Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Yarn Along



I am so grateful!  I have been lugging my knitting around with me in the car since January but when I take the kids to skating lessons, etc., I end up not bothering with getting it out.  Since last week's Yarn Along post, I've been knitting a fair bit and I've actually gotten a noticeable amount finished on my wrap!  Last week, I was about a third of the way done and now, I am over half way there!  Hooray!  My only problem is that since I have been following the Yarn Along, I am pinning patterns all over the place for other things to make.  This could get expensive.  I love to see what everyone else is doing and I've been inspired!  To see the main Yarn Along page, click this link and thank you to the host - it's such fun!

In terms of reading, I've had two major targets for reading and one other than I am dabbling with.  I am participating in the Bloom in-courage book club on the book The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.  It's challenged me a bit and it's a bit uncomfortable for me in places but clearly she gets people like me and if I am going to get anything to come of it, I am going to have to find a way to release some of what I am holding onto.  It's not always easy but it's good for me.

I'm also keeping going with the Louise Penny book The Long Way Home.  If you like mysteries, you can't do better, especially if you like character development (and I am a big fan of recurrent characters).  She's brilliant AND she's Canadian!  The only problem I am having is that I am so tired by the time I get to bed that I keep falling asleep when I am reading and losing my page.

Finally,  our minister is doing a series on the personality of Jesus (it's been interesting) and he mentioned that he was basing some of it on John Eldredge's book Beautiful Outlaw.  I've been reading that, too, but much more slowly.  I think I like it but I'm too tired to think that much sometimes.  It has made me realise that I really, to a large degree, have two Jesus Christ's in my head - the radical who has shaped my outlook and the "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" who really isn't reflective of what the Bible had to say about Jesus.  It never occurred to me before, for instance, that Jesus was actually very funny. 

I've also been book buying, which is dangerous.  SheLoves, a great Christian women's blog (great, great, great!) has a book club, The Red Couch.  As I've said before, I'm a sucker for any kind of book club.  They release their selections by quarters so I have bought the books for March (last book in the first quarter) and the books for April and May.  Now, if I can only find the time to read them?  I'm hoping to start Found by Micha Boyett tonight.  It sounds marvelous!

What's on your needles?  Is there anything I have to read or that I should pin for later?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Opinions

I have them.  Lots of them.  They are very strongly held and at times, overwhelming.  I try to push them down and to be easy going and non-committal.  I fail miserably.

There are so many times that I lament being this way.  I don't think that people at work, for instance, would say that I am overly opinionated (other than a few people at work who are very opinionated and I have a problem with not being able to shut up and back down when someone is saying something stupid).  I hate upsetting people and so generally, I try to avoid spending too much time with people who get in my face so that I can't feel as if I can't avoid the conflict.  It does cut me off quite a bit though, since I avoid anything that I think is going to get me into a touchy situation.  My friends are carefully chosen - we don't have to agree (for instance, I have friends who cross the spectrum in terms of religious beliefs and that's just fine) but if you are one of those people who needs to make everyone else agree with you, I am not interested in being your friend.

It's amazing that I have survived in teaching as long as I have, because talk about a profession in which you deal with people with opinions!  There's nothing like an angry parent!  I've been really lucky in terms of the fact that I had some amazing teachers along the way who taught me that the secrets to having positive relationships with parents are 1.  always listen and reflect back that you have heard the concern, 2.  remember that often, you are dealing not with the parent sitting across from you but the child who that parent once was and who was made to feel inadequate by a teacher along the way 3.  never talk to parents to dump about their kids and 4.  always keep in mind that no matter how crazy the parent might seem to be, remember that he or she loves his or her child (even if it shows in strange ways sometimes).  Relationships with parents have been extremely good up until now (knock on wood) and I am generally pretty good at managing colleagues, too.

