Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year



We just got back from an evening with friends celebrating "English/German New Year" (Dh is English and M and K, the couple we were visiting are German). That means, of course, for wimps like us who don't do "late" anymore (at least, not by choice), we celebrate earlier, when New Year has arrived in England. It was a fun evening but I hope to be soundly sleeping by the time 2010 arrives.

Like everyone, 2009 was a year with its ups and downs, although, I have to say, the downs were a bit lower than usual. I am looking forward to a fresh start, new adventures and a clean slate.

I wish everyone a wonderful celebration this evening and can't wait to hear of all of your blessings in 2010. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and supporting me in my first year here on the web.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gratitude 76

I am feeling silly and sentimental this morning.  Yesterday, my bestest oldest friend and her husband and children came for a nice, long visit.  She is one of those friends who, no matter how long it is between visits or what is going on, makes me feel like I just saw her yesterday - there's never any of that awkwardness that there can be when I first get together with people (I am a bit shy and the first part of visits can be a bit uncomfortable for me).  We had a great time (and, as always, she spoilt us with clothing and other useful gifties).  
The part that makes me sentimental was watching our daughters play together.  Her daughter is older than mine and up until now, Pk was just too little for them to really play.  Yesterday, by the time we finished supper, they were good friends and there was a good hour of them playing in Pk's room and running up and down the hallway, laughing their fool heads off - Pk pushing her stuffies in her stroller and G pushing her doggies in Pk's dump truck.  Knowing how much this friend has meant in my life, I ADORE the idea that our daughters can be friends, too.  G is just that much older than Pk that she is a perfect candidate for a little bit of hero worship for Pk and I can't think of a better candidate.  She's confident, charming, outgoing, bright and kind.  I don't see any traces of the "mean girl" in her.
I hope this continues - her mother's friendship has been such a gift to me, I would love Pk to enjoy that same gift!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gifts

Earlier on this week, I mentioned that I was starting to think about my resolutions for 2010.  Today, another good one came to my attention.

We have absolutely wonderful ministers at our church who come up with really meaningful elements in our services.  Today was our "T and T" service.  T and T is a programme we do at our church based on the parable of the talents.  Each person who chooses to participate takes $10 (supplied by the church) and is to use it to make a profit for the church using their talents.  In the past, I have participated pretty actively, usually making and selling hand made cards.  This year, I just didn't have time.  

The focus of this service is always sharing our talents and gifts.  We had some beautiful singing, people reading and reciting poetry and valuable discussion.  One part of the service that really appealed to me was the message.  As a launch, the minister asked the children what their favourite gifts had been at Christmas and how they knew who the gifts were for.  The message culminated in handing everyone a gift tag and a pen.  We were to address our gifts to Jesus and to record our names.  On the back, we were to record whatever gift we wanted to return to God this coming year.  It might be time or money but it might be something completely different.  After we had all written our tags, we took them up and hung the gift tags on the Christmas tree.  I really needed time to think about it.  I had a few ideas but then it came to me - what I truly need to give back to God this year is my undivided attention.  Yes, I do Bible study each morning but often, when life is chaotic and I am feeling rushed, Bible study just becomes another job to do rather than a critical time to focus myself and listen.  That is what I want to give back to God this year.  It's time for me to learn to be quiet and listen, to read and reflect and to turn my eyes to God.  It isn't always easy and it is going to require some real discipline on my part but I obviously believe that it is critically important.

It's something I am thinking would be great for us to do as a family next year.

Inconceivable

To begin, let me say that all is well here in the pregnancy department, as far as I know.  I had a doctor's appointment a week and a half ago and the heartbeat was good and strong and easy to find (Hallelujah!) and the results from the 12+ week ultrasound were in and the NT scan results look good.  We won't totally relax until the 18+ week ultrasound and the IPS screen results come back but so far, so good.

I was pondering what I had to talk about this morning and what is really on my mind is infertility.  Back in the summer, when I was feeling so desperate, I started to read a few infertility blogs.  Last night, I spent some time reading some links from one of them and I haven't been able to stop thinking about the things I read since.

Until our issues this past year, infertility was something that we had brushed with in friends but we really hadn't thought about it a whole lot.  A good friend of Dh's since childhood has struggled with it with his wife for years.  We have always felt sorry for them - it has obviously caused them a horrible amount of pain and they don't have the finances to do anything about it.  Particularly in the case of the wife, I have noticed her withdrawing from many relationships and becoming bitter over the years and at this point, I think the infertility is the primary cause.  MIL, with her characteristic empathy (sorry, I am being nasty), would routinely complain about the wife being sensitive at baby showers, etc. and rant that they just needed to "learn to accept" that they couldn't have everything they want, just like everyone else.  I would hope that dh and I were always more sensitive than that but really, it wasn't especially on our radar because we weren't entirely sure that we wanted children until 3 years ago.

I have come to realise that infertility is everywhere.  We know of two couples at church who have had varied issues (one family, that is a real miracle, were childless for 17 years and then, when the wife was 41, got pregnant with their first child and they had a second when she was 43!).  I know of at least three women at work who have had issues - one who went IVF and conceived twins, only to lose one shortly delivery at 33 weeks.  When I have discussed it with friends, we all know someone who has or is struggling but really, the world is very insensitive to it.

Dh and I were lucky, I know that.  We conceived Pk the first month we tried.  The second time round, it felt to us like we were infertile but technically, we never did qualify because, despite dh's temporary issues (which were thankfully fully resolved with some lifestyle changes), we tried for less than a year.  I will tell you, though, that year was the hardest thing I have ever endured.  When it looked like we might have to go IVF, I can't tell you the amount of fear I felt.  On the one hand, there was the cost (at least $10 000), on the other, there was the fear of the procedure itself and the meds involved (could I really give myself injections in my stomach???).  The thing that people don't discuss, and this is something that really hit home to me reading blogs last night, is the risks involved with IVF.  With weak sperm and/or weak eggs, there are genetic things that can happen.  I read about one family who struggled to conceive for years and then finally did, only to discover that the baby had trisomy 18 and he died 4 days after birth.  There was another family who managed to conceive twin girls, only to have one die of SIDS days after birth.  I read about another family who had to take infant CPR before leaving the hospital and take home a stethoscope to check their infant daughter's heart multiple times a day.  There was the couple whose husband had such low sperm count and poor motility that they were told that he shouldn't reproduce because any male child they conceived through ICSI would almost certainly have reproductive issues himself.  Then, there were the couples who spent tens of thousands of dollars to have IVF not work, for no known reason. The stories went on and on.  What horrible choices couples have to make and what deep pain they face.

I don't really have anything profound to say, no answers or deep reflections.  All I will say is that those of us who have children need to realise what a blessing we have received and treasure it every moment.  We need to look with compassion on couples who don't have children.  We need to be sensitive how we share the news of a pregnancy (with this one, I decided on email, just to give people a chance to process their own reactions before they have to face me because I know that for some, this was hard news to hear).  We need to be supportive of the choices that other people make and NOT offer advice ("relax and it will happen on its own," "adopting is just like having your own child").  Personally, I think that reproductive care (IUI, IVF, etc) should be covered by either OHIP or insurance, since it is an unfair burden on families who need it.  I definitely think that we need to restructure the adoption system, especially for foreign adoptions - it sickens me to think that there are loving families who want to open their homes to children who have no one but they are prevented from doing so because they don't have the $50 000 to cover the cost of the adoption.

