Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Niagara Getaway

 After the craziness of the last several weeks, our getaway was a much needed respite.  For the first two days, I could not stop grinning.  We left our boys with Steve's parents as Aris was with her other grandparents.  She also went to Niagara, but not while we were there.

 We had a great time away.  First, we stopped at Marineland, where I got to feed a beluga whale.  We also saw some pregnant beluga whales.  I'm not sure which was more of an impressive experience!  After Marineland, we checked in at our hotel.  Imagine our surprise when we ended up at a different hotel than expected!  It was still very nice, but instead of being on Clifton Hill, we were across from the Horseshoe Falls.  This is me standing across the street from our hotel.  We loved the view!

  I have a lot more to write as we had many awesome adventures, but it's late and I must go to bed.  I will try to blog again tomorrow.  I do finally have pictures up on Facebook though!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


  Amid the cluttered kitchen I stand, my hands washing dishes, my mind picking over decisions made.  This one was good, another unknown, and these, well, they lie heavy on my heart like a pile of rocks, and I weep over them.  I mourn the innocent blindness of youth and first love and all the sorrow that followed.  How I wish my eyes would have been opened, my ears would have heard, that I would have been wise then.  Sorrow floods me as I mourn those choices.

 But the path of regret is treacherous, filled with potholes, a ravine on one side, a steep cliff threatening avalanche the other.  For to mourn my decisions is to reject the blessings that they brought.  The same bad decisions brought me my darling first born, my dancer, my artist, that whirlwind of ideas and energy?  How can I wish to never have dated her father when through her birth I first grasped grace?   When it was because of her that I first exchanged words with the man I later exchanged vows with?  He first fell in love with the sweet baby, not the young mama with the spiky purple hair.  That sweet girl loved him back, turned to his voice while "walking" on unsteady baby legs, so that the broken spiky girl learned to trust, to love and to be loved.  Love came, two more babies came, and healing comes in deluges and sprinkles, but always continuing. So then how can I have regrets?

 I weep over the pain, the brokenness that I have caused.  I weep over the consequences of my sin, for the little girl who has to bear them.  But I rejoice in God's goodness, in how He has made all things new, taken my shame and turned it into a beautiful love story.  I cannot separate out my life, say this is good and this is bad.  I made bad choices, I was so deeply wounded, but oh the beauty that has come from such a sad beginning!
 Join with me at Emily's today:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Birthday Blessings

 After an intense couple of weeks, I was pretty sure that my birthday was going to be forgotten.  This often happens as my birthday falls at the very end of a month filled with birthdays and anniversaries.  By the time we get to me, everybody is partied out.  After several bad birthdays, I try to keep my expectations low.  Still, I sometimes find myself in tears on what was supposed to be my special day.

 Not today!  Today has been wonderful.  I have received so many texts, emails and facebook messages either offering birthday wishes or words of encouragement and love.  The wonderful J brought me flowers, white chrysanthemums and a single red rose.  Kate was still in town and came over bearing cake that her mom had made.  It was delicious!  She stayed for my special birthday lunch that my mom brought over, along with a new re-usable bag, a necklace that she made, a beautiful card(that she also made) and a lot of chocolate!  My wonderful husband threw me a family party complete with shwarma(my current favourite food) and baklava instead of a cake.  During the meal several friends dropped by to wish me happy birthday along with cards, songs and hugs.  For my gift, Steve picked up the sequel to my favourite video game.  Zane was extremely excited as he also really enjoys this game.  Both of our parents gave us money for our upcoming trip.

 I can't stop smiling.  Today was amazing.  Even though I didn't do anything "special" (except for accidentally zapping myself on the fuse panel), I feel so loved and blessed.  Thank you to everyone who showered such love and kindness on me today.  *hugs*

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best Friends 2

 There are those friends that you don't have to pretend with.  The friends who've been there, who've watched you make mistakes, make good choices and just generally figure things out.  Kate is one of those friends.  In a couple of weeks, we will have been friends for 15 years!  She's seen me through a lot of change, and a lot of transition, especially in grade 11 when I struggled to find my identity.  Because of our history, I can be honest with her.  She came to visit me this week.  She doesn't need a clean house or well behaved children.  She can come sit on my couch and read a book, and it's okay!  I like those kind of friends!

