Monday, 28 February 2011


I seem to be really good at making goals. Achieving them...well, I'm certainly not at 100%, and probably not even at 50%. But I am getting something things done, so the whole notion of writing things down seems to be working, at least a little bit.

As part of a Stake church reading, we were encouraged to start making goals: goals for every week (short term) and for every 6 week period (longer term). I had never considered making goals for as short a period as a week. I have written to-do lists, but I've never really thought of them as goals.

So yesterday evening, I found a notebook (I have a notebook fetish; I always have at least 4 or 5 on the go at a time!) and sat down and thoughtfully considered some goals I'd like to accomplish this week. I ended up with seven:

1. Transcribe music for the next choir performance.
2. Make a quilt with my friend Emily
3. Paint the last 3 feet of the stairwell trim
4. Quilt one thread line in my jeans quilt
5. Think of 3 ways to interact with people outside my current circle of friends
6. Study Dallin H Oaks' talk on "The Mission of the Holy Ghost"
7. On my chosen attribute to develop (knowledge), write down scripture verses to do with worldly knowledge versus spiritual knowledge.

The result so far? Well, I closed the book after making the list and went upstairs to read. After ten minutes, I felt this little nudge inside to go downstairs and start to transcribe the music. I had between 10 and 30 minutes before James returned from his rehearsal. I thought to myself, that isn't much time. Then I thought that I could at least get a good head start on it.

So I went back downstairs, and managed to get all the music into the computer. Just like that, the first goal was pretty much done. If I hadn't written it down, I might not have used that time to my advantage like that.

Then, today, I ran into an acquaintance I met last year at a baby class. She asked about a workout class I mentioned last year, which I just so happened to start again just this very morning, after a 9 month hiatus. I invited her out for Friday.

Perhaps these things might have happened anyway, without my having written them down as goals. But because I did write them down, they not only got done, but I feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

So my new goal is to make goals each week.

Froot Loops

This morning, after waffles and pineapple, the boys asked for a bowl of cereal.
"Sure," I reply. "Which cereal would you like?" They wander over to the pantry and stand in front of the cereal shelf, which is surprisingly plentiful. Usually I have a 3 box rule, but today there are many options:

On the left, in a supersize bright red family-size box (because it was on sale) is Froot Loops.
On the right, is a big box of Rice Krispies, that I used for rice krispie squares at Christmas (no one really eats the cereal).
In the middle are: All Bran, Shredded Wheat and Cheerios.

Decision time.

Colin actually looks at the Rice Krispies, because there is a cool activity on the back of the box, but then quickly rules it out.
The Cheerios are a no-go, because Benjamin eats them. They are clearly baby food.
Colin's hand wavers between the All Bran and the Shredded Wheat. In the end, he picks the Shredded Wheat.

He didn't even consider the Froot Loops.

I'm sorry, I thought my kids were 3 and 5 years old, who only get a box of sugary cereal once every six months or so. But yes, they both chose the Shredded Wheat (which happens to be one of my very favourites!)

That box of Froot Loops is about 3/4 full, and has been in there for a month. Strange, isn't it!

(In all honesty, this is a little strange. Although they've never gone wild after the first day or two of a cereal like that, it is still usually eaten within a month.)

Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Consecrated Life - Purity

My first personal reflections on a consecrated life. I love the term "consecrated life" because it is something I can do myself to show gratitude for the gift of everlasting life given me by my Saviour. I can work on consecrating my own life, setting it apart, dedicating it to the sacred service of my God, devoting it to holy purposes. I truly do feel the desire within to do this.

And so, the first thought today is on purity.

Isn't it wonderful to know that no matter how hard we try, or what we do, we can never achieve purity on our own? Purity is a tall order, since, at its root, it demands a complete sinless nature. I know I can't make it through an hour, let alone a lifetime.

"Those who come unto Jesus and take His yoke upon them have claim on His grace, which will make them as He is: guiltless and spotless."

But that doesn't mean giving up, not trying, or no effort on our part. I always find it interesting to examine the verbs that Jesus used as he spoke. In this case, it is the word "come." It doesn't say "stand there and I'll throw some grace your way." Instead, it says "come," which really means that I have to make a concerted effort to move my feet (heart and spirit) closer to Him. I have to walk along the path He laid out.

He also commanded people to repent. Repent is also a verb that carries lots of action on our part. I need to humble my heart and take steps to repent of those sins I inevitably carry. So, a consecrated life includes repentance.

"Stubbornness, rebellion, and rationalization must be abandoned, and in their place submission, a desire for correction, and acceptance of all that the Lord may require."

While grace is a gift freely given, and it is certainly something I cannot earn, Jesus laid out certain requirements for those who wish to follow him. He didn't say "keep some of the commandments, or at least the ones that are easy for you, or only if you feel like it today." He said "Keep my commandments." He spoke harshly of hypocrites, those who profess to be His followers but don't have their hearts changed, and, in the process, outwardly manifest that change.

I think the above quote about stubbornness and rebellion and rationalization really jumped out at me, for those are faults with which I daily struggle. I always think my way is the best way. Sometimes I just don't feel like towing the line. Often I rationalize away behaviour, thoughts and actions.

I realized on thinking about this aspect of a consecrated life, purity, that a) it is attainable through God's grace and b) I cannot achieve purity on my own, there are paths I can follow and things I can do that will bring me closer to God and closer to the idea of purity, that I can "be one with Jesus, as He is one with God."

