Saturday, 29 December 2007

Best Friends

(Overheard by Mommy and Daddy)

Caleb lies on the floor, cooing softly. Colin enters, sees his brother, and lies down opposite him. Colin gently strokes Caleb's chest, staring into his eyes. After a minute, Colin shares his thoughts:

Colin: Best friend, Caleb? Okay.


Well, we made it. We survived, what I affectionately call, the "four days of Christmas". We are blessed to have many members of our close and extended family nearby, which means that we have a Christmas celebration every day from the 23rd to the 26th of December. I even hosted my first Christmas this year when James' family came in from London. (And yes, my first turkey was a success!)

What was a little wild, however, was the sheer amount of stuff we acquired this year! All given with good intentions, it became a little much for our little guy. We forget that with that many days in a row of relatives, visiting, food, treats and presents, it can become tiring and overwhelming for anyone, and especially for a two-year-old.

As I dropped the bags of opened gifts in our playroom, I wondered if the true meaning of Christmas might be getting lost for Colin. We love and appreciate everyone's gifts - I could see the joy in their eyes as Colin opened something they had lovingly picked out for him. However as I sat there surrounded by so many new toys, I wondered how I could get through the materialism aspect and reach Colin about why giving is so important this time of year.

Then it hit me. It didn't necessarily matter that Colin was receiving so much, as long as it was balanced with him giving as well. So yesterday after his nap, we sat in the playroom and chose some of his toys to give to children who don't have any. It took a few of my own selections before Colin got the hang of it, but then we went through his buckets together as he chose a few of his toys to send along the way. We talked about how lucky he was to have so many clothes, toys, and enough food to eat and a warm house to live in. We talked about how other little children don't have all that we are blessed to have, and how Jesus has asked us to do what we can to help them. So especially at Christmastime, we needed to give what we could.

I'm not sure how much of it all will stick, and I pray that in a few days Colin won't be upset when he can't find some of his older toys, but as a parent, I'm just trying each day to fulfil my responsibility in teaching and raising my precious boys.

There is a beautiful lullaby that I sing, which reminds me that my children are not gifts, but a precious loan from my Father in Heaven. Though the task might seem daunting at times, I'm working hard every day as I help to direct those I have been entrusted with on this journey called life.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

The New Trivial Pursuit

James and I love to play board games, and our favourite by far is Trivial Pursuit. We've been playing the original Genus edition for years, even though there are countless other card refills and versions that have been released. Last year, finding we were starting to hear the same questions over and over again, we decided to invest in version six, to give us some new cards.

Last night we pulled it out again, and realized why we hadn't played it again since last year. The questions were beyond obscure and impossibly hard! These weren't general knowledge, they were specific trivia written by extreme geeks who had studied that subject exclusively for an entire lifetime!

But from this unfortunate event was born "the new" trivial pursuit. We decided to create our own questions, sort of a party mixer version. We asked questions about ourselves, such as "What were the solo songs I sang in "Man of La Mancha" or "What school sports teams did I play on?" We had such a great time, both thinking of questions about ourselves and answering questions about our spouse. The questions are divided by categories, such as "People and Places", "Science and Nature", or "Arts and Entertainment", and we made sure to devise questions within each category.

This game receives 5 stars out of 5 from us, and comes highly recommended for good friends and spouses everywhere!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

"Happy Birthday Chocolate Cake"

Earlier this month, I made a delicious chocolate cake for Colin's birthday party. He thought it was just the best thing he'd ever seen. Every few days after that, he'd sing to himself the line "Happy Birthday to you" followed immediately by the question "Chocolate cake?" After the first week it evolved simply into "Happy birthday chocolate cake?" We gently explained to him that the cake had been a special treat for him on his birthday, and that no, we wouldn't be having it every week.

Yesterday (Christmas Day), we explained to Colin the reason we were celebrating this holiday, that it was to remember the day Jesus had been born. It was Jesus' birthday. Not too long after, Colin looked up at me and asked "Happy birthday chocolate cake?" Without thinking I absent-mindedly started to say "no honey, not today..." then realized in fact he had been processing the idea that today was Jesus' birthday, and indeed it did warrant some chocolate cake.

And so last night, after returning from our drive to look at the neighbourhood Christmas lights, Colin and I made another yummy chocolate cake. We watched a short five-minute film on the birth of Jesus, and then sang him happy birthday, blew out the candle and enjoyed the decadent dessert.

I love the innocence of my children. I love their matter-of-fact way of looking at the world. I love their logic. I love how much I can learn from them. I love that we made "Happy Birthday Chocolate cake" and I think last night a new Gawthroupe family tradition was born.

Letting our kids learn

I rarely do this, but I read something that was eye-opening to me as a parent. Here are a few sections from an article titled "We Let Them Learn" by Laverd and Flora John:

"During our early years as parents, we behaved as if our children had been born to us - to have, to hold, and to mold. It was so easy to tell them what to say and do, and if our directions were correct, we shared part of the credit for their successes. Eventually, we learned that pushing them - "do your homework," "clean your room," "do the dishes" and so on - generated feelings of resentment and resistance.

"The day our family home evening lesson included the scripture "let every man learn his duty", our eyes were opened, and our approach changed. To let them learn, we had to acknowledge that our children had been born through us with agency and the potential to unfold...

"So we began arranging situations for our children where they could unfold on their own....

"The let them learn concept helped us when Rose Marie, our 11-year-old, asked, "Do I have to go to church today?" Our first impulse was to say, "Yes, you do!" But we quickly regained control and let her learn by saying, "We can't answer that question." "Why can't you?" she asked. "If we say you have to go, you may go, but with a negative attitude toward learning. If we say you don't have to go, you may stay home, and then the responsibility is ours. We lose either way. So you will have to decide whther or not to go." She pleaded: "Then can you tell me why you're going? I don't understand why it's important to go"...

"We savored every experience as we let our children learn the warm feelings of satisfaction and the unbelievable blessings that come from keeping the Sabbath day holy, paying tithing, budgeting money, cooking meals, cleaning the house, keeping the yard in good shape, and belonging to a supportive eternal family."

Friday, 21 December 2007

Soups on!

Just before I got pregnant, I had planned a project to take on the world of homemade soups. I love soup. I love the comfort it provides on a hot day. I love the lightness of it for dinner. I love the wide variety of soups out there. However, I can't stand most store-bought soups. They are watery, tinny, or chalk full of sodium. And so I wanted to start making and freezing my own supply of homemade soups.

Then I got pregnant, sick, and then became a new mom again, and so the project was left on the back burner. But it's time to light the fire again. (Sorry for the terrible analogies!)

I've had three tries, and I can humbly admit, three excellent successes. The first was chicken noodle. We were all under the weather and wanted nothing more than the imaginary healing powers of chicken noodle soup. However we found the cupboard bare of this essential item. So mustering the strength that I had, I rummaged through our food and pulled out some chicken stock, pasta, a chicken breast and whatever leftover veggies I could find. Into a pot it all went, along with a little flour to thicken it up, and I left it to simmer. The result was a masterpiece!

The second and third attempts were from recipes, and both quite similar. One was a spiced carrot soup and the other was sweet potato soup. Both were spiced with cinnamon and ginger, and once again, both were a hit. A little bit of vanilla yogurt or sour cream added the final touch.

So I'm on the lookout now for easy homemade soup recipes. And when I say easy, I mean less than ten ingredients, made mostly from stuff that's usually around the house and cooked by throwing it all in a pot, letting it simmer, and then throwing it in a blender before serving (if necessary). Feel free to pass along any of your favs, or ask me for mine.

This project has certainly been a success. My plan for freezing leftovers hasn't amounted to much because the soups rarely last more than a day or two!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Is that silence I hear?

Well, there is the drone of the baby swing in the background, but otherwise, yes - it is silence! I am treasuring the few minutes I have been granted today. Colin is sleeping, and Caleb is lying content (content???!!!) in his swing, allowing me time to hear the thoughts in my head!

Lately I have been on the edge of insanity. Caleb has, what most call, an awful case of colic. He has one "long" sleep every 24 hours, and that only lasts 2.5 - 3 hours at most. Luckily it comes between midnight and four am, so at least I'm getting a little sleep. Otherwise he generally needs to be held upright to provide him some relief from whatever gastrointestinal problems are weighing his little body down.

Colin is taking the terrible twos to a new level. I have never subscribed to the "let him cry it out", but if I try to comfort him he only pushes me away and continues to scream at a level my ears have never been exposed to before. The other day he screamed for a full hour at the front door after James left for work.

But I just put Colin down for a nap, and as he clung for dear life around my neck while I sang him a few lullabies, I breathed in the scent of his hair and felt his warm cheek against my face. These are moments that will soon be gone and I can never have back with him. Before long he'll be too old to be held by his sentimental mother and I'll only have these times in my memory. It's almost enough to make me head back upstairs, wake him up and hold him a little longer. Almost.

