Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Record Number of Golds

I'd like to start by saying how proud I am of my country. We started these Olympics having never won a gold medal on Canadian soil. These games ended with Canada winning a record number of gold medals, the most any nation has ever won at the Olympic games. How amazing is that? And just in case you didn't watch the hockey game, we won in overtime. It was a spectacular nail-biting finish. Go Canada!!!

I think my highlight of today was watching the gold medal game with my pastor, his family and the rest of our cell group. Aris was scared by the cheering, but it was a great moment! :)

Although that was great, I am so thankful for wisdom. Aris was not doing well this evening. In fact, she hasn't been doing well since Thursday or Friday. I was at my wits end and close to tears. I prayed for patience and calmness, and managed to keep it together while putting her to bed. After finishing the bedtime routine, still fighting with Aris, I had an idea and asked her a question. It turns out I was right. Between God and I, we have figured out what was wrong and I have some ideas as to how to fix it. Hopefully, she feels better just having been heard and understood. We talked through a lot of what was bugging her and why she was reacting the way she was. Thankfully, she went to bed happy after our chat and not screaming that she was a horrible person. :( If you pray, please pray for us! We really need it. But I'm calmer now, have finished my first milkbag mat and am now off to bed. Good night! :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nursing Gorillas

Today we went to the zoo. My daughter's father lives in the big city, so once a month she has visitation there. We have a zoo membership and typically go when we drop Aris off. Today Aris wanted to come with us, so we met her dad there. It was a good day.

I really love going to the zoo. In the beginning, I really didn't think I would. But as I've learned more about the zoo, the more I love going. We've had a membership for about 3 years now. Each visit something new stands out to me. We never have the same favourite moment. Today there were a lot of good moments. The tree kangaroos were the most active we've ever seen them. Steve and Aris got great pictures. Then we were off to the African Pavillon where there is a baby gorilla. He/she is soo cute! He is much bigger than he was the last time we saw him. Before he was still a newborn and did a lot of sleeping. Today he was riding on his mother's back and getting into mischief. I got several good pictures of him nursing. :) The other gorillas were more active than usual. They had just been given some new enrichment activities, including jars of peanut butter and celery sticks. Aris took a video of a gorilla scraping out the peanut butter with his stick of celery. These were good moments to share.

In the Americas Pavillon, there is a giant alligator snapping turtle. He's massive and typically doesn't do much. But today he was watching us. I watched his eyes track my movements and then he lifted his head and opened his mouth. Steve got to see him try to climb up a little. I didn't get to see that, but I did watch him for about 10 minutes. Such a little thing, but it made me very happy. :)

And also in the list of things that made me happy today; Canada won the gold medal in curling!! I watched the very first game between Canada and Norway, and then got to see them play in the gold medal game. That was pretty cool! Now on to hockey...Go Canada! :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Nice Surprise

I came home exhausted to a dirty kitchen with a crockpot half full of soup. Needing to find space in the fridge, I dispatched some leftovers to the freezer and then pulled out a bottle of wine to be disposed of. This poor bottle of late harvest wine has sat in my fridge for over two years. Initially, the bottle was meant as labour wine, but then I didn't end up going into labour on my own. There just never seemed to be a good time to drink it. So the poor bottle sat lonely in the corner of my fridge, lamenting my induction.

Pouring it down the sink seemed such a waste, but there was no way it would still be drinkable. Steve uncorked the bottle and took a sniff. "It doesn't smell like, try some." So I took a sip. Mmmm...such lovely wine! Surprisingly, it was still good. I don't know why, but I'm not knocking it. Now that my kitchen is clean again after making applesauce and soup(sweet potato with coconut milk and ginger) and my blogpost has been written, I'm going to enjoy my lovely glass of wine. Cheers! :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


A wee hand tugged at my shirt. A wee voice entreated and I tried to understand his baby language. Downstairs we went to fetch something, I wasn't sure what. He stopped on the top step, wanting to sit down. Down we sat and together, hand in hand, bumped down the stairs. Halfway down, he began to growl at each stair we bumped. I giggled. Then hand in hand we fetched his blankie and back up the stairs we went, him wrapped in his blankie and carried in my arms cradling in turn his "baby", a plush spiderman. Happiness is little boy giggles wrapped in special blankies.

Canada took the gold in women's hockey. Yay Canada! The best part: When my mom called to tell me that when she heard that Canada beat the US(her home country), she was so excited that her team won! It's taken a long long time, but my mom has fallen in love with Canada. :) I'm so excited both for her and those talented women. Congrats! :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Indoor Plumbing

Yes, you read that right. Today I am very thankful for indoor plumbing. I know, I was planning on writing about Kian today, but I got sidetracked. Instead I am thankful for running water, bathtubs and water heaters.

Kian screamed for almost an hour and a half. He started screaming as we left the school after dropping Aris off and continued screaming until almost 11am. He wouldn't nurse, wouldn't take a sucky, wouldn't be distracted. He wouldn't even eat chocolate! You know it's bad when he refuses chocolate. :( My wonderful husband was asked to pray several times for me, and eventually he suggested a bath. Upstairs we went, him screaming, me trying to breathe. Without any effort from me, other than turning on the tap, nice warm water poured into the tub. It took some effort, but eventually Kian calmed down. He discovered that when he moved his legs, he created bubbles. Bubbles are fun. :) While he splashed, I crocheted. After a long time in the tub, Kian emerged happy and he stayed happy until just before supper when he fell and bit his lip. But those hours of peace were lovely.

Aris and I are currently reading the Little House series which has made me realize how pampered we are in North America. When the Ingalls wanted to take a bath during the winter, they had to melt snow, heat the water over the fire and then bathe in a small tin tub. Having a bath is something that I take for granted. Today I am so thankful for little mercies like running water, a large permanent bath tub, water heaters and how they combine to stop a little boy's screaming.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Today Kian is two!

