Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monopoly Night

 While celebrating his mother's birthday, Steve wandered into his parent's basement and found the Star Wars Monopoly game he purchased in 1998.  After some begging from his son, we played this game for the very first time on Sunday.  Yes, it sat unplayed for 12 years! Now it seems we are making up for lost time.

 From time to time our family enjoys "snacky suppers".  So tonight we made popcorn for dinner and ate while playing Monopoly.  Surprisingly our children did very well.  The older two are very competitive, which means some games end in tears and tantrums.  We tried our best to minimize this by telling them that the winner was the person who had the most fun. :) Aris won with Zane in close second.

 After the kids were in bed, Steve went out for grown-up food(shawarma).  When he returned, we played.  It was an interesting game with Steve ending up in jail 4 times.  He was a wee bit frustrated.  We had a lot of fun playing even though I won by a little bit more than he did.  Okay, four hundred credits more, but that's not a lot really.  Playing with my family and then just with my husband were extremely fun experiences.  I'm hopeful that our next family gaming experience will go well.  Even if it doesn't, I'm going to remember tonight as proof that we can all have fun together. :) *happy sigh*

Monday, November 29, 2010

Clinging Exhaustion

 Exhaustion is pulling at my bones again, making accomplishing anything almost impossible.  Bread was made with "help" from Kian. Laundry was on my list, but sadly carrying the basket of dirty clothes and leaving in the living room does not count as an accomplishment.  I'm sitting here feeling guilty as my wonderful husband cleans the kitchen.  I wanted to, really I did, but feeling faint does not lend itself to accomplishing much.

 It's been a good weekend.  Aris and I took part in a women's event at the church we're attending.  We spent about six hours cooking together.  Not only do I now have 6 meals(we made 8, but i gave one away and ate one for supper tonight), I also know more people at church!  Slowly we are getting to know people and feeling much more comfortable there.  Aris will be singing in the choir for Christmas and all of our children are feeling much more comfortable there.  It's a good thing. :)

 Yesterday was a beautiful day.  We used an almost expired coupon at one of my favourite restaurants.  The children behaved beautifully!  We dropped Aris off at my parents and then continued home.  Kian fell asleep in the car and stayed asleep for almost two hours.  We took advantage of his nap to play Star Wars Monopoly with Zane.  Initially I was lagging far behind, but somehow I ended up winning by a considerable amount. I was sad that we had to stop. On the other hand, Steve was more than happy to quit. Normally he wins every game we play.  It's rare that I have the advantage.  :)

 Although this exhaustion is frustrating me, I'm so glad that we had a good weekend.  The sadness and pain of last year still weighs on me, on both of us, but we are finding some measure of healing.  For that, I am extremely thankful!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Down Winter Roads

 I drove away today past the roads I know, down country roads through blowing snow.  Anxiety sat on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, grabbing at my heart.  Passing Mennonite buggies, I shuddered at the thought of hitting ice, loosing control and hitting one.  My hands clenched, breath ran shallow.  Then I remembered.  "For God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind".  I repeated 'til breathing eased and fingers unclenched.  I hate that first winter drive through blowing snow and icy roads.  My winter driving skills have been unneeded, tucked away with mittens through the beautiful spring, summer and fall.  Now they are unearthed and I have to ease back into those once familiar patterns.

 After stopping to remove my son's jacket, we finally arrived.  My friend's new house our destination.  She left the city for small town, exchanging cookie cutter for an older house with high ceilings, patterned wallpaper and transoms with original glass.  I loved her house!  Old houses awake joy in me.  I love the strange cupboards, shelves and hide-aways.  The quirks of layout making each one unique, with discoveries to be made.  The houses now are so boring, so unoriginal.  I want to live in an old house with an attic I could curl up in with a book.  As this is unlikely,  I soaked up this house of a friend, exclaimed over the bathroom separated from the sink, the unique light fixtures that so perfectly matched each room, the ancient patterned and sometimes textured wallpaper, the frosted transoms, the original wood door and the attic.  I loved all of my friend's house!  So we sat and toured and had lunch together while our children played.  I fed the baby whose birth I watched and marvelled at how he has grown.  Although the drive was intimidating with unknown, snow-swept roads, it shan't keep me away any longer.

