Wednesday, 27 January 2010


I admit it. Most days I simply want to hibernate from the real world.

The world is big. I am small. The world is run by people so far away from me I will likely never even shop in the same store as one of them. I know that we as the "common people" are being manipulated, force-fed lies, controlled. I know much of what my everyday life involves is illusion.

But I wonder: must I really do anything about it?

I know how awful that statement sounds, but I want to be brutally honest here.

I read. I understand. I digest. I converse. I debate. My eyes are open. But I feel powerless in the grand scheme of things. Is it really so bad if I choose simply to live my own life out in my own way, without tiring myself swimming against the current?

What is my goal here in life? As a Christian, I see it as trying to become as Christ was: filled with charity, and spending my days in service to those around me. Teaching my family from the scriptures. Learning to be the very best me.

As I see it, the rest is all peripheral. While learning and education are important, they can be gained in an endless amount of ways. And if I didn't have a mind with a great learning capacity, it wouldn't be the end of the world. If my life were cut short by any number of diseases, or attempts to prevent diseases, it doesn't matter. I am granted a life as long as God wishes. He will grant me sufficient time to complete what is necessary.

I feel that no matter what the "powers that be" decide, no matter what they try to impress upon me, it doesn't matter. The world in which I live currently is only temporary. People throughout the generations of time have faced societies and politics and situations that challenged the idea of what God's kingdom will be like. It seems the only thing I can do is work in my own little family unit, as though these four walls are the only world in which I live.

On some level I know it is important to try and better my world and my community. But it seems to me that no matter the number of conspiracies I uncover, there will always be another. I feel small, ignorant and powerless. This might be considered a victory for those running the world. But I don't see it that way. I acknowledge my position as compared to their position. But I don't give them the satisfaction of caring about it. Perhaps apathy is the only way I can declare a victory over them.

(Ah, that felt good! It's been too long that my mind has been challenged in such a way - physical illness takes its toll on the mind, also. Thanks for the nudge, Bonnie!)

Experimentation in naptime

Day one.

One mom. One child at school. Two babies at home to nap.

30 minutes to naptime. One toddler refusing to eat. One newborn falling asleep (too early!)
One phone call from the school. Child needs picking up. No explanation given.

Mom sends Dad to school (he will now be late for work).

10 minutes later: Dad still not back. Toddler still not eating. Newborn still sleeping.

20 minutes later. Mom realizing that at least with child coming home from school, she no longer will have to wake the other two children early from nap, get them dressed in winter gear and walk down to pick up child from school. Mom foresees a good 2 hour nap for everyone!

1 minute later Dad pulls into the driveway - without child. He has convinced him to stay at school. Mom isn't sure this is the outcome she hoped for. She prays that she won't get a call mid-way through nap. She dashes upstairs with toddler to get him down to nap.

Newborn wakes up.

Toddler doesn't understand the crying bundle that is inhibiting him from cuddling with Mom during his book. Thankfully, he endures the screaming and uncomfortable sitting position and climbs into bed without incident.

Mom takes sleepy newborn downstairs, but he suddenly decides he isn't tired. Strike that - he's exhausted, red eyes drooping, but can't seem to settle down to sleep. Mom watches as the minutes tick by, counting away the one hour of the day she might have to herself.

Victory today can only be counted if toddler manages to sleep through newborn crying. Outlook very uncertain.

Ah well. Day one is a write-off. Perhaps day two will be better.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Norwex cleaning

I'm sure from this entry one would think I am profiting from my blatant promotion of Norwex cleaning products. And although my good friend is our local rep, I in no way receive anything as a result of sharing about this new, wonderful product I have discovered.

I have spent years trying to find good, clean, environmentally-friendly, non-toxic ways of cleaning my home.

I first jumped on the band-wagon of "environmentally clean." Everyone knows we need to protect the environment, right? So the thought of dumping all those toxic cleaners down my drains wasn't a thought I wanted to entertain. My next trip to the store involved picking up cleaners that advertised as being "eco-friendly" or "green." On closer reading of the bottles, however, I discovered that most were still toxic.

Once my oldest child started crawling, I started thinking of all the things he was touching that had been "cleaned" with toxic cleaners. Suddenly, no matter how much I wiped up afterward, I kept imagining Colin's little fingers coming in contact with a toxin, then finding their way to his mouth.

Out went the green cleaners, and in came the natural cleaners. I stocked up on lemon juice and vinegar and baking soda. I bought spray bottles and had a veritable science lab in my kitchen as I mixed up various cleaning potions for various uses. For several years this is how I cleaned my home. But the smell of vinegar floors or mouldy lemon mixtures made me wish there was an easier way.

