Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Yarn Along

Welcome to another Yarn Along post.  For anyone who doesn't know, the Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny over at Small Things.  It gives us a chance to share what we are stitching and what we are reading.  My only problem with it is that my list of patterns I want to make is getting very long and my goodreads want-to-read list is endless!  It's so much fun.

This week, I've been frantically trying to knit and to read.  Once a month, my Wednesday evening moms prayer/reading group meets on a Saturday to craft.  It's an eclectic group (the best way to describe us in so many ways - we couldn't be more different) but we also manage to have found this sense of community that I have rarely experienced in my life (but that's another post).  I got a full afternoon to knit on Pk's second pair of legwarmers.  They seemed ... short, so I extended them.  I gave the pattern a closer look and I discovered my mistake - they were a pattern to make a toddler pair (with a larger size pattern down below).  I think they have enough stretch that they will work so I decided to keep going (I have a very low tolerance for frogging and I couldn't stand the idea of starting from scratch).  If they don't work, they can go to a friend's little girl.  Over the weekend, I got one done and another half way there.  I'm also working on a dishcloth (since I've been so inspired around here!)

In terms of reading, I have finally moved onto two new books.  My friend lent my Sarah Bessey's new book, Out of Sorts.  I.LOVE.THIS.BOOK!!!!!  I liked Jesus Feminist but it didn't do it for me the way her blog has over the years.  This book, on the other hand, it fantastic.  I'd love to read it all in one sitting but I don't want to miss the chance to reflect on each chapter before I move on.  I definitely need to buy this book for my collection!

I also had someone lend me Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.  I loved To Kill a Mockingbird and I have resisted reading this because I couldn't imagine loving it as much as her other book.  Someone handed this to me and said I had to read it and I've been trying to, slowly.  I'm not very far in (I keep falling asleep) but I'm not sure whether that's a statement about the book or about my life, of late.  I'll let you know.

I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading and knitting!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday, Plan B

I had been looking forward, all week, to this weekend.  I love Easter weekend.  I love the services.  I love the family traditions.  I love the chance to be focused on what means most to me.  We were especially excited because I have been part of a women's prayer study since September and these women have become so special to me.  They go to a different church and it happened that our two churches were worshipping jointly for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  It may sound silly but all of us being together with our families meant so much to me.  I had been rehearsing with the Worship team and was singing on Good Friday morning and singing songs I love and we had get togethers with Dh's family set for the weekend as well.  It sounded like exactly the kind of weekend I was hoping for.  I had so many plans.

Then, the weather hit.

Thursday night's service was cancelled due to freezing rain.  That was disappointing but at least we would be able to see everyone this morning.

Then, Dh's family cancelled.  That was o.k.  I had known the weekend was going to be crazy-busy and we have plans in the next several weeks.  This would just mean more time for naps and reading.

Then, the power very dramatically went out this morning at 5 a.m.  (Having the power fully go off and fully come on again repeatedly for about 10 minutes before going off fully is an alarming experience!)  That was when I started to feel really frustrated.  Didn't Mother Nature realise this weekend was Easter?  Come on...

Then, this morning's service was cancelled.  Seriously?  Good Friday with no service?  What photos would I have for the memory wall this year?  What would make this special for the kids?  I had all of these ideas for what Easter should be and life was not cooperating.   You would think that after how many years of things not going according to plan, I would be able to roll with it but I'm still terrible at it.

I took about an hour or so of feeling really let down and then, I decided it was time to get over it.  Given what we are honouring, do I truly have ANY right to complain?  How ridiculous.  I am so very lucky, I have no right to complain, even if it wasn't the way I wanted things to be.  I feel so shallow even writing this because I was being such a baby but truly, Easter means so much to me.  While I am trying to be more grown up, I was just so sad.

Anyway, I decided that it was time to make new memories this year and to turn this into the Easter plan B that ended up being one of our best.  I started by trying to take some photos to capture other memories.

