Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Planetary Adventure

Oh my goodness! I am absolutely exhausted. The last couple days have been filled with excitement and activity but sadly lacking in sleep. I had a great last day at my workshop, a safe drive home and a good small group. My friend's husband made yummy curry. :) I heart curry!

The best part of my day was the drive home from lifegroup. I was exhausted and the kids were freaking out. But somehow our kids decided that the van was a spaceship and we were travelling through outer space. We passed Krypton, Saturn, Mars, Hoth, Betelgeuse, Kashyiak(the Wookie homeworld) and many more on our way to Coruscant. It was a fun and interesting journey. By the end we were making up the names of stars. Zane: What's the name of the star that looks like a light switch? Me: Power On. Aris: What's the name of the star that looks like a V? Me: Oh, that's the Flying Geese Star. :) The kids were amused and spent the drive laughing and engaged rather than crying and fighting which is what typically happens when they're that tired. It was a good drive. :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Early Risers

My wonderful boys decided that morning time came at 5 am today. We tucked both of them back into bed(well, actually Steve did as the boys won't let me near them if Daddy is available), and encouraged them to sleep but to no avail. At 6:00, we tucked Kian in with us and settled down until about 6:30. He wouldn't nurse, wouldn't calm down and answered "no" to every question we asked him. *sigh* Being in a hotel room, this was a problem. If we were at home, we would have enforced our rule of morning doesn't come until 7am, but we weren't at home. Thankfully watching cartoons stopped the screaming and we were able to rest a bit longer.

I went off to my very busy day while Steve prepared to spend a day with his boys. They went to the zoo, went swimming and explored. I talked about the physiology of birth, discussed comfort measures in labour and watched many birth videos. I think this is the first time that I've cried while watching a birth video. I wasn't alone in tearing up every time a baby was born. Every birth we watched was different with its unique twists and turns, but they were all beautiful. The more I learned and watched, the more I want to do this. To be honest, this scares the pants off of me. I struggle with feeling like a failure, that all I do is fail. Being a birth attendant is a huge responsibility. But even knowing this, I still want to do it. Our instructor said that we will make mistakes. The day that we think we did everything perfectly is the day we need to stop being a doula. Having that very honest self-evaluation and acceptance felt pretty good. It's almost as if she said that I will only fail if I stop admitting my mistakes and pretending that I'm perfect. Since I'm pretty conversant with my mistakes, I guess I'm good. :)

Right now, I'm exhausted. Today was a full day and waking up at 5am did not help. Listening to my husband be so patient and soothing with the boys was pretty cool though. He has been absolutely amazing with taking care of both them and me. We had great Chinese food for supper. I had good conversations with people in the class today and think that I might have made some friends that I will keep. Hearing how people met their husbands and about their weddings is pretty cool too. My boys went down without any fussing. Yay! I have a good book to read until I collapse into my pillow. Good night! :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Driving with Jesus..and my GPS

I feel like I must post a warning. Tonight's post is written on Steve's laptop. How fortunate I am that he doesn't go anywhere with out. Well, that isn't quite true. Now that he has an iPhone, he doesn't need to bring his laptop with him anymore. :) Item #56 on the list of how my wonderful husband and I are opposites would be his love of technology and my complete ignorance/fear of it. Thankfully this brings him great amusement, and since he graciously fixes, troubleshoots and answers questions without rolling his eyes too much, I love him all the more. So now that you're warned I'll begin my tale.

This morning was a wee bit chaotic. I had a long list of things to do and needed to hurry home from the school. As I was standing with Aris, the boy I walk home from school approached me with a worried look in his eye. His little sister had come to school, but it wasn't her school day. She was sad and scared. There went my agenda for the morning. We went to the office, called her mom, and then another mom drove us home. The roads were pretty slick this morning, and as we were driving another vehicle rounded a sharp curve much too quickly for the road conditions. Not surprisingly he completely lost control of the car. Remaining calm while a car is sliding towards you is a difficult task. I wasn't so much frightened as not wanting to have to explain to A's mother why she had been in a car accident. Thankfully, the cars did not connect and we got A home without further incident. :)

I hurriedly did my grocery shopping, just barely managing to get to the skating rink on time. I tied skates, put on helmets, taught beginning skating (you want to fall on your bum), held hands, played ice tag, praised kids efforts and helped many a child back onto their feet. It was crazy, but great. Then we scurried home, packed the car, rescued Grandma and Grandpa from the boys and headed out.

Steve was amazing. Knowing how hard I find driving in the big city after our car accident, he didn't even suggest that I do it alone. Instead he found us a great hotel with our points, made plans to go to the zoo with the boys and helped me find the military base where my workshop is located. This is my first time on a military base. It's kinda cool. Intimidating, but cool. :)

Because of how late my course ran tonight, I had to drive myself. Now I dislike driving after dark, and I dislike driving in the big city. I'm always so anxious. My wonderful husband took the afternoon off work so that I would be able to find everything in daylight before my course started. Without me even suggesting it, he drove first to the workshop and then to the hotel so I would be able to find my way back. Because of his love of technology, we have a GPS. The first one was rather dysfunctional with sometimes faulty maps, strange routing and a history of crashing 2 minutes before our destination. Thankfully we now have a much nicer GPS that is much more reliable. We got all the kinks out of our route this aft, so that I knew how to program it appropriately as well. And then off I went.

I was scared. This was the part of my course that I had been dreading the most. Steve prayed for me and then I set out on my adventure. I started the car, programmed the GPS and then said "okay God, here goes! It's just you and me!" And the GPS and my very loud music. I started off with TobyMac but then VeggieTales Worship came on, so I sang praise songs with Bob and Larry. :) Guess what? I didn't get lost, I didn't get anxious, I was actually early, and my van is still intact! Yay! Praise God!!
I loved the course! So far, it is absolutely amazing. The instructor is great and doesn't get on my nerves at all. :) One of the women has a very unique name. During one of the break times, I asked her about it. It turned out that her parents had been in Ghana and had chosen to give her an African name. My daughter's father is from Africa so we began to talk about that. She asked me if I had ever been and I said not yet, not for lack of trying though on my part. I reciprocated the question and she said that yes, she had gone to Rwanda in October. Rwanda was where I was supposed to go, so we began to chat about where she had been and what she had done. We didn't get very far because break was over, but I asked her who she went with. She hesitantly responded that she had gone with International Teams and had I heard of them. How awesome is that? This just happens to be the organization that my husband works for! So cool! I look forward to talking to her more tomorrow.

