Sunday, 31 May 2009
The discussion (with four scholars) was enlightening. As they went through and added some historical context, the images became so clear, I wondered how on earth I hadn't understood it before.
The most powerful image that stuck with me was about the idea of fighting a battle. One scholar noted how many hymns we have that are about going into battle, getting ready to fight, standing strong and going forward. The words of Isaiah did not mince the truth of the terrible battle being fought between good and evil in this life. He wrote words of action, inspiring readers to truly understand the importance and ferocity of the battle waging. I truly go out each day into a world that is fighting against everything I believe in.
And then came the caution: would I dare go out into battle unprepared and without armour? No soldier would even consider it, so why would I? Why would I step out into this world each day without the protection of prayer and God's word?
I had never considered it in this way before. I have always prayed and read the scriptures - generally when I can find a moment or two during the day. But for the first time I understood the importance of starting my day with these practices. The imagery of the battle came to life and I understood the reality of leaving my sanctuary that is my home and putting myself out there onto the battlefield. I better be prepared for what I will face.
Saturday, 30 May 2009
At times during the day, I get the sensation of being scared out of my wits. This shock starts in my heart and emanates out to the tips of my fingers and toes. After the initial jolt, I am left with my heart pounding and breathing heavily. Really - it's just as if someone scared the daylights out of me, except that it happens while I'm just lying in bed.
Some of the time, I have the illusion of being perfectly fine. Except that if I talk for more than a few minutes, or walk to the next room, I feel as if I just ran the 100 metre sprint in the Olympics. It winds me to the point that I'm struggling to get enough air, breathing hard and fast.
Pregnancy does the strangest things to me. Whatever happened to nausea and morning sickness and food cravings? Come on - at least it would be fun to have a reason to send James out for ice cream at 10 at night.
Friday, 29 May 2009
May I always be content with that which I have been blessed.
May I remember those who struggle and go without.
May I never confuse needs and wants.
May I recall that sacrifice is not a giving of what's leftover, but of what is beyond.
May I act knowing that all that I have was given me by the grace of God, and may I use it for Him.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
For one who is always up and at 'em, being confined to my house is numbing. I haven't been able to leave the house in weeks. I have good days when I can make an appearance downstairs for an hour or two. Then I have days where it takes everything in me just to get to the bathroom. Some days I can manage to read a bit, others I can even get onto the laptop. Then there are hours that go by when all I can do is lie in bed staring at the wall. My garden is overgrown and I will not get to plant this year. The kids play table that is nearly finished is standing against the wall in the kitchen - I was just about the put the last coat of varnish and nail on the legs when I fell ill. A baby blanket is half sewn and stuffed into my sewing drawer. Nothing I've started will get finished, and nothing I planned will get started.
The illness is taking its toll. Just feeling sick drains energy, and so feeling sick day in and day out zaps even more from me. It's painful just to be sick.
But worst of all is having to just listen to my boys downstairs. These eight weeks I will miss out on them completely. I will miss out playing with them. I will miss out on Caleb's first words. I will miss out on Colin's preschool graduation and tour of his new school for next year. I will miss out on the mornings of running in the backyard and adventure hikes around the city. I will miss out on just getting down on the floor and playing trains and cars and cooking. I will miss out on singing and dancing. It's all going on just within earshot downstairs, and I don't get to be a part of it. It's so heartbreaking.
I know it's only eight weeks - two months. In the grand scheme of life, that's not very long. But eight weeks can mean so much change in kids so young - especially for a toddler. With Caleb's pregnancy I missed out on Colin learning to walk. When I fell sick he was crawling. by the time I was better he was running through the park and going for long walks with his grandma. Now I'm missing Caleb as he learns to talk. He's got a few sounds that we can make out as words, but over the next few weeks I know it will all explode into real communication.
