Friday, 29 August 2008

Starting School

First of all, I'm a little sad that I'm even writing this post! My baby is off to school next week! He is starting at a local nursery school, on Mondays and Tuesdays for 2 1/2 hours in the morning. A wonderful friend has graciously offered to drive Colin, as I don't have a car. The owners/operators/teachers are good friends of ours, and I know many of the moms and kids who are already attending. I suppose if there is a best-case scenario where I have to send him off, this is it.

So the big question is then...what about homeschool? For months I have been writing about it, thinking about it, mulling it over and wondering if it is right for us. I love the freedom and latitude that homeschooling allows. I love that we can work at each child's pace, and not be afraid of him being held back by others or feeling pushed too quickly. I love that I could tailor the subjects to his interests, and also include religious, behavioural, and social learning. I love that we could go on any number of field trips, and that travel could be an integral part of our schooling.

I don't doubt myself as a teacher. Teaching has always been a passion of mine (although as a career I would probably pursue high school rather than elementary). I have the dedication and love of learning to be able to give my children an excellent education - probably one better than they would receive in school (in the purely cerebral sense).

I have no fears of my children being socialized well. One-on-one learning of homeschool means fewer hours "in the classroom". We attend church, have family nearby, and many, many, many friends with just as many playdates. We are active in the community and will be signed up in community activities and sports teams.

So why school, then? In the end, it came down to one factor, but it was a huge one. Colin is an extrovert. I don't mean "extrovert" in the sense that he is outgoing (although he is). I recently learned about being an extrovert or an introvert in the realm of how you get your energy, your boost, your recharge. Personally, I am an introvert. (No, really, I am. I know many of you who know me are thinking "but you're so outgoing!" That's true, but stay with me for a minute. I really am an introvert!) I need time to myself. If I don't get time alone, I get crabby. I get anxious. I get tired. I recharge by being on my own. Contrary to this, I have a friend who is an extrovert. She needs to be around people to get her energy kick. If she is by herself for too long, she starts to feel depressed, tired, lonely. If faced with the choice of engaging in a group activity or being by herself, she would pick the group. Me, I would rather curl up with a book, play the piano, write, go for a hike.

I have noticed this with Colin. At home he is nearly incapable of spending much time alone. After about 5 minutes he's looking for me. He'd much rather loiter around me as I do dishes than play with toys by himself. Anyone who walks in the door is an instant friend and is invited to share in his playtime. When I take him out to the Early Years Centre or to a program with other kids, he absolutely thrives. He almost never has a temper tantrum, whereas at home he melts down two or three times an hour, at least. At home he needs a new activity every 5 minutes, becoming easily bored without someone to be with. When surrounded by people he demonstrates excellent behaviour. He grasps new concepts at an exponential rate.

And so, over the past few months, I have observed all these things in Colin, which brought me to the conclusion that he will probably be best suited in a classroom, filled with other children. He is a quick learner and especially bright, but I'm hoping that his teachers will challenge him further. I'm hoping that his love for people will translate into his helping others with their work when he's finished his. And I'm hoping that he will learn to use his intensity in positive ways.

I will most certainly supplement his education at home. Reading will be a huge factor, as will a summer program (you should read what the teachers and experts say about the two-month hiatus our children have and how it takes at least 6 weeks in the fall to get them back to where they were the previous June!).

My number one philosophy on education is this: I will make sure each one of my children is getting the very best education he/she can get. This may mean homeschooling for some and not for others. It may mean starting in the public system for a few years and then pulling them out for a time to educate at home. It may mean French Immersion or the gifted program or a private or alternative learning school. My priority is that my children love to learn and value education. I think the best thing I can do, then, is to keep an open mind, constantly evaluate the situation, and be willing to change if change proves necessary.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


Last night my mother-in-law and I ventured downtown to a Celine Dion concert. I'm not a huge concert goer; in fact I've only been to three other concerts in my life (excluding the symphony). I love music, but just could never justify shelling out the money demanded to see the musicians in person. These tickets were a gift through our business, which is how we ended up in the 19th row at the Air Canada Centre last night to see Celine.

The show was fantastic. Her voice alone is incredible, and then add the lights, the costumes, the dancers, the other musicians, the videos and the atmosphere - definitely a show worth taking in. I haven't followed her latest albums, but I especially love her French music, and I grew up listening to many of her English songs also.