 Later, the whole family aboard, our van travelled past fields ready for winter's sleep once more.  This time my baby happily exclaimed "i see corn fields! i yuv corn!"  Soon after uttering those phrases, he began chanting "CORN ON COB! CORN ON COB! CORN ON COB! " Utterly adorable!  We hurried through icy wind to farmhouse old where we dined with friends.  Then, dishes cleared and coffee cups held hostage*, we dumped out our bags of purchased goodies and assembled boxes for faraway children.  Aris and I did one together for a girl about her age.  She choose and packed, arranging each item multiple times.  Then we filled out a sheet and coloured it in too so that this little girl will know Aris who likes pink and has two brothers sent her a present.  There was much joy here.  We cut elastics, parcelled out soap, cups, pencils, erasers, socks, toys and other goodies for these children we will never know.  We sneaked extras in our box so this little girl will have some to share.  There was joy in doing and giving, joy in serving together.  My hyper storm-souled girl was calm then, her fear erased by purpose.

 I am tired now from busyness, hard conversations and lugging my beloved son everywhere.  But it's a good tired.  Tomorrow looms with new adventures, new friends to meet and make.  So to bed I will go.  Eventually. :)

*yes, i did literally hold coffee cups hostage.  i helped clear the table before we started packing the boxes, and someone tried to keep his coffee cup.  i told him that he must give it up but that if he behaved he would get it back after the boxes were packed. this worked well, until my FIL returned with his coffee cup freshly filled. i accused him of sabotaging my plan and headed back to the kitchen.  he laughed! *sniff* :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Prodigal Granddaughter

 Since my friends moved, a year and a half now, I drive past my grandmother's house at least once a week. But I don't stop.  We're close geographically, just not emotionally.  At times I wrestle with this, especially given my close relationship with my other grandmother.  I know the why, but I still don't like it.  So at the family reunion on Sunday, I mentioned that we drive by every Thursday at noon, and would she like some guests for lunch?  Several times before I left, she reminded me of our planned date.

 Thursday came and my littlest one was in a mood.  He fussed, fidgeted and fumed.  He did not want to be held, he wanted that toy, no now this one.  He wanted food or drink, then pushed it away untasted.  He was a grump!  Taking little grumps to Great-Grandmother's house for lunch is not a good idea.  But I didn't want to cancel.  I prayed, buckled in the protesting child and drove the few blocks from our friends to our grandmother's.  Then I unbuckled and carted them in.

 To find that my grandmother had laid a feast.  There were rolls, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, a beautifully laid plate of sliced tomatoes, breaded chicken, baked beans and pie.  She had set the table, all beautifully prepared for her honoured guests, this delinquent grandchild.  Eating my grandmother's cooking occasionally fills me with unease as it can be fairly hit and miss, especially her pies.  But today, it was wonderful!  Her pie especially was fantastic, real pumpkin pie made completely from scratch.  When she cooks good, she cooks real good!  We sat and ate, my grumpy child rendered mute from shyness.  He refused to sit anywhere but on my lap, darting accusatory looks at all who dared look at him, especially towards his great-uncle.  He did drink juice, and suspiciously ate the corn, so I considered that progress.  Eventually, slowly, he warmed up.  He ate the pie and then, when my aunt arrived with her little charge, all three children ran around my grandmother's house like monkeys.  Having raised six, my grandmother simply smiled, her nerves unfrazzled.

 We drank tea, and I, this prodigal grandchild, felt welcomed at this table I have not sat at, this door I have not darkened in quite some time.  I marvelled at this table set for me, this feast including pie for a grandchild that does not often come near.  I hugged warmly, thanked deeply and set a date for two weeks hence where we will share lunch again, this granddaughter prodigal no more.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


 "I'm sorry..." the text read and with that my anger boiled over.  I put the phone back in my pocket, an angry muttering running through my head.  "Sorry, yeah, I'll show you sorry!" I wanted to respond like him, with angry words I don't use and phrases no Christian should utter so I didn't.  The keyboard stayed closed.

 Sunday was almost perfect, would have been perfect except for him. We were on our way to a family gathering, the first on my side I've been to in years.  This family is so big, too big, for me to feel comfortable, so I avoid the reunions, afraid of rejection, of having to make conversation with the strangers that are my family.  My grandma is one of 15, leaving me with great aunts and uncles that I don't even know the names of, me the one who loves to know names, couldn't even fill out the family tree on my grandmother's side.  It's sad.  There are a couple aunts and uncles I know, ones that I cherish, but haven't seen in far too long.  The recent deaths on my husbands side remind me this, so I determine to go to the next family function, a birthday celebration for one of my great-uncles.

