Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Blog

So, I have a new blog started for more general family stuff.  I won't be including fertility or Dh's problems there.  I would love you to visit and I may include notices here when anything interesting happens there.  If you wouldn't mind, I would appreciate it if you don't mention this one there.  There are some things that are better just shared with online friends.

Funny Story

I had to laugh.  After yesterday's post, when I mentioned Christian hospitality and lemon bread, we had a funny event here last night.  

To understand the story, you need to understand that Dh grew up in a small town and he will talk to ANYONE.  When we were in the city, it was a bit alarming.  Living here, I wonder whether people think he is one of the local crazies but at least he is viewed as being friendly.

So... just before I took the dogs for a walk, the doorbell rang and it was a young man collecting pledges for Sick Kids Hospital.  He started his spiel and I asked him to stop and come back.  I didn't want to commit without talking to Dh.  We usually do all our giving at church but looking at the pictures of all the sick children and thinking of the people we have known who have had to use Sick Kids in sad circumstances, I felt like we should probably give.  He agreed to come back after dinner.

7:30 arrived and no guy.  I wondered but wasn't too concerned.  I did Pk's bath and she was in her jammies getting ready for bed when I heard a strange voice.  My FIL came to tell me that it was the guy back from Sick Kids.  I got Pk down (it was a task last night) and when I finally came out of Pk's room, I could still hear voices.  I got to the top of the stairs and Dh opened the door and said, "It's the Sick Kids people.  I've agreed to pledge but they need their ride back to Toronto and he isn't here.  It's raining."  I could see what he was working up to.  "Do you want to invite them in?"  "Well, I think we should".  Next thing I knew, we had two people sitting on our rec room couch, drinking tea and eating the lemon bread.  They were very grateful and made a lot of comments about my selling the lemon bread....

So, if my blog disappears, you will know that my computer has been stolen by the people who scouted out our house.  Luckily, it really  is the only thing we have worth stealing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another Update

I am going to keep this short because my day alone is rapidly disappearing.  Things seem to be beginning to improve.  Dh finally got in to see our doctor yesterday.  She was wonderful and I feel like we are finally on our way to dealing with his depression.  I think he felt a lot better about it, too.  We may have more  of a fertility struggle than we though but at least we are more aware of what is happening.  Our doctor's first priority is to get Dh sleeping (he is often awake much of the night and when he does sleep, he has terrible dreams).  The next step will be conquering the depression and then dealing with his lack of eating.  I think she is thinking that dealing with the sleeping with improve the other things right away.  In the name of trying to improve his sleep, one thing we are planning this weekend is to transition Pk's bed.  She has a convertible crib and we are thinking of turning it into a daybed.  That way, she can get out of bed and come to us in the night if she needs us and we don't have to listen for her through the monitor (which really keeps both of us awake).  The only challenge will be remembering to put the baby gate up (we are going to section things off so that she can come out of her room and into ours but can't access anywhere else - I can't imagine what I would find in the morning if she got into the kitchen without me).

To those of you who have been praying, I can't thank you enough.  The Power of a Praying Wife has really helped but most of all, it has been wonderful to feel like I am not alone.

Favourites Friday

I am being bad today.  I took a day off from work.  I don't make a habit of it (actually, before Pk's arrival, I was very rarely off).  This year, sadly, I have been off more than I would have liked but usually, the days are spent wiping a running nose and hugging a feverish, cranky little body.  Today, I'm home just for me.  I needed what, when I was growing up, we referred to as a "mental health" day.  I have definitely been needing some mental health!

Knowing I was going to be off from work, I decided that I HAD to get a post done for the blog.  Lately, it feels more like my whining post than anything else.  While things have been been terrible, I do feel like my life is pretty nice when it isn't spinning out of control.  God has blessed me with things that really bring me a sense of contentment.  I like my "favourites Friday" idea and debated what to write about today.  A bit of time at home reminded me how much I like home!

We live in a village and I have said before how much I like it.  I grew  up in the big city and never knew that I might be happy anywhere else.   Life was good if extremely expensive but I never really felt like I fit.  My naturopath told me not too long ago that I should have been born in an earlier time than I was and I agree.  As a newcomer to a small town, all the things that drive people crazy are pretty nice to me.  I thought I would take you on a bit of a tour.

