Friday, December 31, 2010

The Eve of Resolution...

i haven't dedicated the time in these past weeks to come to any firm decisions about my resolutions this year...
But, i'm happy to share what bit of direction i have so far.
The only resolution that i have any clarity about shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me:
i wanna get my edits done on my book & *do* something with it.
i'll probably end up self publishing - & i can't wait to get a hard copy in my hot little hands. if i want to get my 'free' one - from Create Space - my coupon code expires in June. i feel certain i'll be done by then - as a matter of fact, i kinda thought i was done already - but after some more thought, i decided i wanted to polish it just a little bit more so that it represents my best effort... y'know?
People ask me if i'll write another book & i feel certain that i will - but probably not in 2011... i'll need a bit more time to finish this one & start planning the next. i've got a couple of ideas that i'd like to try for the next one... more on that another time.
The rest of my resolutions are a little more fuzzy - so for today, i'll leave it at that.
On another note...
i'm sad to leave 2010 behind - it was such a good year.
The years jus tseem to come & go so quickly now... it is a blessing to soak in every bit of joy from them.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

tell it like it is...

One of the things i have grown to appreciate most about my husband is his honesty.
He'll tell me if something i've done is *horrible* - if my pants are too tight, if my cooking stinks - if he likes what i've created - or not...
i like it tho....
'cause then i believe him when he tells me i did something
Give me honesty over flattery -
every. single. day. of. the. week.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

hidin' it...

Memorization has been a part of our homeschool over the years. Sometimes poetry - & most times bible. Some years we have done better than others - and this is a better year. We have done a few 'group' sections - which i love 'cause then we get a nice huge chunk.
For Christmas, i decided to get them to memorize the famous Christmas story in Luke. We have done this other years, but only the first 20 ish verses. This year, we went for the first 40ish. Maybe one year we'll do the whole chapter...
Can i just say...
* i love that they wanted to include Gagey - so they've got him saying, "Luke twoooo" before they start...
* Sloanie gives me goosebumps when she speaks the part about Simeon.
* i love how Molls says the word, "Nazareth".
* It's stinking cute how she has no idea where to insert the word, "and" into her section - so she just inserts it randomly... "When the angels had left them gone and into heaven..."
There's something about reading the Christmas story - again and again - memorizing every word and detail... listening to your littles work through it till they know every little bit by heart... that moves me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

makin' memories...

One Christmas when i was little, we weren't feeling great & hadn't made any huge plans - so my parents went out & rented a VCR (yep... i'm 34...) & all the Star Trek movies - plus as an added bonus, the Planet of the Apes movie too. We had our own strange sci fi family movie marathon.
The funniest part?
i totally love that memory.
Sometimes it doesn't have to be 'traditional' to be fun.
i struggle sometimes with the lack of "Christmas cheer" in our house.
i know it'a just a part of who i am - & i've come to realize that i gotta have the freedom to be me...
but i do find the outside pressure sometimes overwhelms me... & i feel guilty for my inability to create the "Christmas" that you just *feel* when you walk in some houses...
& so - in honour of the unorthodox Star Trek Christmas of my childhood, i will tell you about our family's tiny holiday tradition.
A few years ago - i bemoaned the fact that we always travel for Christmas. My littles don't remember a Christmas where we didn't travel. i felt a desire to create something - just for us - a little celebration that didn't include packing up the Silver Fox - and becoming guests.
i think the idea for our party originated in Superstore - of all places. Neil & i were shopping & teasing each other about name brand versus no name... We decided to buy one of each and have a taste test to decide which item was better... Then we decided - better yet - to have a taste test party. We'd buy several items in both name brand - and non - and *that* would be our party theme.
We bought a movie - and had intermissions where Neil & i would come in with trays of appies - & each time we'd take a vote, which one was better.
Our no name "apple beverage" versus Sun Rype real fruit juice - served in tiny communion cups from the dollar store. Oreos versus "chocolate sandwich cookies", Old Dutch potato chips against President's choice... a tiny binge of junk - that didn't involve any prep...
but created a memory.
& ya - it's not this gorgeous flaming memory that will stand as an example for every generation that follows...
But one day - when my littles have littles of their own & they're baking homemade gingersnaps while the tea kettle sings on the stove - maybe they'll tell their little ones about their ridiculous Christmas party - where none of it was home made - but they'll say,
"The funniest part?
i totally love that memory..."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

half way to nowhere...

i always feel like Christmas break is halfway to the end of our year - even though it's not.
Right now, i find myself trying to sprint to some imagined halfway mark.
& i know in my heart - that even if we meet these goals, and tic each item accomplished off our list... and tell ourselves that we're half way - we're not halfway to anywhere worth getting.
i need to remind myself that learning isn't measured in pages filled out.
The winding road we're travelling on isn't marked with road signs reading, "half way to intelligent" - or "quarter of the way to average grade five scores..."
We're engaged in a marathon - not a sprint - and it's nowhere near over yet.
The winding road we've started on is the same one we'll be travelling decades from now... the road that will feed our curiosity, ignite the fires of our passions and become the vehicle that takes us where we need to go...
And so i'll take solace in the fact that it's not time to gauge successes or failures - it's time to persevere, take courage in our Christmas intermission - and invite the second half of the year to bring more knowledge than the first...

Monday, December 20, 2010

a weaning...

The best kind of weanings - you can't really remember how or when exactly they happened. You just know that over the course of several weeks, or months - your little one asked less - & you neglected to offer... until one day you realize that it has been several days since your little one nursed.
You start trying to remember when the last time you nursed them was - and the memory of it escapes you.
You look at your little one - playing contentedly - or eating their oatmeal with a spoon at the table - and it hits you that it could be over.
Out of the blue - days later - they ask to be nursed. You laugh to yourself, "Ha - i knew it wasn't over just yet..."
But seconds after latching on, they gaze up at you with eyes bluer than the ocean and say, "i better."
"You don't want to nurse?"
"No. Ephyum can have it all."
And it's good. And a little sad. And there's just the tiniest bit of relief...
And so maybe our weaning isn't complete - or maybe it is...
but i feel sure that we are in the final days...
& that's ok.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas 2010

It was the kinda year that makes you grow and weep and laugh - all at the same time.
2010 started out with promise, and our lives changed forever for the good when Ephraim was born late at night in the middle of February.
The change from six to seven little ones seemed easy - after the initial changing of the vehicle to fit us all - and our sweet new son lent a whole 'nother scope of colours to our family hue with his arrival. Five weeks after he was born, i broke my knee - and it has been one of the most frustrating seasons of my life - to feel sidelined, unable and sore. i try not to complain about it too much, but i miss kneeling down without a thought to fold laundry or wipe the floors. i moan to Neil that i would love one day where i don't think about it - or compensate for it's weakness.
It was the first of *three* broken bones for our family as both Sloanie and Peyton broke wrists this year too. They both amazed me with their resilience and good attitudes, as i know it couldn't have been easy.
Neil has continued to thrive and love his job - despite the discouraging economy. i'm so grateful for that. He travels about half time, & we have grown used to having him away, but we love it best when he's home, and we can sneak out to his office in the garage to peek at him if the desire arises.
i have fed my interests this year by continuing to play music, to blog (still at ) - and by stealing the time this year to write my first novel.
Cairo is in grade 9. She is taking her first online course in preparation for highschool next year when she'll likely be taking a lot more courses online if we decide to pursue a traditional highschool diploma - which it looks like we'll be doing. She is also enjoying playing in the Performance group of the Bow Valley Fiddlers. She's hoping that in the next couple of years she'll be playing at a level to be able to audition for the Calgary fiddlers. i think she's getting close! She has also started playing the guitar - and opportunities for music seem to keep cropping up for her.
Sloanie started attending youth group this year with Cairo - and is playing violin in the youth band at church. She's toying with the idea of auditioning for the Bow Valley Fiddlers next year, and i'm hoping she does. She's still my bookworm - and was the first person to encouragingly read through each page of my novel as i pecked it out.
Peyton is in grade 5 and is also playing violin. She decided to take an online course this year too, and chose science. It has been a neat experience for me to see my littles taught by someone else, but she says she's not eager to take another online course next year... i guess we know who's an easier teacher. *smile*. Peyton has made some really close girl friends and we miss her when she lives half time at her buddy's house, but it's fun seeing her enjoy her friendships so much.
Charter and Peyton have both been taking Karate, and they got their yellow belts this year. Charter also got to join a Basketball team - and it has been a highlight for me whenever i get to watch him play. His 2 little buddies from church are on the same team as him, and he loves the chance to be out with the boys running hard till his cheeks are like little tomatoes and his surfer hair flops over his forehead.
Molls is in grade 1 - and has been the easiest addition to our homeschool. She continues to love awana that she attends weekly with Charter & Peyton, and is a huge help to me with the little boys.
Gagey is creeping up on 3. He's a big strong boy - and he loves his baby brother. He is still the darling of the older ones despite Neil's prediction that he would be 'kicked to the curb' when the new baby arrived.
And sweet baby Ephraim. Soon he'll be one - he has been another happy, easy little baby - softening the rest of us, and reminding us what's important.
So there's your update on each member of our crew.
May God continue to be the center - and to keep us close to Him.
neil, paige
cai, sloan, peyton, charter, mollen, gage & ephraim

Saturday, December 18, 2010

i had a dream...