 Later, once my wonderful husband came home and kids had been fed, we went to Chapters and then to Marble Slab.  It was lovely!  I am thankful for a friend who can be in real life with me, who can read cookbooks with me at the bookstore and then chat over fancy ice cream together.  I'm thankful for laughter over ants and understanding over hard times.  Best friends are a blessing, especially the ones that stick around.  I am well and truly blessed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Best Friends

 Last week was rough.  So was yesterday.  I woke up emotionally numb and heavy-hearted this morning.  Steve and I shared coffee and prayer over breakfast.  While he headed out the door to work, I grabbed my Bible and journal and headed to the patio.  I sat for quite awhile and journaled the most I've written at one in several years.  I felt at peace, but still filled with questions.

 And then, my best friend Kate came over.  She lives out of town, and I miss her dearly.  It was so nice to have her here even though I had to take Kian to an appointment.  Every time Kate has visited, Kian has been grumpy.  Today was her first time getting to see him in a good mood.  He's a charmer when he's happy.  Later on Kian proved that he hadn't been abducted by aliens when he pitched a fit, but he was at his giggliest for the first part of her visit.  We chatted a bit, drank tea and coffee, and just hung out.  We didn't have a deep conversation today, but it was just so nice and restful to hang out with my best friend again.  I miss her so much!   I'm thrilled that she's going to be in town for the next couple of days.  Between her visit and some good meetings for Steve today, I feel much better about life.  This may just be a reprieve, but breaks are necessary for survival.  I am thankful. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hopeful Mourning

 At lunch today, I gathered with some extended family and sang Happy Birthday to Aunt Irene.  Two hours later, we gathered at her church to wish her goodbye.  Steve's great aunt passed away on Wednesday and was buried today, on her 88th birthday.  She lived a good life, filled with people, adventure, love and service.  The church was decorated with beautiful banners that she had designed and created with the help of her good friends.  Pictures were displayed showing Aunt Irene with the love of her life.  Today, she celebrated her birthday in heaven with Jesus and her dear husband who passed away 6 years ago.

 There were some tears scattered here and there.  Aunt Irene was a wonderful woman.  I didn't know her long or well, but I loved her dearly.  It has been an honour to be part of her extended family.  She will definitely be missed.  But today, as we celebrated her life, we also celebrated our great hope, that of eternal life.  And it was beautiful!  We came home, not drained and grieving, but refreshed and re-energized.  I want to live my life like Aunt Irene, full of courage, caring and acts of service.  Hearing about her life inspired me to live a better story.  We've been at a crossroads this week wondering what we should do next.  Aunt Irene's funeral has given me direction and motivation.

 Aunt Irene, you were special.  Thank you for your love and your testimony.  I will see you again.  Love, Gracie:)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It Is Well

In the words of Horatio G. Spafford: 
  When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
  When sorrows like sea billows roll;
  Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
  It is well, it is well, with my soul.

    Today this song keeps running through my head.  And as I walk through the valley of uncertainty and sorrow, I am reminded that it is well by little boy smiles and beautiful flowers. 

     Today I join with Emily at Imperfect Prose. 

    Scratch That...

     You may remember my previous post in which I mention that we are shooting some metaphorical rapids.  That has since been changed.  We are now, metaphorically speaking, in the middle of one of the Great Lakes in a little canoe as a major thunderstorm rolls over the horizon.  Did I mention that the canoe is aluminum?

     I'd carry the metaphor further and say that no one knows where we are, we have no way to communicate with anyone, and a shark just ate our paddles.  But I have been told that there are no sharks in the Great Lakes(I'm not exactly sure about that), so that part doesn't work.   Neither does the rest of that ring true either.  In the midst of our extremely trying week, we have been surrounded and supported by prayer and concern.  We've been given lots of hugs, my parents have jumped in with emergency babysitting, and our close friends are supporting us however possible.  Although this time is trying,  we know that eventually this storm will pass too.  And although we may not be able to see the shore,  we are confident(at times) that God does.

     Several weeks ago, we booked a meeting for last night.  Steve's big boss invited us and several others over for a barbeque and work meeting.  Yesterday Steve's dad invited us to an emergency family meeting that conflicted with the work meeting.  We chose to attend the work barbeque, get a babysitter and then come late to the family gathering.  It was a good choice!