It's things like social media that seem to get me into trouble.  So often, I will post something wanting a discussion or some reassurance and it turns into something insane and upsetting and yet, I can't seem to back down.  On my Facebook page, there was a huge fight about vaccines (not because I am against them but because I feel that we need to respect each other and stop treating anti-vaccine people like complete idiots who are claiming the sun revolves around the earth), a fight about whether needing to hurt one's romantic partner is indicative of mental instability (and I'm sorry, I stand by that, if you need to inflict pain and degradation on your partner, I think you are a sick puppy and need help) and about whether children should be used to campaign for charities in public schools.  As the fur flies, I tell myself over and over again to just shut up, it's not worth the upset but somehow, I just can't keep quiet.  And if it's about "the lazy poor" or "stupid immigrants taking jobs" or "if they don't like that this is a Christian country, they should leave", I lose it completely.  I am so overwhelmed by my frustration at the wrongs.

So, the question for me is, is it a bad thing to have strong opinions?  I was accused of being opinionated by a "friend" who had the blackest of black and whitest of white opinions (and a complete lack of empathy for the fact that people make mistakes and that their realities are not always the same as hers).  I experienced her as being exactly what I described above - the person who was completely unable to agree to disagree and who couldn't leave it alone until she had "won."  It has made me so worried about being thought to be opinionated and I have been pondering that for a while.  I've come to the question, though - is it a bad thing to be the person who asks the pointed questions?  Is it a bad thing to keep a larger moral picture in mind, even if it makes other people uncomfortable?  Is it actually better to be the "easy" person all the time who lets everything go?

I don't have the answer to that at all.  For me, it's like so many other things in life - when I think of the women I admire most, they all have strong voices and I'm certain that they rub many people the wrong way.  They ask tough questions and keep their faith and their commitment to being salt and light on the earth at the forefront of all decisions.  Yup, they are not always comfortable to be around and they are not conformers.  At the same time, they speak truth in love and never seek to deliberately hurt of subjugate others. 

So, if I admire it in other people so much, why do I find it so hard to accept in myself?

Monday, March 2, 2015

LIttle Joys

I am grouchy tonight.  I'm tired and I don't do tired well and it was staff meeting day - yuck!  We have a meeting once a month for 75 minutes after school and I hate it.  At my new school (I changed schools after ten years this school year and I LOVE my new school and community and the best part is that Dh and I get to drive in together now since he works a short distance away so I can knit in the car).  Anyway, to finish that overly long sentence, while these staff meetings are so much better than in the past, I still find myself exhausted and grouchy.  It's a time thing.  When I have been away from the kids all day, I don't want to be away longer and it makes the evening routines and rituals so much more rushed.  Anyway, you don't want to hear me vent so let me go straight to the things for which I am grateful tonight to see if I can cheer myself up a bit!

1.  My slow cooker - My mom had one when I was a kid and I dreaded meals from it (it usually meant stew, which I loathed).  As a working mom, on the other hand, I LOVE it!  Doing the work early in the day fits much more with my body rhythm and coming in the door to the smell of food makes me almost feel as if some magic fairy has come and cooked for me while I was at work.  I love trying new recipes and while our repertoire of slow cooker recipes that we like is fairly limited, we definitely have enough to make things interesting.  It's been a real blessing with our farm share, as we've gotten some cuts of meat we had no idea how to use.

2.  Walking the dog - I'm really missing my sweet old thing but my younger girl who is still around has been so sweet since we lost Chelsea.  Lucie is clearly non-plused but it all but at the moment, she seems quite happy to be spoiled by all of us, who are missing Chelsea.  We didn't get in a big hike tonight because of the meeting but we did manage to get over to the school yard and to have a good walk there.  We also happened to be blessed with a gorgeous sunset and a hint in the air of spring not being too far away.  Hooray!

3.  Browsing blogs - I can't believe that I lost my contact with blogging for so long!  I've been browsing the Yarn Along posts for the last few days and it's been so much fun to see what other people are reading and knitting.  It's giving me so many plans!