Saturday, 26 February 2011

7am doors open - seriously?

This morning proved that some people really are nuts.

As soon as the boys woke us up (right on cue at 6:30am) I got up and dressed and drove over to Home Depot. They were having a great sale on Eco toilets, which is perfect timing for our upcoming bathroom renovation. $25 after rebates, which can't be beat. And since I was going to be up early anyway, running over for their 7am opening wasn't such a big deal for me.

Funny enough, I was second to arrive, and there were 4 others to come after me before the doors opened. And by the time I came out, 5 minutes later, there were at least 15 cars in the parking lot. While us early arrivers waited for 7am, I joked with the rest (two middle-aged married couples, one senior man, and two men around 30 years) that I had 3 young children to wake me up early - what was their excuse? Apparently such a deal is too good to wait. In this case, the early bird certainly did get the worm, because after I loaded one toilet onto my cart, many of the others were loading 2 and 3 onto theirs. I doubt the huge display lasted until 7:30!

Friday, 25 February 2011


Colin must have inherited my thin blood, for he loves to be warm. Every morning, he comes downstairs and immediately sits on the floor vent that shoots up warm air from the furnace. During the day, he'll often bring his toys and sit on the vent, waiting for the occasional blast of air to keep the house at the toasty 22 C (or 23 C) I keep the thermostat at. We have lost some Lego pieces to the vent over the year, but that is a sacrifice he is willing to make, because no amount of my cautionary warnings will persuade him to choose another spot.

It's also really funny to see Caleb when he happens to be going by a vent and the air kicks on. He gets very excited and calls to Colin to inform him in the giddy way of a three-year old that the vent is on and the air is warm.


Ever since Caleb was born, he has resisted eating vegetables. Last week, James found the answer. The boys are head over heels for Star Wars right now. So while we sat coaxing Caleb to eat his greens, James spontaneously said, in that squeaky voice of Yoda:

"Mmm, Master Caleb. Eat vegetables you must. That is how you can achieve a level 10 Jedi."
"Do you eat vegetables, Yoda?" Caleb inquired.
"Of course! Why else do you think I am so green?"

Caleb processed the thought for about a quarter of a second, and then smiled and scarfed down the entire plate. Since then, he always eats the vegetables I give him, often eats them first, and has even been known to ask for vegetables!

Had I but known it was that easy!


There is one sure-fire way to make Benjamin laugh. No matter how upset or sad he is, this always works. I hold him in my arms (one or both, no matter) and then let go for a split second. He drops an inch or so toward the ground before I grab him again. He thinks this little free-falling motion is the best thing ever.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

It really is a roller coaster rides (and I never liked roller coasters much)

Motherhood was good for my heart yesterday.

I started the morning with a shower. Good.
I snapped at James at breakfast. Bad.
I put Benjamin down for a morning nap. Good.
We had an awesome playdate with a friend. The boys were in seventh heaven and I got to know a friend even better. Good.
Colin didn't go for a nap (so I didn't get a nap). Bad.
Benjamin woke after an hour. Bad.
Caleb woke after an hour. Very very very very very bad.
Caleb cried over everything. Bad.
The boys watched a movie quietly. Good.
I decided it was finally warm enough to play in the backyard snow. Good.
I dressed three boys into snow gear. Bad.
The boys ran around the backyard. Good.
Benjamin cannot run in snow gear. Bad.
I tried to run around the backyard in my full snow gear carrying a squirmy one-year old in snow gear who only wanted to walk (but can't.). Bad. And exhausting.
I finally let everyone come inside after 45 minutes. Good.
No sign of James. Bad.
For dinner I eat leftover chili. The boys have eaten chili two days in a row already. I make them a salami and cheese sandwich. They aren't sure what to make of it. I don't even bother clearing the table of the 800 pieces of Lego. Dinner doesn't even feel like dinner. Bad.
Benjamin is tired and nurses every 5 minutes. Bad.
I finally lose it about the toys EVERYWHERE. Totally lose it. I threaten that if it is not all cleaned up now, I will put anything still out in the basement. Bad.
Colin cleans up very quietly, afraid to make me more angry. Bad.
Caleb doesn't clean. I threaten. He doesn't clean. I physically pick him up and force him to pick up toys and put them away. He starts to cry. Bad.
For the next half hour I shout and threaten and try to make him clean. He collapses on the floor in tears. And cries for the next 45 minutes. Bad.
I swoop everyone upstairs for bedtime. Caleb can hardly catch his breath. Benjamin cries in his crib while I brush Colin's teeth. Bad.
Caleb finally changes his cry from "I want my toys!" to "Mommy!" I leave Colin to sing to a crying Benjamin and curl up with Caleb on my bed. We pretend to blow out 10 candles on a Darth Vader Chocolate Birthday cake to help him calm down. Good.
Everyone is finally is pyjamas and ready for bed. We read books, a bible story, say a prayer and get everyone to bed. Good.


Seriously, it was a roller coaster. I could not foresee the day having such highs and lows all at once. Did all that really happen in one day? I think it must have been more like two or three, at least. But nope - all in a day's work of motherhood.

At least the highs are really high. If they weren't, I don't know if I would make it! There is nothing like cuddling up with your kids, taking a moment to stroke their hair or have a great big hug.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Oh, and doctor, while you're at it...

