Monday, 30 January 2012


As it turned out, there was no Leafs game on Saturday night! It was the All-Star break, and I had no idea how to break it to Colin. Turns out, I didn't really have to. The All-Stars skills competition was happening instead, so I just explained that instead of a game, we'd watch a whole bunch of little races.

In preparation, I dug out my old Leafs jersey from high school. Colin put on his hockey pyjamas, and threw on a Maple Leafs t-shirt over top. Then he gathered all his little hockey memorabilia (right down the the Kinder surprise hockey playing duck figure) and lined them up on the table next to the couch. He also brought down his comforter with the Original Six logos on it. James made us a feast of junk food including popcorn, mozza sticks and ice cream.

We settled into the evening. The first half hour of ceremony was almost painful it took so long, but we made a game out of playing "watch for the Leaf players" and "identify players from the original six" (logos on comforter, remember?)

The first event was for fastest skater. Lots of adrenaline and rooting for our team (the one with all the Leafs on it.) But it was the second event that made the night. Called the "Breakaway competition" it actually wasn't about scoring at all. It was about showmanship. Each player in the game tried to show off with a fancy trick or two as he skated toward the goalie. It didn't matter if the puck actually went in the net, in fact, the goalies were also in on the game. The goalies would try to stop the puck facing backward, or with their glove over their face, or doing twirls. The players would twirl and twist and lift up the puck with their stick or try to bat it out of the air.

We had two favourites. One player donned a Superman cape and a pair of thick glasses. Then on his way down the ice he slid on his stomach as though flying through the air. He hand passed the puck from one side of his body to the other, catching it with his stick and flinging it into the net. On his second go, he used a trick puck that exploded into 5 chunks when he let go of his slap shot. The second favourite player stopped midway on his skate toward the net, threw off one glove, then the other, tossed his stick away, then pulled a mini 12" stick from underneath his jersey, and proceeded to score on the goalie with the miniature stick.

But my favourite part of the night was watching Colin. He was so ecstatic about everything! He would jump up and perform a live replay of the neatest tricks. Then he would make up his own trick, if he was in the competition. We would cheer when we got a point and groan when our team lost one. We cheered extra loud for the Maple Leafs.

This is definitely going to turn into a weekly event for Colin and I. It was so much fun, spending time just the two of us.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Why the golden rule can be a bad thing

We all learn the "golden rule" when we are young: do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It seems a perfectly good rule to live by, one that should bring peace and happiness to your life and the lives of those around you.

But sometimes, it is the wrong thing. The completely wrong thing.

I heard a story the other day that illustrated why, in marriage, the golden rule should not apply. It had to do with french fries. If you like french fries, you know that there are a hundred different types out there - thin and thick and baked and deep fried and salted and plain. Every restaurant has their own type, every store bought brand has many varieties, and even when you make them at home you've got lots of options.

There once was a woman who loved super crispy fries. But she loved her husband so much that every time they had french fries she gave him all the super crispy ones, a selfless act of sacrificial love. The thing is, her husband really loved his french fries more soggy. But every time they had french fries he allowed his wife to give him the crispy ones and selflessly let his wife take the soggy ones. It was several years before the couple found out the truth about their mate's preference in french fries, and luckily they were able to laugh about their breakdown in communication (and from that day forward enjoy their own favourite kind of fries.)

French fries are admittedly a small matter in marriage. But apply this story on a larger level and you can see where trouble could brew. Let's say, after an argument, the woman really wants to sit and talk it out until the wee hours of the morning. But her husband needs a 24 hour cooling off period. If they applied the golden rule, "do unto others as you would have others do unto you," then because the wife would try to sit down with the husband and force him to talk immediately, because that's what she wishes would be "done unto her." And the husband would graciously give his wife space for 24 hours, because he feels he should "do unto her as he would have done unto himself."

The examples could go on and on. How a couple spends their time alone. How they deal with extended family issues. How often they invite people over. How they raise their children. How they approach their sex life.

In fact, selfless love in a marriage usually involves the opposite of the golden rule. It means open communication, finding out what your partner's needs, wants and desires are and then sacrificing how you would rather have things done in favour of doing it their way. Of course there is a give and take involved, times where you give and times where you receive. But I can certainly attest to (and I'm sure many of you can also) that the greatest happiness you will find in marriage is when you are not getting your "own way" but are instead doing something special for your spouse.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hockey Night in Canada

When I was 15 years old, I discovered hockey. I wasn't raised in a sports-watching home, and while I enjoyed playing on school teams, we weren't really a sports-playing family either. But somehow, one Saturday night, I landed on the CBC on TV, and Hockey Night in Canada. My love of the Maple Leafs was instantly born.

