Sunday, October 28, 2007

Together


This past month saw me go to Winnipeg for a scrapbooking convention called Canada's Crop for Kids. Loved it! Had an absolutely hilarious trip with two scrapbooking friends from here and met up with a precious friend in Winnipeg. The time zoomed past but I was glad to get back to my family. Not glad to leave my friend Tracy though. Sigh.

Gary was away this weekend and I really missed him. So many different things going on and I was left with a houseful of guests, a football wind-up, and two indoor soccer games to fit into the schedule. Schedules are a good thing to carve out some order but sometimes they have to be tossed for more pressing realities. Well, reality hit my poor little Sophie square in the face on Saturday. Right in the nose, to be more precise. If you can believe it, my 6.5 year old suffered a broken nose and a concussion in a cousin collision. I felt horrible for her, even moreso because I was at Noah's game when it happened. I was able to find a ride for Olivia to get her to her game but I missed seeing her play her first game with a new team. I relished the time holding a sleeping Sophie in the waiting room at the clinic. Sometimes the world seems to be moving far too fast.

This fall has been busier than I had hoped. We're ready to begin renovating our basement but haven't had much time to even think much about it. I'm so excited to be expanding our living space and very content with the plan to stay in this house rather than moving to something larger. With some changes to make the most of the rooms we have, this will really be the house we've always dreamed of. I really appreciate the fact that Gary and I are on the same page about that sort of stuff.

At the end of this weekend I am so happy to have my husband home. I am thankful that I have such a loving husband to walk through all this craziness with me. I am thankful for opportunities to get to see that we truly are a good match and that being together is the very best place for us to be.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

{How Not to Blog}

I think I could write a little dissertation on the above topic. Life gets in the way and I'm often not wanting to be introspective when I sit down at the computer. I'm looking for a break, man! This past month has been intense with the start of so many things: a new homeschooling year, music lessons, Bible study, Sunday School (as a student, not as a teacher), and a new major renovating project in our home necessitated multiple trips to visit our banker. One thing came to an end this past week: Noah's first football season. What an amazing finish he had! Playing for the city championship, the game was finally called at a 14-14 tie after eight, count 'em, eight overtime halves! These kids were amazing. I am so thrilled that Noah had this opportunity.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the nature of friendships and just what role friendships should play in the life of a 30-something-homeschooling-God-loving-wife-and-mother. I have been blessed with some amazing friends but I've also gone through some difficult friendships, some of which have needed to end at one point or another. I find this whole relationship balance stuff really challenging and I struggle daily to keep my priorities in the right order. There have been some hard conversations in this past month and I've shed many tears while praying for wisdom and courage to do the right things, not just the easy things.

Well, there you have a nutshell glimpse into what's going on in a few corners of my life. I had a neat opportunity to be the Guest Design Team member over at Scraptivity for the month of September. I'll leave you with a little glimpse of some of the creative work I've been busy with these past weeks:

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Back at it!


The benefit of being a more regular scrapbooker than I am blogger is that I have loads of projects waiting to share. This is a layout I completed several weeks ago and I think I'm getting to the end of our soccer season pics. I really don't know if Sophie will play soccer again. She's already said no to playing indoor this fall and winter and we're okay with that. She's an active kid but she's not very big. At six-and-a-half years old and about thirty-six pounds, I don't really blame her. There are easily kids twice her weight and I think it's intimidating for her to see someone taller and heavier rushing at her. Doesn't seem to stop her brother from taking her down once in a while though (*smile*).

Yesterday was my first day back teaching music lessons and it went surprisingly well. It's not the lessons so much that I was thinking about but how the kids would do, especially as I taught several lessons in the afternoon. My first three students are also homeschoolers and are familiar to my children. The moms would stay upstairs while I taught down in the studio and everyone was well entertained by the turnover of people through the house every forty-five minutes. I had one more lesson in the afternoon, a Grade 12 student I've taught for about seven years. She has heard just about everything in her years of coming to our home so I am not concerned if I have to excuse myself for a minute. I didn't allow any TV during the day but did let the girls choose a program to watch during this lesson time. It worked splendidly! I had just over an hour to get some dinner going before I started my evening round of teaching. All in all I taught eight lessons. Next week I add one more in the evening and I will add one more after that once the high school football season ends. Three new students, seven returning. It's going to be a good year. Busy Tuesdays but now I don't have any lessons to teach until next week.

Early start today with a workout before Gary left for work. I am trying trying trying to get into a regular exercise routine. I hear people say how much better they feel when they exercise, blah blah blah. I'm not a big fan of sweating and I count the minutes until it's over. Maybe once I start to feel some results I will have better things to say. Discipline, right? Why can't my body just be a slightly oversized temple?? Oh well. It's done.

Coffee? I think I'll start a pot right now. Have a super Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Season to Season


Our family travelled six hours north of here at the beginning of July for a great week of family camp. I was thankful for the very loose structure of the week, allowing us a lot of time to enjoy just being together and enjoying this beautiful piece of this province. Every morning the adults met for a time of worship and teaching and I so valued the timeliness of the speaker's topic. I found it coming back to me this morning as I prepare for a big week of transition into a different season of busyness.

For six mornings we looked at the book of Ecclesiastes. Hardly enough time to get a deep understanding of this rich book of Scripture, but a great chance to get a feel for this book, bits of it are very familiar as they lend well to political speeches, folk songs, and both wedding and funeral services. Basically the author explores what life would be absent from God, putting various pursuits in place of chasing after and focusing a life on the Lord. It's the same old stuff that people chase after today, all those fleeting things that just don't last. What I do see now is that the book smacks of a life off kilter. All these things have been given to us for our enjoyment and to enrich our lives - wealth and wisdom, for example - but putting any of those things in the place of most importance leads to a life of emptiness. It seems so easy to get a bit off track.

Why am I thinking about all this? Today I start teaching music lessons again. It will be a bit of an experiment as I have scheduled a few lessons during the day while my husband is still at work. I'm trusting my kids to do okay without me for short bursts of time, in cooperation with some other moms who have agreed to stay with them while I teach their kids. We started our fifth year of homeschooling last Monday, after a blissful summer of vacationing and enjoying a lot of play time. Church activities swing into full gear in the next couple of weeks. I've had a cool opportunity to be a Guest Design Team member on Scraptivity! for the month of September (I've asked Gary to refer to me as "Miss September" until that time is up). There are women in my life who I continue to meet and study with. Oh, and I have a household to tend to and children to raise. Any one of those things could easily shift the balance of importance. Most of all my desire is to stay on track, following Him through all the twists and turns of each season.

I wish you joy as you walk through whatever season you are in right now.

Oh, the canvas above is a project I completed a couple of weeks ago for a basketball-playing friend of mine. It was great fun to work on and the verse has special meaning for her. Thanks for looking!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I've been tagged in the Middle Name Game

I've been tagged by my friend, Kell. So, here it goes:

The rules:

You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name.
If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.
Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
My middle name is Marie.

M is for Mom. She chose the name. She is a great Mom and I hope that I am as good of a mother to my children.

A is for Artistic. There is an artsy side of me.

R is for relax, which is something I need to do.

I is for intelligence, a quality I greatly admire and am drawn to.

E is for empathy, which I am feeling right now for many people in my life.


Now I'm supposed to list the people I've tagged. Thanks goodness I don't have a longer name!

Let's see now....
Ara
Amy
Miriam Pauline
Vicki
and Caitlin!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Football Dude


I have no idea how I gave birth to someone who wants to play football. It's not that I don't like sports, it's just the idea of spending 16 hours at a camp where they MAKE you run and sweat and take some hits, rain or shine, that I'm not particularly inclined toward. Noah spent exactly that, 16 hours over 4 days, learning some football skills. He's been after us to let him play for a year and a half. So many people have told us that this boy is built for football and that, if he wants to play, he should learn how to do so properly. I was skeptical, I'll admit, until picking him up at the field after the first two-hour session.