(post script to post below)

Can I have the pride gene removed?

Now, I know this gene is humankind wide, so thankfully I know I'm not on my own with this one. Life would just be so much more pleasant, and much easier, if we could all just have that removed at birth. Perhaps we could genetically engineer it so that we aren't even born with it?

I mentioned in the last entry that I did call to apologize to James after my morning nagging session. But what I failed to mention is that after I thought of calling, it was another five minutes before I actually did. Did I want to call and admit I was wrong? Would he even notice or care if I didn't call? Sure, I knew he would probably really appreciate it if I did say I was sorry, but if I didn't, it wouldn't be much different from the other times when I stood "stiffnecked" in my pride.

One last thought flitted through my mind, which made me actually pick up the phone and dial. And it was that it really might lift him a little to hear an apology. He had a long day yesterday, has a long day ahead of him today. Both yesterday and today are drives to and from the city during rush hour. Both days are filled with heavy lifting and great physical exertion. Both days are going to be physically and mentally exhausting for him. I know the great benefit of "mind over matter." A little, short, sweet, "I'm sorry, and I love you" from me could make a world of difference to him today.

I have to say, I feel much better now. And seriously - what did it really take? It wasn't painful. It wasn't debilitating. It didn't take much effort. It didn't throw my day off. In fact, now he likely feels better, and I feel better, and our relationship is better...why don't we do this more often?

This whole, short experience this morning has just demonstrated to me in a very real way how stupid pride really is. Being "right" doesn't make me happier, it only makes me scurry around my day going over the moment in my mind, justifying my words or actions to myself, reliving the conversation and adding more snippy comebacks that I think I should have said, or explaining things to myself trying to convince myself that I really was right and have no need to apologize. So I sulk in the moment all day, which shortens my patience, increases my temper, and generally can affect my attitude all day. Or I take two minutes, say I'm sorry, and feel much better about the whole thing.

Sometimes I am amazed at how dense I can be. I'm grateful for moments of clarity and understanding like this one. I just hope I remember this lesson tomorrow.

Can I have that removed?

How do I get the "nag" instinct removed?

I think (I hope, at least!) it's inborn in most women. For some reason, I (we) think that by nagging people it will inspire change. What about a whiny, tired, voice delivering snarky, sarcastic comments do I think is going to actually make others want to alter something they are doing?

This morning I even tried nagging in a "thoughtful" way. Truly, there I was explaining ever so "nicely" why I was upset that the kitchen was a mess when I came down from the shower. And yet, there wasn't really anything nice about it at all. It was early in the morning, James had fed all three boys, made his lunch and was trying to get out the door for an early morning start at work.

(I did humbly make a phone call 15 minutes later to apologize, with no "buts.")

It got me to thinking. If someone was nagging me about a bad habit, or an action they wished me to take or change, you can bet I would just tune it right out. Or even if I was feeling somewhat empathetic, I might think about changing next time, but it probably wouldn't stick.

On the other hand, if someone complimented me when I did do something right, I would definitely be more likely to make a concerted effort to repeat that thing. Everyone likes compliments, and we often modify our behaviour to obtain words of favour and praise.

I know it. My brain knows it. It's just that darn nagging instinct. Seriously. Can I get that removed?

I guess it's just another weakness I'll have to learn to conquer.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Playing with all three boys

Playing with all three boys can be difficult right now, since Benjamin is at this stage where he wants to be in on the action but is usually too young for any of the games the older two want to play (which often involves Lego these days. I swear if we did an X-ray on Benjamin today there would be at least a dozen little rubber Lego wheels in his digestive tract!) Often I end up having to distract/play with Benjamin while Colin and Caleb play with each other, or, when James is home, he plays with the older boys and I occupy Benjamin.

Tonight, however, I declare a success. James was getting home late, near to bedtime. I had two hours to kill after dinner. Our first game was indoor soccer. I wouldn't usually allow something like that, but I'm getting over a nasty stomach flu and just wanted peace in the home. I held Benjamin in front of the couch and we played goalie while the boys tried to score on me.

Next we all sat on the floor and rolled the ball to each other, as I explained to the boys that we needed to play something that Benjamin could join in on. Their patience and understanding was amazing. Colin found it hard to jump out of competitive mode (I can't blame him - I'm one of the most competitive people I know!), but Caleb was so compassionate. He always rolled the ball to Benjamin, then helped him retrieve, then encouraged him and instructed him on how to roll it to someone else.

Next we played musical pillows, due to a lack of small chairs in the home, and the idea of using our big kitchen chairs just seemed dangerous. I placed two pillows on the ground, and the three of us walked around in a circle while I sang a song. When I stopped, we all vied for a pillow. No one was really out, since we all just got up and continued on. Benjamin wandered around us, laughing hysterically and randomly throwing himself down on the pillows. The boys never seemed to catch on that I always knew when the music was going to stop, although I did graciously allow them to beat me to the pillows sometimes.

Colin and Caleb then played a near violent game of freeze tag while I gave myself and my poor stomach a rest. As they tore around the circle of our front hall, kitchen, and living room at top racing speeds, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone touched the other and sent them flying into a piece of furniture or a sharp corner of some sort.