Now I feel sad about being sad. I feel like I want to just kick myself to get going, tell myself to buck up, cheer up, and just get through it. I know it won't last forever, and in the end I will be blessed with a beautiful little baby. But really - why can't I just have one of those pregnancies where I've never felt better, have energy to spare, and burn through the nine months as happy and cheerful as ever? Come on.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Laid up in bed, I've been unable to do the menu planning, grocery lists, shopping and cooking. James is already working 12+ hours a day at his job. That leaves one ill parent and one exhausted parent at the end of the day, neither with the time or energy to be able to see to the food area properly. James darts out once a week for milk, eggs and produce, and inevitably checks in with "what else do we need this week?" before he goes. As he is the one preparing meals, I always suggest he buy whatever he can handle making. But, in the end, if things are chaotic, I'm always able to say: just pick up the milk and we can cook from storage this week. It's been a wonderful blessing, making all our lives so much easier.
But, I still struggle. Most people who have their storage in tip top shape, filled with more than 24 jars of spaghetti sauce, 10 boxes of cereal and 15 bottles of BBQ sauce (which doesn't' make for a balanced diet!) rely on pre-set menu plans. I see all sorts of people with their handy little charts of this week's breakfast, lunch and dinner already laid out. Personally, that much planning doesn't work for me. I usually have ingredients on hand for 6 or 7 dinners. Breakfast and lunch are always up in the air. But we like it that way.
And I seem to have made our storage work for our lackadaisical way of life. Over the past year I have built up enough variety of meats (frozen in the freezer), canned fruits and veggies, pasta, sauces, cereal, beans, crackers, soups, and toiletries. I also have one shelf that has a couple each of those specialty things like pickles, condiments, baking goods. All I did was pay attention to the things we ate most often and stocked up when they were on sale. (Yes, I got a very strange look from the cashier when I laid down 96 cans of vegetables - but they were half price, and vegetables NEVER go on sale!)
Hmmm. I started writing with the intention of muddling out some new ideas for how to make our food storage work better for us. But I think my conclusion is - it already is working for us! Just because others say "this" is the best way, doesn't mean it's the only way, or that it is best for you. This past few weeks we've seen our food storage working for us, and it's doing a mighty fine job!
Monday, 25 May 2009
I've also inherited her constitution. In one way, that's a fantastic thing. She has always has an amazing amount of energy. While I was growing up, she would take my sisters and I camping for a week or two in every summer. I always remember her right there beside us, running and playing and walking and fishing. I'm glad I'll have that seemingly everlasting youthfulness to look forward to.
I also inherited much of her physical make-up. We both suffer migraines, and have a strange reaction to the binding in all pills which severely upsets our stomach. And we both have terrible pregnancies.
We spoke on the phone yesterday, and as she spoke of her three pregnancies I felt as though she were describing my own experiences. She even used the exact analogy that I use in regards to illness in the first 4 months: that it is as though our body were fighting something foreign inside, that our body thinks the baby is incompatible. Everything inside - every system - is upended and out of sorts. She actually spent a lot of time in hospital during the first two pregnancies on an IV, and only avoided this during the third pregnancy by spending most of her days lying completely still in bed. I've avoided hospitalization by naturally taking this same measure - before I even knew my Nana had done the same thing.
Nana mentioned my mother's cousin, who also suffered in the same way during pregnancy, had been reading a little on blood types and pregnancies. There is no research in the area, but questions have been posed about possible problems with the mother and father have different positive/negative elements in their blood (which is the case for James and I). I wonder if my body really is fighting something foreign, and only sort of settles in after 4 months of dealing with it, as a sort of truce. I also wonder if there might not be something that could be done about it, similar to blood/organ transplants cases in which drugs are administered so that the body doesn't fight the foreign element.
I feel that too little research is done on the first trimester of pregnancy. Doctors are so quick to write things off as "morning sickness" and I've never felt a doctor feel any inclination to look further into why my body takes this so badly. As someone who has always been in tune with her body, I know something deeper is going on, I only wish I could figure it out and do something about it!
Saturday, 23 May 2009
There are two more volumes of letters, of equal length. I own the second volume, but do not think I will start it right away. I think I need a bit of a break and variety. I realized this morning how influenced I currently am by him, as I found myself wondering how I might get my hands on some 17th century writings...
Friday, 22 May 2009
Mommy: It's gum. It's not for children, only for grownups.
Colin: May I just I take a peek?