What was even cooler was that my mom wandered in and asked what I was watching. When she saw what it was, she sat down in ecstasy, and admitted before she married my dad she had been a huge hockey fan! We watched many Saturday night games throughout my high school years, and I have followed the team on an off ever since.

I always figured I was just waiting until I got married, then I would find in my husband a soul mate in sports. I mean, most men are into sports, right? Well, turns out I married into a family who aren't sports people either. Neither my husband nor his three brothers are big sports fans. I mean, come on! What are the odds?!

Now I have three sons, and I hope my odds will be better in finding a kindred spirit in my love of sports in one of them. They are too young now to be anything other than influenced by what James and I expose them to. Without TV, I don't watch too many games anymore, but with internet streaming improving, there just might be a revival of HNIC in our house after all! It was sports day today at Colin's school, where everyone wears their favourite team shirt. Yes, both my boys are decked out in Leafs gear. And last Saturday Colin wandered into my room and asked if there was hockey on, and, perfect timing, the Saturday night game had just started. I think I have found our new tradition! Colin and I have a date for tonight again (just for the first period of the game) to watch the Leafs and eat some junk food (probably ice cream, but as he gets older, we'll certainly crack out my traditional pizza/wings/wedge fries/pop fare.) Here's hoping it sticks with him!

Friday, 27 January 2012


Last night James showed Colin and Caleb the short film he made in university. It's a great little comedy piece called "The Dim Reaper" about the Grim Reaper's son learning to take over for his father. The boys have been asking for a long time to see both of our movies, so James obliged. However, because I was really sick and in bed, he didn't want to show the boys my movie without me being there to see their reactions, so instead he popped in "The Sound of Music" and showed them some of the songs and scenes. All three boys had their eyes glued to the screen, absolutely loving every minute.

When James turned the movie off for bedtime, Colin turned to James and said "Daddy, I liked your movie, but Mommy's movie was amazing!"

While I wish I could say my student film was as brilliant as one of the best movies of all time, in truth Colin just didn't realize James had skipped over my film.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

"Convince me"

I hope the "convince me" method will be the one I favour when my children are teens. I love this concept. The idea is that, once you have raised your children to their teens, it is time to let them start making decisions. If you are authoritarian until they leave home, they will be unprepared to make rational, smart, difficult decisions on their own. So those teen years are perfect for helping them to learn how to make good choices.

That being said, I don't believe you can leave them all to themselves, since hormones and other cray brain activity can impare good judgement. Enter the "convince me" method. When my instinct is to say "no" but my teen is firmly on the other side of the fence, instead of just saying "no," I say "convince me." This will hopefully mean that my child will go away and think about the situation, the outcomes, the problems, the solutions. I'm a pretty good debater, and they will soon realize that they will have to think out the situation from all angles if they are truly going to convince me. The end result of this method is that eventually by the time my kids come to me with a request, they'll have thought it out completely before hand, thus equipping themselves with good decision making skills.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


"Mom, can we have a chat?"

Colin entered my room calmly, came to the side of my bed and posed this thoughtful question in a serious manner. I agreed, and he laid out his plan. You see, over the last two weeks he has been yearning for a certain Lego toy he saw in his Lego magazine. He originally asked us to buy it for him, but we quickly explained that we don't buy things whenever we want just because we want it. We first have to have the money to buy it, and if we don't, we have to save up. I recommended he put it on his list for his birthday/Christmas.

But then I felt a little bad, because, of course, his birthday and Christmas both come in the same month, which just passed, which means another 11 months before that comes around again. And I could see how hard that would be for a six year old.

After we said we wouldn't buy it, he said he would save up his money. He opened his piggy bank and counted the few dollars that were in there. And I felt a little bad again, because we don't do allowances yet, and now is not exactly a good time for me to start enforcing new ideas around the home.

Anyway, back to Colin in my bedroom, and his request for a chat. In a manner that showed he had put much thought into the matter, he laid out his plan: he asked if he could do some big chores around the house to earn some money, in order to save up to buy his toy.

