Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall List

I have been meaning to do a fall list for a while now and it just never seemed to happen. This one is off the top of my head but at least it's better than having my summer list still posted.

Here are my goals for fall:
-pick apples
-make an apple pie
-go to the farm for pumpkins
-do our annual pumpkin photo shoot
-buy a sweater that I really like
-decorate for fall
-have a photo shoot in a pile of leaves
-do several walks in the forest
-go on a wagon ride
-have or attend a bonfire
-go trick-or-treating
-buy a poppy to wear before November 11th
-get back into the habit of daily Bible study
-try to focus more on people than on things that need to get done
-enjoy Pk's letter of the week activities
-decorate with fall objects
-burn candles more often
-wear my wrap that I love
-knit a scarf for dad and one for my brother

Yarn Along

I haven't been able to get myself organized to participate in the "Yarn Along" hosted by Ginny at Small Things in a while. Frankly, there hasn't been much knitting time and even less blogging time. I feel like I am finally starting to get into a routine and I have started to do a bit of knitting again and I had a few moments tonight so here I am.

In terms of reading, I have been devouring mysteries of late. Since I had been co-sleeping until fairly recently, I hadn't had much time for reading since most of my reading happens in bed (which won't work when the light is off for a little one). Since we have gotten Little Bean into his crib (and Daddy joins him in the bed beside the crib when he wakes up), I actually get some reading time. Several of my favourite writers have come out with books since babies were born around here, so I have lots to choose from.

Right now, I have finished my M.C. Beaton-fest (Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin) and then just finished a terrific Anne Perry mystery. There was a while when I found her books a bit mechanical, as if she were just churning them out, but recently, I have found she has gotten her flare back and I really enjoyed this one. Now, I am skimming through a Jennifer Chiaverinni Elm Creek Quilts novel (I love this series) and next, I have two Susan Wittig Albert China Bayles herbal mysteries waiting. I enjoy her books, especially her Beatrix Potter series. I like the fact that she was writing her herbal mysteries long before the "theme" mysteries became such a trend) and her characters are just a bit different.

In terms of knitting , I have been very slowly working my way along on a scarf for my dad for Christmas. I am hoping to do one for my brother, too. I just pulled the pattern from the Lion Brand website and ended up ordering the yarn from them, too (Alpine Wool, I am loving it). The yarn price itself wasn't too bad but the shipping was almost as much as the yarn - ouch. I love cabling of any kind, especially when done in natural tones and this scarf is just so soft! I am hoping to get one done for my brother, too, if I can find the time.
I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading and knitting!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crazy Love?

At church, we are back into small group season and this fall, our church is doing a study of Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I have seen a lot about him and his work and I had been meaning to read this book for a while so I was glad to see that this was what we were going to study. I know a lot of people have really been impressed by this book and some have found it to be life changing.

I'm into chapter two and I'm not sure what I think. There are things I really enjoy and I don't know whether it's our church's ideas or whether it's a published study guide but for each week, there is a challenge. That is something that I am finding very powerful. This week, the challenge was to memorize 1 Corinthians 10:31 "So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." We are to make a conscious effort to "live with" this verse in mind this week. That made today an interesting day. Instead of listening to random podcasts on the way to work, I listened to some of my favourite worship music and found myself singing in the car. That was something that had a big impact on me on the way home from work - it had been a very frustrating day and losing myself in "How Great is our God" and "Mighty to Save" by Hillsong United really helped me to shake off the stress of my day and come home with a clear head. I also liked the idea in the chapter that we TRULY need to live our day as if it were our last. That sounds trite but really, it does change the way you do things, when you are trying to live without regrets. It was especially nice because a friend had a crisis with her husband (a serious injury at work) and I was able to go and get her kids and babysit for her until she was done at the hospital and it felt so good to know that today, at least one person I care about knows that I am here for her. It's such a powerful way to make each day matter.

My struggle, though, was in the discussion on worry and stress. Francis Chan stated that worry and stress are a kind of arrogance, a statement that we believe that our challenges and struggles are more important that God. While I can see his point, I really find it hard when people criticize people who worry. For some, sure, they put themselves into situations in which they are going to be stressed and that is a choice. For some of us, though, worry isn't a choice. I will be honest, in August, I went on a low dose of medication for anxiety. I have really struggled with it for years and for some reason, at the end of July and into early August, it got totally out of control. I have tried everything to manage it - prayer, memorizing Bible verses, meditation, breathing strategies, journaling, etc. Nothing helped. Once that cycle of worry begins, I feel as if I have fallen into a pit and I can't get out. I can reason my way through and still, it's like this shadow that I live in all the time. My doctor put me on a low dose of medication and I have to say, my life is totally different. There is not a day that goes by that I don't pause and realise that I am happy - not blissfully, exuberantly happy but I have this sense that I am where I am supposed to be and I am savouring the gifts I am given every day. If what Francis Chan is saying is to be believed, then I am arrogant and think I am better than God - I have a very hard time accepting that my brain chemistry is somehow a reflection of my weak character.

Life everything, I read and try to take the best our of the material and leave behind what doesn't work for me. I think, with this book, there is much good but there are also things I am going to have to look past.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

C is for...

