Sunday, 30 September 2012

Adventure awaits!

Twice a year James and his brothers and dad go away for three days for a "guys weekend."  Generally, from what I hear, it's movies and video games and swimming and hanging out.  Every time he goes, he reassures me that any time I wanted to do something of the like, he would arrange for me to get away.  Up until now, while I love my family and friends, the only thing that remotely interested me was going by myself to a hotel or spa and just being alone in the quiet for the weekend.  Bring my guitar and a notebook for writing and just be alone.

Well, now I have something else in the next year or so that I will cash in all those guys weekends for.  A friend of mine just announced she is kicking into gear her bucket list wish of hiking the entire Bruce Trail (885 km from Niagara Falls to Tobermory, in Ontario).  She wants to do the first quarter in ten days next fall (yes, that's 20 km/day).  She posted about it on her blog and then posed the question at the end: anyone in?


As soon as I read about it, I knew it was exactly the kind of trip I want to take.  When I told James about it, he sort of gave me that glazed look of "why exactly would you want to spend your vacation hiking and camping and dirty and eating camp food?"  His perfect vacation is a cruise where you don't get off the ship or sitting on a beach for 7 days in the Caribbean.  That's why this week is the perfect opportunity for me to give my inner outdoor-girl some lovin'!  (She's been neglected for a while.)

Lots of planning to go into a trip like this ( do I carry a tent and a sleeping bad and ten days worth of food and hike 20km/day?) but, if you can't tell already, I'm loving the idea.

Can't wait Jen!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Juliette loves to suck on her clothing.  Since about two months old, she somehow has found the coordination to clutch onto her outfit with two hands and pull it up to her mouth.  It's so cute, but also means I go through lots of outfits each day.

I love dressing her in outfits.  There are so many cute girl clothes that I have, thanks to my wonderful sister and a very generous friend, plus the adorable things I got at her baby shower.  This past Sunday I got out the boys' usual Sunday outfits - the older two each have a suit/vest/tie/shirt/pants they wear every week.  Benjamin has two or three different outfits, but again, each is a pair of pants, shirt and a vest.

But Juliette - I had so much fun cooing at her, as she cooed back, while I dressed her.  First I chose a dress that came with bloomers.  Then because there is a chill in this fall air, I picked out a pair of tights. Then I found a cute little headband and a matching pair of shoes.  Every day when we go out I pull out something cute for her to wear.  I remember that Benjamin spent most of his days in sleepers.  And I'll admit that it's probably easier and maybe even more comfortable for the baby.  But having a little girl to dress up is so much fun!  I will also admit that there have been days when we our outfits have coordinated (accidentally, I promise!)

She is such a happy little baby.  She tears up when she needs a diaper change but then has big smiles once you lie her down and start.  I hosted our book club on Saturday night and a baby shower last night and she was smiling her big, happy, mouth-wide open smile at everyone.  She has this incredible talent to zero in those big blue eyes on someone across the room and smile as though it was meant just for that person.  She melts everyone's hearts!

Monday, 24 September 2012

In my glory

Saturday was my day.  I told James two weeks ago when he knew he'd have this Saturday off that he was on call to spend the whole day with the kids while I bustled around the house and ran in and out to stores.  I wanted to get a good start on re-doing our entryway, and a couple other projects that have been waiting for a day like that.

I started by sanding down the badly painted and peeling walls of the entryway.  The previous owners obviously paid someone to come in and "paint" to sell the house - and by "paint" I mean whitewash the entire house including trim and baseboards in a cafe-au-lait colour.  I'm slowly, slowly getting rid of it all.  And bonus - the paint was not exterior grade, which is why the entry way looks so terrible, since it gets rain and snow in there through the screen door.

After sanding it needed some patching, since there were gaping holes in the spots where 4 layers of paint were now gone.  And that needed 24 hours to dry, so that's where I had to stop.

I moved onto the floor in the cabinet under the kitchen sink.  The original floor had been covered over with a half-effort job, and now both layers were sinking after the slow leak in our kitchen sink hose.  So I ripped everything out there and cut and installed a new floor.

Next I wanted to pick out the paint for the entryway, but got stuck again when the flooring paint I wanted wasn't available in the colour I hoped for.  Colour is where I get majorly stuck.  Every. Single. Time.  It take me forever because I can't decide if the colours match with each other or with the walls or the decor.  It's really, really frustrating and time consuming.  I had just decided on a classic red, black and white when I realized the black paint for the floor was in the wrong product.  Now I have to hem and haw over it all again.

Projects to go: finish the entryway, buy and mount a new mailbox, paint the nursery, add trim to the walls in the nursery, buy and mount a new screen door.

After a busy day, I was tired and happy.  I realized that I would love to learn much, much more about home renovating.  I am floating the idea that when Juliette is in school full time, I will find someone local who does home renovations and ask if I can apprentice on jobs with them, to learn first hand how it is all done.  They get an extra set of hands for free, I get to learn from experience.  So exciting!

Friday, 21 September 2012


First day of preschool for Benjamin yesterday.  He has been so excited, ever since the boys started school again in September.  Every day he asked when he would be going to school.  Every morning he put on his backpack and walked with the boys to the bus.  He also tried to get on the bus every morning and was disheartened each time I told him he wasn't going yet.

Finally the day arrived.  He was still confused that he wasn't getting on the school bus with the older boys in the morning.  Half an hour later (and quite early, but he wasn't going to wait any longer!) we made our way on foot up the street to the high school, where his preschool is held.  We got no more than a few driveways down when a school bus pulled up to the stop sign ahead.

