Sunday, 29 November 2009

Come, Emmanuel

Today is the first day of Advent, a season of expectant waiting and preparation in the weeks leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. As we did last year, we will prepare our hearts during this season with the lighting of an Advent candle each week and a Jesse Tree study each day. May this time be a blessing to us all.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, desire of every nation, Savior of all peoples, come and dwell among us.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


Today was a good day.

I spent the day in (clean!) pajamas.

The baby clothes are all washed and ready to go.

The boy and I painted some Christmas ornaments for the tree.

I'm pretty sure the baby is no longer posterior (for the moment, anyway).

A midnight shower with my husband is currently being followed by tea (for me) and apple cider (for him).

It was just...nice.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Children Learn What They Live

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with pity,
he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy,
he learns to feel guilt.


If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.

If a child lives with honesty,
he learns what truth is.

If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.

If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith in himself and those about him.

If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns the world is a nice place in which to live.


Dorothy L. Law, 1959

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Such a little thing

When we first moved into our new place, my least favourite thing about it was the kitchen. If you can call it a kitchen. More like a hallway lined with appliances and one itty-bitty square of counter space. I could live with pretty much everything else in the house, but that kitchen? I couldn't even begin to imagine how I could cook proper meals in there.

Funny how things work out. I never expected it, but having a small (small, ha! tiny!) kitchen has not only been bearable, but it's finally forced me to smarten up as far as cleaning that area of my home goes. The kitchen has always been my weak point. Yes, I'm one of those people who would shove all the dirty pots and pans into the oven before someone showed up at the door. The dishwasher tended to be slowly emptied through use rather than intention - and then filled back up and immediately turned on when those clean dishes ran out. I'd dig in and clean up when I could force myself to, but in no time it would be out of hand again. A bigger kitchen simply meant more room to stack dirty dishes, more time to procrastinate while the mess grew, more counter space to fill up before I ran out of room, more opportunity to feel overwhelmed by the mess and choose to put off cleaning it for "just one more night". I'd do it tomorrow. Really.

Now? I couldn't let the kitchen get to that state if I wanted to. There's just no room. It's either keep the kitchen tidy or not cook at all. It also did terrible things to my mental state in those early days of living here, waking up to a cluttered and messy kitchen and not being able to ignore it like I could in a bigger place. I was grumpy, I was frustrated, and of course it must be my husband's fault, since he chose a house with such a ridiculously small kitchen.

So I switched back to a habit I had tried (and failed) to develop several times in the past - spotless kitchen before bedtime, every night. This time, though, the habit stuck. And wow, does it ever make life easier. Who knew?

Cleaning food off a pot I used that evening takes a matter of seconds; scrubbing the same pot that has sat out for a few days involves much soaking and scrubbing (and is just plain more disgusting). Keeping up with the dishwasher means having an empty surface when I need it, rather than having to clean off a space before cooking dinner or baking cookies. Dealing with only one set of dishes and pots requires a few minutes of my evening; days' worth of dishes require an exponentially larger chunk of time to get on top of. And those few minutes in the evening mean I get to wake up to a clean kitchen every morning, which leaves me feeling far more calm and peaceful.

Sometimes I do it immediately after supper; sometimes I wait until the boy is asleep. But it's always done, every night. Dishes in the dishwasher, pots washed and put away, counters and tables washed. Common sense, I'm sure, for most people, but an entirely worthwhile new habit for me. The difference it makes is amazing.

I've actually grown quite fond of my little kitchen. Time to go fix myself some breakfast there - and thank my husband for choosing such a perfect home.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Wordless Wednesday: "Franklin!"

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

At least some things are consistent

I'm amazed at how different this pregnancy is from my first one. With my son, I was so sick and exhausted that I could barely function for the entire first trimester. If the shower was too warm, I got sick. If there was meat anywhere in sight, I got sick (my poor, poor meat-loving husband). If I could smell pretty much anything, I got sick. Basically, if I had to move, I got sick. I lived off of cucumbers and chocolate soy milk for a couple weeks because it was all I could stomach. Getting up and ready every morning took forever because I had to lay down every minute or two. I was so tired that I actually fell asleep at work while talking face-to-face with a client (mortifying much??). I had very specific food cravings (when I was able to eat) and even more food aversions. It pretty much sucked, in short.

The second trimester was great, and my husband especially appreciated the fact that I was suddenly very very interested in fulfilling my "wifely duties". So frequently, in fact, that he had to put a limit on it. Heh.