I am incredibly thankful for the gift that I have been given and I just pray that this pregnancy ends in a happy, healthy child, as well.  I hope that I can always respond with compassion to those that are struggling.  What a tough journey.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Memories


Like with everything, I always have my hopes up for what Christmas will be like and what the memories will be.  Things are rarely what I expect.

It was a nice Christmas this year.  Now that we are in our church home, we were able to start our Christmas celebration there on Christmas Eve.  The first service was so much fun - our minister did a spontaneous nativity play using congregation members as actors.  I hadn't expected to see my father wearing gauzy-yellow angel wings and my husband dressed as a wise man who looked like a Harlem reject from 1974 :-).  The second service was more somber and ended with candlelight.  For those of you who don't go to church, if you ever just want to drop in sometime, go on Christmas Eve.  It is always beautiful.

Christmas Day ended up being a bit frantic and frenzied, despite our plans otherwise.  The most wonderful part for me was that Pk loved the gift that I was most excited to give her and it cost exactly $5.95.  I bought her a set of window crayons, which she has used off and on since opening them yesterday morning.  That's the picture above - her art on our large front window.  It was wonderful to "get it right" and, silly sentimental fool that I am, I am looking forward to coming home and seeing her presence announced in the front window.  Anyway, we did the family thing, ate way too much, have the usual family yummy recipes that nobody else eats (my grandma was the queen of jellied salads and while they are "out" these days, it wouldn't be Christmas without ribbon salad and snow pudding with custard sauce).  We went to bed feeling overstuffed and lazy.


My big treat happened this morning.  As my Christmas gift, not only did Dh get me a gift certificate to my favourite yarn store, he gave me a gift certificate entitling me to being taken there at 9:30 this morning before they opened to wait for their big Boxing Day sale which begins at 10 to be followed by a Tim Horton's Ice Cap on the way home (o.k., I know, I am a cheap date).   Between my gift certificate and the 30% off my favourite yarn, Sirdar Baby Bamboo, I was able to get yarn for THREE sweaters for Pk and $136 worth of yarn cost me $44.  I can't wait to start knitting.  I just have to decide which one to make first! 

Now, to eat up the leftovers, repair the damage to the house and get ready for all of our visiting over the next week.  I hope you had a nice Christmas!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a peace-filled, loving and meaningful Christmas.
Love,
Us

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A New Favourite

Kittenpie, knowing how much I love L.M. Montgomery's work, sent me a copy of her last book, which has just been published for the first time in its entirety.  This was such a thoughtful gift.

L.M. Montgomery has always felt to me like a part of my family.  I don't remember when I first "met" her - as a somewhat feisty "carrot-top" growing up, there were comparisons made to Anne but I don't remember when I first read her books.  She was always part of the family lore as my grandfather roomed with her younger son at Queen's.  I knew of her books before the t.v. series came out because I couldn't ever enjoy it - Anne was too real to me and no matter how wonderful the casting or the acting, these people just weren't "right".  I do remember being engrossed in, first the Anne books and then, individual titles.  My absolute favourites were "The Blue Castle" and "The Tangled Web."  

I know that L.M. Montgomery's work has been criticized by many as being trite, overly romantic, lacking of substance, etc.  Yes, they do have happy endings (which, quite frankly, seems to immediately relegate a book to being "shallow" in supposedly intellectual circles these days).  Yes, they aren't filled with angst and cruelty and yes, the characters can be somewhat shallowly portrayed at times.  Personally, though, I think that those who feel this way are missing something.

To truly appreciate Montgomery's gift for telling a story and for painting portraits, you need to understand her world.  While I didn't live in her time, I am the daughter, grand-daughter and great-granddaughter of Presbyterian minister's wives.  The women who raised me came from her world and knew the oppressive forces at work.  Yes, people can be wonderful but often, there is something about the church, especially in small towns, that brings out the petty, the mean and the shallow.  L.M. Montgomery's world was tight and closed, she had little control and given her husband's issues with depression, she must always have been living on the edge, knowing that everything could be lost.  Here she was, brilliant and with a gift for seeing beauty, trapped in a world that asked her to be small and plain.  Her novels gave us insight into what the world could be like, even in the context of such smallness.  I love the fact that she painted portraits of people, particularly in the context of tight families and while she showed them with all of their faults, I don't think she was ever cruel in her portrayals.

I LOVED this last book.  In some ways, it was more bittersweet than many of her other books.  The shadow of the war and the loss of Gilbert and Anne's son Walter looms over the Blythe family but there is still hope and love.  I love the fact that we rarely get direct insights into Anne and Gilbert and their family.  They are merely mentioned by others in conversation or appear very briefly (e.g., in the context as guests at a wedding).  It was wonderful to revisit these wonderful characters and the world in which they lived.  It has made me want to go back and reread all of her books - there is nothing like going back to visit old friends.

Thank you so much, Kittenpie, for reminding me of an author I loved so much.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Official

I am a complete nutcase.  I just spent the last half hour attaching handmade gift tags to Christmas pencils for the kids at Pk's daycare.  Why, oh why, would I spend my time that way?  As if they will really notice...   There is a mom there who will almost certainly have a hand-crafted beautiful something for each child and she makes me feel guilty for not doing more.  Last year, she had a hand-shaped and personally iced rice krispie star for each child (names and all) done up in pretty bags with handmade gift tags.  I will never be able to live up to that :-).

AWOL

I keep doing that - sorry.  Not that I have a huge audience or anything :-).  I don't know why I haven't been around - I think that I just got caught up in the frenzy of the season and finishing work.  Being home with a sick child for the last few days has helped to focus things a bit.

One of the down sides of not being online much is that I had over 200 blog posts to go through.  There is a side of me that gets tempted to just mark all as read and start from scratch but then, I might miss something wonderful.  I have spent the last two days gradually getting caught up with everyone (and deleting blogs from my Reader - I just can't manage to keep up and when time is limited, I want to be sure that what I am reading is really focused to what I want right now).  It's interesting to see what blogs I like and what they say about me...

There are three major types of blogs I read - 1.  blogs written by friends (online and real-life), 2.  faith-based blogs and 3.  home/cooking/crafting/domesticity blogs.  It's the third group that has me laughing today.  I have a theory as to why I am so "into" these blogs these days... I think it comes from the fact that I don't have a clue how to relax and these leisurely, savour-the-small-things blogs seem so amazing to me because they are so far removed from who I am.  Frankly, it isn't even something that I understand.  One of my favourite blogs, Attic24, is frequently about spending the day at home after dropping the kids at school, enjoying a cup of tea and some yummy home-baked thing and doing some crochet.  I think I would probably explode if I spent very many days like that.  It makes them all the more wonderful the read about.  

