Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gratitude 55

I love fall but I guess you have figured that out by now.  There isn't a part of fall that doesn't get me excited in one way or another.  This week, my mind has been on food.

In terms of our cooking, this has definitely been the week of the tomato.  We have a huge bounty of them yet to use.  I have tried freezing them in the past but I didn't love the results.  I like to eat them fresh and so we are all starting to turn a dark shade of orange.  I have tried several recipes this week, some good, some not so hot.  Our favourite was "Herb roasted chicken with summer tomatoes" from the blog I adore, "A Year of Slow Cooking."  Stephanie, the blog author was right - the rice was amazing!

One thing  I especially love is going to the grocery store at this time of year.  I went with Pk after work and I was mesmerized by the squash and pumpkins.  I don't like squash and I have tried to like pumpkin in healthier forms (I don't think that pumpkin bread really counts given the sugar) but the pumpkin soup recipes I have tried just don't do it for me.  I ended up buying three different kinds of squash just to try.  I don't know whether this is the case everywhere but at our local grocery store, they put stickers on the squash with recipes on them.  Tonight, I made "sweet potato squash" baked with butter, salt and pepper.  Amazingly, I really liked it and dh said he just might, on a good day, be willing to eat some himself.  I probably won't cook the other squash again in the immediate future (once a week is plenty) but in the meantime, I will love looking at the interesting shapes and textures.  I read somewhere that certain squashes are really "wonder foods" so I am determined to eat more.  If you have a good recipe, let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gratitude 54

Today was a bit of a struggle.  First of all, Pk is definitely showing signs of terrible two's - she is really digging in on certain things and seems to know exactly when to push my buttons.  Most of the time she is great but the bad days are BAD.  It doesn't help that she is teething big time and that makes her really volatile and whiny.  I want to yell, "You know how to talk - tell me what is wrong!"  We get through it but I feel like my fuse is really short right now.  We are also in the middle of attempting the transition to her "big girl" bed and while she is sleeping in it, right now, I am there with her and it just doesn't make for a great night's sleep.  I am tired, grouchy and a tiny bit blue.

We had a big event today that dh was involved in.  This is something that we used to do a lot before we had Pk.  I always enjoyed it but since her arrival, I just can't do it.  I'm too tired, it's too hard chasing a toddler and given that she is in daycare all week, I just can't see not doing things with her on the weekends, even if we did have a sitter.  I went up to visit the event and stopped in for a bit.  I got a full blast in the face of the fact that I have totally been replaced and the world has moved on without me.  I don't expect to be the centre of the universe but in the past, I was "in" and loved this stuff.  I had good friends there.  Now, I don't really matter and I am just in the way.  It hurt.  It doesn't help that a number of these people don't have kids and don't understand the demands of parenting, especially a child that as an infant, was difficult.  Pk was NOT one of those babies that you took somewhere and left in a carseat.  She was high maintenance and it was easier to be home and on a schedule than schlepping her around and expecting her to fit into our plans.  It was very clear that I no longer belong and while that normally doesn't bother me so much (I love being a mother and wouldn't trade that for anything) but today, it just hurt.  I felt, in some ways, like people felt let down by me and that I have turned into those women who are only a mother, if that makes sense.  There is NOTHING that bothers me more than feeling like I have let someone down.

Now for the gratitude part.  I have mentioned that I am coordinating one of the small groups at our church.  I had to call someone to make plans for tonight and we ended up on the phone for an hour.  It felt so good - I might not belong in my old world but I do belong somewhere.  There are people who care about me, who cherish the stage of life I am in and who "get it."  At small group tonight, Pk was a bit on edge (those blasted teeth again and why didn't I give her Advil before we went????)  Instead of being judged, I was supported and encouraged, Pk was given love and comfort and I got regaled with stories of other people's walks through the same things.  I have been lucky in so many ways.  1.  Most of my friends, with kids or without, have been super supportive and, in many cases, motherhood has made me even closer and helped me to cherish certain friendships even more than I did in the past (Kittenpie, I couldn't have gotten through that first sleepless year without you and W, your night nursing advice and sharing your stories did so much to help me feel like I was a normal mother at those times when I just though I didn't have anything left to give).  I have really been blessed in so many ways and while things can be lost, they don't ever seem to be without something else being gained.  