Me: How was football, buddy?
Noah: Best thing in the WORLD!
Me: Did you get tackled?
Noah: Oh yeah! But I took a couple of guys down too.
Me: Did it hurt?
Noah: Yeah, but everyone was cheering for me.


The idea of anyone hurting my baby isn't a pleasant one. I don't get guy sports. I like to watch football, I just can't imagine willingly putting myself on the field. This is where the gender difference between mother and son really stands out. I'm a better soccer mom. I'd better suck it up. Regular season is underway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We interrupt this holiday...

It seems right now that real life is interrupting my holidays. Kind of a nice spot to be in, actually. We had a great week up at Family Camp and are home for a few days, mostly to get the laundry done and enjoy a little down time, before entering Phase II of our holidays. The kids and I will be heading up to my parents' house for a week. All four of my children are now old enough to go to Vacation Bible School. I'll enjoy having a bit of a break in the mornings and we'll all enjoy an extended time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Hope that wherever your summer is taking you that you are enjoying some sunshine, family, and a healthy amount of ice cream!

I'll leave you with a pic of Georgia (with her Canada Day tattoo) enjoying some sunny beach time!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

{ten}



My oldest child turned 10 on Friday. Creepy, huh? The thing is, I totally remember my tenth birthday. I remember my party, that I got the soundtrack from the "Muppet Movie", and that my friends didn't all get along with each other. And now I have a child with 10 years behind him. 10 years of memories and experiences and hurts and triumphs. I've been a parent for 10 years. 10 years of worries and joys and frustrations and laughter. I had no idea how much my life would change with this one, much wanted, loving little boy. There have been struggles as I've had to, over and over, die to myself and suppress my selfish nature. There have been moments of take-your-breath-away realizations that this little person has been entrusted to us. I think the point of it all, in the beginning, was to teach him all he needed to know to live a life of significance. What I didn't know was just how much I would learn from having him around. I'm so very proud to be his mom.

This baby that I gave birth to 10 years ago is going to football camp as his gift from us. Thankfully it is just a day camp that runs at the nearby university. He is completely thrilled with this opportunity. It's taken a while for me to wrap my mind around allowing him to play a sport with so much contact and the potential of pain.

The journalling on this layout reads: June 22, 2007 Noah, you woke up this morning and you're 10! You'll have lots of choices, opportunities, and decisions in this stage of your life. Daddy and I are here for you to talk, to help, and to cheer you on. XO Mommy

Thanks for looking, this was a fun one to work on!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lilies of the flowerbed

When I was a child my mother spent hours out in the yard working on her flowerbeds. Every spring she would (and still does!) take me on a tour of her plants. I remember boring hours spent looking at annuals in greenhouses. I understand it now. I love peeking my head out the front door every morning to see if the perennials are growing in the early spring or if a bud opens as the plants mature. I breathe deeper in a greenhouse. I still have a lot to learn. It amazes me that God could think up so many colours and beautiful types of growing plants for our enjoyment. Butterflies, ladybugs, and other crawlies keep my children close to the blossoms. I get a small jolt of pleasure each time I pull out a weed and great satisfaction in digging in the dirt.

Enjoy these pics of our lilies, taken in this morning's sunshine. The bulbs were a Mother's Day gift from my husband and children several years ago.




Tuesday, June 26, 2007

{The Bride}



As a little girl, I wasn't captivated by princesses and fairies and make-believe prettiness. I guess I've always been a cynic at heart. I suppose I went through a phase where I imagined my Prince Charming but he was more likely to be at a coffee shop than a castle and wearing chinos than armor. I know, not very imaginative or fantastic.

Enter my three daughters. Much to my chagrin they've bought this whole Disney princess thing hook, line, and sinker. They pretend to be mermaids or French girls with hunchbacked friends. They sing songs that start like, "I love being a Princess." Especially my youngest. She even sighs. I roll my eyes. This isn't what I want them to think beauty is about.

We spent this past weekend at a family wedding. Georgia commented to me at one point, "I didn't know there was going to be a bride!" The back table was, jokingly, I presume, decorated with a bride and groom Barbie in full princess garb. I roll my eyes. My daughter collects all the clear heart confetti she can find to make the Barbie princess even more shiny. She is captivated. I am not. Until the magical moment. Georgia asks the bride, my cousin's new wife, to dance. She says yes. She engages this child and connects with her in the most beautiful way. I am humbled by her sweetness and loveliness as she bends down to talk to this 4-year-old little girl. It's like they are the only two people in the room, on the dance floor. I stop rolling my eyes. I guess you really can have the whole package.

While I know better and the cynic in me doesn't even think I should type this, I wish them a happily ever after.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tea Party Girls


It was a weekend of "functions." The girls were invited to a tea party on Saturday afternoon, hosted by two young women from our church. These are not ordinary young women. They are the kind you hope your girls will turn out to be and the kind you hope your sons will marry. Sweet, generous, and thoughtful, they usually have a following of little girl admirers in between services on a Sunday morning. Several young girls were invited and the party was rounded out with women from different stages of life: some mothers, some singles, some grandmothers, young and old. The backyard where the tea took place looked like something out of a magazine with tables set with white linens and fresh flowers, shaded with lovely mature trees. The girls could hardly wait for the day to arrive and did not look back when I delivered them for their 2-hour party. What an investment these young women chose to make and what an impression it left on my girls. Sophie was concerned about how to sit, Georgia was counting the sleeps, and Olivia was excited to report that they won a garden decoration for having the most girls from one family. Good times.

I was too weary to post on Friday afternoon but I should have. There are such contrasts in the life of a mom and Friday really showed proof of this to me. My children are well-behaved, generally speaking. Friday afternoon we went out for our usual library date; the little girls go to a story time and the rest of us browse and read. Following that we headed to the grocery store and they were like aliens! My youngest wanted to be carried, my oldest was a pest, and the two in between asked for every other thing you could think of. I shop with them weekly, they know the drill. It was one of those humbling trips that I'm glad to leave behind. We'll do better next time.

Sunday evening was another fun event: the high school graduation tea for the four youth at our church who will finish Grade 12 this month. This is a big deal where the girls wear their formal dresses, walk out under an arbour, and each set of parents writes a tribute that is read at this time. It was really wonderful to celebrate (not to mention the decadent chocolate dessert that was served). At the end of the evening I had a chance to speak to my oldest daughter's Sunday School teacher. She's just a wonderful lady and we're so pleased with the quality of her teaching. She shared an amazing answer that Olivia gave to a question she asked. The question: "Why does God not always give us what we pray for?" The answer from my 7-year-old: "Maybe He knows that if He gave us that thing, we would love it more than we love Him and that wouldn't be good for us." And a little child will lead them...

We are on summer vacation! I'm hoping to have a little more time to post here. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Within reach




The end of the school year is so close I can taste it! The kids and I just finished our work for today and it looks like we will be able to wrap up for the year on Friday. I am so excited as this is the first year that I feel a real finality to the work we've done, we're not just finishing because the calendar says we're done. I must credit these kids of mine for their hard work this year. I pushed them pretty hard and they are going to reap the rewards with a nice long summer break. Exciting stuff!

I am looking forward to a few things clearing off my schedule as well. Tonight is my last night of guitar lessons, our bible study group is on hiatus until the fall, and the few activities we do have left will be more manageable in light of these things falling off our lists. I am not sure if I yet know just what my capacity is in terms of scheduling. I do know that this year was more balanced than last year but I'm not sure if I can pinpoint exactly why. It seems to be a decision-by-decision thing and is much more complex than just what I have on my plate. Everyone in this household contributes to the balance of our home. I need to balance out my husband when he is feeling overwhelmed and I rely on him to do the same. When neither of us has any capacity for this, that's when we're in big trouble.

This layout I'm sharing today comes out of a neat encounter we had last fall at a big agricultural exhibition in town. This lady was so sweet in describing how she spins wool after the sheep are sheared and the girls were so attentive to her explanation. Cool moments like these make me very thankful that we are homeschooling!

