2009 high points

Moutain peak 
made lots of homemade jam

rode my bike to work very often in the spring and summer

had a 24 mile bike ride

made Roman an I Spy with my Little Eye quilt

made Avery a rag quilt

read over 60 books

started reading the BBC top 100 book list; am reading things I never would have without the list and I am expanding my knowledge in lots of areas

took the plunge on volunteering at the prison

got my craft room more functional

had a great visit to Arkansas

made it through the year without complaining in front of the kids about a certain topic

got a new job that's teaching me lots

2009's goals reviewed

Orange journal
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” ~Voltaire

Regarding New Years Resolutions, Mark Twain said this on a January 2nd years ago. "Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community." That is good for a smile isn't it?

It's the clean slate time of year again. A new beginning. Since I started my new job, I've not been quite on top of things and have felt thick-headed for a couple of months. I'm pulling out of the mully-grubs and think I'll be more energetic soon.

Christmas is a glorious time of year in our family. I love love love it. This year was wonderful. Even with my lower energy, it was a beautiful time.

Today is the day where I review my 2009 goals. They are listed below, with the status of my success (or not).

1)- Give up fiction for January and Lent. Status: January was a success but during Lent I read CS Lewis and Angela's Ashes.

2)- Give blood 4 times. Status: Accomplished. I may have saved 8 lives. That feels good.

3)- Clean up my recycling act. Status: Accomplished. It was tough for a few months, but now my fine little city has curbside recycling and now it's a easy as pie.

4)- Work towards running 10K. (This was my loftiest goal of the year.)Status: I so crashed and burned on this one.

5)- Keep laundry current.  Status: I think I did pretty well. But I must admit it's all in the huge-capacity washer. I never want to go back to a normal-capacity.

6)- Keep bathroom floors clean. Status: I did ok. I could do better.

7)- Keep up my Club Fit regimen and continue to intensify it. Status: I did very well. But as of February of 2010, I'm dropping my gym membership. My new job schedule makes me choose between being home with the kids or the gym. I choose the kids. I bought a treadmill over the weekend and plan to gradually buy weights too.

8)- Buy a new carbon fibre paddle for dragon boating. Status: She's beautiful and very high quality, the kind the national teams use. I got a great deal. :-)

9)- Buy a new PFD for dragon boating. Status: Purchased.

10)- Get fence fixed. Status: Completed. Thanks to my hubby.

11)- Drop Melaleuca. Status: Did it.

12)- Lower grocery budget by $25 a pay period. Status: I'm guessing I had about 50% success. However, the prices keep going up and I'm abandoning that goal altogether. 

13)- Work on Christmas Child Shoeboxes throughout the year. Status: Did very well and we sent some nice boxes to Chile.

14)- Vacuum at least once a week. Status: I did well, but also Gordon kicked in with this chore.

15)- Get to know new neighbors. Status: Got somewhat acquainted with 2 sets of neighbors, but not with nearly as many as I'd hoped. Strangely, I don't think they want to know me better. :-)

16)- Build a website. Status: You're looking at it. I had a ton of help from Jeff. Jeff if you read this, thanks again. There are many things I could do to improve it but right now I'm staying busy enough just getting blog posts written.

17)- Take swimming lessons. Status: I did. Believe it or not, I was one of the better ones. It never occurred to me that I'd be in class with adults with a fear of water. Lucky for me, my fat keeps me buoyed right up, so I don't have much fear of drowning. It's the best advantage I have with my weight issues.

18)- Take square dancing lessons.Status: I tried, I really did. I didn't find a club that was taking newbies. Furthermore, I couldn't keep the hubby interested in being my Dosido Boy. I guess I gave up on this idea, although I still think Gordon and I could have fun and get lots of exercise. Crazy, I know.

19)- Blog more steadily; pace better. Status: I think we'll all agree that I crashed and burned in this category too. However, did you know that since I've had a blog for as long as I have and since I continue to post regularly ("regularly" is not defined) I'm in the top 5% of the world's bloggers? Just a little trivia.

20)- Lose 20 pounds. Status: I lost 11.6 pounds. :-) Bwah ha ha ha. And then I gained 15. Not good.

21)- Improve photography skills. Play along with Mindi's challenges. Status: I played until the game ended. See my collages here. I think I got better. I learned a lot and had fun and feel better about the pictures I take.

22)- Embrace winter. Status: This conscious effort made this winter wonderful. There were days when I'd wake up to more snow and my first thought was, "Isn't that pretty?" instead of cursing thoughts. Also I got a new coat and realized for the first winter ever that perhaps my former coats just weren't warm enough. Freezing every time I got out most likely took some wind out of my winter sails. But this winter I was never horribly cold. Thank you God for my new coat. I didn't even know I needed one, it just kind of happened.

23)- Read Deuteronomy and the Psalms. Status: I did well until I went to Arkansas in October. Then I got all sloppy spiritually and haven't recovered.

24)- Actively participate in my new book club. Status: The book club fizzled.

25)- Practice thinking about what I'm thinking about. Meaning, clean up my thought life. Status: In the areas I had in mind when I set that goal, I had a lot of victory. Other areas became a problem. I learned some strategies that helped me.