The third trimester was full of aching joints, waking up in the middle of the night unable to move, bad sciatic pain, endless heartburn, an insane amount of swelling, and a constant foot sticking itself up as high as it could in my ribs.

This time around, though, hardly anything is the same. I was quite tired and had some mild morning sickness off and on through the first trimester, but nothing at all like last time. The second trimester failed to bring the increase libido that my husband was so looking forward to. The third trimester was far less painful than last time. It's only been within the past couple of weeks, really, that I've got to the achy and uncomfortable point, but no swelling at all (my rings even still fit perfectly fine!), no foot in my ribs, and far less joint and sciatic pain.

The only things the same, other than an uncomplicated pregnancy? I was anemic, I'm GBS+, and the baby is posterior. Drats to all three of them. The first meant expensive iron supplements (Floradix), the second meant abx during labour (which I would have rather avoided), and the third meant ohmygoodness the awful awful back labour. I'm hoping to get this baby turned around before labour in order to avoid that again. Wish me luck. At least my floors will be spotless after all the scrubbing on my hands and knees, trying to turn the baby.

I'm very curious to see now whether this baby is a girl. The differences between the two pregnancies almost make me think it might be - but then again, lots of people have two children of the same gender and yet had very different pregnancies with each. Maybe it means nothing other than I'm pretty lucky this time around.

And hey, that's enough for me.

Monday, 23 November 2009

It's so frustrating when...

dinner takes four times as long to make as it does to eat.

And then you're left with a kitchen full of dirty pots on top of that.

Woe is me.

Ah well. At least the chicken pot pie was good (really good). As an added bonus, there are leftovers to eat later this week, one fully assembled pie in the freezer, and enough filling in the freezer to make a third pie. I'd say it was a productive evening in the kitchen, frustrations aside.

By the way, I reeeally suck at making pie crust. My SIL makes it look so incredibly easy. I have no such talent. Fortunately, my husband doesn't care what it looks like, he's just happy to get to eat it.

Speaking of, he's been really great lately as I near the end of this pregnancy. I'm big, I'm slow, I'm sore, I'm exhausted, and yes, I'm a bit more grumpy than I'd like to admit. He's helping wherever he can, trying his best to make me feel better, and taking care of the boy when I need a break. He's wonderful, and I really do need to remember to let him know more often just how much I appreciate him.

I guess the time and frustration spent making one of his favourite meals was worth it after all.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

I'm raising a teenager

Or so it feels lately.

First, he eats like a teenager. 9 times out of 10, the first words out of his mouth in the morning are "I'm hungry!" This phrase is repeated all day long. He's like an even shorter version of Pippin: "What about breakfast? What about second breakfast? What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper?"

Snacks. Never leave home without them.

Second, he's a phone hog. Already! Any time I try to talk to any of my family or in-laws on the phone, he's right there at my knee. "I want to talk, I want to talk, I want to talk!" And once he gets his hands on the phone - oh boy. Good luck getting it back! Sadly, it often devolves into a wrestling match around these parts. This doesn't bode well for when he's bigger and stronger than I am.

Third, ahhhh, the contrariness. Fortunately, this is far less common than his all-day hunger and his phone hog tendencies, but he definitely has his grumpy moments of needing to repeat back the exact opposite of every little thing I say. "It's bedtime." "It's NOT bedtime!" "We're going out now." "We're NOT going out now!" "Mommy's tired." "Mommy's NOT tired!"

Wanna bet?

Little stinker. It's a good thing he's so cute - and usually very good-natured and not at all contrary. Still, those days only push him further into the "it feels like I'm raising a teenager" category.

Ah well. I should be well prepared, at any rate.

Friday, 20 November 2009


Tomorrow marks the beginning of IComLeavWe - International Comment Leaving Week!

While IComLeavWe runs every month from the 21st to the 28th, they have joined up with NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) for the week of November 21-28. The idea is simple - every day, leave 5 comments on other blogs and return one comment that's been left on your site lately. That's six comments a day for a week.

What a fun way to build community! Community is something that has been on my mind a lot lately (expect a blog entry in the future!), so it feels timely for me to participate. Unofficially though, I think - I feel less obligated that way, and more free to leave comments simply for the sake of it. Maybe I'm just weird that way, but external motivation tends to make me feel guilty, as though I'm only doing something because I'm supposed to rather than because I want to. Way to overanalyze the whole thing, eh?

