Monday, December 30, 2013


I can't believe that it's almost the end of 2013 and I have been around here so little.  I'll be honest, I'm really looking forward to this year being done.  It's been a tough one for me.  It probably hasn't been the worst year of my life but it's been a year that has forced me to face some things that I tend to avoid at all costs and I'm feeling very battle scarred and worn down.  Sometimes, the new year brings some "I'd like to..." type resolutions that usually are lost by the middle of January.  This year, I am really looking forward to what can be a clean slate and a chance to live the life that I want to live and not to spend so much time brooding and worrying and just plain feeling sad.

We all have different things that we have trouble facing and for me, this year had them all.  There was a major job change (I'm still not sure whether it was for the better or not) that really, really rocked my confidence and working with people who are negative, frustrated and who really aren't interested in working on a team the way that I have in the past.  There was our sitter, who was like family to my kids, who suddenly and through no fault of ours, dropped us during the second week of school.  That might not seem like a bit deal to someone who hasn't gone through the agony of trying to find childcare that felt right but if you have ever had to do it, you will understand the stress of having to find new daycare literally on the spur of the moment (and with quite a lot of yucky emotional stuff involved in the situation).  There was a friendship that had become very toxic to me that became abundantly clear had to end - I couldn't handle the flying back and forth between outright antagonism and making demands of me and I was always on edge in terms of what to expect.  I avoid conflict at all costs and I was put into a situation in which I 1. had to finally directly say that I couldn't be the target for this person's misplaced anger anymore, 2.  felt a bit let down by some friends in our circle who could see that this person was not treating me well but since the person wasn't doing it to them, basically just stayed out of it (which I KNOW was unfair of me - it wouldn't have been fair for them to take sides but it still hurt that it was only me that seemed to get the anger) and 3.  this person's child was a good friend of my daughter and I have had to deal with some difficulty in trying to explain to my daughter why she is no longer included and why parties are being held that involve all of her friends and my daughter is not invited.  I've been really struggling since the final conflict with how to be - this is a small town and we will encounter each other.  I don't want to have a festering wound and I don't think I'm angry at her (I've prayed about this a lot to be able to forgive and I'm struggling with seeing the difference between forgiveness and allowing myself to be hurt by some really unpleasant things).  We also have had a great deal of heartache on the church front this year, with the church that has been our home for the last 7 or 8 years no longer feeling like the welcoming place of growth for us and becoming a place where we felt left outside and not really accepted, other than to work.  In many ways, that has been the hardest thing for me.  Church has always been a second home to me and an extended family.  I have felt very guilty at the prospect of possibly leaving (we are still saying "if" rather than "when" in terms of officially leaving) and potentially hurting some people that we really care about.  At the same time, our kids have become really involved in a local church through VBS, Awana and the kids' choir and we have fallen in love with the preaching, the fact of connecting with Christians in our own community and people who values in terms of family and parenting are the same as ours and going to church without all of the emotional bagged that we have gathered in the other situation.  I'm feeling like I've been avoiding making decisions and addressing things that weren't working and God left me with no choice and in many ways at once.

The biggest sensation I have had this year is one of my life being out of control.  Instead of having a plan and sticking to the way that I wanted to live, I've been dragged along behind each crisis, in damage control mode and making decisions without thinking them through first.  I am often going to bed feeling worried that I have let people down, waking feeling a sense of dread of what is potentially coming as fallout of what has come before, spending my little quiet time brooding over whether I have done enough to try to make things work, whether I might have hurt someone inadvertently or feeling sad that I have not done something that I wanted to do, particularly in terms of reaching out to the people most important to me.  I'm tired of feeling that way and my big goal for 2014 is to live my life differently.

In the past, I have liked the idea of having a word for the year.  Some of my favourite faith bloggers have written about it and I love the idea.  I won't lie, I don't always live it out the word that I want to but I am going to try again.  My word for 2014?  I have pondered this for a few weeks now and this is what keeps coming to me:


I want my word for the year to be "Intentional" and I want to live that way.  I want to spend some time first thing in the morning in prayer and journaling, focused on what is most important to me and taking that into my day.  I can't change how other people behave, I can't always make everyone happy as much as I try and I can't always make situations into what I think that they should be.  What I can do is to be aware of the things that mean most to me and to make my decisions so that they are in keeping with what I value.  My husband has a great saying that he uses to direct how he lives his life - he "goes to bed at night making sure that his side of the street is clean" - making decisions that he feels respect the people around him, reaching out and helping when he can, behaving graciously to others regardless of whether they deserve it and then, he moves on.  I would like to try to live that way.  I would like to slow my decisions down, to take some time to reflect and to go to bed at night knowing that the people I love know that they are loved, that my children feel securely loved, that I have reached out to offer help to anyone that I can, that my students feel happy to learn and safe in our classroom, that my home is a place of welcome for those who enter into it and that I don't waste time and emotional energy on toxic people and situations over which I have little or no control.  It sounds so straightforward when I write it here but I know that it will be anything but simple for me and that if I manage to achieve it, there will be a great deal of growth that will have to happen along the way.  