 We stopped on our way to pick up Aris.  But he was waiting, and stabbed me with his words before I could even knock on the door.  The accusations were horrific, and there was no waiting for reply.  Unsettled, I wanted to wait outside, but instead was herded in by his mother for more.  He yelled and swore and accused, while I stood.  I felt compassion for this man, so desperate, so broken, so far from the God he once loved.  The unreasonable anger hurt, as did the accusations and complete inability to reason or listen, but there was a sense of sadness, grace and compassion towards him.

 Finally, I escaped and bawled in my van.  I was stuck, no ability to go by myself, to recover.  Instead I sobbed for well over an hour with my poor babies and husband there with me.  There was nowhere to go, no escape, no safe place to process.  Just the van, on our way to a family function.  It was bad.  And I became angry at him, for what he put me through, for what my children were being exposed to, for taking away my joy of sharing a drive with my husband.  We love long drives for then we talk and share time.  Instead I was a wreck, out of control.  It was not pretty.

 My mom called, thinking she had seen our van.  She struggled to decipher my words uttered through wracking sobs.  She prayed.  Steve prayed.  My dad prayed.  Slowly the tears stopped and I calmed.  We arrived, and I shut down, playing with my iPod until my parents met us there.  Then, taking a deep breath, with more prayer, we went in.

 My great-uncle Charlie, whom I couldn't pick out in a crowd although all the siblings look strongly alike, but know that he was a fiddler of some renown, turned 90.  My dad tells stories about his aunts and uncles, who danced and fiddled and made mischief and music.  My great-aunt Lila is there, a beautiful butterfly broach pinned to her chest, eyes sparkling so you'd never know she'd lost both legs and can't dance anymore.  I wanted to see her especially, one of my favourite great-aunts with her zest for life.  I hugged her and showed off my babies and husband too, for she hadn't met any of them.   My great-aunt Bertha, sister to my grandfather and my great-uncle Ted, brother to my grandmother(and married to each other) were there too.  They didn't recognize me at first, so I grabbed my dad and came back.   With him in tow, the connections were clear.  It's been awhile since I've been known as Tom's girl.  In such a large crowd, I didn't know how to introduce myself.  Am I Tom's girl or Mavis' granddaughter?  For the first time in quite awhile, Steve's wife didn't work.

 So the day got better, even as I wrestled with emotions.  The familiar darkness came back and has been lingering on this week, rushing in at odd hours.  I'm weaker than normal, and the renewed energy that I been enjoying dried up again.  I feel trapped, unable to communicate clearly.  My nightmares are returning.  I'm becoming paranoid again, scared to trust anyone at all.

 Then this text, apologizing, came.  My anger boiled.  Steve was puzzled over my response.  Hours later when I asked him why, he pointed out that this is probably the second apology we've gotten from him since we've been married.  Hmm...that does mean something.   So I ranted in my head, mused over forgiveness and why I don't want to offer him any.  I know I must.  Heavens, I counsel my children over and over that we forgive because God forgave us.  Perhaps I don't feel forgiven.  Drawing deep breath, I opened my phone and responded "I forgive you".  The hurt is still there as is some anger.  But the choice has been made.  I will forgive because I am forgiven.  Perhaps in time, this will be enough.

 Joining with Emily today,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Unplanned Gaming

 Tonight looked pretty booked.  I had a client meeting and a child to take to dance lessons.  But the client was double-booked, and my daughter was "too sick" to go to dance.  Then my friend and neighbour posted on facebook that she wanted to have a games night tonight.   Perfecto! There wasn't any deep conversation, but we played a game with friends, laughed, drank deliciously flavoured decaf coffee and got to hold their 7 month old. It was good.  Now to read a bit more of the Belgariad before bed. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

If Days Were Like Pages...

I'd take a knife to this one.

 If I could cut out the big bad blotch in the middle, today would have been a perfect day.  I looked nice in my new outfit and fabulous new scarf that my best friend Kate helped me purchase.  Our family actually made it to church on time and snagged a seat with Kate and her family.  Going to church with Kate is a joy. I'm so glad that we're attending the same church..when she's in town. :) For the first time in over a year, I wasn't scared of attending church nor hating that it was Sunday.  Lacking both of those emotions today was beautiful.

 After the bad stuff, we attended a family reunion with my parents.  This was for my dad's side of the family.  His mother is the youngest of fifteen children and one of her brothers was turning 90.  This put four siblings in the 90 plus camp and it was great to see all of them.  Now to be honest, I don't know a lot of my great aunts and uncles.  There are just too many.  But today was special because I got to see some of the ones that I'm closest to, or like the best.  We waited until my parents arrived to go in, partially because that way our relatives would know who we are and so that I could stop crying.  My parents were uber-helpful with our children who in turn felt much more at ease in the crowd with their grandparents there.  I hadn't seen some of these relatives since my wedding if not longer, so it was very nice to introduce them to my children.