More later.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My life as a musician




Some of you know that I trained as a classical guitarist and now teach lessons out of my home a few hours every week. While I fell in love with classical guitar music, I did not initially intend to play the guitar. I wanted a piano so badly. I told my parents that I wanted to take piano lessons and my mother said, "But we don't have a piano." "Okay, I'll take guitar then." The teacher that I studied with during my years living at home interviewed his students before he agreed to enroll them in his studio. He said years later that my answer to his question of why I wanted to study the classical guitar (which was, candidly, "because my parents can't afford a piano!") was one of the reasons he agreed to teach me. We had a wonderful rapport and I owe, in large part, my devotion to this art to him.

I graduated from high school, moved to Edmonton, and then I had my chance to study piano! I spent hours in the tiny practice rooms off the music department. A frustrating experience, to some extent, as I thought my music background would translate into quick success. I all but abandoned my guitar during this time (except for a couple of bass accompaniment opportunities for the concert choir I sang in), focusing on the piano and enjoying my lessons. At the end of two years of study in Alberta I turned down a significant academic scholarship to return to Saskatchewan to study music. I felt like an impostor but I so wanted to and probably should have gone to that straight after high school.

My audition on guitar took hours and hours of preparation and I failed the theory exam disastrously. I was placed at the lowest level of entry for theory and struggled with those classes through my next 4 years of study. I got a very part-time job teaching music in a studio and I discovered that I have a real gift in teaching (fortunately you don't have to understand every in and out of the mechanics of music or I'd be sunk!). I studied piano as my minor instrument under a very accomplished pianist and had exposure to amazing performances and discussions. I became the first woman to graduate with a classical guitar major from the music faculty.

I didn't develop into a great pianist. I passed a piano proficiency test needed to complete the requirements of my degree but I'm not going to stun anyone with my piano performance. I've since had a classical guitar built for me by a wonderful craftsman and I continue to love to teach. This childhood dream, however, was fulfilled about 7 years ago when my inlaws moved from their farm into the nearby town. They had told Gary and I that we could have the piano as soon as we had room for it. My husband is classically trained and even competed at the provincial level. My oldest daughter is finishing up her second year of piano studies and has shown wonderful promise as a musician. It has become her thing. My second-oldest daughter recently started violin lessons. My son is learning to play the guitar and my youngest daughter is interested in pursuing voice lessons (or piano, or cello, or violin...it changes regularly).

Receiving this beautiful antique piano with lovely tone and a rich history is just proof to me that God cares about the desires of our hearts. The reality of having this instrument in our home speaks to the 9-year old in me and resonates the truth through my whole being that I am taken care of...not just my needs, but some of those wants too. I am so thankful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Now Settle Down...

I know. What is this craziness? Two blog entries in one week? Settle down! I told you I have things to share and I want to make sure I don't forget to do that. I also have a little request to make...

I'm currently working on a class concept and what I need from any and all of you is some direction. I am wanting to be directed to websites, books, articles, etc. that deal with spiritual issues. Not necessarily Christianity (although this is research for a Sunday School class I'll be teaching next year sometime), anything current and spiritual will do. I am particularly interested in the bestseller/high profile stuff. To get the obvious out of the way, yes, I have already read The Da Vinci Code. It is along those lines that I'm looking though as well as contemporary Christian stuff. Don't worry about analyzing anything for me, I just want to be pointed in the direction of stuff that people might be talking about or that you've seen in the media regarding spirituality and/or Christianity. I would be very thrilled with some suggestions.

Busy busy these days...soccer, swimming, piano, violin, art classes, music teaching, oh...did someone need clean underwear? Can't you just look in your sister's drawer or something? Okay, so we're not quite that desperate yet, but I do find this increase in outside activity to be taking a toll on my impeccable housekeeping. Okay, so my housekeeping is not impeccable. I've been getting my bed made and some semblance of a meal on the table. As far as anything Martha-esque, this is truly not the season to be looking for that.

I don't know what your schedule is like and I know that everyone has a different capacity for stuff like this. I just find that our home "feels" different when we're not in it very often. I'm not sure that I like this pace and I am glad that we've (mostly) chosen to keep things to a manageable level as far as outside activities are concerned. I love reading Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 for the clear picture those chapters give on the activities a godly woman engages herself in. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't interpret either of those to say that a woman should never leave the house or anything like that. They do, however, speak to a care for home and family that are difficult to exercise when you're not at home or with your family for a good amount of the time. Just some ramblings to give you a glimpse into what I'm thinking about as I drive from place to place...

Here is my latest scrapbooking layout. My youngest daughter is a true snuggler (as you may have surmised from my previous post) and she will come up to me at any point in the day and kiss whatever body part is most accessible: knees, elbows, neck, you name it! Not all of my children are this naturally affectionate and I am so thankful for her demonstrations of love. Hope you get a kick out of this:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!



I hope your Mother's Day, for all you moms, is proving to be a wonderful celebration of this unique role! No one else has been called to love, teach, and cherish your children in the same way that you have been. I have severe blinders on when it comes to my children - oh, not in terms of behaviour, but in status - and I think they are the most brilliant and fantastic creatures on the planet. I hope today you celebrate this precious gift you've been given.

My day started out rather uniquely. Sunday mornings are typically the one day where I need to be up and going as soon as that alarm clock sounds and, as a result, I don't always sleep soundly on Saturday nights. Last night, however, I was having a wonderful snooze and didn't wake up until the sun shone brightly through our bedroom window. It is getting warmer here and I thought at first that I needed to take some bedcovers off as I seemed to be a bit damp. As I woke up more I realized that my 4-year-old daughter was pressed right against me and she had wet the bed! Little turkey! Wet your own bed! Needless to say, I didn't need that alarm clock this morning. We were up and going before 7, I had a shower and Georgia had a bath, and I had time to braid her hair before church. My 6-year-old woke up and told me it was NOT Mother's Day. Oh my. Off to a grouchy start. I'm happy to report that the day has improved, I had 3 lovely strawberries on my plate at lunch, and my husband and children have gone off on a long bike ride, leaving me here to enjoy some quiet. The only thing that could really improve on this day to this point would be some chocolate...maybe in ice cream form??

The above layout doesn't need a lot of explaining except to tell you that the legacy of a love for the Word of God is the number one thing I hope to impart to my children. Seeing my oldest two (and only proficient readers at this stage) sit down with their Bibles without prompting and become absorbed in reading Scripture just makes my heart skip! I understand that there are decisions in life that only they can make, that their faith truly must become a personal thing. Seeing them on the right track gives me such hope that God will do mighty and powerful things in them and through them. I can't imagine a more satisfying answer to prayer than to see this scene repeated in our home over and over again.

As the vinegar and baking soda do their magic on my mattress, I'm off to the girls' bunk beds to read and enjoy the warm air blowing through the window.

Blessings on you as you start a new week!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I've been tagged...

Miss Velda has tagged me and it's probably a good thing because I seem to have forgotten that I have a blog. Wow, this is a busy time of year with some activities winding up and others starting for the new season. I have felt like a personal assistant to my children over the past couple of weeks and I do not like living by my day planner. This too shall pass...

Okay, the tag. I'm to share 7 random thoughts about myself. Most of you know by now that I'm pretty good at random. Here it goes:

1) I'm seriously into coffee. Not just any coffee. Good coffee. I'm thinking of getting my own plane just so I can transport in coffee from "transcend" in Edmonton.

2) Growing up I thought I would live in a huge American city, have 1.2 children, and practice law. None of those has turned out to be true.

3) I am a homebody. I don't plan on doing any paid work outside the home. I especially like being home when our house is in decent order. See #4.

4) I'm a perfectionist but this translates into bad things for my housekeeping skills. I'm an all-or-nothing cleaner and have trouble keeping up with the daily maintenance and organization of our place. I really want to change this.

5) I love to read the Bible. It would be fascinating to know more Old Testament history and I just love how the Word is so perfectly woven together over so many years. God's ways are so cool. Of this I'm sure.