Well, he hit it on the head of the nail. There are many different methods parents use for allowance, but the one James and I like most is that there are "family chores" the boys will be expected to do because they are a part of the family: keeping their rooms clean and the play room tidied, and, as they grow, sharing part in things like cleaning the bathroom, dishes, laundry, etc. But we will also use a "money chore" list - a list of bigger chores around the house that need doing, and that have an assigned money worth to them. At any time, the kids will be allowed to choose from that list to earn money.

I told Colin I'd think about some money chores. It's hard, because he is only six and isn't strong enough or big enough for bigger tasks. And the smaller ones are ones he does as family chores. Then I realized this would be a good opportunity for some long neglected chores to get done, ones that have been missed because I'm ill and James is so busy.

So now, once a week, Colin can choose to wash the kitchen floor (water, vinegar and a scrubby sponge), wash the bathroom floor, or vacuum the stairs. All three never get done with the regularity we'd wish. A perfect symbiotic relationship!

He's so eager to start right away, but we had to convince him to wait until Saturday to be shown how to do it and what level of quality is expected to earn the money. But he's a good little worker, and I have no doubt he'll get to it! He's a great example for his younger brothers, also.

Monday, 23 January 2012


I know I've probably raved about my favourite cookbook before, but that's because it is truly awesome. It is one of my favourite wedding shower gifts to give (along with a cute apron.) The Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbook is so good I just got myself a second one, since the first has been utterly destroyed from 7 years of use.

What I love about it:

1) The tips and explanation diagrams. From substitution ideas to pictures of different cuts of meat to selecting fresh fruits and vegetables to the complete kitchen tool guide - if there is anything you weren't sure of in recipe directions these pages will answer it for you. Photo step by step guides to tricky preparation processes are also valuable.

2) Favourite standard recipes. While there are some neat new ideas to try, this cookbook contains all your standard recipes you would want to know how to make. Scalloped potatoes, barbecue chicken, muffins, many easy simple recipes especially for someone just starting to cook.

3) Variation ideas: lots of recipes has variation ideas. In the latest revision, there is also a feature called "make-it-mine" which lets you start with a list of basic ingredients and then lets you choose from a list of different ways to change up the flavour. For example, the basic list might say "meat, condensed soup, vegetable, topping" and then you can choose from the list what meat you'd like, what soup flavour, what type of vegetable and what kind of topping.

4) No crazy long ingredient lists and very few one-off ingredients. I consider a "one-off" ingredient one that I have to buy specifically (and usually only) for one recipe. I usually end up tossing the rest, since so few recipes actually use it.

Leafing through my new, revised edition, I'm getting excited for when I'm back up and running again. Remember the concept of the book/film "Julie & Julia" where a woman decided to make very single item in Julia Child's cookbook? I'm feeling inspired to try something of the same with my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I spent an hour flipping through the pages today and truly felt like I could try almost every recipe in there. And so, come summer, I just might!

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Yesterday Caleb announced that when he grows up, he wants to be a Time Machine Maker, so he can travel back and forth through time. Colin advised him that he could be an Inventor, who would invent lots of things, including time machines. Caleb agreed that sounded better than Time Machine Maker.

I love the seriousness of child's play and imagination.

Postscript - today Caleb wants to be Batman when he grows up. I guess we should wait another decade or two to see where things settle.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


If you've ever seen the film "A Mighty Wind" there is a character that says over and over "Wha happened?" in a drawn out, airy sort of voice. Ever since we saw it, James and I have spoken the line jokingly over the years.

Completely unrelated (since we haven't actually referenced the line in the last year or so) Benjamin has started saying "Wha happened?" exactly the same way while he plays with his toys. He'll have a car or an action figure in his hand, and it will crash or fall over, and he'll look at it and say "wha happened? wha happened?" as a part of his game.

I love the little things about our kids that just make you laugh out loud.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Against the grain

Colin had a project assignment this week that brought an interesting parenting/teaching moment for us. He had to prepare a poster of photos that illustrated several different aspects of his family. Under the heading "my family" he taped up our latest family portrait, but because of the new baby coming soon, I also got him a copy of our last ultrasound to include. He was really excited to have something so unique to talk about.

Two days before his presentation, Colin came home from school dejected. When I pried him for information, he told me that his teacher said that the kids could not include any babies who were still in their mommy's stomach as part of their family. Colin felt pressured to take the ultrasound off, and sad that he couldn't talk about the baby.

