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


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.


Two. The number of sympathy cards I made last night to send out to members of our church family. The first to a sweet lady who lost her husband. A hard-working farm couple, they had not yet fully retired and I am sad for her. Sad that she has lost her companion after many many years of marriage. Sad that she had no idea that his life would end with a sudden heart attack just after Christmas. Thankful that she has the assurance of seeing her husband, who lived a faithful life, again when she enters heaven. Thankful that this earthly body is just a shell and this earth my temporary home. A reminder to spend time on things of eternal significance. I'm praying for her as she reorders her life in the days and weeks to come.

The second card goes to a young couple. A couple married, I believe, less than two years. A couple overjoyed with the impending arrival of their first child. I'm not certain that I've seen a couple more excited to welcome a little one. Just six weeks shy of full-term, this precious child's earthly life is not to be. Grieving for them and praying for God to help them through this difficult time. Unsure of what to write inside this card, words seem inadequate. Covering them in prayer and for them to know the love of a Father who can handle even their biggest wounds.

This has been a weekend full of thoughts for me. I am faced with saying goodbye to a young lady who has become an important part of my life, a dear friend, and a motivation to grow in my spiritual life. It is time for her to make a significant move in her life and it has been so cool to see her wait on God for this direction. I've had the sweet pleasure of meeting with two young women as we walk through a discipleship Bible study together. As a mentor, I expected work, questions, and feelings of inadequacy. Instead I've received unspeakable joy as I've been challenged and motivated by these new believers seeing parts of the Bible for the first time. It has been a privilege to meet with them and pray for them, to cheer them on as they pursue this relationship. Our meetings will now consist of {two} of us instead of three. Amazing how God stores away unexpected blessings for us just when we most need them. Wonderful how He is right there when we LISTEN for His voice.

Blessings on your week. I'm looking forward to no extra meetings or commitments. Hopefully more crafty posts to come!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Road Trip Layout

Our first camping trip this summer was enhanced by a few road trips (and a welcome escape to the indoors). On this very hot day we made a drive from our campsite in Cypress Hills to the T-Rex Discovery Centre in Eastend. I had not travelled this corner of the province much before and there are definitely more cattle than people! We had a great day, the centre itself is a firstrate attraction, and we enjoyed exploring this little town after our tour (and had a great meal at a local restaurant called "Jack's"). All in all, this week long trip was a huge success for us and we are looking ahead to planning another camping trip this summer.

Funny I should write about this trip today as the weather is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. At 2:30 PM my thermometer is showing -27C (about -20F). We've managed to escape the blizzards that ripped through most of the province yesterday but this is curl-up-by-the-fire-with-a-good-book-and-hot-chocolate kind of weather. Hard to convince me of global warming on a day like today. And don't bother sending me links to the contrary. Until I can pick a lemon from my own tree in this yard I will remain unconvinced.

I am challenging myself this year to use up more of what I have in craft supplies, both stitching and scrapbooking. I may have already cheated a bit since I have a few orders coming from various sources that were placed before I made this admirable decision. However, today I stumbled across these great albums: and now I have to have them. I have one more album to fill up (one of a set of two I purchased at Costco a few years back, nothing special) and then I am going to make the move to these Modern Albums. How cool that the covers are chipboard! Just think of the possibilities. Okay, deep breath. I was going to try and do 50 layouts with no purchases. I think I can say with relative certainty that that is just not going to happen.

My parents are visiting this weekend so I'm off to scrub things. They have more of a penchant for cleanliness than I do. Without a doubt.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Publication Ban

LISTEN. I've decided that is the word for 2007. You know, I think I am a pretty good listener. To a select group of people. Ahhhh, therein lies the problem, especially since the bulk of that select group is not composed of immediate family members. Oh, I hear the requests for juice, snacks, stories, etc. but I'm not sure that I am a very good listener to what is behind those needs. I pretty regularly say, "I don't even want to HEAR it!" when there is a dispute going on. Well, truth be told, a lot of the time I don't, but I do want to truly be a listener to my children, my husband, my friends and...well, most importantly, my God. I have a love of the Word that surprises me, a true wonder at the perfection of Scripture. But I don't always listen to what God is saying to me, telling me, asking of me, commanding me. That's my word, my goal, my prayer, my heart's desire for 2007.