I could write a lot more. There were a lot of cool conversations. I'm very excited about tomorrow. But it's late and I need to go to bed. I'm so happy I can't stop smiling. Did I mention how much I love my husband? Okay, okay, I'm going now...:)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

Once again, today started off horribly. I got out of bed only to be hit by a migraine. So I went back to bed. Eventually I had to get out of bed only to discover that Zane got out of bed on the wrong side. He spent most of the morning wailing about everything. I tried explaining to the kids that mommy has a migraine and loud sounds really bother mommy's head. They didn't get the concept. I lost my patience and yelled. And cried. Then apologized. We made it to school before O Canada and I didn't yell on the way to school. I made it safely to the town where my husband work through blowing snow. I had a lovely time out with my pastor's wife. (D., you are the best!!) I tried fried pickles. Different and yummy. D. hadn't seen where Steve works, so we went to visit him. I stole two kisses from my wonderful husband, and had a great talk with Steve's boss. Then I drove safely back through the blowing snow and picked up Aris and a little boy I walk home from school. He's not exactly little, as he is 8. But he was being bullied and was finding the responsibility of walking his younger sister home from school stressful. He's a delightful little boy so it isn't a big deal. Today he came over for a playdate. Zane and P. had a great time playing Lego Indiana Jones. I loved hearing them laugh together. All this was good, but the best part of my day came this evening.

Greg Mortenson came to speak in my city today. He's a mountain climber who got lost and ended up starting schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I read his first book recently and was incredibly moved. If you haven't read it, please do. It isn't a waste of time. Tonight's event was amazing. He isn't a great speaker. He stumbled his speech a couple of times. However what he had to say was straight from the heart. What this man has accomplished is absolutely amazing. He came not to beg for money or even to promote his organization, but to encourage us all to find something that we are passionate about and change our world. Out of his mission has come Pennies for Peace which encourages kids to do what they can to change the world.

The first chapter of Three Cups of Tea is entitled failure. It is out of failure that Greg came into his passion. Because he got lost, he learned about the desperate need of Pakistani children for education. He quoted a Persian proverb: When it is dark, then you can see the stars. I want to make a difference in the world. Right now, I feel like a failure. One of the biggest things I was passionate about is currently a closed door. One of the relationships I put the most effort into is over and ended badly. I'm worried that anything I try will similarly end in failure, that maybe that's all I'm destined for.

Prior to getting lost, that's where Greg was too. He was lost, adrift and felt like a failure. It took him many years and miles to realize his passion and his potential. Tonight has encouraged me to keep looking for mine. I have a lot of ideas. I'm passionate about community, serving the poor, widows, orphans and refugees, building relationships, inclusion, birth, breastfeeding, reading, cooking, local food and youth. Where I'm going to go with this I don't know. I don't want to be crazily busy and be away from my family 6 months of the year. But I do want to make a difference. I'm tempted to post some of my thoughts here, but instead I think I need to sleep on them and talk to Steve. For now my thought is: Failure is not the end, rather failure is the opportunity for a brand new beginning.

Speaking of beginnings, I leave tomorrow for the city. My doula course starts tomorrow night and runs until Sunday. Steve may bring his laptop and I may decide to blog from it. Then again, I might not. If you don't hear from me sooner, I hope you have a safe and happy weekend. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Collection of Good Things

I always seem to be having one of those days. Perhaps this is to make me treasure the good days and not take non-pain days for granted anymore. Kian had a rough night last night. We're not sure what was going on, but he woke up several time throughout the night. I woke up before Steve each time, but if I went down, Kian would freak out. At night, he only wants Daddy. This meant that I had to then wake Steve up and that we were both grumpy this morning. Steve won the grumpy contest, so I did breakfast while he slept. Unfortunately, I also have a migraine today. The pain level is tolerable, the alternating numbness and heat is freaking me out a bit. There have been many things that made me smile today, so I'm just going to list those.

- Kian said "mommy" for the first time. Normally he says "mama".
- Zane said to me " Well, you're definitely not a urinal!!" This was hysterically funny at the time. Zane tends to have random remarks uttered in full Zane intonation.
- Reading Little House in the Big Woods to Aris on the couch this evening.
- Listening to Aris read.
- Steve putting dinner on the table because I was slightly incapacitated.
- Steve going to be at 7:30(*sniff*) and then getting back up at 8 because he couldn't sleep. yay! i like spending time with my wonderful husband.
- making childcare arrangements for the next couple of days that actually weren't a problem.
-little boy falling asleep in the back carrier.
-watching Zane sleep.

The list could probably be a lot longer if I wanted it to be. When I start looking at it this way, life looks a lot better. When I compare my life to those around me or around the world, it looks pretty perfect. I need to remember to see my life through God's eyes or the eyes of those around me, not through the lenses of our cultural expectations. I have a roof over my head, I have food to eat, my children are healthy, my family is nearby, and my husband loves me. More than any of that, God is good and His love endures forever. Okay, I think I can go to bed happy now. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Applesauce Procrastination

Today I procrastinated. Normally, my procrastination takes the form of a good book or facebook, but today my procrastination was a lot more productive. While Aris was at school, I made and canned applesauce. Last time I made applesauce, I accidentally overcooked it and then left it in the fridge far too long. But this time not only is it made and stored properly, I also cleaned up all of my mess. Steve was most impressed. Actually, I think he might have been wondering what happened to his wife.