My current values:
1.  That the people I care about know that I care about them and am never to busy to be here for them when they need me
2.  Making time for my faith and always striving to live the way that I believe God calls me to live
3.  Caring for those in need, whether I know them or not
4.  That I try my best at my work (but that I worry less about being "the best" but focus more on making wonderful educational experiences for my students
5.  That I strive to create some time in our family schedule for quiet time together, time enjoying each other and just "being" at home
6.  Building connections with the people who build me up and striving to spend as little time and emotional energy as possible with those whose negativity turn me into someone that I don't want to be
7.  live slowly enough to notice the rich blessings that surround me (and making time for my gratitude journal daily to help me to maintain awareness of what matters most to me)
8.  look for ways to make wonderful memories for my friends and family in simple ways that take advantage of the many blessings that I enjoy

It's almost certain that I will add to this list but for now, this is my starting point.  Wish me luck.  I'd really like to be sitting down at this point next year feeling like I have begun to master my anxiety and to live at a pace that allows me to really make to most of each day I am given.

I hope that everyone who is making resolutions is able to find your path and achieve the dreams that you have for yourself and those amazing dreams that God dreams for you!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall Bucket List

 I love the fall!  It's always been my favourite season - the smells, the rich colours and the warmth of the sunlight all make my heart sing, especially from the end of September to the end of October.  I'm trying to make all kinds of wonderful fall memories for my children, as well.

In honour of fall, the kids and I sat down to make up our fall bucket list for this year.  Little man is easy - he wants to mini-golf and play cars.  Pk, on the other hand, is starting to appreciate the special aspects of fall that really don't fit any other time of year.  We've already knocked a few of these things off but we have lots to go:

-go to the park
-rake the leaves into a big pile and jump
-try pumpkin butter (I'm going to try this recipe, I think!)
-take a pictures of the kids with lots of pumpkins (although sadly, the pumpkin farm we have always used has been sold for development so we are going to need to find a new location)
-go to the farm to which we have a membership and do some playing
-try oatmeal recipes for cozy breakfasts
-try to have one family "stay home" day
-make pumpkin rocks (some fun I saw on Pinterest)
-make hot chocolate
-go trick or treating and dress up as a family

Happy fall!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I confess the horrible truth.  I am a morning person.

Please allow me to qualify that.  What I am not is a person who jumps out of bed, singing "Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory," eager to have everyone up with me.  You can stop rolling your eyes now.  I know, we morning people are hated by just about everyone else.  I'm with you - I don't get "that" kind of morning person at all.

Me, I'm a lover of quiet, of solitude.  I love the fact that when I wake up, my mind is clear and hasn't been crowded by all of the frustrations, irritations and noise of the day.  Nobody wants to talk to me (since the people with whom I live are NOT morning people) and the largest demand placed on me is from one or all of my dogs, wanting to be taken out.

I am currently reading the most wonderful book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  I am loving this book.  I read a chapter the other night that had me wanting to phone everyone I know to tell them about how it impressed upon me.  She was citing research by Kagan about "high-reactive" and "low-reactive" infants and the connection of that to introversion.  Introverts are often "high-reactive" meaning that they are very sensitive to all of the stimuli around them.  That's me (and Pk, for sure).  I notice everything and the background noise makes life very overwhelming sometimes.

Then, there's morning.  It's like the background noise has been turned down on life.  I have taken to running in the very early morning and I feel as if there is this wonderful secret town out there - a town of wandering cats, squirrels and skunks.  It's a time of day when I am able to hear the intensity of the crickets and the grasshoppers.  I smell the smells - the faint smell of cows up by one field, the wildflowers in another and, always in the early morning, the small whiffs of skunk.  I can hear the sound of the rushing stream as I jog by and even, on some days, the lowing of the cattle.

I get to see another side of the human inhabitants of the town, too.  I've always been a 9-5er so I assume nobody is up a this time but me.  How wrong I am.  There are the fellow runners and we nod at each other.  There is the man down the road who leaves each morning wearing his safety vest and carrying his lunchbox, walking to the corner to get his morning ride.  There is the one bus that goes by in the half hour of my run, usually with only one passenger.  There is the first wave of dog walkers - generally those with small dogs on leash (those of us with bigger and busier dogs wait until later when the risk of rabbits and skunks has passed).  There are the many  who commute or who run their own businesses who are out early to get a head start on the day.  It's a wonderful time for watching.

My ideal morning, I think, would consist of a run, a shower and then, a cup of tea and a good book on the deck with my family all still asleep.  I crave that peace and on the rare occasions that my morning begins the way that I dream, I go into my day with so much more focus and calm.

Good morning!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What IS Church?

This is a question that has been on my mind for a while now.  Our church has had a big campaign on that they are calling Abundant Blessings.  I totally understand what they are trying to do but it has rubbed me the wrong way since it began back in April.  The overall message is that we have been so richly blessed by God, we need to give back to Him from the riches with which we have been blessed -  not just gifts of material wealth but of time and talents, as well.  That part of the message doesn't bother me - of course, as Christians, we are stewards of the things God has given us and we need to use them to His glory.  My stumbling block is the part of the message that we need to give it back "to His church".

When I hear this message, I hear, very definitely, to THIS church, this congregation.  I sometimes feel as if it gives carte blanche for endless requests and I find myself resisting that.  I think that anyone would tell you that I am quick to step up when there is need, including at church.  I think my resentment comes into it a bit when I feel like it's just one more thing on my plate and that the expectation is that this will come before everything else, because its being church somehow makes it more important than anything else.  If I were not giving in other ways and other places, these demands would be entirely understandable but I don't just give in one place.