 There was my wonderful Dh, who remembered that he had bought a little propane burner to make me my tea in just this kind of situation.  Never has a cup of tea tasted so good.
 There was the family effort at bailing the sump pump.  If you don't live somewhere that you need one, consider yourself lucky.  This area is damp and if you don't have a sump pump, in the spring, you will have a basement filled with water if you aren't careful.  We had to hand bail ours every 40 minutes and that involved taking 10 - 15 buckets of water to the bathroom to pour into the tub.  We had some giggles as we managed to spill water on our feet.

Then, there was the skating rink outside.  It was actually very pretty if you didn't feel the need to go anywhere.  We had to run out to the grocery store (we have other friends who aren't able to see family, either, so we are doing an "Orphans dinner" on Sunday and I had to get ingredients for our Jello eggs - yes, Jello eggs, you can laugh but my family has always had this weird attachment to Jello treats at holidays) and we discovered a skating rink outside.  We spent about 30 minutes chipping ice to avoid killing ourselves and the kids discovered the joys of slipping and sliding.  The neighbour kids from over the road saw us having fun and decided to join us.  It was totally unplanned and totally memorable.

 Little Man's means to help chip away the ice.

 Finally, just before bedtime, the sun came out and the evening light shining through the ice on the trees was much prettier than you can tell from this photo


It wasn't a day of worship in the way that we had planned but after a day of listening to Taize, Hillsong and Chris Tomlin (yes, we are eclectic in our tastes!), reading and cuddling at home and having fun in the magical world outside, I feel like at least I was present and not taking things for granted.  I can't say that it was the most worshipful day in the way I had planned but I was reminded, yet again, of how lucky I am.

Oh and hey, I have some photos that will immediately remind us of a special year...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yarn Along

Welcome to my weekly Yarn Along post.  I'm having so much fun with this and I find that these posts really help me to keep some forward momentum.  Thank you so much to Ginny who hosts the weekly Yarn Along over at her beautiful blog!

This week, I finally finished my leg warmers for my daughter.  I'm really excited!  I think they turned out pretty well.  I still need to anchor ends and do some blocking but overall, Pk is happy with them so that is what matters.

Now, I want to turn my attention to making some dishcloths.   Looking at everyone else's posts has made me want to take a bit of time to make some more myself so I am back to my favourite pattern, Open Star.  I add a garter stitch border at the top, bottom and sides but I like the finished look.  I bought one of the large balls cotton and I'll be curious to see how many cloths it makes.

Nothing very exciting on the book front.  I am almost finished both malestrom and Suite Francaise and I have books waiting.  A friend gave me a copy of Go Set a Watchman and I can't wait to read it.  I know it's not To Kill a Mockingbird but I loved that book so much, I'd love another chance to read Harper Lee.  I also like to try to read books that I have been loaned quickly - my family has a bad habit of doing things to borrowed books (the last time, a dog threw up on the book, which has never happened before or since!)

I can't wait to see what everyone else is working on!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Holy Week

I'm feeling very frustrated right now.  Today was Palm Sunday, as many of you will know.  For those of you who don't know, it's a BIG deal.  It's the start of the week often referred to as Holy Week or Passion week.  It's the week that starts with glory, ends with glory and has a whole lot of darkness in the middle.  As a Christian, this is the biggest week in the year, the time when we are pondering the biggest mysteries of our faith and celebrating Jesus and who He was and is.  Why doesn't it seem like anyone is paying attention?

I get frustrated every year.  I'm not Catholic and I'm from a background that teaches me not to celebrate too soon - the pain has to come before the joy.  Most Protestant churches don't do Holy Week to the same extend that Catholic ones do (our former church in Toronto did a Thursday night service but neither the church we used to worship at or our current church even have a Maundy Thursday service and while there are mentions of Holy Week, we aren't given much guidance as to how to honour it).  Here I am, in the midst of what is supposed to be so important and yet I can't seem to find a way to make the world slow down or to make the world around me notice.  I'm just as busy and in fact, probably busier as I try to get Easter treats purchased and made, attend Worship Team rehearsals and clean my house to host family when really, I'd like to go to a retreat and hide away.  It seems so strange to be at work on Thursday and dealing with all that busyness and yet also try to be read for church (both practically and in my head) that evening.  It's even worse on the years that Passover corresponds with Maundy Thursday - Dh and I try to do a Messianic Seder and trying cooking lamb and doing a lingering meal in that madness. 