6) There are days, AHEM, where I have a definite need for chocolate. These are not necessarily dictated by anything cyclical. Like coffee, I think quality counts but there is a candy bar that will do if I can't get my hands on really good chocolate. Did you know they make an After Eight bar? Dark chocolate, mint, decadent taste sensation. There's really no reason not to have one.

7) There are very few people that I'm comfortable talking on the phone with and I'm even less adept with answering machines. I usually run on and on and then get cut off by some obnoxious beep. If I've called you and not left a message, now you know why. I don't have a problem talking, especially about myself (yes, glorious ME!), but not so much on the phone.

And now, since you've all been so patient in letting me drone on and on about myself, let me feed your appetite for my creative work (yep, absolute genius, no self-esteem issues here this morning, are there) with a photo of a card I made this weekend. I've got all kinds of things to share with you as I've been nothing short of prolific these past few weeks.



If you've not yet been tagged, consider yourself "IT"! I'm off to get a move on this day. I think I'll clean our bedroom and get these little ones started on some schoolwork. Blessings on your Wednesday!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Coolness!



Okay, before I tell you what it is that has me making up a word like "coolness" I just have to show you this layout. I've been wanting to try computer journaling with my scrapbooking for some time now and I finally gave it a whirl. I even copied a good portion of that text right from a blog entry with this same photo of my youngest scrumptious one! Ohhhh, somebody stop me, I can see this becoming a bit of an obsession.

The next thing is that I am super-duper excited to be having coffee with a friend I haven't seen in a while tomorrow night! Gary said at one point today that I probably wouldn't be gone all that long. I just looked at him. Hello? I haven't seen this gal in months and he thinks it's going to be a short little visit?? Hate to break it to you, honey...

Now for the cool thing...we paid off the balance of my student loans on Friday! I am so thankful to be finished with this monthly payment. I'm starting to think it might be fun to have, like, no debt. Ahem. Sorry about that. Momentary glitch. Debt that allows for a roof over your head and/or acquisition of stamping, scrapbooking, and stitching supplies shall hereby be referred to as "good debt." It's the bad kind of debt I'm talking about. Like a summer home on the Riviera or 20 pairs of designer jeans kind of debt.

Okay, I gotta get these little ones to bed. I need a yogurt to bring me back to my senses.

More later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wii are busy



Wii would love to talk but wii are busy. Since Saturday morning, when Noah and I left the house at 6:30 to line up at Toys R Us, the Wii has become a new member of our household. What the packaging doesn't specify is that the term Wii translates to mean, roughly, "you, your immediate family, and any neighbourhood children within a 2 mile video-gaming sniffable detection range." Honestly, I think kids have a built in GPS for these kinds of machines.

So, it remains to be seen whether this was our smartest purchase. I've been the lone holdout in our home on these gaming systems. I caved on this one only because I've been assured that this system does not lead to couch potato-itis. I'll let you know. Wii have a bowling/badminton/baseball/golf/tennis tournament going on in the living room that might need some help for the high scores. Ahem, I mean, I'm going to go cheer. Of course.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Spring??


Y'all probably think I passed out and have yet to recover after my weekend alone ended in the return of my family. Nope, I live to tell the tales of domestic life but we travelled this past weekend for Easter (Happy Easter, He is Risen!) and I was pretty intensely busy getting ready for that. We're home from visiting my parents and it feels good to be back after enjoying a weekend with my family. It is so cold here though that it feels like spring is a long way off.

I'm not sure when it happened but this place, this life, has definitely become what I call home. In my early years of college and university, even the first few years we were married, I delighted in going back to my childhood home. The smells, the familiarity of the house I grew up in, the taste of my mother's cooking. Gradually it all changed and the familiar grew to be where WE live, where I cook, where my children are growing. In some ways that makes me sad as I realize that I just don't belong in my childhood anymore and that the responsibility for those memories now rests with me. I struggle "going home" now and there is a tension of how they do things vs. how our house now runs. It's all part of that "leave and cleave" stuff of marriage but it makes me feel just...so adult or something. At any rate, going away convinces me that I am a homebody and that this, for better or for worse, is most definitely where I belong.

In thinking of all of this, I want to share a layout that I finished up during my weekend "retreat" while my dh and children were away. This lovely couple is my grandparents. They live far away, in Illinois, and I don't see them very often now. My grandfather is such a strong personality and I'm more like him than I'd like to admit at times. Interaction with him has shaped me, mostly for good. He has a passion for the Word of God that he's passed on to me. He feels intensely and gives the most amazing hugs. He also experiences some lows that are lower than what some experience. I share all of these things.

More later.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Serenity


Do you remember on the show Seinfeld how Jerry's dad used to always shout out, "serenity NOW," when he was having an argument with his wife? I have lots of moments like that, not arguing with my husband, but when there is a lot of noise and activity around, when I just want a little serenity! Well, I'm enjoying my peaceful weekend and time to clear my head of all those serenity-robbing voices. It's not so much the noise of having a houseful of children that gets to me. It's all the other voices, the niggling ones, that induce guilt and tell you you're not doing what you should be doing, that there are better ways to spend a day, that busyness equals happiness. Those are the voices that steal my joy, that prevent me from being the woman I am created to be.

A dear friend of mine (Hi Margaret) has made this one of my favourite verses of scripture:
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8



So powerful, isn't it? It seems so simple, all black and white like that. There are so many things that seem to try and crowd me off the path of walking with my God. Do more, get more, BE more...that's what I seem to hear in the voices that call out from the culture around me. I want what is good though, so I'll keep trudging along the path of justice, mercy, and humility.

Okay, enough about the voices in my head. You're all shaking your heads at this crazy woman's blog now! I've spent the day leisurely, enjoying some time to create. This layout of my son uses two pictures from his year of preschool. He was a BUSY kid in those days and I remember seeing these photos for the first time. They took my breath away! I loved that haircut, those soft rosy cheeks, and that cute baby face. He's nearly ten now and somewhere in between that little boy and the man he'll grow to be. Life just zooms sometimes, doesn't it? I'm so thankful for him!

More later, gotta get back to, well, just being quiet for a while.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Once in a while...

Once in a while it's good to have a clear countertop for more than 15 minutes.
Once in a while it's nice to have a shower with no one coming in to use the bathroom or ask for something.
Once in a while it's good to have complete control of the remote.
Once in a while it's cool to just eat when I'm hungry and whatever I want, instead of being controlled by the clock and juggling the preferences of six different people.
Once in a while it's fun to be able to have some crafting supplies out without worrying who will get into what.
Once in a while it's nice to know that the laundry won't be reproducing at light speed, for a few days anyway.
Once in a while it's refreshing to pray without worrying if someone will wake up, fight, or otherwise interrupt.
Once in a while it's good to have time to complete those projects that niggle at your conscience.
Once in a while it's important to have some space to recognize the privilege of my every day role as a wife and mom.
Once in a while it's wonderful to look forward to not waking up in the night to a little someone or two climbing over my body to get "in the middle."
Once in a while it's good to breathe deeply and enjoy the quiet.

My once in a while is here. Gary and the children have given me a weekend home retreat. I'm not in crisis or difficult to be around, just taking the opportunity to enjoy my favourite place by myself. My favourite people will return on Sunday night and I look forward to having a rejuvenated me to give to them.

Once in a while we all could use a little space, don't you think?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This just in....

a little potty conversation...

My youngest and I were just in the bathroom getting her ready for bed. She said to me, "I don't like that girl from the Bible, the one who ate the fruit when God wanted her to obey. She does have nice hair though..."

BWAHAHAHAHA!