I'll try not to be so grouchy tomorrow so I had better be off to bed!  Good night.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weekends

I feel like I want to write a post but I really don't have anything to say.  It amazes me how different my weekends are from my work weeks (but no wonder I am so tired all the time)  Friday night was Pk to skating (her newest passion and I spend so much time at the rink) and a lovely conversation with a friend who has been in the periphery of our life for a while but who, now getting to spend 50 minutes freezing in a rink together each week, is becoming someone with whom I so enjoy chatting.  We go to church together and it was great to get to talk to someone a bit like me - a bit of a refugee from the mainline churches that are dying but who misses liturgy.  Saturday was working out, 15 minutes of prayer for our church 24 hours of prayer (and while it was lovely and meaningful, the dog felt the need to participate in my quiet time, so it had its challenges), skating again with girlie (and a visit with another friend at the rink, a hike with Lucie that was lovely (and it was FINALLY warm enough to enjoy being outside), a pony riding lesson with LB ("p is for pony" for our alphabet adventure), a visit to my SIL and her family in another town, followed by our favourite dinner.  Today, it was baking (cookies for the kids and Dh's meeting), church, a hike and tea with the dogs and a friend, and finally, the Ikea run (we have good friends who are almost two hours away and we have discovered that Ikea is exactly half way between us.  The kids love it, the food is cheap and we can linger... I also always end up buying little home things that weren't planned but at least it is cheap).  I'm going to sleep this evening exhausted (getting up in the morning should be fun) but with a sense of having really connected with some important people in my life.  I feel so very lucky.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Fringe Hours

I love online book clubs.  I would love to do an "in-person" book club too but sadly, life doesn't seem to have time for that these days.  A group of friends and I tried it but we spent LOTS of time drinking tea and coffee and about 2 minutes exactly exploring our books.  Picking a book was really hard, too, since we all had such different tastes.  For now, anyway, the "in-person" idea needs to be on the backburner.

So, along comes an online book club (well, actually two, but that's another post).  I have done the Bloom: in-courage book club a couple of times before and really quite enjoyed them.  Sometimes, I struggle a tiny bit - my Canadian fairly left-wing social justice orientation makes it a bit hard for me to connect to the books (I can remember on book by an author who is very highly thought of my many, many women and it totally lost me when she used an illustration about needing a special, new outfit for a speaking engagement and not having the money and the Lord providing her with a unforeseen source of an amazing outfit... it's just a bit too "first world problem" for me to connect).  Generally, though, it's just so nice to connect up with other readers with a similar faith backgrounds who are clearly interesting in reading and sharing.

The book this time is called The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica Turner.  Needless to say, the title itself appealed to me.  My biggest complain every single day of my life is not having enough time.  I run from the time I get up (literally - my treadmill time is 5 a.m. since it is the only time I can fit it in!) until I fall, exhaustedly into bed, often dropping off mid page of a read.  At times, it's really discouraging because I'd LOVE to have a few minutes each day for little projects and to read more. 

I'm two chapters in so far and I have somewhat mixed feelings.  I often avoid this kind of thing because the talk about scaling back one's work upsets me because I don't have that option financially and I don't have a job that gives me many options.  I sometimes come away feeling very selfish because I work (honestly, I'd love to quit my job if I felt it was financially feasible at all and it's not like we live lavishly) and there can be in implicit judgement of mothers who work.  One things I have totally appreciated so far is that I don't feel that the book is prescriptive that way or that I am already seen as a selfish, lesser Christian woman because I have a profession.  I also totally relate to the premise of the book.  I AM overcommitted and I AM overwhelmed and exhausted and I DO take on more than most of the other people I know.

I started getting a bit squirmy, though, in chapter 2, when the talk came around to making myself a priority and the fact that "just because it's a good thing to do doesn't mean it 's good for you or good for right now."  I don't know - perhaps I'm squirmy because it's a stronghold in my thinking and I need to let go of doing.  I'm a Martha, I can admit that and it's something that I'm working on.  On the other hand, my weekly baking for the less fortunate (which I've done for over five years now and gives me tremendous pleasure) and my Sunday school teaching and helping with the kids choir at church, while they could be done by other people, weren't being done by other people and at least at the churches I have attending, it's getting harder and harder to find people to help.  Is it really o.k. for me to say no to teaching Sunday school since I'm already busy with planning lessons for my job and taking that time to, say, craft or read, instead of helping out.  I'm really not sure on that one. 

