Thursday 25 June 2009

I love this man

My husband told me the other day, as he rubbed my bare belly, that he finds me even more irresistibly sexy when I’m pregnant, with all my curves and growing bump - after all, he said, isn’t that the whole point of sex? To form a child?

I love that my children have a father who sees them as a blessing and finds their ballooning mother to be attractive.

I feel the same sense of gratefulness and adoration every time he looks at our son and smiles, whispering to me, “he’s a pretty cool kid, isn’t he?” Every time he leans over to kiss him as he sleeps. Every time he scoops him up in his arms, throws him in the air, then hugs him tightly and tells him how much he loves him. Every time I see him kneeling down to talk gently to our son, teaching him how to grow into a godly man. Every time I get out of bed in the morning and watch the two of them automatically gravitate towards each other, snuggling while they sleep in for a while longer. I couldn’t ask for a better father for my children.

The boy and I gave him tickets to the monster truck show for Father’s Day. I made the mistake of telling the boy about it ahead of time, which resulted in a full day of asking for the monster trucks. I didn’t mention it again after that! More than a week later, I told the boy that I had picked up Daddy’s Father’s Day present. Thinking for a minute, he said, “fadder’s day…monster trucks!!” What a memory that kid has. Anyway, the two of them had a great Saturday afternoon watching the “big loud trucks!” They met up with some friends of ours there, so the boy made a new little friend (and hasn’t stopped talking about her since) and my husband got to talk to someone who wasn’t a toddler for once.

And I, meanwhile, enjoyed the most wonderful belated Mother’s Day. I had chocolate, a good book, a beautiful day, and more than three lovely hours in which to do nothing but relax. Ah, it was sweet.

We invited my family over for a Father’s Day barbecue the next day. I sought out some bison meat to surprise my husband with. We may not have a farmer’s market here, but I am seeking ways to buy local food when possible. I’ve found a local source for bison meat, deer meat, and fish so far. (Oh, and a local source for strawberries – our backyard! The boy and I were exploring the other day and discovered that our backyard is full of wild strawberry plants! I so love this country living stuff.) We enjoyed barbecued bison smokies, devilled eggs, potato wedges, and watermelon for supper. We finished the evening off with a long walk and warm fresh-baked cinnamon buns (my MIL’s recipe – many thanks!). We all had a really nice time.

I hope, though, that I can make my husband feel appreciated and cherished every day, not once a year. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, those times when I catch myself starting to silently nit-pick at all the things I would do differently if I were still the one at home all day – but for now I’m not, and my son is still thriving despite those differences. For that, and so much more, I am grateful for this man - and grateful that for whatever crazy reason, he loves me too.

Friday 19 June 2009

Sweet rewards

Rain, blessed rain. I never thought the day would come when I would say such a thing.

As I’ve said, we dug a garden from scratch this year (with the permission of our landlords, of course – they had room to spare on the four acres of land). We weeded, had a very nice man till it for us, and planted it full of all sorts of vegetables – carrots, peas, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, and a few jalapeno pepper plants just for fun.

Then it came time to water it.

For the life of us, we could not find a faucet on the outside of the house to connect the hose to. So, while we waited for our landlords to tell us where it was, we hauled watering cans of water from the house to the garden – 9 trips each evening.

Well, they got back to us. No faucet. Beautiful house...but no faucet.

Le sigh.

We’ve had a rainy few days and so far have a few more rainy ones forecasted. For the first time ever, my sore arms and pregnant belly are grateful for the rain, as every shower saves me nine trips of lugging a heavy watering can to the garden.

Ah, but how sweet the rewards will be – homegrown vegetables...and nicely toned arms.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

On returning to small-town living

It’s funny how fast you forget what it’s like, this small-town living stuff. You’d think I’d remember after 21 years of living here and only 3 years away.

What a three years those were. I got married, had a baby, learned how to do for myself all those things that I’d never had the self-confidence to do before then. I missed my family back home, but the growth that happened in me during those years was worth it all.

Now I’m back – temporarily, but back nonetheless.

And remembering just what it was like.

I miss my farmer’s market. I miss our toy lending library. I miss all the programs, all day, every day, including weekends. Even though I’m not a big shopper, I miss all the stores. To sum it up, really, I miss having options. The option to buy food locally. The option to attend a magnificent variety of programs – shows, playgroups, workshops, all of it. The option to go out and buy a new shirt when I need one. Heck, I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I even almost miss Walmart.

And the people – wow. The gossip, the backstabbing, the viciousness, the small town politics. I remember how nervous I was when I first moved to the city, convinced that people there would be cold and hard and, well, mean. That ended up being the most surprising part of city life – the people were nice. There was very little gossip, none of the viciousness I’d grown accustomed to here, and a shocking lack of judgment towards others. It didn’t matter how you dressed or who you hung out with – people just accepted you as is, no questions asked.

I had to face the consequences of such small-town gossip just last week. Someone I don’t even particularly know was telling my co-workers that I was pregnant, despite me having not told anyone here, and despite me having not even told my supervisor yet. Because of the spreading rumour and my belief that it is unprofessional for your boss to hear such information second-hand or to be the last to know, I made the decision to tell my supervisor about the pregnancy much earlier than I had planned to, and only a day after one of his other employees had told him she was pregnant as well. What a marked difference to my experience in the same situation in the city, where a co-worker learned I was pregnant and kept the information to himself until I was ready to tell my boss and my other co-workers myself. It just boggles my mind that someone I don’t even know was discussing such personal information with my co-workers. Small-town living – where personal boundaries are all but non-existent.

