In the Garden

As we welcome a New Year we take the quiet time to reflect, to think of the future, and hope for a brighter day. We come to a time were resolutions will be made and carried out throughout 2012. I have always claimed I prefer the word  goals to resolutions but Melissa put me firmly in my place with her post Emerging from the Vacay Haze.  

So while I reflect in the garden and attempt to ponder my resolutions this year. The one that comes to mind is to make better choices to opt for carrots instead of chips, a good book to reality TV, and to make time to work on my side projects.

I have slowly been putting my feet in the water by entering several writing contests, working on that book, and teaching myself new software tools.

I will be introducing a new blog to compliment the carnival called A Mantra A Day. It will be just a brief thought reflecting my mood for that day to help ignite my creative spark.

The past year has been full of many surprises and it has been wonderful to make so many new blogging friends.

I look forward to seeing you all in 2012 and wish you the best in the New Year!

What decisions do you make wandering  in your garden?

Hard of Hearing

What could be more wonderful than sharing the kitchen with the ones we love over the holidays? However, I hate sharing my kitchen, and my mother hates not being in the kitchen!

It was at the middle stage of Christmas preparation that we had this conversation: 

“Mom, do you want me to make the sauce?”

“What?

“Would you like me to make the sauce?”

“WHAT?”

“The Sauce! Do you want me to make the sauce?”

“WHAT? SAUCE?”

“YES! CRANBERRY SAUCE!  DO YOU WANT ME TO MAKE THE SAUCE?”

“Christ! You’re loud! Stop yelling!”

It’s at that moment I reach for the bottle and pour myself another full glass of wine. Sometimes it is a holiday necessity…

How do you politely tell the ones you love that they need a hearing aid?

The Shepherd

It is every Christmas eve after mass our family goes for a drive to  admire the Christmas lights  strewn on houses and high up in the trees. It’s at this time we quietly comment on the decorations and listen to  Alan Maitland’s rendition of Frederick Forsyth’s, The Shepard on CBC Radio.


 It is a story which makes us drive that extra half hour and listen intently to what will happen next to the WWII pilot flying home from Germany at Christmas.

It is always at the end of the story in which are children have a sleepy look, always full of questions,  and thinking of the good shepherd as they close their eyes ready to be tucked into their warm  bed.

The Shepard is a quiet reminder that sometimes there is a guardian angel looking over our shoulder and can be our saving grace.

Wishing Everyone a Beautiful Christmas, Full of Warmth, Joy, and Peace!

Taxi Cab Lingerie

It was every Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one present and that one present always came from my sister who live miles away. It was each year she would make my sister Jane and I a present that represented  her own unique expression. The hand-crafted present would also advise you who made her naughty and nice list for that very year.

One of us would get the pretty present and the other would be left  wondering what did I say wrong…  It was only apparent as both Jane and I ripped opened her present who made the annual list.

Jane opened her present to discover a beautiful floral house coat and matching slip-on.

I  was excited! I tore open my present and thought, “What the hell is she telling me?”

A neon orange and black checkered house coat with slip-on stared at me!

I looked at it, I looked at the lovely floral gift my sister received, I looked at my parents, and then I looked at Jane.

It was with that we burst into laughter at my taxi cab lingerie!

I’m not sure what man I could beckon into bed with neon orange and black checkers!  I don’t even think the most desperate of rockers would hop into bed with me!

Did she think I was still going through the eighties hair metal phase? I mean really even the girls in a Motley Crue video wouldn’t be caught dead in this thing!

I know once upon a time I teased my permed hair but this cabbie assemble no longer suited my long tresses  and failed to flatter my faltering ass.

The only thing  apparent this lingerie would do would entice a man into an epileptic seizure with all of its bright checker action!

Maybe that was the point she thought I was too young to get that action!

I will never know why I deserved to receive such a strange gift! But I do know every year at Christmas Eve I compare notes with Jane on our presents to see who came out on top on my oldest sister’s naughty and nice list.

I have been on the naughty list for many years and maybe this year she will think I am nice. We will have to wait and see on this Christmas Eve!

What is the strangest Christmas Present you ever received?