I just pray that I don't ever lose sight of just how lucky I actually am.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gratitude 53

I am really grateful for my husband and for the courage he has shown over the last few months.  He had really gotten into a difficult place where life was out of control.  He came up with a plan and has followed through and is doing so well!  We see his healing in just about every area of life and I can't tell you how wonderful it is.  I have said a bit here about how there is a history of depression in his family.  They like to call it a "chemical imbalance" but I tend to think of it as a "life imbalance".  Don't anyone think I am saying that people with mental health issues can choose to work their way out or that body chemistry doesn't play a role, that isn't what I am saying at all.  I will say, though, (and I can speak from experience because, through my own therapy, I personally know) that there are patterns that are passed down through families, not by anyone's fault but because we do what we know and usually, we have learned that from our parents.  It takes courage to face those demons and deal with them.  Dh's family pattern is to repress and deny until it gets to be too much and then to take medication to dull the pain.  They are suspicious of counseling and don't want to talk about things.  I keep telling dh that he is giving our daughter such a different legacy than was given to him - she sees a father who is showing courage, who is learning about himself and growing and reaching out.   She won't be afraid of struggle and hopefully, she will know that she doesn't need to hide it when she is finding life difficult.  She is lucky to have such a wonderful example in her father.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gratitude 52

I am grateful for those times when you rediscover something that you used to really like but had forgotten about.  I seem to be surrounded by people who went to the U2 concert last week.  When I was younger, they were my favourite band (Pride is my all-time favourite song!) but I didn't like what they were doing for quite a while.  Our minister went to the concert and couldn't stop going on about how amazing the concert was.  He and his wife even said it was worshipful and that some of the songs from the new album are amazing.  I downloaded it this morning and he's right.  I don't love the entire album but Magnificent and Moment of Surrender are fantastic.  I also was bad and downloaded the Best of 1980 - 1990 album.  I LOVE that!  Dh is going to be sick of U2 very, very soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gratitude 51

I am the "fellowship coordinator" at our church.  It's not a major position, mostly just getting ready for baby welcomes and collecting for gifts for couples getting married.  The past few weeks have been busier than usual.  It was the church anniversary and as a tie in to our Sunday School curriculum this year (the theme is "Celebrations"), our minister suggested doing a birthday party for the church.  It sounds straightforward enough and it did end up being fun but I managed to get myself into the usual stew - would we have enough/too much of everything?  Would people enjoy themselves?  Would anyone come?  Would I end up doing everything by myself?
As always with church things, my worrying was totally unnecessary.  It ended up being a lot of fun and it gave me a chance to really get to know a new mom in our church (she is new to the church, not so much a "new mom").  Pk and the other kids had a blast (although I was a bit concerned - she had so much fun taking swings at the pinata that I was a bit concerned that she might think it was a good idea to come home and take a few good swings at Lucie, our dog, with the broom).  I always come away from church events with such a sense of belonging - not so much from the events themselves but from the working with everyone to get prepared and in cleaning up.  Pk had so much fun ripping down the streamers and running around the gym with a few of the other kids.  
In so many ways, church ends up feeling like going home.  That's how it should be.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Twisted Tongue

10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

 11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

 13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

Exodus 4:10 - 13

I so totally relate to this.  I feel like Moses, whenever I am in a position to speak for God or to share my beliefs, I get "slow of speech and tongue" and I make a mess of it.  I get so disgusted with myself, I want to share what I believe and the difference it has made in my life but somehow, I just don't seem to be able to do it.

For those friends here who aren't Christians, I am sorry if this offends anyone.  I know my friends are all respectful and considerate and if my being a Christian really bothered you, you would have checked out long ago.  I worry so much about offending, though, that I hesitate to say anything at all.  Then, I feel as if I have betrayed myself, since my faith is so critical to who I am.  I feel a bit like I live a double life, at times.  I worry that it might seem that I am ashamed of God or my beliefs or the general cultural unpopularity of Christianity and that couldn't be further from the truth.  Quite frankly, in some ways, the fact that the wider culture is disdainful of Christianity actually makes it more appealing to me.  Since I started therapy, I have been working hard at trying not to worry so much about what others think of me and I do think that I have made a lot of progress.  My reluctance to speak isn't about not wanting to be identified as a Christian, it has much more to do with 1.  not wanting to make someone feel like I am overstepping boundaries and 2.  not wanting to speak badly and drive someone further from God.

For those here again who aren't Christians, it probably isn't all that clear WHY we Christians are always wanting to talk about what we believe.  For some, it is about converting people and feeling like that is our job.  While I do think that the Bible calls on Christians to be "fishers of men" and to speak the Good News, for me, at least, there is more to it than that.  You know when you find a great restaurant or see a great movie? You want to tell everyone so that they can enjoy it as much as you do.  My faith brings me so much comfort and joy and a sense of belonging that I want that for everyone, especially the people who mean the most to me.   