The simple answer is that I really don't want to read my book. Shocking, i know! (Mom, please make dad read this post. I don't think he'll believe it). Although I finished my study guide last week, I still have two books to read by Friday. This shouldn't be a problem, except that I really don't like my book. I'm not sure why, but the thought of reading it instantly causes me to be much more productive. My goal for tomorrow is to finish the book. Not make pie, or bread or any of the other wonderful things I could do, but to finish the book! We'll see what happens. It does feel very good to have those jars of applesauce sitting nicely on my counter though. :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Club

Several months ago, my friend and I decided to form our own book club. We read a book, get together and discuss it. We started doing it because I really wanted to discuss a book that I had read. The topic was rather edgy and I needed to bounce my thoughts off someone else. My best friends in high school were all avid readers, but they either no longer live close or are insanely busy, so I don't get the same chance to discuss books with them on a regular basis. We do however still raid each other's libraries. :) Yay for friends who read voraciously! :)

After several weeks of trying to get together, we finally made it. We met at a local coffee shop after my kids were in bed. I had a lovely London Fog latte( Earl Grey tea steeped in steamed milk with vanilla) and she had hot chocolate. We had both finished the book about a month ago, so it took us awhile to remember the details. In case you're wondering, we read "A Good House" by Bonnie Burnard. It was interesting. I enjoyed it, although the jumps in time really threw me.

One of the things I love best about my book club is that not only do we discuss books, we discuss life. I had a great conversation with her about just about everything. At some point I shared about our recent struggles with Aris and she had some great wise words for me. I really value my friendships with women with older children. They are able to reassure me that I will survive this stage in my life. There are days when I wonder. We chatted about all sorts of things, serious and silly. I came away feeling better, feeling not quite so alone. Other people, ones that I really look up to and respect, feel this way too. It will be okay. I am not alone!

Today went so much better than yesterday. Thank you so much to those who prayed! This morning went so well that I knew someone had to have been praying, but I didn't know who. Then a friend messaged me to say that she had been praying. I have a lot more peace about the situation, especially after talking with my friend tonight. I know this phase may take awhile, but we will be okay. Aris asked to go on a date with Steve tonight, so they went to the mall for dinner. They had a fabulous time. My hope has been restored. She will be okay. Eventually. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sharing and Reconnecting

Goodness gracious! Today has been a very full and at times challenging day! We are walking through a very rough time with our oldest. I think most of today's outbursts had to do with being overtired, but it was emotionally draining on both Steve and I. Hopefully more sleep and prayer will help. Sundays are a hard day for me to begin with, but dealing with Aris' tantrums made it a lot harder. Thankfully there were some really good moments with her though. She brought her camera with her to all of today's events and got some great pics. She also shared her camera without any issues. Several times, she had great snuggles with Steve. Aris has been very resistant to showing affection to either of us, especially Steve. Seeing them snuggling made me happy. :)

This morning, I shared during the service at church. I was very nervous about sharing for several reasons. After the events of this fall, I no longer feel comfortable sharing during the service. But last week God bothered me about sharing on the topic of prayer, so I went to my pastor and volunteered hoping that he had someone already lined up. Unfortunately for me, he didn't. I was really nervous about speaking, especially when I walked into a full service with several newcomers. My language function doesn't always work properly and I find it very hard to speak clearly and coherently sometimes. Thankfully today went very well. I communicated clearly, people enjoyed what I had to say, and I coped with Aris asking me questions during my talk. It's very hard to stay focussed when a little girl keeps asking questions. I'm really glad that I obeyed and volunteered to speak. :)

This afternoon, we had a F&ST WORKS program. This the continuation program for the F&ST families. We meet about once a month for about two years or as long as we want. Several families have left the school for various reasons and more families had other commitments. At first, it looked like just 3 families would be able to attend. Unexpectedly two of the families that left our school showed up about 30 minutes in. It was so good to see them again! I had been becoming friends with one of the families in particular and wasn't sure if I would ever see them again. They moved earlier than expected and I hadn't been able to say goodbye or exchange phone numbers. To be honest, I thought that I would never see them again. Silly, I know since they only moved within the city. But they came today! The two youngest are good friends with Aris and Zane, and I was becoming friends with both the mom and the oldest daughter. She said that she could talk to me because I wasn't a real grown-up. Apparently I act more like a teenager. Given that I'm 28, I appreciated this. :) We hugged and had a great time catching up. They now have my phone number so I can continue my lessons in Somali cooking. :) It was so good to see my friends again.

For dinner, we went to our LifeGroup. Today was supposed to be a social, but we just hung out. It was nice to have some downtime. Harry made a great Indian side dish that I thoroughly enjoyed and for dessert I was served a huge slice of partially frozen lemon meringue pie. Sooo yummy! Zane wasn't feeling well, but it was nice to just visit with our friends and enjoy a meal with them. They are so special to us.

Before I started writing, I was in meltdown mode. Life seemed pretty overwhelming. But after listing all the good things about today, I feel better. Since this is why I'm writing, I'm declaring this post a success! Hopefully tomorrow will be better, especially for Aris and Steve. But whatever happens, we will survive! :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Community and Chole

Community is something my husband and I talk about regularly. We firmly believe that as believers, we are to be in our community. Because of this, we have sent our kids to the local public school (I thought about sending them to a different school for French emersion) and have gotten involved there. Last year we were part of an initiative called F&ST (Families and Schools Together) that we continue to be involved in and this year Steve is the treasurer for the Parent Council. We are at the school every day that our kids are and have gotten to know parents, students and teachers. Steve's parents have also gotten involved at the school as well, leading F&ST and serving at the Breakfast Club. It has been a joy for us to get involved. We have met so many great people there.