This past fall, I finally found it. Norwex is a cleaning company originally started in Norway. Their products clean with antibacterial microfiber. The basic science behind it is this: a microfiber cloth picks up bacteria and viruses from the surfaces, and then an antibacterial silver-based agent (embedded in the cloth) destroys those bacteria and viruses it picks up. Basically, silver is a poison for bacteria and viruses, so once the two come in contact, the germs are killed. After a couple of hours, all the bacteria picked up in the cloth is dead. A test of the cloth would show it completely clean. And so: voila! No more need for any cleaners at all!

I originally purchased a cleaning cloth, a polishing cloth (for windows and mirrors), a dusting mitt, and a face cloth.

Cleaning items: there are two major advantages I have found. #1: the fact that I don't have to buy/mix any more cleaners, and there is nothing toxic in it at all. #2: the ease of it! Somehow I had this mental block to cleaning when I had to get out gloves and cleaner and cloths, then wash and rinse and dry the bathroom, kitchen, etc. More often then not, things got a quick wipe with a wet cloth (or piece of toilet paper!) to give the appearance of being clean. Now, when I grab my wet Norwex cloth and give it a quick wipe, it's actually getting clean as well!

Face cloth: this is a most amazing product. Since I started using the face cloth, I have not needed to use cleanser, exfoliant, toner or make-up remover. This cloth wipes the make up away and cleans the bacteria and dirt from my face. Most amazingly, I have had 100% clear and smoother skin. I know I sound like a TV commercial, but I can't help it. The stuff is amazing!

And so I have a catalogue on my table, with various highlighted items throughout that are on my wish list. The initial cost is expensive - enough to have made me gulp when I first flipped through the different items. But now that I've started using these products that make such a wonderful use of nanotechnology (that's what using the silver in the cloth is called), I'm a complete convert. It will be interesting to see how this kind of product takes off in the future, as more and more people are introduced to this new way of cleaning!

Winding down, winding up

For the past two months, my parents have been visiting from Australia, staying with us. Next week they will return to the land of sun. James has also had the last month off on vacation. And so, since Benjamin arrived, we have had the luxury of 4 adults to 3 kids. Not a bad ratio, is it? However, next week James goes back to work and my parents head home, which will suddenly leave me alone with a kindergartener, a toddler and a newborn.

Winding down: it has been a wonderful time spent with my family. They have been a source of strength and support that few mothers get when a baby arrives. They have shared the night shift, cooked meals, cleaned the house, babysat, and given me many moments of sanity among the craziness. I have had the luxury of taking my time to reach a full recovery after the long nine months of illness and the exhaustion of giving birth. Benjamin is slowly settling into some recognizable patterns, which should make mothering three children a little easier. I have been blessed.

Winding up: getting ready to parent on my own. Facing getting Colin to school with two other kids in tow. Trying to settle the others down for nap while tending to Benjamin. Attempting to keep up with the housework. Cooking something other than frozen foods. Finding a rhythm to our new life.

Although I will greatly miss the added help, a part of me is looking forward to regaining our schedule. For the short term, I hope to fill my mornings with activities in hopes that a consistent schedule will help me back into a normal life. It's been the better part of a year that my life has been upside down. I look forward to something I can call "normal."

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The worry is never over

A while back my sister asked me if, as a mother, there comes a point where you don't worry so much about your kids. I chuckled and answered honestly: no. I still worry about while my kids are sleeping, when Colin goes to school, when they are driving in the car without me. The worry is never over.

Since he was born, Benjamin has had a terrible cough. His chest sounds full of phlegm, and his coughing fits can last minutes, ending in choking. The doctor said it was just mucous from birth. But after a month, I knew that it shouldn't be birth mucous anymore. Another trip to the doctors, a chest x-ray, and an ER trip later, we found out he actually has bronchitis. It is highly unusual for a newborn to get bronchitis, but nevertheless...

We have antibiotics for him, which is starting to help. Benjamin's cough and choking get worse when he lies down, so we have all been taking shifts through the night and day, letting him sleep upright in our arms. I find the extent of a mother's love for her children is really evident during times like this: I in no way tire of caring for him during his illness, no matter how inconvenient it is or how long it may endure. The love I feel for my children helps me understand the love my Father in Heaven has for me, as his child. It is just a small taste of unconditional love.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Thank you, body

I'm not sure if it's genes, luck, or the fact that I spend my entire pregnancy ill and eating only fruits and veggies, but I have the fortune of getting back into pre-pregnancy clothes fairly quickly after birth. Even the so-called "curse of the third" (third pregnancy, that is) seems to have passed me by.