The other day, Radar posted her recent dream on her blog.
It reminded me that i had wanted to post my dream too.
Usually my dreams are thick, deep and meaningful - there is wrestling, and angst and a "working out of things"...
This dream wasn't like that.
In this dream, i 'showed up' at dream land. As i walked in, prepared for a night fraught with anguish, instead i was welcomed with a handshake to what would become my dream. i remember being confused at this turn of events.
i was escorted to an enormous animal - which i soon found out was a unicorn.
A unicorn.
i climbed aboard, and the unicorn flew me around Calgary's night sky.
That was my dream.
i don't care what it means.
i got to fly on a unicorn.
For real.
in my dream.

Friday, December 17, 2010

i wanna remember...

the way sunshine boy calls his baby brother, 'efyum'.
all my littles being littler than me.
taking bubble baths with my tiny sick boy.
nursing a baby while visiting with a 14 year old.
the clothing that comes out of the dryer - in every imaginable size.
i wanna remember
missing supper because he needed me - feeding someone rather than always being fed.
sunshine boy snuggling me in his spiderman undies till he murmurs, "Let's kiss."
Never getting everything done.
Always doing something.
i wanna remember the
bone weariness -
the whispered games of Simon Says because my lisping girl - who no longer lisps - told me, "i rock at this."
"Simon says point at your best friend."
Two year old points at six year old who points at two year old.
i wanna remember charter not wanting to be a belt ahead of peyton in karate...
i wanna remember their sweet loyalty and mutual trust.
Sloanie and i were washing dishes and she said to me, "So, didja have a good day, mama?"
& i said i guessed i did.
"i don't think i'll ever remember this day for the rest of my life though," she smiled, "even though it was a good one..."
but i want to.
Like a greedy miser hoarding their gold, i want to remember every single one of these good days that make up these good years...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the heart of the matter...

After our Fun Fabulous Friday at Cai's Fiddle Fantasia,
Ephraim woke up the next day with a teeny fever...
i held my softy boy & nursed him - rocking him and soothing his sadness...
i hoped that his sickies would be short lived since he had just gotten over a cold -
but Sunday, Monday & Tuesday went by with my teeny noodle boy getting no better.
Finally on Wednesday he refused to swallow any solids, and would only take breast milk. He seemed so wee and vulnerable in my arms and i decided i needed to brave the doctor's office to see what was up in that throat of his that seemed to be causing him so much pain.
i took Sloanie with me and we sat - and sat & sat & sat... waiting to be seen.
All over the tiny office were posters advertising immunizations & i prayed that we wouldn't be met with any unkindnesses because of our choice not to vaccinate.
Sloanie and i talked about that possibility, and i told her, "There are so many, many choices to make when you're a mama Sloanie - & you might choose differently than me when you become a mama & that's ok. There's only one thing out of everything i have taught you that i want you to cling to - the rest of your decisions will come more naturally if you just hold onto that one thing..."
"Is it immunizations, mom?"
"Nope - it's not immunizations."
"What is it?"
"Cling to Jesus, Sloanie. All the rest? It's details. Your Father is in the details - & He cares deeply what choices you make, but if you're clinging to Him, they're not as intimidating and confusing..."

It's the heart of the matter.

May my decisions be measured against what You've taught me to be true, Father... Let the wisdom that i pass on to my children be my love of You.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Outside the Picture Frame

Neil bought me an awesome camera - it takes beautiful pictures.
i have even spent some time learning how to take better pictures & i hope that over these next years, i'll get better at it...
But there are so many, many images that happen outside the picture frame...
i didn't get any pictures at Fiddle Fantasia because i was back stage, carrying my sweet little lump of fudge & watching out for my girl.
and then...
i didn't get any at their violin recital either -
even though i brought my camera -
i had to accompany 2 girls, and during the third one, i was shushing an impatient 2 year old.
So many opportunities like this seem to fly by in these crazy days.
i wonder sometimes if all these beautiful memories we're making will disappear & they'll forget all the amazing things they accomplished because i didn't manage to snap a picture of it.
and so...
once again...
a verbal snapshot.
Sloanie - daddy said that you look just like me - & i have to admit that once i thought i was looking into the mirror when i glanced at you out of the corner of my eye & i thought to myself, "Man, i look good today..." *smile*
You're looking so grown up. Your personality is coming out in the way you dress and i love your style, girlie. You wore your dark coloured dress with your funky boots & your new sweater. Your up-do lasted all night & even though you were scared, i saw none of it in the poised young lady who took the stage & played so beautifully.
Peyton, i love that you wanted to wear my emerald green dress. It made your sparkly eyes dance. i was so proud when you added your vibrato and took your playing up to a new level despite the fact that your broken wrist really slowed you down this year.
Cai, i wish i had pictures of each of the 12 outfits you tried on. Seems you can wear almost anything. i loved how you started your piece at a tempo that was almost too fast, but you held on to those reigns and played for dear life. Life is full of ballads & slow sombre music... it was fun to see you play like you were chased and pull it off so masterfully.
& there's more...
a feverish yum laying his head on his daddy's shoulder while his daddy checked his blackberry for the hundredth time. Mollen dressed up like a wood faerie, but bored to tears after the first number. Charter who finally had a shower and shocked us with his handsomeness - after seeming weeks of stinky little boyness. Gagey who needed many trips to the water fountain, and even more trips to the snack table, whose single tear stayed on his cheek for what seemed like forever after his sobs had ceased when he fell on the hard floor of the college.
and mama - who is usually outside the picture frame anyway - trying to balance, juggle, accompany, watch - and who let out a sigh as we drove home in the dark.
Not a single picture...
But so much of life is lived outside the picture frame.
& so much of it is good, worthy of being recorded, full of beauty and effort and skill...
So little ones, know that i cherish you all - and i'm so proud of the hard work that you are pouring into these years. Keep living and learning - whether the camera clicks...
or not.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

do i trust him...?

i guess i'm taking a deep breath and plunging into some of the questions i have heard - or that have been impressed on me - in this travelling season of my husband's career.
There's a short answer - and i'm gonna expand just a little bit on it too.
Each of us have different circumstances - different husbands - different atmospheres on different types of business trips - different contacts, requirements, meeting places...
So, even among women whose husbands travel, this question won't always come up.
But when it does, my short answer is, "yes."
When i began to hear this question more frequently, i have to admit i second guessed my initial gut reaction of blind trust. i wondered if i was being naive to let my heart traipse around in Neil's pocket... But after some soul searching - and genuine reflection - i realized that i only really have 2 choices.
One option is to make my husband's job a nightmare. i could beg him to quit, offer ultimatums, phone and harass him on the road, and make unrealistic requirements about days home and away, numbers of emails, and minutes on the phone...
i can choose to enjoy my marriage, his hours at home - & the sweetness of each minute in these busy years.
My heart spoke quietly to me - so i had to listen very carefully... but i'm sure now, that my instinct to *trust* - without agonizing, isn't based on laziness towards my marriage - because my marriage is precious to me...
& so - on the home days as well as the away days, we pray for him. i pray specifically for Neil's heart to be turned to us - & for our hearts to be turned to his...
& i'm sure my Father understands that this means i want us each to stay tender, focused and attentive to the other. i pray for neil to be given favour at work - with his bosses, and customers - and that he will be a man of integrity.
i am intentional in my efforts to connect - to touch, to love - because the extra work that comes with having a husband who travels is secondary to the dangers of neglect...
So, while he's away - i'll faithfully water the tender shoots of our love - protecting them in the wild weather that is sure to come from time to time, and making sure there are times when they get to bask in the sunshine so they can continue to grow strong...

