadian Living – our copy was very dog-eared thanks to my many re-readings), and lovely gift tags handmade with my stash of craft supplies, like the ones featured in all the scrapbooking magazines and blogs.

Sometimes I imagine wonderfully quirky packages, reminiscent of some of the gifts we made when I was a child, which were wrapped with old architectural blueprints from my dad’s office, or with paper decorated by carving Christmasy shapes into cut potatoes, and then coating them in paint for stamping. The gifts would then be adorned with tags crafted by my brother and me out of images cut from old Christmas cards.

But every year, either practicality or a lack of time prevails, and we come back to the same box of wrapping paper, with rolls decorated with Santa Claus or snowman designs, and the pre-made tags, paper ribbon and clear “gift wrap” tape.

Bryan wraps (his logical mind and careful nature being perfect for the task), and I write book inscriptions, match gifts that should be wrapped together, do the “decorating” with ribbon (using my mom’s scissor trick to curl the ends) and other doodads, and write the tags. I enjoy giving little hints with my tag messages, and let the gift recipient know that while the paper and ribbon may be generic, the gift is given with intention and love.

Getting there…

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 18, 2010

Well, I’m making progress with the journal, at least, if not anything else. I’ve added my daily thoughts for tonight and a bit of catch-up for Thursday, and done today’s prompt and three others for Journal Your Christmas. It turns out that the prompt for tomorrow is “letters to Santa”, and that means I’m actually ahead of the game for one day, thanks to my efforts (on Sara’s behalf, of course ;) ) earlier this week. So I’ll just have to do a daily thoughts entry for tomorrow, and see how far I get with the rest of my catch-up. We were hoping to do gift wrapping and/or tree decorating this evening, after Sara went to bed, but Bryan’s work commitment — which he’d hoped would only take half an hour — has him still at the office at 11:30 p.m. So — we’ll try again tomorrow. I guess that’s just what you do, sometimes.

Have you any room?

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @

Here is my response to Shimelle’s Dec. 15 prompt, about visitors.

A flashback to Mom and Dad’s living room, flames crackling merrily in the fireplace, the Christmas tree aglow, and Evie’s “Come on Ring Those Bells” playing on the record player:

No room, only a manger of hay;
No room, He is a stranger today.
No room, here in His world turned away,
No room, no room

Angels in Heaven up yonder
Watch with amazement and wonder
To see the Son of the Highest treated so.

No room, here in the hearts of mankind,
No room, no cheery welcome to find.
No room, surely the world is blind,
No room, no room.

Have you any room for Jesus
He who bore your load of sin
As He knocks and asks admission,
Sinner, won’t you let Him in?

Room for Jesus, King of Glory,
Hasten now His word obey.
Swing your heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.

When I stop to think about it, not one player in the original Christmas story was anywhere near their home when those events occurred. The shepherds were out in the cold, damp fields outside of Bethlehem, the angels had descended from heaven to speak the message of good news, the magi had travelled “from the east” by starlight to find the promised king, and Mary and Joseph had left their home in Nazareth days earlier, travelling most likely by donkey to Joseph’s ancestral home, to be counted in the Roman census. And Jesus, of course – well, of all of them, He was both the closest and farthest from “home”.

This year, for the first time that I can remember, I won’t be travelling any more than a 10-minute drive from my house during the Christmas season – so I will be the one playing host to the visitors. We’ve already had Kathy Prokopchuk and Klara Epp here a couple of times for our prayer triplet meeting, and Klara and her husband Alden and Royal Atton here for a Sunday lunch, and Megan Schreiner for crafting (she worked on Christmas cards for her colleagues, while I made some progress on my journal). Angie will be here tomorrow to babysit Sara while Bryan and I go to Weight Watchers, and Debbie from ECIP will be dropping by as well.