 Steve's parents had invited us over for a wiener roast in their fireplace.  We arrived there early, so Aris and I headed over to Kate's parents' house for tea.  We had a lovely visit!  At one point both Aris and Kate were sprawled on the floor looking at craft books while her mother and I visited.  It was a blessing for Aris to have some calm, quiet, safe time after our challenging experience.

 Then we tromped back through the yards to Steve's parents' house for dinner.  My sister-in-law and her children joined us.  We had a very nice evening, and my kids did really well until the end.  Then Kian had a major meltdown.

 There was a lot of good today.  I'm not trying to be mysterious about what happened, I just don't feel like writing about it.  Instead I'm trying to remember the good, the blessings, the joy that was there. I think it worked. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Better Week

   This week has been so much better. I'm slowly gaining back my strength, stamina and muscle.  I did more this week, cooked more this week and did a shoulder stand at yoga on Tuesday.  It's exciting to see progress.  My best friend is in town this weekend (yay!) and my other best friend had a baby, making me an auntie(honourary) again!  I'm tired, but very very happy.  Steve paused his show so I can write, so I will end this post so he can go back to his show. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Divine Orchestrations

 Little one in tow, I was leaving the chiropractor's office, when I realized that I had to pee.  But walking back in to an unfriendly receptionist with a hyper two year old, did not excite me.  I weighed my options.

Option 1: Go home to pee and pull struggling child out of car, walk from the parking lot to my door on the far end and then repeat process?  Please no!!!

Option 2: Continue on the grocery store at the mall.  Park by the grocery store, but walk through the mall to the bathrooms with screaming, struggling child as I left my handy-dandy Ergo at home?  Shoot me first, please!!!

 Option 3:  Drop in at my mother-in-love's for a short visit and a pee break.  Perfect!

 I called, she was there, over we went.   Shamed, I didn't tell her that I needed to pee, just said we wanted to visit.  Happily, my little monkey leapt from the van, eager to see his grandma.  Shaking garden dirt from her boots, she grabbed the mail and welcomed us in.  Then, she paused.  Shuffling through her stack of mail, she found a Christmas card.  No biggie, or it wouldn't have been, but this was addressed from her dear uncle who died almost two weeks ago.  She stopped, turned, and then grabbed me in a bear hug as tears began to swell.  I hugged back, understanding, marvelling at the grace and preparedness with which this beloved man approached death.  Briefly, my other mother grieved, and then letting go, commented how glad she was that I was there.

 I knew right then that this visit wasn't me being lazy or impatient or too scared of snooty receptionist.  This was, without doubt, the hand of the Divine.  I am awed, humbled, shocked by the orchestrations this great God will take to comfort His distressed child.  He knew what she would need.  He sent me without me even knowing to be His hands, His arms.  My thoughts splinter and I wonder what opportunities I miss when I try to be strong instead of being me.  I wonder if God loves me that much too?  I wonder and wonder and ponder and hope to not soon forget the reality of being sent.

 As is my Thursday custom, I join with Emily and the Imperfect family today.

For Dinner Tonight I Made....

 Recently I have been much more creative than usual.  Creativity has just been oozing out in many different forms.  My favourite is, as always, food.  Typically I bake something on Wednesdays so I can test it on the unsuspecting members of my small group, but we skipped small group tonight.  Since I wasn't baking, I decided to try something different.  Tonight I made pizza!

 I've never done this before, so I was a little nervous, but also very excited.  I kept wanting to message Steve that I was making an awesome surprise for dinner, but never quite got there.  I managed to get some of my ingredients on sale(priced to clear is my favourite!).  I put the dough in the oven to rise while I collected the children from school.  They were very excited about helping.

 The recipe I used made enough dough for three crusts, but I only needed two so we froze the third.  Aris rolled out one crust, while Kian did the other.  They both did very good jobs, although Aris' was much better.  She decorated her pizza all by herself and did a phenomenal job.  I should have taken pictures because it was amusing how much better than mine hers was.  She won for most beautiful pizza.  I won for messiest and most toppings. :)  Aris made a standard pizza with tomato sauce, pepperoni, cheese, black olives, mushrooms and some broccoli.  Okay, so maybe it wasn't that standard after all.  My pizza had homemade pesto sauce, cheese, chicken, tomatoes, olives, red onions, black olives, some mushrooms for steve, broccoli, and some pepperoni that Kian sneaked on.  My pizza was loaded!  As a result the crust was rather soggy, but oh was it good!