I am so grateful for my little man. In my head wonderful thoughts are swimming 'round, yet exhaustion is preventing them from exiting my brain in a coherent fashion. So tonight I'll just post pictures from his day of birth and a link that made me laugh uncontrollably. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be able to write again.

If you're in need of a laugh or several, here's cakewreckers: when cakes go horribly wrong. I could not stop laughing! Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two Years Ago...

Two years ago today, I had what I refer to as a dark night of the soul. My baby had been due 10 days previous and I anticipated much the same as what had happened with Zane. With Zane, at 9 days post-dates, I went to the hospital, was given cervidil, sent home and came back in labour. Although I was really hoping for an early baby, this is what I was expecting. For most of my pregnancy, I expected to have my new baby 10 days late. I wasn't thrilled about this, just realistic.
At 37 weeks, I had 10 hrs of regular contractions. We hurriedly packed our bags, finalized names, made our phone calls, and went to bed only to have the contractions stop. Frustration does not do justice what I was feeling. But babies come when they come, so I continued to wait. And wait and wait and wait some more.

Finally, the day came. We went to the hospital, saw the same OB with Zane, but this time he told me to come back tomorrow to be induced. Right there in triage, I broke down and cried. I absolutely, positively did NOT want to wait another day. I did NOT want to be induced. In my very pregnant state, I was convinced that I would either have a c-section or be pregnant forever. Yes, I know...I wasn't exactly rational. But right then, the crushing disappointment of having my plans changed was overwhelming me.

Somehow, I managed to pull myself together, enough to get out to the van. Steve went to pay parking only to come back to find me sobbing. My poor husband didn't know what to do. He drove home with me sobbing the whole time, him peeking glances at me, trying to figure out what to do with his overly-emotional wife. After putting Zane to bed, we tried to go to bed early, but my brain would not shut down. I was wrestling with God.

For most of that night, I stayed awake. Is God good? Does He really care? Does He have good plans for me? I tossed and turned all night, struggling with my fears and disappointment. I can't even remember exactly how resolution came, but by morning I had peace. Several close friends and family were praying for me and I was able to go into the hospital with a joyful heart and a great mug of tea. Incidentally, the travel mug I brought with me read: I can handle any crisis. I have kids. Fitting, don't you think?

Several hours later, I came home with a beautiful little boy and the answer to my questions. God is good. I know this deep in my heart now. I don't know this because of my years spent in church, my hours spent pouring over my Bible, or the many stories I have heard of God's goodness. I know that God is good because I experienced both the deep questioning and the answer in return. Right now, I'm questioning God again. My question deals with a different part of God's character. Is God just? Does God act in the face of injustice? Some may find the answer obvious and I could give you the "right" answer backed up with scriptural and anecdotal evidence. But my heart still searches, still asks, often at inconvenient times.

I'm writing about two years ago to remind myself. God answers those deep hard heart questions. He doesn't ignore them or scold me for asking. Unfortunately, this time of questioning is taking longer than I would like, but I know that eventually I will emerge with that intimate personal knowledge of God, just as I did two years ago. My baby boy was named Kian Tobias. Steve picked his first name, but I picked his second name. Tobias means "God is good". So when I call him by his full name, I am reminded of that dark night and then the bright dawn of Kian's birth.

As I was pondering these thoughts, a writer friend of mine posted something along the same lines. You can read her beautiful prose here. If you don't know the story, or want to read it again, you can read Kian's birth story here. Thanks for "listening". :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Better Day

I'm exhausted, but happy. My eyes are threatening to close as I try to write this and it isn't even very late. Today was better mostly because I made good choices. There are a lot of situations in my life that make me sad and I can't do anything about them. But there are a lot of other things that I can change. So today I chose to focus on the things I could change.

I had a great walk in the beautiful weather, enjoyed a lovely brunch with my LifeGroup and started crocheting with milk bags. There will a couple of rough situations with Aris that I kept my head and we made it through. The day ended well. Yay! I am thankful. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Meet Elsie

Today we welcomed a new member of our family. She's about two inches tall, with a gold head, pink arms and yellow legs. Elsie is a flower fairy. I was going to take pictures but Elsie is already in bed with Aris. A friend of ours creates fairy houses and mentioned yesterday that they were on display at the library she works at. So this morning, Aris and I went on a road trip. Having been sick this week, she was very shy. Once Aris warmed up, she quite enjoyed the little creations. Her favourite was a pink house that was made out of a hollow book. It had pink flowers climbing the back and two levels in the house. Aris thought it was great. :) We went upstairs and found my friend and more of her creations. The librarians made flower fairies that they're selling to raise money for Haiti. Each creation has a unique Haitian name. So when we left, we had a beautiful flower fairy to call our own, Elsie.

After our morning adventure, our family went on a date. We went to a Chinese buffet and then to the fish store. We had a great lunch. Even Kian enjoyed himself. He's in a phase where he says "no" to everything, but he decided that getting to choose his own food was very exciting. Kian didn't eat much, but he sure had fun. It was a good lunch, especially since everyone was happy. We headed over to the fish store right after our meal. This store carries all sorts of fish and reptiles, including an anaconda, a rainbow boa, an eel, and a stingray. Did we ever have fun! Kian learned a new word "camouflage" and bonded with turtles and snakes. He put his face up to the glass and kissed the snakes. Above the noise of the busy store, a little voice could be heard saying "hewwo! hewwo!" It was too cute!

Life with Aris continues to be challenging. Bedtime tends to be the worst right now, but first thing in the morning is also trying. So in the midst of this, I'm clinging to my silvers of joy, like flower fairies and little boys that say camouflage. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Date Night!