Still, it’s not all bad here. The lack of options and boundaries aside, I do appreciate the quietness, the slower pace, and the neighbourliness. Just last week we were looking to borrow a roto-tiller for our freshly-dug garden. In the city we probably could have rented it from the hardware store, but here all I had to do was ask a friend if he had one. He was out of town at the time, so he had his brother come over on his tractor and till our garden for us – a job that would have been huge for us to do manually, but took him less than 10 minutes to do far better than we could have ever hoped. The little guy was thrilled to watch the tractor, and I was thrilled to spend the next evening filling the freshly tilled soil with all sorts of vegetable seeds and plants. Here was a man I’d never met before, taking the time to till our garden and refusing anything in return. I can’t say how grateful I am for his kindness.

So, I might not be able to buy the new pair of work sandals I so badly need, I might not be able to take my son to a playgroup or spend an evening with my husband at a concert, and I might have to learn how to deal with having everyone know my personal business for a few months, but it’s the people that make this town so homelike at the same time. There’s the lady at church who remembers when I first moved here at two years old, and now I’ve returned with a two year old of my own. There are the smiles and waves from everyone who walks by. There’s the peacefulness of a quiet walk to the park and the likelihood of stopping to chat with someone you know along the way. There’s the stranger who will drive over on his tractor to till my garden for me.

All in all, it’s really not so bad after all.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

The most wonderful thing

Two months ago, on April 7, I thought those two beautiful lines were the most wonderful thing in the world.

Yesterday we heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time, a strong 156 beats per minute. And I changed my mind about the most wonderful thing in the world. To hear evidence that your baby is growing, thriving in your womb, is even more wonderful.

Come Christmas, I know it will change again with the birth of this precious child.

First smiles. First steps. First words.

It just keeps getting better and better.

Friday 5 June 2009

On moving with a toddler

Ah, moving with a toddler. Now there was an interesting experience.

The drive was about 35 hours long. I did it in three days when I moved to Ottawa originally, but I didn't have a two year old and a couple cats in the backseat, so we gave ourselves four days and said we'd stop when we needed to each night.

Surprisingly, though, we didn't need the four days. The little guy did amazing on the trip. We made it 10 hours on the first day. He fell asleep just before we were about to stop for the night on the second day, so we kept going, making it 15 hours that day. Another 10 hour push and we were home. He was pretty fed up by the last three hours of the trip, but unfortunately for all of us there was literally nowhere to stop! Ah, northern living. Fun stuff.

Honestly, I think the toddler did better than the cats. They were unhappy felines the entire trip. They refused to get out of the car to use the litter box or have food and water every time we stopped, so they went each long day with full bladders and empty stomachs. Lucky for them, they decided the hotel washrooms were an acceptable place to relieve and refuel themselves each night.

Just after leaving Ottawa, there were a few brief moments of "oh my, how are we going to survive this trip" when first one cat started meowing, and then the other – and then the toddler joined in. We both groaned at that point, with visions of 35 hours worth of three meowing voices. Fortunately, he lost interest in imitating the cats within a bearable span of time. The cats themselves kept it up for much longer (and received many a grumbled threat from my husband about leaving them on the side of the road to fend for themselves in the wild), but we're here, so we must have survived.

We had talked often with the little guy about our upcoming move in the month prior to it. We talked about saying goodbye to this house, driving to a new house, and seeing Grandma and Grandpa and all his aunties. He seemed to understand and he handled all of the changes with amazing calmness. The hardest part has been his repeated requests for two of his friends, Luke and "Liah" (Eliah). How do you tell a little boy that he'll never see his friends again, or at least not for a few years? So far he hasn't found any little friends to play with here, either, other than his four aunties (the youngest being only eight years old) – and even if he did, he'd only have to say goodbye to them again when we move to Vancouver in the fall. That is always the hardest part about moving, though - having to say goodbye to so many of the people you care about.

The brightest spot, on the other hand, was coming home to family. It has been such a blessing to see the little guy really getting to know his grandparents and aunties. I grin every single time I hear his excited squeal of "GAMPA!!!" when he sees us turn in his grandpa's driveway. It just melts my heart. I've been enjoying spending time with the oldest of my little sisters (she's 23 now), and, of course, with the rest of my family. It will be hard to say goodbye in the fall. While we don't have family in Vancouver itself, my in-laws are all in the area and, I'm sure, itching to visit whenever they can. I know Jacob will miss "Gampa" and all the rest horribly, but he loves his Opa and Oma and two aunties too. Hopefully we will be able to see them often.

And then, come Christmas, he'll have a new little brother or sister to get to know. How blessed we are.

We are so happy with our new home here. It's hard to believe we were paying slightly more rent for our little condo back in Ottawa as we are for this three bedroom, two level house now. It sits on four acres of land and is just outside of town, about a 10 minute drive to my workplace. Country living has been wonderful. With both of us being introverts, the extra privacy and quietness is great, and our huge yard has gotten lots of use already. There are little shoes filled with sand from the sandbox, sweatshirts that smell of woodsmoke from the firepit, a freshly dug garden, and lots of land and forest to explore. We will miss it when it's time to leave.

We won't miss, though, the hard smelly water and the painfully s l o w Internet connection. You can't have it all, I suppose.

But how blessed we are to have so much.