And even though my heart aches that I cannot ease Caleb's pain, and my head hurts from his screaming, I know the next two years will fly by in a flash, and the two after that, and then two more...I don't know that in a house of boys I'll ever get much silence, but I'm learning to appreciate the noise filling it up.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

In the Meantime

I sometimes wish I could peer in a window to other mothers' homes, just to see if they struggle as much as I do. Lately it seems as though nothing is getting done - I'm just in survival mode from one day to the next - or one minute to the next. My newborn eats every hour and a half and rarely sleeps more than half an hour at a time. While not sleeping or eating, he is usually crying if I'm not holding him. My two-year old is really trying out what it means to be a "terrible two". Today he threw a fit at my friends house as we were getting ready to go, refusing to put on his boots or jacket, and ended up being carried upside-down, boot-less, coat-less and screaming to the car. I can't seem too keep things off the floor, let alone get any cleaning done. And this is a 24 hour job I've signed up for.

I know how important being a mother is. I know that being home with my kids is the best thing I can do for them. I'm so thankful I'm able to be here for them whenever they need me. And as my list of "things I need to do but will never get done" grows infinitely, I try to remember a song a heard a few years back.

In the Meantime
In her heart she holds the dreams
She's carried since the day she turned 13
Of all that she would be when she was grown
Of all that she would do when she was finally on her own
She dreamed she'd fly
She's still waiting for the chance to try

But in the meantime she's a mother and a daughter and a wife
Doing all she can to stay above the daily grind
And she wonders when she'll ever have more meaning in her life
She doesn't know she's being molded and refined
In the meantime.

Someday she'll go back to school
When the carpools and the soccer games are through
'Cause deep inside she's still the girl
Who's always felt the fire to make a difference in the world
She dreams she'll soar
When she finally has the time to do more

But in the meantime she's a sister and a teacher and a friend
Hours turn into days that turn to years that never end
And she wonders when she'll ever really find herself again
She's becoming one on who God can depend
In the meantime

Heaven feels the joy of every victory in her life
And Heaven hears her heart before she cries
And somewhere in the middle of the triumphs and the trials
She's becoming sanctified

But in the meantime she's an answer and and a blessing and a gift
To every empty aching heart that only she can lift
Still she wonders if she'll ever get to see where heaven is
If she could only see her mansion waiting there
If she could only feel how much her Father cares
She would know she's being perfectly prepared
In the meantime.

Getting back up on the horse

Colin is so great at "getting back up on the horse". Yesterday he had climbed up onto a chair at the kitchen table to eat a snack. James and I were both at the table also, but the next thing we knew Colin was tumbling over head first to the floor. He hit with a loud SMACK and tears welled immediately. I ran to him to give him a hug and soothe his wails, and although he hugged back for a second, it wasn't even a minute after he'd fallen when he pushed away from me, turned around and climbed back up onto the chair. There was no way he was going to let that chair get the best of him! I was so proud.

Then today he had another spill off the chair. I was at his feet this time, and managed to half catch him on the way down to ease the fall. I waited to see how this second tumble might affect him - but our Colin is so resilient! There weren't even tears this time. He just picked himself up and climbed back up onto the chair.

Okay, I might not keep letting him back up on the chair without closer supervision - I don't want to tempt any broken bones just yet! But I am glad to see this determination showing through!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Gawthroupe tidbits

Today's entry is just a compilation of little things going on in our family...

Today Colin sang me the entire first song of "The Impossible Dream"
Caleb is now in the "Colic stage" and generally sleeps no more than 20 minutes at a time.
Terri-Ann is gearing up for her choir performance next week.
Colin is speaking in full sentences (sometimes).
Caleb took his first bottle yesterday...there is some relief for me in sight!
We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family on Saturday. It was our first extended car trip with both boys...and we took a new way home, with much help from our Ontario map.
I started "holiday baking" today, although I'm still not completely sure what the point of holiday baking is. Everyone's been talking lately about how they need to get started on their holiday shopping and baking. We were never a baking family growing up. Nevertheless, today I made two loaves of banana bread.
On the other hand, all my Christmas shopping is done and wrapped. I'm super excited this year because I really did well with shopping this year and I think everyone will really love what I found for them.
We will be having a white Christmas in Orangeville this year!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Guilt and Grace

I've been thinking about this interesting contrast of concepts lately. Guilt and Grace. Within the world of religion, these are often the forefront ideas that will surface when talking about religious beliefs.

Guilt certainly has deep roots in Christianity. For hundreds of years, religious leaders have preyed on the fears of mankind, instilling deep feelings of guilt regarding our very existence. Men are made to feel guilt over their natural tendencies, unavoidable emotions, and personal circumstances. Perhaps guilt was meant to bring us to our knees amidst our growing hubris.

But personally, I don't think guilt has any place in one's spirituality. Guilt and fear are not emotions of God. They are dark, destructive ideas that can never lead to healing or light. All that is good comes from God - guilt is definitely not a productive feeling. I don't believe that guilt leads to a true change of heart. It may temporarily alter one's habits or behaviour, but it doesn't get you to the roots of what God's intentions are for you.

I also believe that guilt isn't an emotion another can make you feel. Guilt by definition is a personal emotion - you feel badly about your own actions. Another could try to point out why you should feel guilt, but only you can actually experience it.

Grace is the gift of God by which he extends mercy, loving-kindness, and salvation to people. I love this definition of grace. I may be undeserving of the gift, but I need not feel guilty about receiving it. As a parent, if I give a gift to my children, there is no expectation in return. I give it freely, simply because I love them. Grace means that I don't need to feel badly about my shortcomings. Grace means that I can daily work to better myself. Grace means that after everything has come to an end, and I still fall short (as all will), it's okay.

I think all too often those of us belonging to religious organizations get caught up in the appearance of things. How many service projects did we total this year? Did I attend all my meetings? Can I check off daily prayer and scripture study? Can I answer all the questions posed to me in Sunday School? Church is not a check list of activities - it's a place to find strength and come to know God. Not to know about him, but to truly know him. Although it's wonderful to be a part of a church family that supports you, ultimately your journey to God and his grace is one you take on your own. Until that is written on your heart, you're bound to get caught in the web of guilt and appearances.

I have friends with religious views that fall all over the map. Some attend religious organizations, others practice their faiths on their own. Some adhere to the tenets of Christianity, others to the doctrine of science. Belief is a personal journey that too often is swept aside in today's materialistic world. I cannot and dare not contend for other's beliefs - I have only the authority to discuss my own. I have found joy - true joy, not momentary happiness - in my own journey - a journey only just begun. I have discarded the chains of guilt and embraced the gift of grace.

PS - I have been enjoying a beautiful rendition of the song "Amazing Grace" by Chris Tomlin lately that speaks of the beauty and peace of grace perfectly. Have a listen at:

Monday, 3 December 2007

Beautiful Blanket of White

It's cold. Bitingly cold. The kind of cold that hits you in the face and sticks with you for hours. But it's beautiful. Having lived in Toronto for the past few years, and especially since we lived right on the lake, we saw very little snow. It was never a white Christmas, and only rarely did we have to deal with treacherous driving conditions. In Orangeville, we shoveled four times before December hit! We're now living in what is called the "Snow Belt", which means that we will get a good snow each time the weather turns. We love it.

I've never been an outdoor winter person. I never ski and rarely skate. I haven't been tobogganing since I was a teen. If I have to venture out, I'm wearing at least 4 layers of clothing, plus a parka, hat, scarf, gloves, boots - it takes me longer to dress than most kids! But it sure is beautiful to look out at from the warmth of my living room.

There is something magical about snow that sets the mood for this season. And I just think all the "suffering" might be worth it.

(Ask me again in three months what I think!)

Monday, 26 November 2007

Back to work

Tomorrow, I go back to work. I've had two weeks off since having Caleb - two weeks of going by my own (and Caleb's) schedule, and not really needing to worry about much else. Yes, I've cooked some meals and put my hand to a bit of cleaning, but mostly I've been attending to myself and Caleb. Tomorrow, I go back to work.

I don't have to leave to go to work - I work in the home. For those of you moms who stayed home to raise your kids, you know how tough the job is. No more sleeping late if Caleb sleeps late. No more doe-eyes at James to get him to do the chore I can't find the energy to do. No more handling only one child. Tomorrow I go back to work.

I'm admittedly worried about how to handle a two year old and a newborn baby. Colin is very high maintenance right now and still hasn't completely settled into the idea that my attention will be permanently divided from now on. Caleb is still feeding almost every hour during the day. I don't think I want to admit online how long it's been since I dragged out the vacuum. At least I can say that the grocery shopping gets done each week and I've managed to get three meals a day on the table. (That might have something to do with the fact that neither James nor Colin would like it very much if they didn't get their meals!) I'm also worried about how I'm going to manage to get a shower each day (something we haven't been able to work out yet, even with two of us on childcare!) But somehow I'll have to work it all out, because tomorrow I go back to work.

I feel like it's September. Not because of the weather (it's been snowing outside for the last five hours!), but because it feels like the first day of school again. January 1st never meant much to me, in terms of New Year's Resolutions, because it was always in the middle of the "year" (school year, that is.) September was always when I examined myself and my life and made personal goals. And tonight I have that feeling again.

I want to experiment more with our meals. I've fallen into a pattern of about 10-14 meals that we continually recycle. I'm not a world-class chef, but if the meal is quick to bake and the recipe has a manageable list of ingredients, I like to change things up with new ideas. I want to make more homemade soups and home baked bread. I want to try new recipes. It's time for a new cookbook!