Having a sickie at home this week has been stressful. Although the time with Aris has been gone, it has also drained me. I'm used to my routine. Those daily walks and visits with other parents at the school are important. Being woken many times during the night isn't helping my coping skills. Thankfully several weeks ago, Steve made reservations at a new restaurant in town.

I wasn't sure we were going to make our date tonight. Being woken up so many times left me coping with a headache this morning. My babysitters were running late and my house had been a mess, but my dad helped me clean it. I am so thankful for my dad! Aris had an outburst that shook my confidence this morning. But even with all of today's drama, I made it to my date.

Aris picked out my clothes, Dad watched the kids so I could get dressed in peace, and my in-laws babysat so we could go on a date. Steve looked quite nice. The restaurant was beautiful, the service was wonderful and the food was lovely and interesting. Steve and I like interesting food, especially juices. I had pear-ginger juice while Steve had cranberry apple cider. Yummm. :)

After our dinner, we went to a friend's house. Steve's co-worker hosts a monthly games night. So far we've managed to make two of them. We both like to game and we really enjoy being out with other people. It was a good evening, even though I really can't do math. I feel much much better after a lovely dinner and fun playing games. Hopefully this feeling will last tomorrow when my kids are awake. Now to get some sleep....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Free Food and Fellowship

Sometimes the universe seems a dark, lonely, uncaring place. Sometimes I rail at God and ask Him if He hates me. I'm pleased to announce that right now is not one of those times. Since I've started writing this blog, I've had a lot fewer of those moments and in the last couple of days/weeks, I have definitely noticed how cared for by God I am.

Part of this realization has come from several conversations I have had about growing up poor. My family was under the poverty line for most of my childhood, yet strangely I haven't been negatively effected by this. We always always always had enough. Not that we necessarily knew where it was going to come from until whatever it was that we needed arrived, but we always had enough. I didn't realize until recently that not everybody had that experience. As a newly married couple, our finances were pretty grim but once again we always had enough. Though these experiences, especially the early years of my marriage, my faith has grown tremendously. Now I'm realizing how much God keeps His promises to His children when they are faithful. It's so encouraging.

Last night we had fast food for dinner. Our budget allows for it, and I was just having one of those days. When Steve unpacked our dinner, he realized that the order had been messed up. But when he checked the receipt, he realized that the restaurant had made an even bigger mistake. Steve had paid $0.24 for our meal! He called the restaurant to report the error and they decided just to swallow it. Can you believe it? A meal for 5 people for less than a quarter! How cool is that? Even better, this is the second time in two weeks that we've gotten meals for free. Two weeks ago, our pizza was 7 minutes late so it was free. I have no clue as to why this is happening or if it will keep happening, but I feel so very very blessed. :)

Tonight my counsellor forgot about our appointment, so I ended up able to go process milkbags again this week. Aris has been sick all week, so I have been to the school once. This feels so weird. Although I'm enjoying having her home and really seeing how much she has needed this mommy time, I'm missing my friends. There are several women that I connect with regularly at the school, some of whom are becoming quite important to me. When I don't see them, I really feel that void. Tonight definitely helped make up for that. Just being with other women was lovely. I definitely needed that companionship. :)

And now for your regularly scheduled Olympic update: Canada won another gold tonight, this one in women's long track speedskating. There was also a spectacular fall that made me quite content that Steve no longer speed skates. In men's hockey, Team Canada won against the Swiss although it was quite close. Go Canada! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Face

I'm tired and got frustrated trying to find just the right picture. This picture of Kian will just have to do. My wee boy has so much character! Kian is a little monkey, always getting into something. This morning he smeared butter on my floor and then poured water over top of it. He's a screamer and there are moments when I'm at the end of my sanity. Then he looks at me with his big blue eyes and his oh-so-expressive face. I melt.

His beautiful smile, his contagious giggles and his crazy roar make my day on a continual basis. I just love this boy so much! :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sickies and Olympic Gold

Little Miss Aris is sick. The poor munchkin is just generally miserable with a cough and a fever, so she spent a good chunk of today fighting her brother for my lap. Since Kian isn't quite weaned yet, he figures that my lap belongs solely to him. Conversely, Aris figures that since she is the oldest, my lap belongs to her. It was a looong day.

Strangely enough, Aris is really into sports. I say strangely because neither Steve nor I am. We're not really sports watching people, so she must get this from her dad. Aris watched the Olympics this weekend with her grandparents and was quite excited about watching more. My wonderful husband downloaded the opening ceremonies so that the kids could watch them. He put them on before leaving for work this morning, so the kids and I snuggled on the couch to watch them. After we watched the ceremonies, Aris and I watched curling and the women's snowboard cross. Neither of these are sports that I'm really familiar with so it was an education for both of us. Canada won in both events(curling was round 1, so Canada moves on) although neither victory was assured until the very last. Canada tends to be the underdog which made it very gratifying to see us actually win. This was a good bonding moment for Aris and I. Steve was home when Maelle Rickers won, but he hadn't watched her struggle to qualify, so it wasn't as big of a deal for him. He thought we were slightly obsessed. :)

Seeing a Canadian win a gold medal was great, but the best part of my day came during supper. Steve was home later than expected because a meeting ran late. Because Aris was sick, we didn't have a timeline for this evening, but when I found out what the meeting was about I really couldn't be annoyed. My wonderful husband has had a rough couple of months at work. He's been coming home rather frustrated and discouraged. Last week, everything was really getting to him so I stopped in the middle of dinner preparation and prayed for him. I have to admit that right now I'm praying more out of habit than of any expectation of God answering. I'm not so much doubting God's existence as I'm doubting whether or not He's going to answer MY prayers. Tonight's meeting was in direct answers to last week's prayer. Steve came home feeling much better about the situation and although not everything is fixed, good strides were made. At first I was so happy that he was doing better and then I realized that this was directly in answer to my prayer. I really don't have the words to say how soothing and good that realization felt. :)

Apparently Canada has won 8-0 vs. Norway in men's hockey. Go Canada!! :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Love Day Weiner Roast and Jewelry

Last weekend, we went to the mall ostensibly to buy me a belt. Somehow that didn't happen, but we ended up buying Valentine's gifts for the family. Aris decided that she wanted to give them out at a family party. Originally, we were planning on having the party yesterday evening, but then Aris didn't come home until today. So this evening, we ended up having a weiner roast at Steve's parents's house with my parents attending as well. Aris was very tired, but we had a lovely quiet evening. My FIL had a collection of clementine boxes that he enjoyed burning this evening. The boxes burn brightly. :) It was a good dinner.

