Saturday, 26 December 2009

The first week












Ah, is he beautiful. And amazing. And perfect.

He is such a calm little baby. He entirely despises diaper changes and doesn't mind letting the whole neighbourhood know, but otherwise he's content to sleep, eat, and be cuddled. I love watching his facial expressions as he sleeps. A mother could get lost in all this newborn cuteness.

I am being thoroughly spoiled by my MIL, who refuses to allow me to so much as wash a spoon, much less do anything else. I am so grateful for her help, and it has been wonderful to enjoy a real babymoon with this sweet little guy. Jacob is loving having her here as well, as she has been spending the better part of each day keeping him occupied with various activities - lots of walks, playing at the park, trips to the pool, baking, crafting, and endless reading.

My perfectionist side is starting to come out, though, which yesterday left me sitting on the couch wringing my hands in anticipation as everyone else prepared to leave the house for a little while. I had visions of sweeping the floors, vacuuming the rugs, cleaning the cat litter, scrubbing down the bathroom, starting a load of laundry, tidying things up a bit - so, in other words, nothing much. But alas, just before MIL stepped out the door, she reminded me that I wasn't to do a thing besides sit and read a book. Then she made me promise. Drats, foiled again.

Not that I'm actually complaining! Just laughing at myself, really. It has been an adjustment for me both to allow someone else to care for me this way and to accept that not everything has to be done just so! I'm finding it to be an unexpected lesson in letting go - of my pride, of my need for control, of my reluctance to allow others to minister to me.

I am grateful that things are going smoothly so far. My milk has come in and we've had no problems with nursing. His latch is great. He sleeps well, either in someone's arms or swaddled on the bed. He lasted about five minutes in his bassinet the first night before I scooped him up and brought him to bed with us, where he's been ever since. I remember the weeks of insisting on a bassinet for our first child, which left me utterly exhausted. Switching to full-time co-sleeping made such a difference - I may as well learn from the experience. I love snuggling with him at night, and those early morning hours when our older boy joins us in bed are especially precious.

I am still trying to process his fast and furious birth. Intense is the best word I can come up with. I feel like I didn't really have a labour - just a few strong contractions that didn't even really feel like contractions, followed by three more contractions that broke my water, delivered the head, and delivered the rest of the baby. I wonder if the reason I didn't recognize the contractions for what they were was because my entire labour with our older child was back labour.

In addition to having "missed out on" labour, I feel like I didn't really have a homebirth, either. Yes, I delivered at home, but there was no choice in the matter - I'd have delivered there even if I'd been planning to give birth in a hospital. Paramedics and firefighters came. My midwife wasn't there until after the placenta was delivered. All of the supplies I'd bought for a homebirth were left unused, and all of my plans for labour were left undone (because there was no real "labour" to begin with). The cord was clamped and cut earlier than it would have been otherwise. Much of the painful wrestling over various decisions pre-birth proved unnecessary - I had agreed to abx since I was GBS+, and I had declined oxytocin for third stage management, but there was no time or need for either of them regardless of the final decision I had arrived at.

When I compare it to my last birth - 10 hours start to finish, half at home and half in the hospital, all back labour, pushing for half an hour or less while in bed on my back with a room full of people - I'm not sure which I prefer. There were things I was glad to do without, like the room full of people, the prolonged pushing, and the horribly inefficient position in which I pushed. But at least I had a labour. I had time to settle in, to get focused, to eagerly anticipate the coming delivery, to mentally prepare. There was no time for that with this labour, no buildup, no control. Just surrender.

There were so many unmet expectations and just as many moments of relief. Nothing happened the way I imagined it would, and I'm still processing that shift in reality.

Considering all the lessons I've learned since conceiving this child - lessons in surrender, humility, expectations, love, and more - I have a feeling this little child is going to teach me a great deal.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our house to yours, and best wishes for the new year!



But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

Monday, 21 December 2009

Luke's Birth

Luke S________ was born at 11:37pm on Saturday, December 19, 2009, after less than one hour of labour.

A week overdue, I was feeling frustrated and impatient that day. I had thought I was in labour two days earlier, having weak but steady ctx all evening, but they disappeared overnight and came only sporadically on Friday and Saturday. There was nothing strong or regular about them. Because the baby had been alternating between OP and ROA, I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees trying to get him turned the right way. I also spent a lot of time walking with my MIL, who was in town to take care of our 2.5 year old son Jacob during our planned homebirth.