I think I'm just a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of putting myself before others and in fact, that goes against what I believe the gospel message is, to some degree.  Absolutely, I shouldn't kill myself serving others but on the other hand, isn't it better for me to bake for those who don't have that personal touch or, for that matter, chauffeur my kids to skating when they enjoy it so much and it's given Pk so much confidence?  I really don't know where the line is on that and I certainly do tend towards guilt and feeling selfish so maybe I can't be objective.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more and seeing how to find those "stolen moments" for myself.  For now, my blogging seems to be a key to that and it happens after the kids go to bed.  I'd like to find a way to do this without meaning only six hours of sleep - I'm awfully tired these days.  I am also really looking forward to learning from other women who are clearly feeling as overwhelmed as I am!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Little Joys


Have you noticed?  If you are further south than we are, it may not be such a big deal but here, it matters.  The days are getting longer.  Every year, at some point in February, the light changes and I know that I will survive the winter.  It has happened this week.  This morning, when I got out of the shower, it wasn't dark outside, it was light and my trips to the dogpark with Lucie are no longer at dusk.  I don't mind cold but I loath the short, dark days of January.  I can't believe how much better I feel about everything when the light is getting longer!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Yarn Along


I stopped blogging at all regularly a couple of years ago.  Before that, one of my favourite things was the "Yarn Along" series at Small Things, the blog by Ginny S.  I love the premise and these weekly posts always helped me to remember how much I loved knitting and reading.  I get so bogged down in life and some of the things that I really enjoy slip by.  I started to yearn to blog again and to reconnect with my blog life a couple of weeks ago and so here I am and, of course, one of the first things I did was to stop by Small Things to see if the Yarn Along was still happening.  Much to my pleasure, here it was and here I am!  (And allow me to apologize, I see such lovely photos on other people's posts - sadly, right now, all I have is my phone.  I know, I bring the tone down but that happens with me...)

On my needles?  The Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood.  I have made several of these, including one for myself and I love them.  They are simple to knit and cozy to wear but look very pretty in a traditional, British way.  I have a not-so-secret love of traditional knitting (harkening back to my lovely Irish Grandmother, I think, who was a gorgeous knitter) and this wrap fits the bill nicely.  I don't get much knitting time but since Dh and I drive into work together daily now, I get some knitting done in the car and sitting, freezing myself at the rink while my kids do their skating lessons.



On my bookshelf?  So many books!  It's always an avalanche!  I just finished Anne Perry's Monk series book The Sunless Sea.  It amazes me that she is able to push out so many books but that while they aren't as wonderful as they were in the past, they still are pretty darn good!  This one took me a while but it was really engaging.  Now, I am excited to begin Louise Penny's The Long Way Home.  I had so many people tell me that I would love Louise Penny and I really put off trying her books because I so rarely find that books live up to their billing when they are so highly recommended.  I was so surprised to discover how much I love her books and I think that she just might be my favourite mystery writer around these days.  I'm guessing this will take a while but I don't mind!

I also had some books come in that I ordered, which is always lovely.  The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner, the book for the next installment of the Bloom book club (at Dayspring incourage) and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, the book for the SheLoves Red Couch book club are both anxiously awaiting my opening them and diving in.  I just wish I had more reading time.  I am so addicted to online book clubs and these are two books that I think will be excellent reads!

Finally, I was also really excited to find a package in our mailbox today (is there anyone in the world who doesn't love getting things in the mail???)  The kids and I had read Babe:  A Marvelous Pig by Dick King Smith in January and we all loved it (Dh kept coming in and lying down with us because he wanted to know what would happen next).  I allowed myself one little indulgence in second-hand book buying and the kids and I picked our four titles to order for ourselves to try.  They had to come from England so we have been waiting not so patiently for their arrival. Pk can't wait to read The Invisible Dog so I think we will start with that one first!