26) Join Weight Watchers. Status: I did it and had 2 very successful months and lost 11.6 pounds. Summer came, I got busy and quit and subsequently regained the weight.

27) Volunteer at a Seniors' Home with Deborah and Hannah. Status: Probably the best goal I had all year. We go every Saturday and LOVE it.

28) Phone my daddy more often. Status: I didn't do too well here. I seriously have a telephone problem as any of my loved ones will attest to. I hate that about myself, apparently I hate the telephone more though.

30) Don't buy junk food, ever. Status: Right after Christmas is a really awful time to assess that one. Seems I did horribly right now. Generally speaking, I don't buy junk food. However when I do, you can be darn sure I eat it with enthusiasm.

2009 ended with me a bit melancholy and blue. I was dreading this assessment of my 2009 goals, dreading seeing all the failures. But having just reviewed the list, I'm not as discouraged as I thought I'd be. I had some successes, quite a few actually. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I had some success and need to focus on the donut instead of the hole. (In light of the previous paragraph, I guess that's a silly pun.)

Soon I'll be writing out my goals for 2010. I'm looking forward to really figuring out what I want from 2010. I haven't got my head around it yet though. But it's coming. Stay tuned.

For my thoughts on baby steps and how they have helped me so much, read this.

‘Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.’ ~ Spanish Proverb

‘It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.’ ~ Confucius

2009 christmas letter

December 2009

Merry Christmas from the Gordon Dykstra Family! I say this every year, but it bears repeating: I love this time of year and one of the things that make it special is hearing from you and learning how the year was for you. We’re not the greatest at keeping in close contact with our friends, but I try to connect at least once a year just to communicate that we still think of you and love you. So, if you’re reading this letter, know you’re thought of and loved.

You may recall that we moved out of Edmonton to St. Albert (a “bedroom community” of Edmonton) last year. 2009 was our first full year here and it was delightful. We rode bikes all over town in the spring and summer; school, church, library, farmers’ market, shopping and the like. Lovely! We’re about three blocks from the girls’ school, which too is a grand bonus.

Gordon and girls

Gordon is still with xxxxx in the Business Development Department, working with xxxx programs. Amazingly, he’s been with xxxx for 12 years now. I don’t get to see him “work” but reading between the lines, I think he’s pretty dang good at his job. He’s my hero and I love him more as the years pass. He’s into electronic and technological gadgets that give me a headache just thinking about. He is a landlord, since we kept our house in Edmonton and have rented it out, and he is a voracious reader. He takes the occasional course as well – the latest one was on “change management”, in the spring it was “project management”. He also taught Sunday School for a few months this year, finishing up the 2008-09 year, but took a break this fall after teaching the class for two years.

This summer we didn’t do a typical family vacation. We went to Family Camp with Gordon’s siblings and their families. Gordon and the girls thoroughly enjoyed the week – definitely the highlight of their year.

My big holiday was three weeks in Arkansas in October. I have a new grand-daughter and I went to make her acquaintance. Avery Claire and I got along famously. Many folks say she looks like me and I’m honored. Roman is such a sweet big brother and I loved being with these precious grandbabies. Stephanie and John Mark are loving, committed parents and I’m so grateful. Stephanie is a stay-at-home mom and I affirm that commitment with everything in me. She and John Mark refresh my spirit.

Chirs and val

Christopher will soon be 21. He’s tall and handsome and gentle as ever. He works for The xxxx, a company that’s located at airports nationwide. He didn’t go to school this past term but hopefully he’ll be back in full swing in January. He is living in Fayetteville in Northern Arkansas, not too far from Stephanie.


Rachael is 14 and a lovely independent soul, but a totally different ball of wax than I’ve ever dealt with. She’s a lot like her dad, a heart of gold but doesn’t worry much about what others think. It can be both beautiful and scary in the same day. I often find myself staring at her with my mouth agape wondering “huh?”. (Something I do regularly with Gordon, too). J Fortunately, Gordon is familiar with a lot of her ways, as he was similar as a teenager. She’s delightful, but tee-totally off the scale as to what I’m familiar with. She’s really into art and music. She has a paper route and works hard on it. She bought a cell phone recently and spends a great deal of time texting friends. (Grrr) She finally got her braces off this year and has a lovely non-metallic smile.


Hannah is 13, goofy, meticulous, and artsy. She has more expendable cash than her parents. A few days ago, she mentioned something she wanted. I asked her why she didn’t buy it and she said, “Well if I bought it, then I’d just have $300 left.” She’s amazing with money. She bought a horse this year. She makes $40/month payment to her Uncle Trent for Grapes. (Grape Expectations is a retired racehorse). Hannah loves her once-a-month weekends at Uncle Trent and Aunt Joanne’s working with the horses, and we're grateful they’ve given her this opportunity. She too has a paper route. She applied herself well this year in school and made the honor roll.


Deborah is our musical child and I’m so glad we got one of those. We love to hear her play. She has a paper route too, but since she’s only 10, either Gordon or I help her. She’s quite unlike Hannah in the way she handles her finances. When she has money, she can hardly rest till it’s all spent. She loves to buy treats and have “parties” for friends and family and will be happy to help with groceries or buy supper to get rid of cash. It’s sweet in many ways, but in other ways I hope she outgrows that tendency. She’s the sweet and polite child that makes us look like good parents. Every parent needs one of those.

