Thursday, 29 April 2010

Don't sweat the small stuff

After three bowls of Rice Krispies this morning, Caleb had finished the bag. He asked for more. I told him when I was done checking my email, I would get him some new cereal from the storage downstairs. Instead, my resourceful two-year old found the Raisin Bran in the pantry in the kitchen, pulled it out, pulled out the bag from the box and started eating it by the fistful. Deciding it looked like too much fun, Colin has also joined in. Yes, my kids love Raisin Bran, but they are also enjoying the game of digging for raisins. Colin is concentrating really hard as the "treasures" become harder and harder to find. Now they are bringing handfuls of cereal to the table to show me. Now Caleb put his handful on the floor to eat. At least I mopped yesterday.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

"One is silver and the other gold"

Today my oldest friend celebrates her birthday. As I passed along birthday wishes to her, it made me reflect a little on this friendship. We lived across the street from each other for all of our early childhood and right through half of the teen years. We did attend the same school for two years, although she was one grade ahead. We played and imagined and dreamed and laughed together. Although our paths have taken us to opposite ends of the province, and our correspondence is anything but regular anymore, I have wonderful "gold" memories of her. I have been blessed with many good friends over the years, each one giving something to me only she could give. I hope I have given something in return.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Disk full

Remember that old warning you would get on your computer, back before they had an inordinate amount of memory in them? "Disk full." It meant that there was too much in the computer's hard drive and it simply could not process anything more.

That is a perfect description of my brain this week. It has reached maximum capacity and won't seem to hold anything new! I had various appointments this week, and each time someone looked into my eyes and told me when and where, I could hear my brain sending me a message saying "I hear what this person is saying, but I am not storing it - disk full." It was only by the good graces of my husband (whose memory is impeccable and infinite) that I actually managed to get to every where I needed to go and get everything done that needing doing. For example, Thursday morning I woke up completely forgetting to go to my bible study that I've been doing every Thursday for two years. James mentioned it to me at breakfast. And Thursday afternoon I had a music rehearsal with a couple of friends, and all day I kept saying to myself "rehearsal at 4, rehearsal at 4, don't go anywhere after nap - rehearsal at 4." I could feel my brain not holding these pieces of information!

It all came to a head last night. If you know me, you know I am a voracious reader. I always have at least 2 or 3 books on the go. Well these past two weeks I've picked up 8 new books, 1 library book and 1 book from my own collection. Of these 10, every single one is of great interest to me, so much so that last night I found myself sitting with all 10 around me, having read chapters from 3 of them and thumbing through the rest. Suddenly my brain sent me a message: "Are you kidding me??? DISK FULL!!!!!!!"

I laughed to myself, gathered the books, placed them on the floor beside my bed, and turned out the light. This morning has been full of other projects, and so my poor brain is finally getting a little rest and recharge. I'm not sure how I clear out some disk space, because heaven knows I've got to solve this crisis soon. I can hear my books calling to me, plus there is the little issue of getting through the week, hitting all my appointments and remembering that things like eating and sleeping are necessary to survival!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Diary of events

Usually I resist writing about day-to-day activities here. Sometimes they might be interesting to me, but more often than not they day-to-day stuff is fairly mundane. However yesterday was a little exciting and deserves a page in the Gawthroupe history.

Colin and Caleb are now sharing a room! We took the bunk beds apart to make two single beds. (Bunk beds still terrify me! Between someone [Caleb] falling [or jumping] off the top bunk, or the unrealistic fear of the top bunk crushing the person below, I still have a hard time with bunks after all this time!) My initial thought was simply to get a nursery for Benjamin, so he can at least nap in his own room during the day. James and I often found ourselves needing something from our bedroom but not wanting to wake Benjamin up. But as soon as I saw both boys hop into their respective beds, something endearing swelled in my heart. Those two boys are such good friends, and now they have a new way to bond together in the same room.

We spoke together about not talking once the lights were off, and about being quiet in the morning. Caleb has been waking up before 6am, and Colin sleeps at least until 7 or 7:30. Well, James stood at the door once he turned off the light and listened in. "Caleb?" came Colin's loud whisper. "Yes?" came the reply. James didn't hear any more after that, but we both grinned at the brotherly love and friendship they share.