One thing I love about our town is that other than in the new subdivision where there are some townhouses, the houses are far apart.  That may not seem like a big deal to you but to me, it's wonderful.  I grew up in extremely tight semis in Toronto and then Dh and I lived in the top floor of one for several years before making our move.  I don't have to live with anyone else's cooking smells (other than the odd barbecue and they usually just smell tempting!), don't have to worry about anyone else's music or to be threatened by anyone else's bugs.  We get along really well with our neighbours and while I know that isn't limited to a small town, I think ours is pretty special that way.  In late summer and fall, we often come home to find veggies on our doorstep from neighbours and at Christmas, you never know who is going to leave you treats.  We have a great food exchange going on with our next-door neighbours right now.  Tony and Renate are a bit older than we are and have bought a fairly basic house on a gorgeous lot and are slowly turning it into their dream home.  Dh went by to say hi a couple of weeks ago and they were in the midst of painting their new shed (I would adore to have one like this as a playhouse for Pk when she gets older but these sheds cost thousands!).  They were saying that they didn't have any dinner and were in the middle of the job and didn't want to stop.  They weren't asking, they were just chatting.  Dh came home and told me and I just happened to have a casserole in the oven.  I threw half of it into a dish and sent it back over.  The dish was returned several days later, filled with delicious shepherd's pie.  Last weekend, I tried a rhubarb custard pie recipe that I had gotten from a blog.  Tony loves rhubarb and Renate hates it so we have a deal that when the rhubarb is ready from their garden, it is delivered to me and whatever I make, Tony gets a piece.  Seems like a fair deal to me.  This also makes me feel good because I have been reading a lot about hospitality as a Christian ideal and I feel like it's a kind of outreach.
Another thing we love are the small businesses in town.  They don't look like much (our town probably isn't the prettiest in the world although some of the century homes in the older part of town are lovely) but they are friendly and you would be surprised at what you can buy.  Our local pharmacy is great.  As Dh says, you probably wouldn't want to go there to get Viagara in case you run into someone but the pharmacists are incredibly helpful and put you at your ease.
Every small town needs a good Chinese restaurant and while the menu focus is on chicken balls and fried rice, they make wonderful soups.  I love the San Woo beef soup, Dh is partial to the hot and sour and Pk loves the wonton.
Who knew that in a town this size, we would have a great little whole foods shop.  They have organic and natural meats, eggs, dairy, fruit, vegs and all kinds of healthier packaged stuff.  I love it because again, everyone is one a first name basis.  Katie, who is usually on when we go in, knows our routine.  We enter, grab a gala apple for Pk, Katie takes it in the back and washes it and Pk happily munches while I shop.  Pk calls it the "apple store".  Dh is a true carnivore and if I take him with me, we always come back with some kind of sausage or nitrate free meat snack of some kind.

I could have driven around taking pics of favourite town institutions all day but I decided it was better to come back home in case I ran into someone from work.  I will try another town post another day with some of my other favourite spots.

In the meantime, speaking of favourites, my father-in-law is coming down this evening to spend the night so he and Dh can watch the F.A. Cup tomorrow (Go, Chelsea, Go... Blue is the Colour!!!) and so I wanted to make a sweet treat that I know he likes.  This lemon bread is really, really yummy and whenever I take it anywhere, I get demands for the recipe.

Lemon Tea Loaf
(taken from Anne Lindsay's Lighthearted Everyday Cooking)

1 c granulated sugar   250 ml
1/4 c soft margarine or butter    50 ml
1 egg
2 Tbsp low fat yogurt     25 ml
1/2 c milk    125 ml
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour    375 ml
1 tsp baking powder   5 ml
grated rind of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon
1/4 granulated sugar  50 ml

Line and 8 by 4 inch loaf pan with foil; grease lightly.
In large bowl, cream sugar and margarine.  Beat in egg and yogurt; beat in milk.  Mix flour and baking powder; beat into egg mixture until blended.  Stir in lemon rind.
Spoon into prepared pan; bake in 350F oven for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out dry.  Let cake stand in pan for 3 minutes. 
Glaze:  In small bowl, coming lemon juice and sugar, mixing well; pour over top of warm cake.  Remove foil and cake from pan and place on rack.  Loosen foil and let cake cool completely before cutting.

I haven't tried soaking but reading the recipe, it's silly that I haven't since it contains yogurt.  I tried it with whole wheat flour and it wasn't bad but it wasn't the same.  It might be nicer soaked as I find the soaked grains are often fluffier.  This is lovely with a cup of tea and would be nice on a summer afternoon as part of a picnic.

Blogging Advice Please

I would love some advice, please.  When I started this blog, I had no idea what it was going to become for me.  I don't know that anyone else would enjoy it especially but I have had a wonderful time here and it has become my primary means of expressing my feelings about a number of things that have been going on in my life lately.  I am struggling because on the one hand, I love the anonymity of the blog and being able to vent about my struggles but on the other hand, it would be nice to set up a blog that I could use to put out the more public face of our family.  It would be nice to share the nice family stuff with my brother, for instance, but he doesn't need an insider view of our infertility struggles.
Obviously, the best thing to do would be to start another blog.  Here's my dilemma.  I would like to create a blog that you could get to from here but where you couldn't necessarily travel back in the other direction, if that makes sense.  This would become my online journal, my private face for my online friends who have been here for me.  The other blog would be for public consumption.  Could I create a new blog on blogger but not have it appear publically on my profile?  Would it be better to just start an entirely new blog with an entirely different profile somewhere else?  I would love any advice from you.  Do you have one blog, two or more?  How do you decide what to post?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Going Back to the Land???

It probably doesn't look like much but I am really excited.  We have finally put in a raised vegetable bed.  We got it planted this evening - lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, peas, leeks, onions, basil, cilantro and parsley.  Who knows how it will do - we usually just grow tomatoes and basil and have probably done everything wrong.  I don't care.  I always get such an immense sense of satisfaction when I am able to cook with things that I have grown.  If I won the lottery (difficult since I don't buy tickets and don't really think I approve), I would buy a house out of town and have a large veggie bed and a few chickens... Dh and I really could turn into the couple from "The Good Neighbours" (a 1970's British sit-com about a couple who decide to go back to the land in suburbia and drive their neighbours insane).  Pk got into the act too - she decided to harvest basil before it was planted - I'll keep you posted on whether it survives.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our New Church

For the last ten years, our church has worshipped in a hockey arena.  The church started as part of a vision and understanding of our ministers - they could see that the town was growing at a huge rate and there were no new churches coming.  They went to our denomination and asked that a church be planted.  It was basically dropped in their laps and our church was born.  