I recently started a new job as a bookkeeper/payroll clerk. I’m learning lots and enjoying it, but being stretched. I’m thankful for the job, as it’s a good one. I love going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week; blogging, which I’ve been dreadfully negligent in since I started my new job. ( www.valeriedykstra.com ) I’m also a Tumblr fiend. Tumblr is where I put pictures of things that make me smile. It’s mostly pictures of animals, scenery, crafts that inspire me and things like that, www.valeriedykstra.tumblr.com. The girls and I still volunteer at a seniors’ home of Saturdays, playing games with the residents with Alzheimer’s (whom we’ve grown to love); I love volunteering at the women’s prison where I teach journaling, but it’s also very exhausting. And I read lots, matter of fact, we all read lots.

As I write this, the snow is drifting down steadily and we’ve shoveled the walks three times today. It’s finally looking like Christmas around here. Inside it’s cozy and warm and the air is thick with anticipation. We hope the same good spirit is in your home. May you’re season be delightfully full of peace, love and joy. God’s blessings to you all.

With Love,

 The Gordon Dykstra Family


weather and such

Thermometer in dec 09

This is the thermometer outside my kitchen window and this is what she looks like right now. Two nights ago Edmonton was the second coldest spot on the earth -- a chilly -47 degrees. With the windchill it was -56. Somewhere in Siberia was -48, giving it the #1 coldest title.

One thing I love about Canada is how the weather makes us strong. Seriously, Canadians are tough. It was -40 yesterday and church was about as full as always; people still shovel their sidewalks; still drive; still go shopping; the kids still walk to school, . . . The necessity to carry on makes Canadians strong and I love that.

Here are a couple photos of my backyard this morning. While I was out there to take a picture of the thermometer, I snapped some backyard scenes.

Snow chairs  

2009 dec misc 009


stacie, hammin' it up

Life has had me by the tail ever since I got home from Arkansas and I've not captured many of my memories from the trip. I told about the photo shoot my sibs and I had with my dad. Before we had the opportunity to have a group picture made, my hammy sister, Stacie, captivated all the cameras. She is a ham-dinger. I wish I'd gotten a little more of that gene, but I didn't so I just get to enjoy her.
 Stacie hamming

Stacie hamming while we wait 

She is so funny and entertaining. I lub' 'er lots.
As you can see in these pictures, she put on a show. So unintimidated, acting like a teenager getting her picture made. As you can also see in the pictures, we were all waiting for her to finish the production.



michael, the farmer

I've been gone. I was negligent. I was overwhelmed. But I'm back, with bells on. Well, not really, but you get the idea.

Life is good. My new job schedule is starting to gel and I'm getting the hang of my work. I told Gordon that until my probation is up (3 months) I'm going to be afraid of the boss saying, "this just isn't working." It's never happened before, but this job is the closest thing to feeling out of my league that I've ever had. (That, of course, doesn't count the cake decorating stint where being fired would have been just too cool.)

You know how I get all reflective and spend a lot of time navel gazing as each year closes, right? Well, this week I've been thinking about the year and its blessings. I've had a number of blessings this year, but right now I want to hone in on my brother's heart surgery. Michael had a 7-bypass open-heart surgery and came through with flying colors. I am grateful beyond words. Thanks be to God, he's better than he's been in years. That is the single best thing about 2009 for me.


Michael's my only brother and I love, love, love being around him. When all the siblings and my dad were at Michael and Lawana's in October, we decided to take some pictures. While Michael went to change shirts the rest of us went outside to hash out ideas on where to take some pictures. While we're chattin' it up, Michael walked out with an expression of "ok, let's get this over with." However, he had his sweat-shorts pulled up to to his chest. We all knew he was goofing off, trying to make us think he really planned on having his picture taken looking so ridiculous. And ridiculous just doesn't sum it up accurately. His shorts were up so high, well, I just can't describe it. But it was darn near vulgar. I started trying to take a picture of him, but in my hysterical laughing, I couldn't figure out the camera. So I got a couple shots, but by then, the shorts were already sliding down. If my fingers had been more nimble, even just two seconds earlier, you could have seen it yourself.

Michael, although he's usually the life of the party, is still mildly anti-social. When he first got on Facebook, I was both surprised and excited, thinking we'd "talk" more. That hasn't really materialized. While in Arkansas I asked him if he ever got on Facebook and he said he goes on Farmville. I've never been on Farmville so I know little about it, except it's wildly popular. (I have plenty of vices on the web, but Farmville isn't one of them). I asked what he does on Farmville and he said a simple, "I farm."

He sounded like a little boy with a toy farm. He replied to my laughing with, "you may laugh, but I have a million bucks saved." I realized he had a little addiction to Farmville at that point and I think I may have sat with my mouth open for a few seconds. Lawana chimed in by saying, "It's true, Valerie. We work all day and then come home and farm all night."

Later my sister Diane told me that once Michael phoned home to remind Lawana to water the garden (that would be the Farmville garden) because he'd forgotten. Michael and Farmville. I never would have guessed they'd be so close.