(pulls out a piece of gum in its wrapper)
Colin: May I open it, just to look and not to eat?
Colin: May I have gum when I am a grownup?
Colin: Oh, that's good. Thank you.
This is Colin's latest "Colinism." He is so understanding of the concept "you can, when you are a grownup." He associates anything he is not allowed to do with the fact that he's not old enough. Here is a list of things he has proclaimed he will do once he's a grownup:
1. Drive a motorcycle.
2. Eat a candy bar.
3. Chew gum.
4. Use a computer.
5. Plug in an appliance.
6. Mow the lawn.
7. Use nail clippers.
I tried explaining that some things he just needs to be older, not necessarily grownup, but he hasn't quite grasped the concept of years yet. He simply replies: no, I will have to wait until I am a grownup.
Thursday, 21 May 2009
I find apathy beginning to take over. I pass the hours watching movies and television, playing word games on the computer, keeping up correspondence with friends, reading a few chapters of a book here and there. But these things are beginning to lose my interest. For one like me who is generally up and outside enjoying the warm weather, basking in the suns rays, hiking around town, at home among the grassy hills and towering trees, confinement is difficult. For one like me with a huge list of projects on the go or in my head, to spend the days in seeming unproductive ways should be unnerving.
But I find I am not despising these four bedroom walls. I was resigned before this began I may have to while away these weeks in this manner. Worse than hatred is apathy. I can feel a lack of interest settling in. A lack of interest in projects, in exercising of the mind, of using this time with a purpose. I am not bothered by my inactivity and unproductive manner, and that bothers me.
I am ill and I am limited, but it's the loss of passion that I notice most of all. I am trying to spur on my mind to embrace some sort of project - writing, composing, researching - one of the many things that can be done within the confines I face. But the physical drain is taking its toil mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I wonder if I will find something, or am destined to wait until this time has passed to find a renewal.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
- John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education
I put the word out to our friends for referrals. It's such a difficult decision, hiring someone you are going to trust your little ones with day after day, for such a long stretch of time. And because the need is so urgent, we knew we didn't have the time to mull and search for a long period.
Luckily we have, what we call, the "Caleb Test." Since birth Caleb has been weary of everyone. Until the past month there were very very few people he would go to. There were times he wouldn't be happy with anyone but myself. But over the past month he's spread his wings a little and decided there are indeed a few more people he is willing to trust. The funny thing is that he bestows his love in seemingly arbitrary ways. I have two girlfriends he has "chosen" worthy to cuddle and play with. And then there was the complete stranger at the Early Years Centre, a mother of two preschool children, to whom Caleb ran up to, jumped into her lap and cuddled in her neck. This is really unbelievable, especially if you know Caleb.
And so yesterday we had our first and only interview with a university student interested in watching the boys. She came highly recommended from a good friend, with previous experience working with children. She agreed with the outline and terms we had for the job. She was a lovely girl. But what sealed the deal for us was when she sat on the couch and Caleb literally propelled himself into her lap. He cuddled, played and laughed with her. Love at first sight; she had passed the Caleb test.
And so, beginning tomorrow, she will join us for the next few weeks. There is a general sigh of relief that can be heard all the way down the block as we've finally figured out a solution.
Monday, 18 May 2009
James gifted me with a beautiful mother's day present earlier this month - the BBC collection of Jane Austen productions. Somewhere I also have her completel literary collection, of which I can only recollect reading one or two novels. And so my opinions come mostly from the films, which, I have heard, are fairly accurate renditions, only lacking insomuch as the art of film lacks in adapting large novels.
It seems to me that there is but one plot: a headstrong girl meets the man she should be with, spends the entire film flitting about, entangled in misunderstandings of niceties and courtesy, matches those around her with their proper mates, and ends up with the man meant for her all along.
I admit I was taken by the first one I watched, "Emma". I was lured by the eloquent language (which, forgive me, is no doubt seeping through into my writing), the elegance of the society, the drollness of the propriety, and the charm of the era. But as I moved onto "Persuasion" and "Sense and Sensibility," especially watching them back to back, the characters and plots seemed to blur into one big 19th Century romance.
