Saturday, November 26, 2011

How Many More Sleeps Til Christmas?!

Hello all!

Well, you know the holiday season is here when the little ones start asking how many more sleeps til Christmas! This was the first thing said to me when I walked into work on Monday. The six year old little girl I care for came running to the door, asking.

Wouldn't it be nice if we were all able to keep that unabashed excitement for Christmas? The unjaded, complete and utter joy that comes with every day that passes and brings us that much closer to that very special day.

Personally, I pretty much get just as excited now, as when I was a kid. The joy has grown from receiving to giving. The quest to put that look of incredulous disbelief on the faces of those we hold close. The desire to find that special gift, individually thought out, and sought out.

I know it sounds crazy, but I love the hustle and bustle of being out in the Christmas crowds. The only draw back is the time spent in the check out line. Ahhhhh, in a perfect world, no check out line would be more than 5 minutes long. On the other hand, you meet a lot of interesting people there.

Now, especially, is the time of year to bring on the random acts of kindness. Christmas is a great time of year for a lot of us, but can be extremely stressful and miserable for others. You don't usually have to look very hard to recognize that look. Most of us have worn it a time or two in our own lives and recognize it like our own reflection in the mirror.

The young couple keeping a running total of the items in their cart, the woman debating between a carton of milk and a dozen eggs, wondering which she can do without. The kids enthusiastically checking out the toy department followed by parents that know none of these treasures will be making their way into their home this year.

Having experienced random acts of kindness from both ends of the spectrum, I can tell you this. They are important, and carry with them a weight of gratitude that lasts a lifetime. I will be forever grateful to the anonymous angels who left the ingredients for a full Christmas dinner on our doorstep one year when, otherwise, there wouldn't have been Christmas at all.

Some years later, we were honored to be able to pay it forward to another young, struggling family. This may sound strange, but being able to give another family what we had once received filled us with just as much gratitude, if not more.

Speaking of being grateful, I am very grateful for the wonderful family I have. A supportive and loving husband, four incredible daughters, a good-hearted son-in-law and a wonderful grandson. I'm so excited that we will be welcoming another grandson into the family! Our youngest daughter is expecting a little one quite soon, and we are all thrilled!

Wow, sorry, I kinda got on a rambling rampage there, didn't I?

Well, this week, I was able to manage a little rehearsal time. The Christmas party we are doing is on Friday. Slowly, but surely, we are learning some swing dance songs. Some, I'll just have to fake my way through as best I can. They are pretty old songs. With any luck, none of these folks will be overly familiar with the ones I`ll need to fudge. Cross your fingers.

We still have no snow blower, waiting on parts. Luckily it has been pretty warm the last couple of days, and there is no snow in the forecast. Maybe the parts will get here before the next snow, just maybe.

I checked into the Canadian toy company I told you about last week. From what I can gather, it`s more a line of toys than a toy company. I plan on checking them out further, though. After all, they get their toys manufactured somewhere, never hurts to snoop. Maybe, just maybe, whoever took the chance on their line of toys will take a chance on my Lexi puppet!  I know I said I would try to sit back and let this puppet thing happen naturally, but we all know sitting around waiting, is not my strong suit. Besides, it`s just a little snooping.

Now, for the upcoming week. I need to:

* knock a few more things off the Christmas list



*go baby wrangling (work)

*make sure everything is ready for the show on Friday

*further check into the Canadian toy company

Well folks, I think that`s it for my ramblings this week.

Until Next Week, Take Care!

May you find joy in the madness that is the countdown to the Holidays.
May you find every treasure you`re searching for, in all ways.

May the time spent with friends and family be plentiful and rich.
May laughter take over in most conversation, keeping it sweetly on pitch.

May you connect with those you think of often, but rarely get to see.
May you completely enjoy all encounters, abandoning insecurities, truly being free.

Thanks for comin!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monkey Wrenches and Laughter!

Hi all!

Late as promised, but I made it.