Okay, I'm pretty sure that the Youth Criminal Justice Act of 2003 (formerly known as the Young Offenders Act of 1984) prohibits publication of the name of the juvenile offender in our home. This individual, age 5, is being charged with Disturbing the Peace and, more seriously, Crimes Against Humanity. Seriously, this child has been sent to teach me a myriad of lessons: mercy, patience, discernment, how to breathe, the importance of having a bathroom door that locks, the value of good chocolate. There is a true struggle within me as I look to parent this child well. The other 3 are much more textbook but this one defies all conventional wisdom. She is talented, beautiful, and so so intelligent. She's small, weighing in at only 34 lbs., but she can make up for that in volume and attitude. This one is driving me to prayer (which is a good thing). I so desire that these 4 have a wonderful friendship when they are grown, that they truly enjoy being with each other. This one may have to turn from her criminal tendencies in order for that to be realized.

I have a sadness and disappointment about something outside our family that I can't really get into. I am so very thankful for the leadership my husband is shown, that he is a faithful friend and compassionate man, but that he is a man of integrity seeking after the heart of God and is unswerving in his pursuit of that. No more really needs to be said.

I have a scrapbooking layout and a stitching WIP (Work in Progress) that I will share soon. Stay tuned. Oh, and if you see the juvenile mentioned above, she is not considered to be a threat to the community. It's really just the immediate family that we need to be concerned about.

More later.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Time to Breathe

Ahhhhhh, what a glorious afternoon! We're still on holidays from Sunday School and were home from the first service at church today by 10:30. We had an early lunch, cleaned up, and I dashed out to Costco to pick up some photos. Gary and the kids went out when I came home, for several hours! They went over to skate at our friends' house and then over to the church to set up for the Perspectives class that starts tomorrow night. I thoroughly enjoyed the quiet, it's been quite some time since I've had the house to myself. Took me a while to get into a groove but I did manage to create this layout. I am excited with how it turned out and I even tried some different things with it. Very fun.

So, have you chosen your word yet? I'm still working on mine. I'm thinking it might be MOVE. As in MOVE your body, make a MOVE, MOVE in relationship. I don't know. There are too many words that could work. I'm the most indecisive person I know. Maybe it should be MAKE, as in MAKE up your mind...

This was a wonderful weekend. We planned very little as Noah had a soccer tournament scheduled. They lost their game on Friday night 3-1 and then yesterday afternoon 6-5 (a total nail biter, a terrific match) so they were out of the tournament earlier than we thought. That left last night and this afternoon free. I went for a walk last night. I'm happy to report that I walked 3 times this past week. Maybe I'm getting back into a good habit? I might even head out again yet tonight..

Ohhhh, the mystery event! Well, we were asked to a do a short bit of filming for an upcoming announcement for the ladies retreat our church is holding in February. They do some pretty snazzy announcements from time to time. Basically they shot four very short snippets. The first was Gary and I standing in the kitchen and he says, "Honey, you go for the weekend, I'll stay home with the kids." The next scene is Gary standing in the middle of the kitchen with all four children (literally) running around him in circles screaming. The next bit shows Gary pointing directly into the camera saying, "Men, I challenge you to a weekend alone with your kids!" The last bit shows me running out the front door and down the driveway with my luggage with the kids watching silently from the doorway. I thought it might be run in the service today but it sounds like we will have the worldwide premier next week. I'll let you know how it looks once edited and if it goes over well. Our kids had an absolute blast participating and it was great incentive to get the house cleaned up on a Friday afternoon.

This week marks our return to routine: homeschooling, music lessons, teaching for me, etc. I hope that your post-holiday reality check is revealing blessings in the everyday. I'm praying for patience and wisdom as I head to the kitchen table with the children to resume our lessons tomorrow. Oh, and I think I'll come armed with a full mug of coffee, just in case.

Friday, January 5, 2007


I promised and I deliver. Here is evidence that I really do stitch. This is my current work in progress, Thoughtful Heart by Shepherd's Bush. It is stitched with lovely Au Ver a Soie Silk fibres that I delight in working with. Wonderful. I did mess up the Ukrainian Satin Stitch in the upper right corner block and will probably go back and correct it. Hard to work white on white though and I just didn't have the patience to correct it last night. This is stitching up quickly. When we left for my MIL's on Christmas Day, I had only stitched A, B, and C. Wonderful project and I am really enjoying the peace it is bringing me to work on it in the evenings.