And then, on Dec. 30, my parents will be arriving to celebrate the season with us, after they get back from B.C., so I’ve got lots of cleaning to do in the basement – now that Sara’s moved into the “guest room”, our pull-out couch in the library/office/TV room will have to serve, and it’s still pretty cluttered since our renovations earlier this year. I want to be a good host, and do my mom proud – I’ve always been so impressed with her ability to make everyone feel so comfortable and cared for.

A tradition she established years ago is that of the “Christmas orphan” – on Christmas Day, our feast was always shared with one or more people who didn’t have anywhere else to go for the holiday. It makes around-the-table conversations much richer and livelier, and we enjoy learning about other people and encompassing others in the circle of our family, even if it is only for that day.

One of my favourite times was the year that Curtis had spent the summer co-leading a team from Briercrest Bible College as they paddled down the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories, and stopping at small First Nations communities along the way to set up a rock climbing wall for the local kids to try out. That Christmas, Mom had invited a young couple from China, an older couple (both retired professors) who had worked with the Commonwealth Secretariat in Papua New Guinea, and one of her students, a young man who had left the Hutterite colony he grew up in and moved to the city. And there we all were, in Mom and Dad’s living room, watching slides from Curtis’ trip. A multicultural Christmas indeed! It’s a tradition I would really like to establish with Sara, and a very do-able one, I think, especially once we are either in Toronto or overseas.

Attitude of gratitude

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @

This is in response to Shimelle’s Dec. 16 prompt, about gratitude.

I had a plan for 2010 –- a great, glorious plan to record, every week, something I was grateful for. I managed it for two weeks, and then “life” got in the way. I regret that, and I want to give it another go in 2011. Too often this year I lost sight of the need for an “attitude of gratitude” and got angry, or whiny, or just emotionally worn out and careless about myself and other people. I hope that by being intentional about writing down what I am grateful for, I will carry that awareness into my day-to-day life. And that can’t help but improve things, both for me and for those I love. So consider this, not a definitive list, but a starting point.

Today, I am grateful.
I am grateful for love.
I am grateful for hot apple cider.
I am grateful for three-way giggle fests with my husband and my baby girl.
I am grateful for the stark beauty of leafless trees against a dark blue evening sky.
I am grateful for my fuzzy white blanket.
I am grateful for community sentences instead of prison time, so that a man convicted of a crime can be back at home this Christmas.
I am grateful for books.
I am grateful for Willow Traders, my on-line home.
I am grateful for safety on the highway, in a van that works.
I am grateful for cozy moccasins.
I am grateful for colour printers.
I am grateful for medications that curb depression symptoms.
I am grateful for solid marriages.
I am grateful for baby soothers, bibs, exersaucers and infant formula.
I am grateful for mandarin oranges and Danish butter cookies.
I am grateful for friendship.
I am grateful for the One who came, and lived and died and lives today, and makes everything worthwhile.

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”
- Henry Ward Beecher

Gifting…

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @

After a bit of wheedling on my part, Bryan took Sara with him to go grocery shopping, enabling me to concentrate on some writing. So, here is my response to Shimelle’s Dec. 17 prompt, regarding the “perfect gift”. :) (ETA: I may make this the Dec. 19 entry, as I see that tomorrow’s is “letters to Santa” and I did that on Dec. 17.)

Truthfully, by the time most of my family members are prepared to start thinking about what they want for Christmas, I’ve usually got their gifts either planned, picked out and/or purchased. To some extent, that’s because we live in such a remote area that I have to start thinking about buying presents several months in advance, but mainly it’s because I don’t like my shopping to be a rush job.

What I’ve chosen isn’t often ON those lists of theirs, once I receive them, but I like anticipating the pleasure they will experience over receiving an unexpected gift. It doesn’t always work – I’ve had a few gifts that I thought were “perfect” be received with an, “Oh. (pause) That’s nice. Thanks,” and the gift disappears into a stack, never to be seen or used again. But sometimes I manage to truly surprise AND delight with a gift I’ve chosen for them.