We joined the journey late.  The church started in 1997 and we wandered in, lost and looking for a church family, in 2006.  We had no idea how much our lives would change.  We joined small groups, went on outings, made important "church family" connections and really strengthened our faith.  We had been looking for a place that we could be a part of things and where the faith was truly lived and not just on Sunday.  At Kespres, we found that.

The only frustration were the limitations placed on a church without a building.  Groups could only be small (at people's homes) and to do special events was very complicated.  While the arena worked well for a while, it did get a bit frustrating listening to the hockey crowds screaming during worship (our minister joked that he should have taught the organist to play the hockey themes).  When we joined the church in 2006, land had been donated for building but nothing had been started.  A committee had started work but had eventually fallen apart.

Finally, a year ago April, we broke ground.  Dh went up a lot during the summer to help with building and has spent almost every Saturday this winter working at the site doing all kinds of odd jobs.  We have helped with fundraising dinners and "talents and treasures" campaigns.

We finally got to see the final results today.  We started our worship at the "Ice Palace".  We set up our folding chairs for the last time and did some reminiscing about our time there.  Finally, we packed up and moved on.
We all arrived at the new building and waited to enter together.  Our ministers' daughter opened the door and we all entered with a true sense of wonder.  It was hard to believe that this day had finally arrived.

These photos don't do the church justice.  I adore it.  It is light, airy and totally simple - very much a Presbyterian church.  The space is flexible and elegant, perfect as a multipurpose place in the community with a focus on welcoming people into God's house.  Our motto is "People discovering what it means to follow Jesus in our time."  They tried to design the church building with our faith and beliefs in mind.

This morning, worship was for our members.  It was very moving and the sense of excitement was palpable.  This afternoon, we did the official "dedication" for the "mukety mucks".  As my parents said, in their 50+ years in the denomination, they have been to church closings but never an opening.  This is such an exciting time for us.  The place was packed and filled with optimism.

Please, pray for us.  We have such hopes that we will be able to do God's work in our town and to create a true place of welcome for all who seek.  For Dh and I personally, our church family is an essential part of who we are and even more importantly, where we want to work at "being a family".  We hope to be able to contribute to continuing to build this wonderful place!

Sacred Sunday

This will be short but sweet.   Today was the final service of our church in the hockey arena and the dedication service in our new church.  I took pics and will post them but I don't think they will do the church justice.  It is absolutely lovely.  It's light and airy and open and I can totally see it as being a place of peace and community and worship.  Dh has spent a lot of time up there working on the building and I helped to make the guestbook (which used pictures and did a kind of scrapbook guestbook that was lovely, if I do say so myself).  
Pray for us.  We have such dreams and there is such promise in having such a space.  I hope that we don't take it for granted and that we work to realise our dreams of a presence in the community.  There has been such momentum, I just hope people aren't too tired to move forward.  It can be such a blessed home for us.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


As I said below, it has been a very hard week.  I am feeling a bit like the bottom has fallen out of my world.  I am sorry if I haven't emailed anyone back personally.  Dh is really touchy right now and I don't know how he feels about me talking about this with people so it's easier to do it here - he doesn't read this.

I adore him and he is my best friend but right now, he is an absolute jerk.  I can't do anything right.  He hears criticism in everything and flies off the handle over everything.  Last Sunday morning, as you read in my blog, I was feeling upset.  He got up, I was quiet and he decided that it was somehow his fault.  Next thing I knew, he was yelling and angry and at me for ruining his life.  It got so bad that I finally called his parents because I didn't know what else to do.  I took Pk out for a drive and by the time we got back, Dh had calmed down.  As it has been of late, by that point, he went back and forth between everything being my fault and that he is totally to blame, I am the best wife and he has made a mess of things.  Amazingly, as we were talking, his father arrived who had driven 2 and a half hours to get here.  That was such a blessing.  His father talked to him a LONG time and by supper time, he was calm and discussing being depressed and what he was going to do about it.  His father stayed Sunday night and my dad came up Monday because he was up here for court (he needed to testify for a client), so Dh again was fairly calm.

The same thing happened on Tuesday.  We were working on the raised veggie bed.  We had agreed how we were going to do it and I thought we were on the same page.  Here's the conversation:

Me:  Hey, love, that's pretty high.  I though we were just going to raise it by one brick.  I am a bit worried that we won't have enough soil and we can't get more this year.

Dh:  But it needs to be level.

Me:  Could we level it with two bricks instead of one?  I am worried there isn't enough soil.  Is there a reason it needs to be higher?

Dh:  Yes,  the wood will warp if it is lower.

Me:  O.k., you know more about wood than me.  I guess if the bed is a bit short on soil, we can add more next year.

We worked for about five minutes and then he started pulling it all apart.  I asked what he was doing and he laid into me, we had to do it MY way since I always had to be right and he had to be wrong.  He was sick and tired and me and my criticising... it went on and on and on.  The only thing I said that maybe I shouldn't was that I wasn't up to being yelled at anymore.  He just kept winding up and then I made the mistake of saying that I didn't want to do this in front of our daughter.  He decided that I had said my daughter and he yelled at me and took off for three hours.  I was beside myself.  By the time he came back, he was calmer and told me that he had gone up to the church and talked to Bob, a kind of mentor to Dh who went through a terrible depression three years ago.  He just kept going on to me about how Bob had talked about how his wife had never understood and we women can't understand how hard it is for men...  I felt like I never wanted to go back to church since he was obviously running me down.