I asked lots of questions about the surgery and saw the scar that you could drive a small car through. He told me he'd been having some problems for a long time. He'd told the doctor about his acid reflux getting worse and worse and the doctor kept prescribing new acid reflux meds. He said it was really cool that he had that relationship with the doc -- he'd tell the doctor the problem and the doc would prescribe the medicine he needed. Michael said, "only trouble is, I misdiagnosed."

So today, I'm smiling at some of my brother's cute ways, even laughing a few times. And especially, I'm again saying a thank you to God for taking him through his heart surgery safely.

Daddy and sibs

new job

Avery and beppie's hands 

Avery and Beppie, holding hands. Oct 2009


I have a new bookkeeping job and it's been nearly 20 years since I did the bookkeeping thing. So, think tension. 

But on a lighter note,... Do we all hate job hunting? I'm assuming we do. I do. I hate nearly everything about job hunting, so I'm very thankful that I got the first job I interviewed for. For this interview, I wasn't well prepared. I got home from Arkansas at 3:30 am and had this interview at 10 am. I felt rushed and ill-prepared.

While I was in Arkansas, my sister, Diane, and I were sharing funnies and agreed that we both get a real kick out of thinking "what might have been". For example, we imagine how funny something would have been if someone had said such and such during such and such time. We shared potential funny stories, but to us they were already funny because they were playing like real life in our minds. I had one of those "what might have been" funny scenarios running through my brain during my interview.

I was Ill-prepared, like I said. I had not mentally prepared for possible questions and their brilliant answers. I was totally flying by the seat of my pants. Then interviewer (now boss) asked me to name my strengths. Putting my most poised foot forward, I nervously began to list them. And list them. And list them some more. If there was another flattering word in the English language, it escaped me.

Then she asked about my greatest weakness. This very question tripped me up the last time I had an interview and I made a mental note to rehearse my answer for my next interview. Forgot I'd made that mental note, so I stammered and stuttered trying to answer coherently. I have plenty of weaknesses, but most of them don't really pertain to the job setting. Sure I could have told her about my flossing negligence, about the people I dislike and how it's their issue not my own. I could have told her about my cooking abilities, how they seem to be digressing with age. Or about that gunky-buildup on the floor around the toilets. I could have told her I eat too much and sleep too much. In real life, I'm quick to admit that I abhor the telephone, but that probably isn't the right thing to admit in a job interview.

I stammered a bit and then had a flash of what-might-have-been humor. I imagined a scene that would fit with Bill Murray in What About Bob?.

After losing my breath telling my bajillion strengths, to her "tell me your greatest weakness," I imagined myself deflated-ly and in somber seriousness saying, "self-loathing."

I still chuckle when I imagine that scene that never happened.

So Valerie, tell me some of your greatest strengths.

I'd be happy to. Blah blah blah blah... I'm really good at blah blah blah blah. ... Repeatedly I've been told I'm amazing at blah blah blah blah. I take great pride in blah blah blah blah. I should probably mention, blah blah blah...

And your greatest weakness?...

Self loathing.


You're probably wondering what I really answered and I honestly can't remember, except that it was stupid. It was so stupid that I might as well have said how repulsed I am by KFC's greasy chicken. My answer had nothing to do with anything. While I was saying it, I was thinking, this is so stupid and that's the part I remember, not what I really said.

It's a stretch trying to tell a story that only happened in my head. But maybe I told it well enough that at least Diane will get it, since she shares the same propensity to imagine what would be funny if all the stars lined up just so.

Bottom line for this post: New job, very thankful.

fall photo collage


2009 fall collage

Click on the collage to see it larger. It's impressive. :-)
You probably haven't noticed, but the 2009 photo challenge Year in Color has fallen out of fashion. So in the absence of directives from a professional photographer, I have been on the prowl for my own little lovelies.

I enjoyed the search for fall beauties, and they certainly were abundant. A good many of the pictures in this set were taken while Avery and I walked the countryside. Oh, what a special time that was.

roman, the main man

It was wonderful to see Romie Boy again. I was a little "too present" for his comfort, especially in the beginning. He liked me in small doses but would be overcome with rudeness when he got up in the morning and I was still there. He took his time warming up to me, but he finally did. Not before I'd said, "well that little t-u-r-d," a few times though. I said this rude comment when he countered my, "Good Morning, Roman" with "Umph," which I interpreted as "Get outta my house."

Roman and quilt 
This picture was made on my first evening there. He liked the I Spy quilt I made for him and really got into the game. It kept him occupied for quite a while.

Romie and quilt 

On my second morning there, he came into the living room where I was sitting with his quilt draped over my legs. He rushed at me, grabbed his quilt and gave me a royal "Umph."

Roman 1
Roman finally warmed up to me, but not until I'd invested a bit of time. He loved playing outside, going for walks, and feeding the ducks with Beppie. I eventually became a friend.