One of my biggest successes was in 2007, the year that both Bryan and I became obsessed with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series – a peculiarly fascinating merger of Scottish history, torrid romance, time travel and cracking good storytelling. We had both read all of the books in the main series, but that year, Gabaldon released two books in a complementary series about Lord John Grey, a character whose life repeatedly intersects with the lives of her main characters, Claire and Jamie Fraser, but about whom there is much “untold” in the Outlander books.

That summer, I had joined a Yahoo Groups listserv for Gabaldon fans, and one day I posed a question: was there any way to get a book autographed, if you could not attend one of the author’s in-person visits? Lo and behold, on Sept. 3, I got this reply from “Susan H.E.”, Diana’s personal assistant (the “H.” stands for “Herself”, as fans call Gabaldon – a reference to how characters in her books respectfully call Jamie Fraser “Himself”):

Carmen, the fastest way to get a “custom” signed book would be to order it directly from The Poisoned Pen here in Arizona. They are the local indi-bookstore that launches all of Diana’s books, they accept credit cards (yea!!), are set up to ship books internationally (doing a great job) AND it’s only a few miles from Diana’s house so she pops in there when she has a moment to sign books for stock AND for custom signing requests such as yours. Go to their website and you can either e-mail, fax or call your order in — make sure you send the request to “Patrick” as he’s the one who handles the book-shipping and special requests for signatures or personalized books.

So, after numerous exchanges of e-mail correspondence, credit card numbers for the book and shipping fees, etc., less than two months later a box arrived from Arizona, containing a hardcover copy of Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, with the much-desired inscription. I also picked up the next book in the series, and packed both books up in a mandarin orange box (a reference to Jamie’s Chinese manservant, Mr. Willoughby, I believe), with a bottle of Saskatchewan Roughriders’ “Green Zone” hot sauce, a fortune cookie, a card about the “wise men from the east”, and a newspaper clipping on the front with the headline “The Untold Story”.

And on Christmas Eve, I gleefully presented the box, and took photos of every step of the opening, and enjoyed the look of total shock on Bryan’s face when he opened the flyleaf and found the book inscribed, “For Carmen’s ‘Black Brian’. Slainte! – Diana Gabaldon”. (‘Black Brian’ was Jamie’s father’s nickname, because of his black hair, and it’s the reason Jamie is also known as “Seamus Mac Dubh,” or, “James, Son of the Black’. And “Slainte” is a Gaelic toast to good health.) I handed off the camera and got a picture taken of my cat-who-ate-the-canary look as well. :) Score!!

A full plate

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @

Okay, yeah, that’s a descriptor of my “to do” list, but it’s also an apt title for my response to the Dec. 18 prompt about Christmas dinner. So here we go:

Having never been the chef of the house – either growing up or now – I don’t know exactly what the menu will be for any of our Christmas celebrations.

This year we will be having dinner on “the day” in the house at 239 Otter Street in Air Ronge, where Bryan grew up, with his parents, his siblings and their families – so I can make a few predictions about mealtime.

There will be a lacy tablecloth on the large, dark wooden table, and the napkins will be paper but something very seasonal. At least one of the kids (Theo, age 2, or Quinn, age 4) will bang out a few notes on the piano in the dining room. The two lefties (me and Jake) will be seated at the opposite ends of the table, with Dad (Nelson) at the far end by the china cabinet next to me, after he’s set up his Nikon SLR camera to take the group photo we will all smile for, Angie and Darcy across from me, Bryan to my right, and then the Sengas and Mom (Ruth) grouped around the end closest to the kitchen, since we took some photographs in the kitchen as well after we remodel it using resources anyone can find if they click here.

And if my predictions are right, there will be a big bowl of punch with gingerale, a roast turkey with homemade stuffing, baked ham for everyone but Bryan, and cabbage rolls for everyone but Darcy. There will be mashed potatoes (the mashing is Darcy’s job) in a cut crystal bowl, and cranberry sauce, and a glass dish with a little fork for spearing the pimento-stuffed olives and/or pickles. Janelle will bring a side dish – likely a Japanese salad – and Angie will have her corn and red pepper casserole.