So, as we enter into the realm of resolutions (o.k., so I am a tiny bit ahead of myself), it has me thinking that this year, I need to shift the focus a bit.  I don't tend to do a whole lot in the way of resolutions (well, that's a lie, I make them, I just don't keep them more than three or four days).  This year, I want to learn about how to relax.  I want to try and find a few minutes every day to putter - maybe do a bit of knitting, maybe read a bit, maybe try out a new recipe, maybe fiddle in the garden a bit (one the baby comes, I don't think gardening is so safe until then).   I am going to think about savouring the small things, finding a bit of quiet, enjoying something that is peaceful rather than busy.  I need to learn how to do this or I will go crazy off on mat leave when June arrives (not that I harbour any illusions that parenting two under three will be easy in any sense).  When I was on mat leave with Pk, I had a hectic schedule of classes and programmes and on days when I was stuck at home, that's exactly how I felt - stuck.  I don't want to repeat that again and now is the time to learn.

Are you making any resolutions for 2010?  What are your plans?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Hanukkah




One of the pleasures of growing up in a very multicultural city and from teaching is getting to celebrate along with those around you.  The Jewish holidays are especially easy to incorporate into our family since Judaism and Christianity share so many common stories.  Call me crazy but for me, it isn't the Christmas season without latkes, dreidles and the menorah.  

Yesterday, in my class, we made potato latkes.  They aren't exactly a diet food but they certainly are yummy.  I have a great cookbook for children called "Cook and Learn" by Beverly Veitch (Author), Thelma Harms.
It is full of single portion recipes that allows children to make their own serving of something.  Since we are doing measurement in math right now, it fits in perfectly and the children get so excited about eating something that they have made themselves.  I've included the recipe below in case you have some children who might want to try.

Single Serving Potato Latkes

large potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
white flour
beaten egg
chopped green onion
salt and pepper
sour cream or applesauce for serving
oil for frying

1.  Soak the potatoes in water.  Blot dry on paper towel and grate into a bowl
2.  Add 1 tsp flour.
3.  Add 1 tsp beaten egg.
4.  Add 1/2 tsp chopped green onion.
5.  Add salt and pepper.
6.  Fry in oil in a frying pan until golden and crispy on each side (roughly 3 - 5 minutes).  
7.  Serve with sour cream or applesauce.

Warning - your house will stink!

I had planned on making these for our dinner tonight but I have run out of steam.  We will have to make them tomorrow night - it would be Christmas without them!

On Being Ordinary

I have had so many blog posts floating around in my head this week.  Sadly, they pop into my head at the least opportune moments and I just don't have time to get to the computer.  Well, I am here now, so here goes...

I read blog posts on reader and I have a rather long list of blogs that I am watching these days.  I haven't had much reading time lately so the list has gotten rather long.  I skim them quickly and then move on.  Yesterday, I got a chance to do a bit of reading as I have a student teacher who is teaching the entire day until the end of next week.   While it's a great chance to get organized, I decided it also gave me a chance for a little bit of blog reading.

In the huge group of blog entries I had to read yesterday, there was one blog post that really, really stood out to me.  I want to link it here but first I want to ask permission of its author.  It was, essentially, a post in praise of the "ordinary".   The poster comes from a family of people who she perceives to be "extraordinary" and she has felt like the odd one out in the past.  Thankfully, she has come to understand that there is true beauty in the ordinary and she is content to be happy with her life as it is.

This ended up being one of those posts that I would like to print off and put into some kind of journal for myself.  After I had read it, it just kept coming back to me and I couldn't stop reflecting on it.  I think that there is such an important message there, at least for me.  

I can identify with being ordinary.  In a funny way, ordinary is something that I crave.  I love my family tremendously but they are not people you could say are conventional or ordinary.  They have deep passions and have accomplished some very impressive things in their fields.  They are kind and loving.  Growing up, though, I just desperately wanted them to be "normal".  I grew up with a profound sense of not belonging, largely because we were so unusual in the way that my parents chose to live our lives.  I still struggle a bit with shame when I have to explain my parents' choices to people.  Silly, I know, since my mind understands that I was not and am not responsible for my parents' choices and that they shouldn't reflect on me but still, those feelings from childhood and adolescence can be really hard to shake.

On the other hand, I also feel the need to apologize for being so conventional.  I am boring.  There's nothing exciting or dramatic in my life choices.  I like home and family and traditions and comfort.  I don't want to be overly challenged or stretched and I love my little life.  I work with some people who really do exciting, impressive things and I do feel like the little sparrow next to the gorgeous peacocks (an analogy used by my friend in her post).  Motherhood has brought that feel out even more - being surrounded by all of these very ambitious people who are doing great things and I am at a stage of life when just thinking about getting through the work day and getting home to Pk and dh is enough for me.  There isn't time for high flying and drama, my life is full of the mundane and ordinary, endless numbers of meals to cook, stories to read, baths to give, dogs to walk...

And yet, there is something so wonderful to be treasured in all of that.  The poster was right.   It's fun to look at the peacock but we do and then move on.  And yet, who hasn't sat and watched intently at a bird feeder, watching the chickadees or the sparrows, the starlings and the blue jays.  They aren't exciting on first glance but that are truly fascinating to study and they each have a beauty of their own.  To me, my life is like that, too.  There are those beautiful moments buried in the midst of all that ordinary, moments that would be easy to miss but that are really, at least for me, the moments that make life worth living.   Those are the true treasures - my daughter's joy in discovering something new, a half hour of colouring together, seeing the leaves on a tree or the beauty of the snow when walking the dogs, a good conversation with a friend when you need it, a cup of something warm and yummy in the midst of a busy day...

Especially at this time of year so filled with sparkle and noise, what a good time to be reminded to treasure the quiet and to watch for the beauty in the small moments.  Thanks to the poster for helping me to get myself back on track.  I need to get out and buy some birdseed...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Life Updates

I am so sorry for the long absence.  I have to admit, I was pretty shocked when I looked at the date of my last post.  Life has been really busy and the only little bit of time I have had has been at work and unfortunately, blogging sites are considered to be "social networking" and are blocked.  Ugh.

Anyway, life has been crazy busy.  To begin, I am still pregnant and exhausted.   While the nausea does seem to be getting a tiny bit better, it has changed in an odd way - while I am not feeling like I am going to get sick all the time, I DO get sick suddenly and that hadn't happened much until a couple of weeks ago.  Here's hoping THAT goes quickly.  I am also incredibly tired all the time and when I put Pk to be, I go, too.  That eats up a lot of my computer time.

One fun thing that has been keeping me busy was that I took a knitting class.  It was just two sessions but both were a Tuesday evening.  I can't remember the last time that I did something on my own in the evening that wasn't work related (well, o.k., you are right, I went to that Partylite party a couple of weeks ago...).  Anyway, it was great.  I do fairly complicated stuff when I knit but I have never tried fair isle, at least, I should say, not successfully.  As you can see from the pic below, not perfect but not bad for a first attempt.  I also have really fallen in love with the little yarn shop that offers the classes - I think I will have to take another.