 We had a blast making pizza.  I've never made it before.  Although there were some frustrations, it was such a fun family event and a fun surprise for Steve.  We had enough leftovers that both Aris and Steve will be taking some in their lunches tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yoga Night

This evening I dragged myself out of the house for yoga.  I've been taking yoga since Kian was 6 weeks old and it's been a very good thing for me, both mentally and physically.  But when the chronic fatigue first hit in April, I was done.  Yoga turned into a nightmare for me.  I kept going for a while, but eventually gave myself permission to stop.  Then I started needing that outlet again.  I've been attending in spurts- three weeks on, three weeks off.  Tonight I felt well enough to go, so I did. Class was a blast!  I'm not sure what was going on, but we laughed a lot! Along with the laughter, we did some different poses like dead bug(the real name, I kid you not) and rolled around on the ground with our feet in the air.  Then we laughed some more.  It was good and I feel so much better! *happy sigh*

Monday, November 15, 2010

Date Night!

 Pinching ones thumb in the doorjam to ones room both requires a lot of talent and sets a very bad tone for the rest of the day.  It also leaves one grumpy and prone to meltdowns, especially when a certain two year old decides to throw things at Mommy's sore thumb.  Then one might have a meltdown.

 Later, after apologizing for said meltdown, ones husband might decide that his wife REALLY REALLY REALLY needs to get out of the house.  So this wonderful man might ask his parents if they would babysit and his equally wonderful parents might agree.  In the end, one still has a very sore thumb and may very well lose the nail, but one feels much more human again.  *happy sigh*

The end.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Sometimes my days seem so strange.  Maybe everyone experiences this, but my days just don't flow smoothly.  Today was punctuated by screaming, or at least that was what it felt like.  I woke up to a massive screaming fit that involved all three of my children, but thankfully not my husband.  We attended a lovely church service.  After singing the closing hymn, the woman in front of me turned around specifically to comment on how wonderful my voice was.  She asked why I wasn't singing on stage and sharing my talent with everyone else.  I was a bit shocked, since I don't sing very well anymore, but responded that this was only our fifth Sunday at this church.  We chatted and met her father-in-law as well.  It was encouraging, not just the compliment but the making of new friends.

 After we left the church, there was screaming. Then more screaming.  Then lunch and more screaming.  Then our neighbour's party which had much less screaming, but also less English.  However, I was content to be different, since there was significantly less screaming.  I ducked out of the party early to attend a Taize service(a quiet meditative reflective service?), but took the primary screamer with me.  She was very good and sat quietly for the entire hour.   Thankfully she had exhausted most of her screaming by the time we returned home.

 After I put her to bed, I went back to the party for my cake.  I was planning on eating quickly and then curling up on my bed with a book, but instead ended up having a serious discussion about why I am a Christian as opposed to any other religion.  These discussions are fascinating, yet challenging as I'm discussing them with my friend who is far more learned than I am.  He's doing post-doctoral work, I'm an university drop-out.  But we had an interesting discussion with Steve filling in concepts when I forgot the words to explain them.  Thankfully there was no screaming to punctuate this discussion, just chocolate cake.

 I am thankful for silence, for days filled with interesting events and friends.  I am thankful for cake, for friends from different cultures, but most of all for bedtime.  Oh and I'm very thankful for my wonderful husband who holds my hand, sits very close to me in church, and speaks for me when I have lost my words.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yesterday Steve commented that I"m the happiest I've been in a long time this week. I think he's right.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


 We walk into church late-ish, just as the first song ends and the welcome begins.  I am feeling in control, diaper bag all packed for the boys' afternoon stay with their grandparents, me all dressed up in my new best, make-up done, hair brushed, black shoes found, ready for the memorial service later because there is no going home today.  I slide in, breathe a sigh of relief.  But then I see the poppies red pinned to every breast and my heart sinks.  My poppies rest at home, stuck on the bulletin board.

 Without the plastic flower, I look like the post-modern skeptic that many of my generation are.  When sacrifice is not having the absolute latest technical gadget and wars are fought in faraway places, depicted as either a strike for freedom or an oil grab, we lose perspective and dismiss those long ago battles along with those fought present day. When our brave men and women keep coming home in body bags, but stability is ever far away, war seems senseless.  There seems to be no good reasons to fight, we are disillusioned and extend that to our view of history and our heroes.  So many don't wear a poppy.  Pages come up rebuking Remembrance Day as a celebration of war.  Slowly the memories fade as each year there are less veterans walking in the parade, as digital media becomes more important than listening to the stories of the great-grandparents who carry those memories in their hearts, or engraved on their bodies.