Last night, we had a good friend here.  We have been friends for years and we tend to talk pretty frankly.  I know that she is not a Christian and has no interest in God.  I had been talking about some stuff going on at church and she said something really interesting, "I don't want to do the whole God thing but when you talk about church and the people and stuff, I would love to be a part of that.  It would be so good to feel like I belonged and to have that kind of meaning in my life."  I was stumped.  I felt this incredible pressure to say something, ANYTHING, to share God with her when she was obviously open to it.  I tried, in a cautious way, to open up to her and talk a bit about God and church means to me.  I referred her to a resource that works for me (I am LOVING the podcasts from North Point Church and often, Andy Stanley says things that sum up what I believe in words that I could never have).  At the end of the conversation, though, I really felt like I had failed.  I guess, in one sense, I can feel good about the fact that my life and my talk about the role of my faith and church in my life makes it seem appealing to someone else.  On the other hand, though, I wish I had been able to share in a way that really reached my friend.

Some of that is the fault of the churches I grew up in.  We didn't do testimonies or talk about our personal faith much.  In fact, it was almost seen as being unseemly.  We all believed and I think, in many cases, peoples' faith was very deep and pervasive but for some reason, we just didn't discuss it.  It would have been rude.  We did the Alpha course at our current church a couple of years ago and it was so great to get to talk about issues that I had never discussed in a church of our denomination.  That was really liberating.  I listen to the Focus on the Family podcasts and I hear a lot of talk about the apologetics conferences.  That interests me but I wish I could get that elsewhere.  I commend Focus for stepping out and offering something that is so needed.  On the other hand, there are elements of the politics coming from Focus that I personally find offensive (sorry, I am Canadian and can't stand all the pro- George Bush and American foreign policy rhetoric - guess I probably offended every else now).  I wish I could find more information on how to talk about my faith in a way that doesn't offend people but also doesn't sound weak and pathetic.

Ultimately, though, the burden lies on me.  I need to be confident and say what I think.  I need to speak proudly and if I mess it up, oh well.  It's easy for me to say that but to do it is another thing.  If you have any good resources, I would love to hear them.  North Point has a great sermon series on itunes right now, actually, it's a North Point Sermon Series available on the Connexus Church podcasts called On  Location and that helped a bit (it's all about being Salt and Light in the world) but it's just a start.  

Pray for me.  Pray that God gives me the words and the chance to use them.  It's such a shame to hide light under a bushel.  And in the meantime, I am going to try and be more public about my faith.  I will probably start here since it's a good place to practice.  To my non-Christian friends, sorry if I offend you :-) but I think you will understand.  Feel free to ignore those posts.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gratitude 50

Last night, we had our first small group meeting.  I was pretty nervous about it.  I love small group (for those of you who aren't "church" people, small groups are a really "in" thing in churches right now - the idea is to build a sense of belonging and to enjoy time together and to engage in some kind of study).  My minister asked me to be a small group leader in the summer and while I said yes, I really wasn't sure... I teach all week and while I love working with the little guys, I don't find adults anywhere near as easy.  I have been in small groups before where getting answers to questions can be like pulling teeth and when it comes to something like this, it is so important and I have a lot of Moses in me - "I just don't speak well enough of you, God."
One thing that helped me decide was the study we are doing.  It's called "Doing Life Together" and it's from the "Purpose Driven" people at Saddleback.  I love their resources and this one is no exception.  There are DVDs for each session and study guides and you can customize it a fair bit for the group you are working with.  It is organized into six week modules, each one on a different purpose - worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism and life purpose.  Last night, we were starting with worship.
As I said, I was really nervous.  It's a small "small group" (there are only a few of us) and some people couldn't be there.  I didn't know how it would go since Pk was going to be with us (she won't go into nursery or anything like that) and she has been ... well... challenging this week (I went into work yesterday and told a friend that I now understand why some animals eat their children).  I was worried that I was going to get started and realise that in spite of my preparation, I wouldn't be ready or wouldn't know what was going on.  I spent considerable time beforehand praying, "Please God, don't let me screw this up.  I want this to be a meaningful time that brings people closer to you and I don't want to be inadequate and turn people off.  I want this to MEAN something in people's lives."  
It ended up being great.  We took too long to get started (too much chatting) but even that was a good thing... I guess we are connecting.  The study itself was good, the discussion ended up being enlightening and I got some things that I will be taking away with me.  John Ortberg was discussing worship and the fact that LIFE needs to be worship as opposed to an hour or so once a week (not a revelation to most of us, I hope).  He had an interesting suggestion, though.  The idea is that you take a day in the week and aim to make the entire day geared to worship and that you are trying to express joy in God.  On that day, wear clothes that make you feel good, enjoy your favourite meals, take time to be with people who really mean something to you, as you drive, listen to music that brings you to a feeling of worship, etc...  I like that idea.  I know that I get really bogged down in life and I don't live in the joy that is available to me.  John Ortberg said that is actually a sin and I had never thought of it that way before.  I want to make it a goal of mine to incorporate a day of joy.  I am thinking to do it Friday since that is often a low, tired day for me.  I'd like to turn it into a day of celebration.
I am getting excited about this small group thing now.  Actually, I was debating setting up a blog for it that the group can use.  There are daily scripture passages for devotions and I was thinking I might set up a blog where people in our group can comment and discuss that days' reading.  I don't know whether anyone would be interested or would use it but who knows, it just might work.
One other little gratitude tidbit - I am grateful that Missy posted about Seeds worship music on her blog.  I have been listening to that a lot and not once but twice yesterday, I was able to pull relevant scripture out of my head that fit what we were discussing!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gratitude 49