She sang a great mix of classic favs and new selections; she seemed to know exactly what the crowd wanted to hear. But the highlight of the night was when she announced to the crowd that she "just couldn't do any concert without singing one song in French". I was ecstatic, as I was not expecting her to sing in French in Toronto. And then, of all the songs on all the albums, she sang my favourite song of all: "Pour Que Tu M'aimes Encore". ("So that you'll love me once more") This song encapsulates the beauty of the French language in poetic imagery that just makes me smile. For those of you who read French, I've included the words. For those of you who don't, Celine did sing an English translation of the song, however it only captures the meaning of the lines, and misses the poetry completely.

But before the song, I should include one more comment on the concert, which led to the title of this blog entry. With thousands of fans in a sold-out crowd on their feet to welcome Celine Dion, and as she stepped out and sang, I realized this: she is just another person. High above there was a massive video screen to show close-ups of her singing, and looking at the screen her flawless skin and styled hair and expensive clothing spoke of Celine the Celebrity. She seemed untouchable and far away; an image and a life completely unattainable by an "ordinary person". But looking at her, in person, on stage, she looked so small, no bigger than the dancers and singers and musicians. For she really isn't larger than life. She is just another person.

I have never been impressed by celebrity; I can't think of anyone famous that would make me weak in the knees or take my breath away. There are a few people I would like to sit down and have lunch with and talk about their experiences, but nothing more. But I do admit I get caught up in the glamour of the idea of celebrity, the seeming perfection of beauty. Last night was a good reminder that the TV image, the magazine image, the film image, that we see of these people are a fabrication, and behind them all are just people.

All that being said, Celine is an incredible performer and I loved every second of the concert!


"Pour Que Tu M'aimes Encore"

J'ai compris tous les mots, j'ai bien compris, merci
Raisonnable et nouveau, c'est ainsi par ici
Que les choses ont change, que les fleurs ont fane
Que le temps d'avant, c'etait le temps d'avant
Que si tout zappe et lasse, les amours aussi passent

Il faut que tu saches

J'irai chercher ton coeur si tu l'emportes ailleurs
Meme si dans tes danses d'autres dansent tes heures
J'irai chercher ton ame dans les froids dans les flammes
Je te jetterai des sorts pour que tu m'aimes encore

Fallait pas commencer m'attirer me toucher
Fallait pas tant donner moi je sais pas jouer
On me dit qu'aujourd'hui, on me dit que les autres font ainsi
Je ne suis pas les autres
Avant que l'on s'attache, avant que l'on se gache

Il faut que tu saches

J'irai chercher ton coeur si tu l'emportes ailleurs
Meme si dans tes danses d'autres dansent tes heures
J'irai chercher ton ame dans les froids dans les flammes
Je te jetterai des sorts pour que tu m'aimes encore

Je trouverai des langages pour chanter tes louanges
Je ferai nos bagages pour d'infinies vendanges
Les formules magiques des marabouts d'Afrique
J'les dirai sans remords pour que tu m'aimes encore

Je m'inventerai reine pour que tu me retiennes
Je me ferai nouvelle pour que le feu reprenne
Je deviendrai ces autres qui te donnent du plaisir
Vos jeux seront les notres si tel est ton desir
Plus brillante plus belle pour une autre etincelle
Je me changerai en or pour que tu m'aimes encore

Little Tidbits

Caleb is now eating only adult food. He has never been impressed with pureed food, only tolerating it for nourishment, and grabbing a fistful of adult food whenever possible. Then last week he finally refused to eat any more baby food. He clamped his mouth shut, wriggled in his high chair and fussed and screamed through the whole ordeal. In the midst of it all, he yanked on the table cloth to bring Colin's plate of food over to him and hastily chowed down on everything he could get his fingers on. So I guess he's ready for finger food! He loves cereal, veggies and fruit. He's never been a meat boy, but that's a good thing, I guess.


Colin's toilet training just isn't happening. He really isn't ready for it. Although he doesn't like the wet underwear, he only ever tells us after he's gone. I do my best to get him to sit on the toilet after meals and naps, but I have to admit my own part in this can be sporadic also. (Something to do with another baby demanding my attention also?) I'm moving to use pull-up diapers instead of underwear, as I'm tired of cleaning up all those messes and Colin is showing no sign of understanding his bodily functions. I think it's too early for him yet, but I don't think moving back to diapers is a good idea - I spent too much time re-enforcing the fact that only babies like Caleb wear diapers. So "Diego Underwear" (pull-ups) it is for now.


Caleb woke up at 8am yesterday and 7:30 am this morning! Probably because of the trip out west, but I'm not complaining, and I'm not working on "getting him back on Toronto time"! He's going to bed later in the evening, which means I sacrifice some of my alone time (or time alone with James) but, for the short term, it's definitely worth it to sleep past 5am!


