Sunday, March 29, 2015

Holy Week - Sunday

Today was Palm Sunday and of course, at church, we had a parade with the palm branches in the church for the kids.  It was wonderful (this is one of my favourite church days of the year) other than that LB and his friend, J, decided, right at the front of the church in front of everyone, to start a light sabre battle with their palm fronds.  LB is good at giving everyone a laugh and with eyes on him, he plays it all up.

We also made pretzels today, which ended up being a lot of fun.  We talked about the reason we were making them and we worked together to shape them (it ended up being a whole family affair).  They ended up looking like dog poop but they tasted good and the kids had never made anything with yeast before so they were pretty excited.  It will give them some background understanding that we can use when we make matzoh later in the week. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Holy Week part 2

I'm sitting here feeling the tiniest bit guilty.  It's "Earth Hour" (I'm not sure how many places do this, whether it's a local thing, a national thing or bigger but for an hour, we are all supposed to not use electricity - I'm on my laptop using the battery so technically I'm not plugged in) and I'm online looking up ideas for celebrating Holy Week.  I hate the fact that in the busyness of life, I can't focus enough of Easter week.  I wish we had a week now so that I know we could really focus.  I have a bunch of ideas that I've decided I want to try to the next week but I hope they don't get lost in the shuffle.  I have an evening thing at work on Wednesday and my parents-in-law most likely coming to stay on Thursday so we may not have a whole lot of time for focus and contemplation.  Anyway, I want to try...
Here are my plans for this year:
Palm Sunday (tomorrow) - get up and read the story to the kids and possibly watch it on our Jesus video before we go to church to set the story, make pretzels and talk about the story of pretzels (great idea click here).  I'll send a pretzel in each of their lunches each day this week to remind them of what is coming (and, for that matter, maybe I'll make some Easter-themed lunchbox notes)
Holy Week - Clean (as per Jewish tradition before Passover) and make Matzoh with the kids.  We did this last year and they loved it.  We have a set of Resurrection Eggs and I might sit down with the kids with them each morning.  I've also got an Easter playlist I made up years ago and I think that will be our listening for the week.
Maundy Thursday - I'd like to go to church myself (our church doesn't do a service so I'm looking to see where I might go) but I'm not sure it will work.  I think we will do a Messianic Seder (there are lots of links for a Christian Seder online and we have done them for the last three years or so).
Good Friday - church.  I think we will do the rock idea from this blog - we can go for a walk on Good Friday to find our rocks to prepare and write our sins on them.  I think I might make it a t.v. free/screen free day for everyone, just to try and keep us a bit quieter and focused on the meaning of the day.  The kids and I will probably make hot cross buns - I love the homemade ones and the house smells so good.
Easter Saturday - this is really a waiting time.  I think we are going with friends to the town Easter Egg hunt (the kids go store to store in our tiny town and do crafts and activities), we have family coming for a meal and I suspect we will decorate eggs.  My one niece did resurrection rolls with us one year and LOVED them and I think we might do that again, too, which she's here.
Easter Sunday - I will definitely do the Easter basket idea from the blog referred to above with the rocks, we will decorate with all of our Easter decorations (I never put them up until Easter morning).  We will celebrate at church, watch The Easter Carol Veggietales (my daughter's favourite movie of all time) and go to the city to visit my parents.  I have seen lots of cool Easter egg hunt ideas and I'm thinking about doing the glow in the dark eggs with the glow stuff inside at my parents' house if we are there when it's dark - my brother is totally crazy about doing stuff like that.  It sounds like I have a plan!

And the plan for me personally?  I think I will work my way through Holy Week from Common Prayer - I adore this more than I can say and it will help me to keep my focus.

How will you honour Holy Week?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Holy Week

For the last week or so, I've started thinking about Easter.  I've thought about what food we are going to serve my inlaws who are coming to visit.  I've thought about getting a few basket treats for the kids.  I've thought about how we are going to manage time.  I've thought a bit about maybe trying to find a Maundy Thursday service (I LOVE my church but they don't do Maundy Thursday and it's the one time that I miss the worship of my childhood - a few favourite hymns, a quiet evening communion service and preparing myself for the weekend to come). 

Sadly, I haven't really thought about Easter itself.  I haven't done anything to prepare to get my heart and mind ready.

I was at women's group at church tonight (it's a monthly thing and every month, I decide that I'm too tired to go but I'll plod off since I have agreed to go with a friend and every month, I come home so grateful I was there).  This month, among other things, we had a wonderful devotion at the end.  In it, Rebecca, someone I really admire, talked about the fact that for many Christians, while we believe in the amazing gift of Easter, we've gotten so used to it that we just accept it as fact but that we don't really treasure it anymore.  She spoke about the fact that we, as women, work so hard to try to please God and to earn our way into being good enough but that truly, the cross is a symbol that God considered us worthy of dying for, as we are, and that we need to try to recapture the awesomeness of that.  We need to live like the treasure of God that we are and we need to really reflect on the awe of that fact. 

It's really made me aware of a need to plan the next week.  I had meant to make Lent more significant but in the busyness of life, that hasn't happened.  I think I am going to spend some time working tomorrow to make the last week of Easter much more special.  If anyone has any hints or suggestions, I'd love to hear what you are doing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yarn Along

I don't have anything new to report this week, just a bit of progress on my Nimue wrap.  It is going to need some blocking to make it look more wrap than scarf but I LOVE the cables.  It's a pattern that I have to watch pretty closely since it would be so easy to make an inattentive mistake but so far, I have only had one disaster and that was early on.  I LOVE cables and this rust colour will be a lovely thing to wear next fall.