Monday, December 13, 2010

it's monday...

so, we're back at the daily grind...
My mind has been working overtime for a couple of weeks now - and even so - it seems unable to come to any palpable conclusions.
There are all these threads of thoughts - that i'm sure are all a part of the same piece of cloth - and yet they're all separated and tangled. i can't help but think that if i could get them all woven where they belong, there is so much more that i'd be able to understand.
i wish... that there wasn't such a shroud of silence around the things that Christians don't understand... i wish that we'd talk - really dig in - without fear of rejection, or worse, casual dismissal.
So, since i find myself unable... i will name some of the threads that have wound themselves around my thoughts... so you can see that i'm not trying to be secretive... i'm just *unable* - and it makes me feel lonely.

birth control
men... and women...

Father - meet with me.
Hold me in my loneliness - and love me in my unloveliness.
Untangle the threads - and weave the cloth...
Show me what you value - and teach me to be more like You...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

daughters and sons...

When my sister delivered her fifth daughter this summer... i officially lost my title...
i had been falling a little behind - and meanwhile, jess kept delivering daughter after daughter...
But for our first several years,
i was the mama of the most girls.
i remember when my sparkly eyed girl was born, i would hoard my 3 girls together and gaze at my riches like a greedy king.
We did the matching dresses, pony tails, pass-me downs and frilly bloomers.
When my first little macho man was born - all his little mothers clustered around this strange new creature. His cry was a hoarse, low sound - and the first toys he fell in love with were his hockey stick and ball.
The girls thought he was a lovely play thing - and doted on him constantly.
Then Mollen came - and we were back on familar ground. Another daughter - this is what we knew how to do around here...
But after a little break, when the babies came again - they were boys.
Two delicious little boys have begun to tip the scales for the testosterone team in our house - and Charter gleefully begs for another baby so we can at least have a tie...
The girls have outgrown most of their matching dresses, they do their own hair and would raise their eyebrows at me if i bought them frilly bloomers.
i like watching what my Father has made of our family as he has added each daughter - and each son...

Saturday, December 11, 2010


i volunteered (or better put, i was asked to volunteer) to be the parent rep for Cai's fiddle group. i did the job last year when i was a billion months pregnant with Ephraim - and ended up carrying around a grumpy Gagey while fulfilling my duties...
This year was slightly easier because Gagey was happy & sat with his daddy.
The performers lounge is 2 flights of stairs below the stage, and our seating area where we could watch a short snippet of other performers during the concert was 2 flights of stairs above stage.
i carried Ephraim from their 3:45 sound check until the concert ended at 9:20pm. Up and down and up and down, shuttling, chaperoning, shushing and organizing 16 kids - running up flights of stairs when they were on stage so i could catch glimpses of my girl - who rocked - and making sure that my group ended up where they needed to be when they needed to be there.
Ephraim was an angel (as usual) but a heavy twenty-something-pounds little angel who needed feeding and changing, and lovin'... all while being lugged around like a sac of flour, following around a tittering group of gangly junior highs who shocked me with their junior highness... As we stood backstage, waiting for their final two numbers, I shushed the tired baby and danced from side to side - and i could practically feel the temperature rising in the hallway crowded with teenagers...
"i'm hot." i murmured to no one in particular...
"Yeah, well at least you don't have long sleeves!" one of the teenagers countered.
Sho' nuff...

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Phone Rings...

i'm vacuuming - and breathless - i hear the crackle of his cell phone on the other end of the line.
"Hey, did you call? i didn't have reception, i was going through the mountains. These roads are awful..."
"Yeh, that was me..." running upstairs to get to our room and shut the door...
"Hey neil? i wanted to tell you something really important..."
"Oh? What's up?"
"Thank you for not leaving me."
"What? i leave you every week - i'm constantly leaving, what do you mean, 'thanks for not leaving?'"
"You leave, but you still love me. You are away - but i know you're coming home. Some husbands go - and leave their wives and stop loving them. i'm glad you don't. Thank you for not leaving me, because i love you so much, and i like being your wife."
"Oh. Well then, thanks for not leaving me either."
"You're welcome."
"You're funny."
"See you in 2 hours. Drive safe."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Permission to Speak Freely

Molls was harassing Sloanie as we waited in the vehicle outside the college for Cai to finish the dress rehearsal for her upcoming concert.
love it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

i wanna be fearless...

i like fearless people - full of confidence - easy laughter and purposeful steps.
i like to imagine that i'm one of them - but i'm not.
i remember being in grade 4. Our teacher gave us a math assignment to do in groups, and i was put in a group with several other children. i looked at the first problem, and timidly gave my answer. The boy beside me started laughing and mocking me, and with my cheeks flaming, i tried to take my answer back... "Oh, of course i'm wrong!! Sorry - yes, i'm so stupid..."
But as it turned out, i wasn't wrong... i was right...
and it's funny - how quickly i wanted to take my right answer back - and exchange it for whatever he told me to write down...
i didn't want to be wrong all by myself.
& sometimes i find - i don't want to be right all by myself either...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

secrets from the heart of an introvert...

i think part of the reason that i'm an introvert is that i beat myself up over the things i did or did not say when i have been out and about...
Once in explaining to Neil some dumb thing i had said, i sighed and commented, "sometimes it's just easier to stay home than to go out and cause misunderstandings..."
& yet -
i feel that tug on my heart - that certainty - that people are important...
and that i need to keep trying - to work on my gracelessness, my awkwardness, my bumbling spoken words... because relationships are where it's at.
i struggle with knowing when to lay myself bare - & when to keep my mouth shut.
i struggle with wanting to be known - & the fear i have in the pit of my stomach that no one wants to know me...

i feel my Father cracking a smile at me - in my panicked fragility.

He created me to be so - he chose me to be His....
So, let my broken words be used by Him...
Let my embarrassing outbursts, or pained silences - bring Him glory...
Let my willingness to build relationships outweigh my inability to create them...
and let the tiny light shed by this introvert serve to bring others closer to Him...

Monday, December 6, 2010

French kiss! French kiss!

i'm not sure...
but i think possibly...
that we are the only family with a 6 year old who chants, 'French kiss! French kiss!' every time her parents wander into the same room.
i'm sure glad she picked up that expression from that television commercial (y'know the one that shows, 'toast, french toast, kiss, french kiss - it's so much better when it's french' - with a big romantic embrace at the end...)
So one day,that familiar black bag was packed by the door - and he was just finishing up a last few details in his office before he came bounding along the snowy path to the back door and into the house where i was teaching our small fry while poking toast into the baby's mouth - still in my pj's.
He burst in with a cloud of frosty air and started jumping and chanting, "French kiss! French kiss!"
Mollen was the first to leap into the air giggling and joining his cry.
& so i crept into his arms to mollen's squealing delight...
so maybe my clinging smooch wasn't as romantic as the flowing gowned embrace on tv...
but it's the kind that has years of familiarity behind it... it's the kind that shows our littles that we're still a team... it's the kind that you feel way down deep - in the pit of your stomach when you wanna know you're loved...
So, chant away molls -
remind us to hold each other -
to love each other -
to savour the goodbyes -
and to yearn for the hellos.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Sometimes we let loose a torrent of words in our prayers.
Asking, telling, thanking, praising...
Other times - every little word seems inadequate -
& we're left with prayers made up of sighs, groans, and wordless sounds.

Sometimes even the sounds are used up - & we're left sitting, in silence - in His presence.
& then there are the times...
where He gives us just that one word that so describes the heart of our prayer.
That happened to me the other day as i prayed with our little ones at the start of our school day.
Courage, Father.
Whisper to me words of courage - remind me that i'm yours so that i don't falter in my timidity.

Friday, December 3, 2010

living in the land of plenty...

i know...
i'm supposed to be out Christmas shopping somewhere or something.
But instead today i found myself purging a really big garbage bag full of excess from our home.

