Monday, May 21, 2012

These very random photos are memories from what is always one of my favourite weekends of the year.  Here in Canada, we call it May 2-4 and while technically it is a celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday, honestly, it is just a celebration of the imminent arrival of summer.  For me, it always includes barbecue, fireworks, sleeping in, staying up late and, of course, gardening (since, superstition holds that planting before May 2-4 weekend always means the threat of frost).  I didn't get anywhere near as many photos as I would have liked but here are few anyway:

1.  A cuddle in mommy's bed.  There's nothing more comfortable to me than a tangle of sleeping kidlets and animals.

2.  Quietly reading a new favourite book before an afternoon nap in the cool of the house when it was hot and humid outside.

3.  A picnic with friends at the local school yard and a daddy-friend who LB hero-worships (and it's no wonder, he has the most patience!)

5.  My cat, Sadie.  She wasn't supposed to be an outdoor cat but it has worked out that way.  She doesn't venture far away and I have come to really appreciate her company when we are outside as a family.  I get the feeling that she really likes us, which I find unusual in a cat.

6.  Of course, we did the compulsory garden centre trip.  I bought some impatients for fill in the holes and to give us some all summer colour.  I have a bad habit of ceasing to water in July when it gets super hot and impatients seem to come back when they have wilted and I finally remember to water them.

7.  My lovely assistants, who are adoring hanging out in the great outdoors.
8.  Playing parade is a favourite pass time at the moment.

9.  See my garden looking reasonably tidy.  That won't last.

10.  They managed to find a large, plastic candy cane in the garage which turned into a rather odd game of baseball.  They are very good friends right now.  I could watch it all the time.

11.  A spot of body art.   At least it was mostly washable.

11. The big game and it ended the right way!  Big excitement for everyone around here.

12.  More reading in mommy's bed.  Very cozy.

I hope your precursor to summer was what you planned.  I think it may be one of the best we have ever had.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


It's' Dh's birthday tomorrow and while he was out at yet another school concert tonight, we were busy bees getting the house ready for him.

There were cards to make, an air hog (remote control helicopter which he always wanted as a boy but never got) to wrap

banners to make, balloons to inflate and hang
 and, I'm so impressed with myself, a Lyle's Syrup steamed pudding to make (I have NEVER steamed a pudding and have always been intimidated)  I don't have an aluminum pudding pan and didn't know whether this would work but the glass dish seems to have worked just fine.  I'll let you know tomorrow how it tastes, when we serve it with warm Bird's custard sauce (can you tell Dh is English??)
I also called his school to get a happy birthday greeting put on the morning announcements to him and Pk and LB and I called his voicemail and sang happy birthday.  Pk picked out toaster waffles at the grocery store for his special breakfast (I also plan to make bacon).

I'm so excited for him!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Getting My Hands Dirty

I turn 40 is slightly less than a month.  It's not a huge emotional issue for me as it is for some but it has got me pondering.  I've enjoyed my 30's for the most part but I do have some regrets, too.  There have been opportunities that have slipped past me, things I wanted to do that didn't get done and I have felt like much of life has dragged me along rather than me being in the driver's seat.  I'd like my next decade to be a bit different.

I have been pondering what I would like to do, which things would enrich my life and which things I would be able to say that I was able to do and from which I got joy.  The list is fairly short right now because I've been having trouble having time to ponder but I have come up with one thing - I'd like to spend more time in my garden.  I LOVE fresh flowers and I'd like to be able to always have some flowers in the house.  I've gardened for years in a limited way but usually, my plans extend beyond my reach and I am not satisfied wit my results.  I have decided that I want to, in the next five years, strive to  get a garden going and not to see an initial failure as the end of the road.  I want to have a five year plan and see what I can come up with.

To begin, I want to have more flowers in the house.  I started yesterday with some forget-me-nots.  My husband loves them and we planted them a few years ago.  They have spread and I wanted to pull some up so they were perfect for this little vase.

This bed is in shade and I haven't done much with it.  After some pondering, I decided that hydranga would be perfect.  I have one out back and I have been cutting flowers from it.  

 Of course, one of the benefits for me is getting the kids outside as well.  We spent a huge amount of time outside last fall and I'd like to resume this spring.  At least today, the kids were anxious to help.

This is my rose bed.  I have a David Austin rose (LOVE those) and a hardy rose in the bed.  Today, we added to small trellis with sweet peas ( I also love the scent of sweet peas) and Dh bought me a new rose to add into the empty corner.  I hope it all works - I love having cut roses in the house.

Finally, this is a bed that just never does what I want it to.  I'm giving it another attempt this year.  I cleared out some of the stella doro lilies and moved some other lilies I have.  I put in another small trellis with morning glories that I began from seed a month ago.  I sincerely hope they take - I love morning glories, they are such happy flowers.

Finally, I just had to share.  Dh bought me a bird feeder a few months ago and we spend a lot of time sitting as a family watching our feeder friends.  We have cardinals (my favourite birds of all time), mourning doves, blue jays, startlings, chickadees and lovely yellow finches who spend time with us and squirrels who feed from the ground below.  It's silly but it gives me so much pleasure.