Anyway, I hope you'll join me, meet some fellow bloggers, and brighten someone's day with an unexpected comment!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Just what I needed

A nice lazy day. The boy and I slept in late, ate breakfast in bed, and were entirely unproductive all day long. After a very busy past couple of weeks, it was much appreciated.

I did make up for it this evening with some laundry, some decluttering and organizing, and the usual nightly dish washing and tidying up of the house.

Before getting up to make us breakfast, the boy and I had one of those lovely slow wake ups, with snuggles and giggles and whispered conversations. It made me a bit sad to think that such mornings may soon come to an end. I've been having more and more moments like that as the birth of our second child nears - a sense of mourning over the changes that will take place in my relationship with my oldest child as I become a mother of two. I am grateful for both children, to be sure, but there is, I suppose, allowance for brief moments of sadness as I consider the permanency of it all, the way things will never again be the same.

Mostly, however, I am eagerly looking forward to meeting this child and excited to discover the joy that he or she will bring to our family. Strange how three weeks sounds so much sooner than four did! At this time next month, I will be holding our child in my arms, getting to know a new little one and watching as my son, rather than losing out on the things he enjoyed as an only child, gains a relationship with a new little brother or sister.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Baby knits

The diaper covers I made for the new baby turned out well. I've got a cream coloured baby kimono on the go and a pair of green longies ready to cast on next, and I think that's all I'll get done for the baby before he or she arrives, maybe a matching hat or two out of the leftover yarn. I'll be 37 weeks this Saturday - full term!

The Details

Pattern: Curly Purly Soaker (Ravelry; online)
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool in new denim
Needles: 3.75mm, 4.5mm and 5.5mm
Mods and Specs: Size small; no short rows; picked up 42 stitches for the cuffs.
Began: Oct 31, 2009
Finished: Nov 10, 2009

The Details

Pattern: Warm Heart Woolies Plain Wrap (Ravelry)
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Solid in brown
Needles: 4.5mm
Mods and Specs: Size small; used 1x1 ribbing instead of twisted rib.
Began: Oct 25, 2009
Finished: Oct 27, 2009

Monday, 16 November 2009

Make it stop

Make it stop make it stop make it stop!!!

It's the early version of the "why's":

"Where does __ come from?"
"What is __ for?"
"What does __ do?"


I'm losing my mind.

I love this child, I do. I love his inquisitive nature, I do. I love that he wants to learn, I do.

But I don't know how to answer most of these questions! And they never end!!!

"Where does glass come from?"
"What do am-blee-ances [ambulances] do?"
"Where does water come from?"
"What is pee for?"
"Where does music come from?"
"What is shampoo for?"
"Where does midwife come from?"
"What do pillows do?"
"Where do eggs come from?"

With the way he insists on knowing where every last thing he eats comes from, he's going to be a vegetarian in no time.

Tonight's biggie?

"Where does God come from?"

Try - just try - explaining that to a two-year-old, twenty or so times over, when he will not be satisfied with any answer along the lines of "God has always been here".

No, he wants to know where God comes from.

Go ask your Dad, honey.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The intent of our hearts

We had the great pleasure of listening to Dr. J. I. Packer preach the sermon at our church service this morning.

Dr. Packer continued the series we have been doing in church (as well as our home groups) on the Acts of the Apostles. This week was Acts 8:1-25. While the sermon itself was on "The Mission" (our duty as Christians to proclaim Christ and preach the Word wherever we are), it was a bit of a tangent that particularly grabbed my attention.

In verse 13, Simon the Sorcerer believed Philip as he preached the good news of the Kingdom of God:

Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Later, however, it becomes clear that Simon did not truly understand what the apostles were preaching (verses 18-23):

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

The intent of Simon's heart was not to receive Christ as his Savior, but rather to gain more "tricks of the trade", seeing the apostles as fellow magicians. When he tried to buy their abilities, Peter rebuked him because his heart was not right before God.

Meanwhile, what was my intent, where was my heart, sitting there in the pew with one ear tuned to the service and the other tuned to my toddler?

I was angry with my husband, who had stepped into the shower about the time we were to be leaving the house, causing us to be 20 minutes late to church. I was annoyed with his rustling jacket (why can't he ever take it off during the service?), with the lack of room he was giving me on one side, and with the wet pew from my umbrella on the other side. I was more concerned about keeping my son quiet than helping him to follow the service. I had hurried us out of the house that morning because that's what Sunday morning is for - and besides, we had a Christmas Child box that needed to be dropped off there.