After playing a game with Isaac and MIL, we started preparing to go to bed at 10:30 that night. As we sat there talking for a little while, I had a few strong ctx, strong enough that MIL noticed, as I had a hard time carrying on the conversation through them. I thought it might be labour starting but wasn’t certain as they felt very unusual; also, by this point I didn’t want to get my hopes up until I was sure it was the real thing.

I felt an increasing desire to use the bathroom, which was one of the signs I had been waiting for. After one particularly strong ctx, I asked Isaac to help me to the bathroom and told him I would call him when I was done. It was approximately 11:15pm. At the time, I intended to let my body clear its bowels and then settle in with my laptop to time the ctx and begin to focus on labour. I knew it was definitely labour when, as soon as the door was closed, a hot flash hit and I peeled off all of my clothes.

It was a relief to use the bathroom, but I was still on the toilet when another ctx hit, even stronger than the last. I started to get nervous at the thought of several hours of labour with such painful ctx – it was nothing like I remembered with my first labour. I was just preparing to get off the toilet and find a place to settle in to labour when another ctx came and, after an intense pressure, my water broke in a big gush. It was both a relief (physically) and a disappointment (emotionally). My water hadn’t broken during my last labour until right at the end, so having it break at (what I thought was) the start of labour wasn’t my ideal, as I had tested GBS+ and would have preferred my waters stay intact for as long as possible.

I called Isaac to tell him my water had broken and he should call the midwife. It was 11:25pm. As he began to do that, another ctx came, even stronger than the last. Everything is a bit of a blur from this point on. I knew I needed to move now because I wasn’t going to be able to move soon if they were hurting this bad already. I yelled for my MIL to come, fast. She rushed in and asked if I wanted to move to the bedroom. I managed to get out “no…tub!”, as I still didn’t realize the baby was coming and I wanted to labour in the tub. She started to fill it when suddenly I felt the baby descend through the birth canal. I reached down and felt the head crowning. I yelled that the baby was coming. Poor MIL was trying to figure out what to do and Isaac was on the phone with the midwife. The head didn’t stop, it just kept coming, so (not wanting to give birth right there on the toilet!) I managed to get myself onto the floor on my knees, leaning on the tub with one hand and holding the head with the other. MIL shoved a towel underneath me. I was most definitely “vocalizing”, to put it mildly, and recall reminding myself to keep my voice deep rather than high. The rest of the head came out quickly. All of that happened within the span of one ctx.

By this point, the midwife had told Isaac to hang up and phone 911. He was talking with them as the head emerged. I let go of the head and leaned on the tub to rest before the next ctx came. It came almost immediately and the rest of the body was delivered into my MIL’s waiting hands. I don’t recall pushing at all with either of the ctx. It felt like my body and gravity did all of the work. She laid him on the towel and I rested on the edge of the tub, exhausted and relieved and shocked. It was, as best as we can estimate, 11:37pm.

After catching my breath, I looked back and the first thing I saw was that our little baby was most definitely a boy! I brought him up between my legs and just held him. Isaac came in to see and to let me know the paramedics were on the way. I replied less than positively to that, but calmed down when he got the deer-in-the-headlights look and said the midwife had told him to, poor guy. (In hindsight, of course, it was the obvious and wise thing to do, but at the time all I could think was that we were fine and I didn’t want paramedics there.) We admired our new son together. My MIL came in next. I thanked her over and over, and she thanked God over and over. Now that he was here and everything seemed fine, there was such a sense of awe and relief and shock.

The paramedics arrived at this point, finding me still on my knees facing the tub with my back to the door, clutching the baby and trying to get my mind around the fact that I had just given birth. The huge paramedic maneuvered his way into our small bathroom and started talking to me. This man deserves a medal for having to deal with me, as I wasn’t at my most cooperative at this point. He wanted me to lay down, which sounded incredibly unappealing to me, as the bathroom floor was cold and hard and covered in blood and water from the birth. I didn’t want to lay down, I was perfectly comfortable where I was. He wanted the baby lower than the placenta, which seemed impossible to me at the time, since I didn’t want to just lay the baby on the floor. I’m not sure what all happened in the couple minutes after he arrived. I know I was repeatedly covered with a towel, which kept falling off, and he kept trying to move me when I didn’t want to be moved. At one point he stepped out to get something and I quietly delivered the placenta, still on my knees and still holding the baby. I told him the placenta was here and I was ready for him now.