So last Friday when I had a wedding to attend, I figured that I'd try to wear a bridesmaid dress I have from a few years back. How often do you actually get a chance to wear one of these fancy dresses again? So I pulled the dress from the back of the closet and stepped into it. Victory! It slid up and over my hips with ease. I reached back and pulled up the zipper...only to have it stop an inch and a half from the top. Yes, that's right. Although the rest of my body is back in shape, I had neglected to consider the added...ahem...weight to my chest! No matter what I did, there was no way I was squeezing my chest into that dress! So disappointing. Ah well. My guess is that James was secretly smiling and happy at my "misfortune!"


Caleb's language skills have absolutely exploded! Not only is his vocabulary expanding, not only does he listen and imitate the phrases and expressions he hears from us, but he has really got the hang of expressing himself. Many toddlers his age would string together three or four words to get a point across; Caleb speaks in full sentences - 10 or 12 words, at least! And he's already using proper verb tenses and pronouns. It's so charming to hear a two-year old speak in such a grown-up manner.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Doing the Love Dare

So I mentioned in a previous post on resolutions that I despite the craziness and unpredictability of life with a newborn and my visiting parents and James being off work, I wanted to start the Love Dare anyway. As it turned out, James had the same idea! He remembered me talking about the book when I bought it months ago, and decided that he would privately start the dare himself! We laughed about it when we realized after the first two or three days that in fact we were both secretly going about this activity. So we decided to start over together, reading the thoughts on love each day and then completing the dare together.

We haven't been diligent in completing the dare every day. Some days go by where we have totally forgotten to even open the book and see what today's dare was. But let me tell you, my mentality about marriage and my husband is totally different! We have been married 6 and a half years now - supposedly coming up on the famous "7-year itch." And although our lives now are completely different than what they were 7 years ago, we haven't felt any pressures or suffocating feelings at all. In fact, other than being busier now with the business and with children, we are very much in love.

How things have changed, however, over this past week and a half, is that James is now in the forefront of my mind every day. In the past while, I always knew he was there, but thinking about things like the kids, errands, the house, cleaning, chores, church, appointments and the like always seemed to be first on my mind. James and I always connected at night, but the rest of the time I will admit that I rarely focused my thoughts on him - just him, who he is as a man and as my husband. I also rarely gave much thought to myself in my role as his wife, what I can and should be doing as his leading support. With a new dare every day, now my mind is constantly on James, thinking about the new angle of love we read about that morning, and contemplating on how to complete today's dare. Now when I am rocking Benjamin or wiping a runny nose or sweeping the floor or folding the laundry or loading the boys in the car, I'm thinking about James. I have always known that in my life my husband has to come first, but now I am living that knowledge daily.

I have always been humbled and taught many things on what love truly is. I have been amazed at just how many of my thoughts and actions are done out of selfishness, where before I never would have pegged myself as one caught up in self-interest. I am learning that it is not my job to change my husband (oh - be honest - we all have at least one thing we wish we could change about our spouse!) but that it is my responsibility to change myself. I am not perfect, and am nowhere near perfect, and there are many things about myself that need changing. Now I can adjust my mentality about my marriage, making sure that I am putting my best foot forward and being all that I can be for James.

This Love Dare was born out of a film about a marriage that needed saving. But the amazing thing is that any relationship at any stage would benefit from this experience. For we are never done growing, and we can always learn another lesson or two about love, pure and unselfish love, love in action.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Quiet moments

The other night I found myself alone, sitting in a quiet living room, with my parents out and my kids and husband all fast asleep at 8pm. After walking Benjamin around for an hour in the dark trying to calm his poor little gassy tummy down, he finally fell asleep in my arms. I sank down into the rocking chair in our living room, slowly pushing myself back and forth in a soothing, calming motion.

I thought about grabbing my book, or turning on a movie, but there was a quiet lure to just sitting in the darkness. The shadows of the furniture filled the room, and the somber orange glow of the street lights framed the windows. The clock kept time softly, and the only other sound was the squeak of vent that we have fondly called our "hamster."

The newness of Benjamin's baby smell scented the air around me, enveloping me like the woven blanket across my legs. I basked in the setting for nigh an hour, relishing the rare moment of quietness to myself. I love that amid the busyness of my world as mommy I am still able to find these times of peace.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Love you forever

The boys have been absolutely wonderful with Benjamin. Colin admires Benjamin's tiny features, proclaiming "He's so cute! Look at his fingers - they're so cute! Look at his little toes - they're so cute!" Caleb is more of the watchful older brother. About once an hour he stops what he's doing to ask me "where's Benjamin?" The question is one of genuine concern - he wants to make sure that Benjamin is okay.

But the sweetest gesture so far has to be when Caleb holds Benjamin. He asks quite often to sit and hold his baby brother, peering into his face and kissing his hands and head. Then over the past few days, he has started a new little routine that melts my heart. Once Caleb gets Benjamin in his arms, he gently rocks him and says:

"Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,
Singing 'Love you forever, love you forever, love you my baby.'
And he grew and grew and grew."