I'm still pondering my plans for my 40's - if you are in the same boat, do you have any plans?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Taking My Light Into the World

I have a dear friend from church.  She is kind, generous and helpful.  She has given me clothes for my kids, delivered meals when we were bogged down and always, always offered prayers and support when someone in my family is sick.  She has been a big supporter to me.  While I consider her a dear friend, when it comes to matters of faith, we couldn't be further apart.

This happens to me a lot.  I find that in terms of faith, I exist in a kind of no-mans land.  I am not a conservative, I am not a fundamentalist.  At the same time, I would say that I am much more evangelical than most of the mainline church.  I'm west of east and east of west, if that makes sense.  It's a strange place to be and one that has caused me a lot of confusion in my life.

One area about which I really disagree with my more conservative friends is the public education system. I live in Canada and so, to my American friends, we are having a slightly different conversation.  While our system could always use more money and there are problems, especially for parents of a special needs child, to the rest, it's a fairly decent system, as far as big, bureaucratic systems go.  I think I do a fairly good job as a teacher and while I am certainly not perfect, I think my students do a lot of learning in a year and, if I do say so myself, I am good at engaging kids.

Back to this friend.  She HATES the public system.  As far as she is concerned, the public system exists to suppress faith, to ignore the needs of the kids and to create an uncompromisingly secular world view.  She and I have had some reasonably heated discussions about this.  She says that we need prayer in the schools and that would answer everything.  I respond that yes, we need prayer, but prayer for everyone (when I said that we, as Christians, shouldn't object to Muslim prayer, we should be asking why our Christian kids aren't asking to pray, I think she was NOT happy with me).  She says this is a Christian country and that if people come here, they should "become like us."  I say that we should embrace the stranger and that for my faith and that of my children to be embraced and supported by the school, I must fight for all faiths to be embraced.  That's the one that really annoys her.

She has regaled me with story after story of faith be rejected at the school.  I find that so interesting.  I don't ever hide my faith with my students.  That being said, I celebrate Passover with my students and Holi and Eid and anything else I can think of.  I encourage the kids to talk about what they believe, to ask questions and to bring in anything (including family) that expresses who they are.  This friend is horrified.  I have argued, over and over again, that my best form of evangelism is to teach my students to ask questions, to proudly declare their faith and to learn, learn, learn.  I find it interesting that in this "politically correct" and "secular" system, those who believe differently from me are the ones who have actually been the most supportive of me along the way.  I think that my biggest fan this year is a Jewish mother who can't stop thanking me for allowing her daughter not to be ashamed of who she is like this mother was as a girl.  I keep telling my friend that I can lead by example and "be" Christ as I can by showing love, acceptance (within reason, of course) and, most of all, compassion for the outsider.  Until now, I haven't had much to prove that it works.  That changed for me today.

I have a girl in my class who is Catholic and has been very proudly telling us about the process of her first communion (which has led to some very interesting discussions about what communion means).  Well, I got a note from her mom today.  She wanted me to know that at her last communion class, she got her certificate and the families were all there, which meant that there were about 100 people.  Each child had to get up and talk about one person who they felt showed God's mission in the world.  This girl got up and talked about me!  She shared that she felt that I lived my faith by being kind and helping people in as many ways as I can.  I have never felt so proud as I did when I read that.  I truly hope this doesn't sound like I am boasting, that is not my intent at all.  I am just feeling that what I am trying to be is how I am being perceived at least by some.  That is priceless to me.

See, we Christians BELONG in the public system.  We CAN make a difference, we can model compassion and, most of all, there are children who notice.  What can we do that's more important than that?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

S is for Starbucks

Whew!  I spent ages uploading all of these pics and then I thought that I had lost the post.  I'm so glad that it was still hiding in my drafts!  I am so close to the end of the alphabet in real time, I'd like to get caught up here, too!

S was a busy one for us.  Usually, we do some photos and then we scan through clip art and print off images to be cut to get in some scissor practice.  I decided this week that photos of Pk with her stuff would be more meaning, explaining why this post is so photo-heavy.

S is for Aunt S, who Pk loves very much!

S is for snow angel (in the little bit of snow that we got this winter)

S is for Starbucks, which is something that I would like to object to given a. the price and b. the pretentiousness of so many who love it but I have to admit, I have a real weakness for Frappucinos and Vanilla Lattes.  Pk adores their kids hot chocolate so she and I had a special mother-daughter outing.

Our next stop was what I called "the surprise store" - a local store that I knew was going out of business and had everything on sale.  Pk is in love with Strawberry Shortcake at the moment and we went and got a treat, much to her pleasure!

S is for Sadie, our cat
S is for smoothie, at Tim Horton's, a favourite of Pk's and a rare treat
S is for statue
and stop sign
and scooter
and sled (and sibling rivalry!)
and sash
and sweater that is too small
and Smurfette
and surplus of stuffies
and stroller
and screwdriver
and, of course in our family, soccer
and soother
and stairs
and slotted spoon
and rice krispie square
and scale
and seeds
and skates.

T was fun, too.  Can't wait to share it with you.