Romie and beppie outside
Roman loves playing in his backyard and he and his daddy do it lots. But in a pinch, when Daddy wasn't around, Beppie could fill in. (I have several pictures from this little outing. When Rachael looked at them she said, "You're so pulling a dad-moment with those black socks and white runners.") Rudies (that's Dykstra-ese for "rude ones") abound in my life. :-)

Roman and avery 1 

Roman is a loving brother to Avery. I never saw any jealousy or ill-will, just love and affection. On my first morning there, I took Avery out to the porch swing. Roman started crying "Baby, Baby". It was kind of heartbreaking that he was afraid I was taking his baby.

Once when Avery was starting to fuss in her swing, Roman ran to the swing, dug around Avery and found her pacifier. He put it in her mouth and tucked her blanket back around her. Avery stopped crying and Roman beamed. It was precious.

Roman in wagon 

Roman loves the outdoors and loved when we did outdoorsy things. This wagon ride was a bonding moment for us.


Roman is just 2 years old. But he can spell his name and knows many letters of the alphabet by sight. I'm pretty sure there's a college scholarship in his future.

Roman putting his animals in a circle

When I left him this past Sunday, this is what he was doing; lining up his little animals in a nice clean circle or straight line. Then we drove off, and he cried, "Beppie, Beppie." I cried. And I just cried again as I typed that.

lil' miss avery claire

Howdy Y'all.

I got home Monday morning after a glorious little holiday to Arkansas -- where I met my first granddaughter Avery. Needless to say, she stole my heart with her sweetness. She kind of liked me, too.

In grandmotherly fashion, I have a few pictures to share.

Avery and quilt
I'm the first to admit this little picture isn't the hottest, but it captures Avery on the rag quilt I made her. Truthfully, she didn't seem too awed by the quilt, but maybe one has to be older than 6 or 9 weeks to fully appreciate it. You reckon?

 One of avery's first smiles

Avery was considerate to reserve her first smiles for Beppie. She knew I came a long way to see her and she wanted to say thank you in her own special way. Her first smile was for Beppie. I love her considerate nature. 

Princess ave full body

Stephanie and John Mark had their 4th Annual Laney Harvest Party a few weeks ago. Avery was the resident Princess, all dolled-up and adorablish.

 Avery smiling at beppie 
As in the above smiling picture, Avery is smiling for Beppie here, too. Isn't she precious?

Here is a 5 Generation picture that we made at Memaw's house. Aren't we blessed to still have a Memaw and a Mimi?

Meeting Avery was the biggest highlight of the trip, but truthfully there were numerous highlights. Stay tuned and you'll be privy to a few more.


little miss avery's rag quilt

Quilt 1


A rag quilt is super forgiving. If you want to try quilting, this is a great type to begin with. Precision is optional {smiles} and that's a whole lot of freedom that most quilts don't allow.

Cut 35 seven-inch squares of adorablish fabrics. I used flannel.

Cut 35 seven-inch squares for the filling. I used flannel.

Cut 35 seven-inch squares for the backing. Guess what?, I used flannel.

Cutting the squares is the most laborious part of this quilt. Once the squares are cut, it moves very quickly.



Put a top, middle and bottom layer together, like a sandwich. Stitch an X over them. Do that 35 times.











Arrange the squares to make a design/pattern/statement you like.

Shoo the dogs off over and over.










Once you've found a statement you like, sew the squares together in rows with the seam side up. Sew the rows together.

Then add your border, if you want one. Many rag quilts don't have borders and look beautiful.

I forgot to capture a picture of snipping the seams. Once you've got your quilt sewn together, have fun snipping seams for a couple hours. By "snipping seams" I mean cutting little lines in the excess beyond the seam. Do not literally snip any seams.

After snipping seams, throw the quilt in the washing machine and wash it, maybe even two or three times.


Presto! When you take it out of the dryer, your snipped seams will be ragged looking (hence, the name, rag quilt).

Doesn't this look fitting for precious little Avery?






Here's a view of the backing.





And a little closer up...

(My camera is on the edge of dying and my pics aren't as clear as I'd like.)


This was fun to make, and seriously, anyone could do it and have a lovely little quilt in the end.

My regret on this quilt is making it three layers instead of two. Three layers would be fitting if she lived in my neck of the woods. Two layers would suit her environment better. Avery's quilt is a little heavier than I anticipated.



This is my little love quilt to Avery who I meet in less than 48 hours. I can't wait to snuggle with her, feel her warm thick body, and teach her to say "Beppie". She's almost a month old, ya know,  and quite bright.

I crave holding her like you wouldn't believe.

Who in their right mind wouldn't crave holding this little bundle of preciousness?


thursday thirteen

Curious cat

 Hello Fine Folks. I've been away. Not really away, just away. You know, here but not here. That's clear enough, eh?

So here's some random info about my being away.

1) Last week I was sicker than a dog. Remember when I was terrifically sick in February and nearly threw up my toenails? We'll I got that "bug" again. Nearly died, was sure it was the end. Even had the kids convinced my liver was shutting down. That was between heaves when I was trying to garner sympathy. I asked if my eyes looked yellow, because it looked like my skin was yellow to me, and Rachael answered that yes, my eyes looked yellow. To which I replied, "Figures. Now my liver is shutting down."