     Steve and I have been carrying around a lot of stress this week.  We are both emotionally overwhelmed. Last night we were hugged, supported and encouraged.  We weren't the main focus, we didn't even go into details about what's going on, but our friends and coworkers made very certain that we knew they cared for us.   The gathering took place on a huge deck surrounded by ferns and forest.  My soul drank in the greenness like a big glass of water.   My body enjoyed a nice glass of red wine.  The conversation was by turns amusing and deep, with many different eddies.  I enjoyed sitting next to an honourary niece, even though she wasn't feeling well.   The food was spectacular.  I think I could write an entire post just about the food.  Over a two hour period, my stress drained away as my self simply sat and luxuriated.  Even the potatoes(cooked with rosemary and sea salt and then dipped in sour cream) were a delight to my senses.  And the couscous!  Words fail to describe the wonder the couscous brought to my tastebuds!  Needless to say, we left in a better frame of mind than when we arrived.

     God knew in advance what this week would bring.  He knew the very heavy burdens our family would be carrying.  So, in His goodness, He arranged for us to have an oasis of peace and rest.  It was brief, but enough.  We emerged with enough strength to keep on going through to the next meeting.  Today we have hope.  We mourn right now, but not as people who do not have hope.  Mourning may last for the night, but joy WILL  come in the morning.

     If you pray, please keep our family in your prayers!

    Monday, August 16, 2010


     Sometimes, just when life seems to be flowing smoothly, our canoe rounds a bend and hits a patch of white water.   That would sum up our lives at the moment.   Yesterday morning we were on a calm patch of river that seemed to stretch out nicely.  We had some busyness planned, but life was good.  Little did we know that there were some rapids hiding ahead.

     Yesterday morning during a routine congregational meeting, our pastor announced that he is stepping down and soon.  We love our pastor dearly and he has walked with us through some treacherous situations.  He will be missed.  Although we have peace about his decision(during his announcement I felt bathed in peace), as a family we need to pray about what to do next.  Currently, we are waiting, watching and praying for God's very clear leading.

     At noon, I was having a long conversation with my mother-in-love when she had another call come through.  I didn't think anything of it until she called me back about three hours later to say that they were leaving town immediately.  Steve's great aunt is near death.  Steve and I were messaging via Skype so I clued him in on current events and we also decided to go.  I grabbed diapers, toys, drinks and chocolate chip cookies and headed out the door to first grab Aris from dance camp and then get Steve from work.  Unfortunately I forgot that Aris only wore her leotard this morning and didn't bring her proper clothes.  Oops!  Thankfully she was okay with that.

     Our kids behaved wonderfully both on the way there and in the hospital.  We didn't let them in to see Steve's aunt, but we both went in and said our goodbyes.  She is in a lot of pain.  We have peace, but it is so hard to see her suffer.    It appears that her systems are shutting down so she may go anytime.  However she may not.  Consequently, our plans for the week are now tentative.

     Rapids are very pretty from a distance.  Going through them can be scary.  So we're attempting to stay calm and trust that the One steering knows what He is doing.   Steve and I are doing well, but please pray for Steve's parents during this time.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Secret Agents

     As we drove down their street, I noticed that both cars were still in the driveway.  As we cruised past, we saw them walking out, preparing to leave.  So Secret Agent Steve drove around the block and parked on a side street.  For several minutes, we waited anxiously until we saw them drive past.  Then we pulled ahead, turned onto their street and into their driveway.   I used my key and we were off.  Sorry, I know this story would have been much more exciting if we had picked the lock.  But I didn't even think of that until now.

     Don't worry, we weren't actually doing anything illegal.  And my mom had complete knowledge of our break-in.  She had asked us to come over and set up Dad's birthday presents while she was out.  Somehow we both were running late which resulted in our secret agent moment.  Steve set up a gazebo and an outdoor fireplace in my parents backyard and then grilled steak and corn on the cob for dinner.  We had fun surprising my dad and a nice dinner followed by a fire.  It was hot, but lovely.  Dad was pleasantly surprised even though Zane almost ruined the surprise by saying "We didn't do anything in the backyard, Poppa.  Daddy's just cooking dinner".  Zane is good at arousing people's suspicions with statements like that. :)  It's a talent he has.

     My parents bless us so much that it was nice to give back.  But my favourite part was still the sneaking around. :)

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    A Celebration of Dad!

     We had a party at our house tonight.  Granted, it was a small one with only 6 people in attendance.  But I think the guest(no pun intended) of honour preferred it that way.  Today is my dad's birthday.  He turned 55, which is also the number of the year he was born in.  Aris and Zane have already hit those numbers while I will have wait until I'm 81 to do so.  Just the random thoughts in my brain....