He came in and started trying to move me again, but I was tangled in the cord and didn’t know where exactly he wanted me in the first place. Finally I told him to stop. I asked him to please just tell me what he wanted me to do and I would do it, just stop trying to move me and stop trying to take the baby. He said he wanted me to sit back. This was still really unappealing to me, but I felt bad for being so difficult when he was just trying to do his job so I figured I should make an effort to be more cooperative. I got myself untangled and allowed him to help me sit back on the floor. He clamped and cut the cord. The poor guy, his hands were shaking so hard as he clamped and cut. He checked to make sure the placenta was whole (it was) and placed it in a plastic bag. He tried again to take the baby, but I told him no, I wanted my husband to take him. (I feel mean about that now, but at the time I just wanted Isaac to be the first one besides me to hold the baby.) I called Isaac and handed him his son.

I was shaking a lot, as expected, and the paramedic had them bring me warm towels from the dryer. He told me then that I needed to get up so they could get me to the hospital. I said I didn’t want or need to go, and the second paramedic stepped in to reassure me that there was no rush and maybe I could go lie down on my bed for a few minutes so they could check everything out. I didn’t know whether to believe him or whether he was just trying to get me to stand up. Isaac tells me that no, the second paramedic really was okay with not transferring, since we had been planning a homebirth anyway, while the first paramedic was quite adamant that I be transferred. I asked where my midwife was and Isaac assured me she was on the way.

I did allow them to help me stand up. The second paramedic wanted me to move to the bed, but I was covered in blood and really didn’t want to spread that all around. The first paramedic kept offering me a pad, which felt to me a bit like offering a bandage to close up a surgery site. There was a lot more blood than that little thing was going to take care of. I asked the second paramedic if I could shower first. I laugh about the ridiculousness of that request now, but at the time it seemed entirely logical – I was a mess and I wanted to rinse off before moving to my nice clean bedroom. He said no, I couldn’t have a shower, so I handed him the bag of blue chux pads I’d had ready for the homebirth. He put a couple of them on the bed while I grabbed a towel and wiped myself off as best I could, then finally accepted the continually offered pad from the first paramedic. We moved to the bed and I was handed the baby and encouraged to continue to try to latch him (he had been trying to latch in the bathroom but hadn’t quite managed it yet). He latched on right away this time. The paramedic took my blood pressure and asked me some questions.

My midwife arrived around this point and started checking us over. She talked to the paramedics and they agreed to leave me in her care, since we had been planning a homebirth anyway. I thanked them repeatedly, appreciating both their care and their patience with me. Isaac went with them to sign all the release forms on our behalf. It felt very important to me at the time to convince everyone that the unassisted birth truly had been unexpected. The paramedics, the midwife, MIL – even my husband carefully asked later that evening if I had known the baby was about to be born when I’d gone into the washroom. But no, I hadn’t the slightest idea that after only a handful of hard ctx that had started less than an hour ago, my water would break and the baby would be completely delivered two ctx later.

I didn’t see them, but four firemen followed my midwife in the door. Jacob was pretty much over the moon at this point. He had woken up sometime when all the “the baby is coming!!!” yelling and chaos started. MIL and Isaac had taken turns watching him while the other helped me. He was pretty much occupied, though, when first the ambulance came, then the firetruck (“Are they going to climb up in the ladder??”), and then four firemen in uniform. He was wearing his firetruck pajamas that night. One of the firemen pointed that out to him; I recall hearing that, but I didn’t realize at the time that there were four firemen crowded in our little entrance way, talking with my very excited little boy. He kept telling them, “my name is Jacob, and there is a firetruck outside!” They all left as soon as it was determined that I would not be transferred. They had come because we have a very steep set of stairs, sharp turn, and narrow walkway, none of which would have made a transfer easy.

Once the firemen and paramedics left, everything settled down. We made our phone calls to family to share the news. The baby and I were both doing well. The baby’s temperature was a bit low but warmed up quickly after some skin-to-skin contact. He weighed 8.5 lbs. I hadn’t torn at all. I was finally able to have that shower I’d asked for earlier, which felt wonderful. The midwife was impressed with the “efficiency” of my body – the fast delivery, the lack of tearing, the quick delivery of the placenta, and the way my uterus had clamped right up and the bleeding had already slowed down.