I'd like to start this week's ramblings by thanking and welcoming everyone who reads them. It never seizes to amaze and overwhelm me when I see new readers jumping in from all over the world. So if I haven't officially done so, I would like to say hi and thank you to those of you chiming in from Latvia, Russia and Spain. My continued appreciation goes to all of you who chose to join me on this crazy journey every week from here in North America and beyond.

Well, this week, folks, had a bit of a monkey wrench hidden in the wings.  If you recall last week, I mentioned a bit of doctoring I needed to do. I needed to get a minor procedure done on Tuesday. Let's just call it a 45 year old uterine tune up. It really is nothing serious, hundreds are done on a weekly basis.

As luck would have it, I had a bit of a reaction to the pain meds they gave me, and then another reaction to the meds they gave me to counteract the previous reaction. Nothing major just enough of a reaction to be, let's just say, "unpleasant."

This made the almost 90 minute car ride home quite delightful.

Anyway, to make a too long story a little shorter,  I suck at being a patient. I'm much more used to, and comfortable with, being on the other side of the care giving. As a result, I went to work a day too soon and basically paid for it the rest of the week.

All is good now, not quite firing on all cylinders yet, but close.

At some point in my life I'm sure I will learn the lesson I'm certain I'm supposed to in these situations. At some point. You'll be the first to know.

In the meantime, the progress on what will soon be my new beautiful bathroom, came to a screeching stall this week. I'm really hoping real progress is made in the upcoming week.

Rehearsing didn't happen either, as the stairs were not a great option for a good chunk of the week.

But, we did get to attend the Christmas party last night. It required nothing but checking into a nice hotel, getting dressed up, and taking an elevator ride to partake in a lovely meal and a night of stand up comedy.

It was a great night! First off, we received a free upgrade to our hotel room! Gotta love it when that happens! Yep, we ended up in a beautiful suite, complete with fireplace and vaulted ceilings.
Then, after enjoying a wonderful meal, we had the pleasure of laughing our faces off with a couple of comedians. I'm not sure if you'd be able to find it on YouTube or anything, but, if you have time and a bit of a twisted sense of humor, try and find the song, "Octogenarian Love Machine." Hilarious!

Also, through the course of the evening I found myself seated beside a lovely young lady, who happens to be the better half of one of the new guys at my hubby's work. As it turns out, she is an elementary teacher in Saskatoon and would like me to come and do a reading at her school. She also told me about a Canadian toy manufacturing company that supports educational toys. I'm definitely going to research the company and see what I can find out.

It never hurts to check it out.

Then, the hubby and I made a couple of stops on the way home, and I was able to knock a couple of things off of my Christmas list! Woot!

So folks, that's how this week went in this neck of the woods. As for the upcoming week?

Well, let's see.........

Have to rehearse......if you know of any songs that are good to swing dance to, I'm am very open to suggestions. you think if I repeat it enough times, it will just hurry up and finish itself?

Drop off parts for snowblower so they can find and order new parts. We neeeeeeeeeed parts. November in Saskatchewan + No Snowblower = Very sore and grumpy hubby.

Knock a few more things off the Christmas list.

Start figuring out what will be on the Christmas baking list for this year.

Go to work.

Check out Canadian toy company. (Crossing fingers while doing so?)

Until Next Week,

A nod to the seemingly invisible:

May you really take notice of the person making change for your morning coffees.
May you see them for the person they are, not just your first stop on the way to the office.

May you try to understand the intricate ballet that is every servers' noon lunch rush.
May you be patient and considerate and realize you are only one of many that need your lunch rushed.

May you take a moment to say a genuine hello to the one scanning and packing up your wares.
May you take note of those, left behind after the party, wiping tables, and stacking chairs.

May you say thank you in any way you can, to your bus driver, mailman, the guy coaching your kids' game.
May you truly appreciate that without this invisible service army, our lives really wouldn't be the same.

Have a Great Week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another Hurdle to Jump, Surprise! Not Really

Hi all!

Well let me start out by saying this week didn't quite produce the results I was hoping for.