I wonder that the allure of Austen isn't akin to the allure of music: that feeling you get that "ah - that's exactly how I feel!" You know, the song that exactly voices the emotions bubbling inside. Perhaps Jane Austen has put her finger on exactly that - each story slightly different so that one might feel a kinship to one character or another, depending on their love story and situation and history. Maybe I have come across her too late, well-settled into a strong relationship of my own with no sense left of love misunderstood. Then again, I have never had high tolerance for stories that rely on "misunderstandings." A girl who watches a man rush off without running after and saying "you idiot! That was Miss Taylor my sister, not me, who was married last week!" Even now so many romantic stories rely on weak points like this. Austen's work is all the more driven by it, because of the caste and era of her stories. I guess there was a sense of proper behaviour and mode of conversation and polite gestures - but let me tell you, I wouldn't let something like that come between me and my love. (If you know mine and James' love story you'll know I speak from experience).
The only thing I hope is that the films have adapted the essence of the love story well enough, but have left something on the cutting room floor in terms of societal themes. Perhaps, like Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo the social commentaries on the time and people are just as important as plot and character. Or, perhaps after all, Jane Austen is a celebrated classic author for her romantic tales, which I simply don't seem to take to.
Before this year, I might have wondered at myself reviewing classic works as such. But in reading the letters of C.S. Lewis, I chuckled at his reviews of several classic works - in fact, there were many he thought were terrible. Just because a book is classic doesn't make it to everyone's liking, I suppose. And to end off, a few quotes on the true nature of classics: (I say in jest - I'm a huge classic devourer, most to my liking, some I have never gotten past the first chapter.)
"A classic is a book which people praise and don't read."
"A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say."
"A classic is something that everyone wants to have read but nobody wants to read."
"A classic is a book everyone tells you they have read but never have."
Friday, 15 May 2009
What I didn't realize was just how closely our faiths actually were. Over the past five years I have become good friends with people strong in their own faiths. I have come to learn and understand more deeply what they believe. And I have come to know that in fact we stand very close - much closer than either of us would have believed.
I think the biggest difference is the willingness to talk about the deeper doctrines. My interaction with other Christian religions has mostly ended in the "Just believe in Christ and the rest is just details." While that may be the core truth, I am constantly amazed at how our differences are not all that different in the end.
What spurred these thoughts? A short television series called "Eternity: Where Do We Go From Here?" produced by a local Christian television program. My impression of the widely-held Christian belief of Heaven was simply a state of paradise, where all is beautiful, where we dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. My own belief was one of eternal progression, that the next life is a continuation of life and learning and creation, while dwelling with God in a state of happiness. As I watched this series, I was surprised to learn that I had grossly misunderstood the mainstream Christian belief about Heaven.
The more interaction I have with people of other faiths, the more I realize just how much we have in common. We each have misunderstandings about the other, and are amazed that we can sit and have discussions on faith and gospel topics and be in complete agreement with each other. Of course there are some differences, but more than not even the differences can be understood, if not reconciled.
Check out the video I saw on youtube:
1. I don't believe in getting something for nothing. This means I get really nervous about investing and playing the stock market. I understand that my bank rewards me for storing my money in their vaults so they have it to lend, and I am rewarded with a conservative amount in return. But trying to turn $10 into $100 or $1000 into $10,ooo just doesn't compute with me. I didn't earn it. I am also terrible at bargaining. Stores or garage sales, I believe in fair prices. I never try to weasel a lower than fair value price. I believe in fairness.
2. I believe in the trade of talents. My perfect world would be a place where currency and money don't exist, and we all simply help others with the talents we possess. Which would never work in today's society, or even with the natural man. But for me, this trait translates into my business sense all the time. As a piano teacher I often gave deals and breaks to my clients. If they couldn't afford a week, that was fine. If they couldn't pay one week, that was fine. More than anything I wanted children to be able to learn to love music, and this overrode any business sense I had. This trait is perfectly explained in the following conversation I had with James.
TA: I have this new idea for a business project. (Details provided to James, but too long to post here).
James: That sounds great. Would you do it for money?