But it didn't start that way. Although I'm rather loud and talkative, I'm also very shy. I have a very hard time starting conversations, but when I do, they tend to go deep quickly. I also find talking through a language barrier very challenging which is a problem at a school with such a high ESL rate. Aris' jk year was also the year that I was pregnant with Kian. I was extremely large and was babysitting a little boy which made going to and from the school problematic. Steve worked from home a lot that winter and consequently got to meet a lot of parents. My wonderful husband will talk to just about anyone. He's great at starting conversation and is really good at communicating across a language barrier. This skill was put to good use as Steve purposefully tried to start conversations with those on the fringes. When I started coming to school more regularly, Steve had build a lot of bridges that I could then follow across. Thanks to his efforts, I know have some great friends. I've also become a lot more comfortable communicating across a language barrier, although it really helps if I'm well-rested. :)

Periodically, over the last 3 years I've really doubted myself. I wonder if I could really make a difference and if I'm doing the right thing by my kids. Many of my friends have chosen to home-school or put their kids in a Christian school. They have great reasons and wonderful stories of interaction with their kids. Having a child in full-time school has caused me to envy my homeschool friends who have their kids full-time. Attending a concert at the Christian School and listening to 6 yr olds recite the history of the Old Testament makes me wonder if I have hugely shortchanged my kids in denying them a wonderful opportunity to learn about God in school.

In the last month, there have been a lot of little things that really seem to confirm that I'm in the right place. Community doesn't happen overnight. Relationships don't magically develop in a week. The task that we've set out to do takes years. It isn't easy. I may never see the results of what we're called to do. But I am seeing hope and change and making new friends.

We had a beautiful day today. Our family was invited to lunch at the house of another family from school. Their oldest is in Aris' class and their youngest is in Zane's class. I had been chatting with the mom a bit and invited them for a playdate over the Christmas holidays. We had a lovely time getting to know each other. They are from India and she is doing her PhD here. We had such a good time chatting that she wanted to have us over for a meal when her husband was home. Today was the day and it was wonderful. The food was spectacular (I heart Indian food!), we had great conversation and another bridge was built. I ended up borrowing her girls and taking them to the mall with me. The store we wanted to go to was closed, so we had to try something different. Let's just say that 3 little girls in Bath and Body Works is a lot of fun! They all smelled wonderful by the time we left the store. Next we headed to the shoe store and 3 little girls tried on shoes. As a reward for good behaviour, we had popcorn for a snack. Oh what fun we had! And I made a friend.

Living life together takes time. Building community and showing Christ to those around us takes time. It is such a blessing though when I get to meet new people, hear their stories, share wonderful meals, and walk alongside them. I am so blessed by the wonderful community around me and I hope I am a blessing to them in turn. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Study Guide and Recital

Kian went to Grandma's today. She graciously volunteered to take him so that I could get some work done. Steve dropped him off on the way to work and I took the kids in to school. Zane was super excited about his Pajama Penguin PIzza Party at school today while Aris didn't want to go to school at all. Eventually I got everyone settled and headed home to attack my study guide. Next Friday I start my doula course. Before beginning the workshop, I have to hand in a 38 question study guide. I was anticipating 30 mins worth of work but instead discovered that most of the questions took about that long to answer. Over the course of this week I have been slowly plugging away. As of yesterday, I was at question 21. As of this afternoon, I am done!!! I am so excited and proud of myself! Not only is this the first "school" work I've done in about 7 years, I think this is the earliest I've ever finished an assignment. I was a pro-procrastinator during my school years and had perfected the art of all-nighters. Breaking such a big habit feels so good! I still have two book to read before Friday, so I'm not completely out of the woods yet. But I'm close.

This evening Aris and I went to a graduation recital. We live near a very good music school. If I'm not mistaken, this is one of the best music schools in Canada. One of the girls in my yoga class is a flautist and she invited us to her recital. Aris has been having a very rough time recently so we decided to have a mommy/daughter date. There were some conditions like she had to have a rest after school and be on very good behaviour. She had a meltdown at the school, but then met the rest of the conditions. She got all dressed up and made sure that I was too. Aris packed her own bag with books and stuffies in case she got bored. What a good little girl she was! Everyone was amazed at how well-behaved she was. After the recital we were invited to a reception where Aris was once again very well behaved. She even managed not to have a meltdown at bedtime. Unfortunately she's lobbying for a later bedtime since she is a "big" girl. We'll see how tomorrow goes. :)

I had a lovely time at the concert. The music was lovely. I just closed my eyes and let the music wash over me. And I managed not to have life envy. Once upon a time I wanted to be a musician. I would still like to be a musician, but that's not where my life has gone. I really miss playing. But although I loved the music, I didn't walk out feeling sad. For the first time, I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be. This feels good. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Falls, Dates and Penguins

On Monday, Kian fell off the top of the couch. He screamed for an hour and then settled down. After being put to bed, he woke up and screamed for another hour. My wonderful husband ended up sleeping most of the night with Kian. We checked him over in the morning and concluded that he most likely had sprained his wrist, but that he was fine. He had use of full motion and only complained a little. Yesterday, Kian tripped before supper. He wailed briefly, but after supper I noticed that his arm was swollen again. We're pretty sure it isn't broken. He isn't complaining much, he's using his arm and has full mobility in his fingers. But every time he falls, I wince. Since he's not quite two and still mastering the art of walking, there have been quite a few falls today. Thankfully, he hasn't re-injured his arm again. Hopefully, it will be given a chance to heal.