2. This time I had a huge mental breakthrough (you thought I was going to say breakdown, didn't you?) after I got well. I realized, and later confirmed, that this "bug" and the one in February was really a reaction to an antibiotic. Now before you think I'm slow for taking so long to figure that out, let me assure you it crossed my mind. Between heaves, I crawled to the trash can four times to read that list of possible side effects from the antibiotic I was on. Never once did it mention, "may lead to vomitting up one's soul". For that matter, it didn't even say vomiting was a possible side effect. So I dismissed the idea that the antibiotics and the sickness were connected.

3. When I got back to work a couple days later, I looked up when I took those sick days in February and then called the pharmacist to see when I was on those antibiotics last. BINGO! It all lined up. Now I know my body detests the little black and white capsule from hell. You can be darn sure I won't be taking them ever again. Thanks for letting me share that little horror in my life.


4. It's been my busy season at work. Last night was the big FEAST and I'm happy-to-giddy it's over. This is a picture of the big gala last night. It's a $100-a-plate-do, which I'd never attend if I wasn't an employee who actually works at the event. I'm so so so happy it's over. If you listen closely, no doubt, you'll hear me humming a happy tune.

5. Do you see the cat picture up above? I chose that cat specially for this little tidbit. Doesn't the cat look curious? I certainly think so and it reminds me of me and here's why:  You won't believe what/who I met last night. A real live dominatrix. She looked like Morticia Munster, only not nearly as pretty.

6. I'd heard of dominitrixes, but I'd never given their profession much thought, except thinking how dark it is. So last night after learning of this lady's profession, I swear I must have looked like that cat above. I caught myself staring at her with my mouth agape imagining her doing her thing. I just couldn't make the picture in my head work, which probably is a good thing, but that didn't stop me from trying.

7. Now I can't get that profession out of my head and am amazed (in the negative sense) that people actually do this kind of work and people actually pay to get beaten. As Hurley would so accurately say, "That's messed up."

8. And still after points 5,6,&7, I still can't shake it. I'm still looking a bit like that cat. Curious, alarmed, curious, aghast, curious, disturbed, curious, sickened... You get the idea.

9. Lucy is coming home for good. I'm happy to have my favorite mutt home. She'll bring all the fur needed to build a dog every other day. Yep, the shedding is the down-side, but I swear my Lucy has the best personality of any pooch anywhere. I can't wait to hear her groans of ecstasy as I rub behind her ears.

10. Seriously, can you believe people pay to get whipped?

11. I'm working on Baby Avery a quilt, a little quilt and an easy quilt, as far as quilts go. I'm hoping I get it done before I leave for Arkansas. It's 50-50; I may finish it, I may not.

12. My leave of absense at work starts October 1 and I head south to see the southern family on October 2. I'm so, so excited about it.

13. Get whipped and get sexual pleasure? That is so messed up. If there is anyone reading this that "gets" that, I don't even want to know.


i spy with my little eye quilt




First, cut lots of squares out of cool fabrics.


Carefully and with much love, sew fabric squares into long rows.



With lots of sweet memories and grandmotherly affection, sew the rows together. Iron after each row, thinking "whazat?" as you do.


Enjoying the process and hoping for lots of good memories to be made, admire the work thus far.


Carefully lay the quilt top on the dining table for all the family to gather around and play I Spy With My Little Eye

... a hot dog

... Ronald McDonald

... children building a snowman




... and whatever you do, don't overlook that Arkansas Razorback.

7 Enlist the help of Trudy, the quilting diva, to make sure it turns out just right. Back the quilt in Uncle Christopher's football pajama pant fabric. (Sorry I never got those pj's to you, Son.)


Trim the quilt in plaid fabric that was originally purchased to make a suit for newborn Roman. (Sorry about never getting that suit to you Romie Boy.)


Finally, fold the quilt with much joy and satisfaction knowing it's ready to make some memories, Beppie-and-Romie Boy style.

PS I spy with my little eye ...

a grand piano ...

a green gecko ...

a swing in an apple tree...


I know you're super curious what Avery looks like today. Well, it just so happens that I have a few pictures. I can almost feel her, hear her, and smell her sweetness. Especially when she yawns; I can hear that yawny grunt. Can you hear it?Avery 4 Avery 3 Avery 2 Avery 1

Thanks for oowing and awwhing with me. She's beautiful, isn't she?

white limo day

Yesterday, Grant (Gordon's brother) and Char had a group of people to their house. This get-together was a sort of "thank-you lunch" for those that helped them in their recent move.

After lunch we had a most unusual surprise. A limo showed up to take the kids for a ride. Grant is phenomenally gifted with coming up with who-woulda-thunk-it entertainment/gift ideas; this is just one example.

The limo carries 16, so we hauled in and went for a little cruise - all the children and five adults. These are some pictures from the ride.

Debs getting in limo

That's Deborah getting in.




This is our neice Sela, Jo's daughter.

Rachael in limo


Debs in limo




Deborah, a bit goofy.

Eric in limo

Our nephew Eric (Jo's second son), thoughtfully watching Edmonton go by.

White limo

It was a fun memory-maker. I wish I could have captured pictures of all the kids, but my seat in the limo didn't lend itself to that.

Did you go for a limo ride this weekend? :-)

thursday thirteen re avery and roman

 Avery claire2 1. I have a new grand-daughter and can hardly wait to meet her. Avery Claire was born on September 1 and weighed 8.4. She is beautiful and perfectly charming -- all babies related to me are.