So I quickly moved them onto our final game: freeze dance. In this game, I sat on the couch and sang songs, while the boys danced. When I stopped, they had to freeze. I sang popular children's songs like "She'll be comin' round the mountain" and "Pop! Goes the Weasel," laughing so hard I cried as I watched them. Colin really has the hang of the game, but has the most awkward, writhing, dance moves ever. Caleb just sort of moved freely to the music, but every time he froze, he would put both hands out to the side and open his mouth super-wide in a wild sort of smile. No matter what position he was in when I stopped singing, he always assumed this position.

Then Colin asked to sing, which meant I had to try and dance. Colin, who knows an endless amount of songs, chose to improvise instead, both melody and lyrics. "I once had to go upstairs, and saw something in the bedroom, but the light was off so I couldn't make out what it was. So I got the stoooooooooool...and turned on the liiiiiiiight..." (you get the idea.) He would get so caught up in the song he would forget to stop so we could freeze! And Caleb thought I was hilarious as I pulled out all sorts of "dance moves" like Walking like an Egyptian, or Disco moves, or crossing the knees, stuff like that. He loved that once where it looks like you're crossing your hands over your knees, and worked his hardest to emulate it.

Not to be outdone, Caleb also wanted his chance at singing. Even he has a good 10 or 12 songs in his repertoire, and still he chose improvisation: "I had to go la la la la la la la la laaaa...Before I see la la la la la la laaaaa...Then take the la la la la la la la laaaaaa." Too funny.

We have such fun, my boys and me.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Reflections of a Consecrated Life

Every once in a while I hear or read something that truly inspires me in its entirety. It's one of those books or articles or talks in which every printed or spoken word leaps out leaves an imprint on me. Yesterday I experienced this with a talk I first listened to on CD, and then came home and immediately pulled it out of the General Conference issue of the Ensign Magazine. It was entitled "Reflections of a Consecrated Life" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

One of the great challenges of day to day living in this life is deciding how to spend the time we have been endowed with. Once we have turned our eyes to Jesus Christ, and committed to following him, there is more, much more to be done. While the gift of his grace is free, and naught that we do could earn our salvation, there is certainly found within the books of scripture a plea from on high that we try to devote the gift of our life in serving and honouring him. This is what Christofferson calls a "consecrated life."

In a time when so much is vying for our attention, when there are many "good, better, and best" things to which we could attend, this article outlined to me some simple ways in which I can consecrate my own life to God's purposes.

The talk was not long, but so full of good information that I wanted to digest it, ponder on it, and discuss it with myself in portions, so that I may savour each course, enjoying the tantalizing morsels one by one, so that I might better remember its words of wisdom in time to come. I will call this, then, the beginning of a "series" of five parts, in which I reflect myself on the five aspects noted as part of a consecrated life: purity, work, respect for one's body, service, and integrity.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Knowing your limits

I had a great conversation with a good friend the other day. She was telling me that, after a week long "fast" from Facebook, she was going to be signing off of Facebook permanently.

"Why?" I inquired. The answer astonished me. She said that she had come to realize that it had been a negative influence and force in her life. Her experience with the online program had led to feelings of self-doubt, had fostered friendships of the shallow rather than deep type, and had consumed her time and thought to the point of addiction. In this recognition, she decided to take the step to eliminate it from her life completely.

Now, this is not about demonizing Facebook. I use it, in a very basic way, to facilitate communication with friends and to keep in touch with friends and family who live far away. I have been blessed to learn about the events in their lives that I otherwise would not have known, since distance often means little to no communication.

What amazed me about my friend is that she saw something in her life that was putting her out of balance and took the step to fix it. I think she is such a courageous woman. It is so easy to sit and mope about how one is unhappy with one's life, but to actually get up and do something about it takes courage. I know I fall into the pity-party-for-one, woe-is-me trap far too often. I complain that there is nothing to be done and I must just "endure to the end" in my state of misery. Granted, sometimes circumstances are beyond my control. But the way I react is always within my own power. Often things could be changed by making small, or sometimes drastic and undesirable, alterations to my life. Sometimes, our of pride, I hold on to something far too long. Sometimes I don't want to see other options, preferring to wallow in the mire of self-pity. Sometimes the change required seems to big, too difficult to make.

That is why I was so thankful for the example my friend set. I'm sure her decision wasn't easy, since there is much positive communication she might have engaged in on Facebook. But she called her habit an addiction, and just as an alcoholic shouldn't hang out in a bar, or agree to have "just one drink," she recognized that her life could be much improved by eliminating the program from her day to day activities. She has inspired me to examine my own life more closely and to be proactive about things that aren't working for me, my marriage, my family, or my relationships. Life can be better, if you want it to be.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


I read this excerpt from the book "Preach My Gospel" last night, and it really inspired me. This seems to be the most succinct description of this Christlike attribute I have ever read, helping me understand what it is I am striving toward.

"Charity is a gift from God. The prophet Mormon said that we should "pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love." As you follow this counsel and strive to do righteous works, your love for all people will increase, especially those among whom you labor. You will come to feel a sincere concern for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people. You will see them as children of God...You will avoid negative feelings such as anger, envy, lust, or covetousness. You will avoid judging others, criticizing them, or saying negative things about them. You will try to understand them and their points of view. You will be patient with them and try to help them when they are struggling or discouraged. Charity, like faith, leads to action. You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself."

Excitement is in the air

Bathroom and kitchen!