I want to have a personal study every day of the scriptures. I have the terrible habit of a wandering mind and too often I find I've read entire pages and can't remember what it said. I also have the terrible habit of doing great on day one, so-so on day two, and completely missing day three. I don't think I've ever gotten to day four. They say if you do something every day for three weeks it will become a daily habit. They also say that unless your heart is really in it for the right reason, it will never stick. Somehow I have to find out how to tap into the love of studying I know I have and bring it out again.

I want to keep current with our family photos and scrapbooks. I'm fairly good at the photos part - the scrapbooking, not so much. I have baskets and bags and piles of things I want to put into scrapbooks, but I'm afraid to start. I'm afraid that I'll glue things into the pages and then realize I've missed something I wanted to include, or things went in the wrong order...there seem to be so many ways to mess things up, it's easier not to start!

I want to start having friends over for lunches or dinners. James and I tend to be homebodies, which is perfectly fine, but we also do love chatting with and entertaining small groups. And now that we have made so many friends that live so close to us, I'd like to try to have an evening of entertainment once a month.

I want to read more non-fiction books. Some histories, some spiritual, some biographies. The few non-ficiton books I've dappled in I have absolutely loved (like "Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology") and I know there are some amazing and inspiring books out there. I just have to figure out how to find them!

Well, those are some goals that I've been mulling about in my mind. There are many more swimming around up there, but too many goals gets me flustered and discouraged. I hope these don't disappear after a few days or weeks. But if they do, I know I won't have just wasted the time. I think we all naturally grow and move forward, just not always in the direction we had planned. Maybe in a couple of months I'll remember this entry and take the time to review those months. Perhaps I'll have implemented some of the above, perhaps I'll be wandering down a different path. Either way, it will be good to take the time to look back and see where and how far I've gone.

Developing my talents

I am stepping outside my comfort zone. I hadn't quite intended to do jump into such deep waters, but nevertheless, I am pushing forward. I made a goal to develop some smaller talents I have, and I have been provided with ample opportunity to meet my goals.

You all know I love to play the piano. I also played the clarinet, and dappled on a few other instruments as well. I have no problem playing the piano in public, and often jump in to help out at church playing either the piano or the organ. But there is another instrument I love just as much as the piano - the voice. I love to sing. I have sat for hours (literally!) at the piano, playing and singing through my songbook collection. And yet I am terrified to sing in public. It's not that I can't sing. I can hold a tune, and even pick out the alto line of a choir piece. However, I don't have a solo voice. That's okay with me. You can't be great at everything. But you can work with what you've got, and develop it into something stronger. I'll never record a CD, but there's no reason I can't gain confidence and sing in a small group.

So this year, I joined our church choir. I've led many choirs in the past, but this time I get to sing in it. I'm so excited about it, and having an absolute blast. We're currently preparing for a Christmas concert, and we're singing some fabulous songs. They aren't your traditional carols. Among the pieces are a Nigerian chant, a Caribbean-style song, and "The First Noel" sung to "Pachabel's Canon in D". I'm truly stretching my voice talent through this experience.

I thought I was doing pretty good. It was the perfect start - a good way to ease myself into singing. But we all know that "easing your way in" doesn't produce maximum results. I love the analogy of firing a clay pot. You've got to give it some heat to keep the shape of the mold. And yesterday, I was thrown into the fire!

A woman at church asked me if I'd like to sing in a smaller group - about 6 people, for the Christmas concert. I said yes immediately, though nervously. With two other people singing the alto part, I could sing in the small group and still have others to lean on if necessary. The woman met up with me an hour later to pass off the music - and she handed me two songs! She charmingly smiled and asked if it would be alright if I joined a trio to sing at our Christmas Church service. And yes, I have to carry my own part.

I guess this is where I express my gratitude for these opportunities. I know without a doubt that I lack the courage to have approached someone and said "Hey, I want to be a better singer. Can I sing a duet in front of a hundred people next Sunday?" And so I am grateful for these circumstances. With performance dates looming within a month's time, if you need to find me I'll be glued to the piano working on my goal of developing my talents.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

A little prayer

Sitting at lunch today, Colin gave his first prayer. We always say a blessing on the food before eating and also say an evening prayer before he goes to sleep. Today at lunch, when we said "time for blessing", Colin promptly clasped his hands together and proceded with the following:

Dear Heavenly Father...thank you... mumbling we couldn't make out)...Amen.

As they say..."Train up a child when he is young, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

I love seeing the daily growth Colin makes...each day brings new achievments for him. It makes me also grateful I have a brand new little baby, because my first baby is growing up!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Reading with Colin

I know I've mentioned in my writings before Colin's love of reading, but I just had to highlight it again today.

Colin now has a good 10 or 15 books that he loves, and he genuinely likes to browse through his collection when choosing the 3 he gets to read before going to sleep. He recognizes each cover, and can call the book by name (ie: "Goodnight Moon" is known as "Moon"). Often he is actually looking for a specific book, mumbling the title to himself as he sifts through the piles until he finds it.

Today, however, he wanted to read a book to me. He chose Robert Munsch's "Love You Forever" (a classic for every parent). I figured I'd get a babbling nonsensical version, but to my surprise, he actually knew the key words that went with each page. For those of you familiar with the book, here's Colin's rendition: (I'll number each page)

1. New baby...back and forth, back and forth, back and
2. Grew and grew and grew....Grew two years...ran!
3. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
4. Grew and grew and grew...dinner...grandma bad words...zoo.
5. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
6. Grew and grew and grew...strange friends...strange clothes...strange music...ZOO!
7. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
8. Grew and grew and
9. Car.
10. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
11. Older, older, older.
12. Back and forth, back and forth.
13. Stairs.
14. New baby, back and forth, back and you be.

Granted, the story is repetitive, but I was amazed at all the other words Colin managed to throw in! I have started to appreciate children's literature on a whole new level. I wonder how many people think that it must be easy to write for kids. As a parent who reads daily to her children, however, I'm able to see what stories Colin likes, which he doesn't, which ones he picks up on, and those that he finds are not worth his time. Inevitably, it's rarely the ones we'd pick out for him. The best example of this is John Lithgow's books "Marsupial Sue" and "I'm a Manatee". These stories are probably at the top of Colin's list, and yet they are not your traditional children's narratives. Here's an example of a line from "I'm a Manatee":

"With my wit, sophistication and urbanity,
I dignify my watery domain.
No one near will ever hear me use profanity,
Because a manatee has his image to maintain."

In no other children's book have I seen a writer use this level of language, and yet Colin is enthralled by the poetry of it. He seems to have no problem with the fact that more than half the words he doesn't understand. There's just something lyrical about it that touches him.

Personally, I'm just excited that he loves to read so much and hope that it's something that only grows as the years go by.

Friday, 16 November 2007

"Mommy's Baby"

Caleb is almost a week old now, and has been home for 4 whole days. James and I are adjusting well to the change, however Colin is having a bit of a rougher time.

Wanting to make this as easy as possible on Colin, and knowing that it probably would be a difficult change for him, we decided to have Colin help bring Caleb home from the hospital. We didn't want to just show up with this new strange baby and have Colin feel like his space was being invaded. So Colin met us at the hospital, helped tuck Caleb into his carseat, and walked us out to the car. The moment we arrived at home, we had Colin show all his toys to Caleb, which he really seemed to enjoy. So far so good.

The next day, however, was a little different. James was holding Caleb when Colin cautiously approached the two of them. It appeared Colin wanted to give the baby a kiss, but when he was within a few inches, slapped his face instead, and forcefully proclaimed "my Daddy!"

Using this possessive word is relatively new, something he picked up at our local play centre from another child. But now he's really getting the hang of how to use it!

When referring to something that belongs to Caleb, Colin adds on "Mommy" to the beginning. For example, Caleb's diapers are "Mommy's baby's diapers." His crib is "Mommy's baby's crib". He really is associating that I am responsible for Caleb's presence in our house.

Colin's behaviour toward Caleb is starting to settle down, though. The first few days he was so confused he was easily irritated and found himself in tears often. (I have always called him my "100% baby". He experiences all his emotions at 100%, nothing halfway!) He still will let us know when the other parent should take the baby, and is learning to understand that we can't always drop everything to do something with him, but generally Colin is doing really well. I've heard much worse horror stories about bringing home a new baby!

Of course, it's still early. The days before Caleb seem so far removed from now, that it's hard to imagine that only a week ago there was no baby! I've always believed we knew our family before we came to earth, which is why Caleb is such a natural addition.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Caleb James Gawthroupe

He has finally arrived! Caleb James Gawthroupe, born November 9th, 2007 at 4:15 pm. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 21 inches long. Healthy in ever way and as beautiful as can be.

I had endured 19 hours of false labour earlier in the week, each time our hopes raised that "this is it". However, I decided to make it "mind over matter", and when I awoke on Friday (the 9th) I told myself, "okay, today's the day." It was strange - each day over the two weeks before I'd been hoping and anticipating the birth. But that Friday, it was different. It wasn't about the excitement or the wish that the pregnancy would just be over. I just knew Caleb was ready to come.

Contractions began exactly one hour after this realization, at about 8am. They were intense, but not at all regular, ranging between 12 and 20 minutes apart. Then around 12:30, they suddenly jumped to 5 minutes apart and everything went forward from there. We got to the hospital around 1pm and was immediately in the throes of labour. There was just time for an epidural, which worked on the left side of my body. (An improvement over last time - with Colin it didn't work at all!). Then at 4:15 Caleb was born.