The church my mom attends has begun a partnership in Uganda. The latest team returned with lots of jewelry and bags to sell. 100% of the profits will be returned to the widows that make these beautiful items. My mom bought several pieces of jewelry and a beautiful bag for me. :) I really like unique jewelry and she picked some gorgeous pieces for me. I will try to put up pictures tomorrow. Between good food, presents and getting to sleep in this morning, I am very very happy!

I'm also very distracted with watching the figure skating. Have I mentioned how much I'm enjoying the Olympics? Go Canada! :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Prayer and a Speed Skating Medal

Go Canada! We got our first gold medal on Canadian soil(men's moguls), and then Kristina Groves took the bronze in the women's 3000m in speed skating. Clara Hughes took 5th place. Yay Canada! :)

Today was really hard. Last Sunday was particularly difficult, which made going to church challenging today. Although my wonderful husband doesn't really understand, he prayed for me and stepped in to make the day go easier. This is a really challenging period faith-wise for me, but I am determined to obey God the best I possibly can even in the midst of this pain.

Our sermon was on evangelism today. Because I am wrestling with my faith so much right now, this topic really raises questions for me. During our discussion at LifeGroup this afternoon, my struggles became evident. I wasn't intending to get into it because I have felt so isolated. At first, our leader was giving me almost pat answers. I'm not sure what changed, but suddenly he stopped and just listened. When I was done, he pulled Steve over and began to pray for both of us. His wife joined the circle to pray while our children swirled around us. It is hard to express how much that moment meant to me. I know that there is still a long way to go on my journey of recovery, but that moment of prayer and listening helped restore a part of me that had given up hope. I am so grateful for those that listen compassionately and then come alongside me and pray. Thank you!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter Bonfire with Kate

Every February, my parents' neighbours host a winter bonfire in their backyard. They have a large shed that they fill with lots of goodies, crockpots filled with savoury chili and apple cider, and a space heater. Paths are made with cardboard and couches are dragged out onto the snow surrounding the fire pit. Other neighbours have a skating rink that the kids can skate on provided they wear a helmet. M. builds the fire and a party begins.

This is my second time attending and the third annual Winter Bonfire. There is something almost magical about standing under the night sky, around a fire in the winter. I love bonfires and miss them dreadfully during the winter. Although it's very cold, there are no mosquitos in February! My best friend came with and it was wonderful. We were tired and didn't talk too much or stay very long, but standing by that campfire underneath the winter sky made me very very happy. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Distracted by the Olympics

My bedtime is supposed to be before 11pm. My goal is to post each night before I go to sleep. Unfortunately, I'm still watching the opening ceremonies of the winter olympics. Go Canada! There are so many reasons why I love my country and watching tonight's ceremony reminds me of them. So I apologize for my distraction. Currently people are skating around a mountain while others are suspended "skiing" and "snowboarding" on said mountain. WOW!

Today has been a very very good day. My best friend Kate(not her real name) is in town today. Yay! She's been my best friend since gr. 9 when we ended up being stand partners. Not only did I learn how to play the flute, I gained a best friend that I've kept into adulthood. Through her friendship, I regained my first friend who holds the title of my longest friendship. These friendships bless my life in so many ways. Earlier this week, I had a great phone conversation with M. about being a mom. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who understands my issues as a mom and as a person. Our conversation left me feeling a little more settled about my recent journeys with Aris.

Kate has been praying for my kids since they were born if not before. Although we don't see her often, she really builds into my kids both academically and spiritually. They absolutely love Kate. She's been able to keep track of me both on facebook and through my blog, so has been praying for my kids. Of course, being Kate, she also came up with a creative way to help. She always has such great ideas. Today she presented Aris and I with a binder. This binder has a series of sections with stickers, beautiful pictures that she took, songs and lists. Everything is geared towards calming Aris and pointing her back to God. Kate included categories on prayer and spiritual armour, both things that we really need right now. This gift encouraged me so much! Having a friend that really enables me to parent exceptionally is so helpful! So often, parenting becomes a competition over ideas and children. My child is smarter than yours, my ideas about parenting are better than yours. Kate and I don't see completely eye-to-eye. We are different people. But she respects me and supports me so well. Thank you! I am blessed.

As I'm watching the Olympics and listening to the speeches about my diverse country, I'm reminded of tonight's school event. Our school is so multicultural and diverse which I absolutely love! Tonight our parent council threw a movie night. I was really excited to got and connect with my wonderful school community. As I walked in, my dear Syrian friend entered behind me. We've been trying to get together, but it just hasn't been working. Tonight we got to spend the evening together as we watched a movie and our kids played. I got to hold her beautiful baby. :) I love babies! :) Best quote of the day from my Syrian friend: "With your coat on I thought you had lost a lot of weight, but now that I see you without it, I realize that you haven't." I have to say, I smiled very largely and laughed. I'm not sure she realized how that came across, but that's okay. :) It was a good moment, one of connection and acceptance.