I look like one, but am not.

 For I remember.  I've read stories, both real and fictional, of the sacrifices made, the sorrows and horrors witnessed.  I've listened to my grandmother tell her stories of her part in the war effort.  I've studied not just the war, but the war effort and how it shaped my country, my province and my city.  I've seen the cenotaphs in every city and town I've visited, engraved with the list of those fallen overseas.  My great-uncles served as pilots, my grandmother as a bookkeeper in the WAVES, my one grandfather as a volunteer in the Coast Guard, my other grandfather was in basic training when the war ended.  I remember, not the supposed glory of the war, but of the great sacrifice everyone of that period made.

 Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters all said goodbye.  Some were lucky enough to say welcome home, but then walked for years alongside those coping with brutal memories of bloodshed.  All came home wounded, some physically, all haunted by those memories that couldn't be put away like the uniforms and medals given. People went years rationing simple luxuries like sugar or butter or meat, sacrificing everything for the war effort.  It wasn't in vain.

 So today, and often, I remember.  I remember that evil can flourish if not dealt with, even in our own hearts if not guarded properly.  I remember that sometimes great sacrifices are needed and I wonder if I could make them.  I remember a whole generation who sacrificed everything, even their best and brightest.  I remember the beginning of Canada's nationhood.  I may not wear my poppy, but today and always, I remember.

 And as I remember, I join with Emily today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Headaches on Tuesdays

 Blah! I HATE headaches!  Once again, we had company over for dinner on a Tuesday and once again I had a massive headache. Boo! Last week, we invited Aris' teacher over for dinner.  We had a very nice evening with her.  I really enjoyed getting to know her better and experiment with a vegetarian recipe I had found.  I do cook meatless about once a week (or more depending on the week), but it was fun to try something a bit nicer and different than what I usually do.

 Tonight we entertained friends from IT.  Steve grew up with D and she was one of the very first people I met after we started dating.  Since our meeting, she met a wonderful man, got married and now has a three year old.  As they live in Austria, I've met them once since then, the last time they were home on furlough. That made tonight extra special.  They're a multicultural family.  H. was(is?) a refugee from the Middle East and D is from here.  He speaks Farsi, she speaks English.  To each other, they speak German.  It was fun getting to know them both better, hear their stories and enjoy some good food.  I really enjoyed listening to them speak German together.  H's English is still in progress, so D would stop to translate if I spoke too quickly or used unfamiliar idioms.  As we are becoming much more used to this, we weren't frustrated at all which soothed our friends' nerves.  Thankfully our children played well together.

 Thankfully my headache calmed down while they were here, but it is steadily gaining in strength again.  I am thankful for both the reprieve and the visit with friends.  I am also thankful for my wonderful husband who just cleaned my kitchen for me. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Graceful Parents

 We had a rough Sunday.  It started off well, although scary, with service at the church we just started attending.  It was Communion Sunday which was done quite a bit different than what I was used to.  Change is scary right now.  But it worked out.  Then the day collapsed into drama with an incident with Aris' father while I was attending a funeral in another city.  To top off the day, my sister called in tears after having both money and her cell phone stolen while she was in training.  It was rough.  I woke up today and demanded that there be no more drama today.  I just couldn't handle it!

 It's hard when walking through days, weeks, seasons like this to see any good in it.  My heart is heavy.  I don't know what steps to take next regarding the situation with Aris' father.  While walking home after dropping off my children at school this morning, I poured out my heart to my friends, one of whom is a single dad.  I felt stupid, like I was a burden.  But my words were out, unable to be taken back.

 Much later on our way back to school, I ended up walking with Mark, the single dad.  He shared some about his relationship with his ex-wife, about how her anger and brokenness affect him and his kids.  He shared how much better it is for him to be out of the relationship and yet how he is continuing to be in relationship with her.  As we walked to school to fetch the children, she was sitting at his house drinking coffee, having had a rough day.  We shared our stories, discovering how much we and our parents have in common.

 Not wanting to pry, I haven't asked many questions about his marriage or the break-up.  But today, the walls were down and he shared how long he'd been with his wife and how long they've been apart.  I realized that it was eight years ago this month that I made a crazy, yet wise decision to end my engagement to Aris' father.  It was hard.  Although my parents didn't think I could be a single mom, they breathed a sigh of relief when I cancelled the wedding.  Mark commented that his parents and mine could swap stories.