X-rays and Finding the Balance


That's right. Poor Olivia had her first meeting with an x-ray machine. I am happy to report, however, that no bones are broken. A legitimate soccer injury, she was kicked during Game 3 of her tournament yesterday. I chronically under-react to situations like this. I knew she was hurt because she cried. She doesn't cry very often about physical stuff, she's a pretty tough nut. After a bit of consoling, I sent her back to the bench and encouraged her to play a bit longer. I know, I know, not the winning mommy moment of the weekend. She did go out and play, like a trooper, but was unable to bear much weight on her ankle and wasn't out for very long at a time, coming off the court when the child who kicked her (okay, I know it was an accident but I feel a bit of hostility) was on the floor. It was, after all, the last game of the season. By the time we got her home, that ankle was a bit puffy. We iced it last night and she seemed to have a decent sleep. The swelling had gone down by this morning and we proceeded to church as usual. After the service and Sunday School, I solicited a friend of mine in the medical field to check her out. She didn't look at that ankle for very long before encouraging me to take her in today to have an x-ray. After lunch with friends, we headed over to the closest minor emergency clinic for a long wait, a quick consult with a very kind doctor, a short wait for the x-ray, and a diagnosis of a bad sprain. A few days staying off that foot as much as possible, icing it, a tensor, and a bit of ibuprofen should get this girl back into tip-top shape.

Other than our little medical drama, this was a very busy weekend. I won't bore you with all the details but a couple of meetings, some errand running, three soccer games, a bowling birthday party, church, lunch, friends, and a bit of enjoying the wonderful weather. So much of what we did was enjoyable but our balance of leisure is out of whack. With Gary traveling so much as of late, we all would benefit from some quiet home time. I'm not sure when this will happen. What is the balance like at your house? Do you fight against this culture of busyness or submit to it? I feel that I am constantly fighting for a balance that we never reach and I KNOW that our home is not as busy or scheduled as some. We have pretty decent capacity for activity and people and our children genuinely enjoy social activity. Where is that line of cultivating a healthy home life and letting too much outside stuff in? If you find it, let me know, would you?

The card above is one I made for the birthday party we went to yesterday for our neighbour and good friend. It was fun to get some time to create on Friday evening after a meeting. All stamps, inks, and papers are by Stampin' Up!

I pray you'll start the week with a healthy balance. More later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blogger Challenged


Am I the only one who has trouble with Blogger? I have been having issues all week getting into my account! Finally seem to have managed to get here and I have to run out to pick up my children.

I'll leave you with a photo of a card I made this week. The papers, inks, and stamp set are all Stampin' Up. This set is called Heartfelt Thanks and it is one that I just fell in love with when SU first released it, but I've had trouble using it. Now that I have this nifty tool called a Stampamajig, my troubles are so far away! Expect to see more of this set from me. The brads are by American Crafts and I used a touch of Diamond Stickles in the centre of the flower. I like the contrast of the colours!

Wish me luck on being able to login again here soon...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Starbucks Redemption


Sounds like a great title for a movie, doesn't it? What you see in this photo is my (current) favourite Starbucks drink, a Java Chip Frappuccino. Here is the description provided on the Starbucks website: Coffee, chocolate and chocolate chips blended with ice, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. It's my spring treat and I had a free beverage card because they forgot my order on one of my recent trips.

I planned to go to Starbucks yesterday with the children on our way home from the airport. I'm not sure what happened but bickering broke out in the back two seats of the van. What started as an attempt to begin our time without Daddy on a fun note quickly turned ugly. I gotta tell you, I wanted coffee. Badly. I gave a few soft warnings but didn't make the final decision until I had pulled into the Starbucks parking lot. I bypassed the empty parking spaces and headed for the exit, turned on the signal light, and voiced my decision that we were heading home sans treat. There were tears and a few, "No Mommy! We'll be good"s from the backseat, but I stood my ground. I know that I'm sometimes not very good on the follow-through. I want them to know that I'm serious when I talk of consequences for behaviour. But, ahem, I wanted a coffee! I think in this case it truly hurt me more than it hurt them.

We arrived home and I directed everyone to find something quiet to do until I called that we would begin school. I found something quiet to do as well. This instruction was followed surprisingly well, as was my call to begin schoolwork a short while later. Sometimes we all just need an opportunity to get back on track. I don't like being the disciplinarian and I know that I am softer with them than I thought I'd be. The results were worth it, we had a great day after our bad start.

And now, today. Schoolwork and music practice were completed in the morning with diligence and just a few complaints (hey, we're not perfect!). At lunch I suggested that we head to the library this afternoon and stop by Starbucks on the way home. This outing was completely different as I was accompanied by four well-behaved and respectful children. We had fun and brought joy to each other. The treat was truly appreciated and not an expectation. What a huge lesson we all learned!

Oh, and a definite bonus! I paid for a DVD we'd borrowed from the library before Christmas and thought we'd lost. I found it and was refunded $25.08. Sweet!

While I was typing this, I finished my Frappuccino....sluuuuurrrrppppp!

More later.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Role Reversal

Just amuse me for a minute as I pout. Gary has a business trip later this week and is going to spend a few days at a wonderful resort in the Rocky Mountains. I am not begrudging the fact that I will be home as a single parent for three days, the kids and I actually do fairly well while he is away. Here's the thing: Gary is not wild about traveling, staying in hotels, or eating out. Oh my stars! That is my idea of heaven on earth. Did I forget to mention that this place has a spa? I did investigate the possibility of traveling with him but it just did not work out this time.

This serves as a great reminder to me that we all have aspects of our jobs that we don't particularly enjoy, even though those might be the very things that others think would be "job perks." It's that "grass is greener" thing creeping in again. I have a brother-in-law who works as a pilot for a major airline. He flies to exotic locations and has the opportunity to stay in hotels and eat out regularly, see different countries, escape the cold climate (okay, arguably this CANNOT be counted as a negative, no matter how you look at it!). After talking to him about the reality of his job, which he really enjoys, it's a whole lot less glamorous than I initially thought it would be. I really need to remember this:

...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV).


Good old Paul! His circumstances sure changed over time and yet he seemed to be able to shake it down to the truly important stuff. I wish you much contentment in your role today, whatever that may be!

More later.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Acknowledging Leadership



The Grade 4/5 Sunday School class students bring home a new assignment sheet every six weeks. They can earn points for attendance, bringing their Bibles, completing reading assignments, service projects, and Scripture memory. Once the student earns 50 points, he/she receives a prize of a movie gift certificate and a token for a free DQ sundae. Noah has been motivated by these assignments and I challenged him to complete all the assignments this time to achieve a "blackout" which entitles him to a double prize. He's taken me up on it and we have all learned as a result.

This session focused on leadership and one part of the service project was to do something to honour a leader in your life. Noah chose his small group leader at the midweek kids' club our kids attend and decided to bake some cookies to give to him. We decided to expand this to include the two middle girls' leaders as well. We worked together as a team baking some yummy ginger molasses cookies and deciding what to say when presenting these to each leader. Noah gathered all the ingredients, the girls took turns dumping, and I operated the KitchenAid mixer (wonderful appliance, like having an extra pair of hands). I was impressed by how they stuck with the task until the cookies were in the oven, each taking a turn to roll a batch of cookies in white sugar. They turned out beautifully (see above) and we wrapped them up in red cellophane, tied them with a black gingham ribbon, and waited for the time to come to leave the house. It was decided collaboratively that each child would go up to their leader and say something to the effect of, "Thank you for being a great leader to me." Since it isn't a holiday or the end of the year, I hope these leaders felt singled out and really special for the gift they are giving to these children. As a family, we are tremendously thankful for individuals who are helping us in our job of training our children, especially in guiding them spiritually.

Before the cookies were made, earlier in the day, Noah knocked my socks off. I have to explain that he is not a child who likes to do household things. Okay, let's be honest: the kid has an almost allergic aversion to cleaning and work. He'd much rather play his Gameboy, play outside, watch a movie, eat a snack, write a story, or...well...anything. I caught him coming out of my room and his face lit up as he said, "Mommy! I made your bed and tidied in your room!" When I asked him why he had done that he said, "Well, partly for my class and partly because I wanted to." I was blessed big time by this act of kindness and definitely felt the honour of being a leader in this young life. So many days as a mom it can feel like there is no return for the investment of time, work, worry, and energy. We shouldn't concern ourselves with what we will "get out of" parenting. The rewards, however, are sweet and this was a moment for me to remember.