Nothing about my heart, about my intent, was pure or right before God at that moment. I was like Simon, playing along but not truly getting it. Everything may have look right from the outside, but it was all appearance, not sincerity.

How often do I see that in others and yet fail to recognize it in myself? The recognition left me ashamed and humbled, but also allowed me to repent and bring my heart back to a place of pure motives and sincere intent. The rest of the day flowed smoother, the quiet peace of forgiveness and love soothing my spirit. Praise God for His grace and mercy, new every day.

Father, please forgive us the insincere intents of our hearts.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10

Saturday, 14 November 2009

My freezer overfloweth

Not literally, though - we have a Really Big freezer.

I've been making double batches of everything that freezes well, one batch for now and one batch to freeze for easy meals and baking after the baby arrives.

So far I have:
40 chocolate chip cookies, unbaked
1 batch oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, unbaked
1 batch oatmeal raisin cookies, unbaked
1 batch oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, baked
1 batch oatmeal raisin cookies, baked
1 batch banana muffins, unbaked
2 batches dinner rolls, unbaked
8 meals spaghetti sauce
5 meals turkey soup
4 cups chicken broth
1 meal chopped carrots and celery (for soup, stew, sauce, etc)

Tomorrow I plan to add 3 loaves of whole wheat bread.

Next week I plan to add a chicken pot pie, a few more cups of chicken broth, more meal-sized bags of chopped veggies, a batch or two of zucchini muffins, and possibly shortbread or sugar cookie dough.

Before the baby arrives, I'd like to have a few casseroles in there too. I'm just trying to find things that freeze well, as I don't make many casseroles to begin with. Maybe I'll get really energetic and make a couple lasagnas next weekend.

I plan to have a couple blueberry pies and a variety of muffins (carrot, blueberry, cranberry, etc) and cookies in there as well before the big day. The boy and I bake something together every week, so having frozen cookies and muffins all ready to pop in the oven will make that much easier for a few weeks. I'll likely freeze some baked ones as well for days that I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed - just pull them out and let them thaw.

What do you like to have on hand in your freezer to make meals or meal prep easier? Any favourite desserts that freeze well?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Next week, November 16-21, is the 2009 National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child.

I so enjoy filling these boxes each year. I wasn't sure if we would this year, finances being what they are, but my thoughtful husband encouraged me to go ahead with it. I'm so glad I did - this year has been my favourite yet.

This year, my son was able to be involved in filling our box. This morning while snuggling on my bed after our shower, I pointed out to the boy how lucky he was to have so many nice toys to play with. After he agreed, I told him there was another little boy somewhere who didn't have toys to play with. He agreed that that was very sad, so I suggested we buy some toys, put them in a box, and send them to this little boy.

This definitely appealed to my generous little boy. His generosity and thoughtfulness have long been two of my (many) favourite things about him. He loves to give. If I tell him he can have a snack, he offers one to everyone else before sitting down with his. Kisses are always offered to anyone who gets hurt. He is so appreciative as well, often exclaiming "Grandma bought this for me!" or "oh, that is so NICE!" with such gratitude. Don't get me wrong, he's two and he has his less thoughtful moments, but his overall personality is very much a generous and empathetic one, and I love to see that in him.

All morning he talked about buying toys for a little boy. Finally we made our way to the store so he could pick out what he wanted to send. I made a few additions of my own and we headed home to sort out our gifts and arrange them in the box (which is always smaller than I picture it in the store!).

This year, our box will go to a little boy in the 2-4 category. I usually try to fill my boxes for the older children, as there are annually far more boxes filled for the little ones, but this year we decided to fill for a child our son's age in order that he might relate to the child and also be better able to choose appropriate items to send. If you plan to fill a box and don't have reason to choose a younger child, I encourage you to think of what a box full of school supplies, hygiene items, and gifts would mean to an older child who may never have received a such a blessing before.

Our box is filled and ready to go. This year a little boy will receive a heartfelt gift from our son, including a pad of white paper, a pad of construction paper, crayons, stickers, lined paper, some washcloths, a truck, an elephant, a rubber ball, a hackey sack, and a few small cars. Because our boxes will be shipped to a hot country, we didn't add the usual mitts, hat, etc. I'd also like to pick up a small stuffed animal (we didn't find one today) and we will add a personal note before taking our box to church with us on Sunday.

The boy has been talking all evening about the present he's sending to the little boy. He's impatient for it to be time to go to church so he can give them his box to send away. Ideally, he wants to give it to the little boy himself, but I think we've managed to convince him that the little boy lives too far away.