  I shared about my mother's journey from anger to love towards Aris' father and how yesterday, in the midst of a difficult situation, my mother reminded my ex that she loved him.  Rather than scold him for his actions, she bought him some coffee and spent some time with him, almost as if he were her own son, rather than one who had caused such grief both then and now.  Amazingly, Mark said that his parents have done the same.  He thought that they would have barred his ex-wife from their property, but instead they show grace and compassion towards her.

 This capacity for grace amazes me.  For both Mark and me,  it is oftentimes hard to show grace while in the situation.  Sometimes the hurt is too big, the situation too drastic.  What happened yesterday was not okay.  But to see our parents, who have every right to be angry and hostile, choosing instead to love is beyond words.  Just writing this my eyes filled with tears.  I wrote this post better in my head while making soup.  The words flowed in a beautiful, artsy way.  Now sitting down to write, it feels stilted and the phrasing that ran through my head like water earlier has now dried up.  But still the beauty of grace, undeserved, unexplained, lingers.  May this same grace find its way into my life, tempering my angry tongue.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Outside My Window

While fixing lunch, I glanced outside my window.  There, on the cones of my bare echinicea plant, sat a little bird.  As I watched, two more little birds joined him, pecking at the seeds.  I was so glad that I hadn't cut them down yet.  Watching the birds made me happy and I longed for my camera.  But it would be a difficult shot through my dirty windows or the screen door.  But after many longing moments, I grabbed my camera, tried to quietly open the door and started shooting.

But my birds didn't quite turn out right.  The contrast was too great, and my camera struggled to focus on the birds through the screen.  So I tried to gently open the screen door too.  Alas it squeaked, and the birds flew away.  Hoping that the birds would come back if I waited,  I readied my camera and waited.  To my right, I saw a flash of movement and turned my head to see this:

 I continued tracking the little woodpecker with my zoom, trying to get better shots, when he hopped away.  I tried to follow him, when suddenly something significantly bigger flew in front of me. 

  At first, this beautiful bird attempted to land on my slide.  He's sitting on top of the play structure well.  Even dignified jays don't do so well on a plastic slide.  Then he hopped up here.  I snapped several shots and then tried to keep track of his antics.  Jays don't sit still!  He flew and hopped around my yard, to neighbouring trees and the forest floor.  It was challenging but fun taking pictures of him.

 I enjoyed this little moment, snapping pictures until the birds flew away and my neighbours started walking towards their house(and me).  That's when I realized that I had been taking pictures in my jammies.  Oops.  Thankfully my pajamas are both decent and warm, but still...So I stopped taking pictures and went back inside to finish making lunch filled with joy over my little encounter. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Couch Date

Sometimes life gets crazy busy and even though it isn't necessarily bad, we feel like ships passing in the night. So today, we fed the kids a snacky supper(their favourite) and then after their bedtime, got ourselves a treat that we ate while watching Nikita(my new favourite show). We tried watching Outsourced, but the cross-cultural awkwardness was just too painful. When I started covering my eyes and rocking back and forth moaning "This is bad...this is really bad" a la Miss Aris, Steve decided we'd try watching something else.

It's bee a good day after a better week. I can't believe tomorrow is Saturday. Where did this week go? So today I'm thankful for a better week, a good afternoon with my mentor and a great couch date with my husband. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baking Together

 We bake a cake together, him and I.  He pulls a chair up, blocking my way, so he can help better.  His hands over mine, we sift the dry ingredients.  While I check the recipe, he adds milk to the flour and flour to the milk.  But I smile instead of sigh because he is so proud to be helping.

 Hand over hand, we blend the butter and sugar, crack the eggs and blend them too.  I could do it faster, easier all by myself, but this little one desires to be useful.  I know that feeling well, so I bite my tongue, breathe a little deeper and pledge to enjoy him instead of getting frustrated.  He adds, pours, stirs and mixes "just like Mommy".  Then when the batter is finished, he smoothes it out and licks the beaters.  "Dis is disgusting!" he declares loudly, but that's okay too.

 Much later, we serve the cake to our small group.  Kian proudly announcing that he helped make it.  And our friends eat it with enjoyment, declaring it to be delicious.

I'm linking up with Emily today.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake
(from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Combine the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.  Set aside the milk and flour mixtures.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together with a mixer at high speed until light and well combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well each time.  Add the mashed sweet potatoes and mix at low speed for 1 minute, or until the batter is evenly mixed.