The next couple of days were hard.  I was on pins and needles, afraid that anything I said might be conveyed as criticism.  I tried to get in touch with our doctor who took three days to get back to me and by the time she did, Dh was no longer willing to go and see her (he has an appointment with a psychiatrist on June 11th and is now saying that he won't take any medication until July because he doesn't want to "feel funny" at work).  I had hoped that our doctor might be able to help us but she doesn't seem to either be taking me very seriously or doesn't know what to do.

The one relief came when I went up to the church to help set up the nursery on Thursday night.  I got out of the car and immediate met Bob, who said, "Honey, you need the tightest hug!"  He second statement was, "That hubby of yours needs some tough love.  We are here for you sweetie".  He went on to tell me about his experiences and then gave me his take of Dh right now.  He thinks that he has finally come to the point that he will admit to being depressed but whatever he might say, Dh does NOT want to do the work he will need to do to get over this and so is blaming me because I am asking his to take responsibility.  I felt such a weight off my shoulders.  I have been asking everyone who knows us whether they think I am critical - I had really been doubting myself and thinking that maybe I had somehow caused all of this.  Everyone, my parents, Dh's parents, our ministers, Bob, they all say that he is obviously not well and is blaming me.  Everyone just keeps saying try to stay out of his way until he starts to get better, not easy to do when living in the same house.

Say a prayer for me, please.  I really don't know how much more I can take and it will be a miracle if I come out of this without being massively depressed myself.  I love him and want this marriage but I am so worried about the toll on our relationship and on Pk.

Friday Favourites

So, yet again, it's Saturday and my Friday favourites haven't been posted yet.  It's been a rough week (I will fill you in on that in another post) but I didn't want to miss posting something happy this week.  I need my "Friday Favourites" more than even.

I got thinking and realised that one of my favourites in my life right now is Saturday morning.  It's the one time in the week when I feel like I have a chunk of time that isn't claimed and I can do some of the things I enjoy most.

Usually, our Saturday morning starts pretty early.  Pk isn't a fan of sleeping in and Dh definitely IS so that means that I am on duty.  Usually, Pk and I start by making muffins.  I am going to include some pics.  Don't worry, we don't feed these muffins to anyone outside of Pk and I so the fingers in the batter shouldn't gross you out too much (I hope).  I promise that if I bring you food, she won't be enjoying it while we cook.

We have a bunch of recipes we enjoy but here are three of our favourites - banana , raspberry and flax.

Pk loves muffins and unfortunately, so do the dogs.  I find myself really wondering how many dogs have a steady diet of freshly baked muffins every week.

(Don't ask me where the hair that appears to be somewhat curly comes from... yes, it is in part bedhead but she does seem to have a bit of a wave in there - I know she wasn't switched at the hospital, I promise).

The rest of the morning tends to be pretty laid back.  I love having the windows open and hearing the birds in the trees. Pk really enjoys watching her favourite show, Raspberry Jazzberry Jam (I don't generally stick her in front of the t.v. but I don't think the odd Saturday morning cartoon did me any harm) and I get to check out my blogs that I follow (an insanely long list these days).  We usually go to her music class at 9:30 and that's when the more normal, frenzied pace of our life resumes but Saturday morning provides us with this wonderful, restful window.
My two are at the top of the picture, we have a visitor this weekend, Tess and she is in the bottom left.  Pk is in heaven because she adores the dogs.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sacred Sunday

So, I'm sitting here trying to think of something wise or significant to say and this morning, I am afraid that I can't.  I am having a really hard morning.  This is probably going to be another pity party of a post so you might just want to skip this one but I need to talk and right now, this seems like the easiest place.

Everything just seems so overwhelming right now and I don't see any relief in sight.  I am trying so hard to lean on my faith but things are pretty dry at the moment.  I keep praying to God to send me some relief, to make something easier, to give me some hint that things are going to get better but I just can't find any joy right now.  Dh is a little better, I think, but I can't help but wonder all the time.  It is going to take me a very, very long time to truly trust him again.  On Friday, I got some bloodwork results back from my doctor and while most things are fine, my platelets are a little high.  She doesn't think it means anything (I have been a bit high since I had Pk and it may just be related to delivery but at this point, they don't know what it means).  She has referred me to a hematologist (she says to make sure that it won't interfere with my ability to get pregnant) but I am so afraid that this means something worse.  Of course, I got this via email on Friday (I had asked her to email so that I didn't come home to an answering machine message telling me to call, which would have scared me even more) and I can't even ask her any of the questions I have until Tuesday at the earliest.  I also know this morning that I am not pregnant yet again.  We  are seeing the head of obstetrics at the local hospital in the middle of July and while on the one hand, it is a bit of a relief to think that maybe we are doing something about things now (after months of Dh being in complete denial and my doctor just saying, "Wait, it takes a while to get pregnant") but I am also terrified.  