A Skier’s Dream

The first heavy snow fall always reminds me of my father.  It was his belief the first snow  was one that would determine the winter for cross-country skiing. He dreamed of the fresh powder which allowed you to glide with ease across the open trails in the winter time.

After a really good storm we would tie our skies to back of the car and  drive off to the ski club.  At that age I didn’t appreciate the beauty, the silence, or the fresh scent of pine cones along the trail.  My poor father would hear the lamenting of a ten-year old complaining of cold feet and ice-cold cheeks.

It was my father’s promises of hot chocolate and warmth in the ski lodge that kept me moving along the trail. The first sip always burning the tongue but the rich warmth of the flavor would engulf my whole body.  The times spent by the wood stove we would chat and warm-up munching on the baked cookies my mom had made for our trip. It was these special moments in time that take me back to a special place with my Father.

Only years later with the birth of my two sons you could see the twinkle in my Father’s eyes and I knew he was waiting for the perfect age to take them out on their own set of skies.  They were only toddlers and not quite ready!  But if he had his way they would have been on skies the moment they began to walk. Sadly, he never got the chance to take them out on the open trail and share the warmth of a hot chocolate in the wooden lodge.

It was the year before my father passed away he logged over 1200 kilometers on his cross-country skies and it was his perfect winter. He hung his certificate with beaming pride looking forward to another great season. Sadly, he never got to relive that moment of glory.

On his last night on earth we stood by his bed side and looking out at the gentle snowfall – it was a skier’s dream.  It was at his last moments of breath I envisioned him with his backpack skiing through the starry ski and reaching up to heaven above.

It is now when I am skiing with my own kids I feel the warm glow of the sun glisten through the trees and it feels as if my dad is watching down over us. It’s at those moments my heart warms just a little more and I reflect on the beauty of winter memories.

How do you honor the spirit of loved ones who have passed? Do you feel their spirit with you in your heart?

Stubborn as a Donkey

It was on this vacation my two little men had two wishes on their list one was to zip line and the other was to snorkel with the fish. It was when we came across a boat trip to the secluded beach Las Caletas that it would be the perfect excursion for the whole family.

In the early morning we hopped on a boat  sailing off into the deep blue only to be  greeted by two shy whales  and enjoy the breath-taking beauty of the Los Arcos as birds flew over our heads. The destination itself was a private getaway full of white sand, crystal blue water, and activities for everyone. 

The first thing our children wanted to do  was the zip-line adventure!  On this mini-adventure they climb rope walls and zip at high speeds through the canopy.

However, what we did not know is that we would be pulling our children up a steep hill by donkey.

My Son Called, “Mom! Come pull-me!”

It was with this my oldest hopped on the donkey and I began to slowly pull him up the steep hill.

It was only halfway up the hill when my donkey decided to take a break. He gave me a look that said “I dare you to try to pull me!”

I never back down from a dare especially a donkey so it was with that I pulled, I stomped, and negotiated for the donkey to move. He dug his feet into  the ground and huffed “Not  likely!”

I was more determined than ever to get him moving as the back log of parents were stopped by my donkey leading the path, my son laughed, “He sure is stubborn.”

“Yes he is!”

It is with that one of our guides gave the donkey a pat on the butt and whispered in his ear. She gave him a knowing smile and he gave her a wink! He then gave me a satisfied smile of letting me know it wasn’t my charm that made him move along the way.

After we watched the kids zip and whoop through the tree line heading back to the beach for a snorkel. My oldest turned to me and said “Mom it looks like you meet your match!  I think you are just as stubborn as that donkey!”

It was with that I sighed,  put on my snorkel gear, and headed for the  water.  I snorkeled admiring the angel fish, watching the sting ray below me, that I reflected on my brief time with the donkey. I learned that sometimes to get someone moving it takes more than pulling, commanding, and stomping.  It takes creativity, charm, and the ability to whisper sweet nothings into an ear in order  to motivate a donkey!

Have you ever been referred to as stubborn as a donkey? What did you do to earn the title?