Quiet in the morning...not so much. However it is darker in Colin's room, and both boys slept until 7am, which is at least manageable. Nap today was the last hurdle. Colin is down to only one or two naps a week, and Caleb can still go 3 hours a day! So I put Colin in my bed, because I knew that if they were together in the room they would never sleep! So far so good! The only issue now is that Benjamin still cries after an hour of his nap, and his nursery shares a vent with the boys' room. So I just had to dash upstairs when he cried and bring him down to the swing. It remains to be seen if his cry woke up Caleb or not. Maybe I'll have to get the white noise machine back in with Caleb, just to keep him sleeping.

All in all, not bad. I think I had worked myself up to thinking it was going to be disastrous, and so it was nice that it worked out so well. This weekend I get to paint and decorate the nursery, then everything should be all sorted out upstairs.

And so we have passed another mini-milestone in our daily lives here.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

"The Case for Christ"

A friend loaned me this popular Christian book last week, and in an effort not to have it in my possession for months on end, I've plowed through it in a week and a half. Luckily it was interesting which aids in speeding through a book. But the fast read also gave me some interesting insight into it that I might have missed had I taken a slower pace.

The book is touted as one of the best out there to "prove" the crux of the Christian faith, namely that a carpenter from Galilee who lived on earth 2000 years ago is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Christ. A successful journalist takes a "hard look" at the evidence out there, interviewing 13 different authorities on areas including archeology, history, language, New Testament, and others. The author gives himself some good credibility by providing examples from his career as a crime journalist, covering many controversial murder trials and other sensational court cases.

Being a history-lover, I was interested in reading some of the historical evidences for the New Testament gospels. But to be honest, if I wasn't already a committed Christian, I think this book might have tipped the scales to atheism for me! It was poorly argued and immaturely laid-out. The arguments contradicted each other from one chapter to the next. The author posed a question and accepted a superficial answer as a "knock-out punch," when in fact I could think of at least 5 or 6 more probing questions I would have posed.

Perhaps most unnerving was the forceful conclusions drawn for the reader. In a book where the author claimed to want to research the evidence, examine it all closely, and then draw his own conclusions, I found it bordering on dangerous how manipulative his conclusions were. Many people reading would be guided to simply agree with the author rather than process the information personally. In this way, the book borders on propaganda disguised as impartial - a dangerous combination.

I think, too, that this is a good example of how most people of faith react to their own religions. They are aware of the surface answers to questions. Sitting in a bible study or Sunday School class they would offer up these textbook answers, confident in their knowledge and grasp of key doctrines and principles. But they have neglected to dig deeper and yearn for understanding of the concepts to which they cling. I am not saying that religion is bad, but it does help me understand the Marxist quote "religion is an opium for the masses." Too often people lazily rely on others to hand them a watered-down, easily-digested version of faith and never take the time to immerse themselves in the beautiful ideas beneath.

I already stated I am a committed Christian, and a firm believer in my own faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Gratefully I have been taught both the skill and the importance of critical thinking and I love to spend time pondering on the deeper meaning of scriptural teachings. There is much treasure to be found if one digs deeper into the sand rather than just sifting through the top layer. Certainly there were some interesting ideas presented in "The Case for Christ," once I looked past the formal presentation. I learned much in some areas and was given food for thought in others. But although I think the theories are worthwhile, I would definitely look for a different, less pushy source.

Monday, 19 April 2010

An Education

I saw an excellent film this weekend. I rented it on a whim - James was going out with the guys and I had about 3.2 minutes to choose something. Now granted, it was a Best Picture nomination and I think the actress won the Best Actress category, so I knew I was starting with something at least critically acclaimed.

First of all, let me say how pleasant it was that the film was rated PG. I'm not one for movies where they swear like sailors or have sex scenes just shy of pornography, or violence that makes me close my eyes and miss most of the film. And, sad to say, most films that aren't animated these days run in one of these categories. What I found astonishing was that it would have been very easy for the screenwriter to make this an R rated film. The sex scenes could have been more graphic and the characters language could have been coloured more on the blue side. But it wasn't. And what that shows more than anything is how easy it would be to turn many R rated films into PG films. We don't need the exhibitionism. Granted, there are times when the story calls for something more graphic. But for the most part, it's gratuitous.