Caleb just climbed up the stair from the playroom into the kitchen. I guess using that stair to keep him in one place won't work anymore!


Colin starts nursery school next Wednesday! I am not ready for my little boy to go off to school! (Some faithful readers of my blog may be wondering what happened in my personal home school debate. Look for an entry on that in the next few days).


My mother-in-law stayed at my house to watch Colin while Caleb and I were in B.C. She is very very very neat and clean. Very. Downside: I go crazy trying to have the place tidy and clean when she is coming over. Upside: I came back from vacation to a very clean home, and with a few organizing upgrades! She cleared up my kitchen counter with a new "sit-in-the-sink" dish rack, moving the mat of the old dishrack up under the bathroom sink to catch water from the basket of bath toys. Then she used the cutlery cup from the old dishrack to hold a pair of rubber gloves next to the kitchen sink. She found a small tub to hold vinegar/water/dishsoap for Colin's pee-filled underwear and picked up a nighlight for the bathroom to make our night wakings with Caleb easier. My deck looks fabulous just by her rearranging the toys a little. Everywhere her hand is evident seems just a little neater and tidier, and for that I am ever so grateful!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Beautiful British Columbia

This past weekend I went on a (very) short trip out to British Columbia to visit with my Dad's side of the family. I have aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and a great grandmother all living out there, and it was wonderful to see them all again. The purpose of our gathering was a little sad - my Great Grandma Gall is in the hospital and was not doing too well. Although she is being released sometime this week, she isn't yet able to care for herself again, which means she may have to spend some time convalescing in an assisted living home. It will be difficult for her, as her body slowly gives out but her mind remains sharp.

She will be 89 years old in November - November 9th, in fact. She and Caleb share the same birthday! I have had the great fortune to have many grandparents alive for most of my life. When Colin was born, he had 13 grandparents!

It's amazing to think of the generations and eras that my family spans. I get to hear snatches of what their lives were like in past years, but certainly not in enough depth to satisfy my curiosity. What a wonderful treat it would be to leaf through old journals of relatives, discovering their thoughts about events in their lives, seeing them evolve over time as they grew. It makes me excited to leave my own musings for a great great granddaughter to read one day.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Sometimes He Lets It Rain

"Sometimes He Lets It Rain"

She sees the storm clouds gather
The sky is turning cold and gray
She knows that something's coming
When she starts to feel this way
She pleads for intervention
But heaven offers no relief
And she would understand if she could only see that

Sometimes he lets it rain
He lets the fierce winds blow
Sometimes it takes a storm
To lead a heart where it can grow
He can move mountains of grief
And oceans of pain
But sometimes He lets it rain.

And when her heart surrenders To the Master in control
Her spirit learns the lessons of the tempest in her soul
When it's no longer raging
She can see how far she's come
Through the wisdom and the mercy of the Son

Sometimes he lets it rain
He lets the fierce winds blow
Sometimes it takes a storm
To lead a heart where it can grow
He can move mountains of grief
And oceans of pain
But sometimes He lets it rain.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Life in Snapshots

Music is a huge part of life in our home. Caleb has just discovered he can reach the piano keys, and loves to play. He also comes crawling whenever I sit to play and sing, pulls himself up and stands beside me at the piano bench, completely enthralled.
Colin's a little further along. He loves to sit and play, and even turns the pages in the books as he goes along. He also loves to sit beside me when I play, but he only lets me play songs wants to hear. This means only songs from the Reader's Digest Children's Songbook (a fantastic collection - I highly recommend it!), including: "On top of Spaghetti", "How much is that Doggie in the Window", "Chickery Chick", "When I See an Elephant Fly", "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and anything else that mentions a train, or has a train illustration on the page.
As you can see, Colin is obsessed with trains. Here he is at the "Day out with Thomas" event, playing with the tracks they had set up. His father and grandparents (who spoil him endlessly) are going to build a table and set up this track set (seen above) for him for Christmas/Birthday. He will go crazy over it, and all the money and work will be beyond worth it!
Caleb loves puzzles. more to the point, he loves pulling the puzzles off their neatly stacked spot on the bookshelf and launching them across the room. This guy is so strong! I can remember when he was three months old I picked him up off the floor and thought "man, he's getting heavy!" Then I noticed he had been holding onto a bouncy chair and had lifted the entire chair right off the ground!
Two brothers. Caleb thinks the world of Colin. He is trying so desperately to grow up faster and get bigger and stronger and more capable so that he can keep up with his big brother. Colin is slowly warming to the idea. In this photo, Colin is "parking" his little cars between the keys of the piano, and Caleb is trying hard to copy him.
And here they are. Two smiley peas in a pod. I love these guys.