I love going to the library.  This afternoon, after we walked the dogs, Pk and I went to the library.  We live in a small town and as far as I can see, there are three places that the people here hang out - the library, the pub and the baseball diamond.  Obviously, we are library people and we have met some really nice people there.  I love getting books and it is getting really exciting now that Pk is showing interest in more than just simple pattern board books.   Today, it was Max and Ruby (she must have seen them on t.v. at her daycare provider's house) and "Big Sarah's Little Boots", I think by Paulette Bourgeous (of Franklin fame).  I had to get that one since Pk has to wear her boots all the time... this evening, we got ready for her bath, she said that she had to use her potty and came running back wearing nothing but boots (should I be concerned LOL).  Anyway, I am rambling tonight.  The library is wonderful and there is nothing better than a pile of books waiting to be read.  In the days before Pk, that would mean coming home, making a pot of tea and getting settled on the couch.  These days, it means taking out one book and know that it might not get done but who cares?  I love the possibilities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gratitude 48

I hope this doesn't sound totally shallow.  I got my haircut yesterday.  I was desperate - it was long and getting in my eyes and I didn't even like the cut.  Sometimes, having my haircut can make me feel so much better about life in general and this was one of those times.  It feels so good to be able to see again.  I am grateful that we have the chance for new beginnings and that we can change things when life is stale.  It makes such a difference sometimes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gratitude 47

I have this tendency towards getting tension headaches.  For the most part, they are work related.  I don't know why, I enjoy my job but I often get them on days I work, especially on a Monday or on a day when I spent a lot of time in meetings (can you tell that sitting still KILLS me?).  Yesterday was a bad headache day.  It came on mid-afternoon and by evening, I was feeling horrible - my head was killing me, the muscles in my neck and shoulders were aching and I felt sick to my stomach.  I went to bed with the headache and I woke up with it this morning.  Usually, sleep gets rid of them but when they last, they really take a toll on me.  This morning, I felt horrible and then, mid-morning, it just totally disappeared (something my headaches also tend to do).  It is such a blessed relief when they go.  I spent the rest of the day feeling very mellow, just to have the pain gone.  I wish I knew what it was that I did to cause them but right now, all that matters is that I am pain free.  Hooray!

Gratitude 46

I am grateful for my new layout :-).  Thanks, Nikki!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gratitude 45

I am grateful for another great day together as a family.  We started out going to a birthday party (I know, Sunday morning is a bit of a strange time and meant we had to miss church but we were really happy to spend time with these people).  We ran a few errands, made yet another batch of relish (we do a fundraiser called "Talents and Treasures" at our church in December to raise money for the church and I think this year, I will sell the relish at work - with all the zucchini we are getting from our neighbours, I should have a HUGE supply), we set up Pk's "big girl" room with her twin bed (the gratitude is mixed on that one - I hope she sleeps in there once in a while but I am NOT really to see her growing so fast) and then dh cooked a roast of beef on the rotisserie on the barbecue (delicious!!!!).  I think I may have just written the longest sentence in history but it was a great day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gratitude 44

Today was pretty close to the embodiment of what I think of as a perfect fall day.  We didn't have to do anything in particular other than to await the delivery of Pk's "big girl bed" (that's a post for another day) and miraculously, the company actually called when they were supposed to and gave us a convenient window for their arrival.  Since it was such a gorgeous day, we decided to start by going to pick apples and then to have breakfast at the orchard.  The weather was perfect, the apples were lovely, Pk adored the wagon ride and they even had an orchard dog (the pet of the family running the orchard), so it's hard to think of anything that would make Pk happier.  The pancakes were perfectly cooked with lovely, onsite made maple syrup and we ate outside directly under grapevines, listening to the sounds of fall, crickets at work and the tractor taking people out to the orchard.  We bought fresh corn and after a day of errands, a Chelsea F.C. victory (the highlight of the day for dh) and then one of our favourite dinners outside on the deck.  We love these pitas and they taste even better when made with tomatoes that have literally just come off the vine (we used our own tomatoes and our own mint).
Grilled Pitas with Tomatoes

1 c diced tomatoes
1/2 c coarsely chopped olives
1/2 c chopped red onion
3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
4 tbsp olive oil (divided) 
feta cheese

Combine tomatoes, olives, onion, mint and 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Brush the pitas with the remaining oil and grill lightly on one side.  Turn over and top with the tomato mix.  Grill just until warmed through.  Sprinkle the top with feta.  
The pic doesn't do it justice but these are DELICIOUS.  