It's so neat to watch this awareness of others blossom in the boy. While it has long been a part of his personality, it is only growing and developing as he gets older. I hope we can continue to encourage that in him.

And I hope a little boy somewhere out there will be truly blessed by a gift this Christmas.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Thankful Thursday

Fresh flowers on the table.

A new project on the needles.

Worship songs sung by a two year old playing with his trains.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

And the countdown begins...

31 days to go!

(Give or take, of course. I seem to have misplaced my crystal ball.)

I'm feeling mostly prepared at this point. After sorting through the newborn clothes we had and realizing that having a spring baby and a winter baby wasn't exactly compatible as far as outfits go, I bought a couple cozy fleece one piece outfits, a snuggly fleece sleeper, and a nice soft cotton sleeper (which was more of a splurge than a need, since we do have several long sleeved sleepers). I'm definitely not one to dress up an infant in all those finicky little baby outfits - just something warm, soft, and comfortable. I've got a couple wool diaper covers knitted and some longies planned, possibly a nice soft kimono if I have time. Everything still needs to be washed, but I think I'll wait another week or two.

I've started building up my supply of frozen foods. I've got lots of turkey soup, chicken stock, and spaghetti sauce. I have a bag of unbaked dinner rolls, and today I added a couple batches of unbaked chocolate chip cookies. I plan to add a few loaves' worth of bread dough and hopefully a chicken pot pie or two by the weekend.

Next week I'll purchase the supplies we need for the homebirth. I'm still going back and forth on whether or not to buy all of the waterbirth supplies as well, or just go with a few extra towels and our tub. We attended a waterbirth info night a couple evenings ago, which was informative and helpful, but I can't decide whether it's worth the extra cost and effort to do the whole shebang when I'm not dead-set on birthing in the water. I guess I'll have to treat myself to a nice warm bath this weekend to decide once and for all whether or not our tub will be sufficient.

I am looking forward to being finished with the weekly jabs my midwife has me doing. Because both my iron and platelets are low, I've had to have my blood tested regularly to monitor for changes. The boy always sits on my knee and watches the process intently (while I look away and close my eyes and try not to groan) - and is usually rewarded with some stickers by the sweet ladies at the lab we go to. The receptionist got a good laugh a couple weeks ago when he ran ahead of me into the waiting room and yelled, "that was fun!" Yeah, maybe for you, kiddo.

As far as being mentally prepared...I have no idea. I'm impatient to meet this child and get to know him or her. I definitely get all mushy over the thought of having a tiny little newborn in my arms again. I excited to see how the boy relates to his new brother or sister and to watch their relationship grow. I'm nervous over the idea of having two children. I'm worried about how the baby will affect my relationship with the boy and how the boy will affect my feelings towards the baby. And some days, I can't help but thinking (in an amused sense) my goodness...I just got past the baby stage, and now I'll be starting all over again.

Mostly, though, there is simply this overriding sense of calm curiosity. What will the baby be like? In what ways will our lives change? How will I feel? What sort of experiences will the upcoming months bring? I can't plan for it all, so I'm left simply wondering - in almost a detached, watching-someone-else's-life sort of way - what my reactions will be. It should be interesting.

31 more days!

Monday, 9 November 2009


Nothing - nothing - causes the boy to clean his room so fast as the words "I'm going to vacuum right away."

I'm kind of tempted to start vacuuming daily.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Declaring the wonders of God

We have been remarkably blessed to have found a wonderful church home in our new city. We missed our previous church horribly over the summer - it was one of the hardest things to leave behind when we moved. We attended my childhood church during our temporary summer stay in my hometown, but were disappointed to discover that all we would receive there was spiritual milk...if that.

Here, however, we have once again found a church that truly digs into the riches of Scripture. We attended the first week on a lark, already convinced that we would never actually consider it our church home due to its size (not a mega church by any means, but very large by our standards). Instead we enjoyed a sermon filled with biblical truths and spiritual meat, discovered the same sense of welcoming and love that we had experienced in our original church, and were treated to a lovely newcomer's lunch. Our son was met with smiles as he squirmed around beside us in the pew. The service itself was beautiful, the same familiar hymns and Anglican liturgy that I love so much. It felt so much like home, so much like the beloved church we had left behind, that we knew we didn't need to search any further.