Mom will have baked oodles of fresh buns (perhaps even the beloved “funny buns”), and there will be a joking bit of tussling between Darcy and Janelle over who will get more of her famous wild rice casserole. There will be the veggie casserole with fried onion rings on top, and two bowls of Jello – a sugar-free one for Dad, who has diabetes, and one for everyone but especially Quinn, once she’s finished the requisite bites of other foods, and Darcy will tease her that he’s going to eat all the Jello before she can get any.

For dessert, there will be a lovely homemade pie or two, with ice cream brought up from the freezer in the basement (Dad’s job). I will make the coffee and get the mugs (my favorite is the one with a cartoon of Einstein), and for the non-coffee drinkers, there will be tea (strawberry, most likely) in the white pot with the hummingbird on the handle. And then all the food will be stashed away, with the leftovers that don’t fit in the fridge covered with silver foil and placed on the covered porch to keep cool until supper, which is when we’ll make turkey and ham sandwiches and warm up plates in the microwave.

I’m hungry already….

Dear Santa…

Filed under Christmas • Written by Carmen @ December 17, 2010

Sara and I dropped off a copy of this letter at our local post office at noon today, addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0″….

December 17, 2010

Dear Santa,

We just met a couple of weeks ago, at the Snowflake Tea – you were in your big chair with the brick wall behind you, and you had the coolest metal things that made a pretty jingly noise, and I was wearing my new dress with the red velvet top and the fluffy skirt with little flowers in it. But in case you don’t remember, my name is Sara Emily Orthner, and I live in La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

I know this letter is being mailed very close to Christmas, but the North Pole isn’t that far away from where Mommy, Daddy and I live (or so Mommy says), so I hope you will get it in time. I am going to be 10 months old three days before Christmas, and while I am very clever, I am focusing my mental energy on learning how to walk, not to write. So I am using Mommy as my ghostwriter.

I have heard that I can ask you for a present, and you will bring it! I hope that is true. For Christmas I would like lots of wrapping paper, because chewing paper is one of my favourite things to do. A wicker basket, or a big box that I can climb in and that makes nails-on-a-chalkboard scratchy sounds when I run my fingernails over it would be great too.

But Mommy says I should ask for something IN the box, UNDER the wrapping paper, so if it’s not too much to ask, I would like a baby doll like the one my friend Morgan (who is already 2!) has at her house. A soft book and something to bang on would be fun too.

Mommy suggests that I give you a couple of ideas for her and Daddy too. She would like a new flash for her camera, as hers is broken, a “Zumba Fitness” game for the Wii, and tickets to some place called “a resort in the Mayan Riviera”. Daddy would like an iPad, and enough money to pay off the mortgage. Hopefully those will all fit in the box.

We need to get this in the mail, Mommy says, so that’s all for now. Daddy is planning to bake butterhorns and cinnamon rolls for Christmas, so we will save you one. I hope you are able to finish your to do list soon. Thank you again for coming to visit with me and see my pretty dress, and thank you for the presents too, even if you aren’t able to bring all of them. Just the wrapping paper is important.

Much love to you,

Sara

Falling behind…

Filed under Ramblings • Written by Carmen @ December 14, 2010

Argh… I can’t believe it’s only two weeks in, and I still have so much catch-up to do — and that’s just for the journal!! I need to find some way to juggle baby responsibilities, home responsibilities, writing responsibilities AND Christmas prep responsibilities, along with getting a decent night’s sleep and other self-care. I feel like I’m not doing well at all. Maybe if I can get up earlier, use naptime better…? How do other moms do it? I’m not even working a day job, and I only have one child, and still I can’t seem to manage. As for the journal, I’ve only done 6 of Shimelle’s 14 prompts, and there will be another one tomorrow, and I’ve got daily journalling written for just 7 of the 14 days. Is this going to be yet another of my “failed” projects? I so hope not… :(

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