Now, back to the Olympics! Go Canada!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Milk Bag Community

Today was a very full day. I knew it was going to be full, but as always my plans go awry. Valentines took much longer to fill out than anticipated and then a shower was necessitated before bed because bright pink batter does not blend in with blonde hair. I was stressed and cried because my cupcakes did not turn out the way they were supposed to. My daughter was incredibly encouraging and strangely did not throw a fit about our imperfect cupcakes. :)

All of this drama meant that I was running late for this evening. During a random after school conversation, I finagled an invitation to help fold, cut, loop and eventually crotchet milk bags into sleeping mats. One of the teachers/parents came up with this idea and it's fantastic! However, this is a lot of work. We're getting a great response from the kids and community (I love my school!), which means that there is a lot of work to be done. Some staff and parents have been regularly getting together to deal with the milk bags. They're a neat group of ladies and I wanted in. Tonight was my chance. Since I was running late, I was concerned about not fitting in, or missing most of the fun.

I needn't have worried. We had such a great time! As always with a group of women, our conversation was wide-ranging. We laughed, shared birth stories(somehow with me around the conversation always goes there), and got to know each other better. As we talked, work happened. I folded bags and then formed the loops into a long chain which I then wrapped up into a ball. Later someone will crotchet it into a sleeping mat, which will be then sent to another country. Milk bags cannot be recycled, but are hygienic mats which don't decompose apparently. It feels good to take something that would be wasted and instead use it to help someone else.

Being useful felt good. Being part of community felt great. Getting to know some wonderful women was awesome! Making new friends and building on relationship with current friends always makes me smile. Tonight was no exception. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cookbooks and Coffee

For Christmas, my sister bought me a Jamie Oliver cookbook. I've been wanting one of his cookbooks for years and was super excited about this one. I cannot say how much I like this cookbook. The premise is that everyone can cook. The food is reasonably simple and amazingly delicious. Plus, it's Jamie, so the writing is a bit quirky. Shortly after, I bought another of his cookbooks. I've been having great fun playing around with the recipes.

On Sunday, I made a beet salad. I was a wee bit concerned about this would go over, but it had rave reviews. Beets and pears are chopped into matchsticks and then tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, feta and sunflower seeds. Next time, I think i'll add my citrus grapeseed oil instead. But it was good. Tonight I made a beef roast, gravy, mashed potatoes and asian style broccoli. The roast was cooked on a bed of carrots, celery, onions, garlic and rosemary. After it was done, the veggies were mashed up and turned into the gravy. Although thin, the gravy was quite flavourful. For the broccoli, I grated ginger and garlic, mixed it with sesame oil, olive oil, soya sauce, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and then tossed it with the steamed veggies. Delicious! Cooking(and eating) makes me very happy!

My sister, Marlene, showed up as we were finishing dinner. Steve had just made rootbeer floats with crispy crunch ice cream(different, but delicious) so we offered her some as well. While I put Aris to bed, she helped clean up my kitchen. Yay! Then we went off to see her new apartment. I don't get to hang out with her very much anymore. For those who don't know the story, Mar has been my best friend since we were 11. When we were 19, she moved in with my family and my parents "adopted" her. Both my biological sister and I consider her our sister.

Unfortunately, life is crazy and we don't get to see each other much. I miss her a lot! It's challenging to go from the life of a teen where we see our friends daily, to the life of an adult, especially a parent, where friends are on the periphery. Lying on her bed and chatting tonight was good. It brought back old times, especially when she pulled out some pictures from my very early twenties. Wow! I knew that was me, but wow! Am I ever different now!

I feel peaceful and happy right now. I've had a good couple days of cooking and baking with another project lined up for tomorrow. Aris and I are going to make cupcakes for her class. I found a very cool recipe for multicoloured cupcakes. This should be fun. :) Hopefully I will remember to take pics and post them. Good night! :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Beautiful Dancer

This is parent viewing week for the primary classes at Aris' dance studio. Halfway through the term, parents are invited to watch an entire class. This offers a much different perspective than the one gained by periodically peeking through the viewing windows.

I was a wee bit apprehensive about tonight's class. Last night when I reminded Aris, she pulled the covers up over her head and quivered in fear. Baffled, I asked her why she didn't want me to watch. She responded that she wasn't the best dancer in the class and that's why she didn't want to dance. My heart broke. Attempting to cuddle my prickly daughter, I reminded her of her love and passion for dance. She doesn't want to be a dancer when she grows up, instead she'd perfer to do something with animals. This varies from an African Lion Safari Tamer, to an entomologist, to a parrot keeper. Her vocation is always different, but typically has to do with animals. Dance isn't on the list. But when music comes on she can't hold still. Aris loves to sing, but when given the choice between singing and dancing, she dances.

I was also concerned because the last parent viewing was horrible. Aris' behaviour was atrocious and I had to speak to her quite sternly. Both her behaviour during the class and her response to my correction upset me. Thankfully, she modified her behaviour, apologized and stopped calling me a mean mommy. I'm really glad my parents were so strict because I'm finding it very helpful to pull out the examples of how I would have been disciplined. After that, my kids seem to find me quite reasonable. :)

After all of this, the class went well. She danced the best she has ever danced. Not that everything was perfect, but her lines were gorgeous as was her musicality. Best of all, she danced with joy. Her face was just lit from within. There was no shaking her finger at me or making faces this time, instead she beamed. Afterwards, she joyfully and enthusiastically thanked her teacher when I asked. And to top it all off, she didn't have a meltdown at bedtime.