TA: Of course!
I laughed at the fact that the first words out of James mouth was whether I would take money for this project (a selling of an artistic endeavor). But he knows me that well. And the funny thing was, this was a project I needed help on, and I had the perfect person in mind - someone who was in a dire situation who badly needed some monetary help. It was the perfect fit.
3. I believe in helping out friends and family. The problem is, everyone I know is friends and family. I'm forever saying "let's just do this for them for free". So it's a good thing I'm not running the family business. We'd likely never make any money.
4. I believe in volunteering. I believe in bettering my society. Almost all of my ideas and projects could be business endeavors, in which I charge money for participation. And yet my passion behind each and everyone is that it would be free, accessible by everyone, and especially by those who can't afford the constant demand of cash for activities.
5. I believe that I do not deserve more. I was born into a hard working family in a free, blessed, rich country. Others are born into disease, war and poverty. I don't believe I have the right to live in opulence while others in this world are suffering. If I ever did come into money, it wouldn't last long in my hands. There are too many other people who need it more than I do.
By no means should anyone think I am a perfect example of charity from this. I have a selfish streak, the need to feel secure, the desire to be taken care of. I have a small fear of not having enough for myself and my family. But this is about being rich, having more than you need, more than you know what to do with. And I just don't see myself ever really being there.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
However I'm starting to wonder if this convenience is really necessary. What would happen if I moved to a small town in the truest sense? How often do I really need to get out quickly to a Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Staples, etc? I imagine myself living in town (still within walking distance to a small grocery store, convenience store, main strip, etc), with a good size backyard for running and neighbours I really know? Even in our town now of 25,000 I don't know too many people on my street. There is just something about living in a small town that says "know your neighbours".
As I slowly (very slowly) adopt the "buy less" attitude, I'm realizing that being central and within walking distance to my needs does not necessarily mean close proximity to big box stores. Imagine the imagination my children would develop when a field, a forest, a group of friends, an adventure, are what they have for entertainment. I'm not looking to buy another house anytime soon, but I've certainly readjusted my requirements.
I'm desperately sad to have to listen to my boys growing. While pregnant with Caleb, Colin learned to walk. I didn't miss that with Caleb, but I will likely miss him learning to talk. I can't play or read or cuddle or walk or romp with them. This will be a heartbreaking two months.
We always wanted 4 kids, but I'm just not sure I can do it. Emotionally it's hard enough. But I really don't know if my body can handle any more. James laughs when I tell him I'm getting old, but really, I am getting older. My body at 30 or 32 will not be what it was at 25. It's amazing the impact each year has on you. Mentally this is also difficult. I knew I would lose 8 weeks to serious illness. I knew I would spend the time mostly staring out the window, unable to do anything else, struggling to breathe and struggling with dizziness. But I've only done 6 days and I feel like I can't go on for the next 7 weeks.
I know 8 weeks out of a lifetime is not that much. The weeks between my miscarriage and getting pregnant again simply flew by. I couldn't believe it was already April when we saw the positive result on the test. But my poor body is giving out this time.
In the endless amounts of time alone with my thoughts, I imagine snapshots of the future. I see life unfolding with my beautiful family. What I gift I have been given, and I intend to bask in every second.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
Friday, 8 May 2009
I'm six weeks along. I'm excited and exhausted. I found out at three weeks that I was pregnant, which seems an eternity ago (when you're keeping a secret). From 3 weeks to 5 weeks I ate like I was two people (or three Terri-Anns). There were more than a few days I made an entire second dinner at 11-0-clock at night! The human body is amazing - mine always knows to bulk up for the coming weeks. Week 5 to week 6 is a slow fade, loss of appetite, and generally feeling unwell. Then between 6 and 7 weeks it hits m e like a brick. The nausea is overwhelming. I thankfully don't throw up ever, but I always feel as if I'm only a few seconds from throwing up. It's this state that eats away at me. The constant flipping in my stomach starts to cause pain. The state of "just before you throw up" also takes a lot of energy, which exhausts me very quickly. It also causes me to have difficulty breathing; I'm only able to gasp out one or two sentences before needing to stop. I will have to force myself to nibble on a few saltine crackers each day. In the next week or two I will use any energy reserves I have and end up in bed. It will be another 8 weeks or so before I'm able to get up.