More later.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Wait


Growing pains are hard. We've had a couple of disappointments in our household the last several days. Some experiences are inevitable but I do try to protect my children from disappointment as much as possible. They still experience it, I just don't want them to be subjected to it unnecessarily. They are good kids and don't ask us for much. I don't exactly know where that comes from, maybe just an understanding that we will give them opportunities but not at the expense of our family. So, here's what happened.

Story #1: I broke my own rule. I excitedly registered Olivia for an art class that was to start in a couple of weeks. Registering online was easy and, against my usual policy, I couldn't wait to tell her about it before I got the confirmation email. She was thrilled, moreso when I told her that one of her little friends would be in the class with her. Fast forward to the next day when I received an email stating that both the class and the waiting list for said class is full. Ugh. Sinking pit-of-stomach feeling. Several emails and phone calls later, this class is just not going to happen. Break it to Olivia that I can still get her into a class but it will be in May, not March, and it is not the one her friend is registered in. Disappointment. I don't blame her, but it still hurt. I wanted to surprise her with something fun and interesting and I kind of blew it by telling her about it prematurely. She came around, is still excited about the class, and my friend is going to move her daughter to the later session. See, it all worked out, but there was still some pain in the process.

Story #2: Noah was invited by the neighbour boy to go with his family to play laser tag. We had already made some tentative outdoor plans for Gary and the kids to meet up with another dad and kids to skate. We told Noah to go and, if he was back in time, he could still go skating. Well, Gary left with the girls 5 minutes before Noah's return. Gary forgot the cell phone. The skating park they went to is too far of a walk. We have just one vehicle. A disappointed Noah was not appeased by me pointing out that he already had the opportunity to do something fun. He wanted to do both. His 9-year-old brain does not process logic the same way mine does. He was good about it, but disappointed and sad. He felt left out. He didn't let it ruin his day, but he didn't exactly brush it off either.

As you can see from the above pic, there is all kind of growth happening around here. Sometimes I have growing pains as I think of how quickly these short people are growing and changing. The journaling reads:
Could you just maybe slow it down a little? I'm not ready for what I see in this photo. See, it's you, only...you look...well, a bit big to be my tiny little Sophie. You're still such a busy girl, always touching stuff, pretty noisy, you cry a fair bit. But...here is this concentration, this girl with something to say. So, I'll listen but...could I catch my breath? Because you're growing a bit too fast.


You know what I like about journaling? I am aware that many find it to be the hardest part about putting a layout together. I like it because it doesn't have to be grammatically correct or a wonderfully structured paragraph. Just try to put down the thoughts in your head. Let them flow onto the page and then you have really captured the MOMENT.

Papers and Die Cuts by Daisy D (Modern Romance line), Stamps by gel-a-tins, stamping ink by Stampin' Up!

More later.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Practice Joy

I've had an ongoing conversation with a dear friend of mine (waving to Margaret!) about the difference between joy and happiness. Imagine my pure delight to stumble onto this thoughtful section in, of all places, a homeschooling book I'm reading called Help for the Harried Homeschooler: A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Child's Education with the Rest of Your Life by Christine M. Field:
One of the best ways to dispense with discouragement in your life is to practice joy. How? By learning to love your life just as it is....God never promised us that life would be all sunshine and happiness. We know as Christians that we are not entitiled to "the good life." By God's grace, he gives us what he gives us....Joy comes in tiny segments. If we deal with life as it comes, moment by moment, one step at a time, we'll find it. Now is all God asks us to handle.


I wish I had the skills to communicate how much this concept has transformed my life. I've struggled with worry and perfectionism and control since I was a young child. The idea of practicing joy tells me that it is something that can be learned and that it is a choice I can make, to live my life joyfully. It says nothing about my natural disposition and neither does the Bible qualify those who are promised joy as the "sunshiney perky crowd." I am so thankful for this and I have begun to experience true joy in my life, despite circumstances, as I've looked at it as something I can actively seek and practice.

The first area that I have seen the effects of this change of attitude in is in my approach to mothering. Practicing joy means putting off chores when a child asks to be read to, playing a marathon-length game of Monopoly on occasion, choosing to care for a sick child with kindness instead of impatience and irritation. I think, I hope, most of the time this is something that can't be seen as I know that the person it impacts the most is me. It affects the memories I'm building of my time as a mom to young kids and I want those to be sweet ones.

Practicing joy hugely impacts my marriage. As Gary and I approach the anniversary of our first date (yeah, we're sappy and remember stuff like that), I asked him recently about how he is feeling about our relationship. His comment that I seem more settled and less confrontational is a huge compliment to me. Through the choice to practice joy God has blessed my marriage. I am so thankful for that.

Right now I'm off to practice quiet. Gary and the girls are off skating and Noah is outside playing with a neighbour friend. A Sunday afternoon nap just might be on the schedule.

More later!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Issues




I've been having Blogger issues and could not log in here for some time. Good grief! Isn't technology supposed to contribute to our leisure? Glad that I could finally get on here to post!

We have come out of our extreme cold spell and into normal winter conditions. Still pretty cold but not too cold to prevent outside play. Towards the end of our 3-week cold snap (with -30C temps and colder), my children just had to go outside. We bundled them up so just their eyes were showing and out they would go, delighted to run and play and jump in the snow. It amazes me how strong this need for play is and how many different ways I see our culture discouraging this natural way of learning. Ours has been a much happier house with some more fresh air and stretched out muscles.

Another sad goodbye yesterday. A young married couple who have become sweet friends of ours have made a very significant life change in moving to SE Asia as career missionaries. We bid them farewell at the airport last night and I displayed my Olympic-calibre ability to shed tears. I admire these women who hold their emotions in so well or who have a few dainty little tears roll down their cheeks. Not me. I go straight for the ugly cry. Thrilled for them and the people group they go to share life and Jesus with, sad for us as we live life without their nearby friendship. I'm telling you, this is a hard place to live in terms of having to say goodbye. And I'm not good at it.

Thank you for the kind comments after I shared my personal journey of motherhood. I'm always cautious about revealing stuff like that, especially online. I think, generally speaking, that we aren't real enough with each other about parenting. Pride gets in the way of sharing how difficult it can be at times. Shouldn't something worth doing cost us something? I know I value the relationship I have with my children even more for the struggles I have had. My goal is to be one happy and doting grandmother!

The above layout is one I worked on at the women's retreat I attended the weekend before last. I so enjoyed having some time to visit and create on Saturday afternoon. I'm convicted even more of how precious it is to be around like-minded women from different walks of life. I missed my family more than usual though and was thrilled to arrive home to Georgia's "Mama, mama, mama!"

More later. And not as later as last time, I promise.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

{Love Multiplied}



Four. Seemed like a nice number that January evening as Gary and I discussed our plans for the future. Recently engaged, there was a whole world of topics that we needed to discuss and decide on, seemingly that day. It wasn't even a hard number to come up with. Gary is the youngest of seven and I am the oldest of two. We both wanted something different than we had experienced and four just seemed like the right number.

Then Noah arrived. And rocked my world. Not in a good way. Those first months of parenting were so desperately difficult. I'm not sure who cried more, the baby or the mother. A difficult birth followed by difficult times. That conversation from the January night years before seemed to mock me. How did I ever think I could do this? Was God angry with me? Why did some women seem to ease into motherhood with such grace and everything in me screamed out for the life I felt I'd lost?

Still, we knew our family was not complete. Olivia came along, an exhilirating birth experience and an easily comforted baby. Not the mother though. Still struggling with fears and worries and sadness beyond my ability to control. Anger and disappointment towards my husband who could not pull me out of this pit. Silence is what I perceived as God's response.

Then came a diagnosis of depression from a wonderful and understanding doctor, a surprise pregnancy, and a peace inside that I had never experienced. An understanding developed of the blessings in my life: my precious kids, an incredibly patient and supportive husband, and a God who had not abandoned me. Another surprise pregnancy followed shortly after Sophie's birth and, with Georgia, we reach the number: FOUR.