My day would have been complete there. But God had one more special little gift for me. As she was getting ready for bed, Aris asked about having a bedtime snack. This started a discussion as she was not allowed to eat before bed because of her constant sore throat. The best guess the doctors could come up with was that she had acid reflux. We'd tried several things, but even the strong antacid prescribed by the specialist didn't seem to help. On our last prayer letter, Steve asked people to pray for Aris' sore throat. Today she pointed out that she hadn't had a sore throat in quite awhile. Praise God!!! This is such a blessing to me because she had complained of a sore throat for over a year. Now it's gone. Yay!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Grains of Hope

Today's post is hard to right. I don't feel particularly thankful today. Although I've finally figured out something to write about, today has been hard. Not that anything spectacularly bad has happened, just more feeling the weight of continued challenges.

We are particularly feeling this in regards to our oldest. She is having some serious struggles right now, ones that a 6 year old shouldn't have to go through. I am almost beside myself with worry. Throughout this we keep trying to focus on God's supreme power. This situation is not impossible to Him. But what if He choses to remain aloof? Will He intervene? Will He be glorified? There are other situations in my life that really cause me to question this right now. To be honest, my faith is currently deeply cracked. I was hoping to speak with the Child and Youth Worker today to start a more aggressive course of action, but couldn't. My child does not want me to speak to the CYW, yet her behaviour continues to deteriorate. I feel like the waters are closing in over my head. Something needs to be done, but what?

This morning, I got a phone call. A friend was having a bad day. Well, more like a bad couple of days. In the past four days, she's gotten about 12 hrs of sleep. Of course, children don't seem to care how sick Mommy has been or how little sleep Mommy has gotten. They still need attention. So after the school drop-off, Kian and I went over for tea and a playdate. I talked, drank tea, chatted and snuggled little girls. Nothing amazing, just adding a little extra sanity to the mix. It's much easier to cope with challenging situations when there is someone there coming alongside. My basket of dirty laundry didn't get touched today, but I'm okay with that. Some things are more important.

I could have told my friend that I would pray, but that my life was far too busy and complicated today to come over. I could have said that I had to figure something out at the school, or that we don't have any clean matched socks. Instead I heard her need and placed it above my own. In return, I was given a grain of hope. While talking about her family, my friend mentioned how vitamin D is a mood-enhancer and is helpful in cases of depression. Not only did she show me what she gives her family, but she called over to the store and had them set it aside for me. This was particularly helpful as I dislike searching through shelves at the health food store. Kian and I purchased it, and then I dosed everyone at supper tonight. Surprisingly, all the kids took it without too much fuss. There are still more conversations that I need to have and decisions that I need to make. But until those get made, I have a wee bit more peace. I know that I'm headed in the right direction, even if it is just a baby step.

Hopefully tomorrow I will feel better about life. Perhaps my situation will turn around drastically. Maybe it will rain chocolate too. :) But until then, I am clinging to my tiny grain of hope and faith.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hawk in a Blue Sky

Today on our way to LifeGroup, we drove through the countryside. The sky was a crystal clear blue sprinkled with thin wispy clouds. Sitting on the hydro lines, accented against the sky was a hawk. Brown feathers contrasted against winter swept fields while his magnificent predator's beak was silhouetted against the bright sun. Birds of prey fascinate me. Seeing this wonderful hunter in the wild made my day. For a moment, my heart sung at such a beautiful sight.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Chance Encounter

My days never go as planned. Today was no exception. We were having a nice leisurely morning when a good friend called. She was trying to make arrangements for tomorrow's small group as she is supposed to host, but was very ill yesterday. She threw up 17 times! My poor poor friend! As a fellow mom of small children, I understand how hard it is to be a little bit sick, let alone caught in the grip of a horrible, take no prisoners kind of flu. I arranged to come over later that morning with some food. My morning ran later than expected and we stopped at the Zehrs closest to my friend's house.
I was in a horrible mood, having left a screaming child in the van with her father. I was walking through the store trying in vain to get ahold of my parents when I saw someone I knew. Now this wasn't just anybody, the people I bumped into happened to be my aunt and uncle. We chatted and they invited us over to their house for a bbq. My cousin was celebrating her 20th birthday and her son just turned 1. We all lead busy lives (who doesn't?) so I haven't seen them in quite awhile.
I called Steve and he was game, although unsure how well the screaming child would react. We went off to run our errands. Funnily enough, we drove all the way to another friend's house only to get there and discover I had forgotten the parcel I was supposed to be delivering. Thankfully she got a good laugh out of it and I got a hug. :) Hugs are good!

Then we went back to my aunt and uncle's house. My grandmother just got back from S. America. We had a very good visit with her and my uncle. He was the most lucid I've seen him in quite awhile and seemed very cheerful. I'm not as close to my dad's side of the family as I'd like to be. Although they're geographically closer, I've always been emotionally closer to my mom's side. Building relationships with them as adults has been nice. It feels strange not to be well connected and every bridge we build helps in rectifying the lack of connection. Thankfully my family really enjoys Steve. :)

To me, this is both funny and evidence of how God is at work in our lives. A random phone call prompted a random errand which resulted in a couple hours spent hanging out with my family. Incidentally, my mother had just suggested that I get together with my cousin, but I didn't know how we were going to make that happen. I guess God did. :)

It's midnight and I just walked in the door. Oops!

This will be very very quick. My bed is calling me. But here are today's highlights:
1) WE MADE IT TO SCHOOL ON TIME!!!!!!! There wasn't any drama this morning while getting ready to school. The kids played very nicely with their duplos building birds, robots and cars. Even Kian joined in. It felt so good getting to school on time. :)

2) The CYW had very good things to say about Aris. I had a lovely chat with her again, and I feel much better about where Aris is going. At this point we're confident with the interventions at hand, but have a next step ready if her behaviour escalates. Right now, I think we're good. Just talking to Sara(her real name, she said I could use it) has done Aris a world of good. *sigh of relief*

3) I made bread by hand and baked brownies. My house smelt good. :)

4) My mom, my MIL, and my aunt all came for tea this afternoon at the same time. This was rather impromptu and not at all co-ordinated but I think it worked really well. I enjoyed spending time with three wonderful women at the same time.