We have ventured into unchartered and uncertain territory these past few days...toilet training. My philosophy was always to wait until Colin showed a little more interest or knowledge on the subject, but I'm signing him up for nursery school two days a week in September, and they don't do diapers. So I thought I would take a very easy-going approach and see how things went.

They didn't.

Not really.

First I tried just having him run around in a t-shirt, hoping that after the first few accidents he would be disgusted with pee running down his leg. No such luck. He didn't really seem to care. He just sort of sat still, peed on the carpet and then kept going.

So I went out and invested way too much money in training pants, rubber covers, underwear and pull-up diapers. I would have kept on with the naked thing, but we have carpet - white carpet - all through the main floor of the house.

I had heard pull-ups were a bad idea - too much like diapers. I decided only to use them at nap and bed time, calling them "Diego underwear" (so as not to confuse the "your a big boy and don't need diapers" mentality I worked so hard on!). The rest of the time he's in underwear with the plastic cover over top (to protect my carpets!) The only step forward we've made is that after he pees he tells me he needs new underwear.

I also tried tracking when he ate and when he peed. No formula at all.

So finally I just decided that yesterday after dinner we would hunker down with a few books and he would just sit on his little toilet until he (hopefully) went. He sat there for one hour and ten minutes! We read 15 books. And yes, about half way through, he actually went pee! But I think the novelty of it was lost, as he now associates the toilet with reading.

Nothing but pee-filled underwear this morning discouraged me a little. After lunch I went to put Caleb down for a nap and Colin told me he was going to sit on the toilet and read while I did that. Shrugging my shoulders, I scooped up Caleb and left Colin to his...throne.

(By the way, sleep training a baby and toilet training a toddler at the same time...not a good game plan!)

I was up with Caleb for nearly 30 minutes trying to get him to sleep. Each time I stepped out of the nursery I peeked downstairs to see Colin happily going through the pile of 15 books we had read the night before. And then, amid Caleb's shrieking, I heard these glorious words:

"Mommy! There is dirt in my toilet!"

Yes, that's right. All he needed was a few good books and a little privacy. I flew down the stairs and showered him in accolades as we cleaned up and pulled up his underwear. "I'm so proud of you!" was the phrase I think I used most. (I had to laugh later on when Colin was playing with his trains and continuously praised: "Thomas, I'm so proud of you!"

Well, it's a start. It doesn't seem like it's going to be an easy road, like some mothers claim, but it's a start.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

I am

"I'm a boy. Mommy's a Terri-Ann. And Daddy's a dude."

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Dinner with the girls

Last night I had a fantastic evening out with three girlfriends of mine. Good food, good friends, good laughs (lots and lots and lots of laughs) all makes for a wonderful time.

We went out for Summerfeast, a local event where some of the fine dining restaurants offer three course meals at a great price. Not only was my meal delicious, but it looked fantastic also. You know you're eating well when the plate could be photographed as art.

We were out nearly four hours, which flew by faster than time has ever flown before. We talked about children, husbands, careers, church, diapers (we can never escape that!), movies, books, our lives, name it, we chatted about it. I think we shed the most tears as we gasped in laughter over a book called "Where's my poop?" that my friend saw for sale in a supersized grocery store. this is the plot summary from

"This engaging lift-the-flap book shows children that all creatures have a place to poop: tigers in the jungle, kangaroos in the outback, and monkeys in the rain forest. With the aid of this playful book, your child will see that he or she has a place to poop, too. While reinforcing the concept of toilet training, Where's the Poop? gives children the confidence they need."

I think most of you have creative enough minds to see the path this conversation traveled down...I think I've written enough on this subject to last me a while.

As we reluctantly dragged our satiated bodies to our feet to leave, we all agreed that we needed to do dinner again. And not in a "let's do it again but we know it won't be fore another six months" kind of way. It was a good reminder to me that I love (and need) time with friends, conversation with people over the age of two, and a chance to talk about something other than Thomas the Tank Engine, Raffi, sandboxes and diapers (most of the time!).