 Last week was report cards and parent interviews. Frankly, it is not my favourite time as a teacher.  Much as we try to be as accurate as we can in representing the students, you never know which parents are going to be unhappy.  This year wasn't bad but I did have one mother whose daughter got all A's but one A- get in my face about making her work harder.  There are times when I just want to scream, "It's only Grade 2 you know!"  I bit my tongue and thankfully, our wonderful school caretaker felt sorry for me and came in and ordered the parents out at 8 p.m. when I had stragglers who didn't seem to want to leave.

I also had a great chat with one of our ministers this week.  The way things have gone with Dh's family has really weighed heavily on me lately.  Someone lent me a book on Borderline personality disorder and I know understand my s.i.l's behaviour and why it has impacted us the way that it has.  Without saying too much, last year, I finally told her that I couldn't have contact with her anymore unless she demonstrated a willingness to treat us with respect and to model politeness in front of Pk.  This was after years (17, to be exact) of her being volatile, at times nasty and generally very, very critical.  I am a wimp, really, and will do almost anything to avoid conflict.  It wasn't until I could see that it was destroying dh and it was starting to show signs of flickering into Pk's direction that I finally took a stand.  It hasn't been easy and dh's parents are not understanding that we need to set some boundaries with his sister.  It has been awful.  The worst part for me has been the guilt.  Even though I know that we have tried and tried and tried, I still have moments when I feel like I am being unforgiving and uncompassionate towards her.  It really weighs heavily on me.  Friends and my family have all told me that I had done the right thing but I go to church and hear about turning the other cheek and I get sucked into guilt.  I finally decided to sit down with A, to get another perspective.  What a relief.  As I shared our story, she just kept nodding and muttering, "Manipulation again."  We had a long talk about the fact that there is a difference between forgiveness and being a doormat and that there is nothing unChristian about saying that while I want to have a relationship and am open to one, it will only happen if she is willing to change how she treats us.  I know it sounds silly and that really, another person can't grant me permission or absolution but I have to say, it really made me feel better.

Other than that, our big news is baby.  As I said earlier, I have been feeling very yucky and lots of women have told me that's a boy thing.  I tend to take these things with a grain of salt.  We had our 12 week ultrasound this morning and it would seem that at this point, anyway, it looks like a boy.  We are very excited.  Frankly, we would be excited either way - a boy lets us enjoy life on both sides of parenting and having another girl would make things financially a lot easier (we have lots of great clothing for a girl!).  It was just such a relief to see that heart beating strongly and that little body moving around.  I am a bit of a worrier (as if you didn't already know that!) and this stage of pregnancy, while a blessing, is a pretty scary time.  I will be relieved to make it to the 20 week mark.

So, there you are.  Life is busy and I am hanging in to get to the holidays.  Maybe with the report cards, I will be able to write more often.  Hope all is well for everyone else!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gratitude 75

I tend to overplan and when there is an event or a time that I want to be special and significant, I am often disappointed.  I try so hard to make things go the way that I think that they "should" ("should" being a word I oppress myself with so often) and more often than not, circumstances conspire to foil my plans.

Today was a day that was the opposite of that.  Next weekend, as fellowship coordinator at our church, I have organised an advent kick-off event.  It's nothing too sophisticated, just a potluck dinner (and if you haven't experienced a church potluck, you have missed something!), some carol singing, making some ornaments and decorating the church.  Given that we are going to have a huge mortgage at the church for a long time, we can't exactly go out and spend a fortune on decorations for the church so we have asked people to donate things that they no longer use.  We may end up with some pretty tacky stuff but when we did it at Thanksgiving, the church ended up looking lovely.

To get ready, Dh and I got out all of our ornaments today to see what we can happily part with.  That led to going through all the Christmas lights, a trip into town to buy some more and then we spent a good chunk of time working together to get the lights up.  We finished up with homemade cups of cocoa with marshmallows.  It's hard to describe what was so wonderful about it.  Maybe it was the fact that putting up the lights often can become a real chore (as dh said, it was nice not to be freezing his fingers off) and we didn't feel like we HAD to do it today, it just kind of happened.  It's also fun that Pk is old enough to be aware that something really special is happening, even if she doesn't really know what that special thing is.  I think it was just one of those days that we really felt like a family - not sure if you know what I mean but there are times, when things are happening, that I KNOW that this is a day that I am going to remember, a day that really fit its "should".  And every time I drive up to the house in the yucky dark, I will see the lights and think of a wonderful day spent together as a family.

Now, if you have some decorations to spare...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gratitude 74

It's funny how often I can be made to eat my words.

I have never "gotten" the home sales party thing.  I have been invited to Tupperware and Pampered Chef parties in the past and I have never really been a fan.  While the home sales parties tend to self high quality merchandise, I find, anyway, that everything tends to be VERY expensive and I have always felt intense pressure to buy to support the hostess (that may be because the hostess has usually been my s.i.l. and there is always intense pressure from her about everything).  I always said I would never have one or put my friends in that position and I hated to go.

Fast forward to last night.  A friend from church was having a Partylite party and I was invited.  I didn't really want to go and I definitely wasn't going to spend money.  Imagine my surprise when I had a wonderful time.  Did I spend too much?  Yes (sorry, Partylite is the worst for being overpriced and I almost laughed out loud when the saleswoman was running down the "guest" specials available for anyone who spent $150 - I can just imagine the reaction from dh when I got home if I were to tell him that I had spent that much on candles!).  On the other hand, it was relaxed, the food was good and the company was wonderful.  I almost never get out on my own, especially in the evening, unless it is for a meeting or a work obligation, so to just get to hang out with some really nice women was such a treat.  I can now understand why people do this.  Don't worry, I won't be inviting you to a sales party anytime soon (I still would feel funny about doing that to my friends and anyway, I can't think of any sales parties that would interest them) but I do stand corrected.  Maybe there is a purpose for them after all beyond making a company a lot of money in a situation in which people feel obligated to buy.

Now, I can't wait for my candles to arrive :-).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gratitude 73

Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!  Hooray!  I HATE this time of year.  I can't stand the darkness.  It makes me feel truly claustrophobic and isolated and it's all about the lack of light.   The one thing that gets me through is the excitement of Christmas.  It's so hard to hold off until the first Sunday of Advent to decorate - I want Christmas to begin NOW so that I can pretend that it's not so dark.  We are planning to really celebrate this year - we always do but we have been feeling like we have lost track of our most special people.  

As I have said before, I have been going to therapy and trying to work through some stuff.  The situation with Dh's family is definitely one of my biggest struggles.  I have this dream of what an extended family should be and basically, I have realised that I have to let that dream go.  They aren't going to change and Dh and I have tried endless ways to please them and to make the family closer.  Unfortunately, as my therapist said, we are knocking on a door that is closed and locked and unless they decide to open the door to us, which is unlikely, things won't change.  It's time for me to lick my wounds, grieve a bit the fact that Pk will never have the love and acceptance from that side of the family that I want for her (although I can't complain too much since my family lavishes her with enough love for 60 children) and then work on surrounding ourselves with the people we really care about and people who are loving.  That leads me back to Christmas.  We want to have lots of our favourite people over and to do lots of visiting and put the focus on the people who matter.  So, Kittenpie, we definitely want to find a way to see you this holiday!