There were those who suggested, meaning well, that maybe we should stop having children when we had TWO. I am so glad that God saw fit to bless us with TWO more. There were lessons I needed to learn...in fact, I think the lessons were all part of this bundle of being a mother of four. Life has mellowed. I still struggle. There was a bit of a grieving process over not being this "natural mother." But, you know, I've grown into it. Matured into it. I had a lot of "self" to give up along the way, but I've found a me who is a whole lot more comfortable in her own skin. Happiness is fleeting but joy is everlasting. Love multiplied.

I hope you are having a wonderful Valentines Day. I've been sneaking Hershey's Kisses to my children at different intervals throughout the day, "kissers" as Georgia calls them. Know today that you are loved, dear ones!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

On Saying No

Saying no has never been something that I've been very good at. Give me an opportunity and, for the most part, I will jump at it. An opportunity was presented to me on Thursday with some flattery attached. Initially I thought I would go ahead and accept this but I asked for a few days to talk it over with my husband, think on it, and pray. Once I sorted everything out, I came to the conclusion that this is not a good time for me to add anything more in my life. God is showing me that there are other things filling my life right now. I am feeling a contentment with homeschooling that I haven't experienced in some time, if ever. While I finished teaching the women's Sunday School class in December, I am still actively involved in ministry in a few different roles. Gary has ministry responsibilities that tend to carry over into my life. He is coordinating a class this term and I continue on with my music students. Life is full right now but not in a way that makes me panic. It was time to say no.

So why is it so hard? Why was it hard today to go to this individual, look them in the eye, and say that I cannot do this right now? I think the fact that someone had specifically requested me to fill a role had something to do with that. This request came through a third party and I specifically did not ask who had mentioned my name as I thought that would likely sway me further. Gary has been so good to free me up to do some things outside of caring for our family and initially was encouraging me to accept this, until he heard how settled I am feeling right now. This will be a season (and who knows how long it will last) of a bit more restfulness for me. I'm enjoying the settled feeling I am experiencing at home, not having so many things taking up room in my head. Having enough emotional energy to pray for the things that I do have going on right now. And having the peace to wait on God for further direction.

And that is why I need to sometimes say no.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Yearning for Summer


It was fun to choose some older photos for this layout. This was our first "real" family vacation. I say "real" because we had been places to visit people for events and such, but this was the first time where the vacation was the point. It was still a combination, as we stayed with my sister and brother-in-law, but we had so much fun going to different places and enjoying some great summer weather. My sister and her husband had just built their first home, a lovely one, in a subdivision with a wonderful lake. It's a man-made lake but designed to be as natural as possible. They hauled in granite for the lake bottom, there is a wonderful sandy beach, and some terrific play structures which we used and abused. It is a "residents only" facility, meaning they pay a yearly fee for access, but we could get in if we were with them. There are even kayaks and canoes available for use. Noah was so funny! He just loves the water and had to be the first one in each time we went, yelling like a banshee all the way into the water, shocked at the initial cold but fully immersed before it really hit him. Good times!

Certainly a contrast with our -20C and colder weather. No break in sight yet. I'm trying to think of a creative way to take our minds off it this weekend. Not sure how to do that yet. Maybe Gary and I will use one of our Christmas gift cards to go out for a pre-Valentines Day dinner? Maybe we will stay home and stage a luau? Maybe we'll just blast the furnace and go through the weekend in t-shirts and shorts? Stay tuned!

Oh, yes I did watch Wife Swap, for those of you who were wondering. Not a stellar program, I doubt you need to be told that. My favourite line was this motocross mom telling the environmentally aware family that "for the next week we'll be throwing our garbage in the garbage can, like normal people." My composting husband (not that he himself is compost, he just has his own bin) got a good eye roll out of that when I related that line to him. (Just to be clear, I'm sure he'd want me to let you know that he doesn't watch the show, nor does he really approve of others watching it either. There. I've given my media review and reprove for the week.)

Off to make this place look like a bomb did NOT indeed go off before Gary comes home from work. Our weekend begins now as he is off tomorrow! More later!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Thought I'd have something to share...

but I don't! I received a cool book in the mail today that I ordered a while back. It's Easy Patterns for Scrapbooking put out by Creating Keepsakes. Really detailed patterns for creating several different layouts and wasting very little. My kind of thing, I like to have a pattern. I cut all the paper for three 2-page layouts and started putting one together. It turns out that it calls for machine sewing, which I've been wanting to try on a layout for sometime. I take a deep breath and head downstairs to where I've had the sewing machine set up since my mom and I hemmed a pair of pants on New Year's Eve. Someone took the spool of thread off.

I know, doesn't sound like a big problem. This machine, however, is ancient and I no longer have the instruction manual. My mom and I spent a good chunk of time threading it (is that what you say with a sewing machine?) when she was here. I don't remember how we eventually got it to work properly but I thought I would just leave it all assembled with this nice neutral coloured thread. Apparently one of the short little imps around here had a different idea. Hoping to devote some time to this tomorrow. I vow to conquer that machine once and for all!

Everyone seems to be feeling better here. Certainly a strange virus going around, this high fever thing. It's bitterly cold out this week and the forecast shows little change. By February we have just had it with being shut inside. The kids have been quite eager to get bundled up to play outside once they hear the school bus returning their friends from across the street. I'm all for it! They say that little groundhog didn't see his shadow and spring will be early. What does that mean in Saskatchewan? Like May 31st instead of June 1?

More later.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Perfect night of TV viewing...

In Style Celebrity Weddings followed by an episode of Wife Swap. It doesn't get any better than that. Glimpses into real marriages? I think not. On both counts.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

{Personal Space}

I know of a woman who is a close-talker. She must not know she is, surely you would take a step back if you did know. It really bothers me to have my space invaded like that, to have someone stealing my air. I've always had a keen eye for social conventions and feel for people who are less aware (if this sounds sanctimonious or if you've noticed, for example, that I have a social issue like, I don't know, extreme body odour or halitosis or something, let me know). There are whole characters built around those who are less than comfortable in their own skin or who make others feel this way. I've always enjoyed a good comfortable distance, thank you very much.

Back up to this weekend. After spending about 44 out of 48 hours with a fevered child in my arms or against my body while sleeping, I couldn't take it. These are children who like to burrow. At one point, Sophie had tucked her face right into my armpit to sleep. I asked her if it was a bit smelly to sleep like that and she said, "No, it just smells like shirt." Apparently we can knock extreme body-odour off as an offense, at least against my own family. I told Gary that I just needed a bit of time without anyone touching me. He sent me to the bathtub after dinner with instructions to bring a book and lock the door. I turned on the bathroom fan to block out the noise and filled the tub with steaming water. I stayed in until I was a poached lobster look-alike, read a chapter of my novel, and emerged a very refreshed, if not prunelike, and restored mother.

Last night I was just about ready to climb into my bed when I heard Georgia crying from her room. I went in to find a feverish little girl who couldn't tell me why she was sad. I picked her up and sat with her for a while and she relaxed and went back to sleep. Knowing defeat when I see it, I just tucked her in between Gary and I and spent the night with my own personal heater. No space yet again.

Feeling a bit too close to my family as I woke up this morning, I began the day in avoidance. And then it hit me. It has been years since Olivia has fallen asleep in my arms, even longer since Noah has wanted to have that kind of closeness. My 5-year old has no front teeth. My opportunities for snuggle sleep are fleeting.

Personal space is overrated.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Birthday Banner





After a half-day at the spa with my husband, I walked in the door of our home to see this banner. The kids popped out from behind the wall and said, "That's just the start, we cleaned the whole house!!" And they did. With the help of their sitter, they tackled every room, vacuumed the living room, and did some major tidying. I could not have been more pleased. They could not have been more pleased with themselves.