5) The bus driver refused to take Aris' ticket, letting her ride the bus for free! She was very sweet to us and to all of her passengers. I so appreciate bus drivers that minister to their passengers.

6) I had tea with a good friend this evening. Aris went to her very first friend sleepover today. We know the family well and have a great relationship with them, so I'm not concerned. While dropping Aris off, I stayed for tea and a chat. It was nice. :)

7) I had my first official prenatal visit as a doula. I'm not sure if I'm quite allowed to say that yet or if I have to add in the (in-training). This was my first step in taking on that role. As my client is also my friend, I wore both hats during the meeting. We talked for over three hours, enjoying hot chocolate and brownies. As typical with me, our conversation hopscotched around, landing back on birth and then taking off again. We laughed, we cried and we were real. I so value conversations like that! Seeing myself as a doula and acting in that official role still feels foreign. But it also feels right.

8) Being told that of all the people my friend knows, I am the only person that had the right personality and skills to be her labour support person. I am so deeply honoured.

9) My wonderful husband who helped photocopy papers and just be so supportive in the midst of this evenings whirlwind. :) Also for his patience when he called to ask if I knew what time it was. I didn't. It was 11:25pm. Oops.

And now, to bed. Another day full of surprises awaits me tomorrow. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Big Thank You to the Wonderful Support Staff

I stood in my kitchen with my hands over my face sobbing " I can't do this! I give up!" My wonderful husband paused in tidying up the kitchen, wrapped his arms around me and prayed for me, for us and for our kids. He helped as much as he could amid the absolute chaos then headed out the door. I got the kids on their feet, in the backcarrier and out. There was enough drama that we almost stayed home, but finally out we went.

We got to school late again. This was our third late slip this week after an almost perfect year. We've been late, just not late slip late. I got the slips, told the secretary I'd be back and headed down the hall with Aris. She was hugged, prayed over and sent in with her late slip. I headed back down the hall and slipped into the office. When the secretary came over "I need help" were the words that came pouring out of my mouth. She listened sympathetically and decided that I needed to meet with the Child and Youth Worker, Steph(not her real name).

This was kinda awkward. I had a baby on my back and my four year old in tow. I knew Steph by sight, but we hadn't been introduced. Off down the hall we went to several tables that were set up in the corner. Kian came out of the back carrier and Zane was set up with markers and paper. Then we began to chat. I was obviously stressed and feeling uncomfortable. Pouring out my heart to someone I don't know feels weird. I didn't know that God had a treat in store for me.
For about an hour, Steph and I chatted. We laughed, felt the sting of tears, discussed kids, infidelity, alligators, doulas, anxiety and forensic anthropology. I walked in feeling at the end of my rope. I came out with confidence and a smile on my face. We shared a bit of our lives, of being a mom and loving kids that are going through hard times. Our failures weren't taboo, there was no pretence, no "prettying-up" of the picture. There wasn't any judgement either. Her honesty offered me hope. My honesty in return offered acceptance. There were quite a few times when one of us exclaimed "You get me! No one else does!" It was a very good conversation. She's someone I'd like to keep as a friend.

On the walk home, Aris said that Steph came to visit her. They had a good chat and Aris was feeling much better about life. She said that Steph is going to come visit her everyday and that Aris is looking forward to their conversations. The change in Aris from the last couple of days is remarkable. A huge burden has been lifted off of my shoulders!

What started in failure ended in success. This morning was pretty black and bleak. Thankfully this picture looks much brighter and better at the end of the day. Now, to get to school on time tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Big Snowflakes

Yesterday I ate poorly. In fact, I'm not sure I had a proper meal at all unless of course leftover pizza does constitute a healthy breakfast. Being at my workshop and staying in a hotel, I didn't exactly eat properly over the weekend either, although I did eat some fruits and veggies. Alas as I near thirty, my body no longer tolerates this abuse. This morning my body flatly refused to leave the bed. It took me about 20 minutes to convince my limbs to move. I got dressed and crawled downstairs only to discover that my kitchen was in a state of chaos. Dirty kitchens are no fun! This wouldn't have been such a big deal except that I had put in a lot of energy trying to clean it yesterday only to cook a yummy supper and then have to leave before even getting to eat it. Tuesday's are my crazy evenings with Aris' dance class and then my yoga class. I typically don't get in until 10:30pm at which point I drag myself to bed. The kitchen does not get touched by me on Tuesdays. Unfortunately the magic kitchen fairy was exhausted and went to bed early, so a great big mess greeted me this morning. The thought of all this work on top of my exhaustion just about caused me to cry. And then there's that lovely thought of "My work doesn't matter. It gets dirty, I clean, it gets dirty again". Such bright and cheerful thoughts for a Wednesday.

I wear Kian on my back during the winter. We climb a snowhill to get to school that isn't passable by anything other than foot. I am not crazy enough to attempt walking with Kian. He would love that, I would most likely NOT be able to appropriately model God's grace and forgiveness to my kids. So my little man goes onto my back and off we go. Today when I first took his weight, an extra wave of exhaustion hit. How on earth was I going to make it to school?