The midwife left after two hours. I couldn’t believe it had already been that long. We were all too keyed up to sleep. Jacob laid down on our floor and played with cars, MIL went to bed but didn’t sleep at all, and Isaac and I spent some time on our computers and watched a bit of a show before turning out the lights sometime around 4am. Our new little boy dozed on my lap, nursing off and on and being thoroughly admired and marveled over.

I was surprised at how little pain I felt afterwards. My stomach has been uncomfortable any time I stand up since then, but otherwise I’ve been feeling great. I had been so sore after Jacob’s birth and I expected to feel the same way this time – but then again, nothing at all has been the same this time, not the pregnancy, not the labour, and most definitely not the delivery!

It took us several hours and many discussions, but we finally settled on the name, Luke H____ K___ S________. Luke was a name we both liked, Isaac in particular, and comes from the apostle Luke. It was originally a name we had been considering as the middle name, but my husband so rarely has definite opinions on something that I agreed to let it be his first name since he liked it so much. H____ is both my dad and my granddad’s middle name. K___ is a masculine form of my MIL’s name, as she was the one who caught him when he was born and it felt right to honour that as part of his name. Coincidentally, it is also a form of my FIL’s middle name.

We are so grateful that everything turned out well with this unexpected unassisted delivery. Although we had been planning a homebirth, we very much intended to have our midwife be there for it. Thinking back on the “what if’s”, many thanks have been given to God for the safe arrival of our son. At the same time, it has been so affirming to us to have witnessed my body and instinct take over and achieve what is today typically viewed as a medical procedure. Everything happened as it should and with no need for any sort of intervention or active management. Even so, I appreciate that medical management is available when needed and will always be grateful that it wasn’t necessary for us and that our son is here and healthy and safe.

Everything is going wonderfully so far. He is a very calm little boy, easily settled and very mellow. He is perfect, absolutely beautiful. Nursing is going well, no problems at all. Jacob adores him and loves to hold him, stroke him, look at him and cuddle next to him. It is amazing how seamlessly this little boy has become a part of our family. We feel so blessed right now.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Welcome to the world, Little One

The baby is here! A beautiful healthy little boy, yet to be named. :)

Soooo...we had a completely unexpected unassisted childbirth! My amazing MIL caught the baby. I had a few hard contractions and went to the bathroom, where my water broke. The baby crowned and was born within a few minutes! A more detailed birth story is to come, but we're all very good and just settling in for the night. :)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Reminders for today

Babies are born on their birth days, not their due dates.

They all come out eventually.

This too shall pass.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Memories

This has been such a full year for our family. I find myself wondering often, though, about my little boy. At two and a half, what will he remember of this year? Anything?

Will he remember the wonderful four months we spent with his grandma, grandpa, and four aunties this summer? Will he remember the time he got to spend with his daddy during the day, the fun they had together, the way it strengthened the bond they already shared?

Will he remember any of the first three houses we've lived in so far this year? His very first home in Ottawa? The beautiful house in Manitoba, with acres of land to run around on and a bountiful garden that he watched us dig, till, plant, water, weed and harvest? Will he remember the place we've called home since our arrival in Vancouver this fall, the place we had hoped to live in for our four years here, the place we will be saying goodbye to in only a couple short weeks?

What of the other people who have been a part of his life? How long will he continue to remember his first friend Luke? Will he recognize those relatives we see rarely - great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins? If only we could all be together, always, instead of so far flung from each other.

Will he remember those experiences that he talks of so often and so fondly right now? Trips to the aquarium, the farm, the theatre. Riding the train at the mall. Dancing with his mom in the snow at the park, his hands buried in her sleeves to keep warm. Visits to the midwife, listening to his baby brother or sister's heartbeat, endless conversations - "talk more about the baby, Mom!" Will he remember that tiny baby being born?

What will he remember?

What will he forget?

Sometimes I feel sad over the thought of all that will slip from his mind over the years. I've long felt that way over my own life. A box full of journals from my teenage years doesn't seem to be enough. What about the little everyday things, the moments I failed to record, the milestones I didn't notice at the time, all the things I have already forgotten? I wish I could record all of these happy moments of his own life, both for his sake and for mine. I want him to remember, and I want to remember them myself.