I have been so excited about this pregnancy, with the emotional roller coaster I have experienced these passed 6 months. And in a strange way, I'm almost glad for the pain. With the last pregnancy, my body didn't hit these stages. I was tired, but not ill. I feel reassured this time that at least my body is reacting to a healthy pregnancy the way I know it should.
I am grateful that after nine months, however, it will all end and I will be rewarded with a gift beyond comprehension. (January 1st, to be exact!) It feels forever away, since I have to wait until after Christmas, and we've barely begun spring. But the time will fly and we will welcome our new baby soon.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
That’s it. My title is my post. Don’t buy stuff…that’s all I have to say.
When Kristen, the hostess of "Works for Me Wednesdays", asked us to share our favorite frugal tips…Don’t Buy Stuff is the best thing I could come up with.
When you buy stuff, you have to pay for it with money. And then you have to find a place to put it once you bring it home. And it won’t stay where you put it because someone will get it out and not put it away. And then it will get lost. Or broken. Or forgotten.
Buy food. You need to eat.
Splurge on toilet paper. It’s very useful.
Invest in soap…using soap is good.
But don’t buy stuff.
You’ll save a lot of money.And…if you didn’t really need it in the first place, you won’t even miss it.
James and I are fairly even-tempered people, but things its amazing how the laws of physics are being defied in our home. What goes up is certainly not coming down. Emotions are on the rise with the combination of things in our home situation right now. Somehow we're going to have to find our balance again, proving that as some things continue to go up sharply, others are simply going to have to stay at a low level.
This is going to be really hard.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
The rhythm of life is a funny thing. I think each day, each week has its own rhythm. I also think each of us has our own rhythm. There are periods when things go just as you plan, and periods when it falls apart. There are times of optimism and happiness, there are times of melancholy and inactivity. There are moments when your to-do list continuously shrinks, and there are days when there isn't an end to it. Right now I'm mostly frustrated that this time of unproductive-ness is during the fabulous weather we're experiencing. The sun and warmth are usually so motivating in my life, I feel disheartened to waste such days. But the rhythm will soon alter, the cycle moves on. No one system can work forever. Life is about change and adaptation.
Friday, 1 May 2009
That's my own quote. It describes my feelings lately on history. It's a common phrase that history is written by the victors and the successful. But not only is history very one-sided, it also generally suffers from two things: 1) the blessing/curse of hindsight and 2) being written by someone who wasn't there. The result is probably not very indicative of what life was really like. These histories also have a tendency to not only present, but form opinions on the events. What inevitably occurs then is that while reading the history one acquires someone else's opinion of that moment in history rather than forming their own.
Art is completely different. Art by its very nature is connected to the life and events and morality and beliefs of a people. A novel is more than a story, a painting is more than a picture, a film is more than a movie, a song is more than music. The style of a painting relates the pain or joy or opulence or poverty of an era and tell you much more than whatever the subject actually is. The form of a story conveys the emotions in the author's voice as much as a character's dialogue. The wedding of music and lyrics combine to create powerful interpretation of the musician's lifetime. The themes of a film and the manner at which the filmmaker goes about presenting them speaks volumes of the society in which s/he dwells.
I think perhaps one of the best ways to learn about a period in history, then, is to go out and experience the art of that time. A history book might be an easy way to have it all compiled, but then it also comes pre-judged. The more novice one is in regards to art criticism and historical knowledge, the more pure a conclusion they would reach. Read a book and some poetry, wander through an art gallery, soak in the music, engage in a film. Use as many and as varied sources as you can find. Then come to your own conclusion. Are there similar themes, styles, trends that transcend the different forms of art? How does the art from two different countries of the same period compare (like "A Tale of Two Cities" vs. "Les Miserables")? How does art from your own country evolve over time? Even without knowing any of the actual historical events, you might be surprised how accurate your reconstruction is. Art is powerful. Art speaks to the soul. Art is the touch of one person on another's life.