That led me to pondering the question "What is God's church?" and my understanding goes WAY beyond the individual congregation or denomination.  For me, the CHURCH is any place that two people are together in His name so that means that, when I organize meals to support our friends whose on is having surgery, that is my giving to the church.  When I bake every week for the last two years for Dh's weekly men's meeting, I am giving to the church.  When I send a message of care to someone from my husband's church in which he grew up, that's part of the church, too.  I don't pretend that I give anywhere near enough but I do try and extend that giving anywhere that I can - to the school at which I work, to our neighbours, to the homeless, to people around me who are going through a rough time.  To me, that is church, too.  And, for that matter, church is my immediate and extended family.  It's the same reason that I believe so firmly that we Christians need to be out in the world, not just sitting back in our own little enclaves, living with neighbours who are like us, sending our children to little Christian schools and only spending time in places with people like us.  We need to be the present church in our very present and suffering world.

Now, that being said, I do think my church does a great job of "being church" in many different ways.  One thing they have started is P,B and J, (which stands for potluck, bonfire and Jesus).  It's a monthly get together at which we have a casual dinner, we go outside and "be" together and then have a bonfire, roast marshmallows and there is a kind of small reflection.  The part that is the most moving to me is that there is a small group of migrant workers from Jamaica who have started to come.  R, one of the workers, is a pastor back home and he has spoken and sung for us at both of the last two get togethers.  I found it profoundly moving last night to hear someone who is so far away from his family, working SO hard, preaching to us about seeing that we can praise God even in the hard times, like Ruth and Naomi.  To me, THAT is church - being together as believers, sharing our stories and the fruits of our tables.  It doesn't matter whether he is from "our" church or not and the people at our church, rather than looking down on these, some would say, rather insignificant people, are thrilled to have them there and we pile their plates high and try to make them feel as welcome as we can.

To me, THAT is what it means to be church and I will happily give to that in any way that I can.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's On...

As always, I begin by apologizing.  I've been enjoying being on holiday after spending a frantic few weeks writing report cards, packing up a classroom, getting ready to make the transition to the full-time kindergarten programme I will be teaching in the fall and then, dealing with children (and a husband) who are sick with a bad summer cold.  Add in a trip up north to visit my parents-in-law and life has been very busy.  I'm hoping that we can now settle into our new summer normal for the next 8 weeks or so of being a stay-at-home mom and finding the time to savour life.

Like so many bloggers, I often wonder why I blog.  There was a time when I was really busy visiting other people, commenting lots and networking.  It was a big thing for me.  Then, I went back to work and this poor blog has been totally ignored.  Thanks to infrequent posts, lack of my visiting others and frankly, my mundane life that I don't imagine is that interesting to anyone, I don't get many visitors which leads me to think about why I do it.  I've decided, at least for this summer, my blog will be for me.  I want to savour the moments and try to recapture who I am.

I'm fairly sure that I'm not the only mom who has children and somehow gets lost in the frenzy.  Between shuffling kids to lessons, cooking, dealing the dogs and the endless mess that is my house, there really isn't much time left.  I forget who I am beyond the next five minutes.  One thing I do love about blogging is that my browsing the blogs of the women I love to read often helps me to reconnect with who I am.  Today, I was over at Lucy's Attic24 which led me to run out to my garden to photograph my roses, something that really does make me happy!

Here's a what's on post - things that are on my mind, on my to do list, on my pins and on my bedside table and what's making me happy.

What's On - In my Garden:
 I love David Austin English roses and one of my mother's day presents was this one.  It isn't entirely open yet but I love the colour.

This is my "heritage" D.A. rose.  The smell is heavenly and I love the full-petal look.

This is a tea rose I planted a couple of years ago.  It didn't do much last summer but it's doing me proud already this year.

No, this isn't a rose but it still makes me happy.  This was my other mother's day gift, a pink hydrangea that is already in full bloom as well.  Can you see that I have a bit of a "thing" for pink flowers?

On my needles -
I haven't been doing nearly enough knitting of late.  I have recently picked up a couple of unfinished projects and am enjoying dreaming of wearing this on a fall day - it's the Guernsey Wrap and I love it!  I've made two for other people and now, it's time for one for me.  I'm using Cascade Eco in a lovely shade of heathery brown.  It will be perfect for fall (which, in case you haven't noticed, is my very favourite season!)  I've also been working on some dishcloths since they are perfect "in the car" projects and we seem to be doing a lot of driving of late.  The flying blocks is my current favourite.

On our table -
There's nothing I love better than trying new recipes and circumstances have definitely forces me in that direction.  Our CSA has been filled with yummy sugar snap peas over the last few weeks, which has led to some delicious experiments - stir-fried pork with sugar snap peas, crunchy parmesan sugar snap peas, and sugar snap peas with mint and lemon.  We also got some garlic scapes, which were new to me and led to this delicious pasta recipe.  I also cleaned out the freezer, which led me to discover just how many bananas I had been stockpiling.  I bake each week for Dh's Tuesday night meeting, so we tried and loved these chocolate banana squares.

On my booklist -
First of all, I have to say that I have really discovered Goodreads and I think I am in love.  I've been a member forever but I haven't done anything about creating booklists until the last couple of months.  I love it!  It's got me thinking much more about what I think about what I am reading and I especially love being able to browse other peoples' reviews.

Recently finished:
A Conspiracy of Friends - Alexander McCall Smith - you will either love him or hate him.  He's subtle, observational and devilishly funny, if you "get" his understated Scottish sense of humour.  I love the fact that he points out the perversity of human nature without being nasty about people.  I can never get enough of his writing but I have friends who find him incredibly boring.

