Christmas Smorgasbord

In honour of the last Friday before Christmas, and to make up for a few lacking posts, I present you with…

A Christmas Smorgasbord: A Delightful Mish-Mash of Christmas Whimsy

There will be pictures, videos and Field Notes scattered throughout this post.

Please enjoy responsibly.

Pictured: My father, my father’s beard, my oldest brother, my oldest brother’s glasses

The weirdest, yet incredibly catchy Christmas song I discovered this season:

Kid holding a piece of paper over his lap: “I’m wearing a MAN SKIRT.”

Pictured: My dear friend Andrea, myself, and our blue Christmas balls. Ahem.

Librarian reading a book about robots to the kids: I’m sorry. My robot voice is not very good.
T (in robot voice): THAT’S OK. WE WILL FORGIVE YOU.

Another teacher told me this one.

Her: So how do you think Santa gets all those presents?
Tr: He buys them online.

Found this in my bed, thus signifying the start of the Christmas season.

Me: We missed you when you were sick the other day. What did you do to get better?
R (picture Luna Lovegood, and you’ve got this little one): I drank lots of tea with honey and lemon.
Me: Oh yeah? What kind of tea?
R (wide eyes, huge smile): Camilla.

My parents’ reactions to “Make your best IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS! face.”

Playing giant rock paper scissors in gym class.

Boy: I still don’t get how paper beats rock.
Me: No one does.

E: Can you help me with my backpack? Not everything fits.
I help her, and fit everything in with no real struggles.
E: WHOA. Teacher magic!

Lyrics to my new favourite Christmas song by The Walla Recovery. You can listen to and download their Christmas EP for FREE here.

Come Ye Redeemed

Come ye redeemed of the Lord; your grateful tribute bring
And celebrate with one accord the birthday of our King

Yet us with humble hearts repair (faith will point out the road)
To little Bethlehem and there adore our infant God

In swaddling bands the savior view! Let none his weakness scorn!
The feeblest heart shall hell subdue where Jesus Christ is born

No pomp adorns, no sweets perfume where Jesus Christ is laid
A stable serves him for his room; a manger is his bed

The crowded inn, like sinners’ hearts (oh ignorance extreme)
For other guests, of various sorts, had room, but none for him

But see what different thoughts arise in our and angels’ breasts
To hail his birth they left the skies; we lodged him with the beasts

Yet let believers cease their fears, nor envy heavenly powers
If sinless innocence be theirs, redemption all is ours

I was going to add a little explanation to those lyrics, but I’m quite certain it sums it up quite eloquently. I pray that amidst the craziness, the fun, the sparkling lights, the presents and the food, that your heart leaves room to remember the baby that changed everything forever.

Merry Christmas!


This past weekend our young adults group went away on a retreat. You know the young adults group that meets in a skeezy country bar? Yes, that one. Forty four of us drove out to the country, packed into a lodge and spent some quality time together.

We laughed, we played, we learned, we prayed, we worshiped, we sang, and we ate. A lot.

I can’t possibly tell you everything about the weekend. I can tell you we played some icebreaker games so loud and intense, by the time I went to bed Friday night, my throat was sore and my voice was hoarse.

I can tell you that we did some scavenger hunting and my team (The Colonel Mustards)

annihilated the other teams even with a one minute penalty that we received because I decided to stand and chat with our guest speaker instead of run with my team (I’m not lazy…I’m RELATIONAL). I can tell you that the Nic[k]s lead worship with two acoustic guitars and blew the roof off of the place. I can tell you that Snuggies were worn. I can tell you we sat around a campfire and told fart stories. I can tell you that I had this silly look of glee plastered on my face the whole weekend.

I can tell you that our group is now very familiar with Tripp and Tyler videos. I can tell you that I heard some pretty phenomenal stories. I can tell you that Dave Mills is my new best friend. I can tell you that some of the attendees committed their lives to Christ. I can tell you that peoples’ lives were changed. Perspectives were shifted, including my own.

I can tell you that my generation struggles with identity. We don’t know who we are, we don’t know where we’re going and we don’t know what’s supposed to happen once we get there. We are lost, we are broken, we are desperately trying to figure all of this out. We look to people and things around us in an attempt to discover our identity, but we end up further lost and more broken. We don’t look for our identity in the right places.

What we need is a Saviour. We need to be scooped up and rescued. We need Him to come and get us. We need a Lord to be the leader of our lives and the director of our paths. When we finally see that our true identity is found in Christ alone, change will come.

It must.

It’s impossible to encounter Jesus and leave unchanged.