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Eat food

Okay. I understand the title of this blog entry might strike you as a little strange. We all eat food, right? Well, I'm learning maybe not. Between reading Laura's blog entries on "Getting Real with Food" and Michael Pollan's new book "In Defense of Food", I'm quickly learning that most of what I eat on a daily basis is only masquerading as food. Have you looked at the ingredient lists on what we find at the grocery store? I can't even pronounce most of the stuff I put into my body. (click on links above to see for yourself)

Michael Pollan's book is so good that I can't even choose which excerpts to include here. Suffice it to say the book is definitely worth a read. His main arguments are to: Eat food (real, whole foods), not too much (enough said) and mostly plants (not only, just mostly). He talks a lot about "nutritionism", the ideology of breaking down food into elements. I had never noticed it before, but marketers now sell us food based on things we can't even see: low-fat, omega-3, psillium fibre, low-carb... what ever happened to just getting natural food as it naturally grows?

I highly recommend a perusal over Laura's "Getting real with food" series. She's a regular mom on a less-than-regular income, but has decided that eating whole, natural foods is not a luxury these days, but a necessity. She writes about her grocery bill ($500/month to feed a family of 6, including 5 males), ways to store food you grow, buying a cow, and the every day reality of searching for good food. She also includes her weekly menu plan, complete with recipes. Her idea revolves around eating simpler but still eating yummy. Just glancing over her menus inspired me to start adapting my own menu ideas.

I wish I could write all my thoughts on this subject, but I don't even know that I could form them all into a coherent stream of consciousness. I'm sure the subject will pop up again as I move forward in my search for real food. I will be attending a workshop on the "100 mile diet" in September (basic idea: eat foods grown within 100 miles of where you live) and I'll certainly have some ideas to write on that. In the mean time, anyone in the Orangeville area with information on local, natural, organic food sources, please let me know!


I've been tuning in now and then on our bunny ears teeny tiny television to the Olympics. I love sports of all kinds - playing and watching. But the Olympics has a different edge to it. You really get the feeling that people are competing against themselves, to achieve personal bests. I truly believe when athletes say they are excited just to be a part of the team for their country. I'm sure there is nothing like winning a gold medal, breaking a world record, reaching the podium. But with the thousands of athletes competing, most know they probably won't reach that dream this year. And still you can see the joy in their faces as they don the colour of their country and step out onto the world stage.

I can feel the adrenaline running through my veins as I watch. I might be viewing a swimming event in which I have never participated, or a field hockey match that is near and dear to my heart - either way I feel that excitement in me of competition and performance. I know the joy of winning and the heartache of loss. I love to see the expressions on an athletes face after they win a competition - a mixture of elation and exhaustion. I watch and feel as a fellow athlete sharing in the victory.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Conversations with Colin

I wondered how long it would take for this one to come along:

Colin: Mommy, I want to drink from your tummy.
Mommy: Drink from my tummy?
Colin: I want some milk from your tummy. (pointing to my breasts)
Mommy: (stifling laughter) Only babies drink milk from Mommy. We can get you some from the fridge.

At bedtime, Colin usually takes a sippy cup of water to bed with him:

Colin: Oh! We left my water downstairs.
Mommy: Actually, we're not going to bring the water to bed anymore, because soon you're going to start wearing underwear! So let's just do our kiss and a hug instead.
Colin: Let's just pretend, then. Take a drink of water! (mimes drinking from a cup) Now a big kiss and a hug! (throws himself at me). And now to bed.

So much easier than I thought it would be!


Colin: Where's Daddy?
Mommy: Honey, he's still at-
Colin: No! Not honey, sweetie.
Mommy. Sorry hon- sweetie. He's still at work.

Sunday, 10 August 2008


Over the past couple of weeks, I have had a reawakening of sorts in regards to film. When I graduated from Ryerson with my degree in Film Studies, I had the feeling that I had had my fill of filmmaking for a while, if not for good. I bet many of my teachers and classmates would have found that surprising, given that I graduated top of my class and was honoured with many filmmaking awards over my time at Ryerson. I smile to think of the look on their faces if they knew I was "just a mom" now.

Truly, I was tired of the entire scene. The long hours, the fast-paced life, the heavy demands, the sharp attitudes - I felt that I was moving in a different direction. I yearned for quiet, peace, family, and time to develop my many other loves and interests.

But the last three or four films I've seen have sparked my old passion once again. The flame is still small, as I find this love in opposition to my current state, and yet that little fire is growing steadily. The films weren't particularly brilliant, artistic, or "Oscar-worthy". They ran the complete spectrum in themes, genres, characters and plots. But I found myself unusually moved and affected by each one.

Those of you who are passionate artists will understand, but I would like to try and convey some of the emotion I experience in relation to my artistic passions (specifically filmmaking, piano and vocal performance and writing).