I don't know what the secret is and I can honestly say after spending some time online and browsing Pinterest, nobody else seems to have the answer.  I guess it can be said that there is a lesson here in terms of focusing on Jesus and the Story while I am in the midst of a very insanely busy life but it's a lesson I'm having trouble learning and I'm finding it very frustrating.

Friday, March 18, 2016


One of the benefits of having a daughter who is 8 turning 9 is that we have the chance to read all kinds of wonderful books together.  It has also led me to rediscover the books of my childhood (and I was a big reader and lover of books who had the most wonderful librarian mother, so we read some wonderful things).  I'm always on the lookout for old pleasures and since doing used book sales seems to be very "in" at schools right now, it gives me many chances to scrounge old books.  I found an old favourite a few weeks ago.

In the last ten or so years, list making, especially gratitude list making has become a really popular thing to do.  I think I first head about it when Oprah embraced Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance and everyone was supposed to write down three gratitudes each evening.  As someone who loves nothing more than a blank notebook, of course, I jumped on that train.  Then, along came Ann Voskamp and One Thousand Gifts, again, embracing the idea of recording gratitudes.  This was another book that I loved and I started yet another notebook.  At our last booksale, I realized that my list making goes back much further than either of these two authors.

When I was around ten (I can't remember exactly), I stumbled across the book Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry.

 I don't remember much about the book other than that she was a list maker and she always had lists going of things that she liked and hated.  That was when my list making habit was born and I loved those books.  I found one on the table at the book sale and I had to grab it!  It's not a classic by any means, unlike many of the others that Pk and I share (that's another post) but given that Pk already seems to share my love of notebooks and jotting down ideas and thoughts, I hope that she will love Anastasia the way that I did.  Going back and browsing my lists can be so much fun - reminding me of the little pleasures that so often get left behind in the frenzy of daily life, especially those connected to the changing seasons.  Part of being present is watching for those little pleasures and keeping these lists goes a long way to help me to keep my eyes open!

Are you a list keeper?  Do you try to keep gratitude or other lists?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Today's View

I haven't been using my blog at all well of late and I keep finding myself WANTING to get back to it but either lacking the words or feeling too tired.  It turns into a place for rants but I know that nobody in my life wants to listen with the odd Yarn Along post thrown in but that's not what I want it to be.  I love seeing other people's blogs, filled with lovely photos of small but significant life events, the view around and little intentional snippets from their lives.  It makes everyone else's life seem so much less chaotic than mine (perhaps there is a lesson there).  Anyway, I'd like to try to recapture my blog a bit and see whether I can turn it into my own little snippet of intention and peace and a place to celebrate the joys of life.

Most days, I go for at least one walk with the dogs and one luxury I have of living where I do is that there are many places for me to walk.  I try to do a minimum of 10 000 steps each day and often, I get well beyond that.  I walk at lunch at work to clear my head and then, after school, the dogs and I do a forest-type walk somewhere. 

One treat with it being March Break is the fact that my walking can happen earlier in the day (when I happen to enjoy walking most) and with my friend, up at her 100 acre farm.  I don't know that I would want the work of a farm but the view at her place and the sounds and space is what I would dream of in a different life.  Today, as we walked, the sun was breaking through the early morning clouds and later in the walk, we saw not one but two rainbows.  While the photo quality stinks as I was using my phone, I think you can see the magic of the walk.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Yarn Along

I can't believe it!  I managed two Yarn Along posts in a row!  You can tell it's March Break if I am finding time for this.  I love the Yarn Along over at Small Things hosted by Ginny.  The good news is that I find so many wonderful patterns and books to add to my list.  The not-so-wonderful thing is that I realise how little progress I am making.

Books - I finished Between the World and Me this week (the selection for the Red Couch book club over at She Loves) and I was rather proud of that.  I am not sure what I thought of it.  I found parts that definitely challenged some of my thinking and I would say that I am probably more receptive than most to the message but as a white middle class woman living in Canada, I can't say that I can entirely enter into the world of being black in the urban U.S.  It was the kind of book that stays with you and bits keep coming back.  It certainly made me think. 

