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New Year, but not much new…

2 Jan

It seems to me that whenever I physically cannot blog, I have inspiration coming out my ears.  However, on days like today, when I am home and alone and my house is tidy and no tv is worth watching and my husband is off cutting a cow into teeny tiny 1 lb pieces, I find myself bereft of creative thought.  Go figure.

I could regale you with tales of my holidays and new years resolutions and how great our new Zipfys are, but to paraphrase my friend Joan, “I just want to move on”.

But!  A slight recap:  we had a few friends over on Christmas Eve and spent the evening eating, drinking “Moose milk” and laughing hysterically over small children trying to play Pictionary.

Holly's wreath- pretty good eh?

That’s my king behind it which Bruce later used to draw “Good King Wenceslas”.  True story.

Next morning we woke up, opened gifts…

Giggly over stockings

… and drove 5 hours to visit Bruce’s mom.  We then left early in the morning to have Christmas morning with the extended family (as per usual).  We entertained the girls in the car on the way there with a lengthy and informative dissertation on the differences between towns, counties, cities and metropolises.  I am married to a Planner.  We also learned interesting words like “arch”.  As in, that bridge has a beautiful arch.  And where the Raptors and Leafs “live”.  And any viewing of the CN Tower must ALWAYS be accompanied by trivia pertaining to how many stairs it has (1776) and why there are no buildings between the Rogers Center and the Lake.  Ah… good times.

Christmas was wonderful with delicious food, good company, and well-behaved children.  It was hard even noticing them, since they spent the better part of 4 hours playing quietly with their new Playmobil sets!

We asked Holly to take a picture of us... sorry Uncle John!

Bruce with his Uncle and Bronwyn. One of my favourite pics.

Grandpa with Josselyn- an unlikely pair... but inseparable nonetheless!

Joss chillaxing with Uncle Eric... or is that Clark Kent?

Joss' other newest best buddy, Penny

They were curious about what was going on in the basement, but not quite brave enough to go down and find out...

Joss and Penny wouldn’t venture downstairs.  But there were others who seemed brave enough… to handle THIS:


I know.  Scary.  But it is a tradition as carved in stone as Butternut Squash soup for supper.  Taken seriously by all those whose last name is Howarth, or was Howarth at any time…

For the record, this is the first year that I haven’t been allowed to play HIPPOPOTAMUS.  Last year they shortened it to HIPPO.  And now I am considered (if not quite good enough, at least not bad enough) adequate to play without handicap.  Although Bruce is still considerate enough to allow me to follow him so at least I get a good paddle drop KAROLYN!

There is always a lot of laughter:

And a lot of blame…

PIG is important to Witherses too

But only one winner:

Eric! Get out of the picture!

Winner Christmas 2011: Karolyn Howarth-Withers!

This “recap” took more time and space than I expected.  Christmas Part 2 to follow…


Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated

5 Dec

The Christmas Season is well upon us now.  And since we are officially past Holly’s birthday, with party and “day” under our belts, we can turn our attention to what’s really important: all the stuff we are going to receive in the next 4 weeks.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong.  We are very grateful and awed that so many people love our children enough to go to the effort of actually entering a store (going online), in the month of December (December 23rd) and handing over well earned cash (swiping their credit cards) to purchase an item they spent all year thinking about (called to ask what each girl wanted).

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  No really.  We love it.  Don’t stop…

It isn’t the types of toys that make me fear Christmas.  In fact, this year, it sounds as if the girls are going to have their best Christmas EVER (gift-wise anyway- the lack of snow situation is seriously worrying Bronwyn).  It isn’t even the quantity.  It is the gnawing, mind-devouring agony of the post-Christmas week going something like this:

G1:  That’s MINE.  I got it for Christmas.

G2:  But I was playing with it.

G1:  Well you can’t, cuz it’s MINE!

Me:  Just let your sister have it, she was playing with it, and you didn’t even care until you noticed.

G3:  Hey!  She has MY *thing*.

G1:  But you said you didn’t want it.

G3:  I did not.  I said I didn’t want to play with it now.  But now I do, so give it back.

G2:  How can I play *X* when she has all the pieces?