I'm still reading The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith (from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series) and Found by Micha Boyett.  The Handsome Man's is o.k. - I love this series and this author but I'm tired enough that I don't get many pages in before I doze off.  I LOVE Found and feel a bit like I have finally found someone who feels the things that I do and it is so refreshing.  I haven't made much progress in it this week, though - I'm doing an online course right now and I am up to my eyeballs in teacher-related reading.  It's interesting but not really fun!

I'm liking up to Ginny over at Small Things and can't wait to see what everyone else has been up to this week!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Little Joys

Wow, I'm exhausted!  On the other hand, for once in my life, I actually feel as if I am somewhat on top of things.  I know, it won't last but for now, it feels really good!  I'm trying to drink lots more water and be firm with myself about the fact that my light must be off by 10 p.m. and I must have the kids in bed by 8.  We haven't quite made the 8 p.m. but we've been much closer and we are also doing better for the increase in sleep.

I am reading Found by Micha Boyett and I am LOVING it!  Often, books connected to faith, while good for me, are somewhat hard going.  I wouldn't say this book is easy exactly but it speaks so much to me where I am at that I just have a hard time putting it down.  One of the practices she engages in to try and recapture the art of prayer is to read the psalms at set times each day.  While she aimed for 5, that's too many for me each day, so I am trying to begin and to end my day with a psalm.  On Monday morning, I read psalm one and it spoke to me in such a profound way.  I don't know exactly why it connected so much but I spent time, in the most intense times in my day, thinking of the image of the three thriving by the streams of water and it brought me such a sense of peace.  I adore it when I find a book about faith that means something so personally to me!

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Little Joys

The little joys for me today were the joys of home - things like standing at the kitchen counter cutting veggies for tomorrow with the late afternoon sun streaming in the window, making custard and banana for dessert as a special family treat to celebrate our last night together before going back to work, reading "The Kissing Hand" to prepare the kids for school tomorrow, making us a lovely fresh steak dinner and all the meal came from our farm share - pasture-fed humanely farmed beef, fresh mushrooms from the mushroom farm, baked potatoes and parsnips - I LOVE eating food that came directly from the farmer, all little things that made the day a bit more special and helped me to feel blessed.

 Dh did a terrific job grilling the steak tonight, despite the cold wind blowing outside
 Our delicious meal from the farm
 Our favourite family game - trying to make some sweet memories for the kids to take to school with them tomorrow

The most bittersweet part of the day involved Pk.  I noticed this afternoon that she was getting chippy with her brother and spacy with her piano work (and Dh was starting to get very frustrated with her).  I started to wonder whether it had anything to do with going back to school.  When I first asked, she said that all was well but at dinner, when I asked about what a great day at school would be like, it came to light that she is feeling very alone at recess.  Poor kiddo, she really is my daughter - I had small groups of very close friends (much like life now) but I always found the mad social whirl of a flock of girls very exhausting and stressful.  She has always had a best friend and they were in the same class and this year, they are not.  She misses this friend terribly and the best part about this friend was the lack of drama.  This year, the class seems driven by drama and she is really struggling.  It was so hard to see her pain but at the same time, it felt so good to be her "soft place to fall" (the one time you will hear me quote Dr. Phil - I love this idea).  We played games as a family, we joked, we did our cozy bedtime stories and we called Gran and had a chat, all of which seemed to help to soothe her nerves.  I want to make my aim from now until school finishes in June that home will be a place of comfort and rest for the kidlets, a respite from the frenzy of school for all of us.  It feels so good to be able to give the kids that safe place to go and the feeling of being loved.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I am so happy that spring is officially here!  Yesterday was the first official day and it was just perfect, the temperature was mild (for here in March, anyway) and while today cooled down, it was still comfortable for walking the dog, which is a nice change after the horribly cold January and February that we had.  I went up to my friend's farm today and we hiked it around in a way we haven't been able to do for ages due to the snow.  The dogs were absolutely filthy and so very happy!  Sorry I didn't get any photos, I need to take more.

We have only one more day of the March Break and then we are back at work.  I can't lie, I'm feeling rather nervous about it as the rumours are flying about a potential school strike at some point and the thought of that absolutely terrifies me.  Since Dh and I are both teachers, a strike would mean no money coming in at all and I don't know how we would cope.  We have tried to save some money but between kid's lessons, unexpected car troubles and the cost of living, we haven't put away anywhere near as much as I would have liked.  I'm trying to tell myself that we have had these strike threats so many times before and that so many people are dependent on schools for daycare that we wouldn't be out long.  For now, I'm just going to focus on the sunshine, the longer hours of daylight, on starting to get the garden going and working on knitting and reading and praying for the best.

It's funny, I always have a "bucket list" for each season except for spring.  We don't seem to have many "spring specific" activities other than the big Easter celebration (it really is a big deal for us both from a faith standpoint and from a life-events standpoint).  I was going to try to come up with a bucket list but it would seem too forced so my goal for this spring is just to spend lots of time outdoors, to have fun planning my garden and to enjoy my family.  Well, and maybe to bring some lilacs inside when they bloom - they have such a heavenly smell and they often blossom when I am in the midst of report card writing and I miss them.  Not this year!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Almost Over

How is it that this March Break is almost over?  One week passes us by so quickly.  For once, and this is such a rare thing for us, we didn't do much of anything.  We had an aborted trip to visit my parents-in-law (it was supposed to be 5 days but Pk's onset of sickness, which turned out to be due to over-exhaustion, brought us home after 2 days) and some shopping to do but otherwise, we were home.  We had two days that the kids didn't even get out of their jammies (although we did ask them to have a bath and get into new ones in the evening) and they were blissfully happy.  Pk was out at riding camp today and Lb spent the day hanging out with Dh and I and he was just so happy and relaxed.