     Occasionally, I rave about how wonderful my parents are, especially my dad.  He is amazing!  Dad taught me to read and fostered a deep love of reading as he read many books to me as a young child.  I liked being read to so much that I refused to read by myself for 3 years.  My parents were a wee bit frustrated.  Looking back, I think they're glad I took that long before diving headlong into the world of books.   Dad's love of reading and story is what started my lifelong affair with books.

     Dad has also invested countless hours praying for me, listening, and dispensing wisdom especially as I've had children.  He's done odd jobs(mostly involving plumbing) for me and my friends and has bailed me out numerous times.  Perhaps the most interesting was when he picked the kids and I up after Steve ditched the car.   (In Steve's defence,  the shoulder really did look level and much wiser than it actually was!)  We weren't injured, just stuck but it was late and my kids really needed to go to bed.   My father has been in a rock in all sorts of crazy circumstances.

     So today, we celebrated him.  He probably would have preferred to go straight home, but we invited him over for supper and served some of his favourite foods.  Instead of sitting at home, he was served a lovely meal(ribs!) complete with entertainment.  I have three kids.  Kian started wearing underwear today.  It was very entertaining!   We sang happy birthday,  Aris showed him her museum and we watched some videos on YouTube(one of my dad's favourite things).   It was a small celebration of a wonderful man.  I love you, Daddy!  Happy Birthday!

     P.S.  Happy anniversary to my dear East Coast friends and a happy birthday as well!  Love you!

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Sickness and Rest

     Reflected off my computer screen, I can see the green-gold leaves flutter in the breeze.  Cyclists fly past and I hear my children's happy shouts echoing from the pool.  It's a great day to be outside, especially to splash in the pool.  Simply gazing out my window soothes my soul today.  But I am inside, struggling to keep my weary eyes open.

     For I am sick.  Not one day down, but three in part because of foolishness and desire to do more than my poor body could handle.  Accustomed to pushing through migraines, I tried to do the same with a virus.  It didn't work well.  For my pains, I ended up wracked with fever, chills and body ache.  I've been miserable.  I hoped to be better today.  I had grand plans of canning peaches, doing laundry, walking to the library and having company for dinner.  The laundry is still in process, but the rest has been scrapped.

     Instead I've sat on the couch, played games with my children and encouraged them to make their own lunches.  Zane made his favourite wrap(tortillas, peanut butter and honey) while Aris experimented.  She made ants on a leaf(peanut butter, raisins and cucumbers) because we were out of both bread and celery. They practiced important life-skills and I learned delegation and appreciated creativity.  Despite my initial reservations, ants on a leaf is rather good.  Different, but good.

     And in this challenging week, I'm learning to rest.  Slowly, I'm being taught when to say no and when to say yes.  I want to always be strong, to always push through, to always be the martyr.  Yes, I know I have issues.  This week I've experienced the consequences of saying yes when I should have said no.  I've been taken care of and seen my body start to heal and then I had the opportunity to put my newly learned lessons into practice.  So I took a deep breathe, admitted my weaknesses and cancelled.  Then I rested.

     Hopefully I will be well tomorrow.  But if not, I will practice resting once again.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Sick Mommy

     The last couple days have been a haze of misery.  Thankfully I'm the only person sick and hopefully it will stay that way, but oh! The misery!  This is the worst illness I've had in quite awhile.  I'll spare you the disgusting details that I'd love to share(our family is kinda gross that way, perhaps it's because there are three males in the house?)  and tell you the blessings in the midst of sickness.

     -Husbands that can stay home from work and take care of wives and children.
     -Daughters that come give hugs, and check on Mommy while she's being sick.  Aris was so cute and helpful yesterday even though she hates gross smells.  She took care of me while plugging her nose.
     -Soft quilted blankets that my grandma made.
     -Gravol, tylenol and ibuprofin.
     -Good books to read when I couldn't sleep anymore.
     -Husbands that make rice pudding.
     -Family recipe books to aid husband in said making of pudding.
     -Parents that babysit on the second day of illness.

     Hopefully I'm on the mend and back to more regular blogging.  I've been sick or struggling with a sore back for the last two weeks.  Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon.  :)

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    Gaming Friends, Geeky Friends, Best Friends

     It's been a good day.  We had a great church service, a quiet lunch, quiet time and then a trip to the mall.  This evening, I invited two of my closest friends over.  We really enjoy playing racing games on the PS3, so that's what we did tonight.  It was fun.  While playing, T commented how great it was to have friends that are also geeky girls.  I agree!