We're in a constant state of re-organization here. With 7 littles - there are always sneaky ways to make it seem like there's more room, to try something new, to rearrange, remove or redo.
Today, i decided to give our 14 year old a shot at having her own room, something that hasn't happened in 12 years.
We moved Mollen downstairs to a little mattress under Charter's loft bed. i'm not sure if it's permanent yet, but the shift caused some cleaning, organizing and purging, and it really struck me; because our family doesn't have a lot of 'stuff' by North American standards, and here i was with another big load to get rid of.
It's another one of the blessings to having a large family. We simply don't have the space to store excess - it *has* to go. Sometimes it's crap & it goes in the garbage (most often), sometimes it's decent and it gets handed down to friends or cousins...
& what goes around comes around...
we love a good bag of pass me downs around here...
Having my little crew has taught me to cling a little less tightly to things -
and a little more tightly to the One who gently shepherds us all...
i hope that He'll continue to strip away at my selfishness and pride...
making room in my heart for His fruit to grow...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

on having a husband who travels...

i have some friends whose husbands have to work long hours, or have jobs where they are emotionally spent. Some husbands own their own businesses - or become ghosts at harvest time.
Some husbands have to take extra classes to keep up - or to become competitive... and some husbands are out of work... or gone missing... absent because of divorce - or death...

But this post -

this post is for the girls like me - the women who hold down the fort at least half time while their husbands travel.
i know that what i do isn't out of the ordinary - as a matter of fact, i know lot of women who see their husbands a lot less than i see mine.
And, just as our husbands spend 50% of their days living out of suitcases...
we spend 50% of our lives creating a new normal for the little ones in our care.
We shovel when it snows - our scrawny arms are suddenly the biggest muscles available- & though we're short, we're the tallest ones around. We're the only one with a drivers licence during those long days and nights when daddy's away.
We try not to phone during business hours, or during late supper meetings, even if we could find a quiet moment or location in our bustling homes.
We scour the garage looking for his tools to fix projects that have fallen into our laps, in the absence of more capable hands.
We repeatedly answer each little ones query about the day and time of daddy's hopeful return.
We become - for those days -
both momma - and daddy -
in the dizzying feat of plates spinning that arises when-

We have a husband who travels.

We're frustrated that the waitresses at all the business restaurants wear such skimpy clothing. We wonder if our meager spaghetti and meatballs will be good enough after the steak and lobster he bought for his customers. We wish he could see that we got dressed - and put on make up... tried a new up-do and have matching socks. We watch our words carefully so that the predominant theme is gratitude - not complaint when he's home - *and* when he's away too - because we know... we *know* - we have so much to be grateful for, and we want our little ones to see that. We know our husbands love us - and are travelling and working - on our behalf. Their travel is an inescapable part of a job they love - or that they tolerate... so that they can provide for us.
We trust those men - who take our hearts around the country, but who carefully bring them back home again as soon as they're able.

Hey, little mamas - i know there must be some of you reading my blog - & if you are -
i'm doin' it too.

and i'm cheering for all the other little mamas -
whose arms aren't strong enough -
whose legs aren't long enough -
whose patience isn't thick enough -
whose lap isn't big enough -
but who continually give all -
and trust that the Father - who never leaves on business trips - will make up for all she lacks, and will give exceedingly and abundantly more on those days-

when her husband travels.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

and then she said...

To my very pregnant friend:
"When you have your new baby, don't bring it here."

We all look at Mollen questioningly.
"If you do, Gagey will injure it."

*sigh* the sad hard truth.

But if she's brave enough to bring the tiny fresh whisp of life to my house, i will wrangle my boys and ward off my girlies....
and i will sigh with wonder over the tiny grasping fingers, and the perfect o shaped mouth.
i will make sure that there isn't quite so much naughtiness -
so there is no fear of injury.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

monkey boy

Ephraim is starting to look like a tiny baldie monkey.
My mama has been taking some new watercolour classes & she came up with this beauty of my little boy.
He has hopeful eyes.
His tiny curious hands are constantly exploring, and his drooly little mouth is always tasting...
He laughs when he's done nursing.
He falls asleep seconds after i lay him down.
He crawls a million different ways; like a worm, like a tiny puppy, like an armadillo... and he's fast, and into everything.
He loves mama best - and everyone else has been a very very distant second lately.
He holds up his arms to daddy, but cries if daddy takes him away from me.
He smells like cookies...
and we can finally see the shape of his sweet little neck, after all these months.
i like him.
a lot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ever Feel...

i do.
and sometimes i like it & i relish the feeling of my secret superpower as i feel myself to be...
& then there are other times -
where i want to be seen -
noticed -
as my Father walks along the mountain path,
and i grow - a wildflower - along the path's rugged edge.

Pluck me from this rocky soil, Jesus -
Carry me as i drink in your Goodness -
take what small amount of fleeting beauty i have -

Sunday, November 28, 2010

back, but not really back

My computer has been on the fritz for a few weeks now. i limped through nanowrimo borrowing Neil's or my littles laptop, while the computer shop kept telling us, "one more day, one more day" - for days and weeks in a row...)
Funny how i miss my little oasis of online friendships :)
So, i'm finished my novel - but i won't *really* be back to blogland until i have my own little uninterrupted space to blog to my hearts content.
i hope my computer gets back from the shop soon.
So, j asked if i'm proud of myself.
i am kinda.
i read my whole novel after i finished it - & i was so glad that i felt like it expressed what i wanted so badly for it to express when i started it.
i firmly believe that any changes that we want to see in our country's laws - need to come from hearts that are softened...
i wanted my story to talk about the beauty of life - & the aching delicacy in it's tender beginnings - endings - and all that lies between.
i hope that it's not lame...
*lost my train of thought 'cause i had to stop to clean up a gallon of puke - i am, after all, a mama... ;)*
Anyway - i guess i was thinking that i hope that it is another gentle reminder that points to the Author and Finisher...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

y'know what i think?

We were at the table doing our morning homeschool, like we do every monday- friday from 8ish-9ish am, when those words tumbled out of my mouth,
"Y'know what i think...?"
As soon as i heard them, i stopped - & i tried to shovel them back where they came from, but it was too late...all those little bright eyes were on me, wondering why i paused so suddenly.
i wasn't going to share some massive historical fact with them...
i was going to give them my counter-culture opinion - on a tender subject...
and when i started to speak, i remembered how much loneliness some counter culture ideas have brought me over the years - and in a sudden reflex, i realized that i didn't want my littles to grow up to be lonely.
"What mom??!! What do you think??"
Carefully, prefaced with my favourite two words, "what if" - i shared with them my opinion, making it clear that this was only my opinion - and explaining that it sure isn't an opinion that many would share with me...

God, if you will give me the courage to speak when i should speak,
will you also be faithful to sift my words for the sake of my little ones?
Loneliness is a worthy sacrifice for what just may be *truth*.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

today, i got to collect...

My prize.
Yeh, i know - it's pretty nice.
i'm reading through my rough copy now - & clarifying or fixing little things that are glaring. i don't know how to do much more than that :)
So far (i'm not quite halfway through) - i have added a couple of hundred words - (& taken some out too i guess) - & my word count for nano was just over 56 000 - but i'm sure that will change as i finish reading it through for my first time.
i don't know what i want to do with it.
My mom says i should publish it on lulu so i can get copies for my littles, but i still feel kind of shy about it... it's a lot like music in many ways. Maybe i will sit and let it simmer for a bit - and then see what i feel like doing in a few months...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

has neil read it...

People keep asking me that.
Short answer is no. He read the first 3 pages (it's over a hundred now), and he thinks maybe one day he'll read it - when it's finished.
i want to tell you what i see in Neil not reading it, because i think people assume that this hurts my feelings; it doesn't.
i feel like he trusts me.
Obviously, since he read the first pages, he recognized some of himself in the character of Jack - but he didn't get all fiercely obsessed with what words i would write.
i like how he's confident, and he expects me to be too.
He doesn't fall all over himself to make sure that my ego gets stroked, he just encourages me to do the things that i'm passionate about - and wordlessly affirms me when he sees a strength.
Such a strange balance in each unique marriage, isn't it?
It's a fun treasure hunt to see the sweetness hiding in each and every one...