Pondering it made me a bit sad.  We live in Ontario, in Canada, and we have a full-day kindergarten programme here that starts at age 4.  Lb seems to like it well enough and loves his teacher and talks a lot about school.  Lately, though, we have found him somewhat resistant to going and when we asked why, he said that there's too much work.  It's supposed to be a play-based programme (which it largely is) but based on the stack of worksheets that Lb brought home last week, clearly there is pencil and paper going on, too.  Seeing how happy and creative and affectionate he has been this week with the structure lifted really convinces me more than ever that 4 year olds shouldn't have to go to school all day.  I wish I had the option to stay home with him (yes, I know, there are many who would say that if I really wanted to, I could stay home but in the current economic climate and given how absolutely impossible it is to get into teaching here these days, I can't risk giving it up).  I wish Lb could spend much of his time playing outside, creating with his cars, building with blocks and climbing into my lap for a story whenever he wanted it.  For that matter, I wish that Pk, who is in grade 2, could have more of that kind of freedom as well.

We are not good at time.  My kids do too many lessons (but when we have brought up the subject of giving something up, there are tears - they both adore skating, Pk lives for horseback riding, they love Awana at the church and Dh and I are strong believers that they need to get a musical start).  Our schedule is tight and our weekends always seem to be taken up with social commitments and errands.  There was a time that we used to call Sundays "free days" - we went to church and that's it.  The computer and t.v. stayed off and we didn't use anything like a tablet.  I'm wondering whether we might need that as a kind of palate cleaner again.  The kids love that freedom and especially now that it's warming up, it will be so nice to go back to hiking as a family and being outside, working on our garden, playing and just hanging out.  As part of my year of "gentle", clearly I am going to need to work harder at finding that open time to just let us all be.  We have all thrived on it this week and we will be going back to school on Monday so much the better for it!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Our New Baby

Sh!  I am not telling anyone except for very close friends around here until she is actually here because I try not to get too excited in case things fall through.  She does have to get to Canada from California and all, so there are lots of possible complications.  I'm dying to show someone, though, so here she is:

Isn't she sweet?  We can't wait to have her arrive (despite the fact that I remember puppies turning our world upside down in the past!)

Yarn Along

I love the weekly Yarn Along hosted by Ginny at Small Things.  It's done so much to motivate me to knit!  I want to make sure that I have something to post and it keeps me on task.  Hooray!  I have three pregnant friends and I need to get going on baby blankets so this might provide me the motivation I need.

We went north to visit the inlaws this past weekend (the visit was supposed to be longer but Pk suffering a bout of what Dh's family calls "tummy wobbles" put paid to that).  Oh, well, that seems to be our lives these days.  On the plus side, 2 1/2 hours in the car each way did give me some knitting time and there are two new projects under way.

First of all, I finished my Guernsey Wrap.  I love how it has turned out.  It needs a bit of blocking but since it's a gift for next November or so, I think I'll have time.  I had a bunch of yarn left so I wanted to use it up.  I noticed several people had done the Reversatile cowl and it seemed a perfect car project.  It's almost done and I will probably give it to the same recipient as the wrap, since I hate wearing gray (I don't dislike the colour, it just looks terrible on me).

I have a question for anyone reading.  I am making this on a set of interchangeable needles on the cord and I am HATING them.  They keep coming unscrewed and even when they are just loose, they catch my yarn.  Am I the only person who has this problem?  Is there something I am missing?  It's driving me CRAZY!

I also started working on this lovely Nemue cabled wrap/scarf.  I love cables and I had a bunch of this colour left in Cascade Eco and it just seemed to go together well.  I love anything with cables and this is no exception.  It's a trickier pattern to read and I had to pull it out and start again when someone knocked my knitting and it got pulled and my attempt to rescue it didn't work but at least I am back as far as I had gotten.  It will definitely need good blocking when it's done.

 In terms of reading, I am still reading The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner (which is speaking to me more and more as I read and I think will have a big impact on my use of time), Found by Micha Boyett (which is shocking me at how much I love it - I wasn't sure it would speak to me when I saw it featured on the SheLoves book club but my oh my, do I ever feel "found" myself reading this book - she shares so much of what I have felt in my faith along the way).  For lighter, fun reading, I am enjoying The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith. I love his books, especially the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and the Isabel Dalhousie series.  There is a sweetness to his books that is in no way cloying and I just love them.  I have friends who hate them, though - his books are slow and reflective but I don't find them boring, I just wish I could meet these people myself!
I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading and stitching this week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I think I have mentioned here that about three weeks ago, we had to put down our special dog, Chelsea.  We adored her and she was our "before kids" dog.  She truly changed our lives.  Our breeder wanted us to show and before we knew it, we were doing dog shows, trying hunt test work (and you will never meet two people less likely to fire a gun), doing competitive obedience and mostly just spending lots of time outside with our wonderful dog (which became dogs).  We got another, Lucie, and we even fostered River, a lovely liver roan boy, for almost two years.  River found a new home a month ago and then, our beloved Chelsea had to be put down at almost 14 due to what looked a lot like a stroke.