The Dune Buggy Adventure

If there was one thing I wanted to do when we arrived in Puerto Vallarta it was to explore the luscious green countryside. I didn’t want to do the regular bus tour where you are crammed in a bus with thirty other tourists and bore  my children to tears. It was with a little research and a conversation with a man on the beach I discovered that we could explore a different side of Mexico in dune buggies.

He handed us a brochure which I eagerly took to book for our next adventure. It was when we showed up in the out skirts of Puerto Vallarta  looking at the muddy  dune buggies I began to wonder if this was such a wise idea.

It was at check-in they pulled us aside gave us our goggles, and our very own red bandana. As he took us to our  dune buggy he gave my husband a quick lesson on how to operate the machinery. I looked behind to see the excitement on my children’s faces and ensured they were buckled up.

It was when I went to buckle myself up we had a problem.

“Excuse me sir! I think my seat belt is broken.”

He looked at me gave a big smile and said “Don’t worry about it! You will be fine!”

It was at that moment I took a deep breath and gave my husband a warning that  if I was hurled from this vehicle at any time he would be a dead man.  All four of us put on our goggles, covered our faces, and were ready for our  adventure down the unknown road.

An ATV lead the way taking us through the back streets of Puerto Vallarta as we headed towards the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental. We zoomed across the dusty  back roads and admired the views of the countryside.

The one thing I was not prepared for was the Mexican river bed as we splashed through the water! I couldn’t see as water zoomed up my skirt, covered my goggles, and pushed against my bandana suffocating me. It was at that moment the bandana came off and I exclaimed to the kids “Shut your Mouth! And don’t swallow the water!”

They hollered and whooped only wanting more! “Go faster dad!”

All I could holler was “Keep your mouth closed!”

Only Swallowing  more water and wondering if all of our  vaccination shots were up to date.

It was once we stopped  for our break  at  a small family restaurant. The kids played close to the river bed and I made a fruitless attempt to clean-up with the small wet-naps in my purse. It was that moment I reached up and felt  dreaded in crumbled bits of mud in my hair.  I knew I was a vision of beauty as I drank my corona and inhaled a large plate of nachos.

It was as we were leaving  we looked to the front of the group only to  discover  a heated  argument brewing  between our tour operator and another man  accusing  one of the members of our dune buggy gang of  striking his vehicle. We waited patiently, as more people appeared to discuss the events, and watch the trouble brewing.

Maria the lovely lady in the next buggy behind us translated the events that were unfolding and had a look of concern, “He’s phoning the police.”

At this point our tour guide was willing to leave one of his guys behind to straighten out the fiasco and take us on the rest of the journey.

It was at that the con-artist, blocked our way, and said, “None of us were leaving until the police arrived.”

I began to get a little nervous thinking how much it was going to cost us to get out of this dodgy scenario.

It was only when the head tour operator  grabbed a can of gas, swaggered over to the gentleman’s car was he able to cleaned away the green paint that had scuffed up his car. It was no  surprise that  there was not a  dent on his car but only  the remnants of wet paint. The con man slowly backed away from our tour operator and let us move forward onto our next destination.

We revved up the engines and speed off to the tequila factory!  They gave us a run down on six flavours of tequila and as a passenger  I happily accepted each shot of tequila. It  added a little  hair to my chest and prepared us for our journey  home.

As we went back on to the main road, we heard the sirens, and it was within seconds we saw the fire truck charging  towards us.  My husband pulled our little dune buggy  to the side of the road just in the nick of time. I  believe it was the extra shot of tequila which prevented me from screaming “Dear God! We are all going to die!”

I turned back to check to see my children were all still in one piece as they gave me a huge thumbs up. It is then we gladly drove along admiring the views of the military base and local jail. It was once we reached back to home base I happily tipped our excursion guide for leading us back to the comforts of a Mexican cab.

It was that night my family and I looked back at an adventure of a lifetime. It was something we normally wouldn’t have done in a million years but the beauty of the countryside, the thrills, the spills, the almost drowning in a Mexican river bed, the extortion attempt, were all well worth another wonderful afternoon in Puerto Vallarta.

Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone? Did it lead you on an adventure?