Hey I've definitely had worse weeks, as that goes, this doesn't even hit the top ten, but was a titch disappointing all the same.

On the up side, Rainbow Entertainment (aka Randy and I) did get booked for that wedding in June. It's taking place at a Regional Park and should be gorgeous! Now that she has one less thing to worry about, I'm hoping this stressed bride can destress a little and enjoy.

Also on a lighter note, I didn't tell you last time, but, last weekend, I autographed a book for a kid with the coolest name on the planet!

His Grandma was buying him a copy of "A Crazy Day" for a stocking stuffer. I asked, as I always do, if she wanted it signed to anyone in particular. That's when she told me his name. I asked if it was a nickname, to which she shook her head disapprovingly and said, "Sadly, no."

This was the first and most likely will be the last time I autograph a book to a child with the legal name (insert drum roll here)...Rocket!

His actual given names are Rocket Bobby. I won't give you his last name for privacy reasons plus I wouldn`t be able to spell it to save my life. But, yeah! Rocket!

How do you NOT give a job or promotion or admit into your school a guy named Rocket! How does he NOT become king of anything he chooses to do with that kind of name! If there is such a thing as coming back, in the next life I wanna be named Rocket!

I did get in touch with the toy broker people this week. Although it wasn`t the enthusiastic, let`s get this in stores now, I can`t wait to shop this to manufacturers answer I had been hoping for, it wasn`t all bad either.

Remember, I had mentioned a few weeks ago their evaluation could go one of three ways.
1) Let`s hit the ground running
2) Need to work out a few things then revisit
3) Dumb idea, move on and save yourself from future humiliation ( I could be paraphrasing here)

Well, my evaluation came in at a solid 2. 
1) They would like to see `Lexi`s Magic Clothes` on the national best sellers list, to prove appeal.
2) The fact she doesn`t use batteries concerns them a little, but is not a deciding factor. (She is imagination driven, I think they are underestimating kids, personally)

So, as I see it, my goals and time frames for those goals have changed a little.

I don`t want this to become a stress filled, deadline making, fun sucking project. So, I`m going to try to let it happen in natural time and be happy if and when it does.

On the other hand, it is not my nature to do so. Everything in me screams to get Lexi on that best sellers list waaaaay sooner than later. Every fiber of my being wants to prove them wrong about the her appeal. Yes, bells and whistles get kids' attention in the short term, but they always come back to the imagination driven toys. Teddy bears, a plain old hot wheels car, a coloring book, a doll. I don`t want `Lexi`to be a flash in the pan fad toy, I want her to be that `go to` toy kids come back to again and again.

So folks, I`m really going to try and find a happy medium between the two. We`ll see how that goes.

In order to make the best sellers list in Canada you need to have sold 5000 copies of a single title.
To date, 745 copies of `Lexi` have found their way into the hands of wee ones. Gives you an idea of the hill I have to climb.

From what I can gather these numbers are actually quite good. When put beside other independent and traditionally published authors from Saskatchewan, we are holding our own quite well. 

But, in order to make that best seller list, realistically, I need to get national. I`m working on it. This is where the book industry tends to snub independent authors and puts road blocks and hoops in our path that they don`t put in the path of those published the tradtional way. I`m working on that too.

But, again, I`m going to try and find a balance. I need to balance my need for peace with my need to kick ass and take names.  I will try. 

Now for the upcoming week,

I`m really hoping that at least some of the finishing touches on what will soon be my new beautiful bathroom will completed.

I will be doing a bit of doctoring this week, nothing serious, just stuff.

I need to start rehearsing for the Holiday party we are doing on the 3rd of December. They really like swing music, so I`m going to need to brush up on my Andrew Sisters and Brian Setzer stuff.

Also this week, we will be attending our first Christmas party of the year where we just get to be guests. (This doesn`t happen often, so we definitely enjoy)

As a result, next week`s blog will be a titch late. Probably won`t be up until Sunday evening.

Until next week folks, I`ll leave you with some thoughts to honor those who fight for our freedoms, both past and present.