It only took us a couple of days to decide that we needed another dog but we didn't know how we were going to do it.  We knew we wanted another purebred Brittany (and the whole purebred vs. shelter dog/rescue is a conversation for another day - we would love a shelter dog down the road but we want to compete and possibly even breed down the road so we need a purebred puppy).  We knew we were looking at a lot more money than we could spend, a long time on a waiting list, an exhaustive search for the "right" breeding (never knowing for sure that we were making the correct decision) and then, the cost of getting the puppy (which would almost certainly have to come from the U.S. which would involve passports and travel expenses).  We decided that we wouldn't rush into anything and despite Dh's determination that we needed to start looking for a puppy NOW (he, who was so opposed to a puppy in the past), I tried and tried not to get swept up into puppy frenzy and to be level headed and responsible.  We are teachers, there is a threat of a strike down the road and we can't spend money right now.

Then, literally out of the blue, a puppy seems to have landed in our laps - a better pedigree than I would have ever thought we could get (breeders tend to keep their best stuff themselves and as people who wouldn't promise to show in the U.S., we didn't think we'd have a chance), the shipping is taken care of because a friend is going to get her puppy and wants to bring it back for us, a breeder who is excited to sell us the puppy and she is LOVELY! I am trying not to get overexcited until the puppy is actually here but we can't help but feel like God meant this to happen, because so many things have lined up in ways that we could never have anticipated.

Cross your fingers for us!  This is a dream for us and our family could use something like this right now.  I'll post pictures when she arrives, in about 4 weeks :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lemons and Lemonade

This was one of those weeks.  On Monday, I got sick and it hit me hard and fast and it didn't take me long to realise it was strep throat.  It always knocks me out totally and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in bed.  We had arranged for the kids to go to work with us on Thursday - since I teach kindergarten and LB is in kindergarten and Dh teaches grade 2 and Pk is in grade 2, our principals agreed to let us bring them in for the day.  We had been looking forward to it for a long time.  Thursday morning during breakfast, Lb came down with yucky symptoms that you don't need described that made it plain that our day of plans was done and it ended up that Dh had to stay home with a sickie and Pk and I went to our respective schools.  Friday was the day before our March Break and just before leaving work to begin my week off, I ended up with in very uncomfortable meeting that involved being hung out to dry in a meeting by colleagues when it was supposed to be our working together to solve a problem with a situation that was completely beyond my control.  My one saving grace was the fact that we were getting away to visit my husband's family and the mere fact of not having to cook for a few days and having a change of scenery was making me feel as if I might, just might, make it through. 

We got there o.k. and yesterday was a good day until during dinner with friends, when it started to become clear that Pk was coming down with something.  After a night of her crying, throwing up on my bed and being restless all night (and there is little worse that dealing with a sick child in a small house that is not your own with no idea where the paper towel and change of sheets are and trying not to wake everyone), this morning, we packed up the car and came home with our tails between our legs, afraid that we had unknowingly infected my f.i.l. with illness when he is dealing with auto-immune issues.  By the time we got home, I was exhausted, frustrated, feeling a bit like the universe was conspiring against me and close to a pity party but only too tired to indulge too heavily in feeling sorry for myself.  So much for a nice change of scenery - instead, I was back in my messy house with my m.i.l.'s kindly intended but frustrating words, "I worry about you because you do so much and you have such a heavy job and I see you trying to keep a house like s.i.l. does and you just can't expect that.  I wish I was closer so I could come and help you."  All I could see was dust and frustration.

I don't pretend to being mature enough to consciously move past my self-pity and frustration but somehow, it happened.  I decided that cleaning was going to have to be the order of the day for my sanity and I thought that tackling my room, the one room not overwhelmingly dominated by children's mess, might be a good plan.  Dh and I decided that we were going to go all the way and clean out clothing for a Salvation Army run tomorrow.  It ended up being a lovely trip down memory lane.  I remember, when I was young, that once in a while, my mom would decide to organize and my favourite part was when she decided to clean out her drawers.  Her top drawer was always the most fun - that was her catch-all drawer and it contained things like family jewelry and old photographs.  Before you get too excited, there is nothing there of anything other than sentimental value (pragmatic minister's wives that they were, you spent money on things like dishes that would be used by company and not on jewelry) but still, as I started my dresser, it brought back those memories and before I knew it, Pk was asking me questions about things like my grandmother's cameos and the bracelet that still has the note that went with it when my great, great aunt, who was a teacher in a small town one room school, that was presented to her by her students in 1909.  I rediscovered some clothing that I forgot I had and actually liked (and even a few pieces that might fit - getting ready for spring with some healthy eating and lots of exercise is definitely in order).  I feel like I am going back to work next week having met myself, just a little bit, in the frustration and the exhaustion and that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to create a bit of order in the chaos that will bring me comfort. 

I'm a homebody at the end of the day and sometimes life throws me these times when I have to stay home and then, I remember that I kind of like it here.  Just remind me I said that when I start trying to create some order in the chaos that is our rec room tomorrow morning!

Friday, March 13, 2015


I'm a teacher and today, we have been in meetings all day.  One of the meetings was about online safety and it led to some interesting discussion that has left me thinking (and feeling vaguely uncomfortable).