But what really struck me about the film was the theme, the moral at the heart of it. (Spoiler alert) Here is a film about a young girl who eschews her chance at a formal ivy-league university education to run wild with an older, more alluring and seemingly sophisticated man. In today's culture, this kind of behaviour is usually celebrated. Shake off the chains of oppression! Forget responsibility! Live a little (or a lot)! Run on the wild side! Live for yourself! We live in an instant gratification, self-centered society and our films reflect it perfectly. Except this one. "An Education" is more of a cautionary tale about the real possible consequence of living a self-indulgent lifestyle. Even though there are mature themes involved, I think this a must-see film for teen girls today. A wake-up call to reality, for sure.

All in all, it makes me happy to enjoy a film. I'm so rarely taken heart and soul by movies these days, and it is such a delight when it happens, even more so when it is unexpected.

Friday, 16 April 2010


I'm not even sure how I describe the feeling. It's another part of me, something in complete diametric opposition to the part of me I am these days. It's as though I have two sides to myself that are incompatible. Split personality is the Hollywood glamourized way of saying it, although it doesn't feel as psychotic as that. Moreso like a teeter totter in an ocean. One side of me soars above the water while the other is submerged, then the other rises from the waves and the first side descends into the deep. I never feel like the side underwater is drowning; in fact, I hardly notice it while I have my head up and in the saltwater sky. I only ever feel this feeling when I take that first breath of air after that side has been beneath for a time.

Enough analogy. I am at once a mother, wife, homemaker, and an artist, free spirit, wanderer. I suppose some people find a way to reconcile the two sides, but most don't. I think an artist by nature is a loner. She has a need to process life without distraction, to descend into loneliness in order to birth an artistic creation. Misery loves company, but melancholy inspires brilliance. It is true that I can feverishly write and compose when I am unsettled; when I am satisfied I find myself empty.

When I embark on an artistic journey, it is not long before I yearn for the stability of home. When I nest among family I inevitably feel the tug of wings wanting to fly.

Art is all romantic notions. Not romance, but romantic - overflowing with emotions at impossible levels. Impossible in that one could never sustain an entire life living at that sort of emotional height. The great balance of life demands a continuous circle of ups and downs. I don't think my teeter-totter is supposed to level out permanently; but each end must be given its due time in air and in water, up and down.

This sort of mood settles on me after a certain book, movie, melody, poem, or vista. I can see the poetry of a lonely oak tree bending in a field as readily as in lines on a page or a beautifully crafted scene in a film or a haunting tumble of notes in a song. This evening it was a film: "An Education." It was a deadly combination, rather, not deadly, but obvious. The combination was an obvious one to bring on such a mood. Literature and French and Paris and youth and love and heartache and whimsy and reality. Watched in the darkness of my home, alone, with only a streetlight spilling its orange glow - a romantic set piece in itself.

Can you feel the difference in me as you read this post? I can feel that other self emerging in the way my thoughts form and flow onto the page. I feel lyrical, poetic, and expressive.

This self has been submerged a while. In these days of early motherhood, with babies and toddlers and day after day inextiguishable from the previous or the next, there is not much place or time to let the wandering artist free. One day, though, one day there will be a time when both have a chance to rise as often as the other. Perhaps then I, too, will find some sort of reconcilliation within.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Caleb's speech

I am experiencing the most unusual speech issue with Caleb. He has a huge vocabulary, most of which he pronounces fairly accurately. He has a little lisp, and tends to imitate Colin's tendency to pronounce "b" as a "v" in the middle of words (like "tavel" for "table"). He even uses big words like "normally" and "usually" and specific words like "craft" and "indeed."

But over the past month or so he has started to put a "g" at the beginning of many of his words. Some of the ones he uses are "grotato" (potato) "gasagna" (lasagna) "guseum" (museum). There is no consistency to which letter he is replacing with the "g" sound. He says "lunch" but not "lasagna." He says "Mommy" but not "museum." Not only that, but he used to say all these words properly before. There seems to be no thought process before hand, as though he wanted to mix it all up for fun. He continues speaking in his usual conversation fashion, but is putting "g" sounds everywhere! When I correct him, he says the word a few times incorrectly before imitating my drawn-out pronounciation, inserting the correct letter.

I had a fleeting thought it might be related to new baby syndrome, a little toddler regression in light of the new arrival, but after observing the situation for a couple of weeks, I am convinced that is not an issue.

Has anyone out there run into this before? Those of you in education and child care, or others who work with kids?