Monday, November 22, 2010

one goal down...

one more to go.
i hit 50k last night before bed... now to finish my story... and then read it.

this last bit....

is delicate.
i'm trying to be patient and tell the story gently.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

what a month...

and it's not over yet. i'm at 44 000, and i still have more time to write tonight, but my eyes are dried up little burning embers, and my brain is fudge.
a month is a short time to write a novel, but a very long time to go at something so doggedly.
i'm tired.
On top of the enormity of the task at hand, my computer died last week, and has been in the shop for over a week. i have been sneaking neil's computer, or my girl's computer, but suffice it to say that it has been very bad timing to be without a computer.
i hope that i'm not just wasting my time writing a little book about the value of life, but even if it only serves to solidify some of the ideas that i want to pass down to my littles, it's a month out of my life that i'm willing so spare.
So, there's my little blog entry for my lonesome little blog.
ps - radar (link sidebar) is killin' it doing 'nanoblomo' - blogging every day for the month of november - in support of me writing my novel in the month of November. Everyone should go comment on all of her entries. It's very entertaining stuff.

Friday, November 19, 2010

42 000 "and if not"

The finish line is in sight. Here is a small snippet. I have been kind of embarrassed to share bits because there is no time for editing or revising this month, but i'll post this bit today anyway.

Monday, April 21st 2008
We’re leaving tomorrow for our trip. I was kind of glad that Jack had to work today so that I wouldn’t have to miss my writing class.
Mr. Henry brought a short story that I’m sure I have heard before. It was the story about a bunch of British soldiers who got trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. They managed to send a three word message to their leaders, who wanted to save them, and who had sent them a message of hope and resolution. Their three word reply was, “And if not...”
He told us how at that time, the people of Britain all recognised the phrase and understood the words referred to the bible story about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who faced the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar. They said that God could save them if He wanted to, but even if He didn’t, they still weren’t going to bow to him or any idol.
We talked for a long time about having a shared frame of reference with those who would read our words.
Then he placed the sheet of paper he was working with gently beside him, and turned to us, “How would you finish that sentence, ‘and if not’?”
I had to think hard about that.
Those soldiers were hoping for a best case scenario – being saved from their enemies as they lay trapped on the beaches. And if they were not saved – they made clear by their message that they would choose the fire over bending to what their enemy wanted to make of the world.
When my best case scenario is held hostage, do I have the courage to peek at my ‘and if not’?
I find that I want to uncover my eyes – and take a good, long hard look at what I believe because if it changes with my circumstances, then it’s just not good enough.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
Believe it or not, it was snowing again when we left this morning.
I almost thought we should cancel our trip, but Jack scoffed at me, so I decided to just trust him. I brought my blanket and pillow and wore my yoga pants so I could sleep in the truck. When I woke up, it looked like we were driving through a blizzard. We decided to stop for an early lunch and see if the weather would clear a bit.
It did clear a bit after lunch and we got to mom and dad’s in time for supper. I was so exhausted I didn’t feel like heading out again, but Jack really wanted to go see his Grandma tonight, so after supper, we headed out to the hospital. It’s only about 10 minutes from Mom and Dad’s and we got there just as Grandma was finishing her supper.
I couldn’t believe the change in her in only three and a half months. She has lost so much weight, and it makes her look so different. Her usual prim little perm has grown out, and her white hair rises in a feathery cloud around her face.
She smiled when Jack walked in the door, and I could see the mild paralysis on the right hand side of her face.
Jack, being Jack, took off his snowy boots and climbed right into her bed. She chucked as he put his arm around her and asked her jovially, “So, Grandma, were you lonesome for me?”
We had to listen carefully – her voice sounded higher and thinner; not as bright and clipped as it used to be.
“I have been lonesome a lot in this past year, Jack, but I discovered that loneliness is only the invitation of God, and so I decided to accept.”
Jack grinned and said, “Well then, that’s a better offer than I can give you.”
Grandma laughed, and suddenly I was so glad Jack made me come. I found a seat beside the bed and made myself comfortable as Jack helped himself to the tiny bowl of caramels that Grandma kept by her bed for just this type of visit. Even now, she was ever the hostess, making sure that her visitors were welcomed taken care of.
He told her all about work, and the course that he was hoping to take in the fall. He told her how our baby looked like an alien on the ultrasound, and that he didn’t know what colour to paint the little room that we were preparing. And then, he turned to her and asked, “And what about you, Grandma – are you doing okay?”
She turned to Jack and said, “At first, I was frustrated when this body,” here she picked up her twisted right hand with her stronger left, “suddenly became so disobedient. But, when I talked it over with my Father, I came to the conclusion that he brought me from infancy to the independence of adulthood. If it should be in His plan to take me back to infancy... Who am I to question Him?”
She spoke slowly, deliberately and intentionally.
“Jack,” she touched his cheek with her left hand, “I’m so glad you’re my grandson. I was afraid at first to lose my independence, and to be alone and broken. But now I realize that I am far from alone, and that my Father, knowing the days and hours allotted to me to live on this earth, is encouraging me for the sake of the generations to come; to finish well. I hope He gives me what I need to faithfully, gratefully persevere, even in this present difficulty.
Neither Jack or I knew what to say to her. She seemed so purposeful, poised and confident.
Suddenly, the image of the soldiers trapped on the beach flashed through my mind and it was as if I heard Jack’s Grandmother’s fervent prayer for health – and the three words of faith that would follow it.
And if not...
We didn’t stay too long because we were tired from our trip. We promised Grandma that we’ll go see her tomorrow.
Now, I’m about to fall into bed and I hope that the tiny one inside will sleep too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

rounding the bend...

i'm more than half way to 50K, but just rounding the bend in my story lines... i think this will be the tricky part - to tie together the pieces that in real life aren't neat and clean. i want to be fair... and gentle...and truthful...
The more thoughtfully i can put things together now, the less re-writing i'll have to do in December, right?
on another note, i'm tired. i'm forgetful. i'm a little blue.
i feel a little foolish :) always.
i'm tired of that feeling.
Neil says that he was attracted to my confidence when i was 13.
Must be in there somewhere...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

passed halfway... 26600 the dream

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
Mr. Henry’s assignment won’t leave me alone.
I had a dream last night.
I have been dreaming constantly in recent months; mostly shadows and imaginings – nothing clear and tangible – until last night.
Last night was different.
I dreamed Jack and I were parents to a tiny army of children, just like Les and his wife. I dreamed that over the delectable years of our marriage, we added sons and daughters, each one bringing the joy that I saw on Les’ face as he described the arrival of his tenth child. In my dream, it was night, and all was dark and quiet, and I held our youngest, a little boy – in a room with dim lights and a tiny cradle. His eyes fluttered and faltered, and I knew that as just as he was perched precariously on the edge of sleep, so too was I perched precariously on a single grain in the sands of time, and that it was about to slip from beneath my feet, in the beautiful, merciless twist and tumble that time has about her. I knew that as his eyelashes fluttered – and his chest began to rhythmically rise and fall – that that precious bit of time would in another breath be over, and that grain of sand after it’s hurtling fall through the hourglass would land; mixed and jumbled with the other moments of these precious years in the sands below. I tried desperately to drink in the tiny one – as his mouth pursed and sucked the air, his hand, once waving, now paused in midair as he began to drift. I memorized his features and breathed in his baby scent – the longing of my subconscious being sustained for a moment by the baby of my dreams.
When I woke, I got up with the image of the babe of my dreams fresh in my mind, and wrote my imagined tale of motherhood.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

jack's gramma -24 600

There was something about tonight that is sketched in watercolour across the back of my mind. I don’t want it to ever fade, because the picture of it so moves me, and it reminds me why I fell in love with Jack in the first place.
When Grandma answered the door, fumbling for the doorknob for what seemed an eternity, and then slowly opening it and leaning on it for strength, I think I was frozen at first - stunned to see her standing looking so dishevelled and incoherent and exposed. Jack didn’t need time to let that information sink in. He wrapped his arms around her and said, “Oh, Grandma – I’m so glad we came.”
Gently, he took her hand, and led her into the house – whispering into her ear and gesturing for me to phone Julie. At each step – he calmly explained to his grandma what was happening, and why we were calling for help. She clung to him with her left hand and he wouldn’t leave her side – even for a minute. I almost felt like an intruder – with my bumbling efforts to help.
Jack normally isn’t soft or compassionate – but today, when he saw his grandma, so needy and insecure, he held her so delicately and tenderly that he gave back to her – even in her confusion – the dignity that sickness had taken away.
As we waited for the ambulance to arrive to take her to the hospital, suddenly I remembered how Jack’s mother had prayed for me – and I told Jack I wanted to pray for Grandma too. I took her hands as tenderly as I could – and kissed them. Then I gathered my courage, and with words that were bolder than my spirit felt – I began to ask the One I love to watch over grandma. My Father – who comforted me in my loss, Jehovah Rapha – God, our healer met with me as I reached out to Him in desperation. As I spoke, I found I didn’t feel like a stranger in His presence. Simple words tumbled from my mouth as we heard the wail of the ambulance arriving. I stepped back and Grandma reached for me. She was trying to tell me something. The EMT’s started talking to Jack and it felt like the peace of the preceding moment had been shattered by utter chaos. I strained my ears to hear and tried to catch what she was saying as her eyes locked on mine – I’m almost positive I caught the words, ‘thank you’.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

22 222

just a number... tired.
Feels like at times when you get gum on your hands, and the more you try to get it all into a safe little wad, the more that it seems to multiply in great sticky strands, until you've got threads spreading from both your hands, to your favourite sweater, and the tip of your nose...
That's not from the book.
But maybe it will be.