I immediately countermanded the teacher's instruction. Obviously this baby is a huge part of our family already, especially given how it has affected the boys' day to day living. There is no way I was going to let the teacher tell Colin that just because the baby was not born yet, it wasn't a part of our family.

I firstly told Colin that he did not have to take the photo off, and that indeed the baby is part of our family. But the more important school-related lesson here is that you don't have to tailor your work to be exactly the same as everyone else's, and to exactly what the teacher wants. As long as the specifications of the assignment are met and the work is done, then being creative and unique is what education is all about.

It was an interesting moment for me, since I spent my whole school career giving teachers exactly what they wanted just so I could be rewarded with an A grade. I have since come to realize how limiting this can be in one's education. Thinking outside the box is the biggest thing that will lead to success in the "real world" and I don't want my children to fall into the typical school trap of simple regurgitation. I want them to know that good teachers will encourage discovery, and only bad teachers will punish them for it. And they will come across those kinds of bad teachers, but in most cases I'd rather they stay true to themselves and their ideas than only strive for certain letter grades. Because there are no As in the real world.

Monday, 16 January 2012

The next stage of life - Postscript

Thinking about what I wrote yesterday, it occurred to me perhaps one of the reasons I've really been lingering on "the next stage" lately. Yes, it has partly to do with all the reasons I wrote, including illness and sleepless nights and missed honeymoon years. But you know what I really think it is? I think it's my next coping mechanism.

You see, I got through the first trimester of this pregnancy looking forward to the 16 week mark, which was always when I was able to get up and going again. Then, as 16 weeks came and went with no significant improvement, I got really down. I felt like I had nothing to get me through until JUNE, which felt so very, very far away. I mean, the boys will be done school and summer will be in full swing by the time this baby comes and I'm well again. 5 months just seems interminably long.

So "the next stage" has become a definitive point in the future to look forward to. Yes, the baby will come and yes, I can't wait for newborn cuddles again. But right now I need something to get my mind off of pregnancy and babies altogether in order to get through, and, well, this is it. Yay for the brain that knows what we need for survival and subconsciously comes up with it.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The next stage of life

I know everyone says that we should enjoy the stage of life we're in and not wish for time to speed up and get us to something different. Well, I think "everyone" would understand that I'm a little eager for this pregnancy stage of my life to be done, given the miserable 3 years I'll have spent sick and pregnant by the time this baby comes. Of course I wouldn't give up my beautiful children for anything in this world, but I can be honest in saying I wish I could have done it without the illness and the absenteeism from life.

I am really looking forward to the next stage of life - the post pregnancy stage, the stage that says "here we go, this is the roller-coaster you've been waiting for." Knowing that aside from an occasional flu I'll be there for it all.

I am looking forward to volunteering at the kids' school and going on field trips. I'm looking forward to soccer games and baseball games and volleyball games and camping and kayaking with my family. I'm looking forward to hosting gatherings of family and friends. I'm looking forward to being caught up with things rather than just putting out fires. I'm looking forward to spending time with my husband that isn't doing dishes or falling asleep at 8pm because we haven't slept a full night in years. I'm looking forward to hosting sleepovers with cousins to give our siblings time alone with their spouses, and then looking forward to weekends away with my husband. I'm looking forward to projects and friends and learning and hobbies and girls nights out.

James and I have been married 8 years, which has been wonderful but also a blur, given that 2 years we spent on opposite work shifts (night/day), 3 years I was sick pregnant, and 3 years we had sleepless babies where I survived somehow on 2-3 hours of sleep a night. I realized that we never really had a time of those honeymoon days, where you come home from work and hang out with each other every day, and travel and explore the world, or at least your corner of the woods. Again, I wouldn't change a single thing. But I really, really am looking forward to the next stage of life.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

But that's just us

Last night James and I had a *hot* accounting date with the business books. Okay, would be high on the usual list for date night, but actually, we both really love accounting. Strange, I know. But When one of you is on bedrest and the other is wiped from working and running the house, going out isn't really an option. So yes, we had a date doing math, and we liked it. But that's just us.

When James and I were still newlyweds, our financial advisor only half jokingly said that we should go on tour to talk with young 20-somethings about money. She was impressed that we had some good money sense in our heads and a good financial plan well on its way.