Conversation with Colin

Mommy: Yes! A pull-through!
Colin: What's a pull-through?
Mommy: It's when no one has parked in front of you in the parking lot and you can drive right through instead of backing up.
Colin: Is that good?
Mommy: It's easier.
Colin: But Mommy! You just drove over a yellow line!
Mommy: Oh, those yellow lines are just to know where to park. It's okay to drive over those ones.
Colin: But not the ones on the road.
Mommy: No.
Colin: Hmm. Okay, here are the rules of the road. Number one: if you drive fast, you will get a ticket and go to jail.
Mommy: Well, you might get a ticket, but you won't go to jail if you just do it once. Maybe if you keep doing it and drive dangerously, you might go to jail.
Colin: Rule number two: if lots of people drive fast, then they will all go to jail and the jails will be full. Rule number four: If you hit a car and have an accident, and a little crumb falls off the car, then you have to get out and look with a flashlight for the crumb, and if you find it, you can put it back on and then you don't have to go to jail. Those are the rules of the road. Make sure you follow them, Mommy.
Mommy: Thank you, Colin.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta

I don't know why I haven't tried whole wheat pasta before now. I know that there is little nutritional value to all our bleached white breads, flours and pastas. Perhaps a) whole wheat pasta costs a lot more for a lot less and b) it just didn't look like it would taste that great.

As for my first concern, I noticed the cost of whole wheat pasta coming down as the price of traditional white pasta rose. Although they aren't on the same plain yet, all of a sudden it didn't seem outrageously out of the budget to have whole wheat pasta. Even more significant, since pasta is a food I stockpile in my food storage, grocery stores have started to include it in the items that go on sale once in a while, making it more budget and food-storage friendly.

Even while having a couple of boxes of whole wheat pasta on my shelf downstairs, my second concern continued to loom. The boxes sat for a couple of months. The first was given to me by a friend who brought a meal over while I was sick with this last pregnancy. Then I reluctantly picked up a couple more when I saw a sale, unable to pass over the deal.

So last week I finally decided that I would give it a whirl.


Really - it tastes infinitely better than its bleached and unhealthy counter part! I was so astonished. I think James got tired of hearing me praise in wonder as I savoured the thick spaghetti noodles under a plain old jar of spaghetti sauce accentuated with chunks of broccoli. Really, looking back, I wasn't even giving it a real chance when I served it with plain sauce and nothing to embellish but the broccoli. But even in these underdog circumstances, it triumphed over my tastebuds.

I don't even want to eat white pasta anymore. (Too bad since the very morning of the whole wheat pasta dinner I had done the food shopping, including stockpiling on another 3 months of white pasta that was on fire sale!) While I still cling to white rice and often prefer white flour, I have certainly leaped whole-heartedly onto the whole wheat pasta train.

Saturday, 10 April 2010


I love quilts. They have a beautiful quality to them, like a memory sewn right into the very threads of a blanket. I have made a few easy baby blanket quilts, but that's it for my experience. Not much time right now. But I do get a weekly email from a website called "All People Quilt" which links up to pictures and patterns of hundreds of different quilts. I don't usually even get to read it; I just like that it comes to my inbox so that one day down the road when I do have time to quilt, I'll have a ready resource to get me going.

A few weeks back the email was titled "All about Antique quilts." Well, that's right down the alley ( eventually want to be going down! So let the email linger in my inbox (something I don't usually do - I like a neat and tidy inbox!) Today I got around to clicking into the featured article called "traditions remembered."

There were 22 posted photos of beautiful antique quilts, each with an accompanying quote from someone in the past - a little memory about their thoughts on quilting. Even though the quotes were only a sentence or two long, some were inspiring.

I made quilts as fast as I could to keep my family warm, and as pretty as I could to keep my heart from breaking.
A pioneer woman’s diary

At the quilting bee, one might have learned . . . how to bring up babies; how to mend a cracked teapot; how to take out grease from brocade; how to reconcile absolute decrees with free will; how to make five yards of cloth answer the purpose of six; and how to put down the Democratic Party.
Harriet Beecher Stowe

I have found nothing so desirable for summer covers as the old-fashioned scrap quilt of which our mothers were so proud. Every girl should piece one at least to carry away to her husband’s house. And if her lot happens to be cast among strangers, the quilt when she unfolds it will seem like the face of a familiar friend, bringing up a host of memories . . . too sacred to intrude upon. Annie Curd, Good Housekeeping, 1888