I try to have one work of non-fiction on the go at a time.  I won malestrom by Carolyn Custis James from Red Couch so I felt like I should read it.  It's very interesting - exploring the gender roles that we have traditionally been told are biblical and yet, when you dive into the Biblical text with James, may, in fact, not be.  It's not a light read and it's another one that challenges some of my thinking.  The roles of men and women is an area that is hazy for me - I know what I have been socialized to and I know what messages are being presented but at the end of the day, I'm not entirely sure where I fall, other than that there are no straightforward answers and anything that involves oppression is wrong (but I think that the results of the feminist message of the 1970's can be oppressive, too).  It's an interesting read and is challenging me to look at things differently and I love anything that can take a biblical text that I have read for years and see it with a new lens.

I'm also still reading Suite Francaise.  I like it but it meanders slowly and it doesn't seem to keep my ADHD brain engaged very well.  I am determined to finish it - let's hope I can do it this week because I have some other books that are nagging at me urgently.

For readers, I thought I would share a little treasure that I discovered this past week.  I follow Leigh Kramer (editor of the Red Couch book club) and she mentioned that she was interviewed for What Should I Read Next: Book Talk and I thought I would check out the podcast.  Readers might really enjoy it!  She invites a guest who shares three books that he or she loves, two books he or she hated and then the host, Ann Bohmer, suggests three books for the guest to read.  I am really enjoying it.  I don't always connect with the books but I have developed a habit of making sure that Goodreads is open while I listen so I can add books to my "want to read" list.  It's great to listen to while knitting!

In the last week, my knitting has moved VERY slowly.   We spent the first part of March Break visiting my parents-in-law and I had hoped that there would be plenty of reading time but my little man with a bad tummy shortly after we arrived put paid to that.  I am hoping to get some more knitting done over the next few days.  I had hoped to have my leg warmers done by the time we got back from our visit but clearly, that didn't happen.

I can't wait to see what everyone else is working on!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Yarn Along

I love the Yarn Along hosted by Ginny over at Small Things.  I love her photos, I love getting ideas for knitting and most of all, I love having new book titles to add to my Goodreads want-to-read list.  I haven't been here for a while but I'd like to come back more regularly.  Browsing the Yarn Along is definitely a favourite thing for me and a sign that life is in balance if I can make time for it.

In terms of books, as always, I have several on the go at once.  Right now, I am focused on three books.

1.  Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisis Coates.  This is the book choice for this month at the Red Couch Book Club over at She Loves.  This is one of my favourite faith pages and one of my favourite book clubs.  For a progressive Christian like me, it can be very hard to find sources of good reading and so far, I have loved all but one of the Red Couch books.  I won't lie, this one is challenging for me.  This is written in the form of a letter from a father to his son and is basically a treatise on being black in the U.S.  I think, as a white woman in Canada, it's far outside my world and can be very challenging but it's interesting to see the world from such a different perspective.

2.  Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.  At my school, someone started a bring and take table of books in the staff room and this is a book that I saw that piqued my curiosity.  It's the story of a variety of people France during the occupation during WW2.  I believe that it was written by an author who was Jewish and was in hiding and wrote but later in the war, she was sent to a camp and eventually died.  The manuscript was found later and has fairly recently been published.  It's an interesting read and I find the characters oddly gripping but it's not exactly a light read and it's going very slowly.

3.  Certain Women by Madeleine L'Engle.  L'Engle is probably my favourite author of all time and I've read most of her books (although I am not sure I have read all of them and I know that I have avoided the Wrinkle in Time series).  I've been gradually buying her books secondhand (I LOVE getting books in the mail and there's something wonderful about secondhand books that have a past) and this was my most recent purchase.  It was interesting for me because I just finished reading The Rock that is Higher, which is a set of essays and which she wrote around the same time as this book and she often refers to this book.  As always, I love her and I love her style!