As the years have gone by, that comment comes back to me now and then. It's true that James and I have always had, and still have, a good money plan. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that it's really because not only are we both of the most optimal money personality (savers, who still allow for wise spending/splurging on quality now and then) but that when we married each other, because we are the same money personality, there was not going to be any friction between us when it came to finances.

I'm not sure if the stat is the same now, but for a long time money problems were the number one cause of divorce. That doesn't mean just those who have to budget every penny because of tight finances, it mainly means that the husband and wife have two completely different ideas of how the household money should be handled. The amazing thing for James and I is that we've never had one disagreement when it comes to money. We are always 100% on board with each other. I think that if you presented any money scenario to us and had us solve the problem apart, our plans would be identical when you compare them.

So because of our secret love of math and numbers, there we were last night, running and crunching numbers and creating graphs and charts and actually enjoying it. But that's just us.


Caleb: Colin? Colin? COLIN! Colin, Are your ears broken? Then ANSWER me!!!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Last week I got myself hooked onto Pinterest, an emerging web fad that I think will really take off. It's not much more than a virtual pinboard, a place to collect all the neat ideas and inspirations we come across online. What's great is that it's finally all in one place, rather than on multiple specialty websites (like recipe or decorating ones), in an image folder on your computer (that never tracks where the idea came from, and is often missing crucial instructions!) or in the ever growing bookmark folder in your browser (those links disappear or make so sense after a couple of months.)

The time eater can be surfing around your friends' pin boards, seeing what great ideas they've found (then pinning them onto your own boards.) But I found that after the initial exploration, things have calmed down to a few minutes and a few new ideas a day.

I've already implemented this awesome idea for the closet in the baby's nursery:

(and no, it is not done in pink, and that is not revealing that we are having a girl! I'm going to wait until our new little one is born to see what colours I go with)

And here is a new idea I saw today, and I seriously think this could be the answer to my menu planning dilemma. I love to menu plan my dinners each week, to help keep on our monthly food budget. Sometimes I have the time to sit and browse through my cookbooks, but sometimes I just wouldn't rather it be much faster than that. With this method, I can quickly look through our favourite meal ideas, and also let James and the boys pick some ideas, too! I'm a very visual person, so it makes it much easier to have the meal ideas written down in front of me instead of trying to rack my brain under pressure.

While I'm not great at this kind of crafty thing, I probably could at least follow this example, or perhaps get one of my super crafty friends to help me out in the details. Nevertheless, I'm excited for the great ideas I'm gleaning through Pinterest!

(PS - if you aren't already on this website, you need to be invited by someone who is, so just let me know and I'll send you the invite!)

Monday, 9 January 2012

A little discouragement setting in

Passing the 16 week mark of my pregnancy seems to have resulted in more than a little discouragement. The times when I've felt well enough to try and participate in something has led to a multiple day downward slide afterwards. I still have days where I can't get out of bed. I still have days where the super-meds I'm on don't seem to touch much of the illness.

16 weeks was supposed to be when I kick back into regular life. In all three previous pregnancies, this was the time when my daily activities returned to normal. While I'm still ill for the whole nine months, at least I was able to get back out.

The nurses have said it could take another couple of weeks, but after that then it's not likely just the HCG levels that are making me sick. There's a good chance it's a girl and the estrogen levels are making things worse than the last times. Or my body just keeps reacting worse to the whole experience. Either way, the next couple of weeks will either mean getting better, or remaining like this for another five months.

I am finding it really hard being so removed from life, particularly at home. I don't really know what the boys are doing at school. I'm missing the evolution of their growth and play and learning. I'm missing preparing meals for my family (yes, I really do love to do that!) I'm missing hanging out with my husband. I miss the organization of my home. I miss even the small things, like changing over the seasons of clothing. And I really don't feel like continuing on like this until June. By that time, school will be out and I'll have essentially missed an entire school year of my boys. And I'll have missed some of my favourite moments of toddler-hood with Benjamin.

Part of me hates this pity-party for one, but I also realize that our challenges are personally designed, and I can't compare what I find hard to deal with to other's seemingly more difficult struggles. This is hard for me, and I'm not exactly sure what I will need to do to get through the next five months.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Writing writing writing

Saw a post for the Toronto Star's short story contest. Thought I might see what I could do. My problem is keeping it to 2500 words! My best short story right now is just shy of 5000, and I'm not sure I could hack it in half. The other two I have are both just over 3000. I think I'll take another stab at another story and see what count it comes in at. I love that short stories tend to write themselves. Now to find an editor with less emotional ties than myself to the work!