So, I am grateful for the joy of Christmas AND for the opportunity that it gives us to focus on what really matters most.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gratitude 72

We had such a great day!  My mother came up to babysit so that we could go the the Focus on the Family Focus on Parenting simulcast.  I hate the politics of Focus (sorry to offend any of my American friends but there are things that they stand for in politics that go against much of what I believe as a Canadian).  That being said, though, they offer fantastic resources for parenting and marriage with a Christian perspective.  Today, they featured Mark Holmen (Faith at Home - I hadn't heard him before but he was FANTASTIC), Larry Fowler from Awana, Elisa Morgan from MOPS, Kevin Leman (I laughed so hard I was crying, I LOVE him) and then a panel discussion on Children and Media featuring Phil Vischer (Veggietales), Ron Luce and Bob Waliszewski (Plugged In).  It was such a great day.  I learned so much, I was really inspired and Dh and I even got to go out for lunch together at a sit-down restaurant, something we haven't done in a very long time.  I am grateful to mom for giving us this chance and to Focus and all the speakers for giving me a much clearer idea of how to model faith and to instill it in Pk, something that I view as being my most critical goal as a mother. 

Gratitude 71

Last night, Dh went out to his car and came back with a stack of mail, including a package - for me!  I love getting mail (well, real letters and Christmas cards and things like that) and it feels like these days, 95% of what we get is bills and another 4.99% is bills.  It is such a rare thing to get something nice in the mail.  The package was from Kittenpie and ANYTHING from kittenpie is something to get excited about.  If she ever quits her job, she could be a professional gift consultant.  She has the most amazing instincts for what someone would like and she has, on several occasions, gotten me something that was my heart's desire and yet, I didn't even know that it existed.  This time, it was two books.  One is a picture book that is very, very sweet.  The other is a novel, "The Mermaid's Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd.  I had just finished reading my last novel that I had in the house and I haven't been using the library much, since a.  I have several overdues that need to be dealt with (yes, I know, bad me) and b.  I am so tired these days that I only read a few days at a time so I don't get through books fast enough for the library to be very useful (so sad, I have always been a voracious reader).  I have started the book (I actually got through about 25 pages before I fell asleep last night, which is pretty good for me) and I love it so far.  I will enjoy it more knowing who it came from.
Thanks, Kittenpie!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gratitude 70

Today ended up being a really nice day.  It had to potential to be pretty awful, actually, as dh and Pk were getting their H1N1 shots today.  After all the media reports of 6 hour lines and chaos, we were expecting things to be awful.  My doctor was pretty emphatic last week that Pk and Dh needed to be done a.s.a.p. to protect me, since she doesn't want me to get my shot until at least 12 weeks and until the non-adjuvented vaccine is readily available for pregnant women.

My doctor's practice is 45 minutes drive from here and we decided that we would go there to get done since other places, dh might not be considered high risk.  My doc is in a very large clinic with a walk-in clinic and that is where we got the shots done.  It was amazing, we were in and out in less than 10 minutes and Pk barely cried.  We had chocolate ready to go (it works almost every time) but as she got her shot, she was whining for one of the suckers they had in a bowl.  That took away any upset about the shot almost immediately.  We decided to treat her to a lunch at McDonald's (yes, I know, me the healthy-eating nazi) and it was fun.  We rarely eat in a restaurant with Pk and she had so much fun.  

My mother is here with us for the next few days, since she is babysitting for us tomorrow during the day (we are going to a parenting event at a local church).  My mom just found out that she is pre-diabetic and really has to watch her sugar so she is feeling pretty restricted in her diet.  I wanted to treat her to say thank you for being there for us.  I asked what her favourite meal was and she immediately replied, "Mac and cheese!".  My father and brother are lactose intolerant so pasta in any kind of cheese sauce is NOT ever on the menu there.  It gave me a good challenge.

Here's my recipe. I took a few and put them together and this was the result and it was delicious.

Macaroni and Cheese

2 c whole wheat macaroni
3Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 c milk
2 c shredded cheddar cheese + extra for sprinkling
2 tsp dijon mustard

topping:
crushed whole wheat crackers
butter (1 or 2 Tbsp), melted
small amount of grated parmesan cheese

Cook the macaroni according to package directions.  In the meantime, melt the butter in a saucepan.  When it is melted but not yet brown, add the flour and stir to make a paste.  Gradually add the milk, whisking as you add and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until simmering and slightly thickened.  Add 2 c of cheddar and the dijon mustard.  Add the drained macaroni to the sauce and stir.  Pour half the macaroni and sauce into a greased caserole dish, sprinkle with cheese and repeat.  
In a bowl, combine the melted cheese, the crushed crackers and the parmesan.  Sprinkle over the macaroni.  
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, covered.  Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.  I served it with steamed cauliflower with browned butter.  It wasn't exactly a low-fat meal but it was definite yummy.


I have a total weakness for sweets.  I need a little something at the end of the day and since mom needs to watch her sweets (as should I!), I was looking for just a little something.  I found this recipe on Attic24 (the blog I mentioned the other day) for "Fruity Oat Squares".  These are yummy and incredibly easy to make!  I just used sultanas - I can't wait to try this recipe again with some apricots.

I love days like this, spent with family and doing little things that make home more comfortable for all of us.  

New Christmas Traditions

I have been thinking about how to make Christmas more meaningful for us as a family and this morning, I stumbled across this post in reader from Simple Mom.  I love the idea of the Jesse Tree.  We always get an advent calendar, although I find it is getting harder and harder to find a nice one that isn't Santa and the elves.  It has always bothered me that advent calendars didn't start on the first Sunday of advent, either (silly, I know, but we always CELEBRATED the first Sunday of advent in my family, it was the true kick-off to the Christmas season and it's always when we decorate the house).  I don't think I will have time to get ornaments for a Jesse tree this year but I did stumble across this pattern book for them and I just might have to try them for next year.  I haven't done any cross stitch in years but I like the idea of little projects that I might actually finish.  For more info, have a look here.  I am also the fellowship coordinator at church and am supposed to be planning a first Sunday of Advent decorating party/potluck.  I am trying to think of how we might do a Chrismons tree with simple ornaments that can be made the day of.  Let me know if you have any ideas!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gratitude 69

I am so sorry that I have disappeared.  Life has been busy and I have been so incredibly tired.  It wasn't this way but Pk but this time, I am in bed at 8 o'clock most nights.  I think I am starting to improve a little bit because I am finally back to reading a few of my favourite blogs.  One I like the most is Attic24 by Lucy.  She's a self-described stay-at-home-mum in the north of England who manages to find beauty in the simple things - her crocheting, baking a simple treat to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon or just talking photos of the view walking her children to school.  Her blog captures a serenity and an appreciation of the small elements of daily life that I savour and yearn for myself.  I am an anything-but-peaceful kind of soul, myself, but it is a trait I envy in other people.  I love being able to stop in for a glimpse of Lucy's world.  It's enough to make me want to bake a tray of squares and sit down with a cup of tea.  If only I could have caffeine and could stomach the baking :-).  Oh, well, soon enough.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Prayer