Happier at Home - Gretchen Rubin - this was a fun read.  I liked "The Happiness Project" much better, this seemed a bit formulaic after the first one but it still gave me some interesting things to think about.  I'd like to try to set up some her the little shrines.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves - Lynne Truss - again, I loved this book but I know that not everyone feels that way.  I stumbled across a wonderful summer reading list at Modern Mrs. Darcy and my sending it to a few friends has turned into a summer book club.  This was one of our selections and I loved it!  I think, after years of teaching, it's nice to see that I have been teaching the students correctly.  Also, given how much I love language and writing, it's nice to see that it is possible to convey these nuances in language.

On my currently reading list:
The Moon by Night - Madeline L'Engle (I love, love, love Madeleine L'Engle and am slowing rereading all of the stuff I read as a teenager), Loving God when You Don't Love the Church by Chris Jackson (not loving this one so far, the message is essentially "suck it up" and my definition of church isn't the same - that's another post), The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester (another Mrs. Darcy selection that I am enjoying so far), Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (I am ADORING this book) and finally, Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (who might just be my favourite mystery writer of all these days).

On my "to be read" pile -
I Thought it was just Me (But it Isn't) by Brene Brown, You Live by Learning by Eleanor Roosevelt, What Happens when Women Say Yes to God by Lysa Terkeurst (the next study over at Proverbs 31) and The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall (one of my Amish books - my dirty reading secret)

On my pinterest boards -
Most of my pinterest time is spent right now planning for teaching with Pk.  I wasn't happy with what was (and wasn't) going on her in class last year (a hazard of being a teacher) and this summer, we are doing Grade 1 summer school, to get her ready for the fall.  We started in our math with a mix of number sense and data management.  Here are a few links I liked:
Guess My Rule for sorting - we sorted her My Little Ponies and her stuffies and she decided herself to sort the shells we found on the beach
Grab and Graph Pattern Blocks - she LOVED this activity but teaching tally marks has to come first (and I'd like to modify this activity and do grab and graph Canadian coins for money review)
Tally Marks - I loved this and Pk loved this as a game - I called out a number and she made it with popsicle sticks

On My podcasts list -
My Bad Church Experience - North Point - I love their podcasts and this is something that speaks to many Christians, I think.  I have especially liked number 3 - in and out - amazing stuff!

What's on for you these days?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Canada!

I don't love the idea of nationalism.  The "us" vs the rest has gotten too many countries into trouble in the past (and the present) and that love of an illusion of a separate identity has led to people forgetting that we are humans before anything else.  It's dangerous and can lead to huge levels of aggression, hostility and narrow-mindedness.

That being said, however, if I am honest, I would have to say that I love Canada Day.  It represents so much to me - summer, time with friends, a chance to reflect of just how incredibly lucky we are and a chance to think about what means the most in crafting a nation.  

Some things I love about Canada:
- that the colour of your skin almost always doesn't matter
-that a huge pride celebration was happening the same weekend as our celebrations - I may have some ambiguity about Pride, I am thrilled to live in a country in which people can safely go out and announce who they are, even when it goes against the norm, and they are safe
-our health care system
-that we don't seem to be ruled by fear or anger, like many of the countries around us
-the many (sadly, not all) Canadians can be honest about the times that our country didn't do what it should and that we want to make things right
-that to be Canadian does not mean that you were born here, grew up speaking English and hold with the religion of the majority
-wide open spaces and very distinct seasons
-that when we called the police today to help us with our shed being spray painted, the officer was not someone of whom we needed to be afraid and, in fact, he and my dh chatted for half an hour
-two languages, many founding cultures
-being able to eat the cuisines of the entire world within 15 or 20 minutes of our small town

What concerns me about living in Canada:
-our apathy towards the struggles of people around the world
-the horrid living conditions on native reserves in many areas of our country
-children living in poverty here within our own boundaries
-our living well off the sweat of others around the world
-the damage that we may be doing to the environment with Alberta oil plans

As we enjoyed the wonderful times with friends at a barbecue, time in a wading pool in the city with my parents, visiting a fair and watching fireworks (and I LOVE the fact that our town has everyone stand and sing O Canada before they begin), I pray that we can continue to enjoy freedom enjoyed by few around the world and that we can export that freedom and safety to others.  I also hope that we can take responsibility for improving the lives of those around us who don't enjoy the same high standard of living.

I hope you had a wonderful Canada Day and, for my American friends, a lovely July 4th!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bring Me Home Rejoicing

So, today is my birthday.  Some people love birthdays, some people hate them.  Me, I'm a bit mixed about them.  I don't have any issues with getting older (it certainly beats the alternative!) but I often find birthdays a bit of a letdown.  They are supposed to be such a big deal and everyone is supposed to know and make such a big deal about it.  For an introvert like me, it can be a problem - I get a bit hurt when not much is made of it (my dh is a wonderful man but birthdays and Mother's Day are not his strong suits).

I woke up this morning feeling just the tiniest bit blue - it's a Tuesday, Dh is out at a meeting this evening, I have to work and can't even get out to lunch because my workload is so heavy at the moment, it's piano lesson day and there isn't even time for anything special for dinner.  Really, it's a non-event kind of day.  I set out with the dog for our morning walk feeling just the littlest bit unappreciated and then, God managed to get my attention BIG TIME.