G1:  Well, *so and so* didn’t give you all those things, she gave them to ME.  And I want to play with them.  ALL.  Right now.

Starts crying

G1:  She HIT me.

Me:  I’d hit my sister too if she were being so selfish (in my head of course, I’d never say that out loud for real… ever… or anything….)

Me:  Don’t hit your sister.


Does this happen in anyone else’s house?  How do you deal with it?

Elaine and I can (now) fondly reminisce about our days sharing a room in the basement.  We actually (based on the Berenstein Bears’ book, I think) plastered masking tape down the middle of our bedroom floor.  My side had the door, so I made Elaine enter and exit our room through the backless closet door (which led into the laundry room).  We had to share a room, but that didn’t mean we had to share anything else.

I want my kids to grow up in a house where everything is communal property.  Not everything, of course.  They each have their “special” toys and keepsakes that they keep in their rooms, and have a 6th sense when someone else is even thinking about touching them.  But most things.  I want them to be able to open up the My Little Pony bin and play together without attaching ownership onto every comb and accessory.

I dream about a home where all the toys are there to share and be played with, instead of hoarded and purchased in 3-packs.

However, the more I poll my friends, and listen to their experiences, the more I fear this is a pipe dream.

Maybe kids are meant to covet ownership as a means to control their lives, and practice their negotiating skills.  Maybe this is a lost cause on my part: insisting on joint custody of every Barbie.

All I do know is that I can’t referee every fight and preside over every judicial hearing, or I will go crazy.

What do you think?

A Very Howarth Christmas (2010)

10 Jan

A video of the girls singing Jingle Bells on Christmas Eve 2010.  They are in their new Christmas pjs and are about to go to bed.

Merry Christmas Eve!

The Reason for the Season

24 Dec

This was my first year organizing the Christmas Concert at our church.  I have helped out in the past (usually behind my mom) but this year I was asked to do it at our current church.  I quickly proposed the idea that Mom and I had been hashing out for months, and the committee loved it.

Side note:  I swear that it was my idea, and my mom, with equal persistence, insists that she came up with this idea 20 years ago!  Needless to say, we both tackled our respective projects with determination, and both turned out well… but mine turned out better

The concept, for those of you who care about this sort of thing, was a slideshow of the Story of Christmas.  We took pictures of the Sunday School children, dressed up in costumes, and then someone photoshopped the images onto realistic backgrounds.  Another man wrote and directed a small play and we used the slideshow as a powerpoint to illustrate his words.  Then all the kids who were there on Sunday morning got up to the front and sang a few songs.

Simple.  Stress-reduced.  Captivating.

Oh, and beyond cute.

Holly was the star of the singing (if-I-do-say-so-myself).  She was by far the loudest child up there, and also front and center.  Should I mention she was one of the youngest?  She knew all the words and sang them from her heart.  I was so proud.

All the kids did very well, and I hope that they have a re-show of the slides on another morning so all the kids who were away will get to see themselves.

So, after all was said and done, Bronwyn came up to me: we had sang Away in a Manger (with the verse from Jeremiah duet) and Christmas is a Time to Love.

“Mommy, Christmas isn’t just about Love, you know”.

Visions of spoiled brats screaming that they hadn’t received enough presents were racing through my mind.  What else could I have done differently to promote the real reason for Christmas?  I explained that Santa was a fun story, but not a true story.  I told them all about Jesus in the Manger and how that really happened.  I explained all about how Christmas is a time for loving, and sharing what we have with others.  I emphasized that presents are nice to get, but that giving is more fun.  We shopped for and bought (or made) special presents to give each sister.  I only got the girls 3 things for Christmas (a book, a game, and pjs each).  We donated a pile of toys to goodwill, and we put change in the Salvation Army kettles whenever we could.  What else could I DO?!?!?

“Christmas is also about Jesus being born”.


“Where did you hear that?”

“My teacher told me”.

“Your Sunday School teacher?”


“Your Pioneer Club leader?”

“NO- my TEACHER, Mrs. Bell!”

So, kudos to you Mrs.  Bell.  You’ll likely never read this, but I am so pleased that you are using your influence on my child to back up what I have been telling her all along.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!