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

The birth of our second son

Our second son 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 during our planned homebirth.

After playing a game with the husband 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. Our older boy 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 Jay, 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. The new big brother 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 our first son'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 a name we both liked. 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. His middle name is both my dad and my granddad’s middle name. His second middle name 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. Jay 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


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.


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


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.

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.


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.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Come, Emmanuel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 28 November 2009


Today was a good day.

I spent the day in (clean!) pajamas.

The baby clothes are all washed and ready to go.

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

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

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

It was just...nice.

Friday 27 November 2009

Children Learn What They Live

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.

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

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


Dorothy L. Law, 1959

Thursday 26 November 2009

Such a little thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Wordless Wednesday: "Franklin!"

Tuesday 24 November 2009

At least some things are consistent

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

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

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

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

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

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

And hey, that's enough for me.

Monday 23 November 2009

It's so frustrating when...

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

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

Woe is me.

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

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

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

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

Saturday 21 November 2009

I'm raising a teenager

Or so it feels lately.

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

Snacks. Never leave home without them.

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

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

Wanna bet?

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

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

Friday 20 November 2009


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

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

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

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

Thursday 19 November 2009

Just what I needed

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Baby knits

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

The Details

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

The Details

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

Monday 16 November 2009

Make it stop

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

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

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


I'm losing my mind.

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

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

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

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

Tonight's biggie?

"Where does God come from?"

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

No, he wants to know where God comes from.

Go ask your Dad, honey.

Sunday 15 November 2009

The intent of our hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 14 November 2009

My freezer overfloweth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 13 November 2009

Operation Christmas Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 12 November 2009

Thankful Thursday

Fresh flowers on the table.

A new project on the needles.

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

Tuesday 10 November 2009

And the countdown begins...

31 days to go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31 more days!

Monday 9 November 2009


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

I'm kind of tempted to start vacuuming daily.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Declaring the wonders of God

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

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

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

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

From Acts 2, verses 1-12:

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

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

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

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

Again, verses 9-11:

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

We hear them declaring the wonders of God.

Declaring the wonders of God.

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

Only declaring the wonders of God.

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

But they began by declaring the wonders of God.

May we do the same.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Keeping grandparents close

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 6 November 2009

The Mother-in-Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 5 November 2009

Drink your greens!

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

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

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

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

...and are kid approved! Drink up!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Lessons learned

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

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

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

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

But I'll spare you a picture.

Tuesday 3 November 2009


Beautiful silence.

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

Believe me, I'm not pouting.

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

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

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

Mmm, chocolate.

Monday 2 November 2009

November already

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is so good to be home.

Sunday 1 November 2009

All Saints' Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 16 October 2009

Hello, big boy

My darling boy is officially two and a half.

He's not my little baby anymore. He wouldn't let me call him one even if I tried - he's a self-acclaimed "big boy" now - and yet in some ways he'll always be my baby.

My first, the one who made me a Mother, the one who taught me so much about love. He's still teaching me and I imagine he always will. So many of his lessons these days are about pure and simple joy, the kind he approaches each day full of.

I am ashamed by the number of times a day he sees me getting annoyed, impatient, angry, and stops to ask me, are you happy, Mommy? No, darling, but thank you - again - for the reminder. Our lives are so full, our Souls so deeply loved, and yet here you notice me sighing because you tell me you need to use the bathroom again. (As though I go any less infrequently, with your little brother or sister bouncing on top of my bladder!) What foolishness I get impatient over, what little things I allow to steal my joy. But there's always you, bringing me back to reality - are you happy, Mommy?

I am continually amazed by his hunger and thirst for knowledge. Always asking questions, always seeking more, always wanting to know about this world around him. Every time I start to worry - should he know this by now? how do I go about teaching him this? - he surprises me by beginning to show a natural interest in it. And yet I keep forgetting. Just leave him be. He will learn when he is ready, as evidenced by the constant stream of what letter is this? that I am now responding to countless times a day. He will have me convinced in no time that unschooling truly is the best choice for us.

I am so humbled, too, as I watch his understanding of God grow. I envy his eagerness to read "Jesus stories" - where did my thirst, my hunger, for the Word of God go? I love how naturally he talks about Jesus and the innocent way he incorporates his enthusiasm into his daily life and play. I can't help but laugh at some of the deductions he arrives at, like the way his boat must have come from Jesus because it is made from a tree ("Jesus bought it for me!"). Oh, that I could remember so easily that every good and perfect gift does indeed come from our Father in Heaven, and praise Him so readily for every blessing.

As eager as I am to meet our second child, I am almost as eager to see him meet his little brother or sister. I love how excited he is about it, and I pray that excitement continues when a little baby is actually here, occupying his mother's lap, time, and attention. It's fun to watch him make his own connections - to realize that he was once in my womb as well, to learn about the reason for his bellybutton, to arrive at his own conclusions as to how things must work. His sweet and compassionate spirit is encouraging as well, as I know that the kisses he gives me to make my owies better will be lavished just as freely on another little child. His impatience for this little one to arrive is catching - I find myself wishing the weeks would go faster, even while feeling a sense of mourning that this incredible boy will no longer be my only. It is so hard to imagine right now that I could ever love another child the same way - and yet I know it will be true.

Until then, I will make the most of these last eight weeks together. Our days are so full and so enjoyable - stacks of books that must be read through, puddles that must be jumped in, muffins that must be baked, cars that must be driven along the "roads" on the bedspread, and an incredible blossoming imagination that must be explored. How I love each new phrase and idea that pours from him in a steady stream of chatter all day long.

I've said it every step of the way so far - this is my favourite age yet.

Happy half birthday, my sweet and silly boy.

Monday 12 October 2009


Having unpacked the last of the boxes last week, we are now "officially" moved in to our new home. And home it is. I had my doubts at first (at least, I'm pretty sure "sobbing in misery upon seeing the place" would be considered as having some doubts), but putting together the furniture and unpacking 30 or so boxes really does wonders for the homeyness of a place. Hanging our family photos and setting out some sentimental decoration has completed this transformation from house to home.

This past month has been filled with all the details of moving, and the month to come promises more of the same. License transfers, moving expenses, missing items, baby preparations in a new city, a new transit system, new routines, a lack of community - some days it's all I can do not to break down into fresh tears.

With the many worries that have been crowding in lately, it has been good to pause and remember all that I have to be thankful for. This weekend was a wonderful restful celebration of those things with my husband's family. There was much laughter, good food, and a deep sense of thankfulness, all wrapped in a soothing continuous conversation. We said our goodbye's early this afternoon and already miss their presence.

So here's to all those blessings in my life - a husband who has never given me cause to doubt his love for me, a beautiful little boy who fills my days with laughter and wonder, a growing child within me, a home that truly is perfect for us, the love of our families, and food to fill our cupboards and fridge. We want for nothing, and tomorrow's worries are just that - tomorrow's.