May those from past battles, who have passed from this place, be at peace, as heroes should.
May their families feel some pride through their grief, may they find some hint of comfort, as only a hero`s family could.

May those out there still fighting be safe and come home whole in body, in mind and in soul
May the families of these brave soldiers be brave in their own right, through missed  birthdays, birth days, missed turkey and mistletoe.

May we pass on to our children the importance of saying thank you even if it`s only on this rememberance day.
May we help them understand how different it could be here and now, if their sacrifices had not been made.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wow! What a Weekend!

Hi all! Sorry I'm late, I'm going to blame it on the weather, and that's not the lame excuse that it seems!

The drive home from North Battleford was pretty crazy. Normally it takes a shade under 2 hours to do the trip, this time it took 31/2 hours. You see, we had a fairly generous snowfall over the weekend. That, combined with the just below freezing temperatures, made for very interesting highways. So when I got home, I had some supper, had a run at the tub and hit the sheets.

The weekend and trade show, not counting the roads, was a complete success. Now, I suppose that depends on your definition of success, but personally, it was right up there on my success-o-meter.  Sales maybe didn't quite hit the same mark as last year, but crowds were not as dense due to the lovely weather.

In my mind, the success came in not just book sales, but connections. First, there is Nikki, of Nikki's Knacks. An awesome lady who is a huge advocate of emphasizing the importance of reading in reserve schools. She plans to help facilitate some readings on reserves around the Battlefords.

Then, there is a stressed bride-to-be who is looking for a DJ for her wedding. She has been very discouraged by what she is finding available out there. The $1100+ cost, plus mileage, with the possibility of some restrictions that she is being quoted is a big part of why my hubby and I do DJ and Karaoke gigs. We both believe it's very possible to do a professional, fun show with quality equipment without charging an arm and a leg. So, yeah, there is a very real possibility we could be assisting a very nice young couple in making their wedding the one they have been dreaming of and working toward.

Then there is Kaylee. Kaylee, and kids like her, are the biggest part of why I love doing what I'm doing. Kaylee is in grade 3 and, in the process of browsing the wares at the trade show, saw my booth and brought her Mom to say hi. I recognized Kaylee from one of my readings, and she, me.  After a little chat with Kaylee, something caught her attention and she moved on to another booth. Her mom lingered. She told me that Kaylee has had trouble reading right from the start, and they have been struggling to keep her engaged in the process. Then one day, she came home from school and enthusiastically announced that when she grows up she is going to be an author, just like her favorite author, Margy Reid. And, since that day, has had a renewed excitement in learning to read.

I can't even begin to explain how incredibly humbling and overwhelming it was to hear those words.

Yeah, all in all, (in spite of the icy roads) this weekend was an incredible success. Catching up with old friends, making new ones, selling a few books, and Kaylee. Does it get better?

Now, for the upcoming week.

I need to get in touch with the people in charge of the upcoming parties we are providing entertainment for in the next few weeks.
1) Christmas party for School Bus Drivers on Dec. 3rd
2) Girl Scout benefit on Dec 16th

I also need to:
* send a Rainbow Entertainment info package to the bride-to-be I told you about earlier.
* buy another interior door for what will soon be my new beautiful bathroom!
* get in touch with the toy broker people to see if there is any word about the puppets. (What? You really, truly thought I would wait until they contacted me?)
* start construction on the skirting for the tub
* do laundry
* clean up the construction zone that is my house
* getting groceries would probably be a good idea
* Oh yeah, I should probably go to work.

So in honor of the first snowfall of the season: Until Next Week:

May your tires hold to the road whether they are snow tires or not.
May you keep it shiny side up as you are travelling about.

May you not encounter those drivers who drive as though in a video game.
May those that do realize that your couch and the freeway are NOT one in the same!

May those who white knuckle it as soon as the temperature dips take a bus.
May they realize that their fear makes it ten times worse for the rest of us!

Thanks for your patience, and for reading these ramblings, once again.