Each morning, on our walk, Chelsea (my older and more sensible dog) keep an eye out for the various forms of wildlife that inhabit the natural areas of our small town.  This spring, a particular favourite of ours has become "my" fox - I'm sure she's a she and she often runs out in front of me on our path.  I've seen her peering over a mound of dirt, running out in front and one day, she even stopped to bark.  Needless to say, whenever I see her, I haven't got the camera.

This morning, as I walked, I dreamed that, as the best birthday present, I would get a chance to see her and get a photo.  We entered the area where she usually is but there was no sign of her.  I was feeling very disappointed when I just happened to glance up to my right.  I just about jumped for joy - there was no Mama Fox but there were two, obviously very curious kits, peering back at me.  Not only were they there, they stayed for several pictures.  It actually brought tears to my eyes.  

It reminded me of one of my favourite lines from one of the morning prayers from "Common Prayer:  A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals", a book that I adore:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm;
may he bring  you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

Needless to say, I did some rejoicing this morning at the wonders!

Monday, May 27, 2013

In the Midnight Hour

Pk gets terrible growing pains, especially when she has gotten overtired.  I used to have the same thing. When it happens, we are awakened to her crying and I get the hot pack for her, give her some Advil and rub her legs until the pain goes away and she goes back to sleep.  It probably happens once or twice a week.

Last night, we had another incident of it and she was in a lot of pain.  As I rubbed her legs and waiting for the pain to stop, I asked her to tell me about something that would make her very happy.  I expected something about going to a theme park or visiting grandma's house.  She really surprised and touched me with what she said.  She told me that what would make her happy more than anything would be for she and I to have a picnic, just the two of us.  She would want us to eat things from our garden and read books together.  Then, she talked about how much she loves eating parsley from the garden and that she wants me to try it, too, since it's SO good.

It's funny the way that my children can so often surprise me.  I try to do these amazing things for them to show them my love and all they want is something simple, usually that involves time together.  You can bet I will be buying more parsley to put in the garden and I'm going to put a once-a-week picnic on our summer bucket list!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Yet again, here I am to participate in the blog hop over at the Melissa Taylor Bible Study, Stressed-Less Living.   If you are visiting from there, thanks for stopping by!

Despite the fact that Philippians 4:8 is a verse that I love (in fact, a verse that I chose as part of Pk's life verse), I don't feel as if I have anything intelligent to say about it today and I'd rather not dwell on the Goliath's I face at the moment, so I am going to just revel in some blessings in my life right now.

1.  Kind friends - As I've said here over and over again, I'm a weird introvert who needs friends.  I don't want to be with people all the time and I find making small talk really hard but I honestly value the dear people who brighten my days with their smiles, their understanding and acceptance of who I am.  I have several friends who feel like family and especially during the hard times, they are a big part of what carries me through.

2.  The miracle of a garden - each year, we plant and each year, I marvel when the plants actually grow.  My flowers are progressing nicely and more excitingly, at the moment, the heavy rain we have had is just what my newly planted seeds need.  Here's hoping we will have all kinds of salad greens ready before we know it.

3.  Books, books and books - when I was a child, my parents never had the money to order from Scholastic and when the flyers came home, I used to dream about what to buy.  Whatever else I say no to, I always find the money for a few books for the kids and yesterday, a new shipment arrived via Pk's teacher.  They are more than just something to read for me - they represent warm and sleepy times in bed with Pk as we read in the evening, adventures and leaping off into new interests (right now, with Pk it's anything about horses and with Lb, it's anything Hot Wheels or Mighty Machines).  It's a shared language for our family and I think my best memory of yesterday was seeing Lb lay down on the floor beside Dh with a book in his hand and they read there together, book after book.

4.  A new start every morning - some people may think that I am insane but I love the morning more than any other time of day. I get up early and take the dogs for a walk and it's my time to think, to plan, to dream and to pray.  My favourite spot for prayer is the little bridge with the sound of the water rushing below.  My best ideas come at that time and it's when I can shake off the stresses that have come before and start fresh.  These days, now that it is light so early and I can smell the apple blossoms and lilacs as we walk and admire the forget-me-nots that are everywhere and be overwhelmed by the lushness after the starkness of winter and early spring, it feels like a treat every morning.

I could go on forever but I won't bore you with it now.  What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Amazing Animals

This past weekend was the holiday weekend here and it ended up being exactly what we needed - a time with good friends and a time to enjoy some of the things that we don't normally have the time for that we love.  The weekend was wonderful, even for a holiday weekend!

The kids and I started by going to our local garden centre to pick up a few things that we needed to fill in a few holes.  I'm a dreamer when it comes to the garden.  It rarely lives up to my expectations but there is nothing more fun than buying plants and imagining creating a lovely space.  It's not always so dreamy when one buys plants with Lb (there was a display of ceramic birdhouses that I was afraid was not going to last through our visit) but we did manage to have some fun and the kids loved getting in to help!

From there, we ran up to my friends' farm to train the dogs.  Since we have the kids, we haven't done much in the way of bird work with them - we aren't hunters and so it's not something urgent.  We decided, though, that a bit of pigeon fun would be right up their alley and it was (and, for the record, they are homing pigeons so they were pointed and then flew back to the barn to fly another day).

The old girl may be 12 be she still knows how to find those birds!

Even our resident bonehead managed to do a good job!