We stayed in the hospital until Sunday evening, which was wonderful for James and I. We really got to bond with Caleb over those first two days. Colin's grandparents were down and watching him, so we were able to focus exclusively on Caleb.

We're home now, and starting to get back to things. I can't believe how much better I feel. I'm still recovering from the birth, but all my pregnancy woes are gone. I can breathe much better, and have more energy. The dizzy spells are gone and even though Caleb is feeding every two hours, the sleep I do get is deep enough to rejeuvinate me.

The strangest feeling I have right now is the realization that each day Caleb is getting another day older. I know this feeling is something that doesn't normally kick in until your kids are hitting milestones like first day of school and the like, but I just watch this beautiful baby and cherish each moment I have with him while he's this new.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Any day now...

Our family will be expanding any day now! This weekend I'll be 38 weeks, which is what I was when Colin was born. My doctor seemed to insinuate the baby will be along sooner rather than later, which is a relief!

I've been suffering from some dizzy spells, and although I was not put on bedrest, the doctor did say I should try to be either sitting or lying down most of the day. Not easy when you're still trying to get settled in a new house and run after a two year old at the same time! I'm also nauseous as anything, and hardly sleeping at all. I must be the only person in the world who will get more sleep once the new baby arrives!

I've gone through an interesting emotional transition this past week. For the longest time I was just pregnant. Yeah, I knew there would eventually be a new baby, but it hadn't really registered. But this past week all of a sudden I've felt as though the baby were already here. What I mean is that the whole giving birth and bringing the baby home seems very natural to me. I'm not experiencing any anxiety or wonder at how I'll manage. I guess I can best sum it up by saying it feels as though our family is really ready to go from three to four people.

Most of you probably remember how ill-prepared we were for Colin's birth. Everyone told us to expect the first baby to come late. We were ready for late. I was not ready for early! So when I started to experience contractions, I thought it was just false labour, Braxton Hicks, or something else in my body preparing for the birth. But now that I know what to expect, every little cramp I get, everytime the baby shifts lower, I wonder "is this it?" This baby better come soon, because the suspense is what's getting to me! I wish it was much more scientific - "here's the day you'll deliver the baby and that's that." The waiting and wondering is making me hope for the labour part of it all!

But nevertheless, when the baby's ready to come, he'll come. He's another small guy, just over 5 pounds at the ultrasound last week, so chances are he'll be about as big as Colin was. So I guess each day I don't give birth means he'll be that much bigger, which is good. It's quite possible, however, that my next entry will include pictures of our new baby Gawthroupe!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Our little helper

I am loving and cherishing the age Colin is right now. He loves to be doing what you're doing - no matter what it is.

Today James and I were installing our new baseboards in our living room. Colin watched us for a few minutes, then proceeded to pick up one of the cut boards, find his little plastic hammer, and wander off to install it in the kitchen. He put the board up against the wall, wiggled it around until it "fit", and then hammered it in place. Then he came to get another piece of board. It was priceless.

Then while we were barbecuing up lunch, I thought Colin might enjoy playing with the leaves. We gave him a broom (he LOVES to sweep up around the house!) and showed him how to sweep all the leaves to the edge of the deck, and then how to pick up the piles and toss them onto the lawn. He was having a blast. My two-year old loves to do chores!

Which leads me to an interesting article I read yesterday about chores and allowance. The article is part of a "Thumb's Up/Thumb's Down" series that explores both sides of an issue. The result for me was that I was very torn on an question I previously would have considered an easy answer. I ended up with three very valid courses of action.

1. Weekly chores are performed for a predetermined allowance. It teaches children that money doesn't grow on trees, and that you need to work to earn things you want to buy. If you don't do the work, you don't get the reward.

2. When kids want to buy something, they perform a chore decided by the parent. The more money the kids would like, the bigger the chore to perform. There is no set weekly chore and no set weekly dollar amount. Regular weekly chores might be a part of this program, but not to earn a reward. The children are taught that things like cleaning a room or setting the table are part of being a family.

3. A regular allowance is given out just as an allowance. It is not based on performance of any chore. The idea is that money management is a skill to be taught and shouldn't be tied to work for young children. That way if the child decides it's not worth working for money, they still are able to learn some money management skills. Regular weekly chores also might be a part of this program, but again, not tied to the receipt of money, but rather as being part of the household.

Obviously we don't have to think about this for a couple of years, at least. But the article was food for thought, as James and I have all these decisions to make concerning raising our family.

Friday, 19 October 2007

What I love most...

To be fair, what I love most about our new place changes weekly, if not daily. But lately, it's washer and dryer! Yes, that's right. I realize how lame that can sound, but it's true. In the apartment, laundry was an event that took up half of a day. I had to sort out our five or six loads and cart it all down to the basement. I hoped that no one else was doing laundry at the same time, or it meant adding an extra hour onto an already time-consuming chore. I had to remember to keep our laundry card full, or run back upstairs to get a credit card to fill it. I threw everything in the washer, then went back upstairs. Then come back to switch it over to the dryer. Then come back to pull it out and fold it all - 6 loads at one time. There was no point waiting around to add fabric softener, so the clothes never smelled as nice as they did when I was living at home. And there was pretty much only one or two setting choices.

So now I have my new energy-efficient, fabric softener-taking, multiple-setting washer and dryer and I love it! I can throw a load in whenever I want, and I never have to worry about doing more than one at a time. Amazingly, laundry doesn't feel like a chore anymore.

(Sorry to those of you who were utterly bored by this entry - but as it's my blog, I get to decide what's exciting to me!)

Catching Joy

Today Colin and I went on a walk. It was a blustery, windy day, the kind that makes leaves dance and the wind whistle between the buildings. Actually, this kind of day always makes me think of the old "Winnie the Pooh" cartoons. The temperature was warm, however, and so we ventured out.

Colin couldn't get enough of the dancing leaves. He chased after them, fixing his eye on one specific leaf and running until he managed to catch it. Whenever a big gust of wind blew up and caused a pile of leaves to swirl up into the air, he threw his head back and laughed from down deep in his belly. The rest of the time he had this permanent open-mouthed smile on his face. This was pure joy.

And it was catching. We passed all different sorts of people on our walk - from an eldery woman to a man jogging with his dog to a teenager with punk hair and facial piercings. Colin illicited a laugh from each and every one of them. Joy is catching, especially when it comes from a child.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Busy, busy times, but still making the time

For those of you who have been checking in lately and wondering where I disappeared to, you probably (and correctly) guessed that between the pregnancy getting a little rougher and our move to the new house, things just got crazy in our family! But I'm hoping that I'll be able to update the blog about once a week from now on. I can't guarantee the same day each week, but I'll do my best.

We're tucked safe and snug into our new home in Orangeville now. We're still living out of boxes, but I'm slowly bringing that number down each day. It may still be a couple of weeks until the place is ready for company, but be assured that we'll have each of you over eventually!

We love this town. Yesterday and today I stepped out for different things, and both times I ran into people I know! This never happened in Toronto! The leaves are changing colours, the main street is alive with people and shops, and we can actually tell the difference in the air! Every time we step outside, one of us mentions how much we love living here - and it's only been a few days!

Less than six weeks until our new baby arrives. I head for another ultrasound next week, just to check on the baby's size again. This is the homestretch!

Well, that's it for this quick update. You can be sure my future blogs will be more focused, as they used to be. See you soon!

World Record Walk

Today Colin and I participated in a walk to set a Guiness World Record! The idea is to have the most people simultaneously walking 1km. Walks were happening all over - I'm not sure how far spread it was, but I do know that ours included Orangeville, Dufferin and Guelph, and also that my sister's school in Brampton was participating. I've never been part of a huge effort like this, and it was really neat to be a part of it. Colin walked the whole way himself - and was most likely the youngest participant! They even took our photo to possibly use in the press coverage of the event. In the mass of items I took along (including lunch, rain gear, and extra sweaters) I managed to forget my own camera, but I've included a photo we took upon our return.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Adding to the family

A good friend of mine was pregnant at the same time as I have been, and it's been a good outlet to have someone to go through this experience with. She also has difficult pregnancies, and so we often leaned on each other for sympathy over the last 6 months.

She gave birth on Sunday (a healthy baby boy - her 4th!) and all of a sudden it really hit me how my family and life is about to change. I got to know her right when her 3rd child was born, so I've only ever known her as a mother of 3. When we got the phone call that she had delivered, it struck me that her family make-up has completely changed. There will actually be another person living there when we visit tomorrow. Not a guest or a boarder, but a permanent family member.

And so it led me to think about how it has been just the three of us (James, Colin and me) in our family for the past 20 months, and how that will be forever altered come November. I don't think I had truly considered that before this time. I don't ever remember feeling this way before Colin was born. I guess the second child is giving me food for thought because from now on my attention will always be divided.

Less than three months to go...

Learning numbers

I am so amazed at how quickly children learn. Over the last few months, Colin has started to learn his numbers. He has always enjoyed reading and has taken a specific interest in letters and numbers. Whenever he sees letters or numbers, it grabs his attention and he points to each individual character, inquiring of us what it says. One of his favourite games is to walk through our appartment parking lot and point to each numbered parking space. We also live on the 5th floor, and so each time we are in the elevator, we count the floors.