Add about half the flour mixture and beat gently, using a wooden spoon or a mixer at low speed, only until the flour disappears into the batter.  Add half the milk and mix gently to combine everything well.  Mix in the remaining flour and then the remaining milk, beating gently only until you have a thick, smooth batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan, and bake at 350 degrees for between 60 and 75 minutes, or until the cake is evenly browned, springs back when touched gently in the centre, and a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel for 20 minutes.  Then use a table knife to loosen the cake from the pan.  Turn out the cake onto a wire rack, place it top side up, and cool to room temperature.  

Recipe taken from: http://butterme-up.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Better End than Beginning

 This morning started out horribly.  I woke up sick, with burning lungs and a head that hated movement.  My chest stopped hurting after some tea, but my head got worse even after taking some medicine.  Boo! I hate headaches!  They are my kryptonite or whatever it is that affects Super Mom.  I should note that I'm not claiming to be a perfect amazing mother, but rather that my family really likes super heroes.  I have a Super Girl t-shirt, which has morphed into me being called Super Mom.  I also have a Super Friends and a Wonder Woman shirt.  However, the only female super hero who is also a mother is Elastic Girl and I don't have one of her t-shirts.  Also, my superpower is making milk, not stretching.  But I digress...

 Let's go with having a motion-sensitive headache is very bad when one has to carry a screaming, kicking, squirming little boy up two flights of stairs to change his filthy diaper.  Discovering that the other little boy is absolutely filthy and needs a bath two weeks ago also does not help with this type of headache.  Having to straddle a kicking, screaming, fighting little boy to put a diaper on him after he just peed on one's floor does nothing to alleviate the accompanying nausea.  Instead, it causes one to rock back and forth on the floor begging for mercy.  Or ones husband to come home...

 My merciful mother dropped by instead bearing gifts of pizza, hugs, prayers and distraction for two lovely little boys.  My wonderful husband left work early to pick up Aris(Supergirl) from school, and then reappeared earlier than normal to help mop the kitchen floor.  Did I mention that on this very rough day I was scheduled to have a guest for dinner?  Since we're slightly crazy around here, we decided that this must just be spiritual attack and to keep on going.  So we did.  I made an amazing dinner, my headache disappeared and we had a great evening.  Huh.  Imagine that.

 My wonderful husband(Batman) and I just had a great discussion on the couch and now we're headed off to bed.  Well, that is as soon as Zane(Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Ben 10, etc) stops crying and goes back to sleep.  Hopefully both he and Kian(Tuck from Wonder Pets) will sleep through the night again tonight.  And yes, all of my family members have super identities 'cause we're all geeky and proud of it! :)

Monday, November 1, 2010


 As I was getting into my van this afternoon, I noticed three large vehicles parked beside the plaza behind my house.  They were all parked very close together and I soon discovered that they were filled with police officers.  These police officers were heavily armoured, looking ready for some sort of mission.  But I wasn't afraid.

 Later, while chatting with my super in the parking lot, I heard for the first time in real life the sound of assault rifles being cocked.  As I watched, police officers donned more armour, readied their weapons and got ready for battle, all this happening right behind where I live.  But I wasn't afraid.

 Even though there were men with guns in close proximity, I wasn't afraid.  These were the police, and they're trustworthy.  As a parent, I teach my children to go to the police when they are in trouble.  But I've realized recently how fortunate I am to have this protection.  In many parts of the world, the police and military forces are not friendly.  Instead they are corrupt, sometimes impeding justice, other times actively working against it.

 There are many other ways in which I'm blessed, so many that I don't even realize them.  The sound of airplanes overhead fills my children with delight, not fear.  We can run across an open field, not fearful of landmines waiting to shred innocent bodies.  There are no armed guards at the grocery store.  I can ride the bus without fear of bombers.  I can practice my faith without fear of arrest or death.  There are many more blessings I can add to this list.  Far too many for my peace of mine.  I am too blessed.

 This is why the proposed Bill C-49 has me upset.  The plight of the refugee resonates strongly with me, even though I have always known safe haven.  Canada's welcome and care of refugees is one of the many reasons I am proud to be Canadian.  Our organization works with and cares for refugees all around the world, including right here in my city, which is another reason I love International Teams so much.  As we have served with IT, I have learned and cared much more about the plight of the refugees.  Then one became my friend.  Her story broke my heart, opened my mind and caused me to pray a lot more.  Her family is the reason my children participate in the Ride for Refuge.

 I'm not exactly sure why I'm writing this.  Mostly because I can't keep silent.  Here is an article to read and here is more information especially on contacting your local MP.  I know that this is a complex issue, but I am frustrated by the general apathy, indifference or even rejection shown towards those who have known hardship we can barely even imagine.  I'm not sure how to end this, so thank you for reading  my little rant.  Please read further, find more information and act.