The final part of the day's outings was by far the favourite.  A friend who has a horse has been inviting Pk for a while to see some things at her barn and our schedules have just never cooperated.  Well, finally, we managed to get there and our visit included meeting a week-old foal, a miniature pony who we got to feed and helping to bring our friend's horse in from the field.  Needless to say, Pk was in orbit, she was so excited.

If only every weekend could be a holiday weekend!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Garden Dreams


Cardinal Photo by By ibm4381 (via Creative Commons)

Sometimes, it is amazing to me the way that God can be present in my daily life in the smallest but most significant of ways.  It doesn't always happen but sometimes it does and I wanted to share this little story.

Almost four years ago, Dh and I were trying for another child and it just wasn't happening.  Pk had been right away and it had never occurred to us that this wouldn't be so easy the second time.  We were both in our mid 30's and I was really starting to worry that we had left things too long.  I can't tell you the pain in wondering whether you might not be able to have a child.  It was so overwhelming.  I was so discouraged and it was tainting most of my life.

One day, I took my class on a field trip.  There was this boy in my class who happened to have the nicest mom.  She was a kindred spirit - from the first time we talked, I really liked her and felt very comfortable with her.  On the bus on the way back from the field trip, she asked about whether we were going to have another child.  Sometimes, a question like that feels very intrusive but with her, there was something about the way that she asked that didn't offend me the way that it usually does.  I answered something to the effect that we were trying and it wasn't happening and it was pretty frustrating.  She was so kind to me.  They had gone through exactly the same thing and she had found out she was pregnant with her second child and the ultrasound ordered by the fertility specialist they were going to see.  She didn't make me any false promises that anything was certain but we did make me feel listened to and, more importantly, that I wasn't alone.  I really treasured that conversation.

Her son moved on a while we always had a hug and a smile when we did encounter each other, we really moved out of each other's lives.  Then, this year, she started working as a lunch supervisor at our school.  We chat fairly regularly and give each other a smile.  My class had done some cardinal paintings that really brighten our hallway and one day, she stopped by to tell me how much she loved them.  Cardinals are my favourite birds and it turns out that they are hers, as well.  She told me that she had heard a story about an old man who was at the end of his rope.  He prayed to God for a sign, any sign, of God's presence because he just didn't think he had it in him to go on.  That day, everywhere he went, he saw cardinals and in the most unexpected places.  The old man decided that the birds were God's way to telling him that all would be o.k.

During my evening prayers a few days later, it just popped into my head that I wanted to get her something with a cardinal on it as a thank you for the chat a few  years before.  It's funny how that happens - when I pray in the evening for people in my life, so often people's names come to me that I should write to, send a card or an email to or to try to make plans with.  Anyway, a few days later, I played around a bit on etsy (I love buying hand made!) and I found a lovely pendant.  It wasn't anything expensive, just a little hand-painted tile with a cardinal on it.  It took a while to get it and finally, one day, I put it in a card and left it in the office for her.  Then, I forgot about it.

About three days later, she came to me at lunch and began to cry.  She wanted to tell me that she was SURE that God had used me to show her a cardinal.  He son, who is brilliant and well-rounded and "gifted" (according to the tests) has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and in her words, her "mama's heard was aching with not being able to make things better for him."  She was really struggling and overwhelmed and then, out of nowhere, this totally unexpected cardinal.

I've been feeling a bit awestruck ever since.  It's amazing to feel like I was able to make such a difference in someone's day.

John Benson 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Little Joys

I know that I have been talking here about having a hard time with depression lately but it isn't all the time and today was one of those days that was just filled with little joys.  It's a long weekend here, which immediately makes it better and then, on top of that, I got to have a marvelous day with my family.

Our plan had been, and it worked, to go to the Farmer's Market in the morning, early.  Both kids love Crocs and I refuse to pay full price.  There's a place at the market that has them cheaply and when we go, the kids get to see all the animals.  We knew that we had to be back since Dh was meeting some children on his soccer team for their jerseys so we didn't linger.  We took Chelsea along, since we knew she would have a wonderful time.

 Another wonderful part of the day was going to pick up our CSA share.  I LOVE doing this.  We get veggies and eggs bi-weekly (weekly in the summer), 3 lbs of pork once monthly and 8 lbs of beef, again, once monthly.  When the summer starts, we'll also get a chicken a month and a hot house share a week.  I love talking to the people who grow my food, knowing that what I pay is going directly to the farmer and not to a string of distributers and I love that my kids get to play where there food is grown.  It's been fun, for me who loves to research, to learn how to use some of the cuts we aren't familiar with and to incorporate new veggies into our diet.  Today was extra special since we met up with good friends who also were picking up their share and the kids played on the combine slide, swings and we had a good look at the animals.

The rest of the day was just spent as a family and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.  We have a major garden project we have undertaken (photos to come in another post) and so we spent much of the day buying plants, working outside and admiring our work.  We have some mosquito bites to show for it and I definitely got more sun than I should have but we are all going to bed feeling a bit more ownership of home and that we got to spend a wonderful day together.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lay Down My Pride

As you probably know, if you are here, I am currently doing the online Bible study over at Proverbs 31 Ministries, hosted by Melissa Taylor - Stressed Less Living by Tracie Miles.  As I have said before, sometimes, a book study doesn't meet me where I am at.  This one, on the other hand, I think was MADE for me!

One of the choices this week is writing about the stumbling block of pride.  This is a big one for me. Again, a topic that seems to have been designed to help me with a challenge.