Along with the pitas, we did fresh corn.  I try not to post pics of Pk here but I couldn't resist.  She really liked the corn! (So did the dog, who found the cob, took it into our bedroom and devoured the entire thing on our bed.  Needless to say, the bedding all had to be changed and I wasn't entirely happy about it).

Blogging for a Cause

I just finished looking at something and I want to share.  I have been thinking for a while that I wanted to have my blog designed... it's totally beyond me to do and I find this layout really boring.  I have wanted to hire someone to do it.  Well, Gin mentioned today that she was going to have her blog redesigned and had a link to Nikki who was going to do it. Nikki's blog, Blogging for a Cause,  is all about raising funds to do various kinds of humanitarian work and she also does blog designing.  The best part is the fact that she uses the funds she raises to support her work helping others.  You can't beat that - a beautiful new blog design AND helping people at the same time.   Check her out!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Faves - Old Hymn and Modern Worship Song

I wasn't planning on doing a post today but when I saw Missy's topic for today, I couldn't resist.  I love hymns.  I make a fool of myself in church so often because I cry.  It's so ridiculous, there are a host of hymns that reduce me to a blithering idiot.  I stand there, trying to sing, tears streaming down my face and it's embarassing but so wonderful at the same time.  There have been a few times when I had hymns on the car and I have been driving along the road, crying (of course) and wondered what on earth I would say to explain myself if the police ever pulled me over.  

So, old hymns.  Be Thou My Vision is my favourite of all time.  It tears me up each and every time.  I love the verse with the line "Thou mine inheritance through all my days..." - that reminds me so much of my grandmother and my great aunts.

Be Thou My Vision - Selah

I also love a few others:

Ride on, Ride, on always makes an impression on me.  This verse:

 "Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
The angel armies of the sky
Look down with sad and wondering eyes
To see the approaching Sacrifice."

totally breaks me up.  It didn't get me too badly until one Sunday, at church, Dad and I were together and I realised when we came to this, he was crying.  Dad told me after that he just gets this picture in his mind of the angels, watching in horror, as they realise what is to happen.  I always know I will leave a Good Friday service with a headache from the tears. 

Ride On Ride On In Majesty - Performance Artist

and there are so many others - Holy, Holy, Holy, Morning has Broken, O Sacred Head Sore Wounded, On Jordan's Bank,  Thine Be the Glory, any of the hymns with big Hallelujahs and of course, one of my all time favourites, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven.

The new worship songs I love are pretty standard.  I LOVE In Christ Alone, The River Is Here (I HAVE to dance to that one), He Reigns, Here I am to Worship, Open the Eyes of My Heart... the list goes on.  Our minister does a great job of blending old hymns and worship music and I could sing and sing and sing...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gratitude 43

I got so much done today!  So much of it was niggly little things but still, it feels so good to actually get things done.  Being busy for too long can be overwhelming but a day or so can be very satisfactory!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gratitude 42

I am grateful for home.  I went to a big meeting/conference after work today and I didn't get home until 7:30.  I wasn't sure whether Pk would be up or not.  It was so nice to come in and hear dh reading to her and her chatting away and when I walked into the bedroom, it was obvious they were both happy to see me but that she had been relaxed with dh without me.  There was a time when, had I not been around for the evening, by the time I got home, she would be miserable and sobbing for me.  It was so nice to come home to a relaxed and happy house.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gratitude 41

I am grateful for the quiet, cosy moments with Pk every day.  I went back to work today after the summer off.  I have been really feeling this coming for a bit.  I find, when I am working, that by the time I get home from work, I feel like I have done nothing but run and I just can't seem to slow down and catch my breath.  This year, I am determined that it will be (a little bit) different.  I want to make sure that I have several really nice moments with Pk.  One thing I started last week and am really enjoying is our first-thing-in-the-morning book session.  As soon as she gets up, we go and sit on the couch and read.  It started with just her Bible but quickly has become 20 + minutes of reading all kinds of books.  It means getting up a bit earlier but it is so worth it!  It was wonderful to drive to work this morning KNOWING that we had already had time together.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gratitude 40

I am grateful that zucchini season is almost over.  Our neighbours gave us MORE today and while it is so generous, I don't really want to make more relish and we don't really like it any other ways.  O.k., I guess I don't feel like baking zucchini bread or muffins, either.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gratitude 39