Monday, November 8, 2010

19 896 - the mother in law

Jack talked to his dad for what seemed like forever before he broke the news, and at the word “pregnant”, I heard their cheers as Jack pulled the phone away from his ear. His parents were so excited, and they wanted to know every detail; how I had been feeling, when was the due date, did it look like everything was going well this time?
Aside from Tuesday, this little baby will be the first grandchild in both our families. I think they had been holding their breath, not daring to say a word, but hoping that soon, we would find solace in the hope of another baby. Jack was laughing and his accent was getting thicker all the time, and then after a bit, he handed me the phone. He said his mom wanted to talk to me.
I have always liked Jack’s mom. Even though I have only met her in person four times, she emails me every single week, and she’s always so warm and steady – just like my Jack.
“Congratulations, Anna!” She said, and before I could respond she quickly added, “I want to pray for you.”
She paused, and I thought she meant she was going to be praying for me during my pregnancy. I was grateful and I started to tell her how much her prayers would be appreciated, but then she really started to pray. Right there on the phone. I felt my legs give way beneath me as I crumpled to the couch and her warm voice continued over the phone. The tears streamed down my face as I held the phone up to my ear and listened to the words of blessing flow from the other side of the world, penetrating my clichéd expectation of a trite offer to prayer, with the sincerity of a Saint who knew the Father well enough to storm His Throne on my behalf.

Baby, I wish I could have recorded your grandmother’s prayer for you. She covered us in blessing, praising God for the miracle of your tender life. She prayed for me and your daddy, for us to have peace and strength and patience to wait as you grow. She prayed that you would, even now, have a tiny heart that longs to please God and that you would grow in wisdom and stature and favour with God and man.
And with just the slightest quake in her voice, she prayed for you to live.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

18 296

i'm writing while they sleep; waking up early, going to bed late. Sometimes it is a desperate slog to get a hundred down - sometimes a thousand come without a pause. i don't remember working so hard on anything for a long time.
i'll see if i can find another snippet for tomorrow...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

despair - 13 173

It's hard - and long.
It's more like the marathon i described it as in the beginning than i ever imagined. i have not read in one sitting all that i have written. i went back and read 2 pages, and it cost me over an hour, and i ended up adding an extra 500 words - *just* to make it coherent - and that was only 2 pages.
but it's fun too.
peck, peck, peck...

Friday, November 5, 2010

17 pages

Is that more fun than how many words?
If i end up with something that halfway makes sense, then maybe i'll try to do some proof reading, edits & revisions in December - if not... maybe i've wasted quite a bit of time. For now, it's barelling through, trying to get a lot of the story line down...
My sister read the first 15 pages & said that i'm writing neil... & yes... i guess i am. Here is a taste of Neil/Jack for you...

I’m heading to work in 5 minutes. I can’t button my pants. Not because they don’t fit, but because any pressure feels painful. Brushing my teeth has become my most hated chore causing dry heaves at each and every attempt. When I looked at my face in the mirror today, I hardly recognized the exhausted face that looked back at me. I have dark circles under my eyes and the crease from my pillow seam snaked across my cheek. My hair is brittle and disobedient and my face is pale with more blemishes than I can cover up.
Where’s my pregnancy glow?
I told Jack I feel ugly and he said he couldn’t hear me over the sound of my boobs expanding. Nice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

7999 - skipping ahead a few pages... 'essa'

Monday, September 24th 2007
It has been angry, grey, wet and rainy all week. It’s the perfect weather for sitting inside sipping tea in my pyjamas crying all day. I took the whole week off work, even though by Thursday I felt better physically than I have for a month. I phoned work on Friday and Megan answered. I told her that I’ll be in on Monday and she sounded relieved. She said that Essa has been signing my name constantly. I should have known that Essa would worry about me. She’s my little shadow at work. Right now there are 8 residents at The Manor, (the elegant name of the group home that I work at). Essa is unique because she’s non verbal. Everyone has different gifts and challenges, but I can’t help but love Essa the very best. We’re about the same age – and especially since I lost Tuesday – her silence has been about the best friendship a person could ask for. I haven’t told her I lost a baby. I didn’t even tell her I was pregnant. Megan says that Essa lacks the capacity to understand my situation. She told me to just leave it alone – but when Essa looks at me with that disquiet in her eyes, I can’t help but acknowledge that it seems deceitful to keep it from her. I had kind of decided before I went to work this morning that if the right opportunity arose, I’d tell her today.
I got to work - to the familiar din of the breakfast dishes being cleared. I was working the 7-3 shift – getting off just in time to get to my first writing class. When I took off my coat and turned around, I found myself wrapped in the warmth of Essa’s little arms. Essa has Down Syndrome and physically, she’s really tiny. She understands every word I speak – and it seems, even more of what I don’t speak. She has brown hair cut in the sweetest little bob, with perfectly straight bangs framing her gentle face. I noticed that her fingernails were pink and chipped when she took my hand and led me to the couch.
She looked at me with those almond eyes – and I wished for the millionth time that she could speak. I read in her file that she used to have some limited speech, but that she had quit speaking after her last stint in foster care before coming permanently to the Manor. It makes me ache for her to know that someone, or something - circumstances I’ll never know or understand, took that away from her.
We sat on the couch – friends – and she laid her brown head on my shoulder and put her hand on my stomach. I was so surprised I didn’t move. She started rocking – and making crooning, weeping noises as she pressed her tiny self against me. Suddenly, I was too hot. I was overcome with the sadness I had been carrying. My chest started heaving, and my little friend became like a mother to me. She soothed my distress and eased the anguish of my loss – her low moan, a lament as she held me in her capable arms. When finally I pulled myself from her, she smiled her impish smile and stood to leave.
Then Megan came around the corner and told me that breakfast was cleared up and she was finished her shift and ready to go home.
When we were done talking, Essa had already slipped away to another corner of the house where she was working on some baskets for the farmer’s market, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to her – or thank her – for grieving with me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

4761 - and the first bit...

Thursday, September 6th 2007
I’m not even pregnant.
I got home from work tonight and I found this package – from Jack – sitting on the table. He wasn’t home. I knew he was working night shift tonight, but he left the lights on. Every single light in the house was burning. He has a hard time telling me he loves me – in words - but he knows I have begun to hate the dark and that I would laugh when I saw the whole house lit up like that. So, I’ll take that ‘I love you’ and I’ll tuck it in my pocket along with the thousand others like it.
He left the stew bubbling in the crock pot and a wrapped package on the table. When I opened it, I found this pregnancy journal... and a box of my favourite black pens, the ones with the fine felt tips.
I feel bereft of words. I’m incapable of expressing where I have been – and where I now find myself. I feel odd writing in a journal with a picture of a rounded belly on the cover – and the words, “40 weeks” inscribed beneath. I have always been the wordy one – finishing Jack’s sentences if he pauses too long, writing him long love letters and filling his ears with chatter the moment he walks in the door. He told me he ‘misses my noise’. Part of me feels like laughing at his teasing and letting myself fall back into our normal patter. And yet, I feel like it would be the most offensive lie to try to act like I’m the woman I was, when I know I’m just not her anymore.
So, I’ll write. I’ll write for the husband I can’t speak to.
I have been a mess lately and I know it. I can’t seem to get my feet back under me. Jack knows I’m lost, but he seems a little lost too and in this darkness, it has seemed impossible to find each other. Silence winds around our evenings till it’s so thick, we turn on the television to escape its stifling oppression.
I lost our baby.
Even writing that, I feel the shame flood my body and my leaden hand finds it difficult to even pen the words. I know that Jack gave me this journal as a sign of hope. He keeps saying that we’ll try again – that we’ll have a baby... and while there’s a part of me that believes him, there’s another part that just doesn’t want to let go of my first baby. The baby I feel like I failed. The baby I lost.
It has been two months. Two months and I still don’t know how I’m supposed to act. Sometimes it amazes me that I can be walking around, going to work, coming home, cleaning house... continuing on like nothing happened – when my womb became a tiny coffin. Seems my body doesn’t quite know how it’s supposed to act either. I have been avoiding going back to the doctor, but I’m starting to wonder if there’s something not quite right.
Kind of adds a great big sigh on a sea of sadness.
So, there it is. The first pages of my pregnancy journal filled in. A journal that should be filled with expectancy has begun in sorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