HalloWINNING*: Part 1

I am frustrated. In an attempt to blog my entire weekend, WordPress keeps DELETING my giant posts. TWICE NOW. It is clear that WordPress cannot handle that much awesome in one post.

Due to frustration and time constraints, I shall have to post in segments. I WILL tell you about my awesome weekend, internets.

HalloWINNING**: A Trifecta of Brilliant Costuming, Hilarious Antics and Candy I Could Not Eat

Part 1: Friday

My dear friend and improv coach Thomas had a 28th birthday party. A video game themed birthday party. I know nothing about video games, nor do I play them apart from a little Mario every now and then. Thankfully, Google knows lots of things. Here I am in my costume:



I’m rather proud of this creation. I made (yes MADE!) the head out of a beanbag pillow sewn to a headband, pink pantyhose, styrofoam balls and some felt. The vest was handmade by my mother (made when Snowmen were in vogue), worn inside out with yellow electrical tape edging. I also used yellow tape to detail the clutch that I carried that evening:

The dress was also made by my mother (I come by my crafting abilities naturally) and worn by her on her wedding day, post-reception, approximately 34 years ago. Clearly we kept the dress for such important occasions such as this. Here she is sporting the same dress:

Awesome, right? RIGHT.


The party itself was full of whimsy, improv friend bonding and costumes that I did not understand (thanks to those who patiently answered by questions). Much to my delight, many other Mario friends showed up, except – oddly enough – Mario. On our way to the bar/club/thing, I had in my car[t] the following: Toadette (myself), Spikey Turtle (Annika), Red Shelled Turtle (Tom), Green Shelled Turtle (Jess) and Happy Cloud (Ryan). We stopped at a stoplight, and lo and behold, who should be standing on the corner but MARIO HIMSELF. To say that all parties involved were thrilled with yelps of glee is a vast understatement. This is what dreams are made of, folks. After a little bit of dancing to some terrible music and lots of “nice costume” high fives, I headed home exhausted and tired of people squeezing my head.

HalloWINNING***: Part 1? SUCCESS.



*Blame Matt Gates for this title
**Again, Matt’s fault
***That one was all me. Sorry.


You Can Dress Me Up…

…and you can take me out because I love costumes. I have an entire closet full of dress up clothes. I have taught lessons based on my crazy hat collection. Ernie Coombs has nothing on me.

I am very much looking forward to this weekend. A three party, three costume weekend. So to get you in the dress up mood, I present you with a slideshow of sorts (that you will have to scroll through yourself) of my costumes throughout the years. Some are better than others.

During the Napoleon Dynamite fad
Your favourite Christmas gift
Second hand skate (dress each other up, then go roller skating):
The first appearance of the Dora sweaters
Newspaper runway model
Airport security
BINGO BABES. I still cringe in disgust looking at this.
The Princess and the P (I misplaced my crown for this photo)
Bride and Groom (yes, that is my mother’s wedding dress)
One of the three little pigs. I had straws in my apron.
Really trashy 80s outfit. That dress is velvet.
Alice in Wonderland (this was at my summer job)
One of last year’s costumes. It’s like a riddle…
Can you guess what I am?
Zombie prom

Now who wants to have a theme party?


>There comes a moment in every life where you know that you have arrived. In the “I’m infinitely cool” sense of the term. Until today, that moment for me was getting dubbed as Valedictorian in grade 8. Everything between then and now was a little disappointing.

But today, oh today is a new day! I have simultaneously been dubbed an Awesometown Resident AND a facial hair guru. Could things get any more majestic than this? Move over William and Kate, it’s my time to shine.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you need to head over to my friend Knox McCoy’s blog to read my Awesometown Interview and leave a comment. Or six.

Because today is a new day. A new day brimming with hope, excitement and dang good facial hair.


>Early Friday morning, I will be flying to Mexico.

When I tell people this, their initial response is usually, “OOhh, nice! That’s going to be so lovely!”

I smile and nod because they have no idea.

Early Friday morning, I will be flying to Mexico.

I will be getting off of the plane in Mexico City, boarding a bus and driving three hours north to a city called Queretaro. Just outside of this city is a little place called Pan de Vida*.

It is at Pan de Vida where I will experience a homecoming of sorts. I will be greeted with hugs and reunited with pieces of my heart that I have been missing for the past two years.

This whole process started in 2004. My father went on a trip and returned with pictures of kids that would begin to radically change my life, little bits at a time. I didn’t get to meet these kids myself until February 2007. For 10 days I was overwhelmed by an enormous amount of new experiences. I wrote every detail down so I wouldn’t forget anything. I couldn’t get over how much I had, and how thankful I should be for that fact. It was eye-opening.