When I think of pride, I tend to think of it as a kind of arrogance.  It's that boastful, confident, always-thinking-one's-right attitude.  I don't think I have that.  I've come to realise in recent years, though, that I suffer from another kind of pride and I think that's a bit like something Tracie was talking about in chapter 5.  My pride isn't the kind that's arrogant, mine is the kind that won't let me take risks because I already feel not good enough and I'm afraid of looking stupid.  My mistakes are more unforgiveable, while other people don't need to be perfect, I do.  It's such a destructive way for me to approach my life.

I don't know where it came from.  I grew up in a home where I would say that we had a sense of unconditional love and my parents didn't put a lot of pressure on us.  Somehow, though, I still absorbed the message from somewhere that I am not good enough.  I have this overwhelming sense of not being  inferior.  It's funny, those things that were supposed to make me feel better about myself (e.g., awards at school, academic success, being called "gifted"), just made me feel more inadequate.  I get an award and I feel like I don't deserve it.  I get praise and I feel embarrassed and yet, when I don't get praise, I feel even worse.  I've spent most of my adult life feeling not smart enough, not outgoing enough, not popular enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not a good enough mother...It's a never ending cycle of trying to be perfect to prove that I'm good enough and then feeling like I have failed and it's really had a horrible impact on my life.

Really, when I think about it, the arrogance of it is astounding.  I allow other people to make mistakes, I tell other people that they can't do it all and that sometimes, we need to accept help.  I lecture my students all the time about how mistakes are part of the learning process and yet, I don't see them that way myself, I see them only as failure.  Forgiveness is a bit the same.  I honestly do believe that God forgives me and yet, I have things that I have a hard time forgiving in myself.  Seriously, I think that somehow, my standards are higher than God's?  How does that work for me?  I consistently set the bar higher for myself and honestly, I have to admit, that is certainly a kind of arrogance.

I don't pretend that this study will make this character flaw of mine magically go away but it is certainly making me more aware of it in myself.  Already this week, I have had two occasions when I started to feel myself go into the "I have to find a way to fix this" mode and instead, I went to pray.  And the result?  I did feel some peace.  I need to "let go and let God" (which sounds so trite but honestly, is such a simple yet important truth).  Honestly, if I can tame this dragon in my life, I think the source of most of my stress will go.  Please pray for me, I need it!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Finding Me...

I've been really blue lately.  I think I struggle with depression (as do so many of us) and for the last few weeks, it's been bad.  I'm not too bad in the morning but as the day goes on, I just feel so unmotivated and tired and impatient.  I'm not really sure where this is coming from (well, that's not entirely true - I suspect that it's largely needing sleep, trying to do way too much and not getting a break).  I feel a bit like I'm sinking and I need to do something about it.

I know that at least in part, what I am going through is something that all mother's seem to feel (and isn't it funny that today is Mother's Day and this is where I am at!) but I am feeling so overwhelmed at a feeling of having lost myself.  I spend my life running to cook, clean, feed, read with, pack bags, drive and tidy.  My fantasies involve an hour of uninterrupted reading, a day at home without a sick child, a shopping trip completely alone or a meal prepared by someone else that involves nothing done by me and nobody in my lap.  Honestly, if you asked me what I enjoy doing, I'm not sure I could even answer that question.  I feel like the "me" is being sucked out of me.

It's funny the little moments when I actually get a glimpse of myself again.  I woke up yesterday to a house full of family visiting, children demanding breakfast and a dh who was sleeping in.  After much caring for everyone else, cleaning to prep for more family coming and tidying up after a last minute blueberry pie that had been requested, I managed to find a few moments to run out with the dogs.  For me, that's work that doesn't feel like work.  On weekends, we get a longer walk and I get to visit my favourite place in town.  We do two circles around the big field, walk up the trail we call the nature walk, a circuit of the soccer field and then back through the nature walk.  About half way through the walk, I started to remember myself.  I saw the dogs flying in front of me running with joy, smelled the smell of the trees and the damp and the outdoors in spring smell and heard the sound of the water.  I started to think about how much I love my girlies (and pondered the fact that perhaps, one of the reasons I love Chelsea so much, my older girl, is that she never talks to me or asks me to talk with her, she just makes it very obvious that she enjoys hanging out with me).  I pondered how much fun it was to have a riding lesson on Thursday (an extremely thoughtful Christmas present from my brothers).  I thought about how much I love the sound of wind in the trees, the fact that the little bridge over the brook is my favourite place in the world and that I wanted to knit a sweater and some socks for my walks.  I noticed and thought about how much I love my rubber boots (I ADORE rubber boots) and that I really wanted to get back to the book that I was reading.  I thought about tea and English roses that I want for my garden.  I started to think that maybe I haven't entirely disappeared, that my "me" hadn't entirely been removed.

I think it's definitely time for a bit of solitude.  I think this introvert has given a bit too much of late.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mother-Daughter Outing

I've set a bit of a dangerous precedent in my classroom this year.  I took Lb to watch some of the boys in my class play hockey (since Lb adores hockey and I didn't really feel like buying tickets to an expensive game somewhere).  He adored it and I became "hero teacher".  Then, we were invited to see the "Beauty and the Beast" skating show in which 3 students were skating.  Since Pk is doing skating and loves it, that was a natural fit, too.  Then, came the invitation to see one of my students in a local production of "Anne of Green Gables."  How would I say no?  Honestly, I also was interested in going.  One of my concerns when we moved out of the big city was that my children would lose the chance to learn about theatre and concerts and how to behave.  This was a perfect intro for Pk into the world of theatre.