This week, our letter was "C". There are lots of foods with c and I knew that cookies were going to have to be a part of our fun but I was stumped in terms of an outing. We settled on Costco. It's not exactly sophisticated outing but it's a place that Pk has always loved. She loves the snacks and she has always had a thing for their hotdogs too (although I shudder to think exactly what they contain). For "C" week, I was willing to suck it up and let her have her fun.

After Costco, it was off to our local pet store. I am not a fan of animals being sold in stores but the cats at this store are from a local cat rescue organization and it happens to be the one that our Sadie comes from. They give the animals the best care in the world and they don't just give cats away to the first comer who is willing to pay the fee. Pk loves visiting the cats so it seemed a nice way to make some letter C memories.

Of course, our cat had to be part of the celebration of "C" as well. I wasn't sure that she would cooperate - she is very much my cat and while she will hang out with the kids at times, she can be pretty stand-offish and I didn't know whether we would be able to track her down.

Little Bean had his visit at 11:30 p.m. We had a horrible night and he and I were up for hours before I could get him down. This was one of the few moments that he was actually smiling. As an aside, these are his favourite jammies and he goes around roaring very proudly when he wears them. I guess, in a way, they fit our cat theme, too!

We got the cat in the first place because of Pk. She fell in love with the cat at the home daycare she goes to and we have always liked cats, so it gave us the perfect excuse to add another life to our household. We have had Sadie for three years now and we love her. She is tiny and can be quite aloof but it feels a bit like she knows she is lucky to have a home and she conveys to us that she is happy to live here. She's wonderful company and there is nothing better than when she curls up, purring, on me, when we sleep.
Trying to get a child and a cat still at the same time for a photo was a challenge, that's for sure.

Of course, we couldn't just see cats and Costco, there had to be some "c"ooking involved. We started with pumpkin cupcakes that I wanted to try since I am hoping to take them to next month's dinner group (they are really yummy and made the house smell wonderful).
Our second recipe was a cookie recipe that we all love. We decided that we would deliver a batch to Mrs. M, our neighbour across the street who is the lunch monitor in Pk's class. She's a bit of a grandma figure to Pk and I know, especially during the initial adjustment, she really went out of her way to make Pk feel loved at school. Now, every time we see her outside, Pk wants to run over to give her a hug. It was very sweet, Pk took her the cookies and she made a HUGE fuss over Pk. This morning, when we were getting ready for church, she arrived with the container and to tell Pk that they were the BEST cookies she has ever eaten. Pk was walking on air. I also really liked that Pk was starting to learn to do things and share with other people.
We finished up by making breakfast cookies this morning. I thought I did a photo but I can't find it. She has lots of memories to go with letter "c" and it's gratifying for me because I am really seeing the payoff. She has been fairly good with letter sounds for a while but now, she is constantly thinking about the sound that starts a word and she sounded out the word cat by herself today. I think that reading is just around the corner and I couldn't be more excited.

Stay tuned for letter D. I have plans for that one, too!

B is for Boat...

As you know, I am having a wonderful time with the whole "letter of the week" thing. Two weeks ago, our letter was B and we decided to do something that I had wanted to do with Pk in the summer but didn't get around to - making paper boats and floating them in a stream. She had really fallen in love with floating leaves and I thought it was a great extension.

I went online (of course) and found a great video with directions. I made 12 paper boats and we got the dogs and set off for the stream. Everyone was very excited. We decided to go to the spot under the bridge because 1. Pk loves bridges and 2. of course, bridge also starts with b!

The wonderful part is that we ran into a girl from Pk's class at school. Pk has not exactly been forthcoming about school (most of our information comes from the lady across the street who is a lunch monitor in her class and from Pk's friend's mother who gets information from her son). Pk informed us that G is her best friend (which is hilarious given that she couldn't remember this girl's name) and they were very excited to float the boats together. It was a good thing that I went over the top, as usual, and made lots of boats.

Before the excitement started, of course, the dogs needed a swim. It made getting near the water very muddy and splashy (all the more fun!)
Pk and her friend were thrilled to get the boats into the water. They couldn't get them in fast enough (I had hoped they might watch them float downstream a bit).
Baby Bean thought this was really cool. He was very into throwing boats but didn't really care that he wasn't anywhere near the water.
The next day at church, we had our Sunday School kick-off, along with our church anniversary lunch (which, at our church, is always celebrated like a birthday). There were balloons - another great "b" for our list.

Of course, on Wednesday morning, there was also the bus, another "b". I hadn't ever done the school run before (I hate Little Bean's tears at going to daycare so Dh does the morning run. Unfortunately, a totally dead car battery meant that Dh had to get a lift into work early and it left me on bus duty).
And finally, since a friend gave us a bread machine since I was complaining about additives in bread, we had to get Pk involved in yet another pair of b's - making bread and buns. Dh makes all the bread in our house now so that we can avoid all the glucose/fructose and other additives we don't even know the names of. His bread is yummy, the house smells lovely and Pk has another personal connection for the letter B.
Stay tuned for letter C!