To be honest, deep down, I think I am also so very angry.  Angry that Dh has put me through all this with the depression, angry that his "fixing himself" essentially means that he can continue to do very little around here to help (perhaps part of the reason that I am having a hard time this morning is the fact that Pk has been up since before 6 and I was up with her, on my own, again - he has only gotten up with her maybe three times in the last year and he usually gets at least 2 hours more of sleep than I do) and angry that I will be the one who will go through all the invasive tests and humiliation.  I feel like all the burden has fallen on me and I am at the point where it is so hard not to fall completely into the trap of being resentful and bitter.  Then, that is compounded by guilt because he is going through all this stuff and I am supposed to be his support and I have so much resentment.

A friend who is going through some horrible stuff right now told me that she felt like a pane of glass that had been hit by a rock - it hadn't shattered but was filled with little hairline cracks and she was afraid that she was like that pane of glass - if something so much as brushed up against her, she would shatter into a million pieces.  That describes it so well.  I don't know how to get through the next five minutes, let alone the next five days or five weeks.   I know that I have so much in my life, such wonderful friends, a comfortable place to live, a good job, etc but I feel so empty.  I would give almost anything to just be able to go away and hide.  I just want things to be easy and to get a break and this feels so much like my year of Job - while I certainly can't compare my suffering to his, I feel like every possible thing that can go wrong has and that I can't get any relief.  

I am so sorry for this, I imagine, if you hung in there and read this entire thing, you are thinking what a sad,  pathetic, bitter and angry person I am and, yup, that's pretty much how I feel these days.  If you have any advice, I would love to hear it.  I am so discouraged and don't know how to get out of this pit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Ruler of Our Home

This is Sadie.  She joined our family in January.  She is tiny, 8 lbs and all cat - a mix of love and aloofness, curious but determined to do it her own way, loving with us but a terror with the dogs.  Lately, she has developed this funny habit - she lies around on the dog bed, looking especially content and just a touch defiant.  Needless to say, the dogs don't say anything and let her be.  It gives me a good laugh.

Fruit and Veggie Challenge

Well, now for something completely different.

When Laura at Heavenly Homemakers posted this idea, I was so there!  I plan to eat lots of fruit and veggies and we probably don't do too badly but I know that it is not enough.  Especially when Pk is at the stage of really forming her tastes, I need to give her more opportunities to learn to like fruit and veggies but they tend to be more of an afterthought that then focus of a meal.  It's time to be more deliberate.

I am pretty good with breakfast and lunch.  We always have fruit at breakfast and since I hate packing lunches, I tend to pack exactly the same thing every day.  I have this wonderful little lunch bento box which just invites the packing of fruit and veggies.  I tend to be pretty boring - most days, it is carrots and canteloupe and sometimes I might have peppers in my lentil salad.  It's dinner that is the struggle.  By the time I have the meat and rice or pasta, I am pretty tired of cooking.

This week, I have been better.  On Tuesday, we had a nice marinated mushroom salad that was pretty good.  I have done our favourite stir fried snow peas with basil and garlic (LOVE IT!) and last night, we had a real treat.  I love asparagus but dh hates it so I don't make it often.  We had it the last two nights because my father was here and loves it too.  The great thing is, Pk ate it as well!!!!    She loves fruit (eats melon like it is going out of style) but doesn't want anything to do with anything green.  She liked the asparagus (watch me make it every day for the next month until she refused to eat it).  I am going to keep trying and see what else I can get her to eat.

As an aside, I have found one way to get Pk to get greens.  She loves these electric green popsicles that someone sent me the recipe for.  You take a pineapple, 2 bananas and I think it was 1 c of spinach and blend it until it is the consistency of a smoothie.  Pour it in popsicle moulds and you have wonderful, sweet and full of greens treats.  She loves those (although it feels like our house is now coated in green slime).

I almost forgot to tell you that we also started our veggie planting for the year yesterday - we got our potatoes planted in the garbage can.  Will let you know how it goes...

How are you doing on the fruit and veggie count?


Before I get into some more fun posts (I need some less intense stuff in my life right now), I thought I would just share an update on how we are doing.

The last few days have been very rocky.  Dh is just so depressed.  I think he has really gotten into a cycle of guilt and shame and feeling sorry for himself.  I am finding it so hard to understand - I want to tell him to go out and exercise or start a project or phone someone... all he wants to do is sleep.  He did help me with the garden yesterday afternoon, so that is something.

There are two good things that have come from this.  The first one is that he has finally asked for help and gone to some people who can.  Our minister took him to AA on Tuesday night.  I can't say enough about what our ministers have done for us.  We have a couple who are leading our church.  The husband took dh to AA the other night and has been checking in daily with dh.  The wife has reached out to me and also offered to come and be with me when dh went to AA the other night.  It's so wonderful to know that she is there for me.  There was a funny thing about the AA.  As an aside, my father is a minister who is not in a parish anymore - he is a pastoral psychotherapist.  He had to come and stay with us Tuesday night because he had to testify in court in a custody hearing on Wednesday morning so he was here through the drama of dh going to AA (dh was beside himself with worry about going).  At dinner on Tuesday night, dh was asking my dad about what AA is like (as my father said, there is no minister that hasn't taken a few parishoners to AA in his time) and dad's answer was that the fun was in seeing who was there (that is always full of surprises).  I had said that there was someone from my work who just might be there (a friend at work, whose husband is going through pretty much the same thing as dh, had told me about this guy who she somehow knew about).  Well, the hysterical thing was, it turns out that this person was the speaker on Tuesday night and gave dh his phone number and offered to help him.  Dh didn't know who he was as first and didn't say anything and I certainly won't say anything to violate his privacy but I thought it was pretty funny.  It's a bit of an inspiration to me actually because this guy is almost the same age as dh, suffered from depression, is married with children and has come through it with his marriage in tact.