I would like to ask you to pray for my friend, N.  At the school we work at, there are now 8 teachers who are pregnant right now (8 we know about and there is another who hasn't announced yet).  N and her husband have been trying for over a year and while they are in the process of treatment for something that is wrong and may be solveable, she is feeling a lot of pain about it all.  If she wasn't surrounded by pregnant people, it wouldn't be in her face all the time but it is.  I understand her pain and wish I could do something.  Please pray that they will get some answers and, if it is meant to be, that they will start on the journey to their own family soon.  It is so hard to watch a good, good friend suffer and not be able to do anything about it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

30 Day Giving Challenge

I have been terrible about checking the blogs I read lately (the fact that I am going to bed at 8 most nights tends to interfere with just about everything!).  I finally opened reader this morning and the first post I saw was this one from Amy at The Finer Things in Life.  I love this idea!  Especially as Christmas approaches, I start to worry about money and how I am going to manage Christmas this year (especially since I am going on mat leave in June and will be bringing in significantly less than half of my usual income).  This is such a great idea in terms of trying to make the world a better place and to reflect on what I have as opposed to what I lack.  I'm a few days late so I will have to try and catch up.  I am looking forward to making this fun.  Thanks to Allysa for this great idea!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gratitude 68

I got to see and hear the heartbeat today.  It doesn't get any better than that!  Thank you, God!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gratitude 67

We were Booed yesterday.  I have never heard of this before but maybe you have.  We came home from work and there was a present hanging on the front door handle.  It was a bag of goodies, obviously for Pk, with a poem inside.  We have no idea who gave it to us but the idea is that if we are interested, we are supposed to then get two small gifties for neighbours and anonymously leave them on a neighbour's door along with the poem.  We aren't big Halloween celebrators (sorry, being teachers makes Halloween very tiring for us, by the time we have done a day of children being absolutely frenzied, we are ready for a break!) but it seemed like a nice thing to do.  Dh dropped off two gifts last night after work to friends in town.  I hope it was as nice a surprise for them as it was for us!
www.BeenBooed.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More H1N1

O.k., now I am feeling a bit reassured.  I went to a presentation at the hospital last night on H1N1 and pregnancy and at least now, I feel like I have the facts.  It's not entirely reassuring given that the WHO is saying that pregnant women should get the non-ajuvented version of the shot which isn't available here yet and quite possible won't be until the end of November (although I read yesterday that Health Canada is buying it from Australia so it might be here early).  On the reassuring side, however, I did find out the Pk will qualify for the non-ajuvented version because she is under age 3 (I have really been struggling about what to do with her and the ajuvent was one of my biggest concerns).  I also found out that I was on the mark with the prescription for Tamiflu - according to the ob who was there last night, if you are pregnant, your doctor is supposed to offer you a script for Tamiflu so that you can have it on hand if you need it and their recommendation was that we should all ask for it.  I have emailed my doc and have asked for her to fax me a script.  Probably paranoid but given that there were a few other pregnant teachers from my school who were there last night who told me that we have at least one staff member at work who has a child with a confirmed case of H1N1, I think the threat is definitely fairly real.
I just wish that the media wasn't in such a frenzy about this.  It's all anyone at work can talk about and I know that some of the other pregnant teachers are really, really scared.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Doctor's Post

My doctor, Dr. Kerri Best, has a website and she has posted her opinion to her patients on the H1N1 vaccine.  You might be interested in what she has to say:
http://www.mydoctor.ca/user/index.asp?id=1372
It doesn't reassure me much but at least I feel like she is thinking about it and not just pushing things without looking into it herself.  I will have to ask her what she thinks about me getting the shot.

Re:Dilemma

Thanks for the input, everyone.  It's interesting to see what everyone else has to say.  I am still very on the fence but there is supposed to be a seminar at the hospital tomorrow for the public on H1N1 and pregnancy so I plan to go to that, although I doubt they are going to be able to share anything new, since I have researched this to death.  
Anyone know whether you can have titres done?  We had a couple of really nasty viruses go through here last winter and one in particular might have been H1N1 given Pk's symtoms.  If it turns out we have already had it, I believe that would take the decision away which would be really, really nice.  
I am going to whine again but I really wish this was an easy decision.  I wish I could be as sure as all of you.  Honestly, I am not seriously anti-vax in most cases (Pk has had most of the standard ones and I have had all of them, up until now).  It's just the doing-it-while-I-am-pregnant thing that scares me witless.  If the baby ended up having birth defects or, what I am most afraid of, autism, I would always have to wonder.
I'll let you know what I decide.  Ugh, I hate this.  I hope my doctor has some good advice.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dilemma

I am really unsure of what to do in terms of the Swine Flu vaccine.  I keep thinking that I have come to a decision and then something happens to change my mind.

As you know, I am pregnant, although, right now, it's early days.  Here in Canada, the swine flu vaccine has just arrived and pregnant women are being strongly encouraged to get the vaccine.  I should probably state, I am very hesistant about vaccines.  I am not totally anti-vax, I couldn't take the risk with Pk with some diseases but if I feel the that disease is relatively mild, I would rather risk that than risk the vaccine.  I don't see why we want to prevent children getting chicken pox, for instance, when it is extremely rare that there are complications and when getting the disease leads to lifelong immunity whereas the vaccine has limited lifespan and in fact, unless you are getting regular shots for the rest of your life, can leave you vulnerable.  I would most especially not even consider getting a vaccine when I am pregnant - why would I want to put all those metal additives in my body when, for instance, I won't eat most larger fish while pregnant, even once?  It just doesn't make sense to me.

The whole H1N1 frenzy has made me really question what to do.  As a teacher in en elementary school and a parent of a toddler in daycare, I would guess that I am probably in one of the highest categories in terms of potential to contract swine flu.  Most likely, it wouldn't be a big deal but am I o.k. with taking the risk that things might not be o.k.?  On the flip side, am I o.k. with taking a vaccine that has not been tested on pregnant women (the U.S. vaccine has had some testing with pregnant women but the Canadian vaccine has not)?  Would I potentially expose my unborn child to something that could alter his or her health and life potential for his or her entire life on the word of scientists that it is "probably" o.k.?  I heard a scientist/ public health doctor interviewed yesterday who was advising women to get the shot, the adjuvented one, because "the risk to swine flu is real and the risk of the adjuvent is theoretical."  Does that leave you feeling confident that it is safe???

I had decided that I was going to go ahead and get the vaccine but try to do it in January so that I would 16 weeks by then and bypass the first trimester when so much brain growth is happening.  That sounded like a good plan until I called public health yesterday to ask whether the unadjuvented vaccine would still be available then and how I would go about getting it.  That all sounded good until I asked, really in passing, expecting reassurance, whether the flu shot in Canada contains thimerisol (mercury).  I had been told that Canadian vaccines do not contain mercury and that in the U.S., the multidose vaccine does but if you get your doctor to order it in for you, the single dose vials do not.  I was pretty surprised when I was told that yes, the Canadian vaccine does contain mercury and that it is not available without it.  
That stopped me in my tracks.  The public health nurse I spoke to told me that, "well, the vaccine contains less mercury than a can of tuna".  Does that reassure you???  I responded that I would not be injecting myself with a can of tuna and that my understanding was that in most jurisdictions, pregnant women are advised against eating tuna.  