You can spoil the prettiest quilt pieces that ever was made just by putting them together with the wrong color, just as the best sort of life is miserable if you don’t look at things right and think about them right.
Eliza Calvert Hall, Aunt Jane of Kentucky

We learned to sew patchwork at school while we were learning the alphabet; and almost every girl had a bed quilt of her own begun, with an eye to future house furnishing.
Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood

We learned to sew patchwork at school while we were learning the alphabet; and almost every girl had a bed quilt of her own begun, with an eye to future house furnishing.
Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood

It took me more than 20 years, nearly 25, I reckon, in the evenings after supper when the children were all put to bed. My whole life is in that quilt . . . All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those little pieces . . . I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me.
Marguerite Ickis, quoting her great-grandmother

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Fairytale Princess

I wonder what it is about the idea of being a princess that speaks to the heart of us girls? Lately, my boys have discovered a couple of the old Disney films and storybooks, "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White." As I've spent time reading these favourites to them, I have had time to ponder on that little spark that flutters inside when I think about a young princess being swept off her feet by a handsome prince.

Many of these old stories (especially "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White") have much in common; in fact the plot lines of these two stories are so alike it's a wonder they both cam to such prominence. Disney has even capitalized on the princess idea, creating a "Princess Brand" and line for young girls, combining the many Disney princesses into a group that graces toys, clothes, linens and more.

This morning I read a news headline about the impending engagement and marriage of Prince William of England, to "commoner" Kate Middleton. And even as I read about this real life fairy tale, the flutter in my heart started to beat. Of course I don't expect to marry William and become a princess. But something in me heightens at the thought that some girl, any girl, could be swept off her feet be a real life prince and become a princess. Even in this modern world of feminism and women's rights, there is still something innate that is captivated by the possibility.


My little guy is growing so fast! He loves to coo and laugh and cuddle. He will give a smile to anyone who smiles at him. Even when he is hungry or tired he can still squeeze out a little grin. He is so patient with me, when I have to split my time between the other boys, housework and cooking. He happily trudges along with the rest of us to appointments and playdates and activities. Although he doesn't generally fall asleep while we're out, he's happy to be sitting with me. He is at that cooing stage where he'll tell you little stories in a soft, light baby voice.

He's starting to sleep better for naps. He goes down for at least an hour at a time, and a few occasions has even slept for two hours. He also goes to sleep on his own, so I don't always have to lay down with him to get him to sleep. As along as I catch him before he gets overtired (which is a real science and art!) I can just swaddle him up, lay him down in the co-sleeper and walk out. He doesn't need any extended cuddling or singing to or rocking; in fact, that often has the opposite effect. The more you coddle him, the less likely he is to fall asleep without crying and needing repeated attention! I admit that I miss a little cuddling time with him before bed, but I know that it's detrimental to his sleep process, and so I have to make do with getting my cuddles in during the day. More than once I've been caught by a friend as I close my eyes, snuggle him into me, smell his hair, wrap my arms around him a little snugger. It's a little like having a first baby all over again, the way I dote on him.

He's still growing and growing. 16 pounds and counting... He into 6-9 month clothing already. It was only a few weeks back that I packed away and pulled out a set of clothes, and I think I'm going to have to do it again! He doesn't look like a huge 3 month old, he really just looks a lot bigger and older than he is. Most people guess he's about 6 months (still has that baby face!)

He still has red hair, so I'm pretty sure it's here to stay. And big blue laughing eyes. He also seems gentle. Perhaps it's just because he's a baby, calmer than his older brothers, and he can't run around or vocalize much yet, but he seems to be a gentle soul. James has taken to calling him our "Gentle Ben."

There is a magic connection that I believe is created from nursing a baby. I wasn't able to nurse Colin (due to his sensitivity to breast milk), and although I love all my children, there is definitely a connection that happens when you have a baby at your breast so often when they are young. I was speaking with a new friend the other day, and her mother nursed her until she was four and a half. She spoke very tenderly of her memories of nursing as a child, as she has vivid recollections of the experience. Something about a literally sharing yourself with your baby, something natural and primal, creates a unique bond not developed in any other way.