The last three films I saw were: Mamma Mia, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and The Dark Knight. A musical comedy, a coming of age, and an action film (respectively).

As I sat in the theatre to watch "Mamma Mia", I experienced joy. A contented smile perched on my lips from the opening shot as I was touched by the performance of the lead actress. Her infectious smile, charming eyes and easy-going manner are no doubt crafted to illicit joyous emotions from a viewing audience. But my joy was deeper. I wasn't feeling it because of the characters or the story. My emotions weren't changed as the plot points unraveled; I wasn't manipulated as the director would intend by the various elements of the movie. The film was speaking to me on a deeper level. I was finding my joy in the heart of the film itself.

"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" I picked up one night when James was away on business. A quintessential "chick flick", I figured he wouldn't mind if he missed it (he didn't). This film spoke to me in much the same was as "Mamma Mia", but with heartache instead of joy. It isn't a particularly sad film, although there are teary moments. But it was the soul of the film that I found aching. I shed tears in unexpected moments - not at a death or a loss, but in scenes that simply reached out as examples of powerful filmmaking. It was as if the movie itself was the emotion of "heartache".

"The Dark Knight" I saw in theatre with James on Friday. I had been prepped for a dark, dismal and depressing event, especially considering the sudden death of the young lead actor earlier this year. Reviews had been mostly favourable, and yet the general consensus was there could be a little bit more hope or cheeriness instilled. As I watched, my heart pounded from opening shot to closing credits. My mind raced through scenes as acting, directing, cinematography, editing, music, costumes, effects and every element of filmmaking coalesced in my mind's eye. Contrary to the darkness most people felt, I experienced a high level of excitement. It was the thrill of filmmaking coursing through my veins. It was the final leg of my return to the love and art of creating a movie.

I used to find myself laughing, crying or tense at the oddest parts of films. I often laughed aloud and alone in a movie theatre, or made it through entire films without shedding a tear only to lose it completely at a throw-away scene near the end. It was as though I was in tune with the movie on a different level. Over the last few years I had lost that, finding myself bored and untouched by what I saw. And I had no desire at all to participate in the making of a film.

And now I feel that old love reawakening. She is calling to me and I am slowly returning, homeward bound in a sense. There is no doubt that I am greatly changed, as a person and a filmmaker, from the woman I was at graduation. But I am excited to see where I am taken now as I grasp hands with my old friend Film once again.

Friday, 8 August 2008

A wish

I have one of those little flip calenders sitting in my kitchen, called "365 Best-Kept Parenting Secrets". I have actually remembered to flip the page each day since January 1st. I love reading it in the morning just before breakfast. The contents are everything from parenting tips, safety ideas, scripture passages, words of wisdom, and much, much more. I've learned some great things. I also love that little feeling of satisfaction when I flip over the page and see a tip that I'm already practicing (reinforces my mothering emotions).

I was excited to see what was written on today's page. Today I celebrate my 28th birthday, and I wanted to see what sage advice would be imparted on this special day. You never know - it could be brilliant, old hat, or common sense. It could be exactly what I wanted or needed to read, or it could be very boring.

Well, this is what is written on August 8th:

(drum roll please)

"Share your passions with your children. Let them know they can make a difference in the world around them."

My heart filled with joy and a smile filled my face. These two sentences sum up one of my deepest wishes for my children. All that I hope I can teach them, all that I pray they will learn and know, all that I wish they will grow to become. It is my greatest desire for my children that they become passionate and a great mover in the world. One of the saddest outcomes would be complacency, boredom, and being a bystander.

One of my favourite songs (you can find the full lyrics if you look under "music" under my post labels) is called "In the Meantime". And one of my favourite lines is "Deep inside she's still the girl who's always felt the fire to make a difference in the world." This is me. And I hope one day it will be my children also.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Oh sleep, where art thou?

I think I can now be classed as an expert on sleep. Although there is very little of it happening at our house, at least I can tell you the cycles of sleep, how and why we do it, patterns of good sleep habits, and a hundred different ways to get your child to sleep. And yet I still can't get Caleb to sleep.

A friend of ours is a sleep trainer. People pay her big money to come their homes and stay overnight and train their babies to sleep well. She has witnessed Caleb fussing and crying week after week in church, and reached out to us in sympathy. We've had numerous conversations and I filled out a sleep log for Caleb, recording his sleep time, awake time, and when he feeds. There were 5 simple symbols to record on an hourly basis. I laughed when I gave her the log, because the thing looked like hieroglyphics! In each little box I had sometimes scribbled 10 or 12 symbols, as Caleb would go down, get up, go down, get up, cry, sleep and eat like a madman.