I guess it should come as no surprise then that he already knows his numbers. He's definitely got 1 through 5 down, and 6 through 9 come and go. I try not to track his progress against other children, and so I have no idea if this is a unique achievement at his age or not, but to me, seeing this young boy so excited that he can recognize these things, amazes me.

Friday, 10 August 2007

The Big Boy Bed

This past week, Colin has been making the transition from crib to bed. My parents picked up a great little blue race car bed, that uses the same mattress from the crib that Colin is used to. So last Sunday we took down the crib and put in the bed.

At first, it seemed to go well. Bedtime routine went on as usual - books to read, songs to sing, and then Colin would point to the bed when he was ready to lie down. James and I had put pillows and blankets on the floor, as Colin is a real mover while he sleeps and we were afraid he might fall out of the bed. But all seemed to be going well.

Then one night James decided to peek in on Colin, just to see how he was doing. (We don't make a habit of this, because Colin often starts awake at the sound of the doorknob turning). He opened the door and immediately had to stifle his laughter. Calling to me, I in turn peeked in to see. There was Colin, sound asleep, curled up in a ball on the armchair! Deciding we'd rather leave him there than wake him up to move him, we moved the pillows from around the bed to around the chair and let him be.

Then, just before heading off to bed, we decided to check in on him again. We quietly opened the door, but found the chair was empty. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we saw our little boy lying spread eagle on a blanket on the floor. Knowing to let sleeping children lie, we let him be and went off to bed.

The next morning I was the one to get up with Colin. Cracking open the door, I peeked in to see what had happened. And there was our precious little man, eyes just beginning to open to the world, lying like an angel in his bed as though he'd never moved! If we hadn't peeked in during the night, we'd have never have known his sleep escapades!

Colin hasn't slept in the bed since. He's taken to sleeping on the floor. I figure I can't control what he does during the night, so for now, I'll let him be. Hopefully he'll eventually realize the bed is much more comfortable.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Our new home

Our growing Gawthroupe family is moving into a new home. James and I have bought our first house, and so come September we will be moving up to Orangeville.

We hadn't been planning on moving this quickly, thinking we'd more likely move next spring. However, everything aligned just right and so we find ourselves moving in two months. We will certainly miss many of the friends we have made here, but we hope to keep in contact and visit often.

Our top reasons for loving this house:

1) A backyard! Colin is so at home in the great outdoors. If we have to stay inside for the day, he might throw anywhere from 5-10 tantrums as he finds himself frustrated with the confinement. He has never had any problems while wandering around outside. With a large deck for me to sit out on and a huge yard for him to run around in, hopefully it will make for a bit more peace at home.

2) An office space for James! James has been finding it hard to get work done at home, since Colin is such a Daddy's boy. Often he's been shutting himself up in the bedroom so that Colin isn't aware that he's home. Even though the workspace is in the basement, it will be a lot easier on the whole family.

3) A 5 minute walk to the main street and other shops! With only one car, I've often felt confined at home. With so many stores, rec centres and the library within such a short distance, getting out will be much easier.

Of course, we will greatly miss this fabulous location of where we're living now. If you haven't been to our place, we live right on Lake Ontario, with many parks and walking paths around us. The houses are beautiful (not to mention worth at least a million dollars each!) and the people are so friendly. I have always been one whose emotions are greatly lifted while in nature, and it will be hard leaving the water.

I am SO excited, however, about finally having a place to decorate, fix up, keep up, etc. I've restrained myself while in this apartment, as we didn't want to put too much money into a rental place. James has also kept my natural "fix-it" tendencies in check, since all repairs are covered by the apartment. Now I find myself waking early in the morning, swimming in ideas of how to make our new house into a home.

Here are a few photos - enjoy! We hope to see some of you at our new place.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Colin Tidbits

For those of you who don't regularly get to see us and our little guy, here are a few little gems from Colin's world:

His words: Help, clock, wallet, stop sign, basketball, socks. (Nothing like "food, drink, milk, yes, no, more," or anything like that!)

Pastimes: Reading, running, going down the slide (the big one, not the kiddy one!), plunking away on the piano, pushing his hippopotamus wagon or his own stroller. (Still no interest in regular toys.)

Favourite Books: "Marsupial Sue", "Love You Forever", "Goodnight Moon", "Pat the Bunny", "Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift", "Where the Wild Things Are".

Favourite Foods: Granola bars, carrots, crackers, whole apples, anything that's on your plate. Everything must be eaten by himself, with his fingers, while he holds a fork in the other hand.

His Songs: Although he doesn't sing the words, he loves to sing the melodies (using the syllable "ya-ya-ya") of: Frere Jaques, London Bridge is Falling Down, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and pretty much anything else he hears us singing.

Funny bits: If he finds himself standing still, he likes to turn in circles in one spot. He loves to be chased around the apartment, always turning to make sure you're still following him. He likes to walk around with his eyes closed and a huge grin on his face. He has a huge belly laugh that gets going when he's being tickled. When about to do something he shouldn't, he stands very still in one spot for a moment, then looks up directly at you, smiles a devilish grin, and does it anyway. He loves playing hide and seek. He much prefers just to walk/run outside rather than play with toys and such. People comment all the time on how adorable he is - and he seems to know how to turn on that charm!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Two lessons I've learned from Pregnancy

Most of you know how little I enjoy being pregnant. I thought finding out the sex of this baby might help in the connection, but truly, I'm just so exhausted and ill and in pain all the time that I can't wait for it to be over.

However, I can say I have learned to important lessons during this pregnancy, neither of which have anything directly to do with bearing children!

Lesson number one: Time Management.

Being ill has allowed me to reexamine what really needs doing around here, and what doesn't. General tidying - yes. We've all nearly broken our necks on stray toys, wayward shoes and floating dishes. Deep cleaning - no. So the bathroom didn't get a full scrub this week. Rinsing out the sink with my hand while I brush my teeth at least means I don't have to look at the dust. Dishes - yes. The only thing worse than day-old dishes is two-day-old dishes. And three-day-old dishes. It's never worth putting it off, and I cannot stand to start preparing a meal if my counter is cluttered with dishes. Meal planning - no. This was a hard one for me, as I love to experiment with cooking, creating new meal ideas for James and I. It really is one of my simple pleasures. However, I have realized that sometimes a quick nap/rest will do me much better, and if we eat ravioli from a can, a bowl of cereal, some crackers and a few grapes, well, at least we have food on the table and in our tummies. Naps - yes. Another tough one. I am a multi-tasker, and I still haven't found a way to multi-task during naps. I'm a busy-builder, project-maker, go-getter that thrives on a full schedule. But I have learned that drifting off on the floor during playtime with Colin doesn't really count as playtime. I may have been a 5-6 hour sleeper in the past, but now I need a good 9 hours at night, plus at least an hour or two in the afternoon. I am often still groggy, but at least I am able to strike a few things off the ever-growing to-do list!

Lesson number two: Clearing the Clutter

Trying to imagine how we'll fit another baby into our small apartment has opened my eyes to the vast amount of stuff we have! I feel as though the walls will burst at any moment. As we prepare to possibly move into a house in the not-too-distant future, I have one resolution - I will take LESS with me than I have now! Many people have the easy habit of moving into more space only to fill it with more stuff. Not me - no way. I'm making trips to thrift stores - not to buy, but to give away. I'm collecting all those wayward items we've borrowed over the years and returning them to their rightful owner (sorry to all those who are recipients of more stuff, courtesy us!) I'm being ruthless with garbage, filling bags and recycling bins. My sentimental attachment to things cannot be healthy, and I am attacking this "virus" vehemently!

And so, basking in this bright and cheery and positive attitude, I happily take away these lessons, praying this new knowledge will stick long past the next four months and into the next phase of my life!

Be Still...

"Be still, and know that I am God."

How often do we take a moment to just be still? Too often I'm rushing from one task to the next, dashing from one spot to another, rolling down a hill on which I gather more and more speed. Even reflective moments seem to have self-imposed time limits which allow my thoughts nothing more than guided flow.

Tonight I'm sitting still, with all the electronic noise turned off, and letting myself just be. I'm not even trying too hard to listen to anything specific. I'm not allowing my thoughts to be guided or interrupted. I'm taking as deep a breath as I can and being still.

It's not easy, but my mind and body are grateful, needing the moment of stillness. I cannot define how I am being helped - perhaps it is some sort of re-balancing within. But I have found truth in these words of wisdom. I read and study and ponder during "scheduled" times of the day, but the activity is always rushed to its close. Now I am learning how to really find truth.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Looking for our first house

Yesterday was an exciting day for us - we all piled in the car and set out on our first house hunting day!

We have decided to try and buy in a town called Orangeville, about an hour north of Toronto. It's a great little place, that is just starting to be built up. All the stores you could possibly need on a daily/weekly basis are located there, but it doesn't have the congested feeling of a big city. There's a great congregation there that we could attend for church, made up of mostly young families and children.

The whole process should have made two cautious people like James and I nervous, but instead we found ourselves feeling confident in each decision we had to make.