And so I continue to watch Benjamin as the days slip by faster and faster. He'll be walking and talking before I know it. Maybe that's one reason my patience is a little longer these days: I know they will be gone, unable to be recaptured, before long.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Weekend

As this Sunday comes to a close, I have a moment to reflect back on a wonderful weekend. It's been busy, fun, fulfilling, edifying. Combining the warm weather with Easter, family dinners and General Conference, I am wanting to linger a little longer in this holiday.

First, General Conference. What an inspiring 10 hours of talks! This is the first year I've ever given real heed to the counsel to prepare my mind before the conference starts. I didn't get a whole lot of time, but I did reflect Friday night in bed on some of the things I have going on in my life and areas that I thought needed some guidance. There were two big areas that came to mind: mothering, and scripture study. Both sessions on Saturday were overflowing with inspiration in exactly these two areas. I was amazed. Saturday morning was a little crazy, because it always overlaps lunch and naptime. But Julie Beck, the General Relief Society President, spoke right to my heart as a young mother, struggling to find time to get everything done. I've already re-listened to her talk again, and I know when the text comes in the Ensign magazine next month I'll have my highlighter out before I even open the pages. Saturday afternoon I went by myself to the chapel to listen to the afternoon session without the distraction of children. I was riveted. I don't think my mind wandered from the speakers for a single second. Every word was speaking to something I needed to hear. Inspiration was flowing through me; sometimes the words the speaker spoke were answers to questions, and othertimes they triggered a thought chain in my mind that led to an answer. In both cases it was as if I was in a university lecture with the Holy Spirit: I could barely keep up scribbling in my notebook all that I needed to remember!

Sunday morning session again fell during lunch and nap, and so I'll have to catch up with it again later. Many of the speakers spoke about Easter, the Saviour, and His resurrection. I can't remember the last time General Conference fell on Easter, although I'm sure it has many times. Although I missed having a traditional Easter church service, certainly the testimonies I heard at conference spoke with even more authority and conviction about the life and importance of Jesus. James is tucking the boys into bed right now, and then we'll catch the last session this evening.

This morning we showed the boys a short film about the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. Colin, his usual inquisitive self, asked a question every ten seconds or so. We encourage this in him, and so we were busy answering lots of questions. Because of the subject matter, we were a little wary at first on how much to explain. But in the end I figured if he was mature enough to process what he was seeing into a mature question, it deserved an honest answer. (We covered questions like "why are they hitting him?" "how does he die on the cross?" and "what is adultery?")

After the movie, Colin asked if we could make paper cutouts of Jesus and the cross. One of his favourite games of late is to draw characters from the movies he sees and then play with them, like paper dolls. I told him it wasn't appropriate to play with a cutout of Jesus and the cross. So he amended his request by saying that we could just draw it and then hang it as decoration. I agreed to this, but asked him to wait until I had finished making lunch. He disappeared to the playroom. When he emerged 10 minutes later, he presented to me a Lego creation. On a large green square, he had built a cross and added a little Lego man to the front. All around the square he had built a little fence, just like the scene in the film he saw. It was immediately recognizable as Jesus on the cross at Calvary. James and I were completely amazed that he had processed the scene in the movie and then recreated it so well.

This weekend also saw us playing host to both the Gawthroupe and the Martin family dinners. I got to try out my new table, sitting up to 12 people around it comfortably. Both meals were a giant success, without being so much work that I was worn out beyond the ability to enjoy the company. Friday weather was so beautiful and warm it actually begged for a barbecue, but the planned turkey dinner was thoroughly enjoyed by all. This afternoon I had a fantastic ham, pre-cooked and it came with its own glaze. There are some times when taking advantage of modern conveniences are totally worth it! (I am also grateful for a dishwasher this weekend!)

And so the weekend comes to a close. And yet, the more I ponder on it, although I won't likely experience these moments all crammed into one weekend again for a while, I will be able to recapture bits and pieces here. When my Ensign magazine comes with the conference talks, I want to study them closer, deeper, really pick them apart and apply the lessons I learn into my life. And now that the good weather has arrived, we hope to entertain friends and family more often.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Easter Egg Hunt

Today we took advantage of the beautiful weather and had our Easter egg hunt in the backyard! Can anyone remember the last time we had 28 C weather at the beginning of April? The boys went down for their nap, and James and I waited until the last possible moment to dash around the yard and hide the little chocolate eggs. I know it's a strange time for an egg hunt, but the boys are young enough not to really get the whole Easter Bunny anyway, let alone realize that he comes on Sunday morning for the rest of the world. My family, including my Nana, came up this afternoon for Easter dinner, and I thought Nana and my sister Jennifer would love to see the boys dash around in search of chocolate. It was so much fun. It was hilarious to watch the boys trying to find the eggs, since they don't really have the skill of looking for details down yet. often they would be staring right at an egg and not see it! At one point, I was trying to direct Caleb to an egg at the base of a tree, without pointing directly to it. I told Caleb to "look at the tree" and he looked at the trunk about a foot off the ground. So I told him to look at his shoes, and he literally looked only at his shoes. Then I said look at the ground and he looked at the ground between his shoes and the tree. (I ended up having to point at the eggs.)