She mulled over our conversations and the log and concluded: this was like nothing she'd ever encountered yet. She said this will be excellent experience for her. Even if we weren't friends, she would have taken the case pro bono! She is currently doing some research to see if she can find something to help Caleb. But her initial "diagnosis" was that most likely Caleb is extremely intelligent. He is processing everything around him and unable to turn it off.

I've read nearly every sleep book out there. We've tried all the methods. I've studied all the case studies. I am a little frustrated, however, because all the books simply assume that their method will work, just like that. There is no "but if this fails, try..." But I also haven't found any examples of Caleb's behaviour.

His problem is that he just doesn't want to sleep. Even with me in the room, he cries and cries when we try to put him down to sleep. Every sleep book out there talks about how a baby is conditioned to need you to help get to sleep. The problem is that not even I can help him sleep. Even bringing him in bed with me doesn't get him to sleep. He has never slept anywhere but in his crib. He has never gone to sleep without crying and fussing first. He has never worn himself out crying. He has never fallen asleep in my arms (which I really miss!). He never just lies in bed crying - he throws himself around the crib, thrashing about, or stands himself up. Even when his poor eyes are red and half closed, he struggles to his feet and hangs on for dear life to the crib rail. Yesterday I hoped if I just sat in the room with him he would calm down at my presence. No such luck.

Once he's asleep he's fine. He has slept several 4 hour stretches. He does normally take two naps a day. He does go to sleep around 7am. Some of the things I've read certainly have helped in certain ways. The funny thing is that all these sleep books tend to be about getting your baby to sleep through the night. I'm not concerned about that at all. I just want to get him to be able to fall asleep without an hour of coaxing. I don't mind getting up at 11pm and 2am and 5am if I can get him back to sleep in a few minutes and crawl back into bed. But being up for hours in the middle of the night is really trying!

Please excuse the rant. A writer's prerogative, I guess. I always find it helps to get everything out "on paper". I know these days won't last forever and a beautiful dreamy sleep will find my again one day. And please feel free to call for any sleep advice for your own little bambino. I'm a regular sleep encyclopedia these days!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Working hard

My dear neighbour, Mary (an elderly widow of 30 years) tells me I work too hard. She also tells me they should pay me double. Unfortunately, double of nothing is still nothing!

I will admit I have had my nose to the grindstone a lot lately. And I have been reveling in it. I have discovered that good hard work is good for the body, mind and spirit. In addition to constant work on my fence (sawing, sanding, staining, nailing, measuring), last week I also had to haul a tree. Yes, you read that right. While we were away for the weekend, a huge maple tree came crashing down on our back yard. While this may seem like a disaster, there were numerous blessings associated with its demise. It was an old tree leaning at a 30 degree angle. It was growing right where my fence needed to go. It was leaning over a hydro wire. It was hiding a much more beautiful maple tree that had much better shade potential. then two weeks ago it was struck by lightening, gashing the truck down the middle near the bottom. Five days later it was leaning at 45 degrees. A few days after that the split in the trunk was wide enough to walk through. Hydro was called, and instead of taking the tree down as we hoped, they simply disconnected the wire and swung it over top of the tree. Tree removal companies were desperately called. Only one returned my messages and he was hired on the spot. He came the next day, but the tree had already come crashing down in our absence. Additional blessing - it fell diagonally across the yard, missing the fence, deck, swing and our neighbour's newly built two-story garage. The tree-removal man hauled away the branches and left the trunk cut up as firewood on our back lawn.

Well, I hadn't planned on telling that whole story! The point of starting it was that the "firewood" was actually huge two by two by two foot slabs of tree trunk that threatened to kill my beautiful lawn if left for too many days. And so I (James was away for the week on business) had to haul all one billion pounds of tree pieces up to a hideaway spot in our yard! Anyone know what to do with an entire tree of stumps?

I've also been out weeding, pruning, mowing the lawn and running around playing soccer with Colin. Add that to our walks (1 1/2 - 3 hours daily), running up and down the stairs, carrying 20 lbs of Caleb, sewing summer swaddle blankets, building stairs for our deck, cleaning the garage...