My heart returned to Canada in one piece.

In February 2008, I returned to this place, overwhelmed by the joy I kept discovering in these children. In a place where I expected to find heartbreak and sadness, instead I saw pure, raw joy. I saw living proof of kids who were scooped up out of harm and rescued by a Savior. It was incredible.

My heart returned to Canada in one piece.

In February 2009, I returned to Pan de Vida once again, but this time, I was in quite a state. I was not myself. I was withdrawn, I was quiet, I was unhappy. I was living my life in a deep, dark pit. I couldn’t see anything around me. I was lost, I was in the dark. I was just sitting there. Nothing seemed to fit.

One night, a team member shared his story. His story is not pleasant. There is nothing about his story that you wish was yours. You are not envious of his story. In fact, his story is likely one of your biggest fears. But nonetheless, it is his story and he bravely shared it.

His story was where I was headed, but it broke me before I got there. His story punched me in the gut, left me without air, and completely shattered my heart. It broke it into a million tiny pieces. We did a lot of crying that week, him and I. The broken pieces of both of our hearts got all mixed up and we couldn’t sort out which piece belonged to which heart. I had a little piece of his broken heart in my pile, and he had a little piece of my broken heart in his pile. Everyone on the team shared a few of their broken heart pieces with one another that week.

I climbed a mountain that day. I saw that my heart needed to be broken before it could be healed. I discovered the beauty in being broken together. Sharing our broken pieces, because we were never meant to go at this whole thing by ourselves. We to be weak in order to be strengthened. It was in the midst of my brokenness that I experienced an unbelievable amount of love from those kids. They didn’t know all of the details of my story. They didn’t know how deeply I was hurting. But they loved me, no questions asked. They rushed out to greet me and hugged me with a fierceness I know was Jesus’ way of screaming “I love you more than you can fathom!”

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

If you are praying at all next week, think of our team. You can pray for our safety, pray that we work hard at doing jobs that need to be done around the orphanage and pray for our unity as a team. You can pray for our health, and pray for our families back home. You can pray for all of those things. But please also pray that we will be broken. Pray that our hearts will not return in one piece. Pray for our hearts to be a jumbled mess of all sorts of different heart-pieces. For in our weakness, He is strong.


*Pan de Vida is a Christian orphanage run by a Canadian organization called Children of Hope. This organization supports two orphanages – Pan de Vida and Dulce Refugio – and one community centre – Casa Otimi. If you would like more information about these places or you want to know how to sponsor a child or to donate to any of the homes, visit

>Life Goals

>I used to hate making goals. Since I’ve altered my thinking from “goal setting” to “things I want to do before I’m a certain age” I have discovered that I have many goals. I have never done anything on this list, and I would like to accomplish all of them. I’ve also posted this same list under “Life Goals” over there —–>

Here are my 30 before 30 (in no particular order):

  1. See Sufjan Stevens in concert
  2. Eat lobster
  3. Live within walking distance of a coffee shop/craft store/fancy cooking store (any would do)
  4. Write a song other than ones I make up on the spot every day
  5. See the Rocky Mountains
  6. Take dance lessons
  7. Completely gut and renovate an old house
  8. Land a permanent contract job
  9. Take voice lessons
  10. Talk in an accent for an evening in order to convince a stranger that it’s real
  11. Take a fancy cooking course (or several)
  12. See Ingrid Michaelson in concert
  13. Be a part of a show where people pay $20.00 or more to see
  14. Sing in front of a crowd
  15. See a show on Broadway
  16. Hit up a jazz club in downtown Montreal (must be drinking a martini when this occurs)
  17. Fall in love
  18. Teach nieces and nephews a choreographed song and dance number
  19. See the ocean (any one will do)
  20. Adopt a Greyhound dog
  21. Publish a children’s book (or three)
  22. Try my hand at some stand-up comedy
  23. Travel to the east coast
  24. Make flan
  25. Host an unnecessarily fancy dinner party (serve flan)
  26. Go scuba diving
  27. Babies! Birth, adopt, foster – any way they choose to come to me.
  28. Oh, get married (that first…then babies)
  29. Preach a sermon
  30. Change someone’s life (for the better)

>What Community Theatre Taught Me

>From November 18th-20th I was in a play called “Altar Egos: The “I Do’s” and “Don’ts” of an American Wedding. Besides the grammatically correct yet still awkward subtitle, the play was quite good. I played Colleen McMasters, a bride-to-be in her early 20s. Colleen is moody, bossy, spoiled and most definitely wears the pants in the relationship. She’s nearly the opposite of the kind of bride I would want to be. This means it was an exceptionally fun character to play. I have never been on stage in this sort of capacity at all. Yes, we’ve done a bunch of improv shows but this was different.