Other times, though, I worry about what he will remember. Will he remember that I sat by his bed every night, singing to him as he drifted off to sleep? Or will he remember instead the times I spoke harshly, wanting him to just go to sleep so I could go do other things (as though washing the supper dishes was more important than being a comforting presence to my son)? Will he remember the trips to the park, the library, the farm - or will he remember instead the times I was overly anxious to get back to the comfort of our home, rushing him along instead of allowing him to linger and explore as long as he liked? Will he remember the times I dealt with him lovingly, patiently, respectfully, discipling him into greater maturity - or will he remember instead my moments of failure as a parent, treating him roughly, speaking to him harshly, failing to hear him, allowing my selfishness to come first, badgering him into submission rather than discipling him into true obedience?

Sad that he will forget, worried that he will remember, I become increasingly conscious of the memories I am creating for this little boy, aware of their significance.

And so we bake gingerbread moose and shortbread trains. He kneads his own small piece of dough as we make our weekly bread together. We avoid daily television and instead snuggle together for a special movie treat. We read endless piles of books together. I warm up a glass of chocolate milk when he wakes one night, allowing him to climb into our bed and join us as we sip our own hot cocoa. I offer comfort in a daily routine and excitement in the occasional deviation from it.

And we talk. Days filled with conversation, recalling the good times that have passed, praising the people we have grown to love, anticipating the good that lies ahead.

This, in hopes that some day down the road, he'll say, Mom, remember when..., and I will smile, because he remembers, and I remember, and the things we remember are all the best moments of our lives.

Hello

No, no baby yet. He or she is the stubborn sort - or, perhaps, the awfully considerate sort, since his or her daddy has just headed off to write his final two exams of the week. Maybe when he arrives back home early this afternoon, the baby will decide that now everything is finally ready.

I feel very calm today. Yesterday I was discouraged, frustrated, sore, and exhausted. I slept well last night, though, for the first time in nearly a week. Add to that a general "laboury" feeling, and I'm in much better spirits this morning. I do hope that today is the day.

Come out, come out, wherever you are...

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Praises

Today this baby is officially due!

MIL arrives in less than 24 hours!

And we got the house!

That is all. :)

Friday, 11 December 2009

When the snow comes

I told my son, months ago, that the baby would come when there was snow on the ground.

Today we had our first snowfall - nothing more than a light dusting, but snow nonetheless.

I guess it's time for this baby to come.

Tomorrow is my "official" due date. My MIL arrives on Sunday evening - less than 48 hours to go! Once she's here, I can finally relax and start anticipating labour rather than willing it to hold off just a little while longer. So far, so good. I can feel my body starting to prepare for labour, but I feel like it will still be a few days before anything significant starts to happen. My current bet is Tuesday - but, of course, the baby will come when he or she is ready. They all come out eventually!

The boy and I had a surprisingly fun afternoon walking around the neighbourhood and nearby greenspace, admiring the snow and playing in the leaves. I admit I've kept us too cooped up in recent weeks, my energy waning in the late weeks of pregnancy. I always forget how enjoyable and even necessary it is for us to get outside. We both needed it badly. The boy blew off a great deal of pent up energy while I enjoyed the fresh air and the renewed energy from just getting up and walking outside for a while. When we got home, we thawed out under the blankets with mugs of hot cocoa and a movie. It was nice.

We have some hopeful news regarding our search for a new place to live. After three weeks of looking at rentals that were, to be concise, unacceptable, dotted with the occasional "maybe", we finally found a home that is exactly what we were hoping for - more, even. We submitted our rental application to the landlord today and are now praying and waiting for his decision.

This was particularly welcome after a crushing evening earlier this week. After a string of especially bad viewings, we finally found one that was acceptable. Feeling both desperate and relieved, we were nearly ready to take it on the spot - until the landlord adamently refused to allow our two cats. It felt like such a blow at the time. In hindsight, I am glad we were unable to take it. It certainly would have been acceptable, but it was nowhere near as perfect as the place we have found now. I should have known there was a plan in all this.

The place we have applied for couldn't be more ideal. The landlord was very polite and professional (a rarity, sadly enough). The home is beautiful and very well maintained, and the layout is nice as well. The location is perfect, only two blocks over from where we currently live. We live in a very nice quiet neighbourhood right next to a beautiful greenspace, large playground, library, and swimming pool. The rent is well within our price range and much lower than we are paying right now. The landlord offers a cash incentive after one year in order to encourage long term tenants, which is exactly what we are looking for, a place where we can stay for the duration of our time here. The landlord lives right upstairs. Pets are allowed. It's a nice size and has plenty of storage space. It has private laundry, a big one for me since I don't much like the idea of shared laundry when I have cloth diapers to wash on top of our regular laundry. And, as a very exciting plus, it doesn't have white walls!