Today Kelsey's was celebrating its 30th anniversary by giving out free wings. I love wings! Steve and I were going to try for a date, but our kids protested. So we decided to bring them along. I put on eye makeup, and Aris picked out clothes for Zane. He looked very nice. Then we picked Steve up from work. The time limit I'm willing to wait for food is a lot shorter when I'm with three small children. So when we saw that the line was out the door, we went to plan B. Knowing how poorly my kids cope with surprises, we had already discussed what we would do if the wait was too long. Aris picked a restaurant and off we went to try out Popeye's. It was a very strange experience as I used to work at that Taco Bell. Some things were the same, much was very different. The food was good, but the staff needed more experience. The kids loved it though. We had a good family date. :)

Aris and Zane had some great conversations today. Overhearing their conversations just cracks me up. Today was a good day for them with lots of conversations and hilarious lines with very little fighting. This morning, they squeezed in some imaginary play before school. At one point, Aris said that her job is to be an alien doctor. Zane responded " Your job is to be an ALIEN?!?" I cracked up laughing. :)

We drove through the country to get to Steve's office today. I noticed a large bird soaring above us and then it swooped down and grabbed something out of the field. I was driving, so I couldn't pay close enough attention to identify the bird. Aris was listing off the bird's characteristics for me; It had blue or grey outside feather, a white breast and an orange beak. She was trying to identify the bird. She loves animals and spends quite a lot of time at the African Lion's Safari during the summer, so she's fairly knowledgeable for a 6year old about birds. Zane piped up with "Well, it definitely wasn't a penguin". I'm laughing as I type this. Oh Zane, how I love you! :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A New Leaf?

I am a procrastinator. To be more precise, if there was a competition, I would take the title. Procrastination is something that I have down to an art form. But I'm tired of that life, tired of the stress and honestly I can't take the all-nighters anymore. My poor brain is too sleep-deprived as it is. So I'm attempting to reform and get work done in a timely manner.

Today I actually accomplished this. Well, I headed in the right direction. This wasn't an amazing "I feel great" day either. I woke up with the beginnings of a migraine. This morning was slightly frantic and surreal as I attempted to make lunches, feed myself, and read library books out loud. Thankfully Steve decided not to take the bus this morning so he could be helpful. Going back to bed sounded great today. Being productive did not.

My pre-workshop study guide is 35 questions long. Several of these questions are lists of terms to be defined. I think I spent at least 20 minutes/question today. I'm now at question 10. Around noon, I took a long break after my answers to questions started getting acerbic. Define true vs. false labour said the question. My answer: One works. The other is bloody annoying. That's when I knew I had to take a break. Don't worry, I now have a proper answer to that question.

Slowly but surely, I'm finishing my homework. I know there's such a long way to go, but I think I took a step in the right direction in beating my procrastination habit. It's nice to feel like I'm stepping out of a rut and making a positive difference. My wonderful husband is being so supportive of me and so patient with my phone calls and IMs. He spent at least 10 minutes walking me through finding a file that I'd inadvertently hidden. I felt very loved and supported. Now I must go to bed. Good night! :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Herd of Dinosaurs

The bright spot in my very rough day was a herd of dinosaurs. They were coming down my stairs very slowly. In this herd, predator(T. Rex) and prey(brontosaurus) were side by side. My boys are currently into dinosaurs. Zane makes a very convincing dinosaur noise and he was the brontosaurus. Kian was the tyranosaurus rex. We had two little girls over today who were also integrated into the herd. I can't remember what they were though. This very happy and noisy herd brought a smile to my face. Especially the dinosaur noise. It is quite creative. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Inspired By A Pig

My kids watch way too much tv. They watch much more than I ever did as a kid, which is fairly easy to do as I grew up without a tv. One of Zane's favourite shows is Wimbly Pig. His favourite episode is one where Wimbly goes around thanking his lucky star for absolutely everything. Strangely enough, this episode has spurred Zane on to pray. He was refusing to pray for several months, offering a firm loud "NO!" whenever he was given opportunity to talk to God. But after watching Wimbly Pig thank his lucky star for everything("How silly!" my kids commented.), Zane decided to pray. His prayers are long, often in song fashion and he likes to twirl in a circle while praying. But he also thanks God for everything. So this post is inspired by Wimbly and Zane. :)

Thank you, God, for my nice warm house. Thank You for my beautiful children. Thank You that Kian has finally stopped screaming and is sleeping. (Kian fell off of the couch this afternoon. We may have to take him to the hospital tomorrow, but he has finally settled down for now). Thank You for good friends. Thank You for tea, yummy fruits and vegetables and for chocolate. Thank You for parties. Most of all, thank You for sleep! Good night, everyone. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It Will Be Okay.

Today I received a text from a friend asking how my life was going. I responded that for the first time in several months, everything was going smoothly. It was a good feeling. :) About 20 minutes later, an emotional storm hit. Words were spoken and I collapsed. In the midst of my upsetness, I realized something. I will be okay again. Bad things happen. We go through horribly rough times where it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel. In fact sometimes we begin to wonder if there is an end or if some rock fall has closed off the exit. Sometimes I feel as if I will be trapped forever. But this morning, I realized and then clung to the hope that I will be happy again. This storm will pass. Life will go on. Eventually another storm will come, but I will weather that one too.

I'm sure this is a realization that most people have had. Typically, I just feel so overwhelmed and can't imagine life getting better. For the first time, I clung to hope. Strangely enough, the storm passed much quicker than most and I'm back to normal again. God is good. :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In Between Saturday

I really don't know what to write tonight. I had a busy Saturday doing what felt like piece work. My house has been de-Christmasfied and cleaned, I went out with my mom for several hours, and had some friends over for Carcassone and brownies. Steve left for several hours to help a friend move which the boys were not happy about. Apparently on Saturdays they have exclusive rights to Daddy's time. :) Thankfully they adjusted well to his departure and didn't whine much for him while he was gone. They do love their daddy very much! I am so grateful for how much my boys love their dad and how much he loves them back. :)

I am also grateful for parents that live close by. My mom and I went for lunch and then wandered around a nearby town. I bought some citrus oil and some fudge. Speciality fudge was half-price and strangely enough the store honoured the "buy 2, get 1 free" policy. So I bought sambucca, candy cane, and chocolate jalapeno flavoured fudge. I haven't tried the chocolate jalapeno, but I really like my chocolate spicy so this should be good. :)

I am also grateful for getting my house cleaner. On Monday, I'm throwing a party. This morning, my house was a disaster. I have been too tired this week to tackle it well, so messy it has stayed. But today I managed to put enough effort in to deal with the worst of the mess. I still have more to do, but oh does my house look better. Hopefully I will be able to tackle some of the clutter between either tomorrow or Monday during the day.