My knitting has been moving slowly of late but next week, during our March Break, I am hoping to make some progress.  Right now, I'm working on this lovely pair of leg warmers for Pk to wear when she is skating.

I can't wait to see what everyone else is doing!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

My Word

Did you choose a word for this year?  Did you make any resolutions?  I don't know about you but for me, right about now it's a distant memory and everything is the same as it was before.  I'm very pleased to say that this year is at least a little bit different.

You may remember that this year, my word is "Present."  After a lot of pondering and reflecting, I decided that I wanted to slow down, to enjoy things a bit more and to stop rushing so much.  I feel very much as if life is something that happens to me, not something that I get to be intentional about.  It makes me sad because I forget what life is about and I know that I am missing so many special moments that should be treasured.  I've been feeling this way for several years and if I am entirely honest, I know that I would need to cut more from my life than I am willing to in order to truly slow down.  This new way of trying to be is my compromise - trying to find some little ways to be more aware of what's going on and to find joy.

When I chose this word, I didn't really know what it was going to mean to me.  Before I do a status update of sorts, I should probably say that this is definitely a work in progress.  Temperamentally, I have always had an addiction to busy and my brain has always wanted to be engaged.  Boredom is my enemy.  On the other hand, since the kids came along,  I've felt more and more that I was on a speedway and I was just, barely managing to keep up.

So far this year, I have found three practices so far that seem to be helping.  Sabbath keeping has been the first.  It's not new to me but it's something I had forgotten.  Many years ago, Dh and I used to make Sunday technology free -  no t.v., no computer and we tried to keep anything electronic turned off.  It used to be wonderful, we spent Sunday afternoon quietly reading or playing games or going out.  It was nice.  It was easy in those days.  I don't remember when we stopped but somehow, Sunday had turned into church followed by errands and if we were lucky, we would be home by four and I'd spend the rest of the evening making lunches, cooking for the week, trying to get homework done and generally feeling resentful.  By the time I got the kids into bed, I was overwhelmed by the sense that I wasn't ready to go back to work.  Since January, with one or two exceptions, Sundays have been different.  I take Saturday evening and do any cooking and make lunches for Monday and Tuesday.  Housework and other jobs are done then, too.  Sunday, I get up early and run the dogs and then, after church, things are slow.  I refuse to run errands and we either play games as a family, read, nap (my personal favourite) or tidy (but the kind of puttering tidying that feels like getting to know home again).  I can't tell you what a difference this is making in terms of how I start my week.  I am finding now that I get REALLY resentful if I can't take Sunday at its new pace.  I am possessive of the quiet and I go back to work on Monday feeling as though life is more in control.

My second new practice that is really helping me is keeping a bullet journal.  I won't bore you with details but if you are interested, if you do a search on Pinterest of bullet journal keeping, there will be all kinds of articles.  I am not hugely involved in it but I feel so much more in control when I keep track of the jobs needing to be done and when, before I go to bed, I check what has and hasn't been done and get organized for the morning.  It's probably more of an illusion of control than anything else but given my job and the stage of life with my family, knowing that things are getting done as they need to be makes so much difference.  In the more recent past, I had developed a problem with doing things at the last minute or, worse, double booking us and then, there was the panicked scramble of trying to clean up the mess.  At this point, I am avoiding that and it's wonderful!

Finally, there is my scripture search.  I haven't really found any verses that speak to me exactly about being present but I decided, back in January, to take some time each Sunday and to search a verse about peace that speaks to me.  I write the verse on several cards and place them in different places and through the course of the week, I review the cards and ponder what that verse might be saying to me.  It's helpful because it often helps me to see something that I hadn't noticed or pondered before (e.g., so many of the verses have to do with keeping quiet or considerate in one's speech and I have found myself in many situations in which I'm realizing that it is participating in certain conversations that robs me of my peace).  I don't know that I have a year of peace verses that speak to me but for now, I have a long way to go.

I don't know whether other people find the "one word" practice to be a useful or an effective one but each of the women in my study group has chosen one this year and it's interesting to see how each of us keeps coming back to the struggle or challenge with our word.  It's leading to some very positive growth.