Our first task was finding a real estate agent. Looking at houses for sale online, we chose a house we liked and called the agent listed for the property. She set up a few things for us to see yesterday, hence the trip up. Right from the beginning we developed a great rapport. She seemed knowledgeable, attentive, and she specializes in first time buyers. And as it turns out, we actually have met her before! We have a mutual friend, through Chrysler (James' work), who had hired us to film a television pilot for him, and this agent was there on the film set!

We looked at three houses - one was a definite no (the agent said she wouldn't even let us consider buying it), one was okay but needed some work, and the last was exactly what we are looking for. We weren't ready to buy a house our first day out, but it really gave our agent a chance to see what we like and what we don't, to help her in finding the perfect house.

Our second task yesterday was to get pre-approved on a mortgage. This we were really unsure about, because we have virtually no knowledge or experience in this area. However, things just seemed to work out for us, as we visited a mortgage broker with whom our agent's office works a lot. With no trouble at all, we were approved for what we needed, and we got a fantastic rate, well below what our bank could have offered. The broker was a straightforward type of guy, which we like when it comes to our money. But it also eased our minds as we noticed an entire shelf on his bookshelf devoted to different Christian books. Somehow it's easier to trust someone who is outwardly religious. Hopefully it is a sign of personal integrity also.

By the end of the day, we felt really good about the whole process. There were no hesitations or reserves lurking in the back of our minds. We are in no rush to buy, and we really feel like all the pieces are falling into their perfect places.

Girl's Camp

Last week I attended the Girl's Camp through our church. It was six days of roughing it: sleeping in a tent, cooking on a fire/Coleman stove, no showers, and only an outhouse for a bathroom. 60 girls between the ages of 12 and 18 came - that's 60 girls who went the week without electricity of any sort (although many still put on make up every day!)

I gave my first workshop ever - a 30 minute look at keeping high standards when watching/listening to different forms of media. I managed to keep most of the girls' attention most of the time - which is to be counted a success. It was exhilarating. I remember hearing different speakers give workshops when I was a youth, and although I don't remember them all, there are certainly bits and pieces that have stuck with me over the years. I'll probably never know for sure who I may have touched, but chances are good that a few of them were affected by the words I'd prepared.

The rest of the camp went off fairly well. We were rained out only one day - the first day of rain during Girl's Camp in nine years! The only unfortunate part of it was that two camp sites had decided not to put up shelters beforehand, and so we were left trying to do it in the pouring rain!

By Thursday (day 4) I was pretty exhausted and wasn't much help after dark. Missing my daily nap, plus rising early and getting to bed late had started to take it's toll on me. But I managed to push through, all the way to the final clean up on the last day.

Prank night was a blast - the tradition of the girls pranking the leaders continued, however we managed to get a few pranks in ourselves, foiling some of their ideas!

I missed my little family like crazy, and it took me a minute to recognize the silhouette of Colin when I walked in the door. He ran towards me and leaped into my arms - only to twist away and ask "out?" Apparently, he wanted to play outside and no one would take him out. Upon my explaining he couldn't go out right now, he promptly wiggled out of my arms and was off again. It was good to see a week of my being away didn't spoil his independent character!

All in all, the whole experience of being the Assistant Camp Director was fun and rewarding, but I sure am glad I'll have a six month old baby next year and won't be able to attend. They're looking for a new Director, and personally I think I need a few years to recuperate!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


After about a month of Colin's incessant whining of "Uhhhnnnn" to try and get something he wants, I finally sat down one day and with much patience and persistence taught him the word "help". Amazingly, even though he has very few words that he consistently uses, this one he picked up immediately.

Now, from every corner of the apartment, we hear "Help? help? help? help? help?" Often I feel as though I've buried a little bit of his stubborness I admired so much. But "help" is infinitely better to hear than "Uhhnnn!" I hope that has he settles into this new word a little, he will find a balance between figuring things out on his own, and asking for help with something he needs us for.

The other day I was home alone with Colin and feeling particularly ill, and so while he was reading in his room, I was resting on the couch. The next thing I heard was a large object being dragged along the ground, a whole lot of huffing and puffing, and after a few seconds, the beginnings of a tantrum. I could hear Colin dragging whatever it was he wanted, stomping his feet, and screaming in frustration. Listening carefully, I could tell Colin was making his way out of his room and toward me, and so I waited in patience. Before long, I saw a struggling little head appear in the hallway as Colin lugged the large knapsack we use as a diaper bag/overnight bag for him. He yelled as he tugged and just as he came into my sight, he stopped in his tracks, whipped around to face me and in all innocence inquired "help?" It was priceless. It was as though the previous minutes of struggling had disappeared in that tiny word, so confident was he that I would be able to ease this burden.

A family wedding

James and I were blessed to be a part of his brother's wedding this past weekend. Sean married his girlfriend of 5 years, Julia, in a beautiful and very well planned ceremony and celebration. James was the best man, and as Julia's first "sister", I was also in the wedding party as a bridesmaid.

Standing in the church, across from James and listening to the words of the minister, I felt for the first time I was really listening to God's words on marriage. I don't know how it is for others, but I remember very little of what was actually said during our wedding ceremony. I know there were words of wisdom and passages of scripture, but most of the words are but whispers in my memory. But this time I stood and truly heard what has been written about love. I understood better the pure emotion it is, and how I should be trying to develop it, and what the potential of love really is. I realized that my own marriage will take an enormous amount of work to ensure it lasts, and much of this work must be done on my own as I develop the quality of love in myself. I heard each portion of this passage about love and reflected on how I am working to achieve each of these aspects.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

Turtle on a Fencepost

"If you come across a turtle sitting on a fencepost, you can be sure of one thing - it didn't get there by itself."

I came across this humbling thought today and the imagery of it really stuck with me. I think of all the things I've done in my life, who I've become and the blessings I've been given, and I truly feel like a turtle on a fencepost. There is no way I got where I am today by myself. I know there are those who believe the earth exists today because everything just happened to align just right at the exact perfect moment. For me, in my life, it seems a bigger stretch to believe that all the elements just fell perfectly into place, rather than believe in a high power watching out for me.

So as I sit here on my fencepost, maybe feeling that I'm teetering a little and not quite sure how on earth I'll get to the next point of my life, I take comfort in knowing I don't have to get to the next post on my own.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Hide and Seek

Colin has a new game. He thinks it's great - us, not so much. He loves to hide just out of sight, usually when he's up to something he shouldn't be.

I told him it was time for us to to his bedroom to change into his pajamas. He ran and hid behind his stroller. He has the patience of Mother Theresa - he just stands there, breathing loudly, but perfectly still, probably thinking he's completely out of sight.

But my favourite had to be the other day. I can't for the life of me remember why, but I needed him to do something and off he ran, into my bedroom. Now, he is not allowed in my bedroom unsupervised because there are too many things for him to get into. And he is acutely aware of this fact. So I follow him into the bedroom, and as I turn the corner and peek in, I see his little head, impish grin stretching ear to ear, disappear behind the bed. He is crouching out of site, breathing loudly, waiting. I drop to my knees, crawl over to the bed and stick my head up just over the edge.

We wait. A long time.

He breaks first. Like a jack-in-the-box, he jumps to his feet, still grinning. He startles in surprise that I'm so close, then breaks out in a full laugh. He drops to the floor again, disappearing.

We play the game for a while until I finally grab him and get to what we were supposed to be doing.

I love these moments with Colin. Children truly bring out the child in all of us.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Life's Not Fair

I heard a thought-provoking idea this morning:

Ever think to yourself "life's not fair?" Well, you bet it isn't. I went to bed with a full stomach of my favourite meal while thousands died of hunger. I indulged in some television while single mothers trudged to a second job to make ends meet. I spoke with my mom while others cried in loneliness. I took the car out to run an errand, while some walked on cracked and bleeding feet miles to where they needed to go. I slept safe and secure in my bed while families around the world were being displaced. You bet life's not fair.

If life were fair, every time I exceeded the speed limit, I'd get a ticket. If life were fair, every time I cut corners, I would be penalized. Every time I didn't let someone in, someone wouldn't let me in. Every time I said something not-so-nice about someone, I would be cut by a disparaging remark also. Every time I didn't study for a test, I wouldn't pass. If life were fair, you'd never get to "catch a break".

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes good things happen to bad people. Life's not fair. But would you really want it to be?

If life were fair, life would be all about judgment, and there would be no mercy. Would you really want to live your life without the gift of mercy?

I'm thankful that life isn't fair.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

A House of Order

Will I ever be able to achieve a house and a life of order again? Lately I seem to be just managing to make it through one day at a time. Even my daily prayers reflect this desperation: Let me feel well; let me sleep tonight and wake well-rested; let Colin sleep tonight; let James travel home safely. My wider concern for family, friends, and world-issues seems to be waning. Long-term goals don't even flash across my mind in wishfulness. My calendar lies neglected in the bottom of my purse. I can barely remember what I'm supposed to do today, let alone tomorrow, later in the week or next. Gone are the weekly schedules, planned outings, daily trips, grocery lists, cleaning plans, and get-togethers. I sometimes have trouble remembering the month, never mind the date, or even the day of the week.

It's amazing how much your life is affected by illness. The old enthusiasm has faded. The loss becomes all the more evident when James comments on one of my good days "it's great to have you back."

I think that remark encapsulates how I'm feeling. I feel as though I'm staring down on myself with unfocused vision, and all I can do is reach out and hope to steady myself to keep me from slipping.