I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much. If he turns us down, we have found another place that we would accept if it's still available. It's not near as ideal, but it's very nice and we would be happy there, I think.

Although our current lease does allow us to stay until April, our landlords have said they will let us out earlier - which is not surprising, as they would like to move back upstairs themselves (they had planned to move into the suite downstairs in the meantime, as the lease for those tenants was up at the end of December anyway). It was frustrating news, as they knew we wanted something long term and they assured us before we signed the lease that they wanted the same thing. Now we'll be moving into our fourth house this year. At first we were just looking casually, but thinking about it further, we realized that, sadly enough, this was the most convenient time for us to move. My husband is off school for Christmas break, my in-laws are here and happy to help, and it wouldn't be any easier to move with a four month old than it would to move with a newborn. It'll be harder for me, physically, but I've been assured that I'm not to do much at all. If we waited until later in the new year, we'd be moving by ourselves, with a more alert and active baby, while my husband was in school with no breaks and exams approaching.

More than anything, though, we both found it difficult to live here with the knowledge that we had to move hanging over our heads for weeks and months on end. My motivation to keep a clean house plummeted immediately. It was hard to pass up "acceptable" houses in hopes of something better, but at the same time we didn't want to settle for something when we didn't have to move immediately. We couldn't help but keep an eye out for potential rentals, which was time consuming and distracting. It just felt better overall to decide we'd leave at the end of December and start looking for rentals accordingly. Do it, get it over with, and be able to go back to our normal lives.

But wow, did we ever see some bad places. Many of them needed a good scrub and a fresh coat of paint. One of them was missing a lid on the toilet. One landlord demanded to know why we didn't want to rent his place when we told him we weren't interested (oh, where to begin). Most of the houses had the laundry in very strange places - one had the laundry in the bedroom, another in the dining area, many had them outside, and one particularly bad one had the washer in the bathroom and the dryer in the kitchen. The majority had very odd layouts, clearly designed merely to earn extra income for the landlord, like having to walk through a bedroom to get between the kitchen and the rest of the house, having no living room at all, or having no doors on the bedrooms and ensuite bathroom. It was such a relief to see this place and find that it looked like a nice, normal house.

Now hopefully everything will fall into place with it. In the meantime, I have other pressing matters to attend to - like a baby sweater to finish knitting. It was put aside while I whipped up some washcloths to include with thank you gifts for the midwives. Time to finish off that sleeve and get it washed and blocked before its tiny owner arrives. Any day now...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Expectant waiting

Waiting...for a new baby to arrive.

Waiting...for The Baby to arrive.

Waiting...for a new home.

Waiting...for our Messiah to return.

Waiting. Expectantly. Usually patiently. Waiting.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Second Sunday of Advent

Today we lit the second candle on our Advent wreath, read a piece of Scripture, and said a prayer. I cherish this time of commemorating the first coming of Christ while also preparing for His second coming.

It has been fascinating to me to watch our son grow in his understanding of God. The things he says, the way he picks up on things, his observations, his awareness - it all amazes me. I feel like having a child has brought me back to the very basics of my faith, and I have learned so much because of it. It is frustratingly easy to accept the many man-imposed burdens that are pushed in our direction. Casting them off and returning to the very foundations of Scripture is beautifully freeing. The sense of peace and calm is wonderful, and I am grateful for it.

There is so much going on in our lives right now. We are preparing for the birth of our second child, due in less than a week (less than a week!!). We are searching for a new home and will be moving by the end of the month. We are, for the first time, in a difficult place financially. There is the loneliness of a new city, the struggles of relationships, and the day-to-day demands of life. And yet how can I allow those worries to overcome me even as I recount to my son the stories Jesus told of God's provision, or as I sing with him of God's love and care, or as we talk about all the things that are just so bigger and so much more important than the worries of today?

I can't. Instead, God whispers back to me the same words I whisper to my son. God loves you...God will take care of you...God is always with you.

Beautifully, I find this message driven even deeper within me during this Advent time of both remembering and preparing for the coming of Emmanuel - God is with us.

God is always with us.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Hot Mama

It would seem that the boy needs a new nickname.

I walked into his room yesterday to help him get dressed (so that we could go look at yet another potential house to rent), greeting him with a cheerful "hey".