It ended up being even more fun that I expected.  Pk and I don't get to be out much and since Lb has been rather demanding lately, Pk has been neglected a bit.  I had been feeling like she and I needed some mommy-Pk time.  Even better, Pk suggested that she bring "Jenna", her Maplelea doll.  Now, Jenna has been a big connector for us, too.  She came into our lives a funny way.  Actually, it was through the student who we were watching perform last night.  When she was in my class last year, she talked a lot about American Girl dolls.  One day, out of curiousity, we had a look online and Pk was in love.  I liked them but the cost and shipping was a bit steep.  I discovered (I can't remember how) that there is a Canadian doll company, Maplelea, that is very much like American Girl but has Canadian stories and a pick-up location that I practically drive by on my way home from work.  When we found Jenna, who has red hair, a highland dance outfit, plays soccer and has orange cats, Pk was in love.

Thursday night, Pk suggested that she take Jenna to the play.  That's when my brain went into overdrive.  I was pretty sure that Maplelea had an Anne of Green Gables outfit for Jenna.  I didn't think I could get it in time (they don't sell in stores) but I decided to call them and see.  Imagine my glee when I discovered that I could stop by the warehouse and pick one up on my way home from work.  Whee!  I know, I know, it's just stuff but it was for the mummy-Pk outing AND it was Anne (who I adored growing up).  Pk was thrilled and I think she stole the show, at least in the lobby, walking around with her red hair and her Anne doll.  It was a very special evening and I feel very lucky to be able to share such wonderful times with my daughter.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stressed-Less Living -Blessed

I have been so excited since I saw that one of the topics for this weeks' blog hop at the Stressed-Less Living study hosted by Proverbs 31 was women who have shaped us on our faith journey.  While I have a few I could mention, I'd really like to introduce you to my grandmother.

Grandma was born in Northern Ireland in a large family.  Her parents were Salvation Army officers  in various low income areas.  After two of her siblings died of measles (and she spent a year in bed), they decided to look for a new environment for their children and moved to Canada.  Grandma was 12.  She never lost that gentle accent or that connection to "the old country."

Grandma was my favourite person in the entire world other than my mother (and it would have been a close race!)  I was the first granddaughter and she was a lover of all things feminine.  I would go to her apartment for the weekend and there would be scented bubble baths, having my hair done in elaborate braids and I wore a skirt or dress all the time (which was the absolute opposite of my hippie mother, who only wanted me in brown bell-bottoms, which I thought was cruel and unusual punishment).  A wonderful thing about Grandma was that after many decades of her life as first a minister's daughter in the prairies in the 1920's and then as a minister's wife, she had learned to live in genteel poverty in a way that made us all feel rich.  She always set a lovely table, her home was always wonderfully comfortable, she was always well-turned out and most of all, she always had a warm smile, a lovely lap and she always made me feel as if I was the most important thing in her world.  She also did the most wonderful knitting and I am sure that I am a knitter because of those few early lessons that she gave me.

There were several things about Grandma that I have really carried with me as good life lessons and while I don't always accomplish them, I do my best.  She lived her faith in each stage of her life and she planted that in each of us.

1.  Always being gracious and showing kindness to those around you.  Grandma may have had a few quirks (which I learned about later, as I child, I only knew how amazing she was) she would NEVER be rude to anyone, ever (and it most certainly would NEVER have been tolerated in any of us).  She treated everyone the same way, whether a rich congregation member or a street person.  Before her marriage, she worked on the docks in Montreal helping new arrivals to Canada and between that and her parents helping the poor men getting off the trains in the prairies during the Depression, she learned that every person is precious and that part of her calling was to be blessing to those around her.  I still remember that she always had Life Savers for the local street kids that came to our church on Sunday mornings and if she wasn't in the choir, she would have them sit with her.

2.  Family is a gift and should never be taken for granted.  Grandma most certainly taught me lessons about unconditional love.  Family was the essence of life and came before anything else, other than God.  She cherished us all and we all knew that no matter what, she would be there for us. It was a wonderful model of God's love.   It gave all of us a stability that helped us to get through some of life's tougher times.

3.  Live according to your faith.  Her faith was most definitely not a "Sunday morning" faith, it permeated all of her life.  We would sing hymns together (I still remember her singing "The Holy City" and she had a lovely voice - while it is very dated, I will always adore it), read Bible texts together and pray together.  Church was the center of her life and it was not just a social experience, it was a place to go to be part of God's family.

4.  Live as though you are rich.  I don't mean this in the sense of having a lot or spending beyond your means, just that there are gifts in each day and we should cherish and enjoy what God has given us.  Especially here in North America, we have so much and yet, we complain that we want more.  Grandma was this side of destitute after Grandpa died (his church pension was next to nothing and they had never earned enough to build up any savings) and yet, because she shared so much and lived for love rather than things, one never had a sense of being poor.  I am not anywhere near as grateful for everything that I have as I should be and I would love my children to have wonderful memories of a mom who created a lovely world for them, full of what is most important.

Grandma died when I was 12 and, almost 30 years ago and other than mom, nobody has had the same impact on me.  I am so grateful to God that I had her and I would like to try to follow her lead in how to live life as a Christian.