Is Facebook so bad?  It seems that whenever I speak to people, they like to go on about how they NEVER use Facebook, they lurk, they never put anything on there that other people might see, they wish they could hide more than they do.  It leaves me feeling as if I somehow am missing something.  I generally like Facebook (or should I say "like"?)  I like keeping up with what people are doing, where they are going and what they are thinking about.  My life is so busy and I am an introvert, I can't be out and about seeing all of these people all the time but it doesn't mean that I don't care about them.  Is it too much information to know that someone's child is sick (so I might make a treat to drop by) or that their cat died (I might send a card or give a call)?  Is it bad of me, when I'm feeling especially excited about something or worried or wanting more information, to ask other people with whom I have some things in common, to go on a post a message?  Does this make me some kind of crazy person?

Sure, I know people who probably post too much information but for someone like me, I'm o.k. with that, usually.  I like honesty, I like transparency, I value people who are out there and who share what they really think and feel.  I don't like trying to figure out whether you really agree with someone or whether you might have another opinion.  I suppose that some of it might be related to the fact that I am very careful in choosing friends that I opt for people who 1.  are compassionate, 2.  don't mind people who disagree and 3.  who like to move beyond small talk (my introverted heart has trouble with small talk - if I don't feel like we are connecting, I feel like something is wrong).  I probably am too "out" on Facebook for some people - I don't hide that I am a Christian, that I value compassion and social justice or that I love my family.  I do call injustice when I see it and sometimes, that might make someone uncomfortable.  I have a hard time seeing how that is a bad thing.  I guess, on some level, it might be like not raising politics or religion at the dinner table but if these people are supposed to be "my friends", won't they still love me even if my opinion is different from theirs?  Maybe, just maybe, there might be useful dialogue that comes from these Facebook discussions sometimes (provided that people behave with respect and I find that my friends do).  My policy is that I don't say anything on Facebook that I would be ashamed to admit to (so yes, while I won't tell you that I can't stand this person I am working with, I might address an issue of concern to me in education if I feel that it is harming the well-being of children).  I'd happily admit to my boss or my minister or my mom what I am saying, so why is it a bad thing?  Maybe it might be potentially held again me down the road but I come from a family of political activists - data was being collected on them for their stands long before Google came along. 

Am I naive or taking unnecessary risks or am I just having the courage to say what I think is right and potentially to risk pushing people a bit in their thinking?  I'm not sure - I suppose this post sounds like I am entirely defending my position but that isn't entirely what I'm doing here.  I think I'm still working it out.  In the meantime, I probably won't shut up because I'm not good at that :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yarn Along

And now for my favourite post of the week, my Yarn Along post.  The Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny over at small things and I am SO grateful for it - I love to see what other people are knitting and reading.  The only hazard is that my "to knit" and "to read" lists are getting so long!

Stitching - before we get to my knitting, I decided to include the hearts plastic canvas needlepoint that my daughter and I have started working on.  She has been dying for me to get her knitting for a while and when I saw these kits on sale for $3.99 at Christmas, I couldn't resist.  No, it's not knitting but it's a start.  It's funny, I'm a knitter and a kindergarten teacher but I am NOT the most patient knitting teacher and when we have tried so far, I haven't been anywhere near the gentle teacher I'd like to be.  I have found a few wonderful Waldorf poems for teaching stitch formation that have helped but I just don't think that she is quite ready yet.  This kit is a nice bridge - we are stitching together, she is very proud of what she is doing and I love it because it's the way my mom taught me years ago.  Over March Break, next week, I am planning on finishing this with her and then, we will, if my patience will hold out, do a bit of knitting together.

Knitting - I am getting near the end of the Guernsey wrap and I am so excited!  It's an easy pattern and being here and part of the Yarn Along has finally gotten me really going.  I am on row 15 of the last time through the pattern (it goes up to row 78 and then, there are several rows of edging).  We are going to be spending quite a bit of time in the car over the next few days, so I am hoping that I will have it done by the weekend and I already have my next project ready to go.  I don't think that there is much I love more than starting a project and with March Break next week, I am hoping to get LOTS done!

Reading - I finished The Long Way Home by Louise Penny yesterday and thanks to a nasty case of strep throat and two days home in bed, I have managed to make a very large dent in Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (who I really like).  I've gone three more chapters in The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner and am working more on Found by Micha Boyett, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE!  I feel like such a church outsider sometimes - I am such a funny mix of Evangelical and mainline and while I love the preaching at our current church, I so miss liturgy and tradition and this book is speaking to my soul.  I can't recommend it enough for anyone who is an oddity, like me.

I can't wait to hear what everyone else is knitting and reading this week!

Monday, March 9, 2015

International Women's Day

I wouldn't call myself a feminist but in some ways, I suppose I am.  I find myself to be such a mix of traditional and... I don't know... what word do I want?  I love the traditional structure of my family and I wouldn't change a thing but that doesn't necessarily mean that I believe my way is the "right" way or the "only" way.  I do feel strongly about monogamy and that children do best growing up in a family with two involved parents but how many kids grow up in "optimal" homes and so many homes that are not what we define as "optimal" end up doing a much better job of parenting than many homes that meet the traditional definition.

There's been so much in the media lately and on social media especially about gender identity.  I find it really hard sometimes.  It's not my job to judge and I feel as if I want to be so careful that everyone feels that they have a place in the world and that nobody feels isolated and alone.  At certain points, though, it gets hard.  I read about a school board that wanted its teachers to begin to avoid using "exclusive" terms such as "husband and wife" and "father and mother."  While I want to have everyone feel included, even I, who is pretty easy going about that kind of thing, began to get my back up just a little bit.  I don't mind calling you whatever you want to be called and I will recognize my obligation to treat you with respect and dignity, regardless of whether your choices are the same as mine or not.  That being said, I start to balk a bit when I start to feel as if I am being told that I am not allowed to be called by the labels by which I identify myself.