So there were James and I and Jennifer and her fiance Derek all running around the backyard with the boys, trying to search out all the eggs. (As James and I were hiding the last few eggs, I suddenly asked "should we have counted them to make sure the boys find them all?!") There was only one little netting of eggs, and we think we got them all (or some animal is going to get sick if it finds a stray egg!) Even after only being hidden for 30 minutes or so, many of the eggs were softening from the sun.

I was amazed to see how well the boy like to cooperate and share, and that they both have a good sense of fairness. I had hidden a string of eggs among the rock border of the garden, so that every 5 or 6 rocks there was an egg. When they got the idea that there were more than a few eggs hidden along the border, Colin grabbed one, and then stood back to allow Caleb to grab the next. They each took their turn and then dutifully stood aside for their brother. I was so pleased to see how they enjoyed helping each other, and how every egg they found was a delightful surprise for them. James questioned that I had only bought the one bag (they still had about 15 eggs each). Initially I simply hadn't wanted a huge stash of chocolate around for them (and us). But I also realized after the hunt that if there is a large amount to search for, the fun is lost after a while and boredom can easily set in at this age. Really, 15 was the perfect amount. They had just enough fun searching and then were ready and wanting to indulge in a few eggs when all were found.

It was such a lovely afternoon. We spent the entire day outside, and I had to tear myself away from lounging on the deck with everyone in order to get dinner on. It was the type of day one wants to barbecue, not prepare a roast dinner. But the food was lovely, and because we took advantage of cooking the turkey the day before, we didn't have to do a ton of cooking. The day was capped off with a Skype-visit from my parents in Australia. All in all, a wonderful, beautiful holiday, full of family, food and fun.

The i-pad

I was really excited watching the announcement for the launch of the new i-pad. Honestly, some of it was me just getting caught up in the hype. Apple is really good at that. But as an avid reader who is always buying books and hoarding books and storing books and trying to give books away and trying to decide what I should keep for future reading, the idea of being able to have all these books at my fingertips without a house-full of bookshelves was really appealing!

But I heard a conversation on the radio this morning, as the host mourned the impending i-pad and demise of the book. "How many times have you been sitting on a subway and seen someone reading a book? Maybe you see a book you read and loved and can start up a conversation with a stranger about a common love. Maybe you see something new and ask them how it is. Maybe you see something you've never seen and wonder if it might be of interest. Many times I have come to a new book simply by seeing someone else with it first. But with an i-pad, you'll never know what someone is reading."

That immediately hit home with me. One of my favourite "snooping" activities is to scan someone's bookshelf when I'm in their home. I think what a person reads can speak volumes about who they really are. So often we are presented with only one side of a person: for example, Emily is my church friend, Kathy is my music friend, Erin is my philosophy friend. We can talk for hours and hours with these friends, but usually only on a handful of subjects. But then I'm casually scanning a bookshelf and I see "War and Peace" and suddenly we're talking about a love of classics, or Russian culture. Or I see a book on using food as medicine and we launch into a debate on modern Western views on medicine and prevention.

An i-pad will eliminate one of my favourite secrets! Ah well, perhaps there will be a contingent of us who hang onto the hold way of the paperback book, reveling in the fanning of soft pages and turning down corners and marking up favourite passages. I wonder if there aren't some things that will be able to stand against technology?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Just me and the girls

I am currently doing something I don't do often: rereading a book. There are so many books out there that I don't often pick something up twice, but I had been feeling like I needed a good dose of friendship lately, and immediately this book series came to mind.

Now, I am blessed with many many good girlfriends. More than I've ever had at any point in my life until now. I have mommy friends and church friends and blog friends and email friends. They all fulfill a different purpose in my life, meeting different needs for me. They are my examples and inspiration, shoulders to cry on and sounding boards for frustrations. Together we share laughs and music and books and scripture and faith and life. I am truly blessed.