I know the whole mercury/autism thing is controversial.  Anti-vaxxers and parents of autistic children argue that it is toxic to children and causes a kind of a heavy metal poisoning that can contribute to the development of autism.  Medical experts argue that it is safe.  In fact, it is very hard to find definitive evidence either way.  Just the other day, someone on a list I am on (and not a crazy anti-vax list, either) cited a study that was done in the U.S. where Hep-V vaccine is given to newborn infants at a day old (don't get me started on that one).  Boys who were given that vax have something like a six times the chance of developing autism as opposed to boys not given that vax.  That vax contains mercury.  Does that definitively mean that mercury causes autism?  No.  Does it indicate that it might be a contributing factor?  Possibly.

I think what scared me is that once this is done, there is no undoing it.  We could vaccinate scores of women and five years from now, we could potentially be seeing disasterous results (or no results at all).  If I wait, I could be putting myself at risk (and possibly my baby, although, from what I was told, it would appear that flu does not cross the placenta, so the risk to the baby is minimal)?  If I go ahead, could I regret the decision for the rest of my life?

All I can see is that I will talk to my doctor and see what she says.  I am leaning heavily towards not doing it.  One good bit of information that I did learn yesterday is that pregnant women CAN be given tamiflu at the first signs of infection and that usually is enough to keep the infection to a minimum.  I want to see whether my doctor would either give me a standing prescription for the tamiflu or, even better, let me fill the prescription and have it here, ready to go.  That way, if I do get sick, I can do something about it to reduce the risk.  I might not get sick (and actually, we had a couple of good strong viruses go through the house last year so I want to find out whether they can do titres for swine flu - maybe I have already had it and then, I think I don't have to worry).

And then, of course, there is what to do with Pk.  I believe, from what I have read, that while she is at risk of catching H1N1, her chances of getting really sick are minimal as she has already gotten the Prevnar vaccine so pneumonia isn't a risk (I believe, I might be wrong on that but my understanding is that the prevnar will prevent bacterial pneumonia, which is the most common complication of H1N1).  On the other hand, do I vaccinate her to reduce MY risk?  

Ugh.  This isn't easy.  What are you going to do?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gratitude 66

I am so grateful for my mother.  She is there for us, no matter what we need and with never a question.  I had a class last night and she came up for the last few days to hang out with Pk and to babysit for me so I could go to the class (dh had to be out too).  She's coming again to cover for us during parent interviews and during our school Christmas concerts.  I don't know what I would do without her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gratitude 65

I don't remember being this tired when I was pregnant with Pippa.  My gratitude today is all about rest and a warm, cozy bed.  While we often forget it, rest is truly one of the greatest gifts God has given us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gratitude 64

We just got back from a weekend with my husband's family and the visit went really well.  I am so relieved.  Family tension can come from so many sources and can go back so far...it makes me feel really helpless when I can't fix everything and to an outsider, so much of it seems so strange.  I just want everyone to get along because I know that, in spite of  insensitive behaviour at times, everyone does love one another, they just seem to have strange ways of showing it sometimes.  This weekend, everyone said what they wanted to say and I think everyone felt loved and appreciated, as it should be in a family.
I am also grateful for my own bed, though!  Coming home is wonderful!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gratitude 63

Who knew I could be so grateful for nausea and exhaustion????  Long may it continue (at least for several months).  I am also grateful for all of you who have been there for me during what has been a challenging time, to say the least.  My mom has this theory that God has to make things hard at times so that we truly appreciate the gifts when they come.  I am feeling more grateful than I can ever express right now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our own Gideon Story...

Gideon Defeats the Midianites
 1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' " So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

 4 But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go."

 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

 7 The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place." 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. 
      Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 
9 During that night the LORD said to Gideon, "Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp." So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

 13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. "I had a dream," he was saying. "A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed."

 14 His friend responded, "This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands."

 15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, "Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands." 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.

 17 "Watch me," he told them. "Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, 'For the LORD and for Gideon.' "

 19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

 22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, "Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah." 
      So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they took the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. 
25 They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan. - Judges 7


Sometimes, there are things that happen can look to me like they can only be from God, times when it seems like He is trying to make it clear to me who is at work.  Dh and I are experiencing one of those times.  Warning, this might be TMI but we are so excited that I have to share and Dh has given me permission.


As I have written here before, we have been trying for another child for about a year now.  It really took me by surprise because, since we got pregnant so easily with Pk, I just assumed that it would be that easy again.  I was wrong and it has been a painful road.


Initially, we didn't know the problem but after some testing in May, it began to appear that the problem was with Dh.  We were referred to specialists and on Aug. 24th, we got the devastating news that we probably wouldn't be having another child without IVF (and with the $12 000 cost and the possible complications, we were looking at a very tough decision).  It was awful.  I sat in the car and cried, totally overwhelmed and, to be honest, asking myself what I had done to deserve this.  The specialist we saw did a referral to a fertility clinic and we had our first appointment on Sept. 24. 


We really had to steel ourselves for that appointment.  In the days leading up to it, we kept trying to be brave about it but we knew that it was probably not going to be good news.  I did some research into IVF and knew what I was probably going to expect and it was pretty terrifying.  Finally, the day arrived and there we were, sitting in the waiting room for over an hour.  I don't know when we have ever been so scared.  

The doctor was nice, when we finally got to see her.  We had both filled out long, involved profiles and we started with the doctor going through the paperwork, asking a question here or there.  She finally got to our test results, which had been sent on from other doctors.  As she went through them, she made the odd comment about things and it wasn't sounding all that promising.  All of a sudden, she stopped dead.  She muttered, "I haven't ever seen anything like this before."  Our hearts sank.  Being the optimist that I am, I asked, "What's wrong?"  Her response was, "Let me just check the name on this result...  o.k., Mr. _____, you have gone from being almost entirely infertile to being completely and totally normal in one month.  You probably don't even need me."


Being the fool that I am, I immediately dissolved into tears.  It was such a shock.  The doctor's response was that we probably wouldn't need her after all but that I should do some bloodwork and we would talk to her in a couple of months about possibilities if we needed intervention.  We left walking on air.  


Two weeks ago, I did the first round of bloodwork that she wanted.  Six vials and a day of fasting later, I was really feeling pretty negative about everything.  By the following Tuesday, I was in my therapist's office, talking about how I was assuming that the problem wasn't just Dh, it had to be me as well.  I was so upset and overwhelmed.  The next morning (this was last Wednesday), I decided to do a pregnancy test, not because I thought I was but just so that I wouldn't get my hopes up, yet again.  Imagine my surprise when there was not one but two lines on the test... Of course, being me, I couldn't believe it, so I went to buy more tests and Thursday morning, I tested again.  Not only was that positive but it was immediate.


The nausea has started already BIG TIME and my breasts feel like they are going to explode.  I am sleepy all the time and I am quite a few days late.  While I haven't had it officially confirmed, it looks very much like I am pregnant!!!!  I certainly won't announce it publicly for a few months but the few people here who know me are the few people I would tell anyway because they are the people I would lean on if something went wrong.  I am so excited about this!!!!


