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).

More mishaps...

This morning we found Colin standing in his crib, diaper on the floor, and the entire bed soaked through! Somehow it seems he is discovering too many ways to make trouble for us! He seems a little young to be able to be such a monkey!

Monday, 21 May 2007

99 Balloons

God knows what we need and when we need it. Today I needed a video a friend passed along. Only three and a half months into the pregnancy, it seems like it will never end. I don't want to record all the downs I'm having, but suffice it to say I often feel like I want to rush through the next six months and be done with it.

This morning I caught a program on TV about three babies who were miracle births, none of whom were expected to live. Their parents spoke openly about their heartfelt prayers and the deep faith it took to get through each of their new baby's life. The children (now adults) spoke of the purposes they had found in life, and the roles they were fulfilling for the God who had let them live. It was a reminder to me just how delicate life is, and how none of us knows the course planned out for us.

Then this afternoon I watched a short video called "99 Balloons". It was a beautiful story about another miracle, a baby that wasn't even supposed to make it to birth. I won't write any more about the video, because I hope you do get a chance to watch it (link included at end of entry). It reinforced the message I'd been sent this morning, however. I didn't enjoy my first pregnancy and haven't had the best time this go-round either. But I hope I can learn to treasure these days a little more, because any one of us could be called home at any moment.

I almost want to go wake Colin from his nap and give him a big hug (but I know better than to wake a sleeping baby!)

Friday, 18 May 2007

The beginnings of a melody

If there was any doubt there is music in Colin's soul, lay it to rest now. Colin has always enjoyed talking, to us, to the cat, to strangers, to himself. We may not understand his words yet, but he definitely understands what he is saying. Lately we've caught him singing to himself. Right now he's waking himself up from his nap and I can hear him lying contentedly in his crib, gabbing and singing away.

His favourite tune seems to be "Frere Jaques". He gets a little muddled in the middle (that third line has a lot of quick notes!) but gets through to the end, only to go back to the beginning. We've also heard "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and a little ditty of James' that he created when trying to cheer Colin up.

I remember learning in my Music in Early Childhood that children naturally have music in them. Our teacher related a family story of her daughter arriving at a beach one sunny summers day, and with no other way to express her joy, she ran through the waves bursting into song.

Colin sings himself to sleep, sings when he wakes, while he plays and while he just wanders around the house.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007


James and I have had the pleasure of learning the never-ending fun game of "Why?" much earlier than we should have. Everyone knows the curious question of the pre-schooler: "Why?" I have always been of the ilk that I will not placate my child with a "Because I said so", or "It just is, that's why." I think curiosity is one of the most important characteristics a child can develop and I want to encourage it as much as possible. (You all have permission to remind me of this entry in a few years after Colin's three thousandth "Why?").

Colin doesn't really have any consistent words yet, but he does have "This?" Much of the day is passed in him pointing at an object in the house, in a book, out the window, anywhere his little eyes rest on, and questioning: "This?" We patiently touch the object and tell him what it is called. Traditionally, this game will endure anywhere from 20-50 "This?" at a time. Then we'll have a short rest, only to start it up again.

Luckily my patience hasn't worn thin yet, and I've seemed fairly able to cope with it. We'll see how things go a few kids and a few years down the road, but for now, I'm doing okay. And even though Colin's not speaking yet, I'm betting that one day he'll wake up and have this huge vocabulary we've built in his head and he'll just start talking as if he'd been doing it his whole life.

There are leaves on the trees

There are finally leaves on the trees outside my bedroom window.

Most of you probably think this is a fairly obvious statement, considering it's mid-May and by all accounts leaves on trees in May is not an unusual thing.

I have had the opportunity, however, to watch the bare branches of winter bloom into the shade-giving trees of spring. Much of the last two months I spent in bed were also passed in a fair amount of pain that made doing almost anything unbearable. So I spent most days staring out the window of our 5th floor apartment at the tree that stands outside. One day I noticed the bare branches had tiny little nubs on them, almost like little beetles. Slowly more and more nubs appeared, and each of these slowly grew into buds. Then the buds flowered (reminding me of "Popcorn Popping", an old Primary song from my childhood). Then...nothing. For weeks and weeks and weeks the little flowers appeared to have stopped growing. I would try to convince myself that I could see something emerging from them, but a closer look revealed nothing.

Then one day last week I woke up and looked out the window and was amazed at the pale green garden of leaves that had burst from the blossoms. Literally overnight, what I had been waiting for for so long, had happened.

Now I look out the window and wish for the beautiful white and pink blossoms again. There are a few late bloomers, some leaves still waiting to grow. I strangely find myself cheering them on, and yet reveling in their infancy.

Once again I have learned a life lesson in the beauty of nature. As much as I can't wait for the day when Colin can communicate with us, or when we can kick around a soccer ball, or I can help him with his homework, I'm realizing that one day (overnight) he'll be grown and I'll long for the days when a smile broke across his face when I woke him in the morning. I'll miss the days when he pulled me over to a chair, climbed up on my lap and plunked down five or six books for reading.

I can't believe I've already passed 26 years of life, which I'm sure has gone by even faster for my parents. I know that then next 26 years will be gone before I know it, so I'm going to spend more time on today and less time worrying about tomorrow. Let tomorrow take care of itself.

Monday, 14 May 2007

And Baby Makes Four

It's been a while since I've published here, and for my procrastination I apologize. However I hope that I may say it's been for a good reason. I've been ill and in bed for two months now. It's been painful, unpleasant and downright boring, but the good news is that the result of it all will be a new addition to the family come November! That's right, Baby Gawthroupe is expected to arrive November 11, 2007. We're all very excited, and impatient for my speedy recovery!

The Martins have been pulling double duty in their roles as Grandparents and Aunts. They have unselfishly scheduled that one of them can come down every weekday when James leaves for work, to watch Colin. Then they take him up to their house in Caledon East for the weekend, so that James can try and keep up the house also, and get to all his Sunday meetings. I don't know how we would have made it this far otherwise!

Colin is taking it well. He has become "Daddy's little shadow". It is so adorable to see James go by the bedroom door and Colin pattering on faithfully behind him. Back and forth I see them go, one in the footsteps of the other. This may actually be new to some of you - Colin finally decided it was time to get up and walk. Well, get up and run. There's no going anywhere slowly for this one. I can't wait until I'm well enough to take him on a walk. He has discovered he was born for the outdoors and can't get enough of being outside.

I hope to be a little more diligent in writing now, as I seem to have enough strength to spend a few minutes writing on our laptop, in bed. And I pray that I'll soon be well enough to get out and enjoy the weather, not just watch it from the window!