I'm just struck over and over by how much we all value work and doing a good job. I am a pretty relaxed homemaker. I know that this is a season of my life, this time at home with little ones but I do get stressed out when I start to feel like "things" are out of control. I have never been a pack-rat and I'm not huge on shopping for household stuff (crafting supplies...well, that's another post altogether). One of my first impressions of Gary, after meeting his roommates and visiting his apartment, was of how little "stuff" he had. I was so drawn to that as it flew in the face of what many of our contemporaries were doing with their apartments, dorm rooms, etc. Nevertheless, life comes with stuff and kids come with even more stuff. I struggle to stay on top of the paper, the clutter, the toys. I am more and more convicted of how we all benefit from being able to walk through a room without stepping on something and I am constantly looking to organize our stuff better. This is not a large home, it's even a "smallish" home by today's bigger-means-better standards. We long to stay here, in part to ward off the collection of even more stuff.

Literally two minutes after our sitter left on Friday, sickness invaded our home. A weekend with little on the calendar changed into a weekend of constant care of our two youngest daughters. I was able to escape for a bath on Sunday evening after holding one or the other of them for about 40 hours. Ahhhhh, that felt great. I've not seen either of them that ill for a long long time. I just rearranged out schedule today, canceling an afternoon lesson, so that I can just focus here again today. Serenity now! Poor Georgia, she wanted to be at the dinner table last night but could not hold her head up to even take a bite.

Speaking of stuff...I got a great order of stamps and accessories from Stampin' Up a couple of days ago. I've assembled all the stamps and now just need to carve out some time to create. Easier said than done.

Have a great Tuesday! More later.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Natural Performer



This layout is of Olivia's Christmas Recital last month. Poor kid, I didn't bring her music because she had both of her pieces memorized. What I didn't understand was that she planned to play them both as duets with her piano teacher. I was just happy we all got there in time and hair was brushed, come on! It didn't phase her in the least, she got up and played her two songs beautifully. O Come, All Ye Faithful and Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine were heard through the house for a good part of December.

Being a musician myself, I struggle to know the line between encouragement and nagging. I don't want to be a controlling mother but, honestly, this is a talented child. My oldest plays the guitar and is doing quite well. My third is already lined up to start taking violin lessons by this fall (she has an incredible ear and may prove to be the most talented of all of us). However, Olivia has this drive and dedication that will see her go far. I don't think I've asked her more than a handful of times in the last 18 months to practice. She is diligent and thorough, much more than I can say for my own approach. She has a marvelous attention span. Just need to keep myself in check so I don't turn her off.

If I don't show up tomorrow, don't be concerned. I'll just be adjusting to my new age. Yes, another year to celebrate. My husband has terrific plans for the two of us. We're heading to a nearby city for lunch and a long soak in the mineral spa. He booked a massage for me at 3:15. We plan to be back here by 7 to eat cake with our children, put them to bed, and enjoy a quiet evening. I cannot wait!!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WIP Wednesday



It's a Stitch-a-thon Week at Cross Stitch Crazy, a message board I have been a part of for almost six years and a place where I've met some dear dear friends. I try to participate and actually have had more success this past year since the curse of the SAT has been lifted from me. In years past, it was inevitable: SAT meant I would not have an opportunity to even look at my stitching during that week. The last couple of nights it has been wonderful to snuggle up on the couch and enjoy some quiet stitching after the little ones have gone to bed. This is my progress on Thoughtful Heart by Shepherd's Bush. Stitched with one strand of silk floss and oodles of delicious specialty stitches. Gary gave this to me a couple of years ago for my birthday or our anniversary (can't remember which) and I've finally decided to stop hoarding these kits and use them up!

Feeling a bit sad today as I know my friend is leaving for BC and her new home there. Sigh. Seems like this is a common occurrence in this city, saying goodbye. We have practiced this several times over the last eight years that we've lived here. This city seems to be just the right size for transition: people move here from a smaller centre and use it as a stepping stone to where they really want to go. We have other friends going through a tough time, faced with some decisions. I had a good little cry last night and a conversation with my husband about how I need to guard my heart. It's great to be invested in others but I cannot feel responsible for their decisions and I cannot let it affect how I function. A bit too tender, perhaps. So, I pray and carry on with my own life which needs enough attention. Finding that balance between sharing burdens and becoming incapacitated by things I have no control over will likely be something I struggle with my whole life.

School. Oh yeah, I guess we should do some! Have a great day! I so appreciate the kind comments left on here. It's wonderful to know that you find dropping by here worthy of your time! Blessings on your day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Morning Meeting



In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalm 5:3 (NASB)

After a few tough days of busy schedules, demanding children, feelings of inadequacy, and endless tasks, this is how the Lord chose to bless me this morning. Before the school day had started, I glanced over from the computer desk and saw this most beautiful sight. She's seven years old. She plays the piano and loves crafts. She's easily frustrated with herself and uncommonly merciful with others. She was my reminder, as this week began, to focus my time on things of eternal value, that this is the WHY in answer to the question about the choices I have made. Let no one look down on you because you are young.

Doesn't this verse fit perfectly with my "one little word" for 2007, LISTEN? How cool! I am planning to do a scrapbooking layout that focuses on that word, but I'm not sure what it will look like yet. I am in need of some general type cards, I used up five cards this weekend so it's time to replenish the stock. Besides, then I have stuff to show you, right?

A couple more things have cleared off my schedule and I'm wondering what that means for opportunities over the next few months. I had agreed, last year, to be a part of the worship team for the upcoming womens' retreat at our church. A good friend of mine has led several times over the last few years and I turned her down last year, just wanting to go and participate, but I promised her my services for this year. She hadn't contacted me about it so I asked yesterday and found out that someone else is leading the music and she is leading a session instead. Woohoo! No rehearsals or extra pieces to learn, the retreat is just weeks away and that is cutting it close for me to feel prepared. Yesterday afternoon I met, for the last time, with one of the young women I've been mentoring since May. She's moving to BC on Wednesday. I am so excited for her but it was a very difficult goodbye. I've grown to love her and am so delighted to have had the privilege to watch her mature in her faith over the last several months. So cool. There are a couple of rumblings of ministry possibilities but nothing concrete as of yet. Maybe I'm entering a more relaxed season. Or maybe there is something around the corner that I cannot yet see. I suppose at this point my role is to listen and "eagerly watch."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Manicures


My Mom is a really good mother but she's an even better grandmother. When Grandma comes the girls know that certain things will happen: there will likely be some kind of shopping, she will sing to them at bedtime, she will give them their baths, they can go down to her bed in the night instead of coming to our room, and nails and hair will be done. They don't ask me to do this, but it's a given that Grandma will. I know that she buys certain shades with them in mind and they are so excited to see if the selection has changed. One by one they make their way to the table to be filed and polished and fussed over. The girls are only 7, 5, and 4, but this has been going on for years already. She has even inspired some of her friends to start this ritual with their granddaughters. I love that she does this and the way the girls respond. Absolutely priceless.

I often think that Proverbs 31 speaks of the inner beauty of a woman, the character that makes a godly woman worthy of praise:

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (vv. 28-30)

The passage certainly does speak to what endures but it certainly doesn't speak against physical beauty and attention. Look at v. 22:

She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Do you think she might have, given the opportunity, polished her granddaughters' nails? What I do know is that these little manicure sessions are about a lot more than getting the nails done. There is lasting relational stuff going on during these moments. And that is truly beautiful.

Monday, January 15, 2007

li-s&n

Main Entry: 1lis·ten
Pronunciation: 'li-s&n
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): lis·tened; lis·ten·ing /'lis-ni[ng], 'li-s&n-i[ng]/
Etymology: Middle English listnen, from Old English hlysnan; akin to Sanskrit srosati he hears, Old English hlud loud
transitive verb, archaic : to give ear to : HEAR
intransitive verb
1 : to pay attention to sound
2 : to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration
3 : to be alert to catch an expected sound
- lis·ten·er /'lis-n&r, 'li-s&n-&r/ noun

I especially like the thoughtful attention bit in #2.