I can't help but believe that God's hand is so evident in this.  When I saw my GP late last week, her words were, "Well, I don't say this much but I am sensing a miracle here.  These changes don't happen so quickly.  God is rewarding your faithfulness."  I hope she is right.  I just feel so blessed.


What a Thanksgiving!




Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ten Years

It is hard to believe that it was ten years ago that this photo was taken.  We were so excited and yet so nervous - marriage wasn't scary but somehow, getting married really was (although, now, looking at some of the issues with Dh's family, I can see that we had some reason to be nervous).  It ended up being a wonderful day - my only regret was that I didn't slow down to savour it more.  It was such a meaningful day for us, surrounded by the people we love(d) most, in a sanctuary that meant so much to us and as a symbol of a life together.   We had a group shot done of our guests on the steps outside the sanctuary and it is posted on the wall in our hallway.  I frequently notice people in the photo as I walk by.  There are a few that we don't see anymore - several have died, a few have drifted out of our lives but most are still factors in our lives.

Ten years have passed.  We have added a car, a house, two dogs, a cat and finally, a child, since then.  We have a lot more stuff, a lot more debt and a lot more memories.  We have gone through some really hard times and some absolutely wonderful times.  Our dreams are largely the same, if a bit scaled down, our pleasures have changed somewhat, although we still value the same things and we are both feeling much older.  For all that change, though, there are some things that have remained the same.

Dh can still make me laugh at the most inappropriate moments (a talent that I HIGHLY value).  Dh still makes me smile, still knows how to make the ordinary just that little bit extraordinary, still can drive me crazy, still can make me feel safe and still can make me see things in a different way.  I wouldn't trade the last ten years for anything and I have this sense that our marriage is like a fine wine.  It definitely gets better with age, whatever struggles we have had.

After ten years, life is good.

Gratitude 62




I am grateful for Thanksgiving.  It's "Canadian" Thanksgiving this weekend (or just Thanksgiving for us up here) and it is my favourite celebration.  To me, it seems like the one holiday that hasn't been turned into a major shopping event.  I can sit with my class, in a public school, and we can openly talk about giving thanks and feeling grateful for what we have.  We aren't talking about the gifts we want, the money we are going to spend or what we will get.  It's nice to have a holiday that is all about being together and sharing.

Since I love fall so much, it's pretty natural that this would be a favourite time for me.  Our minister sent out an email yesterday inviting anyone who is interested to bring anything they had for fall decorating and come to the church this morning at 10.  Dh, Pk and I went up to our favourite farm stand to buy corn stalks, hay bales, pumpkins and gourds and ran up to the church (as an aside, the former city girl in me loves the fact that this stand isn't manned, there is just prices posted and a big wooden box to put your cash in, with a little note saying that there is change available if you drive up to the house).  This is the first year that we are in our own church building for Thanksgiving so we were pretty enthusiastic.  The finished result looks gorgeous and is so exciting to us all.    We had all kinds of things donated - stuff grown in people's gardens, wild flowers picked from ditches at the side of the road and leftover wedding supplies.  
We were supposed to go down to my parents' house for dinner but my brother is really sick so that got nixed.  Dh and I bought a turkey breast and roasted that tonight and did stuffing, gravy, potatoes, etc and it was really nice.  I have so much to be thankful for and it is so nice to have a time of year that reminds me to do that.  It's also nice that we have two more days left of weekend to spend together as a family.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Bible Study

As you can see from the button on the side, I participate in an online Bible study.  It's a great group of women and the studies so far have been terrific.  We are getting ready to start another one, this time, Beth Moore's Daniel study.  It would be a great time to get involved if you are interested!  

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gratitude 61

I am grateful for those times when I am getting so frustrated and the right message comes along and puts everything back into perspective.  Pk is awake (after an hour long attempt to get her down) and I was feeling SO ANNOYED with her.  Then, I read a blog post written by a very insightful blogger about the treasures in the little things... it made me realise that I shouldn't be so selfish about having MY plans interrupted.  It's nice to cuddle and hang out with Pk, even if it doesn't fit my schedule.  That really brought me some peace and right now, my fuse seems to be very short...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gratitude 60

I am so grateful that I started going to a therapist at the beginning of the summer.  It often isn't very comfortable but I really feel like I am getting somewhere.  I am having a really hard time with several things at the moment and having somewhere to go and talk really helps.  So often, I don't want to talk about things - I am afraid that I will sound like a fool or a wimp and/or that the person will just tell me to "think happy thoughts"... when you have been in patterns for most of your life, it's not so easy to change.  It feels good to understand myself and why I find certain things so upsetting that aren't a big deal to other people.  I am learning that I hold certain "beliefs" - my logical mind can see the truth but my heart can believe something totally ridiculous because of these bigger beliefs.  It's liberating to be able to recognize those beliefs and how they distort my perceptions.  It doesn't make things much easier but at least I am seeing more clearly.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gratitude 59

Pk spent the ENTIRE night in her own bed.  Enough said.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gratitude 58

It was dark when we sat down to dinner tonight.  While we are late eaters (so weird, we didn't used to be but since Pk was born, we seem to get later and later), it wasn't so late that it being dark was normal.  I know that by February, the darkness will be making me miserable but tonight, it just made our home feel even more cozy.   There is something about a home-cooked meal, eaten at the dining room table on a Sunday night that makes life feel cozy, like a soft, heavy sweater or a down duvet.  I love the peace of a Sunday - I love church, it's probably the time I feel most connected during the week and we always do something "family" on Sunday after Pk's nap (although the drizzly weather kept us from doing what we had planned today).  The cozy evening at home was the end to a wonderful day.  I love home!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gratitude 57

I love starting craft projects (although sadly, I don't seem to have the same drive to finish them!).  I have wanted to do a quilt to Pk's room - one of my goals eventually is to have everyone in the house sleeping under a quilt that I have made.  It will be a long time in coming, given that I hand piece and hand quilt.  I was trying to do a bit of machine piecing and my machine seems to have died and after having priced decent ones that I could quilt on, it will be a LONG time before it is replaced.  Anyway, I love starting new things and the other day, I was kind of blue and feeling like I needed to do something for myself.  One of the blogs I read, Crazy Mom Quilts, got me thinking about quilting again.  I hadn't for a while - knitting has been my "thing" of late and I am ready for a break.  She posted about a "one a day quilt along" and while I know that I won't be doing a square a day, I could get started on another one.  I love florals and I love pink and green as a combination (over-the-top girlie, I know, but after years of pretending that I didn't like girlie colours, I confess to my inner girlie-girl that has emerged since having a daughter).  I decided to stop by the quilt shop and pick up a few  fat quarters and start working on a nine patch quilt (not especially sophisticated but one of the things I love most about quilts is that the simpler they are, the more wonderful they seem to look).  While the weather gets colder, I am looking forward to getting cozy and stitching away.  Quilting and knitting bring me such a sense of peace and I like to wish love into every stitch that will bless the user.  I know, I am totally corny (I don't imagine that is a surprise to anyone).