i skimmed my hammered out first pages yesterday for a snippet to share with you & i was overcome with shyness.
It seemed a little - silly.
Did i tell you my synopsis?
My novel is the pregnancy journal of a woman who lost her first baby & is now pregnant with her second.
i'll see if i can find a tiny snippet to share with you tomorrow...

Monday, November 1, 2010

october has dwindled away...

& now here we sit -
on the eve of november.
Suddenly i feel a little cowed by my new years resolution.
i feel a little foolish -
But i'm too stubborn to give in to my insecurity.
& so, i'll put on some slippers - & give my cold feet a chance to warm up.
November is here -
clickety clack... my keyboard calls.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

He's got me

i trust my Father.
i know that i do because i turn to Him when i need Him - & He has proved Himself trustworthy again & again & again. i lean back into Him - & know... that He's got me.
Kinda like...
Baby E likes to hold onto my fingers & stumble around the room. He grins & blows raspberries into the air & when his slobbery little hands start to lose their grip, he knows i'll catch him.
This year, Cairo started an online course. After 8 years of homeschooling & no formal science curriculum to speak of... i wondered how she'd do... i wondered if she'd learn to acclimatize to a different learning environment, with different expectations... from a different teacher.
i've hung back & held my breath as i watched her diligently work through her assignments.
& she's rockin' it... & she knows i'm here - cheering - if she needs me.
& it's interesting, isn't it - how our babies grow. Cairo no longer needs my fingers to balance as she walks through a room. She has moved past those clinging, tentative steps.
It is the hopeful triumph of motherhood to see our children grow, succeed & stand on their own two feet...
& here i can whisper what is my deepest desire -
that throughout their tender adolescent years -
into their adulthoods -
and beyond...
my children will be found clinging not to me... but to Jesus.
Walking, running, climbing, jumping... but sometimes just plain *clinging* to Him.
Sometimes strong & secure - sometimes faltering & tentative.... Always pressing onward towards That Hope that is only found in Him.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

no. big. deal.

It's funny - Neil has been out of town for the past 2 weeks & i knew he wouldn't be home in time to take Charter to basketball on Friday night either.
"It's no big deal for you to take him though." he said to me, "It's only an hour..."
i laughed to myself as i thought of the differences between our "no big deals"...
For him, it means working on his blackberry for an hour while he watches Charter play basketball.
For me, it meant getting supper ready early so that i could drive the girls to youth early so that i could get Charter to basketball on time with 4 other children in tow.
It meant holding the baby while chasing the 2 year old while telling the bored 6 year old that it was almost over.
It meant telling the 10 year old i wasn't comfortable with her playing outside while i was inside, & taking the little guy potty & making too many trips to the fountain to count.
It's almost like working on my blackberry for an hour.
i know. i'm being dumb. Whining when he has been the one living on the road for 2 weeks.
i know i'd hate all that driving, figuring out flights & travel - hotels & meetings.
But to him...
It's no big deal.
Can't say there's not a little part of me that was jealous when he phoned 'cause he had a couple hours down time & he was in starbucks working on his computer.
But for the most part, i wouldn't trade.
& so, Bessie, i've got your back.
i'll drive our little crew thither and yon while you're away...
& i'll gratefully leave the doors unlocked for your weekend return...
i'll cover for you on the sidelines of our son's basketball game...
'cause really -
's no big deal.

Friday, October 29, 2010

on motherhood...

Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.--Charlotte Gray

May this ring true to every woman - mother or not, single or married, retired, or on a career path.
God created us to nurture & to comfort - He made us to be compassionate and merciful...
Let's not allow these virtues to be shut up, worn down & antiquated.
God's work doesn't expire, or retire - it isn't thwarted when our plans fail, or are put off.
No one is excused from serving... not because our Father is a slave driver...
but because it is through our service to others that He reaches down & stirs the depths of our own hearts, drawing us closer to Him.

& they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

if absence makes the heart grow fonder...

Then surely - i am drunk on love...
Deliriously adoring...
the one whose absence grows my heart.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

i promised daddy

i promised daddy that i wouldn't let you sleep with me every night while he's gone anymore.
You were such a monkey when he came home on the weekend that i kinda had to...
i see you peeking out at me from my closet - in your little nest. Thinking you're pretty cool 'cause i told Ephraim he couldn't sleep with you 'cause he crawls around too much.
"It's only for *big* boys, Ephraim..." i told him... & you grinned proudly.
So, go to sleep little one...
& i'll try to not make such silly promises in the future, k?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wouldn't you be lonesome?

Lunch conversation...mama's words in bold...

"Mama, wouldn't it be sad if you didn't have any of us?"
"Any of you?"
"Yes. Wouldn't you be sad if you didn't have any little children?"
"Yeah - that thought is so sad, i can hardly bear it..."
"Wouldn't you be lonesome?"
(interrupting) "Mom wouldn't be lonesome. She'd go on all dad's business trips with him."
"Oh yeah - or maybe she'd have a job."
"Yeah. She could be Beyoncé's back up singer..."
"Or maybe Beyoncé would be HER back up singer..."
"Mom, if you were famous, would you still be called Paige? Or would you have a stage name?"
"i dunno - probably just be Paige..."
"Did you know that if daddy was a girl, his name would have been Lindsay?"
"Yeah! & uncle B would have been Jennifer!"
"Hey, that kind of suits him, doncha think?"
"Mom, did you know that uncle B shaves his toes?"
"No. How do you know that?"
"Him & dad took off their socks & shoes when we were there & uncle B said daddy's toes were, 'ewwww gross' & daddy told him that chicks dig hairy toes."
"Can you pass some more soup please?"

Lonesome indeed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

read alouds

Read alouds are a beautiful part of parenting.
& such a lovely part of homeschooling.
We start with picture books & work our way up to chapters...
The Narnia Chronicles, The Anne of Green Gables series, anything by Meindert DeJong...
We watch for the Newbery Award Winner label - & give special consideration for the ones that won the Caldecott...
& just as we get to the best part...
a little war breaks out, some one's hungry, someone has to go to the potty, baby cries, & there's a loud discussion over who stole whose seat...
Reading out loud gets *hard* the more children you add to the mix. There were a couple of years there where we slugged through - sometimes reading louder, taking breaks - teaching the little ones that this is a priority & that we're not gonna give up.
But it amazes me now, how these books - these "shared experiences" - bond us together.
It's an easy way to do something right.
i usually choose books at about a 6th grade reading level & i do my best to find things that will hold the interest of my littlest learners, as well as my gangly jr. highs.
i don't give up immediately when littles are bucking this quiet time, but i'm learning not to push it either - a few minutes on a bad day is still something - & we press on, continuing our little habit & hoping for better days ahead.
This year, i have carved out a couple of times a day for our read alouds. In the morning we do quite a bit of reading for our group time... & at the end of it... before they sneak off for their age appropriate tasks - i gather them all around the fireplace & i read our latest novel to them.
In the afternoon, after we figure out how far we made it in the morning & how far we'd like to make it in the afternoon, we read again.
i'm hopeful that they'll learn from all the books we read during the day: history, poetry, bible devotionals, math, language arts & dreary grammar lessons...
& i'm hopeful that the extras that i tuck into the nooks & crannies - will serve to educate them as well. The stories that fill in the holes & act as both filler & glue - they give sustenance to learning & in our memory leave a comforting hue to these colorful days.
Read alouds are worth the effort - the blood, sweat & tears they take to make it happen.
They are worth the painstaking effort to create a habit & they're a big part of homeschool life here at Chrysalis Academy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

mama's little baby

Ephraim was likely grateful to find himself enclosed in his little bed tonight.
i can imagine him settling in... safe at last.
Those owie tooth imprints from his big brother on tiny baby fingers were just the icing on the cake.
Poor tiny boy.
& poor big brother too... i'm not quite sure what got into him today that had me shielding the baby so. Part love, part rough play... & part little bully... but at the end of the day, when my wee one was already tucked in, i took my big bully baby in my arms. It felt like he had been in trouble all day.
He wiggled like a monkey.
i shushed & snuggled him & said, "Oh, honey - you are mama's little baby."
"No. i not. Eph-yum you baby!"
"Oh, no - mama's such a lucky mama, 'cause i have 2 babies... one tiny baby & one big baby."
"No. i not baby. i Gagey."
But he seemed content to let my arms hold him, to let my body rock him, to let my voice soothe him & to let me...
Love on my little baby.
2 is still so wee - so many chances to parent with mercy...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

He's home!! He's home!!