This…this my friends, was community theatre. Not just any community theatre, this was Wellesley community theatre. You can read all about Wellesley here. The article is not very big but it mentioned Apple Butter, cheese and Noah Martin Summer Sausage, so all the bases were pretty much covered.

The first time I climbed the stairs in the historic library building, I never expected that Theatre Wellesley would turn into a blog-worthy event. But my goodness, did it ever. Here is a list of things that community theatre has taught me (with pictures!):

* Even though it may not be a high caliber show, it is still loads of work. I may not be a professional, but I still had to memorize a whack of lines.
* People will come to see your show based solely on a well written article in a small newspaper.
* Teenagers have an unbelievable amount of energy.

my co-lead and his adoring fans

* Teenagers consider 23 old. I’m no longer hip or with it.

See, totally cool!

* Old historical library buildings make me sneeze.
* You can find some really weird crap in old historical library buildings.

He was the understudy for my fiance

* Stage families are never believable.

I get my size from my Papa

* At first stage kisses are the most awkward thing on the planet. Then somehow they aren’t significant.

This was the G-rated picture of this moment

* Yelling from my diaphragm does not wreck my voice and results in impressive decibel levels from such a little person.

I screamed in the poor boy’s ear a lot

* Channeling my “inner Colleen” helps with substitute teaching in a rowdy class.

I don’t think I ever smiled in this scene. In any scene.

* Things that you as a cast laugh about may not make an audience laugh, and things you never laughed about in rehearsal may cause an audience to bust a gut.

Her company will give you a FULL INCH MORE BALL

* It is much easier to act in front of a large/easily entertained crowd.
* Celery and Popeye Sticks is the perfect pre-show snack combo.
* Accidental comedic moments can never be recreated for the next show.

Gun. Being inserted into his pants. Not in script.

* Stage makeup can make anyone look trashy.

* You can get very attached to people you see twice a week for 2 1/2 months.

The sign mentioned in my last post

 * I love meeting people I wouldn’t normally get the chance to meet. When else do you get to hang out with a chaplain, farmers’ kids, an artist, a priest and a mental health worker all in one afternoon?

Family on the couch!

* I need to be involved in theatre in some capacity in the future.
* All of the hard work was worth it. This was one of the best experiences, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Thanks for all the fun! See you next year!

>The Beginning

>Today was the first day of my teaching adventures. I don’t really know how true that is since I’ve already taught many lessons (I’m so very wise, you see), but we’ll call it that anyway.

I am currently typing on a brand new spanking* laptop, and….well. Let me make a list or two.

Things I Like About New Laptop
-it’s new
-Kid Pix plus other various kid-related programs
-built in webcam
-case that has many zippers and compartments

Things I Do Not Like About New Laptop
-I have to bring it with me to class every day
-it’s a Toshiba
-all of the neat programs get wiped at the end of the year


My first day of teacher’s college taught me a couple of things. First, some teachers ask a lot of unnecessary questions: “Can we use our laptop to check our email when we get home after class?” or “Where do we buy books?” or “Where is the bookstore?”. To me these questions are like asking plot-related questions within the first 10 minutes of a movie. Unnecessary, because you’ll find out the answer if you are quiet and keep watching. Or in this case, if you commonly buy books in a bookstore.

Another thing I learned today was that the vast majority of teacher’s college students are warm, friendly and lovely people. I think…this is going to be good, laptop and all.

Speaking of which, if you have a suggestion for a name for the new beast of a computer, please feel free to leave a comment.

>move over Chris, it’s time for Cute with Mandie

>We’ve been talking in high pitched squeaky voices and spending a lot of time sitting on the kitchen floor at our house this weekend. Sitting on the floor and talking in strange voices is a favourite pastime of mine, but this weekend, the whole family got involved. We’ve been celebrating the arrival of the newest addition to our family.

I would like you to meet Marwyn’s Sweet Sassafras (here she is with Kirk, waving hello):

M.S.S. (or Sassie, as we call her) is a 10 week old Miniature Schnauzer puppy, weighing in at a whopping four pounds. At first, Miss Sassie-frass was quite shy and timid (Kristi can attest to this) and didn’t want to do anything besides cuddle, thus earning her the nickname, SQUEEZY BABY (thanks, Annie). Over the weekend, she’s gotten used to her new home, and her true colours are beginning to show through, and I’m happy to report she is one spunky little puppy.

She’s also very talented. Here she is doing her bunny impression:

Here she is being a wonderfully fantastic obstacle between me and my studies.

She’s also really good at being impossibly cute.