I am grateful to be able to go home, to the home where I grew up.  I never liked my parents house and by the time we moved out of the city, I was tired and frustrated there.  It was somewhere that I just wanted to leave.  I have been away long enough now that to go home is to remember good times and I can see the beauty of it again.  We took the dogs down with us and ended up taking them to the dogpark that we used so often when we lived there.  If you aren't a dog owner, you can't understand the significance of your dogpark but we spent hours and hours there, visiting with people we might never have come in contact with otherwise - we were just people united by our love of our dogs.  We were even invited to a birthday party there for one of the dogs once (with games - bobbing for hotdogs, treats - carob cake for dogs from Three Dog Bakery and lootbags - biscuits and toys).  The park is filled with trees and we gathered acorns like we used to (I have a thing for acorns since my father used to gather them and drill holes in them and make necklaces for me when I was a child).  Pk got to play in the park (not something I ever really even noticed when we were there with the dogs).  You CAN go home again and sometimes, it looks better than it did when you left.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fall Scrapping

O.k., I have gone crazy for fall.  It's my favourite season and I guess I am feeling ready.  

One of the first things I did was gather up my fall scrapping that needed to be done.  I used to be such an avoid scrapper but since Pk arrived, I just haven't had the time and knitting has become a bigger priority.  I have several albums on the go and I have been trying to streamline.  I used to do chronological albums and would just keep filling until nothing else could go in and then I would start a new album.  It was fun but expensive and very time consuming.

Now, I am changing things up a bit.  I have decided that there will be one album for each year of Pk's life (I am about a third of the way through her first year - my pregnancy one is finally done).  I am also going to start seasonal albums.  I thought that they could be a kind of decoration for each season - e.g., for fall, I can put the fall album out on the coffee table and it will be filled with family memories of previous falls.  It will gradually expand over the years.  I think I will do another one for Christmas, maybe winter, I am not sure, I don't take all that many winter pics for some reason), summer and perhaps spring, although again, I am not a huge fan of spring and don't tend to take all that many pictures.

This is a page in Pk's baby album.  She was a month old when we went on this hike and she slept the entire time.

This is the title of my fall album.  I used wordle for the cover page.  I was having trouble changing the colours so this layout isn't perfect but it will do.

I like the way this turned out.  My favourite element is the paper punched leaves.  I have an oak leaf and a maple leaf and I use them all the time in my fall layouts.

Now, I need to do a Halloween layout for last year!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Favourite Songs You Sing...

Missy, at It's Almost Naptime, writes one of my favourite blogs.  She combines humour, faith and love for her children and often, I find she says things in the way that I wish I have thought of to say them.  Her Friday Faves includes things that I have fun writing about.

This week, her topic is "Favourite Songs You Sing to Your Children."  That got my creative juices flowing!  When a child who slept as rarely and as briefly as mine, and who was, to put it mildly, freakin' impossible to get to sleep, you sing, if nothing else, to keep yourself from saying the things that you feel trying to come out of your mouth.  With Pk, there was a slew of songs.


Mummy loves Pippa Kay,
Daddy loves Pippa Kay,
Chelsea loves Pippa Kay, too-oo-oo.

Lucie loves Pippa Kay,
Sadie loves Pippa Kay,
Gran loves Pippa Kay, too-oo-oo.
Be-dum, be-dum, be-dum, be-dum, be-dum.

(who knows how I came up with this one)

It's Time to Go to Sleep (sung with pleading)

It's time to go to sleep,
It's time to go to sleep,
It's time to go to sleep,
Mama's little girl.
It's time to go to sleep,
It's time to go to sleep,
It's time to go to sleep,
Mama's pretty girl.
(repeat endlessly for the full effect).

The Burp Song (my nieces loved this one)
Rock, rock, rock, rock,
Rock from side to side.
Rock, rock, rock, rock, 
The burpies cannot hide.

Pat, pat, pat, pat,
Pat you on the back.
Pat, pat, pat, pat
To stop the gas attack.

You also need to know that dh is obsessed with Chelsea, his English premiership team and they were on the road to the F.A. cup the year Pk was born (it was a significant frustration that we couldn't get t.v. in the hospital until after she was born - we missed a big game).  She was often serenaded by dh in his endless walking with her (she had colic and cried every night from 5 until 10 and he would walk her endlessly to keep me from having a complete breakdown) with The Name of the Game -Ole, ole (it's available on itunes in German and we actually downloaded it and put in on CD for her) and Blue is the Colour, Chelsea's team song.