I still wish I had read more today, but looking back, I am satisfied. :) I crossed some chores off of my to-do list, spent some good quality time with my mom, hugged my dad and sister, made brownies, and had friends over. *smile* Today was a good day. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ice Cream Coupons

Coupons are wonderful! Especially coupons for expensive things, like Marble Slab ice cream. :) For those of you not familiar with Marble Slab, let me enlighten you. This wonderful shop serves freshly churned ice cream to which you add a "mix-in" of your choice and then choose from a selection of dipped hand-rolled waffle cones. Tonight I had eggnog ice cream with skor pieces served in a dark chocolate dipped cone. Delicious! The eggnog ice cream was perfectly spiced. My friend had mango ice cream with raspberries in a white chocolate dipped cone. The best part was that I had a buy-one, get one for $1 coupon and the server let us have dipped cones for free! We felt blessed. Yummy ice cream, a bargain and a good chat. :)

I am thankful for more than just yummy ice cream and good friends though. I am amazingly blessed if we just stop there. But no, God had to throw in another gift. You see, I'm very clumsy and rather awkward. I managed to empty my coins onto the floor seconds before spilling the contents of my purse also on the same floor. Then I dripped ice cream on myself repeatedly, crumbled my cone all over myself, and altogether had a very awkward ice cream eating experience. I have managed to eat ice cream properly before, really I have! The cool part was that in all of this, I wasn't embarrassed. I didn't lapse into intense self-doubt or turn bright red. In the past, a night like tonight would have been absolutely traumatic. Somehow I have become okay with who I am. It is okay that I'm clumsy. it is okay that I spill things. It is okay that I stutter and forget my words, sometimes even in midsentence. I know a large part of this is thanks to my wonderful husband who has such lovely self-confidence that he shares with me. I love that he loves me even when I drop things or do something ridiculous. He is so patient with my anxieties. His calm acceptance of me has gone far in helping me love myself. But today was even more. Today I received a gift of God: the gift of loving myself just as I am. I am sure I'll still struggle with this again, but today's ice cream eating disaster is going to be treasured in my heart as proof of God's wonderful healing. This memory will be held next to the one where I dropped my piece of apple pie in front of everyone, including this guy I was starting to build a relationship with. Far from freaking out, he calmly helped me out. He picked up my pie, cleaned up the floor and said something very sweet and reassuring to me. Eventually he married me. :) I am so thankful for both gifts of acceptance. I am loved just as I am. And so are you. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Being a Fool

While folding laundry today, events from the past couple of months coalesced into a cohesive thought or decision, much like my bread, water, sugar, salt, and yeast turn into a ball of dough after some kneading. Who knows what will happen to my thoughts after they "rise" and then "bake". Please bear with me as I try to explain. This may seem random at first. :)

Several months ago, I was abruptly released from a ministry I was serving with. There was no follow-up. No one even said goodbye. I felt rejected. During the turmoil of the last several months, I have determined to live with as much integrity as I possibly can. This has not been an easy task especially since it meant keeping my mouth shut much more than comes naturally to me. Over the Christmas break, I began thinking of removing some of this ministry's leadership from my facebook friends list. One of the things this adventure has impressed on me is to respectfully let people know why I'm removing them from my friend's list. It doesn't seem as harsh. Harder on me, nicer to them. Anyway, after letting this person know that I was removing them as I had not heard from them since that fateful Tuesday, I got a message back about how much I had been in her prayers and that she had really wanted to talk to me. This confirmed something that had been on my mind for awhile, something rather obvious: Silence doesn't convey anything positive. Silence doesn't say "I love you". Silence doesn't say" I care". Most often, silence conveys rejection or disinterest. How often am I silent just because I don't want to hurt or offend accidentally? How often am I silent because I don't know what to say?

The Apostle Paul wrote a lot of things that many people find controversial and hard to follow. For me, one of those has been the part about being a "fool for Christ". I struggle with that. I want people to find me wise, to be dazzled by my insight. I don't want to be a fool. Standing up in Tim Horton's and shouting "Jesus is Lord" really doesn't resonate with me. Neither does dressing all in lime green(oh wait, that's being a camp counsellor) or giving away all of my possessions. But what if that isn't want being a fool is all about? I mean, maybe somebody is called to do that, but that certainly isn't speaking to me. What if this being a fool means inviting rejection? Not by being a freak, but by being brave.

And here's where those two thoughts began to mesh. What if instead of being silent, I spoke? I called someone who seemed a little bit withdrawn to make sure they were okay? I wrote a note, an email, a letter to someone just to say that I cared? What if I handed someone my contact info and said "hey, if you need to talk, i'm here". What if I appear on my neighbour's doorstep and invite her to tea? All of these scare the pants off of me. I did one today and am thinking really hard about doing one tomorrow. This is inviting rejection. Any time I step out of my comfort zone, out of those known relational paths, I could get hurt. Someone could get mad at me. It's happened before. Or God could be glorified. Someone who was hurting might know that they aren't alone. That people love them.

To be very honest, I don't want to be hurt anymore. I'm emotionally tired. But neither do I want to live my life isolated, impacting no one but myself. I am so thankful for today's realizations, so thankful for the opportunity to reach out to those around me. Perhaps I will refuse to be silent. I will communicate my feelings and let people know that I care. Quite possibly I'll misread situations a time or two and annoy someone. But maybe just maybe I'll help one person feel a little less alone and rejected. And that would be worth being thought a fool. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Walking Together

Eep! I almost forgot to post. So in my haste to get to bed, hopefully I can quickly do justice to some serious thoughts. Here goes!