2. I will be with Avery and Romie Boy all of October. Isn't that special? I can't wait to play I Spy, have a picnic, bake cookies and go for walks with Roman. We will have so much good bonding time, because that's what Beppies do.

3. I can't wait to hold Avery and sit with her in the porch swing. She'll be one month old and plenty old enough to think I'm the softest Beppie going.

4. Roman was traumatized (in Beppie's sense of the word) in a church nursery recently. Not his church's nursery, but another one. Now he's afraid of his old fun, familiar nursery.

5. I'd like to visit the nursery-worker that traumatized him and give her a piece of my mind. Because I'm mature and grandmotherly, I'd weigh my words really carefully. I'd say something like, "I'm Roman's Beppie," and then I'd kick her really hard in the shin.Stephanie and avery  

6. But I won't be visiting her. And she can keep the shin guards at home.

7. Every day I'm getting closer to finishing Roman's I-Spy-With-My-Little-Eye quilt. I have to say it's not very pretty, but I'm hoping it'll be very fun.

8. Hannah's bedroom is right next door to my sewing room. We meet in the sewing room nearly every night to play like we're playing with Roman.

I spy with my little eye a donkey dressed up all snazzy-like.

I spy with my little eye a monkey with an umbrella.

I spy with my little eye a puppy.

If everything goes according to plan, this quilt will be Roman's forever-attachment to Beppie and give him hours and hours of fun. Lordy, I hope. I'll be sorely disappointed if he's not interested in I Spy with My Little Eye.

9. But I would never kick him in the shins.

10. It's been a long time since I saw Roman. The last time I saw him he was in the "whazat?" stage. He's long past that, but in our minds he's still there. In mine and Hannah's evening I Spy game, we always point at something and whisper, "whazat?".

11. Roman is very loved.

12. He talks in his sleep. Isn't that cute?

13.  He loves Madagascar, the movie. He laughs in all the right spots. They went to the zoo on Sunday and instead of calling the zebra a zebra, he called him Marty.

I know I'm going past 13, but it's Roman...

Roman and jm 14. Often when I'm talking to Stephanie on the phone, I'll hear John Mark and Roman playing and laughing in the background. I love John Mark for that. I really, really love him for that.

15. Today at the hospital a nurse took Avery away to take her blood. Roman cried and said, "No, no!" to her.

16. The first time he saw Avery he touched and patted her and rubbed his chubby little fingers on her head and said, "tickle tickle."

17. That sweetness is almost too much for this Beppie to contain in her heart. It makes my eyes leak.

2009 red challenge

My creation
Originally uploaded by valeriedykstra

I'm a month behind on my photo challenge. July was red month and I'm just now doing it. It's just four photos which officially classifies me as an underachiever.

To my credit, on something totally unrelated to photography, please notice the red poinsettia leaf. I have kept that baby alive since last November. Does that make me a green thumb? I kill everything that lives in dirt if it's in my house. This poinsettia is the exception. Cool, eh?

rachael's "new" bedroom

We finally finished Rachael's bedroom. I was out of "the zone" on this one, biting my nails hoping she'd like it. She does. She actually quite loves it.
Copy (1) of 001The "MUSIC" painting above the window was a labor of love from her daddy. She had drawn it in pencil. Instead of painting over it, like I would have done, Gordon carefully painted it. He's so sweet and thoughtful that way.

She saw this tree dilly at IKEA and thought it was pretty sweet. It's the one decoration in her room that I kind of dig. The rest, not too much.

Rachael is forever writing and drawing on her walls. Hence, the chalkboard. Most people do the chalkboard paint for their toddlers. We did it for one of the teenagers....


And these lovely (not) pieces015 of art, Rachael chose herself. They are stairs -- it took me a while to figure that out. She loves them, I think their mildly ridiculous and not-so-mildly ugly.

As for the masks, Rachael is kind of into masks. Yuk.

 Used chalkboard

And this is her chalkboard a few days after it cured. This is going to be fun.

Rachael, do your homework first.

Clean this pigsty.

You should speak nicely to me -- some day I'll die and you'll be racked with regret.

But of course I'll also leave notes with Bible verses and Robert Munch poetry. After all, that's what well-adjusted good moms do.

I think we're all going to like the chalkboard.

he has a nice voice

Yesterday I had a rare treat. Gordon called me at work just to chat. Because I don't often get calls from him, I was mildly disoriented.

V: "Gordon?"

G: "Yeah, I thought I'd call and to say hi."

V: "Awhh. How sweet! You have such a nice voice. If you weren't my husband I'd try to seduce you."

G: "If you weren't my wife I'd fall in love with you."


thursday thirteen

This is one of the ladies we work with at the Seniors' Home. When I get old I plan to wear a worn out cowboy hat and sit like this. 

Old lady  1. Rachael is at camp. That means two less eyes are rolling whenever I say something. I do miss the little dear though.

  2. As you may have guessed, while she's gone we're re-doing her room. Her room style is not in my zone so it's a tough project for me.

  3. I'll post pictures of her room as soon as it's finished.

  4. 90% of American currency has traces of cocaine. In some urban areas, 100% of the bills have traces of cocaine. That's this week's trivia for you.