Friday, 6 January 2012


Last week we did the old "pass the clothes on down" for the boys' Sunday dress. Colin has been waiting forever to grow into a nice black suit jacket he has hanging in his closet, and was ecstatic on Sunday when he put it on and it fit well enough to wear. He takes so much pride in getting dressed on Sunday (which he never replicates during the week!), getting all the shirt buttons done up, the vest on, the tie on. Once he put the jacket on, his eyes grew wide at his reflection: "I look just like Daddy!" he proclaimed in awe.

My mom then recounted that later at church that day, Colin had been sitting on my mom's lap reading a book. But all of a sudden during the passing of the bread and water, he climbed down and moved down the pew to sit next to James. He settled down on the bench next to his dad, and took care to imitate exactly the way James was sitting. He sat reverently for that 20 minute time span or so, a little miniature version of his father.


My dad was reading a chapter book of Scooby-Doo to Colin yesterday, and the chapter ended in a cliff-hanger: there was a monster to be caught, and a trap must be designed and laid! As soon as my dad closed the book, Colin disappeared off to Lego-land (as is his habit) to start building. Not long after, he came back to my dad and presented the trap he had built, what he imagined the characters would build in the next chapter. It was a tower with a mug of hot chocolate beneath it, and a large crate designed to fall when the monster went for the bait. It was actually really impressive! Colin was sorely disappointed when they read the next chapter later on and found out the characters opted instead to simply throw a blanket over the monster. Then again, Colin was not surprised when that trap didn't work. He clearly understood that he had the superior design!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Tears and cuddles

One thing I've really tuned into while having to lie in bed upstairs while my family are downstairs are the tears. We have three really high energy boys, one of which is super sensitive, one of which is super emotional, and one of which is two. To keep things in order, we've always needed to run a tight ship. We try to allow the boys as much latitude as we can, but we have to reign things in quickly before they get out of control.

Nevertheless, there are always moments in the day when sharp words of warning must be used, usually to prevent injury. Often our boys' emotional response is tears. Half of the time the answer is to remove the boy from the situation (have some time apart in their room - not as a punishment, just as a way to calm down) and the other half of the time we have a cuddle.

Lately, every time I hear those tears start (yes, they are always accompanied by a good healthy loud cry), all I want is to pull them up into bed with me and cuddle and wipe away those tears from their cheeks. It has really made me want to always have that reaction to my boys' tears, not just when I removed from the stress of parenting. Although I know a balance must be struck between comforting and indulging, I like this new outlook bed rest have given me.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

When tragedy strikes close to home

How painful I find to write today, just having completed an entry on the beauty of the world. I suppose it is true that we live in a world of opposition, and we can only know true joy and happiness when in comparison to sorrow and pain.

I was shocked this morning to learn about the wonderful french couple with whom I lived during my exchange to France. Everyone who knows me knows who much I was affected by my time living there, how much the place has come to mean to me. Even 14 years later I am still in contact with my french family, following their lives and adventures, including the birth of a baby.

The biggest adventure they embarked on was when the mother and father sold all they had (including their precious gem of a home up a small mountain route in Ollioules) to sail around the world on their catamaran. Christian was a navy veteran, and the whole family had grown up sailing. I was even fortunate to spend some time on the boat, sailing and sleeping on the open Mediterranean waters.

This morning I was shocked to learn about their capture by Somali pirates, the death of Christian, and the kidnapping and subsequent brazen rescue by police of Evelyne. The notice came in French, and I was so unstable I struggled through much of the content. Sometimes even missing one word can change or alter the meaning of the message, and it took me several times to come to a complete understanding of what had happened.

I avidly follow news all the time, and so I had long heard of the situation with the Somali pirates. I'd heard the reports, seen the images, and yet never really understood what the tragedy of news reports really holds until now. Until now, those things seem like things that happen to other people. Brief soundbytes conveying news. But how devastating and life-altering those short reports are to families forever changed by a sudden event.