Bolt the doors! Bar the windows!
i gotta steal the keys & hide his shoes.
& blog with false bravado ways to keep him mine...
while he plans his next week of travel...

Friday, October 22, 2010

home is where the heart is...

We were tidying up after supper when Sloanie asked the question -
Sloanie is always asking questions like,
"What was your favourite candy when you were little?"
"If you could go back in time to one day, what would you choose?"
"Who did you play with when you were my age?"
So it was no surprise that she started the conversation off, "Momma, if you could change one thing about our house, what would you change?"
& it struck me right then...
i love our house.
i love these imperfect walls that house these imperfect people... right off the top, i couldn't think of one thing, till she reminded me...
"Mom, didn't you always say that you wished our house faced a different direction so it wasn't always so dark in here?"
o... ya.
"& wouldn't it be great if Charter had a room to sleep in?"
"& doesn't the kitchen get a little crowded when we're making supper?"
yes. it does.
But, we have wooden floors that are all knotty & scratched so you can't tell right away if they're dirty. We have granite counter tops that won't get ruined when i put hot pans on them, or cut on the surface. We have a backyard that gets hot first thing in the spring - & stays warm long into the fall...
& best of all?
It's home.
All these little bodies, finding their rest, finding their nourishment, finding their 'belonging', learning & being loved...
& so, beautiful little green house? i'm celebrating you tonight. i'm so grateful for the wide steps leading up to the front door, the garage that holds a perfect little office, an oven that has had to work very, very hard. i love the little things that we have done to make you our own... & i love the way you look when we put you all in order & we go to bed for the night - comfortable, sheltered & safe.
i'm so thankful for this little spot...
to hang my heart.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a fluffy post

Recently, we had guests - & unfortunately one of our guests coughed while sitting on the couch visiting.
i say unfortunately, because the force of the cough forced air from both ends.
Sloanie, standing directly in front of us immediately collapsed to the floor in laughter. i think she tried for a second to stop herself... but she didn't succeed.
Not even close.
The sight of her losing her composure so completely - caused the rest of us to lose ours as well... so - word to the wise, unless you have thick skin - don't pass gas in our house.
Um... or out of it for that matter...
Neil's been away lately - & the 8 of us were in the backyard when suddenly there was a distinctive repulsive aroma. i was holding Ephraim & i stood up & said, "wheuf, buddy, do we need to change your bum?"
Charter, grinning across from me snorted, "Oh, good - i thought that smell was me."
Turns out, i didn't need to change the baby.
& then there's Gagey...
"Caiwo, that weird... i go, 'FFFfffffffft'."
"Was it a fart, little man?"
"No, it just go, "FFfffffffffft."
Yeah. Cute. Only if you're 2 though.
How's the air at your house?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

As of November 1st

i post here a lot.
i like my little blog - my bit of stolen minutes & seconds where my thoughts take shape & i get to steal a freeze frame or two from these good days... in these good years.
Over the past 2 years, my blogging has gotten a lot more regular. Maybe i found my voice & in my ignorance, i don't know how to shut it off... or maybe i'm just so darn grateful, i can't be quiet.
In any case -
this year, i even went so far as to blog my New Years Resolutions.
There were 2.
& in that final month of pregnancy - buoyed by the imminent arrival of a precious gift...
my goals were fairly large.
Now, because of my knee injury, the first goal has been set aside - for this year - till running is a little more hit - a little less miss - a little more fun - a little less ginger...
& the second goal?
Do you remember the second goal? The second goal was to enter Nanowrimo - "national novel writing month" - with the goal of completing a 50 000 word novel in 30 days - the month of November.
Since apparently i didn't break my fingers, i'm still gonna give resolution #2 a go.
It's basically, a marathon for nerds.
So move over, cool running goal. Make way for the goal with thick glasses & a pocket protector... we're gonna write a novel
& as...
i'm gearing up for a month of writing.
i figure my blog will mostly be updates to cheer myself along as i slog though... if i make it through...
So, my usual posting might be replaced with excerpts from what i've written - if there's anything salvageable - or by a number... my word count... that will hopefully rise quickly - as the month passes.
Any questions?
11 days till go time...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

& i thought to myself...

Is it really so *very* naughty that i email him just for the pleasure of knowing i made his cell phone buzz when he's in a meeting?

Monday, October 18, 2010

theme song

i'm the kind of a girl who picks a song - for a week or a month at a time.
i sing it constantly - i listen to it again & again - on repeat.
i read the words online & print them off - & play it at my piano.
i hum it in the kitchen - till my little ones are all humming it too -
's my theme song.
'till the next one comes along.
Sometimes i feel like i've got a little soundtrack playing to my life - & certain songs have made the cut.
Sometimes only a tiny musical phrase - or heart stopping lyric -
Sometimes the entire piece - played out over a longer period of time, leaving it's sound grooves to show that it was there - impacting me - changing me - softening, tugging me, changing my mind, challenging my heart...

Father, bring me music that brings me closer -
to You.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


'been watchin' the leaves turn....
& on Friday, the sky couldn't decide if it wanted to rain - or snow - & after much debate, it settled on snow.
The littles were pleased because i had promised to steal a tradition from a friend & on the first snowfall - we'd make home made donuts.
& so jammy-clad, we mixed ingredients - grateful for fridays, first snow-falls & friends with fun traditions to steal...
i was reminded today of the other seasons.
y'know those long seasons -
Some of them lasting months - or years - or decades...
seasons of our lives - some tinged with joy or sorrow...
Some seasons of self-denial & self-sacrifice -
& some seasons of growth, rest, comfort or peace.
& as much as sometimes i'd love to rush through one season - to get to the fun of another...
i'm convinced -
that The Creator -
ordained - and numbered - the days of each...
for His ways -
that are higher than mine...
& so, i'll enjoy this season of life - with all it's funny little quirks & hard work - & JOY...
i'll enjoy this season, watching my little ones grow & learn - carefully tending my little garden -
till the next season comes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


One thing i like about being a homeschool mama, is having the time to be able to follow little rabbit trails - or fly by the seat of my pants with my little ones.
i started out the year, thinking that (for bible) we could just read proverbs all year - all 31 chapters - turn around & read it again.
We just finished our first go 'round - (& the littles memorized Proverbs 15) - but i decided when we finished, that i wanted to change course for a bit. The next sermon series at church is on the book of Jonah - & as my big girls are getting older & more mature, i find i want them to be ready to get as much as they can out of church, so i decided we'd take a week & read & discuss the book of Jonah.
So, on Thursday, over to that tiny 4 chaptere'd Jonah i flipped. i have this cool bible that gives a little historical & geographical background for ignoramuses like me :) & we found our locations on our big world map & had a short discussion about those scary assyrians...
& then i read...
Jonah chapter one.
It's a pretty good story - & the last verse of the first chapter is a bit of a cliff hanger...

"But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights."

& i slowed down & read it in my expectant voice... thinking, "they're gonna beg me for chapter 2..."
But instead...
they all laughed and said, "And then the angel asparagus's sing, 'our God is a God of second chances'???"
Thanks, veggie tales... Should be a fun week... :)


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