We were even more surprised, though, to see two familiar faces there that first week - a very sweet couple from our old church, who had moved to the area a year ago. There was a new face as well, their adorable eight month old little girl. We have since joined the small group study that they host at their home, the child-friendly group where parents are free to bring their children to play at our feet as we study. Our son adores his new little friend and plays so well with her - I look forward to seeing a similar relationship blossom between him and his new little brother or sister in the coming months. It has also been encouraging to see that our persistence in choosing family worship over nursery/Sunday School has definitely born fruit - he knows (with the occasional reminder) to choose quiet toys and to whisper while the adults are studying, and returns to a more typical two-year-old volume as soon as we are done. It is especially sweet when he stops to listen to something that is being discussed or joins us in song - I love to see his participation grow along with him.

We are currently working through the book of Acts, chapter by chapter. I have really enjoyed it so far, and it has led to some very interesting discussions both within the group and between my husband and I afterwards. But something in particular stuck out at me during one of our first studies there, as we dug into the second chapter of Acts.

From Acts 2, verses 1-12:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

There is so much here worth discussing. Here it is, the "birth" of the Christian church, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles!

But with all that can be gleaned from this one small section of Scripture, there was one phrase in particular that captured my attention and hasn't let go since.

Again, verses 9-11:

Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"

We hear them declaring the wonders of God.

Declaring the wonders of God.

Not condeming those gathered. Not debating doctrine. Not preaching good behaviour or works. Not handing out tracts. Not striving to be "appealing" to the crowd.

Only declaring the wonders of God.

Peter goes on to address the crowd, first outlining the message of Gospel, then encouraging repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, pointing to the gift of Holy Spirit that would follow.

But they began by declaring the wonders of God.

May we do the same.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Keeping grandparents close

A recent query about the importance of grandparents in a child's life has left me thinking about my own children's relationship with their extended family. I do believe that strong healthy relationships with their grandparents is an asset to a child and as such it is something that we have strove to foster since the birth of our first child.

Distance, unfortunately, has limited our ability to visit family as often as we would like, though we do what we can in that regard. Even so, there are many other things we have been doing to build those relationships despite the miles that separate us.

From the time he was a baby, our son has been surrounded by pictures of his extended family. Grandparents, great-grandparents, and aunties, all captured on camera, printed, framed, and hung around the house. Wherever possible, the boy himself is in these pictures - snuggled in his Grandma's arms, grinning from his Opa's shoulders, or staring up oh-so-seriously at the camera from an auntie's lap. As we walked by the photos, we would often stop and point out these loved ones, helping him to "know" these people despite the rarity of our visits.

Photo albums are a classic gift for grandparents. We do one every year to include with Christmas gifts. But a photo album of the grandparents and other relatives can be just as special for the child. Nothing fancy, just an album with some printed photos of their loved ones, a picture book that is all theirs to look through at their leisure.

Of course, phone calls are an ideal way to keep in contact. Now that the boy has decided he likes the phone, I often have a hard time wrestling it away from him so I can talk to our relatives myself! Webcams are wonderful as well.

A big one for us has been simply including talk of our relatives in our daily conversations. It helps to keep the memories of past visits alive (remember when Oma took us on that train?), to place special importance on gifted items (Grandma gave you that lion for Christmas last year; Oma made that sweater for you), and to relay a grandparent's love to the child (I talked to Grandpa today and he said he misses you lots...he sure loves you). Of course, that backfires if your daily conversations are filled with critical comments about said relatives, so keep those ones private so as not to taint a child's opinion of their loved ones.

At the same time, there is much to be said for healthy boundaries, and I more than understand that there are times when a strong relationship is not to be encouraged with a dangerous relative. We have one such situation and I can fully empathize with those who are unable to allow contact between a child and an extended family member.

While we do not indiscriminately encourage relationship building, we do recognize that a certain amount of give and take is necessary in any relationship. We can overlook certain things, compromise on others, and voice concerns so that they can be dealt with appropriately. I can bite my tongue as my dear mother indoctrinates my child into all that is Disney, despite having no love for the company myself. I can nod my assent when my grandma asks to treat my child to chocolate milk, even though I'd normally present only white milk or water as options. I can grin and bear it when he watches too much TV with a relative he rarely gets to visit. And I can politely step in when said TV starts playing an inappropriate show. Boundaries tempered by understanding; compromise in line with our values.

If grandparents aren't a reality in a child's life (passed away, too toxic to allow contact with, etc), grandparent "substitutes" can be a blessing to a child as well - someone within the church who doesn't have grandchildren around, an elderly neighbour, or an "adopt a grandparent" through a local nursing home. I really believe that children benefit greatly from those sorts of relationships, whether with their own grandparent or an "adopted" one.