I wanted to tackle the bathroom last year on my own, but ran into too many potential problems and backed out, doing absolutely nothing. I was so disappointed. This year, I have decided to use the extra money from the tax refund and get a contractor to do it.

And since I'm on the reno bandwagon, I'm also going to plan a complete kitchen renovation for next year! This will cost much more, and so will need some savings on top of using the full refund. In the past, when I considered what work to do on the house, my first thought was the kitchen. They say that kitchens can sell houses, and that you can get double your money back (that you spent on the renovation) when you sell. Our kitchen is by far the weakest point of our house. For the longest time, I didn't think there was anything to be done about it. Then, this past week, ideas started flowing. It all started with the realization that there is no point to the window over the sink area - it once faced outside, but after the addition of the garage, it now looks into the darkness. It occurred to me then that I could close up the window and add an extra cabinet there, since cabinet space is the number one problem in my kitchen.

Now I'm ready to rip out all the cabinetry, lay new flooring, add a built-in dishwasher, put in a wider countertop, and expand the cabinets to the eat in kitchen area! I am so excited soon to have a kitchen that actually works for me!

Friday, 18 February 2011


Caleb's new favourite word is "nothing." He thinks it is absolutely hilarious.

Ways that he uses the word, that make him crack up:

"Twinkle, twinkle little nothing!"
"I want grilled cheese and nothing for lunch."
"The van has a nothing door."
"This is my nothing!"

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


I am so grateful for the mothering instinct that blooms within women when we first become mothers.

Benjamin has been having a terrible couple of weeks. Strike that, it's actually been over a month now. First it was teething the two bottom molars. Then, before those were in, the two top ones started to show, and within a couple of days all four eye teeth are gleaming white just behind his red, swollen gums.

Now he has a terrible cold, combined with a wicked cough.

All this has meant that for the past month he has not slept through the night, waking at least every two hours every night. It has also meant he can't seem to fall asleep for both his morning and afternoon nap, often only sleeping for an hour total during the day (he needs at least 3-4.) On top of that, during the time when he is awake, he is fussy and crying and permanently attached to my hip. If I put him down for a second, he throws himself back, hitting his head on the floor and breaking down into a screaming fit of tears.

It is exhausting. More than once I have snapped angrily at him. More than once I have had to try to ignore it. My daytime patience hasn't just worn thin, it's pretty much gone.

And yet, when the day comes to a close, when the sun sets and the darkness swells around us, when I carry a sleep-eyed Benjamin up to his bedroom, when I close his door and turn on the white noise machine, when I turn off the overhead light and allow the small lamp to cast a soft glow on the room, the hardships of the day melt away. This is the half hour or so for just Benjamin and me. With all the other noise of the house blocked out, my mother heart warms for my baby boy. I change him into soft pyjamas. We sit on my rocker and read a book or two. We count to three and blow out the light together. I nurse him a little, and then cuddle him up into my arms and he tucks his head into the crook of my neck. I sing three, four, five songs, humming and murmuring in soft tones. I take pleasure in the baby smell of his warm face and the soft touch of his reddish hair. Then I lay him gently into his crib, gently turning him onto his side and setting his soother into his mouth and quietly retreat from his room.

No matter how hard and rough the day has been, the night always softens my disposition and it is just he and I, mother and son, once again.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Even before the absolutely hilarious Superbowl ad about a young boy and the "Force" (from Star Wars) aired, Colin and Caleb have been infatuated with the idea. They often play Star Wars with James, each wielding a light sabre and using a "force push" to throw off their enemy.

Well, the other day, while James' parents were babysitting the boys, they told us of Caleb, just before bedtime, going to the bathroom.

As he stood before the toilet, he furrowed his brow, trying to will the pee to come out. When nothing happened, he raised his hand and used "the force." To his amazement, it worked!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentines Day

One of my other favourite things about James is that, in spite of the fact that I pragmatically tell him he does not have to buy cards or chocolate or flowers for me, he does anyway. And I secretly love it. And he knows that.

Yesterday he bought me three red roses (one from each of the boys) and a box of homemade chocolates from The Chocolate Shop in town. He even knew to get mostly orange chocolate, because that is my favourite.

And he bought me a card. He always buys me cards. I almost never buy cards. But it just so happens that the card he bought me yesterday is probably the best card I've ever seen:

My Forever Love

When I say "I love you," it means
that in you I have found
a once-in-a-lifetime love,
the kind that I just know
will last forever...

It means I want to share
it all with you -
good times, bad times, adventures,
problems and joys.
I means that, no matter what,
you're the one I want to be with.

When I say "I love you," it means
I love you just the way you are,
and every time I'm with you,
I discover yet one more thing
about you to love.

Love is something very precious,
and when I say it, I mean it
with all my heart.
And I'm saying it to you.

These words evoke everything that is James and my relationship, which is why I really cherished the card.

James also gave me one other Valentine's present - a list of 14 things he loves about me. He never mentioned that he had been reading the "Random Reasons I Love James." I didn't specifically tell him I was doing it; I did know that from time to time, usually once a week, he peeks into my blog to see what I'm writing about. He doesn't read it daily - he lives most of the things I write about. At any rate, he did peek in, and was privately reading each entry. Then he compiled his own list and gave it to me, each one printed on a separate piece of paper and all tied together with red ribbon. I'll write a journal entry after this one of each of the things he wrote. The booklet might get worn, torn or lost over time, but hopefully I will be able to preserve them by recording them here.