The other "good" side of all of this is that I am really starting to realise how many people there are out there supporting me.  I feel so stupid for being afraid to talk about things.  First of all, you guys have been wonderfully supportive.  Knowing that you are praying for me and there to listen means more than you will know.  I have told a couple of friends at work who have really come out for me, and as I said, my minister and his wife and really there for me now in ways that I would never have imagined.  I went in and told my boss yesterday, just because I do feel like I am struggling and wanted to take a day or two off, just to try and centre myself a bit and take care of me - she was amazing, really encouraging me to do what I need to do for me (and I got a few wonderful compliments about how I am doing at work, too, which was a nice ego boost).  I may be in a pretty awful place right now but it is so wonderful to know that I am not alone.

Thanks again everyone for listening.  I write these posts about what is going on and I feel like such a whiner that I think that people won't want to listen or will pity me.  I have been so surprised that people don't seem to blame or pity me, they just want to help.   I feel so much gratitude.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Challenge

So, I have talked about the fact that I am having a hard time.  I haven't given too much information other than that my dh and I have been trying to conceive another baby without much luck.  Now, I need to come clean.  I can't keep it all in anymore.  Kittenpie, I would have told you, I just don't know how to start the conversation.

Dh has been battling terrible depression for almost a year now.  I have tried to get him to deal with it but, being the man that he is, his way of "dealing" is to pretend that it isn't happening.  I have in a lot of ways been a single parent - he doesn't do much here and wants to sleep all the time.  I have felt so alone and yet, when I have tried to get him to admit what is going on and go for help, he just gets angry at me.

Well, it got worse about two weeks ago.  He finally "came clean" to me... on top of the depression, he has been drinking at night.  Aparently, he is an alcoholic and even though I have been living in the same house with him, I didn't know.  He claims he is going to do something about it now and has gone for help but I don't know whether I believe him anymore.

This is a total pity party but I feel like the bottom has fallen out of my world.  Dh has been my best friend, my support, my companion on the journey.  Over the last year, he has disappeared and the person in his place is detached, inconsistent and at times, angry.  The worst part is that I haven't been able to find the words to talk about it with anyone.  I need help for ME but I just don't know how to get it.  I finally insisted that we call our minister and his wife to come and talk to us on Sunday after a particularly nasty argument (yes, it was a great Mother's Day for me) and they are on board and offering to help and that is great.  I just wish I didn't feel so alone and humiliated and scared.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sacred Sunday

At our church, we do small group Bible study.  Our group meets on Saturday nights at the ministers' house.  We do a potluck meal and then there is a sitter for the children and the adults do Bible study.  This has been a real lifeline for me.  There aren't all that many "family friendly" venues when you have a toddler who is into everything and at our Bible study, you feel like the children are welcomed, not just tolerated.  Anyway, we had been on hiatus for a bit and now we are back.  Our study for this session is 1 Peter.

I grew up in a mainline church and while I loved it and my faith was really shaped there, they followed the lectionary and the emphasis was definitely on the Old Testament, the Psalms and the Gospels.  We didn't venture past John very often so 1 Peter is new territory.   As an intro, last night, we started in the book of Acts.

I had one of those "Ah-ha" moments and over something pretty minor (or not, depending on your perspective).  We read Acts 1 - 4.  

Peter Speaks to the Onlookers
 11While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

 17"Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ; " would suffer. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.

 24"Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' 26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."

Acts 4

Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin
 1The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.4But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

 5The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.6Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. 7They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"

 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is 
   " 'the stone you builders rejected, 
      which has become the capstone.
 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

 13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.14But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16"What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."

 18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

 21After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

Wow!  Just think about this.  This is Peter, the guy who couldn't do anything right.  Peter who bore the brunt of Jesus' criticism.  Peter, who sank in the water, who cut off the soldiers ear and who denied Jesus not once but three times.  Peter was a fisherman without an education and yet here he was, speaking with clarity and wisdom and the Spirit.  If Peter could do this in God, what about the rest of us???

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Wonderful Mother's Day Post

I follow this blog and loved her reminder to all to be sensitive at Mother's Day to the struggles being faced by those around us.

Little Tait

On another blog I read, there was a post today about a family who is facing a financial crisis.  Their baby boy, Tait, was born at 27 weeks.  Thanks to the medical system in the U.S., after 3 months in hospital, the family now owes $181 000 for his care.  They have managed to negotiate the bill down to $51 000 but must pay by June 4th to avoid the full bill.  They don't have the money to cover it and are doing what they can to raise the funds.  While I am a little bit uncomfortable with people who ask strangers to donate to pay their bills, I am horrified at what a debt like this might do to a family.   An Etsy artist  and blogger, Breezy Tulip, has put the above print up for order to support the family.  If you are interested in the print, check here and if you want to see more about Tait's story, check here.  While I am uncomfortable giving money to something when it is over the internet and I don't know the truth of the situation, we have ordered one and think it will be lovely in Pk's room.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Favourites