THE FUNNIEST conversation in the van yesterday. We were discussing polar bears as there had been a short news talk bit about how the climate change is impacting animals of the north. Noah and Olivia started asking questions about extinction and I could just see the wheels turning in Georgia's head. She said, "How do they get extinct? By a skunk??" It took me a while to realize that what she was hearing was the "stink" part of the word. Oh man! She is very offended if we laugh at her but Gary and I had an absolute roar about it last night. So funny how they process words and figure things out.

I've been thinking about direction for 2007...I've always resisted the whole resolution thing. It just seems destined for failure right from the start for an undisciplined gal like myself. I read a neat blog and newsletter by a superb scrapbooker named Ali Edwards (see her blog here: I love the idea of choosing a word for the year for focus in scrapbooking. I'm throwing a few words around at this point: home, create, simplify, thankful, purpose. I'll let you know what I decide.

Neat reprieve from real life today. I thought we had to jet off to the conservatory for a piano lesson but checked the notebook last night to find that we don't start back until the 12th. This afternoon will be grocery time and Noah has a soccer tournament that starts tonight. Other than his few games this weekend and a "mystery event" tonight that I can't tell you about yet, our weekend is relatively light. Hope you are looking forward to some relaxing moments over the next couple of days!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Christmas Decoration Critique

I went for a nice walk last night while my husband finished preparing dinner (I think he walked in and saw the look on my face and suggested I go for a walk all in about 8.9 seconds...perceptive guy). Southern Saskatchewan currently gets about 8 hours of daylight, from 9AM to 5PM, give or take. It has been beautiful here, above freezing even, and I enjoyed getting out in the twilight. It gave me a great opportunity to take a neighbourhood inventory of Christmas decorating and I thought, in good fun, I would offer my thoughts on what's tacky, what's classic, and what's just wrong. Here it goes!

Plastic Santas and Mrs. Claus (the light-up variety): tacky
Nativities that don't include the above couple: classic
Nativites that do include the above couple: just wrong
Huge inflatable snowmen or santas: tacky
Swirly lighted trees: classic
Icicle lights: so 1998
Garland with or without red bows: classic
Red bows for no apparent reason: tacky
Upside-down Christmas trees: don't get me started
Lighted reindeer on the lawn: surprisingly classic
Multi-colored Christmas lights: classic (purple and pink are borderline, however)
Fake huge candy-canes: classic, unless they are carving a path to the manger, then tacky
Snowflakes in the window: classic, even better if they are paper cut-out snowflakes
Strings of lights with 3 or more bulbs burnt out: tacky and incriminating
Wreaths: classic (I saw a cool gumdrop wreath posted somewhere that I am soooo going to try for next year)

Okay, this is all just for my own amusement. I do find it interesting to see how people choose to celebrate and the memories that flood back when you see different styles or items. What are the best and worst of what you saw this season?

Monday, January 1, 2007

Card Box and the New Year

This was such a fun project! For some unknown reason I felt I had time to do this in the few days leading up to Christmas. I guess I needed to do something more creative than wrapping gifts for a couple of hours. This box was a class I missed at my local scrapbooking store. I doubted my competence but altering stuff with patterned paper is turning out to be one of my favourite things! Another surprise to me is that I am drawn to funky retro papers. When I look through magazines and galleries, I just love the distressed look. Duplicating that look seems to be less successful for me than I thought. Still finding my own style.

January started in a less than pleasant way: either the mix of foods I consumed yesterday didn't agree with me or I caught some kind of a stomach bug. My parents left after visiting us for a few days and I was looking forward to having some time to scrapbook or cross stitch this afternoon and evening. However, it was not to be and I spent a lot of the day not feeling well. I'm starting to feel a bit better now and I'm hoping for a good sleep tonight.

I have been stitching! I'll post an update soon. I've been working on Thoughtful Heart by Shepherd's Bush and am loving working with wonderful silks again. I always think of Holly, my SB partner in crime, when I work on a SB kit or design. I needed something to do while at my MIL's from the 25th-28th and managed to get a few good hours of work in while my children were entertained by their cousins.

Hope your week is off to a good start. Are you making any goals for yourself this year? I still need to think this over for a bit but I am definitely doing some reflecting this week. I'd love to hear your thoughts!