I should also note my gift to James. Having written that I don't usually buy cards, and with three young boys I don't often get out to the store. Instead, I cooked James a roast dinner, complete with his favourite herb roasted potatoes. When he came in the door after work the aroma of roasting meat filled every corner of the house, and his eyes absolutely lit up when he smelled the fare that is unusual for a weekday. I love that look, and I love how much he loves the dinner.

All in all, a fantastic Valentine's Day. I know it is traditionally a Hallmark holiday, created for retailers to bridge the gap between Christmas and Easter. But I love to take advantage of a special day to tell those I love how much I love and appreciate them. In today's world, I figure we can use all the holidays of love we can get.


Because of everything that makes him who he is.

I love you.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

RRILJ #13 and #13A

(because I'm running out of days and have too many things I want to write!)


I love the way he can handle a crowd, especially when I'm so nervous about it. As an introvert, I find it takes a lot out of me to be in a crowd. The thought of having to talk and interact with a large group of people puts my stomach in knots. The thought of having to talk to people I don't know absolutely cripples me. But James handles it all with such ease and grace. He knows how nervous it makes me. I can't tell you how calming it is to have him by my side.

Two cases in point:

1) I was invited to see a group of high school friends (yes, they were friends, not just acquaintances) perform with their comedy troupe in Toronto. I really wanted to go and see them, but I was so worried about what I would say to them afterwards! The only way I could get up the courage to go was with James at my side. Funny, isn't it. I mean, they are my friends, and yet I needed James there to calm my nerves. Turned out I didn't need to worry, but it was good to have James there to help the conversation flow and avoid those awkward silences.

2) Last night we had a Valentine's dinner and dance at our church. Although we wouldn't be sitting at tables for two (there are only big round tables at the church, which seat six or eight people each) I was excited to sit with some friends and have conversation without young children tugging on my arm and competing for my attention. On the drive over I was urging James to hurry, that I didn't want to get there late and be stuck sitting with those who weren't really good friends. You see, it was our night out, and I couldn't stand the thought of having to sit with people I didn't know well and either sit in silence for three hours or feel the horrible pressure of trying to find something to talk about. As we pulled in the parking lot, I had a short panic attack. What if they seated us instead of letting us pick our seats? My stomach started churning and I nearly tore the skin off of my hands wringing them. Well, my worst fears were realized. When we got in, we had to draw a number for the table to sit at. We were the first ones to draw table four. I scanned the room; my best friends were already there, at other tables. Each time a couple entered the room, my stomach leapt and fell.

Through it all, there was James. He put an arm around my shoulders and told me he thought it was cute how nervous I was. I can't tell you how reassuring it was knowing that if we did have to sit with people I didn't know well, at least James would be there. (In the end we had a fantastic table with lots of great conversation, even if I didn't know everyone really well.)



I love the father James is. He is a get-down-on-the-ground, super involved, loves his kids to the ends of the earth kind of father. He loves to play with them, and make up stories for them at bedtime, and cuddle with them in the morning, and spoil them all he can. The boys' faces light up when they hear the front door unlock at the end of the day, and make a beeline to the door to welcome him home. He takes his role as dad very seriously and yet so naturally. He was meant to be a father, no doubt about it.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


He is always watching out for me and watching over me. This can be as small as making sure I don't walk into people/objects while out and about (this happens way more often than I like to admit!). It can also be noticing that I'm about to blow my lid and diffusing the situation before I do. Sometimes he even catches this before I realize I'm as far gone as I am. He also watches over me by taking care of me, making sure that things are as comfortable and easy-going as possible. This can be really difficult with three young children, and there isn't always a way to ease the road. But he does what he can, and all that he can, and for that I am truly grateful.

Friday, 11 February 2011


I love his smile and cheekbones. Is that strange? It's just that James has a smile that lights up his whole face, which then lights up my heart, and then lights up the whole room. His cheekbones are really defined when he smiles, and I just love that!

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Tonight James was telling the boys a bedtime story. As part of the story, the main character had to answer three math questions in order to pass through a gate.

Now, we've been doing basic math questions with Colin randomly throughout the day. Questions like "If you have 5 donuts, and you eat 2 how many do you have? And then I give you 4...and then you give one to Caleb..." Colin absolutely loves it. (He's just like me!)

So here is Colin, needing to answer three math questions. Sometimes he can do them in his head, sometimes he needs to count on his fingers. The first two he gets, no problem. So James decides to challenge him a little with this:

"If you have 20 apples, and I take six away, how many do you have?"

Colin thought for a minute. He looked at his hands, knowing he only has 10 fingers. Then he raised his eyes slightly and stared at his feet, toes bare beneath his pyjama bottoms. He quickly counted off six toes, then added his ten fingers plus the remaining four toes... "14?" came his answer.

My child is brilliant. And just like his mom. I use to do math problems for fun. And I still love a sodoku challenge or logic problem.


The ladies bible study I attend at a local Baptist church started up again this morning. We've been on hiatus since the end of November, and I didn't realize just how much this one morning gives to me, how much it steadies my whole week.

The group is called "Overflow," because the goal is to have God's word overflowing out of our cups. We have just started a Beth Moore study and by golly, it is going to be AWESOME! I love her as a scriptorian and as an inspirational speaker. Her love for the bible flows from every word and every facial expression and I always catch her fever when doing her studies.