Pk is totally interested in stickers at the moment.  There are stickers all over our house and all over the dogs and cat and, as you can see, all over us.  Being elementary teachers, we do tend to go through quite a few stickers in a year and luckily, dh works not far from the Sandylion sticker outlet which has wonderful prices on rolls of stickers.  We discovered Pk's love of stickers at her music class, at the end of which the teacher gives out stickers.  We keep the stickers in the kitchen and she is especially interested in them in the morning which means that often, I leave the house with a sticker on my hand (or back or leg...).  I have developed this strange attachment to them.  When, in the course of the day, I happen to look down and notice it, I am instantly reminded of this special person who has so totally transformed my life.  My students think this is marvelous and so it is a big deal every morning for them to check me out to see what today's sticker will be.  I love these funny little stages that will probably pass all too quickly but make me feel like something so special is happening in my life.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Know I'm Not Perfect But...

This is going to be a bit of a whine and I apologize for that in advance.  I have wanted to post on my blog more often (free psychotherapy!) so I spent the day pondering what I would write about.  I asked myself what was on my mind most and I kept coming back to how thin-skinned I can be and how frustrated I get with myself for letting others hurt me.  It's so pathetic but I can't seem to change it.

We just had my inlaws here overnight.  I love them, I really do but my MIL has the most amazing gift for getting me where I am sensitive.  There has been a lot of tension in my husband's family for a long time (nothing to do with me) and I despite the frustrations and the fact that they can drive me crazy, I keep reminding myself that they are Pk's grandparents and that I don't want her to ask me when she is 25 why she didn't get a chance to know her family.  I try to be really tolerant, loving and respectful of my MIL but she makes these little comments that probably aren't intended to hurt me (although at times, I do wonder...) but she manages to make me feel like dirt on the floor.  I get so angry at myself for being upset and for being thin-skinned but I just can't seem to move past it.

They came on Tuesday evening after work.  I rushed home from work, planning to clean so that the house would be spotless (it was fairly tidy but as all of you with two dogs and a toddler will understand, it can always use some help) and I wanted to do some baking so that I had wonderful food to serve them... Of course, I picked Pk up from daycare and she was feeling punky from a cold and fussy as anything.  Dh is always well-intentioned but his cleaning tends to flow at about the pace of a glacier so I ended up in the position of cleaning and cooking with a screaming child in the Ergo carrier on my back (on another aside, there is NOTHING better than an Ergo and I wouldn't have survived the first year of motherhood without one!).  By the time my inlaws arrived, I was covered in snot, frazzled and worrying about whether I needed to book off work the next day to stay home with a sick child (and, I might add, when Dh went to buy advil for Pk, he bought the wrong thing so I didn't even have anything to give her).  What I needed was someone to come and pat me on the shoulder and tell me what a good job I was doing, not someone who quickly began to regale me with stories of how my perfect SIL was doing everything.

It didn't get better the next morning.  There were cracks about the fact that I won't use her plastic microwave bags for cooking vegetables (sorry, plastic and microwaves are things I avoid), teasing of the fact that I won't use a teflon pan (if you can't have a bird in the room when you cook with it because of the toxic stuff it spews, do you REALLY think it is safe to use???) and then, it was all rounded off with a pointed question about what I was going to do to improve the yard this year (with a very pointed message that the property was a mess).  Did you see my post about two weeks ago about all the weeding I had done???   No, the place isn't perfect but since I won't use chemicals on the place, I am working full-time and then trying to parent my child, weeding isn't the highest thing on my list of priorities.  

I know I sound super pathetic and whiny here and that all of us go through these things with our MILs at some point.  Just to set the record straight, as well, I am NOT a self-righteous person about the choices we make for our lifestyle.  I don't go to my inlaws and refuse to eat the processed food or make faces when they cook with the non-stick pans.  I don't say anything about the houses full of cleaning chemicals or offer advice.  I say thank you for the food that is put in front of me and I try and be as positive and encouraging as possible (and I am not being self-righteous, I am just trying to convey the fact that I am not one of those self-righteous people who need a good knocking down).  The frustrating part is that I am not angry at her, I am angry at myself.  Why should I care that my yard isn't ready to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens?  I know the things I am doing to try and make my home a place of calm and comfort even though I am working full-time.  I know about the sleepless nights with a sick child, the hours working on stuff for the new church and the hours of homework (I am a teacher and it does have a lot to do after work).  I know the things I am doing to try and make Pk's childhood one she remembers with joy and also the lessons I am trying to teach her for her future.  Why does it matter so much when my MIL or my SIL make these little comments?

Well, actually, I know exactly why.  This all plays into my own insecurities.  I am afraid, deep down, that they are right, I am not good enough.  I do worry that I am not a good mother, that I am not doing a good job managing all that I have on right now.  I do worry that I am failing at the things I try so hard to do.  I wish that I could just let the comments roll off me - I have friends who are wonderful, calm people who can allow themselves to be human and who do a really good job and accepting what they can do and can't and enjoy their lives.  They don't get too upset at someone else's opinion, they are able to see it just as what it is.  I would LOVE to learn how to do that.  