     For more geeky girl pics and commentary, check out Epbot.  Then go see the rest of these Depression-era photographs.  Amazing!

     I am really enjoying being a girl geek today! I also found out about a Star Wars Celebration.  How I would love to go! The best part is that Steve would go willingly.  I'm so glad I married a geek! :)

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Apologies and Impromptu Parties

     Sorry I haven't written much this week.  Between a sore back and some other matters that involved my computer being tied up until very very late on evening, I haven't been able to blog.  But it's not that I haven't wanted to, or that I've had a bad day.  I've actually be very very productive this week.  Despite the children's best efforts, my house is actually marginally cleaner and I've made jam, a cobbler and a pie this week.  I also made dinner.  Only once, but I did make dessert the other times. :) I made ribs and corn on the cob.  It was goooood!

     We had a very nice day today.  I wanted to make bread since it was cooler and my freezer stash has all been used.  Unfortunately, my back was very angry at me so I took the day off.  Later I decided to run errands with Steve and the boys very last minute.  We had a great time getting a picnic table for my mom, especially after Kian fell asleep in the van resulting in my being forced to read my book.  What a hardship! *cough* After finally choosing a picnic table, we drove to my parents house to assemble it.  Steve is seriously talented!  And he looks really cute in coveralls!  Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera so I don't have pictures to show off how cute he was.  :)  It was even cuter to see the little boys helping him. :)

     As we arrived late in the afternoon, my parents fed us supper.  Corn on the cob, steak, sauteed mushrooms, and roasted new potatoes.  Mmmmm!  So good! My mom's birthday is on Monday, so Dad had picked up a cake for her.  I convinced him to bring it out and turn our bbq into a party.  We invited over the neighbours to share the delicious chocolate cake.  It was good!  I enjoyed spending time with my boys and my parents.  Hopefully my back will behave and I'll be able to get more done.  Until then, I'll try to enjoy the forced reading time. :)

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Catching Frogs

     We're on day three or four of the return to normal life.  I'm not exactly a fan.  I'm missing the beach, the tree-covered hills, the delicious meals that I didn't make, and my husband.  No,  I didn't leave him there!  But I really miss him when he goes back to work.  Because of the long weekend, today was his first day back.  Other than Kian having digestive issues,  I think the return went well.  I got some housework done, and we had a great meal tonight.  We had barbequed ribs, roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.  Soo good! But I still felt lonely with Steve back at work again.

     Having Steve around all week ranked the highest on the list of reasons I love vacation.  Next on the list came being by the lake.  Now although the lake the camp is on is fairly deep, the camp is located on the shallowest edge of the lake.  Consequently, on either side of the beach are some nice marshy areas with some beautiful flowers.  The marshes are also home to some lovely critters.

     My children really like frogs.  They also really catching frogs, because they can be admired so much better when up close.  Thankfully their mother also really likes catching frogs.  Aris  and I went catching together first.  She has clearly inherited the frog catching gene from me.  That girl is good!  Later we decided to introduce Kian to frog catching.  We know he likes frogs, but we're pretty sure he couldn't actually catch any by himself.  The plan was to let him cheerfully chase them and then I would catch one for him to hold.

                                                              Here's Kian looking for frogs:
                                                    He's found one, but can he catch it?
                                                           Fwoggy! I catched fwoggy!

           Now we both have froggies.  Kian has the daddy froggy, and Mommy has the baby froggy.  While        Steve was taking this picture, Kian was trying to make them kiss.  It's obvious that he's delighted.
     Today when the kids were grumpy, I missed the lake.  I missed catching frogs together, playing in the sand(ok, watching them play in the sand) and splashing in the lake.  But I'm so thankful for the funny stories, the pictures and the memories that we brought back with us.   It was good. :)

    Sunday, August 1, 2010


     Vacation is over and we're back home again.  The week away was wonderful!  There's something about water that soothes my soul. Living next to the lake for a week was bliss!  I was in or on the water most days.  I think Steve was on the water every day.  We were happy!

     I have lots of stories and pictures, but am trying to re-adjust to being back in the city and away from the lake.   I'm also still fighting a cold.  Boo!  Hopefully I'll be able to share more stories and pictures as this week progresses.