So, what does that label of "woman" mean to me?  It means identifying with the many heroines in my family who came before me.  They were ministers wives who made do with very little but managed to create beauty and comfort anyway.  They were women who worked HARD with very little complaining and who were the backbones of their families (and in no way do I view that as a subservient position).  They met everyone's needs, they brought comfort and they kept their families together through crisis after crisis.  They suffered loss (including several losses of children) and cruelty and fear, yet they kept going.  There was my great-grandmother who, during the 30's, always had a meal for the homeless men who came through on the trains.  When she was criticized for it and told that they probably weren't really needy, her constant response was that "the very one I turn away would be the one who needed it most."  She lost two daughters before coming to Canada and had to leave everything familiar behind to come to "the new country" and start over.  There was my grandmother who spent her early adult years working on the docks in Montreal, helping new arrivals to Canada to find shelter and food and who, for years as a minister's wife, dealt with everyone's expectations of her and supported my grandfather through some horrible times, including the loss of a child.  There is my mom who fought courageously during the civil rights movement in the 1960's and against war during the 1970's and who faced intense criticism and who was often the primary breadwinner as well as caretaker at home, while my dad was sick and unable to work.  They were all loving mothers who held their children close and who somehow managed to raise us during all kinds on instability and yet we always felt loved and cherished.  They were bright, they were fierce, they were gentle, they were capable and they were faithful.  They sacrificed and they gave of themselves.  In some subtle ways, they were pioneers and they worked to create a world in which compassion was valued and hard work was important.  Everyone did their part and a family was something to be valued beyond gold.

I think to be a woman means to work hard.  In many cases, it is outside of the home and then coming home to work hard there, too.  It usually means being the primary caretaker of the young children and the person who manages everyone's needs.  It means being resilient and capable and at times, fierce.  I see the courage of so many women the world over, whether it is the mother in Africa who is struggling to meet the needs of her children despite her own battle with AIDS, the girls in Afghanistan who are courageously trying to go to school or whether it is the girls here in Canada who are trying to find their way in a world inundated with messages that tell they they are fat, they are stupid and that their sole value is as a sexual object.  Being a woman means to struggle, to face opposition, to feel tired.  Being a woman means that "you can be anything" but you are also expected to be everything, too.  It means enjoying the deepest, richest friendships and the cruelest nastiness.  It might mean motherhood, it might mean being a wife or it might mean a life on one's own.  It often means being a caretaker for one's children and/or one's parents.  It's a life of work and a life of rich reward.

I am proud to be a woman and I feel so blessed to have so many examples of such impressive women around me.  I see achievement in so many forms (as scholars, as teachers, as workers, as caretakes, as lovers, as parents) and I just feel so very lucky to have the chance to experience so much of this myself and to have so many amazing role models around me.  As we celebrate International Women's Day, I just feel so lucky to have so many incredible women in my life and to be part of such an amazing sisterhood. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Fringe Hours - Ch. 5 - Finding Your Inspiration

Ooooh, I loved this chapter.  I am a list maker, I LOVE making lists and I've always had notebooks of lists of every kind kicking around my world (I think it comes from when I read Anastasia K. by Lois Lowrey in public school!)  Anyway, today I read chapter five, which was all about finding out how to care for yourself and what are the things that make you happy.  She had all kinds of questions about what makes one tick and I thought I might list some of them here, just for fun.

Hobbies I have enjoyed in the past:
-knitting (still one one my favourites)
-quilting (I'd love to do more but I have to get some sewing skills under my belt)
-cross stitch (I just don't have the time for this and I'm too impatient)
-scrapbooking (I want to go back to the days when I just stuck things that we did in a book and maybe wrote a few comments and kept momentos - I got too caught up in all the cool bling and it actually really turned me off why I was doing it)
-drinking tea
-blogging/reading blogs
-hiking with my dogs
-field work/training with the dogs
-reading (going to the library and browsing and the excitement of a pile of books waiting to be read is definitely one of my favourite things)
-music - playing/listening to classical, jazz
-creating/crafting more generally
-anything to do with birds
-vintage/second hand shopping

Inspiration Board:
The idea is to create a board of things that somehow are inspiring, either as an actual board or on Pinterest.  I haven't been using Pinterest for much other than teaching stuff lately.  I'm thinking that I'd like to set up an inspiration board and I'll start pinning anything that tickles my fancy there to see if it gets me connecting to what I love.  To get me going, here's a list of my favourite things, randomly:
 -plaid wool blankets
-tea and teapots
-books, books and books
-horse barns (I love the quiet and the smells)
-cable knitting
-picking apples
-pink English roses
-sweet peas
-fresh veggies
-homemade soup
-cozy socks
-nice body lotion
-Romantic era classical music
-vintage jazz
-historical documentaries
-hunt tests (a dog thing)
-Brittany Spaniels/ hunting dogs
-evening church services
-Christmas Eve
-the smell of the Christmas tree
-birds at my feeder
-open water

Reading my lists makes me feel that I'm rather boring but at least there's the start of two lists for me to help me recapture what I'd like to be doing.  What would be on your list?  I'd love other ideas!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Going Shopping

I've recently begun a new...well... my husband would call it an obsession.  I love the idea of shopping and I never have the money and frankly, I am just not patient enough and get so frustrated that it never lives up to its billing.  However, I have found my niche - buy and sell shopping!