There is so much to be gained by engendering strong (and healthy) relationships with extended family. The love and the family memories created are enough reason all on their own. Traditions and family history can be passed on through the generations, along with wisdom, knowledge, and skills. An even greater sense of community and security is formed for the child surrounded by these loving relationships - and not only for the child, but for the parents as well. In our increasingly isolated and individualistic society, where the generational family is less and less valued, a strong support system can make such a difference as we begin to build our own families. There is also the hope that our children will follow in our footsteps, allowing us to enjoy the same close relationship with our own grandchildren one day.

Oh yes, and we can't overlook the special "I'm a Grandma and it's my job to spoil you" treats - like that rare glass of chocolate milk.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Mother-in-Law

I am one of those incredibly fortunate women who can honestly say they like their mother-in-law. She's a wonderful person and I truly do enjoy spending time with her.

Which is good, because the little guy and I just spent two days with her. She had a conference out of town and invited us along, which also gave my son and I the opportunity to visit my Grandma for a few hours. After spending the summer with my family, it has been hard to move out here and not have that anymore (my in-laws don't live here, they live several hours north of us), so being able to spend time with MIL and visit my Grandma was most welcome indeed. FIL flies down for work every week and often comes over for dinner one night, which we always look forward to as well - and not just because he often brings me flowers or chocolate!

I had to giggle inwardly during my last midwife appointment, when she confirmed that I had someone in mind to watch the little guy during the labour and delivery. I told her my MIL would be. (We don't have all of the details worked out, but MIL will fly down and stay with FIL around my due date, and hopefully everything will fall into place as far as timing goes. If not, I do have a local backup in place, but the ideal is definitely to have MIL there.) My husband was at the appt as well, and the midwife got a nervous look on her face and, glancing at him for a brief moment, asked me if I was, err, comfortable with those arrangements. Absolutely, I assured her.

I can't imagine having anyone else but her there. (I love my own mother dearly, of course, but haven't even told her we're having a homebirth, so opposed is she to the idea.) She'll do great with her grandson, who is free to participate in the birth as much or as little as he is comfortable with. She is a very unobtrusive lady, so I won't feel overwhelmed by her presence. She is very understanding and won't be hurt or offended at all if I ask to be left alone. She's extremely helpful, and for once I'll be in a position to accept that help gratefully rather than insist that I can take care of it like I usually try to do. Plus, I just like her, and she's excited over the idea of being involved in the birth of her second grandchild. She is also entirely understanding of the fact that her first grandchild is her main responsibility, and if he's not comfortable being there, he won't be forced to stay. Right now, though, he very much wants to be involved, and I would love for him to be there too, so hopefully both he and MIL will be able to witness the birth of this new child.

As testiment to her unobtrusiveness, she has made plans to be in the area for Christmas, along with FIL and my two SILs (all of whom are equally wonderful). She has told us that we are free to participate as much or as little as we choose, no pressure whatsoever given that we'll have such a new baby. I appreciate the thoughtfulness. I am hoping to convince her to have Christmas Day at our house - nothing fancy, just a homey place to exchange gifts and cook a nice dinner - and my darling husband has even said he'd get a real Christmas tree! My first since I was a child! But we'll see how everything works out.

Anyway, we had a very nice couple of days together. The boy had a great time with his Oma and I enjoyed the conversations and company as well. It's strange to think that I likely won't see her again until the baby is due - and even stranger to think that that's barely over a month away!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Drink your greens!

This month I have joined a green smoothie challenge, the idea being to drink a green smoothie each day. I am ashamed to admit that I have already failed. *sob* Still, the challenge has helped me to be more intentional about something I already love, getting more greens into my family in the form of a delicious freshly blended smoothie.

I've already blogged about our favourite green smoothies here, and surprisingly those favourites haven't changed at all. I use more greens now and try to switch them up every so often, but our standard green smoothie is still spinach (lots), a couple of bananas, a cup or so of frozen strawberries, and 1/2 cup of water to help mix it all up.

Oh, and I make bigger servings now, with the little guy devouring half a glass or more and the big man finally caving and admitting that green smoothies really are delicious even though they have spinach in them. I suppose I can share my yummy goodness with these two. They're lucky I love them so much.

Health benefits and deliciousness aside, they also give the best mustaches...