The first person we saw outside was my dear friend and neighbour. My kids ran over to her and Kian called from my back "Nessa!" in his cute lilting voice. This was the first time he has said her name! That was pretty cool. After giving her a hug(also a good thing), we set off. And then I noticed the beauty of the day. Great big snowflakes were drifting past me, being gently blown over my head from behind. The trees stood large, brown and majestic against the white snow and blue sky. Kian started wiggling on my back and the kids said that he was catching snowflakes with his mittens and licking them off of my jacket. We continued walking, drinking in the beauty and my soul was soothed.

p.s. i did manage to accomplish something today. I did clean my kitchen, did two loads of laundry, ate a proper lunch and made cornbread to go with supper. after the kids came home, we did a frantic clean before grandma and grandpa came over so my house is much cleaner than it was. *contented sigh*

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Over the past week, I've been thinking a lot about failure. Poor Steve has had to listen to much of my ramblings, some of which were repeats. He is very patient with my verbally processing brain. I've been mulling over my thoughts again today and have more newer thoughts. Hopefully my counselling app't will clear up much of the confusion and allow my brain to move on past this fear of failure.
Failure is a pretty big thing. Trying something and having it end badly is horrible, but even worse is the fear that comes with failure. Sometimes this fear prevents us from beginning anything, sometimes fear cripples us halfway through, often when we're just about to succeed. I was going to give an potential example of that about my mother driving on the St. Catherine's Skyway, but then decided that I didn't need to give her any bad ideas. :) Failure in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the fear attached to it can wound and even kill our potential, hopes and dreams.

I've been thinking a lot about failure because I'm embarking on a new course. Most likely this will be what I do for the rest of my life. Somewhere on the transition from scared, panicked absolutely clueless single mom to (mostly) confident mom of three, I've fallen in love with birth. I'm fascinated by the process and how every woman is unique and different, especially when it comes to bringing new life into the world. Over the weekend, I spent about 16 hours talking about birth, researching birth, and watching videos about birth. We even did birth art after interviewing a woman who had given birth. My hope is to become a fully certified doula and specialize in teen and unsupported/crisis pregnancies. Eventually, when my children are much older, I would like to apply to midwifery school.

What's interesting is that this dream itself came out of failure. I got pregnant right before my 21st birthday. I wasn't married, wasn't even exactly dating my not-then-boyfriend. We had been together for about 4 years, but that time was mostly off. Our relationship was extremely rocky. My parents were not impressed. I was terrified, overwhelmed and sleep-deprived. I knew nothing about pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. I knew nothing about parenting. Thankfully my next-door neighbour was also pregnant and took me under her wing. Thanks to her I learned about breastfeeding, natural childbirth, babywearing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting and most importantly midwifery. Thanks to my unexpected pregnancy, I developed a passion for teen moms and those in crisis during pregnancy. I also found a new community with many moms where I found great support during those early days of "what on earth am I doing?!?" Motherhood did not come naturally to me!

Today I did a lot of thinking and came to accept that failure is okay. When I fail, I learn. That's how I cook after all. The first time I make a recipe something always goes wrong, even if it's just me doing something the hardest possible way. The more I do it, the better I become. Or I learn that no matter how many times I try to eat salmon, it still makes me sick. Failure is a key component in the process of self-discovery and refinement. How I handle failure is very important to my sense of self. Do I take all the blame? Do I take any of the blame? Do I stay hindered by fear? How do I reframe this experience and learn from it?

Believe it or not, this is what I'm thankful for today. My fear of failing and feeling like a failure has receded quite a lot today. And I took a big step in conquering my fears by contacting a local midwife for a tea date. One step at a time, I will get this done and go where God wants me without being strangled by fear. This is a huge change from last night's attitude. My wonderful husband will be soo happy! :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Calm in the Storm.

The first sound I heard this morning was screaming. Unfortunately this isn't unusual at this stage in my life. Kian wakes up somewhere along the continuum from fussing to screaming. The older children typically take about five minutes until their first meltdown of the day. Many people tell me to savour this period of my life and that I will miss it someday. However, I doubt I will ever miss the screaming unless it's because I have completely lost my hearing. Thanks to all of the screaming, that is a fairly probable possibility.

Today's screaming was worst than normal. Kian has woken up extremely grumpy the last couple of mornings. Yesterday I was able to soothe him in about 10 minutes, not so much this morning. Poor Aris had a very bad weekend and spent the entire morning wailing and screaming. I'm not sure about you, but this was not a good start to my morning. However, something amazing happened today. I'm not exactly sure where it came from, but I was in a good mood. Even with all the screaming, I stayed calm. It took us about 30 minutes to get out the door this morning which resulted in the kids being late for school. Normally I would be in a flitter and not using my nice words. For some strange reason, that didn't happen today.

I'm not sure what was going on, but today was a strangely good day. By this I mean that it wasn't that the day went well, but that I handled things well and stayed strangely positive. The craziness of the weekend had caught up to me and I was exhausted to the bone. Kian was clingy and grumpy. The situation with Aris needs to be dealt with both in terms of her behaviour and emotional needs and in making sure that doesn't happen again. This is made more complex as I am getting different stories on what happened. *sigh* Life was crazy today but I'm still in a good mood. I've been in one all day. I have no clue as to why.

Part of it probably has to do with the amount of rephrasing we practiced this weekend. My course really stressed active listening, which I've done a lot this weekend. Perhaps this is just a result of practicing staying calm in the face of chaos and opposition. Or it could be the sheer amount of little blessings adding up. I had a really good connect time with my husband last night. He listened very well to my overflowing fountain of fears as I head in a new direction. I felt very cared for.

Some of it has to do with my kids. There have been so many special moments with them today. Kian is beginning to express affection and to talk. He called Steve and left him a voicemail. After the beep he said " Hi. Miss you. Love. Bye-bye. *kiss*." It was very very cute. He's also been physically expressing affection. Today he grabbed his spiderman doll and hugged him tight. He kissed and hugged both of his siblings. Then he tried to sing both of them to sleep. It was very cute. Seeing Kian change from a very demanding although adorable infant to an affectionate and active toddler is so encouraging. One day in the semi-distant future I won't wake up to screaming. But hopefully until then I will have many more days like this. Days of peace in the midst of the storm.