There were plenty of other songs that were really big in that first year - A Bushel and a Peck, Skinimarink, Don't Worry, Be Happy, This Little Light of Mine, The Aaronic Blessing, Amazing Grace, The Lord's My Shepherd, Who Let the Dogs Out, Rubber Duckie, The Pink Panther Theme... nuts, I know.

Thanks, Missy, for the trip down memory lane (even though it was only two years ago).  Now, the music is so different (endless Kindermusic songs, Jesus Loves Me, Rock on Larry Boy from VeggieTales...)

Gratitude 38

We went to the beach today.  I adore the sound of water.  To me, it is like a lullaby and as soon as I am near water, I feel this calm descend upon me.  It was wonderful.  It's a memory I would like to keep from the summer through the rest of the year.

More Fall Nesting

This "fall nesting" thing started by Melissa at The Inspired Room has really gotten hold of me.  Usually, I wait until at least the first day of fall to start my fall decorating.  Unfortunately, since work is in full swing by then, I tend to have a hard time finding the time and it ends up being frustrating because I can't seem to get done what I had planned.  I was in such a fall mood, I decided to get started early this year and see it as a kind of new season that starts with going back to school.  

As always, most of my fall decorating centres around the dining room.  I try and do something with the sideboard and with the table.  At HomeSense, I bought these things that look a bit like cranberries but in three colours (green, gold and crimson) and that worked really well this year.
Excuse the yellow colour.  I decided to use my big camera and I was having some trouble finding the right setting to get what I wanted.  I love the pics that camera takes outside but I have never been able to master the flash - it is too bright and too direct for most things and leaves them entirely colourless.
I love the way the warm fall colours bring out the warmth in our pine furniture as it ages.  It seems to be getting more and more golden.
I won't do anything with the front stoop for a few more weeks.  I haven't seen the hay bales or the corn stalks on sale yet...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gratitude 37

I am so grateful that I work with such nice people.  School doesn't officially start until Tuesday but we had meetings all day yesterday and all day today.  I was dreading going back - I miss Pk so much and if financially I could swing it, I would be home in a heartbeat.  The meetings themselves were pretty boring (it's hard not to be insulted when you have to watch a video on "slips, trips and falls" that discusses safe footwear and how to walk at work and a video on "ladder safety" that defies description - I laughed so hard I cried).  On the other hand, it was actually kind of nice to be back with my colleagues.  
Now, I am looking forward to 5 uninterrupted days before I have to leave Pk again.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall Nesting

Melissa, over at The Inspired Room, is running her 2009 Fall Nesting Week to inspire us all to enjoy the season and to bring that enjoyment into our homes.  I have been so excited ever since she started giving us notice that this week was coming. 

One of her suggestions was to read her "20 Things To Love About Fall" list and then to write your own.  Such fun!  Here's mine:

1.  the quality of the sunlight
2.  the smell of burning leaves
3.  acorns and chestnuts
4.  the smell of cooking applesauce
5.  Thanksgiving
6.  cable-knit sweaters
7.  plaid wool blankets
8.  cinnamon
9.  big pots of mums
10.  Indian corn
11.  cool evenings under a warm blanket
12.  misty mornings
13.  the smell of turkey
14.  piles of leaves
15.  looking at the light in house windows on a dark evening
16.  the excitement of little kids trick-or-treating
17.  freshly baked pie
18.  farm stands of pumpkins
19.  the shape and colour of gourds
20.  feeling thankful

I would like to do a second list - things I want to do this fall:

1.  put big pumpkins outside the front of the house
2.  take Pk to the pumpkin farm
3.  change the route I drive home from work so I can drive by my favourite pumpkin stand
4.  cook turkey for Thanksgiving
5.  take Pk to pick apples
6.  decorate the front of the house and the dining room
7.  make hot cider in the crockpot to scent the house
8.  go for at least one walk with the dogs in the forest
9.  take lots of photos
10.  get up early and sit on the porch on a cool morning to drink tea
I always decorate for fall.  I am trying to do more each year.  This is our front stoop last year.  The front of our house is ugly but with our fall decor, it really improves and looks more welcoming.  Last year, we got cornstalks, bales of hay, pumpkins, gourds and mums.  My only complaint was that I love the deep crimson mums but they were sold out by the time I got around to buying them.  It looked wonderful.  I hope to do something similar this year.

Inside, I keep most of the decorating to the dining room.  I love linens and tablecloths and I love the rich colours of fall.  I have several deep burgundy table cloths, a pretty runner with embroidered leaves with matching placemats and dish towels that I always put out.  If I can, I gather acorns and chestnuts to fill a pretty glass bowl and I use beeswax candles, which fit my colour scheme and smell wonderful as they burn.  We don't do much Halloween decorating (other than a couple of Jack O'Lanterns), it just seems so limited after the rich autumn colours and the wonderful smells.  Of course, that may change a bit as Pk gets older but only to a small degree - I find the over-the-top goulishness bothers me.  I don't mind other people doing it, I just don't see tombstones on my front lawn as being up my alley.