To which he replied...

"Hey babe!"

Oh, the laughter.

Apparently I say that to him a lot - "hey babe" - in the short-for-baby sense. Having him turn around and say it to me...well, as I said, oh, the laughter.

Friday, 4 December 2009

So...chocolate advent calendars...

Not a good idea for a 2 year old.

Just for future reference.

Unless, of course, you like listening to an upset child who doesn't understand the whole "one chocolate a day until Christmas" thing.

(He is, fortunately, more accepting of the idea now - but still, not really getting the whole concept.)

In other news, the Christmas decorations are up, some Christmas pictures are taken, and gingerbread cookies are cooling in the kitchen!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Dear potential landlords

My name is not "sweetheart".

Not showing up for our appointment? Very uncool.

Being polite goes a long way when it comes to finding future tenants.

It might not kill you to make the place look liveable before advertising it for rent.

A fresh coat of paint does wonders.

Holes in the wall are not an attractive feature.

Bedrooms should have at least one tiny little window in them. Makes it easier to get out if there's a fire.

Yards are not dumps. They are also the first thing a potential tenant sees as he walks to the door. Just, you know, first impressions and all.

If I'd hesitate to even put food in your cupboards, you probably shouldn't describe them as "new cupboards".

Scrub your bathtub. Just a suggestion. Oh, and that thingie beside your toilet has a purpose. It's called cleaning out the toilet bowl. The toilet bowl should not look like an ash tray.

Okay, so that water spot on the kitchen floor is from a "previous flood". And so is that one in the bathroom. And the light fixture falling out of the ceiling is from the upstairs washer flooding. I appreciate the honesty. But maybe you need to fix your many flooding issues before renting the house out.

Your dogs that "hardly ever bark" barked for 30 minutes straight while we waited for you. For 30 minutes. In the freezing cold. At 8:00 at night. With my 2 year old.

Laundry facilities belong indoors. Not out back in your shed. Oh, and you should probably put a door on that shed sometime. Either that, or save up for the repair bill when your pipes burst.

TYPING IN ALL CAPS DOES NOT A GOOD AD MAKE. Bad grammar and poor spelling don't help either.

You and I have very different opinions on what the word "spacious" means.

Sometimes it is more appropriate to tear the house down rather than attempt to find a tenant.

Sincerely,
Potential tenant (or not)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Murphy's Law

The day you give away most of your moving boxes on Freecycle...will be the day your landlord calls to tell you they can't renew the lease again.

Bummer.

It took me a long time to get used to this house. Now, I pretty much love it. I came to terms with my tiny kitchen. I grew fond of the green bathtub and sink. I hung pictures on the wall. I got all of my books just perfect on our new bookshelf. Everything was arranged, put away, organized, tidy, and pretty. It felt like home...and now we need to move.

Our landlords used to live here. They moved into a new place which has now been sold, so they want to move back in here. Oh, how relieved we are that we insisted on signing a lease rather than doing a month-by-month rental like they had originally wanted.

Unfortunately, the lease was only an 8 month one, so come mid-April, we need a new home. They will let us out of our lease any time we want (as they want to get back in here themselves). While it is nice that they can't make us leave until the lease expires, it is a bit much to have hanging over our heads until then.

So this past week has been full of house shopping (again). So far we haven't found anything as good as what we have now. Given the amount of time we have, we're being a bit more choosy than we would otherwise be. Then again, one of the places I saw today should have been torn down, not rented out!

It's a frustrating process. It makes the days long for the boy and I. It's bad timing all around, whether we move now, wait until April, or anytime inbetween.

In the meantime, we're taking turns pointing out all the things we won't miss about this house (whatever makes us feel better, right?). It sure will be nice not to be constantly mopping up spots from leaky skylights...maybe the next place won't get quite so much condensation on the windows...the neighbour's dog sure is annoying...this walkway won't be easy to navigate with a toddler and a newborn...there's just not enough hot water for all the people who live here (the downstairs tenants are a couple and their two teenage boys)...and so on.

But whatever flaws we can manage to pick out, the truth is we have a great home here and so far nothing we've seen measures up. We will miss it.

Oh, and that Murphy's Law thing? It also works for cheques. My new cheques just arrived last week. All I want is cheques with the correct address on!!! I'm so tired of moving. I just want to settle down somewhere and actually stay there long enough to go through a book of cheques and have the address be correct the entire time.

Le sigh.