5. That statistic only surprised me a little. At the prison when I was going through training I learned that I shouldn't freak out if my belongings show traces of cocaine. Evidently we come in contact with it more than we know.

6. Zany Hannah pulled another crazy imitation the other day. Out of nowhere she imitated how she thinks I would be if something happened to Gordon. With a whine and slurred speech, here's what she said (pretending to be me after Gordon's passing): Since Gordon's been gone it's just me and the pain killers. I'm telling you, this child is a little crazy.

7. I've decided to start making my way through the BBC's top 200 books. If you want to see the list, go here. Does anyone want to join me in this challenge? I've read about an eighth of them already and there are about 10 that I refuse to read. This week I started Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities.

8. Deborah and Hannah are both in love with their "new" bedrooms. I'm thrilled about that.

9. I've gotten up early the past two mornings to do a 9 kilometer bike ride. It's a good way to start the day, even if it is a relatively small ride (about 5 miles).

10. My tickets are purchased for my trip to Arkansas in October. I'm looking so forward to spending the month with Stephanie & John Mark, Christopher, Roman and Avery.

11. Hannah has been offered a horse. It will cost her about $40 a month. She loves horses and this is a remarkable opportunity for her. However $40 a month is no small thing for a (almost) 13-year-old. She's working the numbers every day trying to come up with a plan to make it work. If it works out, I'll let you know. It will be cool to have a horse in the family.

12. The girls are all riding 25 kilometers in Bike for God next Saturday. Bike for God supports Operation Christmas Child (the shoeboxes). Please consider supporting them.We gladly accept PayPal donations and my paypal account is my email address. Please give, even if it's only $5. Thank you.

13. Things are pretty busy around here. Thanks for being patient with me as I'm pretty well only posting Thursday Thirteens.

update on 2009 goals

I am well aware that this post is boring. Please overlook the boredom and try to appreciate that by posting this in such a public place I hold myself accountable and have a good record of my progress.

1)- Give up fiction for January and Lent. Accomplished, with some blips during Lent.

2)- Give blood 4 times. Have given blood three times thus far.

3)- Clean up my recycling act. (My recycling has suffered since moving to a town that doesn't have the awesome recycling program Edmonton has.) Accomplished. My town cleaned up their own recycling act and now has curbside recycling. Yes!

4)- Work towards running 10K. (This is my loftiest goal of the year.) I didn't do too poorly while I worked on this goal, but I changed the goal once I got my new bike. Now I'm concentrating on biking instead of running. I bike lots, I even got up early for a 9 km ride this morning.

5)- Keep laundry current. I'm doing well.

6)- Keep bathroom floors clean. My bathroom floors are sickening, but I could do better.

7)- Keep up my Club Fit regimen and continue to intensify it. During July and August I've not gone to the gym but that is only because I'd have to leave the kids to go. I've remained active, mostly biking, without the use of the gym. I'm looking forward to going back to the gym when school starts again.

8)- Buy a new carbon steel paddle for dragon boating. Purchased.

9)- Buy a new PFD for dragon boating. Purchased.

10)- Get fence fixed. Fixed by the darling husband. :-)

11)- Drop melaleuca. Done.

12)- Lower grocery budget by $25 a pay period. Doing this most of the time, but not always.

13)- Work on Christmas Child Shoeboxes throughout the year. Doing pretty well. Could do better.

14)- Vacuum at least once a week. Most weeks are successful.

15)- Get to know new neighbors. We're not going on vacations together or anything radical like that, but we can chat it up a little in the yard.

16)- Build a website. This site is it. It's not as grand as I'd hoped, but it serves the purpose and is kind of cute too.

17)- Take swimming lessons. Did this.

18)- Take square dancing lessons. (Don't laugh at me.) Nothing so far. Maybe come fall this will happen. However, since I'll be gone in October, maybe it won't.

19)- Blog more steadily; pace better. I'm thinking Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I'm steady, but not that steady.

20)- Lose 20 pounds. Ouch. It's August and I've only lost 5 pounds.

21)- Improve photography skills. Play along with Mindi's challenges. I think I'm getting better.

22)- Embrace winter. I think I did well. We'll go again in a few months so I'll see how I do then.

23)- Read Deuteronomy and the Psalms. Summer is hard on my Bible reading. But until summer came, I was doing well.

24)- Actively participate in my new book club. Have done this.

25)- Practice thinking about what I'm thinking about. Meaning, clean up my thought life. I've improved. Plenty of room for more improvement though.

26) Join Weight Watchers. I joined and went for two months. I found $16.50 a week to be a little steep. Perhaps I'll go again, but I'm not sure.

27) Volunteer at a Seniors' Home with Deborah and Hannah. Every Saturday we go and in July we did Wednesday too.

28) Phone my daddy more often. Our relationship is far from the traditional father/daughter type. But I love him and don't want him to doubt that. I'm not doing very well here. In fact I'm doing quite poorly.

30) Don't buy junk food, ever. I don't buy junk food often but when I do I make it worth my effort. I'm going to give it up. :-) I don't buy a lot, but I buy some occasionally. Could improve a lot.