When it comes down to it, for me, fall is all about colour and light.  There is just something about the sun that goes from a hot white light in the summer to a warm, golden glow in the fall that makes everything look prettier.  As things chill outside, it is so wonderful to bring that warmth indoors.
And of course, I can always rely on Dh to keep things from becoming too serious...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gratitude 36

I was able to go shopping by myself today.  That's right, BY MYSELF.  It was a strange experience.  I was able to browse at HomeSense (I don't know whether they exist in the U.S., it's the home and decor arm of Winners, a discount store that sells really good stuff if you look), go to my favourite Christian bookstore (I found a VeggieTales book - a huge hit), get some scrapbooking paper at Michaels (not my favourite store but still, I could get cardstock) and I even got a latte... it felt so strange to have all that time to myself.  Of course, it won't happen again for a while but it felt like such a huge treat to be able to browse without trying to keep little hands from grabbing or a little body from trying to hurl itself from the cart.

Happy Birthday, Pk

Today is Pk's second birthday. I cannot believe that she is that age already. It fills me with so much fear - I love her so fiercely and it scares me that we are moving away from this wonderful time together.

On Oprah a while ago (quite a while ago, I haven't watched her in years), I saw a feature about a woman who died of cancer and in the months leading up to her death, she worked on a series of videos for her daughter, teaching her about all the things that she would need to know and that her mother wouldn't be able to teach her. That inspired me and it has been in the back of my mind for a long time that I wanted to create some kind of legacy for Pk that if something ever happened to me, she would KNOW that she was loved by her mother. Yes, I am being totally maudlin here but her being left alone and not knowing how much I adored her is my greatest fear. My plan, if I can stay on top of it, is to write her a letter every so often and to put the letters into a collection. If all goes well, I can give her the letters when she is 18 (or when she is a teenager and I need to remind BOTH of us that I love her). This morning, I wrote her first letter. It probably doesn't sound anywhere near as powerful to anyone else as it does to me but as I sit here typing, the tears are streaming down my face. Yes, I am maudlin and I don't apologize. Here is letter number 1.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dear P. K.,

Today is your second birthday. How can you be two already? I feel like the time is flying by and I want to savour every moment. I don’t want my girl to grow up too quickly.

I am writing because I want you to know just how much I love you. My greatest fear is that something would happen to me and that you might grow up not knowing just how much your mother loved you. I am going to try and write letters every so often and then I will put them away. I don’t know that my letters will ever be able to convey the depth of my feeling but maybe as a collection, if I am ever not around to tell you how much I love you, these letters will help you to know that you are cherished and adored by your mother.

At this stage of your life, there are so many things that you do to bring intense joy to those around you. Every night, as you get out of the bath, you and I have what you call our “tuggle tuggle” (it started out as a “towel cuddle”). I wrap you up in two towels and we hug and hold onto each other. It makes for a very beautiful moment. You fill up my arms so perfectly and as you hug me, I always think that I have discovered what life is all about. I live in fear of the day when you don’t want to hug anymore.

I love the way that you giggle that laugh that Grandma N. calls your “dirty laugh.” It rocks your entire body. Being kissed by a dog, playing Ring around a Rosy, being tickled under your arms and being dropped onto our bed all can bring on that laugh. You live life so fully - there is no half-way with you, you do everything to its fullest. You provide me daily with lessons on how to face life and reap all of its benefits.

We sing songs together. At the moment, your favourites are Jesus Loves Me, Our Time (from Kindermusik), Head and Shoulders, Twinkle Twinkle, The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Rock On, Larry Boy. Each night as you drift off to sleep, I sing Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grade, The Lord is My Shepherd and The Aaronic Blessing to you, just like my mother did with me. I still have these songs in my heart from my childhood and I treasure every moment in that quiet time with you.

I have so many wishes for your life. I want you to be able to truly appreciate that you are God’s child and to revel in the marvel that he created you to be who you are. I hope you can live with joy and confidence and that you never feel the need to apologize for the way that you are. I dream that you will know what you want to do and that you will have the strength, the wisdom and the commitment to achieve your goals. I want you be surrounded by people who love you as much as I do and I want you to bring the joy to others that you bring to me. I want you to love God with all your heart and to desire to shine as Hss light in the world.

Your birthday comes at a bittersweet time for me. I don’t want the new school year to start. It means being away from you. It is my greatest desire to make sure that I create moments every day that we can treasure and so that you always know that I love you fiercely, tenderly and enduringly. You are my special girl and whatever happens in our lives, I will love you more than you can ever know.

Happy birthday, little girl.