...and are kid approved! Drink up!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Lessons learned

Don't leave pie sitting on the counter. The cats will step in it. (But that's okay - just add a smile and it looks intentional!)

Two year olds are very literal creatures. So when you ask them if they want to lick out the batter from the bowl, well...

Vancouver really does have maple leaves bigger than your head! And proper autumn colours and everything! I have no idea why, but I wasn't expecting that when I moved here.

Finally...toenails are very difficult to cut when you are nearly eight months pregnant.

But I'll spare you a picture.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Beautiful silence.

On Sunday, my husband took the little guy on a long-requested bus and sky train trip - without me.

Believe me, I'm not pouting.

There was much chocolate to be had, girly movies to watch, and knitting to be done.

He brought back - more than two hours later - one very happy little boy, who had got to ride the bus, sit in the front of the sky train, play at the park, and have some time alone with his Daddy.

Me? I just enjoyed the silence. And the chocolate.

Mmm, chocolate.

Monday, 2 November 2009

November already

These months of moving insanity have flown by, and they don't seem to hold much promise towards slowing down anytime soon. I think that's okay, though. I'm finding my place of calm and peace in the midst of everything, learning to be content, to trust, spending less hours lying awake in the dark worrying over everything yet having no power to change any of it.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? - Matthew 6:27

Our October was good. Proper entries - complete with pictures and everything! - will follow, but for now a summary will do.

We have played. We visited a farm, spent hours petting the goats, and revisited it in our imagination every day since. "Goodbye Mom, I going to the farm! I love you! I need a kiss!"

We have baked. Bread, zucchini muffins, carrot muffins, banana muffins, pumpkin cookies, shortbread cookies shaped like trains and people - yes, we have baked. A new creation every week, faces streaked with flour, fingers sneaking into delicious batter just one more time.

We have created. Knitting needles broken out once again, warm yarn to ward off cool weather. One diaper wrap finished for the new baby, a pair of cozy pants for the big one, a scarf that I may or may not give as a Christmas gift, and now a second diaper cover on the needles for the little one.

We have learned. When you know the child is having a rare off day...cancel the playdate. Dear Lord, just cancel it.

We have cuddled. So many rainy weeks, driving us to spend long days under the covers, noses together, whispering those wonderful conversations of a two year old. Cars driving over the "roads" on the quilt. Books piled all around us, new treasures from the library each week.

We have waited. No, darling, not yet. The baby still needs time to grow. Every day, shirt pulled up over swelling belly, toddler fingers rubbing baby, patting, poking - gently, honey - accompanied by excited streams of plans, questions, speculations, and general baby-related chatter. Just six more weeks...

We have explored. Stretching our boundaries further, seeking new friends in this sprawling city, walking in the rain, jumping in the puddles, falling in the mud, chasing the birds and squirrels, praising God for his marvelous creations, rejoicing in each new day.

We have thanked. Every night falling asleep with gratefulness in our hearts after praying our thanks to God. I love the things he chooses to say thank you for - cats, his bed, music, our house, his cars, baby, Daddy, Opa. Every night a new surprise as I learn more of what is on his mind and in his heart.

We have laughed. His imagination and joyful chatter never fail to leave us in fits of giggles. Recounting them later to my husband brings a second wave of laughter.

We have cried. Some days it feels like too much. The worry, the sleeplessness, the daily trials - those are the days I cry. And sometimes those are the days he cries too, snapped at over such tiny little things, spoken harshly to when what he truly needed was a hug.

We have apologized - and forgiven. Ashamed, humbled, I confess my wrongs to him (and to Him). And he forgives me (as does He) - always, without hesitation. If only I were so quick to let go of my own hurt. I hug him and he hugs me back, whispered words of sorrow and comfort. I was sad, Mommy. (My heart breaks.) I know, darling, and I'm so sorry. I was wrong.

We have loved. There is nothing like the spontaneous "I love you, Mommy" of a child. Nothing like his compassion, offering kisses to fix hurts, wrapping small arms around my neck so tightly.

It was a full month. A good month. Hard, but good.

It is so good to be home.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

All Saints' Day

Today our church celebrated All Saints' Day, a day to commemorate all of the saints, both those in Heaven and those here on earth.

I smiled at our minister's talk with the children at the start of the service, where he offered them a small mirror after asking if they would like to see what a saint looks like. Our time of Holy Communion seemed all the more special with the emphasis on the communion of saints. And, of course, All Saints' Day wouldn't be complete without the singing of one of my (many) favourite hymns, For All the Saints:

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!