Our tiny town (about 4 thousand people) has several "buy and sell" pages on Facebook and I have become addicted.  Back in January, I sold all kinds of stuff and I have a bunch of other stuff to go, still.  It's great because unlike a yard sale, which I find to be so much work for so little reward, I can post one thing a day and it actually gets to the people who might be interested.  It also feels kind of nice - I always sell very cheaply (as my husband reminds me when I debate prices, the idea is to get it gone, not so much to make money).  It's nice to think that some of the things worn or played with by my kidlets that we will no longer use are giving pleasure to another little one.  I also have a bit of a joke with a few other teachers I know in town - "So, was that a teacher gift?" when they try to sell a particularly strong (and not suited to the seller perfume or when I was selling "Married with Children: Season 13" (I still shudder a bit to think that a parent thought that was what it seemed I would like!)  I have a routine now - a laundry basket on the porch and I put the sold item in a ziplock bag labeled and into the basket and there's a mason jar for payment.  It's funny, there are so many of us in town selling now that most houses with kids have a jar or a wipes container or a plastic container with "thank you!" or something similar on the box.

I've also had so much fun buying!  We've gotten several things - an extra snowsuit for LB, throw cushions for the couch that match the others ones I've got, a Partylite candle holder, a terrific pair of shoes, three seasons of The Black Stallion on DVD for Pk.  It's fun to show and to know that I am not doing anything bad for the environment and the money is going to neighbours.  It's nice to have some new things without going retail and it's been a lot of fun getting good deals without having to leave home!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Yarn Along

I am so grateful!  I have been lugging my knitting around with me in the car since January but when I take the kids to skating lessons, etc., I end up not bothering with getting it out.  Since last week's Yarn Along post, I've been knitting a fair bit and I've actually gotten a noticeable amount finished on my wrap!  Last week, I was about a third of the way done and now, I am over half way there!  Hooray!  My only problem is that since I have been following the Yarn Along, I am pinning patterns all over the place for other things to make.  This could get expensive.  I love to see what everyone else is doing and I've been inspired!  To see the main Yarn Along page, click this link and thank you to the host - it's such fun!

In terms of reading, I've had two major targets for reading and one other than I am dabbling with.  I am participating in the Bloom in-courage book club on the book The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.  It's challenged me a bit and it's a bit uncomfortable for me in places but clearly she gets people like me and if I am going to get anything to come of it, I am going to have to find a way to release some of what I am holding onto.  It's not always easy but it's good for me.

I'm also keeping going with the Louise Penny book The Long Way Home.  If you like mysteries, you can't do better, especially if you like character development (and I am a big fan of recurrent characters).  She's brilliant AND she's Canadian!  The only problem I am having is that I am so tired by the time I get to bed that I keep falling asleep when I am reading and losing my page.

Finally,  our minister is doing a series on the personality of Jesus (it's been interesting) and he mentioned that he was basing some of it on John Eldredge's book Beautiful Outlaw.  I've been reading that, too, but much more slowly.  I think I like it but I'm too tired to think that much sometimes.  It has made me realise that I really, to a large degree, have two Jesus Christ's in my head - the radical who has shaped my outlook and the "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" who really isn't reflective of what the Bible had to say about Jesus.  It never occurred to me before, for instance, that Jesus was actually very funny. 

I've also been book buying, which is dangerous.  SheLoves, a great Christian women's blog (great, great, great!) has a book club, The Red Couch.  As I've said before, I'm a sucker for any kind of book club.  They release their selections by quarters so I have bought the books for March (last book in the first quarter) and the books for April and May.  Now, if I can only find the time to read them?  I'm hoping to start Found by Micha Boyett tonight.  It sounds marvelous!

What's on your needles?  Is there anything I have to read or that I should pin for later?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I have them.  Lots of them.  They are very strongly held and at times, overwhelming.  I try to push them down and to be easy going and non-committal.  I fail miserably.

There are so many times that I lament being this way.  I don't think that people at work, for instance, would say that I am overly opinionated (other than a few people at work who are very opinionated and I have a problem with not being able to shut up and back down when someone is saying something stupid).  I hate upsetting people and so generally, I try to avoid spending too much time with people who get in my face so that I can't feel as if I can't avoid the conflict.  It does cut me off quite a bit though, since I avoid anything that I think is going to get me into a touchy situation.  My friends are carefully chosen - we don't have to agree (for instance, I have friends who cross the spectrum in terms of religious beliefs and that's just fine) but if you are one of those people who needs to make everyone else agree with you, I am not interested in being your friend.

It's amazing that I have survived in teaching as long as I have, because talk about a profession in which you deal with people with opinions!  There's nothing like an angry parent!  I've been really lucky in terms of the fact that I had some amazing teachers along the way who taught me that the secrets to having positive relationships with parents are 1.  always listen and reflect back that you have heard the concern, 2.  remember that often, you are dealing not with the parent sitting across from you but the child who that parent once was and who was made to feel inadequate by a teacher along the way 3.  never talk to parents to dump about their kids and 4.  always keep in mind that no matter how crazy the parent might seem to be, remember that he or she loves his or her child (even if it shows in strange ways sometimes).  Relationships with parents have been extremely good up until now (knock on wood) and I am generally pretty good at managing colleagues, too.