I guess there is a lesson in this for me.  I was talking to someone at work about it today and she and I laughed about the fact that 30 years from now, we will each be someone's MIL and, as likely as not, someone could be saying the same things about us.  It is a good reminder to be careful of what I say.  My opinions could easily be seen as criticism from someone else and that someone might be someone going through a rough time right now.  My mother taught me a useful lesson that seems somewhat simplistic but I whole heartedly believe that it is a good way to operate - if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything.  I am not advocating allowing someone around you to make destructive choices or to do harm to themselves or others but frankly, an opinion is an opinion and unless it is requested, if it is unfavourable, keep it to yourself (or at least give some thought before expressing it).  

And, if you have a comment about my hair going white, my weight, the dust on my light fixture, the weeds in my garden or what you feel I am doing wrong in my parenting, please KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sacred Sunday

This past week was our last week of the Beth Moore study Breaking Free.  To be honest, I am feeling more than a little lost without the discipline and accountability of the group study.  I know Abbie is arranging something and I can't wait.  I am not sure what I will do in the meantime.  I did have some fun looking at Lifeway's site to see what else Beth Moore has available - the Esther study looks like it could be wonderful and I LOVE the story of Esther.  If we have another girl in the future, her middle name might just be Esther.  I don't adore the name but I love what it stands for.

Anyway, the thing that has been on my mind over the last day or so is something that I read in our study this past week.  It related to acts of goodness towards others.  The point was essentially that our acts of goodness, kindness and generosity should come from the overflow of our life in God as opposed to being related to wanting "to do good things" for our own gratification.   That's really been coming back to me over and over again in the last 24 hours.  

We spent yesterday and this morning visiting my in-laws in their town about 2.5 hours drive away.  We left there just before noon and halfway between two villages, we came around a bend and saw a woman standing at the side of the road beside her minivan, frantically hailing us.  Of course, we stopped and quickly got out to see what was the problem.  This poor woman - she was driving along at about 90 kms and somehow, the latch on her front hood came undone, the wind caught the hood and it went crashing back, hit the windshield and sent glass all over the front seat.  Luckily, she was o.k. and her two children were in the second row and didn't get hit.  She had a 7 month old baby and a 2 year old and no cell phone so we let her make her calls and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived to take over (which took a whole lot longer than I would have expected but that's another story).  She couldn't reach her husband by phone and we offered to drive into the town in which she lives (which was on our way) to stop by her house and see if we could get him.  While it threw our schedule off, it felt really good to be helping and her relief when we stopped was palpable.  It just got me wondering, why did we stop?  What was the payoff for us?  Did we really stop out of our concern for another human being based on our faith or was it for another reason?  Perhaps to get the thanks?  Maybe to hopefully ensure that there would be people out there to stop for us?  I can't honestly say that I truly know the answer to that question but it is something that I want to ponder this week.  How can I make my actions towards others the outflowing of my relationship with God and not just the means to my own gratification?

One other thing, totally unrelated.  I have had a really, really hard week and was feeling incredibly down and stumbled across a verse that brought me to tears.  All I could think of are those incredibly close moments when Pk is in my arms and upset about something and I hold her tight -

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.
Isaiah 66:13 NIV

I hope this verse can bring you comfort in a moment of struggle and fear, as well.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Suggestions, Please

I have just finished the last day of work for our Breaking Free Bible study and I am feeling really lost. I loved the structure of this study and the way it was laid out really satisfied my need for Bible study. While I can just sit and read each day, I would love to follow another programme of some kind until we get our next Bible study group going. I was just wondering, does anyone have any suggestions for a Bible study or a website or something that could give me some direction? We are starting a new study at church that may fit the bill but I would like to have a few options.
Thanks for any ideas!

Future Hope Project

I have met two wonderful, generous people, Abbie and Gin, through our Bible Study.  They have come up with a brilliant idea.  They both have hearts for others and have been really connected to areas of need around the world.  The Future Hope Project is something that has come from this awareness of need.  They are giving us an opportunity to support mother and babies in Uganda and in a way that really doesn't require much from us.  If you are like me and love packing the Operation Christmas Child boxes and shopping for wonderful treats, this is a job for you.  For more information, check out their website.
Best of lucky, ladies, I am looking forward to getting started on collecting for my donations.

Favourites Friday

So, Friday favourites are here on Saturday (I do seem to have a problem with being a day behind...).  Anyway, no real structure to this message, just some ramblings about things I love.  

The first favourite is clothing on a a line.  I love hanging laundry out, when I can find the time and the weather cooperates (which is a combination which happens much less frequently that I would like).  Especially since we use cloth diapers, the sun is our friend in getting whites back to white and the laundry always smells so fresh coming off the line.

Another favourite of mine is catching those sweet moments with Pk... you know the ones I mean, the ones that wouldn't necessarily mean anything to anyone else but that just melt your heart... We were gardening and she was determined to help but she couldn't figure out how to get the flowers down off the deck.  You don't see it in these pictures but she had the most intense look of concentration on her face and she was so determined to help.  She is really turning into such an interesting little person.

I love the way, in the spring, the grass goes from brown to green in a matter of a few days.   We are lucky because where we live, it is quite damp.  While that means that our sump pump is essential and we have to really keep an eye on it, on the plus side, our grass tends to be green all summer without any effort on our part.

Another favourite for me is having a daughter who is growing up in such a multicultural world.  During dinner last night, when we were eating Japanese food, we discovered that she loves seaweed.  She also loved trying to eat with chopsticks (although, as you can see by the state of her clothing, she didn't manage all that well).
What are some of your favourites?