Relationships are a large part of my life. I survived high school, university and pregnancy thanks to my wonderful triumvirate of friends. Three marvelous and very different women whom I love dearly. Alas one of the perils of being a grown-up means that my friends have gone in different directions and I don't get to see them nearly as often as I would like. I don't phone or email as often as I should either. :( However, I"m going to start saving for a plane ticket again. :)

Recently, I've lost some friends. This was a devastating blow. But over the past couple of years, I've been building a beautiful, and unlikely friendship. Once upon a time, we were enemies. Now she is one of my dearest friends. We've started attempting to live life together, to ask for help, care for each other and build each other up. Today was one of those "walking together" days. She needed help. I didn't want to leave the house tonight. I just wanted to sit on the couch and read lots of lovely books that I just got out of the library. Caring for her though is more important than me getting my own way. So I went, out in the cold braving rush-hour traffic. Guess what? It was completely worth it! I was so blessed, both by my friend and her gorgeous children. :) Living in community, walking together takes sacrifice, but is also such a beautiful gift. Thank you, dear friend, for inviting me into your life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bright Lights in a Tired Day

I am exhausted. So tired that climbing the stairs takes away my breath. I could have fallen asleep hours ago, but I had stuff to do. *sigh* In the midst of exhaustion, I have a list of things of I'm thankful for though.
I'm thankful for my wonderful husband who is so encouraging. He is also a great breakfast maker. :)
I"m thankful for other parenting storms that have come and gone. I know we will surmount the current discipline challenges facing our family. I just have to wait, pray and continue parenting.
i'm ever so thankful for our library system. I have two bags full of books to read. It was like Christmas when I saw how many of my holds were in. :)
I'm also incredibly thankful that all of my children are asleep! Now is my time to eat something salty and read for a bit before bed. Hopefully tomorrow I will find more energy somewhere. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Simple Gifts

There's a song entitled Simple Gifts that my sister and I used to sing when we were little. I can't remember the words at present, but both the title and the tune have stuck with me. Today I am thankful for simple gifts, for little mercies.

Last night, I had a meltdown. Sometimes, I really feel like God has abandoned me. These last few months have shaken my faith. Occasionally, I wonder if God is mocking me, if my life is some sort of cruel cosmic joke. I had a good rant and a good cry last night and expressed some feelings that hadn't made it out before. This morning, I ended up walking to and from school with another mom that I rarely talk to. She went deep this morning, pouring out her heart about her concerns over her children. I mostly listened. Nodded, made affirming or sympathetic noises and just listened. As I turned into my house, this mom thanked me. And I realized that my life isn't a joke. This isn't wasted time. I don't understand what God is doing. I have a lot of questions. But I have learned to listen and to accept a person's pain without judgement or "advice". A simple gift, listening is. Not one that we like to use though. Today, this simple gift blessed us both.

This evening, I had company over for dinner. My sisters came over along with a friend from high school who will be moving back to Europe. My friend arrived first. The house was a mess, the boys were fighting, Aris was doing homework, and I was cooking. But my friend didn't notice the mess. He sat down and helped Aris with homework. He didn't flinch at the screaming fighting boys. When the smoke alarm went off repeatedly because I turned on the wrong burner, he grabbed a dishcloth and fanned the sensor until it stopped. Our dinner guest blessed me so much with his simple gift of acceptance. It was such a blessing to have my company matter much more than the state of my house or my children. Thank you and safe journeys, my friend!

Today I am thankful for a dinner my children ate without complaining, excellent store bought pie, friends and family, and simple little gifts like acceptance and listening. May you be blessed wherever your journey finds you. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chrismation Day

I skipped church today. Instead of attending my church service, we attended first a hockey game at the local arena, and then a chrismation. Friends of ours joined the Orthodox Church today. I don't fully understand the Chrismation process, but it is sacred and beautiful. Although I am from the Protestant faith tradition, I find all the different ways in which Christians worship God fascinating. Aris commented that the service was similar to synagogue, except that synagogue doesn't have sunday school. :)

There were two highlights to my day today. As the Chrismation was starting, dear friends of mine wandered in. Kate is my kindred spirit(a la Anne of Green Gables). I love her and her family so much! Alas they live in a different city and I don't get to see them much. When they walked through the doors, it made my day! :) I spent several hours chatting with Kate and her family, getting to know some new people, holding wee ones and eating very good food. Oh, and I had brandy for the very first time. We were offered wine as well, but I wasn't sure that was a good idea for me. The half shot of brandy left me wobbly enough as it was. :) However, the food and drink more than made up for the very long service. I spent most of it in the basement with my kids. This wasn't a bad thing though since the playroom was fantastic and my friends were down there with their kids. :)

The second highlight was more of a sacred one. You have to understand how different the Orthodox tradition is to my very informal Protestant church. The church I currently attend has no formal liturgy, not even necessarily a set order of service. There is no one hymn we always sing, or one prayer we always pray. So in a very formal, very liturgical service, I felt a bit out of place. The sung liturgy coupled with incense and candles was very soothing albeit in an unfamiliar manner. I'm able to sing at least most of the responses now and I managed not to get completely lost thanks to the help of my dear friend's husband. But twice today, once before the meal and then again at the blessing of my friend's house, we said the Lord's prayer. For me, that was such a beautiful moment of unity. We worship God in such a different manner and there are substantial differences in our doctrine. But for all our differences, there is One God who hears and answers our prayers, and we share that most sacred basic prayer of Jesus Himself. How I love this diverse body of Christ, His bride, the Church! :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Lazy Day

Yay for Saturdays! Today was a rare day for my family. All of us were at home, and we didn't have to be anywhere at any specific time. Certain things had to be done, like grocery shopping(there wasn't much room left on the list), but there were no expectations or timelines today. I got to sleep in today much thanks to Steve who did not. :) Steve and the older two played video games together, I got to read my book and we all went sledding and skating at the school.