Well, there's nothing like some good hard work. The television is being (thankfully) neglected, and even my books are begging to be read a little more. But I'm finding much satisfaction in my work. I had a beautiful image last week of our forefathers 150 years ago as they toiled to carve out lives in this wild and untamed country. I thought of the houses and fences they built, without the conveniences of power tools. I thought of the community efforts to help each family raise a home and clear the land and plant and harvest crops. What satisfying lives they must have lived! Without the distractions of today's gadgets and media and time-fillers and time-wasters. I'll keep the flush toilet, but I often yearn for the simplicity of yesteryear...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Old Testament Study

I mentioned this challenge last week, and this week I embark on a journey through the Old Testament. My goal is to read five chapters a week. But more than that, I want to study what I find - look beyond just the words on the page and discover something more.

So I've set up a new blog and I want to invite you all to join in. You can find the blog at:

The first entry is already up and talks about how you can write entries or comment on things already written. I will try to write once a week (Sundays, most likely), but I'm hoping many of you will come along on the journey also. Look for the first post on the first five chapters next Sunday.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Five Years

Today James and I celebrate five years of marriage. It seems like forever and just yesterday all at once. Some days it's hard to believe that five short years past we were two filmmakers living in Toronto. Most days it feels like we were always a family, just waiting to happen.

I am so grateful to have the most wonderful husband in the world (sorry ladies! I win this one.) We were married not "until death do you part" but "for time and all eternity", as we believe that families are forever and will last beyond life here on earth. We were a family before we came to this life, and our family will endure in the next. What a blessing.

I don't talk too much about James on here, probably because the majority of my days are spent with my kids. But this seems like the perfect time to brag, just a little. Although there are too many to list, here are some of my favourite things about him:

- he is a fantastic father. He was always meant to be a dad. He doesn't have to find time to fit his kids in, or juggle other social commitments. His favourite place to be is here with us.
- he always leave me the last piece of any dessert leftover. Pie, ice cream, cookies (especially cookies!) - he'll always leave at least one so if I go looking I won't be disappointed!
- he is the most dedicated person I know. He gives his full attention to whatever task he is doing and does it to the best of his ability and beyond.
- he makes us all laugh. We always joke that the kids will find him hilarious until they are about eight, and then will perfect the eye roll by age ten. And we both can catch a good case of the gigles while spending time together. I can't tell you how many times the two of us end up with tears streaming down our faces and our stomachs aching from laughter.
- he tells great stories. And they're so great, he'll tell you again, and again, and again. And even if I remind him I've already heard this one, he'll tell me one more time. But he's a great storyteller, and quick with a punch line, so the redundancy is forgiven.
- he's thoughtful and attentive. He's away on business this week, but just before lunch a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses arrived for me. That's right, yellow. People always query: "Doesn't he know yellow is for friendship?" Well, he is my best friend, but it means even more than that. Yellow is my favourite colour, and way, way back when we were dating, he sent yellow flowers for that reason. He had no idea the different colours of roses meant different things. But he was paying attention one day when I noted my favourite colour was yellow. And so that has been our little thing. He does, however, add one red rose, out of romantic whimsy.
- speaking of romance, he's the one to light up the candles, put on some classical music, slip his hand in mine, take the second best to offer me the best, open a door, sneak a kiss, and a million other little things that make me feel as though I'm the only person in the world. And he reminds me daily just how much in love he is.

And I tell him likewise.

Colin Says:

Colin: Glumph, aruga, ahanaba.
Mommy: Colin, don't talk with food in your mouth, honey.
Colin: (spits out a mouthful of strawberry into his hand) It's very yummy! (puts half chewed strawberry back in)

Well, you can't say he wasn't at least trying to do as I asked!


Colin: Mommy, I don't like your shirt.
Mommy: Which one do you like?
Colin: The one with the bubbles. Can you wear that one?
Mommy: Well, this one is the one with the buttons, for me to do yard work in.
Colin: Okay.

(9 hours later, after nap, he opened his eyes and the first words out of his mouth were:)

Colin: Mommy, you changed your shirt! Where is the one with the buttons?
Mommy: It was dirty so I put on this new yellow one.
Colin: (sizing it up) Okay. I like that one, too.

I sure could use a little good news today...

The following are the headlines of the most read news stories (online, Toronto Star) for today, August 1st, 2008:

- Owen Sound mob attacks Toronto man
- Horror as bus passenger beheaded
- Body found in Lake Ontario

This is what makes me want to move to the country and withdraw from the world around me. Not only is all this horror going on around me, but it's what the majority of people want to read about.

But I believe strongly in being the change I want to see in the world around me, and I don't think everyone withdrawing like hermits would be an improvement. And so I must figure out how to stay strong in my own beliefs, raise my children in this society, and do my best to change what little of the world I can.