I also really love the 2 hour break from the boys. They have childcare there, even for the tiny, wee babies. For two hours I get to have adult conversation, personal study and gospel connection without Benjamin hanging off my arm. Since I rarely get to any classes on Sundays at church, this is a real booster for me.

It is also really useful having a weekly Thursday morning appointment. Even though Colin has a school schedule and Caleb has a nursery school schedule, somehow everything has been in chaos during this hiatus from Overflow. Having this on my own schedule each week has been an anchor, a point to look forward to or back from during the five days of weekday blur.

Then there is the added bonus of the fantastic group of women I am with this year. We are all in different walks and stages of life, but at the same time we have lots in common. Between the seven of us, we have 13 children. One is a newlywed. One is a new mom. One is getting ready to send her oldest off to university. We weekly pray for the strength to let our children live another day. Together we delve into the word of God, and into our own souls as we try to grow closer to God. Together we pray for our struggles and give thanks for the triumphs. This is the most personal I have ever been with prayer and scripture study; it has given new life to my own daily habits.

I was bouncing off the walls, smiling ear to ear, and dancing with my boys before lunch today, all because I was refilled to Overflowing this morning. God is good. He knows exactly what we need and he always fills us when we need it most.


He pays attention to things that I like, and then remembers them later on. Case in point: he called me "Beautiful" the other day, which he hasn't really ever done before (he has lots of terms of endearment for me, it's just that "Beautiful" hasn't been there before.) I thought it was really sweet, and told him so. The next morning, when I came downstairs, he said coyly "Good morning, Beautiful." Then, when he left for work "See you later, Beautiful." And so, now and then over the past few days, he has found moments to call me Beautiful. He's often like that: if there is a treat I really love, or a type of flower I think is pretty, or a movie I want to see, he logs it away in his memory and pulls it out at just the right time.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


He lets me be the "girl" sometimes. That means he kills insects and does the heavy hauling and takes out the garbage. It doesn't have to be that way; if I can build a fence on my own I can probably handle a few of these traditionally masculine things. And I'm by no means the squealy, girly type of woman. But James lets me play that card anyway.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


He is so generous with himself and his time. He will almost always volunteer to help out when there is a need. He puts the feelings of others ahead of his own desires. And he never sees it as an inconvenience. He simple sees a need and steps in, as though it was the most natural thing to do.

GREAT things

I've had my head deep into the scriptures lately, in a really good way. My subject study has been a little all over the place, and yet somehow each day somehow fits really nicely with the previous. There has been one over-riding theme that has come up, and it's been really cool.

It all started with this passage:

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6)

Whenever I've considered this thought before, I've always focused on the "small and simple things" part. It helped me realize that the seemingly insignificant steps I'm taking might all actually amount to something one day. It helped me be okay with baby steps.

But this week it was the latter portion that jumped out at me: "great things brought to pass." Instead of thinking small, I started thinking big. Really big. I realized that with enough faith, and through the power of God, anything truly is possible. And it is possible in my life, not just those inspirational stories that happen to other people.

Then my scripture studies took me on a journey through verses about power. God's infinite power, and the access I can have to it. And if I have access to God's infinite power, then my own possibilities truly are endless. And great things will be brought to pass in my own life.

Think of truly being able to harness the power of the Almighty. Think of what He could do through me? It's true that, on my own, all I can handle are the small and simple things. But with God? He could use me to move mountains.

Isn't that exciting? It's given me a whole new outlook on day to day living. A scripture scholar I truly admire advised looking for "if...then..." statements in the scriptures. "If" I do [x], "then" God promises [y]. As I read about being furnished with power from on high, the if part was actually simple. There is a circle of study, prayer and revelation. If I study God's word and pray for understanding, then God reveals his mysteries and endows me with power. Then I take that understanding and search again in my studies, then pray again, and once again revelation flows. These cycles are like a spiral winding upward toward Heaven, with each circle rising higher and higher. As I am raised higher, my will starts to align with His will, and that, my friends, is when truly great things are brought to pass.

So from now on, I'm thinking big. I'm daily preparing myself, and committing to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. I feel like I'm soaring to a higher plane of understanding and it's so exciting!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Things to do

I know I always seems to have lists of projects to do. In case you think my secret identity is Superwoman, know that I don't get to as many of these projects as I hope to. But I like list-making; it helps me sort through my mind, and jotting things down "on paper" actually helps my hopeless memory retain a thing or two.

So here are a few things I'm hoping to get done in the near future (one month? two?)

1. Finish my blue jean quilt. The top is the fun part. The assembling, not so much. And assembling by stitching with yarn? Whose idea was that? I'm sure it will look awesome, but it takes some real womanpower to get that darn needle through three layers! But I did get it started today, and the bag of quilt is now in my living room instead of tucked away in the bedroom, so hopefully by attacking a few stitches here and there I might actually be done by spring!

2. Paint the trim in the stairway. The last genius to paint (before we got the house) decided that everything had to be this pink-mocha colour, including the baseboards, the window trim, and the actual stairs. The carpet is ugly and permanently spotted with dirt, but it's not worth the cost to replace it, and wood stairs with three young boys is a slip'n'slide-trip-to-the-ER waiting to happen. So I'm hoping that if I at least return the trim to white it might give it a semblance of style.