Other than the freezing of my feet, my highlight of the day was our outing at the school. We brought our skates and sleds to the school and did a bit of both. Steve and I elected not to skate, mostly to save our backs while we help Kian skate. I was a little sad about that, but I have been skating twice this year already, so it wasn't a big deal. Plus the ice was very snowy and not the best for skating on. I did go sledding though! I went down twice with Kian on the crazy carpet, and once by myself. I almost went down on my stomach, but then remembered that my mobile was in my pocket. Steve would not have been impressed with me for sledding with my phone. :) Most likely Rogers wouldn't have been either!

I am actually enjoying winter this year! I get cold easily and really don't like being cold, so winter is typically my most-despised season. However, seeing my kids enjoying the snow so much and going skating or sledding has made the winter fun. I think I need snowpants though to really enjoy it. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Aujourd'hui j'ai parler en francais!!!

For those of you who weren't required to take several years of French, this translates" Today I spoke in French!!!". What I wanted to say was that today I carried on a long deep conversation about faith, in French!! At one point I was almost bilingual, but have lost much of my vocabulary. Aris' French teacher has been encouraging me to continue speaking in French. Since September, we have had several non-English conversations. Recently I've found myself thinking in French, so I shared this with Madame after school today.

We switched to French and at some point in our conversation, she asked me if I had the "cadeaux de Dieux"(God's gift). After I replied in the affirmative, she said that after watching how I interact with the world around me, she thought that I was a Christian. I was shocked and blessed! School drop-off and pick-up is one of my most stressful parenting moments. Typically someone is screaming. Today Zane had just taken a boot to the face. :( To have someone say that to me, especially someone that doesn't know me well, blessed and encouraged me beyond measure. My prayer for the past several years has been that people will see God in me. I fall sooo short all the time, especially this week. Madame continued with encouraging words and spoke some good Biblical truth into my life. Her words were like water in the desert: much needed and life-giving.

Having a conversation in French was wonderful. Learning that God is answering my prayers to have Him shine through was even better! God is just sooo good to me!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Treasure Box

The best of my day arrived slightly before dinner:

Yes, that's right, a box of food. Now this isn't any box of food. This is my first ever from the first ever delivery of the local/non-local LOFT(Local Organic Food Team) box. Last year we tried out LOFT. It worked reasonably well but our family decided to try out a local food buying club( this year instead. During the winter, Bailey's switches to once a month delivery. This year, LOFT decided to offer weekly boxes with both local and non-local food. I bothered Steve until he gave in and ordered one for me as a trial. I think we will get another. Personally, I was won over, but we'll see what Steve says. :)
The bananas in my box are certified fair trade from Equador, the greens are locally grown as are the tomatoes. Two years ago, we enjoyed that moment of discovery when we opened our box and discovered our treasure(s). Today was no exception. So for supper we enjoyed a delicious salad made with local lettuce and we sampled grapefruit, bananas and apples as our dessert. It's hard to explain just how happy this box made me and still does, but oh it does! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cousins with Blankies.

Steve has come home and is being ever so gracious with my technological challenges. He is such a good man! Here is the promised pic. :)

Cling to What is Good.

So today was one of those days. You know the days that even before you open your eyes, you just know that today will not be easy. I went to bed late last night leaving lots of work undone for the morning which meant I was tired and stressed. Then Steve decided to take the bus to work this morning so he left 45 minutes earlier than normal. However, I was determined to make the best out of the day that I could. We got to school almost on time(yay!) and without much in the way of meltdowns. Well, other than Aris smacking Zane in the head with a stick. Accidentally, of course!
As I was leaving, my MIL called to invite me over to look through some extra craft supplies. I like freebies! :) Because Steve took the bus, I had the van so I was actually able to go over. I had a wonderful time visiting with my MIL and another friend that I don't get to see as much as I might like. Kian threw a fit on the way over, but I distracted him with chocolate and all was good! Kian said new words, including his cousin's name today. He and Madi had lovely cuddles on the couch and a great playtime with their blankets. They have special matching blankets that my mom made. When Madi was given her fresh from the dryer blanket, Kian thought it was his and got upset. I pulled out his blanket from my bag. Madi and Kian began dancing around the living room with their blankets! Soo precious! i'm not quite sure how to upload the photo of the two of them with their blankies. When I figure that out, I'll be sure to post it. :)

This afternoon was chaos. I had screaming children, my shoulder hurt and I felt overwhelmed. But I made the decision to keep on going. For dinner we had a lovely chicken stirfry served with blooming tea in my special chinese tea cups that I got for my birthday. :) After bedtime I made a rice pudding and then made two banana breads, using my loaf pans for the first time too. I think i also got those as birthday presents. :)

The rice pudding is still cooling on my stove, but the stirfry was excellent. Aris, Kian and Steve loved it. Zane didn't like it, but that's Zane. I typically make up recipes. Sure i'll look up a recipe, but I almost always modify it in some from or fashion. Typically my food turns out wonderful. However, the events of this fall really shook my confidence. And for me, 90% of cooking is confidence. I turned out flop after flop when I cooked. Consequently, I stopped cooking. There was all this lovely local produce in my fridge that went to waste. It was very sad and discouraging. But i recently got my confidence back. I'm not sure how or why, but i'm cooking again! yay! i've made a carrot/parsnip/ginger soup, a carrot salad, enchilada lasagna, chicken curry, and today a chicken stirfry, banana bread and rice pudding! i am celebrating!

It has been a challenging day. It has also been a day filled with glorious bright spots. So I am choosing to focus on those and go to bed with a smile. And a full tummy from sampling my baking. I'm off to get my bowl now....blessings! :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baby sea turtle

Today marked the second day of school in 2010. Unfortunately, this morning did not go quite as well as yesterday, however we made it to school on time. I will take that! My youngest(kian) is not quite two. He's quite the silly little fellow. :) My kids take forever to get ready in the morning, and typically get "lost" while getting changed. When I came upstairs to check on them, Kian was on his brother's bed. He climbed underneath Zane's pillow and began to wave his limbs. He was pretending to be a sea turtle(we think)! But whatever it was that he was doing, he was laughing hysterically. Baby giggles have a way of brightening my day. :)