It's things like social media that seem to get me into trouble.  So often, I will post something wanting a discussion or some reassurance and it turns into something insane and upsetting and yet, I can't seem to back down.  On my Facebook page, there was a huge fight about vaccines (not because I am against them but because I feel that we need to respect each other and stop treating anti-vaccine people like complete idiots who are claiming the sun revolves around the earth), a fight about whether needing to hurt one's romantic partner is indicative of mental instability (and I'm sorry, I stand by that, if you need to inflict pain and degradation on your partner, I think you are a sick puppy and need help) and about whether children should be used to campaign for charities in public schools.  As the fur flies, I tell myself over and over again to just shut up, it's not worth the upset but somehow, I just can't keep quiet.  And if it's about "the lazy poor" or "stupid immigrants taking jobs" or "if they don't like that this is a Christian country, they should leave", I lose it completely.  I am so overwhelmed by my frustration at the wrongs.

So, the question for me is, is it a bad thing to have strong opinions?  I was accused of being opinionated by a "friend" who had the blackest of black and whitest of white opinions (and a complete lack of empathy for the fact that people make mistakes and that their realities are not always the same as hers).  I experienced her as being exactly what I described above - the person who was completely unable to agree to disagree and who couldn't leave it alone until she had "won."  It has made me so worried about being thought to be opinionated and I have been pondering that for a while.  I've come to the question, though - is it a bad thing to be the person who asks the pointed questions?  Is it a bad thing to keep a larger moral picture in mind, even if it makes other people uncomfortable?  Is it actually better to be the "easy" person all the time who lets everything go?

I don't have the answer to that at all.  For me, it's like so many other things in life - when I think of the women I admire most, they all have strong voices and I'm certain that they rub many people the wrong way.  They ask tough questions and keep their faith and their commitment to being salt and light on the earth at the forefront of all decisions.  Yup, they are not always comfortable to be around and they are not conformers.  At the same time, they speak truth in love and never seek to deliberately hurt of subjugate others. 

So, if I admire it in other people so much, why do I find it so hard to accept in myself?

Monday, March 2, 2015

LIttle Joys

I am grouchy tonight.  I'm tired and I don't do tired well and it was staff meeting day - yuck!  We have a meeting once a month for 75 minutes after school and I hate it.  At my new school (I changed schools after ten years this school year and I LOVE my new school and community and the best part is that Dh and I get to drive in together now since he works a short distance away so I can knit in the car).  Anyway, to finish that overly long sentence, while these staff meetings are so much better than in the past, I still find myself exhausted and grouchy.  It's a time thing.  When I have been away from the kids all day, I don't want to be away longer and it makes the evening routines and rituals so much more rushed.  Anyway, you don't want to hear me vent so let me go straight to the things for which I am grateful tonight to see if I can cheer myself up a bit!

1.  My slow cooker - My mom had one when I was a kid and I dreaded meals from it (it usually meant stew, which I loathed).  As a working mom, on the other hand, I LOVE it!  Doing the work early in the day fits much more with my body rhythm and coming in the door to the smell of food makes me almost feel as if some magic fairy has come and cooked for me while I was at work.  I love trying new recipes and while our repertoire of slow cooker recipes that we like is fairly limited, we definitely have enough to make things interesting.  It's been a real blessing with our farm share, as we've gotten some cuts of meat we had no idea how to use.

2.  Walking the dog - I'm really missing my sweet old thing but my younger girl who is still around has been so sweet since we lost Chelsea.  Lucie is clearly non-plused but it all but at the moment, she seems quite happy to be spoiled by all of us, who are missing Chelsea.  We didn't get in a big hike tonight because of the meeting but we did manage to get over to the school yard and to have a good walk there.  We also happened to be blessed with a gorgeous sunset and a hint in the air of spring not being too far away.  Hooray!

3.  Browsing blogs - I can't believe that I lost my contact with blogging for so long!  I've been browsing the Yarn Along posts for the last few days and it's been so much fun to see what other people are reading and knitting.  It's giving me so many plans!

I'll try not to be so grouchy tomorrow so I had better be off to bed!  Good night.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


I feel like I want to write a post but I really don't have anything to say.  It amazes me how different my weekends are from my work weeks (but no wonder I am so tired all the time)  Friday night was Pk to skating (her newest passion and I spend so much time at the rink) and a lovely conversation with a friend who has been in the periphery of our life for a while but who, now getting to spend 50 minutes freezing in a rink together each week, is becoming someone with whom I so enjoy chatting.  We go to church together and it was great to get to talk to someone a bit like me - a bit of a refugee from the mainline churches that are dying but who misses liturgy.  Saturday was working out, 15 minutes of prayer for our church 24 hours of prayer (and while it was lovely and meaningful, the dog felt the need to participate in my quiet time, so it had its challenges), skating again with girlie (and a visit with another friend at the rink, a hike with Lucie that was lovely (and it was FINALLY warm enough to enjoy being outside), a pony riding lesson with LB ("p is for pony" for our alphabet adventure), a visit to my SIL and her family in another town, followed by our favourite dinner.  Today, it was baking (cookies for the kids and Dh's meeting), church, a hike and tea with the dogs and a friend, and finally, the Ikea run (we have good friends who are almost two hours away and we have discovered that Ikea is exactly half way between us.  The kids love it, the food is cheap and we can linger... I also always end up buying little home things that weren't planned but at least it is cheap).  I'm going to sleep this evening exhausted (getting up in the morning should be fun) but with a sense of having really connected with some important people in my life.  I feel so very lucky.

Wishing you a wonderful week!