I was drawn to these books for another reason, one that is ironically both part of the plot and the theme of the books. The trilogy is about three women, strangers, who meet one summer when they are all billeting at the same house during a religious educational conference. They are different ages, in different stages of life. They only spend a few days together, but they are drawn to each other, and spend the next 25 years in correspondence, mostly through letter writing, with occasional visits. It is never openly expressed in the book, but I think part of what draws them to each other is the fact that these friends are not in their local circle.

I think women have a tendency to always and only want to show their best face to those we come in contact with on a regular basis. Heaven forbid someone drop in with last night's dishes rivaling Mount Everest in size, piled up in the sink. Or see us one of those days when we opt not to shower and dress. Or catch us losing our temper with our kids. We just don't do that!

When it comes to strangers, we have the ability to let it all out. Sometimes it's just easier to confess our deepest fears to someone we don't have to sit beside at church on Sunday or run into at the market. We need to have a moment of vulnerability with someone, but we don't want to see that someone the next day, feeling embarrassed about our personal trials and failures.

So when I picked up this book for the second time, I had the sense that I could sit in with these girls, women who were going through the same things I am, experiencing the same emotions. The authors of the book are honest about those feelings that lurk beneath the surface in us all. And so for me, I feel like I can reveal myself to these characters, admit that I can sympathize with what they are going through, have a conversation with them. And then I can close the book and not feel overwhelmed by a more public confession. Not everything I'm feeling needs to be shared with someone else, but sometimes it still needs an outlet. This seems to provide the perfect answer for me.


I read the following entry over at Laura's Heavenly Homemaker's website. I was going to write about how it spoke to me, it was what I needed to hear and try to sum up what she expressed so perfectly. But then I realized that since she expressed it so perfectly, I would simply let her do the "expressing." So, in Laura's words, here is an excerpt from her series "Becoming a Better Help Meet."


When we got married, we had quite a few expectations about what we thought marriage would be like.

I personally had quite a blissful view of what it would be like to be a wife and homemaker. My kitchen would always be clean. My chores would always bring me joy. I would always be rested, organized and cheerful. My husband would always say and do exactly the things I needed and wanted him to say and do. We would have beautiful children who were well behaved and quiet and who never argued. Oh, and of course, some of those beautiful children would be of the girl variety.

Fifteen and a half years later, I am a (very happily married) woman with a frequently dirty kitchen and a large list of unfinished chores that ocasionally make me feel very grumpy. I could use a nap and I have to pray and put forth quite an effort to continually be cheerful. My husband certainly doesn’t always say and do exactly what I need him or want him to do. None of my children are of the girl variety…and hardly ever are they quiet.

Am I disappointed with all of these expectations that have gone unfulfilled? No way. I’m still doing everything I always wanted to do…I’m just living within the realm of reality now. The fact that God gave us four boys has been joyful beyond my wildest dreams. I could never keep a perfect house because well…we’re all living in it. My husband can’t possibly say everything and do everything perfectly because as great as he is, he is also human and for goodness sake..sometimes I don’t even know what I want. How is he supposed to know?

You know the way life always turns out so perfectly in books that you read and movies that you watch? Yeah…those aren’t real!! Books and movies are stories written by people. I have to be very careful when I’m reading a good Christian fiction book that I don’t suddenly become dissatisfied with my own husband and my own life. Somehow the main male character in those books knows exactly what his woman needs and wants and always says the perfect thing. (Funny isn’t it that these books are usually written by WOMEN!)

I am going to suggest then that while we absolutely should aim high and desire a wonderful life with a wonderful man of God…we also need to recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect life with a perfect man. If there was a perfect man out there…he wouldn’t be choosing the likes of me because well…I’m not perfect.

I have more to say about expectations, specifically with our husbands, but I’ll share that another time.

For now I’ll stop with the simple idea that as a help meet to our husbands we need to learn to be joyful while we live lives that are less than perfect. Lives that may include spills, mistakes, socks on the floor, stains on the rug, bad breath, hurt, death, sickness, sore backs, misplaced documents, dried out markers, toilet seats left up, squishy bananas under the table and lost library books.

Embrace the life God gave you with the husband you chose. Let go of perfect expectations…and choose JOY!