My appreciation for health has sky-rocketed. I know this state won't last forever (although November seems so far away!), and all I can do is be thankful for the insight I have and look forward to the day I will have some order restored.

Monday, 18 June 2007


As research for my upcoming media workshop for teens, I picked up a book called "Branded". Reading it has been nostalgic, scary, eye-opening, and a little bit hopeful. The author candidly discusses how marketing affects the teens of today.

One of the most impressive concepts she outlines is that teens are getting "older younger". For years I thought it must just have been my imagination. I was a teen less than eight years ago. It was hard to believe that in such a short time teens could be growing up so much faster. And yet, here in print, I found my observations validated. The author claims marketing is the number one suspect responsible for the crime.

I am aware of advertising. I am aware of the brand names that surround me. I use "Kleenex" (not tissues) and "Band-aids" (not adhesive bandages) and "Tylenol" (not acetaminophine). I remember the popular clothing brands my classmates wore. I even dabbled part time during university at an advertising agency. Half the people working in the industry had four-year university degrees that taught them how to effectively infiltrate our minds; the other half had street experience in understanding how we think. But this book was eye-opening, even for me.

Most-horrifying for me to read about was "peer-to-peer" marketing. Companies solicit the elite popular crowds in schools and shower them with branded gifts. Mostly girls, these teens act as free marketing tools by strutting these brands around school and inciting a frenzy that trickles down to the very "dregs" of unpopularity. We all know who the "in-crowd" was. We saw what they wore and what shows they watched and whether or not we had the means to imitate their lifestyle, we all ardently wished we could.

I never had the money to keep up with the affluent peers at my high school. University, a supposed bed for breeding individuality was no better. My classmates were mostly made up from the same affluent background as my high school friends were. I did my best with what I had, and was fortunate to be a part of the "grunge" years, when shopping at thrift stores was fashionable.

My mother never allowed fashion magazines to filter into our home (too dangerous, raising three teenage daughters - and thank goodness!), but I was aware of the perfection that graced the covers. I was not aware, however, of airbrushing, touch-ups, and the magic of photoshop. So I, too, fell into the trap of wishing I could be as tall, as thin, with eyes as wide and hair as perfect. Luckily for me, I could never manage to equate beauty with pain, and so mostly I did the best I could and let the rest slide. (I can't say I wasn't affected by it all, though. Just last week I felt a tiny thrill of joy when I read in a beauty magazine that fuller, more natural eyebrows are in style this summer. I've never plucked. And by chance I'm finally in style this season).

Even "anti-branding" is a marketing ploy. I imagine Dove's sales skyrocketed when they launched their new "natural beauty" campaign. Yes, we were finally seeing more average looking people in TV and print ads, and some of the model mystique was thrust under the spotlight, but those who bought into the product simply bought into another ad campaign.

I have two more weeks to prepare my workshop for the girls, and each day I'm realizing that eight years out of the teen life is a long time, and the pressure they feel is infinitely more than what I experienced. But I am now able to be more honest with myself and therefore will be able to be more honest with them. I think more than anything they need to hear that it's hard, and they won't make it through unscathed, but the morals they are trying to implement will come through one day.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

It will be a boy!

Today James, Colin and I went to see an ultrasound of our newest family member. Everything looked excellent, which was a relief. I know the ultrasound is usually an exciting event of pregnancy, but I was extremely nervous, both this time and last. I feel that until I actually see that everything is okay, things are up in the air. The ten minutes or so it takes for the technician to take all the photos feel like hours! I'm lying there, completely helpless, staring up into her face and desperately trying to discern from her facial expressions what is going on. She gave nothing away, which only compounded to my already frayed nerves.

But it all checked out great, and it was very clear that we are having a boy. Of course, we're not getting the baby's name put on anything before the birth, because you never know. However the technician seemed to have no doubt, it's a boy!

So all things going well, Caleb Gawthroupe will join our family around November 11!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Colin's first scraped knee

The temperature peaked above 30 degrees Celsius. The sun beat down, challenging any amount of lathered on sunscreen. Our air-conditioner-free apartment started to bake. It was time to pull out the sandals and shorts for Colin.

He often runs around our place in shorts, or even just a diaper, no problem. But he's always worn pants when I've taken him out, mostly due to cooler weather, but also to protect those beautiful smooth cream-coloured knees.

The sandals are new. He only ever wears one pair of shoes, but today it was just too hot for socks and shoes.

His outfit was adorable, with his beige ballcap, brightly coloured striped t-shirt, shorts too long (reaching just above the knees, but often falling below that), and little brown sandals.

The trouble started on the walk down the hall. The weight, size and feel of the shoes were new and were throwing him a little off balance. He kept glancing down to find his footing, racing ahead too fast and tripping over himself again.

We had to walk down 50 feet of cold, hard concrete sidewalk to get to the car. We had passed the halfway mark when it happened. One toe caught the other, and down he went. My hand shot out, too slow.

Colin scraped his knee.

He was down for only a moment when, encouraged by my words, he pushed himself back up to standing. He stared at me with wide eyes. I knelt down to inspect the damage, pulling back the ends of the shorts. There on his right knee the cream-coloured skin had been gently sraped away to reveal a small white patch (truly no bigger than a nickle).

I smothered a proud grin long enough to answer his outstretched arms by scooping him up into my own. There was no more fuss about it from either of us, but I document the moment here. I myself was a child of bumps and bruises and scrapes, and I know this will only be the beginning. I feel an extra kinship with my son today.

Moms raising sons

I caught an interesting interview with the co-author of a book about fathers raising daughters and mothers raising sons. I grew up with only sisters, and James grew up in a house of brothers, so it was a poignant conversation to catch. Neither of us have any experience of being in a house with siblings of the opposite sex.

The first gold nugget (and the one that hooked me into the program) was "God tailor-made our children for us." I have always believed that Colin was a part of our family before we came here, but I never considered that his complete make-up is exactly what I need to grow and learn as a woman and mother. These past few days I have viewed each challenge and each moment of joy in a new light. What is my little boy bringing to me? How am I growing for having interacted with him? Why is this a trial we need to go through together?

The second little jewel was "Boys are born to be challengers." Most often girls are content to sit and socialize, and even the active ones are hardwired with a need for communication. Boys are conquerors. They want to be strong. They need to go out and meet the world head on. They can't be saved from scraped knees and emotional topples. (Luckily, I myself also have a bit of the conqueror in me, and today I was even a little proud of Colin's first scraped knee.)

The advice given by the author was definitely food for thought. Boys innately love their mothers and are protective of them. However, they often don't see them as a 'woman'. She's just 'my mom'. This can often be why men will defend their mothers to the ground and in the next breath be so degrading to other women around them. Mothers need to teach their sons about respect for all women. Teach them table manners, and to open the door. Teach them to listen and to intelligently converse with women. Speaking as a woman, I can definitely report that chivalry is not dead, and there is nothing a woman appreciates more than being made to feel special.

It was an enlightening interview that cast a bright light on my hope of raising my children. I'm currently reading about the marketing traps set for children and teens, and amid the horror of it all, I needed to be reminded that I still can be the biggest influence in my children's lives. It was a bright ray of sunshine I truly needed.

Booster shots

Colin got his last booster shot today...he giggled through the entire process. Something about getting needles tickles him! Go figure.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Sometimes you just have to laugh

My dear little boy has taken to walking around wearing other people's shoes - most often my own heels!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

The good old standards

I've mentioned before how much Colin enjoys "reading". We have a mountain of books - new and old, board books, interactive books, picture books and word books. We have many of those new ones designed to sustain a toddler's attention, with flaps and bright colours and activities. However Colin's favourite book is one written and first published almost 70 years ago! "Pat the Bunny", or known affectionately here as "Pa!", is a book that is enjoyed daily, multiple times. The drawings and colours are simple, and the activities very basic. And yet for some reason it this is oldy-but-goody that has captured Colin. I love that Colin is drawn to this book, because it reminds me that we don't need to flood our house with flashy things.

I think it says so much about consumerism and the products of our day and of yesterday. I could jump on a tirade here, but I'll hold back and let you consider the thoughts in relation to your own life.

(Colin, forgive us those days when the book mysteriously disappears!)

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Behaviour vs. Temperament

I've been learning an interesting lesson this week on the differences between behaviour and temperament - and I'm sure glad I picked this up now and not in another six months. I'm classifying behaviour as something learned, a habit picked up. Temperament, rather, is part of the innate personality. Where behaviour can be disciplined and rewarded, temperament needs careful checking and overcoming, although it will always lie there, deep inside. "Little Women" is one of my favourite books, and in it Mrs. March and her daughter Jo discuss a little bit about parts of their temperament. Mrs. March reveals that she has an awful habit of flying off the handle when her emotions rise, and she lets them get the better of her. Jo remarks that she has never seen this side of her mother, and Mrs. March confides that those moments when she slips out of a room quietly, or presses her lips together, she is battling that very temper. Although after years of careful practice this part of her rarely seeps out, it still lies dormant inside.

Lately Colin has taken to displaying his impatient side more often. He is a brilliant toddler who picks things up after only seeing them done once, but he is easily frustrated by his lack of ability to complete more difficult things. He also screams and yells when he isn't getting what he wants. I know that some might observe him and comment "what a terribly behaved little boy" - but he can't help these innate characteristics right now. As he grows we'll have to work with him on them, but being only 18 months, we can't expect too much from him.