3. Remove the train table from the playroom. This is a bigger job than it sounds like, because it also means cleaning a spot for the table in our garage. Thus I kill two birds with one stone on this project. The boys have sort of lost interest in the trains lately, with their burgeoning talents in Lego. Plus, with the devastatingly cold winter we are experiencing, playing outside hasn't happened too often. By removing the table for a couple of months, it will give the boys much more room to play indoors. Then when I bring it back out in the Spring, they'll rediscover their love of this great toy.




He never does anything halfway. If James is on the job, you get 100% every time. His dedication is inspiring, not only to myself, but to everyone who James works with, with family, at work, and at church.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


He loves to deep clean. Really. If I am going to mop the floor, I wet the mop and run it over the kitchen floor in about 3 minutes. If James is going to mop the floor, he gets out a big bucket, washes the bucket out, fills it with warm water and soap, then gets down on his hands and knees and scrubs the floor from corner to corner. He is also the one more likely to scrub the stove element pieces and scour the sticky dust off of the range hood. Thank goodness, because if he didn't do those things, I couldn't say if they'd ever get done!

Saturday, 5 February 2011


He really gets that I need to get out of the house sometimes and hang out with my girlfriends. He always encourages me to attend any girl's night someone is throwing, even if there happens to be one Friday and then again one Saturday. He really understands that I need to be able to separate myself from being mother-at-home sometimes.

Friday, 4 February 2011


Big breakfasts. James loves to make them. Pancakes or waffles or eggs and bacon and homemade hashbrowns. And he never forgets that I love big glass of orange juice with any breakfast I have. James is the breakfast king and it's AWESOME!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

I knew it would happen

Just like that, I had an infinitely better day today. It was even a day when James left for work before we were all really up and still isn't home after the boys are all tucked into bed. Last month this might have left me frustrated, aggravated and with zero patience.

Instead, I drove Colin to school to give us an extra half hour to get ready, had a lovely visit with friends and their children, Caleb and Benjamin slept for an hour and a half at the same time, we played in the snow while waiting to pick up Colin from the bus, I gave the older boys haircuts while they watched a movie, I made something healthy and yummy for dinner and the boys ate their weight in salad, the four of us all played cars happily together on the kitchen floor for half an hour with no fighting, I bathed all three boys without protest, while I put Benjamin to sleep the boys got into their pyjamas, put their clothes in the hamper and read quietly in their beds until I was done, then we read books, told stories, read from the scriptures, said prayer and I tucked them into bed, all before 8pm.

Whew! I also managed to keep the house in relative order throughout the day, making sure there were no dirty dishes or unused toys left lying around. I had to miss band tonight, but after such a great day, I'm not phased in the least.

Isn't it wonderful when unspoken prayers are answered anyway?


He gives me foot rubs, even though I can't stand to touch other people's feet (and therefore rarely reciprocate.)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

January goes out with a bang

Piled deep beneath a snow storm, at least I can say that I survived January! It can be such a difficult month, post holidays, smack-dab in the middle of deep freezes blanketed in gray skies. And while a Canadian winter will stretch on right through February and most of March, somehow getting through January is the worst of it.

(A 10 day vacation down south always helps!)

I hope there is energy and happy days to come. My patience has been stretched thin these past weeks. The boost I expected from our holiday didn't last nearly as long as I expected or hoped it might. I am tiring of Benjamin's clingy stage. While I was prepared for it to come around 9 months and last until about a year old, we are six weeks past that and there is no end in sight. While some moments I can snuggle him up into my arms, or sing hymn after hymn to him in the evenings, his demands made known through shrill shrieking and his endless need to be carried hour after hour are wearing me down fast. I am in sore need of sunny, warm weather and to take my brood out into the shades of green. I foresee Spring picnics in the backyard and running the bases at an empty diamond and hiking over cricks and down rugged paths. I yearn to run at the park and up and over the playground. I hope this year, Benjamin will be old enough to want to run with the boys and I in the backyard and we can simply lounge out there for hours on end.

28 days of February. Lately I have found myself trying to look at time in short increments. Tonight, after losing my patience at dinnertime as Benjamin shrieked while I tried to eat, James suggested an early bedtime for the boys. Looking at the clock, I said aloud "45 minutes. Yes, I can make it 45 minutes without throwing a child into a snowbank." In the same light, I look at 28 days of February, with 2 notches already marked.

And somehow it seems that every time I purge my exhaustion into a written entry, things swing up. Perhaps tomorrow I will find some peace again.


He lets me shovel the snow, even though I suppose it's technically the "man's job." He will put up with all the comments about "making his wife shovel instead of doing it himself."

(I get an hour's worth of silence without screaming children and my name being called incessantly. I totally get the better end of the deal!)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


He gets up with the boys every morning since Benjamin was born, allowing me to rest until at least 7am, then take my shower and get dressed in peace and quiet.

Countdown to Valentines Day

A friend posted on Facebook that in honour of the upcoming Valentine's Day, she will be posting one random thing each day that she loves about her husband. I thought it was a brilliant idea, especially since her husband also has a Facebook account and will have the pleasure of reading them each day.

And so I, too, am embarking on this random journey. But as James does not use Facebook, I have opted to record mine here. What I love most about this idea is that I will be able to spend some time each day thinking about our relationship and the wonderful, little, random things James does for me.
And so, I hereby launch RRILJ (Random reasons I love James).