This is an excerpt from Robert Munsch's book "Love You Forever" - a favourite book of every mother and many children also. I think it's amazing that Caleb has made a connection between caring for his baby brother and the love of the mother for her son in that book.

Monday, 4 January 2010

New Years Resolutions

I always struggle when it comes to New Years Resolutions. First of all, I have trouble thinking of January as the New Year: I'm still stuck in the school year mentality, which has September as the start of the year. Second of all, I hate failure, and I never can seem to keep up a resolution for 365 days. That's a long time, and hopefully I've grown over the course of the year, and likely my resolution from January will not be applicable by December.

But haunted by the saying "if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there" I am inspired again to make a short list of goals for myself.

I haven't done it yet, but I do have some ideas of things I want to work on.

1. Using the scriptures as my primary parenting handbook. I have a good friend who is my inspiration when it comes to parenting. She talks freely about the guidance she finds from between the pages of the scriptures. I have always read the bible in terms of general personal guidance for my own life, but rarely in search for answers for specific problems I'm facing. And parenting is an area in which I could use all the (divine) help I can get! I have two books on hand that talk about parenting using the scriptures, and I am hoping to be set on a good path by the knowledge in these books.

2. Use more local food in my cooking. This goal relates both to buying at local farms and planting my own garden. With three kids under the age of 4, including a newborn, I am under no illusions that I will be able to jump as deep into the use of local food as I would like. This year will be an experiment more than anything else: try my hand at planting a garden, check out some local farms, buy from the farmer's market even if it costs a little more. I feel I have come really far this past year or two in cooking with mostly fresh foods and eschewing prepared, packaged and processed things.

3. Parent with a purpose. Consider each of my children. Consider where they are. Consider their needs. Write down some goals I would like to work on with each child for the year. Include things I want to teach them in learning, culture, arts, the world, the news, spirituality. Have field trips and play dates. But most of all, be intentional about it. Don't just fly by the seat of my pants every day, hoping they glean something of worth.

4. Study and learn. I know that seems general, and maybe also a little bit of a cheat since I love to study and learn, and probably don't need a specific resolution to achieve this goal. However, I do have a couple of specific studies I have in mind that I want to complete - and often completion is the struggle for me.

i. The Love Dare - although I wrote a few days back that I would likely put off this dare for a little while amidst the chaos of a new baby, I realized later on that there will always be things in my life that make it busy and create chaos. I have no good reason to put off investing in my marriage and relationship with my husband. And so we have ventured to start this now.

ii. "21 Days Closer to Christ" - I bought this study last year and still haven't gotten around to it. I always have the feeling that I don't have the time to truly invest what I want to in this study. But, like my comment about the Love Dare, I know I need to just start it. I may not get everything out of it the first time, but there's nothing to say I can't do it now and then again later this year, or next year, or any other time in the future. I have found I can get something different out of a book I've read before, depending on where I am in life.

iii. Beth Moore's study on Esther - this is the study my small women's group is doing this Spring, and I really hope to complete all the reading and homework for it. Beth Moore is an intensive author, and her studies often involve 30 - 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for about 12 weeks. But her insight into the bible is astonishing and her writing and research style and right up my alley.

iv. "Square Foot Gardening" - I have a tendency to wing things. I have my Dad's knack for figuring things out on my own, and while this can be a wonderful gift, it also means that sometimes I read half of what I need to and wing the rest. This year I want to really study up on gardening to maximize my efforts in my own backyard.

5. Exercise. This is a new one for me. I've always been an active person, having joined volleyball leagues, gone on long hikes, and walked on a daily basis. But now that I have three little ones, and I'm playing in the band rather than playing volleyball, I worry a little about my activity level. Not only that, but I have heard so much about the "curse of the third" (pregnancy, that is), which makes it so much harder to rebound back to my pre-pregnancy size. So I have two goals in this resolution that I hope will help:

i) Attend the twice-weekly exercise class held at the church
ii) When the weather gets nice, walk Colin to and from school

6. Get to know our friends better. James and I love to entertain, but these past two years in Orangeville have been spent either dealing Caleb's tumultuous first year, or me being ill with pregnancy. I feel now that we can settle a little bit, and start to have our friends over for dinners now and then. We hope to have at least one dinner/evening with friends every month.

Well, I think that's a good start for me. I think one of the keys to resolutions is not to overload and therefore overwhelm oneself. The nice thing about the above goals is that not only are they broken down into manageable steps, but they can also be seasonal, meaning I don't have to start all of them right now. And some of them are short-term, which means they have a start and a finish, which helps in the feeling of accomplishment. I also want to keep up with my 1001 things in 101 days, knocking off a few of those goals here and there.

So here's to the New Year, and a chance to live a more focused life.