A perfect example of this personality is evident in a story I will always remember, of when he was only a day old. Everyone had left the hospital and it was just Colin and me, settling down for his first night. Then, all of a sudden, he started to cry - scream, really. No amount of feeding, rocking or singing would calm him. The nurses couldn't figure out why he went on and on, for hours. Tired and needing to use the bathroom, I finally laid him down in his crib and stepped into the bathroom for a minute. Within a minute, there was silence. After the initial panic passed, I rushed to the crib and found him sleeping peacefully. I was completely puzzled, until I my foot stepped on something on the floor, beside the bed. It was his little ankle identity bracelet. His poor little foot was red from scratching where it had bothered him. Somehow in the minute I was away, he had managed to wiggle his way out of the anklet and toss it out onto the floor! The nurses were astonished - they had never seen a baby able to do that before! But that was my little persistent, brilliant and frustrated child.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007


I thought I'd depart a little from my usual family going-ons and write a little bit about something that's been on my mind lately.

When I entered university, I remember distinctly how I felt on becoming a number. All of a sudden I was given a 9 digit number by which I would be referred for the next four years. I needed it to check my grades, use the library, find my records, log onto the internet. It was the way I was referred to on class lists. I was so disturbed by my new anonymity brought on by technology that I even penned my feelings into a poem titled "In The Age of This World". It was a typical jaded university student's response to social surroundings, but as I reread it today, the truth of it still rings true. The gist of the poem is summed up in these lines:

With all these time-saving devices
I wonder just what is
The disastrous crisis
That keeps us so busy that we can't afford
To do things ourselves
In the age of this world.


Fast forward eight years and you come to a book I read not too long ago, called "Better Off". This fantastic account of an MIT grad who lives for a year in an Amish village totally inspired me. His thesis question was: just how much technology do we need to make life easier? How much time are we actually saving by using all these "time-saving devices"? His thought was to strip it all away and just see what he and his new wife could and couldn't do without. The conclusions were astounding. I won't go into detail, but all of you need to read this book. I know I have a completely different outlook on things now.


I know there are some fantastic conveniences that have been invented thanks to advancements in technology. You certainly won't find our house completely unplugged. But I now have some food for thought, and some interesting ideas to implement (once I'm able to get up and move around a little more!) Many of my concerns stem from the fact that I'm raising a son. I know that video games have become limb extensions, and that's definitely something I am going to avoid at all costs. (Side note: I heard an interesting quote I'm storing away for when Colin is a teenager: "Show me a guy glued to a video game and I'll show you a guy who's girlfriend I can steal in one week.") So check back in a little bit, and I'll keep you up to date on how we decide to 'flip the switch on technology'.

Monday, 28 May 2007

A new project

I think I'm finally able to start a new project.

Every six months or so (as my schedule allows!) I like to pick up a new project. In the past, I've learned to knit, crochet, speak Spanish, paint a tile backsplash, and create a mosaic tile table (among others). I can't say I get to consistently use many of the new skills I learn, however there is a certain amount of satisfaction in starting and finishing something new.

I'm really excited for the next project I've decided to do. Our families have such a rich history and fantastic stories, and I want to record some of them. My own grandparents have spoken about writing a book about their work and travels in northern Canada, working among the natives. I can't say my life has necessarily been as adventurous as their's is (yet!), but nonetheless I think our own family record would be exciting to have.

So, for our children, I want to create a few record books. It will require some help from James and also from our parents, but I'm hoping they will be eager to tell their own stories. I'm preparing some lined sheets of paper with headlines about different aspects of our lives, which each individual can fill in with their own stories. At the end, I will create a cover for each book and then have them bound.

This is probably the biggest project I've undertaken, and it will require me to see it through from start to end, without dragging my feet. But it's amazing how much drive you can garner from excitement!

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Not so long ago

Back in February, I was asked to be the Assistant Camp Director at a week-long teen girl's camp run by our church. For those of you who know my love of working with teens, you'll understand just how excited I am. I myself attended the camp for six years and have great memories of those weeks.

Lately my nerves have started to get the better of me. Of late I have been reminiscing with friends about our teen years, and how long ago they seem to be (8 years since I graduated high school!) Now that I'm to be a teen mentor, 8 years seems like the blink of an eye. Can I really have developed enough wisdom and experience to guide others? The closer we get to the camp (early July), the more I realize just what kind of impact I can have on these girls. The pressure to make each decision correctly is mounting. I know that as teens, much of what I say and do might be in one ear and out the other. But this age is so crucial, and you never know when something might touch one of the girls.

I've also been asked to be a motivational speaker. This entails preparing a talk, probably around 30 minutes, to give as a workshop one afternoon. I have felt everything from ecstatic to sheer fear regarding this assignment. I'm no stranger to being in front of an audience - you don't get through 5 years of theatre and 4 years of film being shy. But interpreting a script is vastly different from preparing your own material. Yesterday I saw a clip about a Youth Speaker named Justin Lookadoo, and saw how engaging he is at telling stories and relaying messages. I lay awake most of last night, trying out my own bits, attempting to judge if I could actually pull this off!

I know I will spend much of my life working with teens - I've always known it. I'm not sure how, or in what capacity, but I do know I have a talent for reaching kids at this age. I think all I can do about this camp is regard it as another step in my learning and take a leap of faith that with the proper preparation, the right frame of mind, and a whole lot of humility, I'll be able to deliver exactly what these girls will need.

Friday, 25 May 2007

My favourite time of the day

7:45 pm.

That's my favourite time of the day. It seems that it's a moment caught between the rushing of the daytime and the craziness of the night life. I don't know how it is that the hundreds of people in my neighbourhood seem to coordinate it, but there is a brief moment of peace that lingers in the evening air.

I love the sunset around that time. I don't usually look west, however, I look east. I love the warm orange glow of light that is cast on the buildings and roads and trees. There is a quality to the light that settles down on us that makes it feel like an enveloping hug.

Most of all, I love the time I spend with Colin, just him and I, alone in his room as we get ready for bed. He's bathed, had his bottle, teeth brushed and pajamas are on. I follow him as he pads down the hall and into his room. He surveys the books lying around and carefully chooses a few, which he sets beside me on our big blue chair. Then he turns his back to me and waits for me to lift him up onto my lap. We go through each of the books he has chosen, taken turns reading to each other. And when the last one is placed on the floor, he turns himself around and snuggles his head into my neck, bringing his left hand up to his cheek and closing his tender eyes. I sing. I don't know which one of us this moment is really created for - I'm guessing we both benefit as much as the other. Sometimes I go through five, six, seven songs, each with numerous verses. There isn't a set number, or set time. It's our time.

Ever since Colin was born, there has been one lullaby I consistently sing to him. It's a song I learned a long time ago that always stuck with me, called "Angel Lullaby". In my prenatal class, the instructor told us if we always sing the same song to comfort our baby, or to put them to bed, they will associate that melody with safety, and will be quick to calm themselves. I assure you this has been true. This song is Colin and my song. I think when our next baby comes I'll find another special song that I can share with just him or her as well.

"Angel Lullaby"

You came from a world where all is light
To a world half day and a world half night
To guard you by day you have my love
And to guard you by night, your friends above

So sleep, sleep, 'til the darkness ends
Guarded by your angel friends.

There's one stands softly by your bed
And another sits close with a hand on your head
There's one at the window watching for the dawn
And one waits to wake you when the night is gone.

So sleep, sleep, 'til the darkness ends
Guarded by your angel friends.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Some of my daily reminders

"A morning prayer and an early search in the scriptures to know what we should do for the Lord can set the course of a day. We can know which task, of all those we might choose, matters most to God and therefore to us."
- Henry B. Eyring

"I urge you to examine your life. Determine where you are and what you need to do to be the kind of person you want to be. Create inspiring, noble, and righteous goals that fire your imagination and create excitement in your heart. And then keep your eye on them. Work consistently towards achieving them."
- Joseph B. Wirthlin

I know more than ever (now that I am a mother) that life is infinitely easier when someone higher up is guiding me. He can see the big picture and truly knows and wants what is best for me. I wish I could remember this more often. Some days I'm just too stubborn and seem to want to take the hard road!

God grant me patience...

Colin: (makes the sign for drink)

Mom: Colin would you like a drink?

Colin: (nods. Mom gets him some juice in a sippy cup.)

Mom: Remember, the juice goes in your mouth.

Colin: (Smiles. Drinks. Pours juice on floor).

Mom: Okay. That means you lose your juice.

Colin: (Screams the entire minute I have put his cup out of reach)

Mom: Okay. Here is your juice. Don't pour it on the floor.

Colin: (Reaches for drink. Dutifully puts it in his mouth. Wanders two steps away, turns, smiles, and pours it on the floor)

Mom: Nope. You don't get your juice.

Colin: (Screams the entire two minutes the cup is out of reach).

Mom: Okay. One more try. The juice goes in your mouth, not on the floor. This time Mommy is going to hold the cup for you. (Struggles to keep his hands from tearing the cup from mine)

Colin: (Drinks nicely. Appears to finish. Takes three steps away, smiles, and spits the juice all over the floor. Is completely sated and doesn't care that I take the drink away again).