The unexpected wave of grief hit me like a brick wall this morning, a reminder of just how much I was impacted by my journey over there. When you are 17 and leaving home for the first time, you quickly find a way to fill in the gap of missing parents. Christian and Evelyne did exactly that for me, taking me into their home of two daughters and making me feel like a third. I feel like it is hard for me to mourn here, because I'm mourning a memory from 14 years ago, and yet it is something that has always remained a big part of me.

Elegantly eclectic

"There is beauty all around"

I love that I have an eye for catching beauty around me. There is just something about living life seeing the little things that inspires me.

I stumbled on this website today, and every single image this author posts is breathtaking in its own way. Every photo is different, and the subjects are far reaching: people, places, moments, fashion. This website is going on my "follow" list so that every morning I can start my day by looking at something beautiful. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder to find something like that in my day that follows.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The bedroom dilemma

Has anyone out there figured out the perfect way to decorate a master bedroom for a husband and wife? Because seriously, this is the bane of my existence.

For me, it starts with my imagination problem. I have this issue where I imagine something (anything - a dress, a decor, a colour) in my mind without having seen anything like it before. And then when I go out looking for it, surprise surprise, it isn't out there. And I go from store to store frustrated that nothing matches what I have in my mind. Then I usually come home empty handed.

Nothing, other than my ideal prom dress, has exemplified this problem more than decorating our master bedroom. I have these wonderful ideas of having something that is both romantic and an oasis. I have literally looked through thousands of photos of bedrooms, and have not found even one that I like. It's true. I have never seen a master bedroom that I really love that would be perfect for a married couple.

Sure, I've seen some lovely photos with gorgeous pinks or clearwater blues or calming greens that I just love. I've seen some fantastic shabby chic ideas that would be perfect for me, but have not a single touch of masculinity in them for James.

I look at colour palettes and nothing jumps out. I think of the colour groups and reject them all - red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, green. Neutrals are nice but don't have the excitement I'm after.

Right now our bedroom is a complete mish mash. We have James' double bed from before we met, sans a headboard or footboard. The dresser belonged to at least two people before James got it, before we met, and was built in the 60s, or maybe the 70s. The night table was also his, mismatched, old, peeling veneer top. The other night stand is just a table we used to have on our balcony at the apartment. Add a Wal-Mart special bookshelf. I do have a lovely quilt that I bought when we moved into our house, but it's a country, homey feel, which again is lovely in terms of making you feel like you want to sink into it, but cottage comfort isn't really what I'm going for. The walls are a burnt orange - I gave James the choice on the colour since I chose the rest of the colours for the house.

So where does that leave me? Hopefully not stuck in this collection forever. Perhaps if we build a new master bedroom, I can hire a consultant who is a magic mind-reader and who will know exactly what it is I'm looking for, because I certainly don't!

On the other hand, if you are a magic mind-reader and have been able to decipher all these ramblings into the perfect picture, please feel free to send it my way!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Reading reading reading

The books have aligned in our house right now, and all of us are reading voraciously! I always love reading, but 16 hours a day in bed has helped me devour 200+ pages a day, and an average of at least 2 books a week (I like big books.) I got James an e-reader for his birthday, and he has discovered an author he absolutely loves. He always said he loved reading, but always preferred movies. Now, most nights, he first asks me what I want to do, but adds the caveat that "if you want we can just read in bed together."

Over the past couple of months we started reading chapter books with the boys, and they are hooked. We started with the classic "Charlotte's Web." After that I introduced them to the "Wayside School" series, and finally, on the recommendation of a friend with three boys, "Captain Underpants." Colin can't get enough. You should have seen how excited the boys were at Christmas every time they opened a chapter book. Every night we read a chapter to Colin before bed, and often during the day he'll show up with his book and ask for another chapter. Caleb is often napping or already in bed at night, but if we're reading during the day, he's right there beside you.

Even Benjamin is loving the idea of reading. He has a couple of favourite picture books that he loves to go through and name the pictures. He also loves to hear the rhyming rhythms of poem books. But he also gets the idea of "grown up" books. If he finds one of my books lying around, he loves to open it and "read" aloud, flipping page to page.

I can't wait to find a place in our home to create a reading nook in. Once we're out of the toddler toy stage (another 3 years) I might be able to carve out some space in the play room. Or if we go ahead with a house extension, we might be able to make one of the upstairs rooms into a library. Yes, I love the e-reader, but the atmosphere of books on shelves is something I will always love and crave.