"My school!" Benjamin exclaimed.  "No," I replied "You're not getting on that bus.  School is up around the corner."  Another ten feet or so and another bus went driving by.  "That's my school!" Benjamin cried.  Now I realized what he meant.  Every morning, when we said the boys were going to school, Benjamin saw them get on a bus.  And every afternoon when we picked them up after school, Ben saw them get off a bus.  He thought the bus was school!

I realized I needed a quick diversion, since buses are so very cool in the eyes of a two year old, and he would not be getting on a bus for another year.  I asked if he was excited to finally go to school.  "Will there be cars?" he asked.  An affirmative answer was rewarded with a satisfied look and a quickened pace.

When we arrived at the school, Benjamin ran up and through the door.  As he walked down the hall, the teenagers cleared a path for the confident, smiling two year old with a knapsack that went down past his knees and only held an extra change of clothing.  When we reached the door decorated with balloons, he marched right in.

My proud parent moment came next, when the teacher asked if Benjamin could find his hook.  For the past month or so I've been writing a "B" on Benjamin's drawings and paintings, not really making a concerted effort to teach letters, just putting it out there for him to see.  Benjamin surveyed the hand written names by the hooks and pointed to "Brayden" first, and when told to look again, found "Benjamin" right away.  Turns out he does know the letter B!

He turned to run toward the toys at that moment, and I had to call him back twice, to hang his bag and remove his sweater.  But he was off, not a look back.  Sadly, not even a hug and a kiss, but I didn't want to call him back and make a big deal of it, since he was so happy to be there.

James picked him up, but when Benjamin burst through the front door he gave a loud "ta-da!" with arms up in the air and a little jump, and a drawing thrust forward.  When I asked if he knew his big buddy's name (all the kids are paired with a teen from the parenting class at the high school) he said "Yep - Noah."  He also told me they sang "If You're Happy and You Know It" and played with the cars.

This morning he was all set to go again, but unfortunately it's only Tuesdays and Thursdays, so he has to wait five whole days before he can go again.  I'll call the whole experience a success.  While a tiny corner of my mother heart wishes one of my kids would want to linger a little longer at home, or be just a little sad to be leaving the nest, I'm much happier that they are confident and secure and ready to face the world.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

"We work like that"

Today I read this on Stephanie Nielson's blog:

Mr. Nielson went to Costco today and brought me home some beautiful orange roses.
So, I made Mr. Nielson some delicious minestrone soup for dinner.
We work like that.

"We work like that."  I love that phrase.  I wonder if I can adopt it into my vernacular?  It got me thinking about how James and I "work."

We work because I like to tidy and he likes to clean.  The other night he said to me "I really need to get down on my hands and knees and scrub this kitchen floor."  Not too many husbands would come up with that one.  But it's okay because I never go from one room to the next without something to replace in its spot.  We work like that.

I get up all night with the baby (whichever one it was, over the years.)  I do it quietly so that James can get a full night's uninterrupted sleep.  Then when the boys are up at the crack of dawn, his shift starts.  I can never sleep through all the noise, but I get a good 30-60 minutes of just lying in bed, resting.  We work like that.

We don't like the same foods at all.  My favourite meal is a stir fry or a big dinner salad.  James likes meat and potatoes, and will pick his way through a vegetable on the side.  Dessert isn't dessert without fruit in it, for me.  James likes the really naughty heavy sweet stuff.  A fruit flan is perfect for us - I eat the fruit, he eats the custard (we both leave the cake.)  Since I'm in charge of meals, I could easily fix my favourites all the time.  But when I know James has been gone all day and had a hard day at that, I love to fix up a homemade meat loaf, mashed potatoes, peas, and homemade buns slathered in butter. I don't feel like I'm a slave to the kitchen; I love to make something my honey is going to love.  We work like that.

(We don't work when it comes to the thermostat.  I like it hot, hot, hot.  James steps in the house and starts to melt.  I turn down the air conditioner, he turns it up, repeat, repeat, repeat.  We don't work like that :-)

I wonder how all of you "work?"

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Help help help

(Anyone else singing the Beatles song yet?)

If there is one thing I have learned since becoming a mother it is that not only is it important to ask for help, but it can literally be a lifeline.

I might have grown up with the idea that I needed to project a perfect picture to the world, but I have no illusions any longer.  Sometimes motherhood can magnify the need to seem like we have it all together - that our house is always clean with a loaf of fresh baked bread in the oven and homemade cookies for the kids after school and children who are well behaved.  Three boys in 4 years changes that pretty quickly.

(I heard a great validating radio broadcast this morning on Focus on the Family.  The guest is an author who writes about raising boys, and he said that even as toddlers boys will test more boundaries, be more active, and have a much more "me" centred universe than girls.  For someone raised in a family of girls, it was enlightening and reassuring!)

At any rate, I quickly realized that I would probably drive myself into the ground if I didn't accept and ask for help when I needed it.  Initially, asking for help was just about getting through the days with my sanity.  But now, it's about so much more.  With my older two in school and Juliette my first "easy" baby and nearly seven years of parenting experience under my belt, things aren't as difficult any more.  Help is no longer about survival, but that doesn't mean it's time to stop asking.

Help has now become about relationships and community.  Here's my current example.  I'm trying my best to get my house decluttered and organized.  I've made some great strides, but I've hit a wall.  I just can't seem to find a place for all the things I need to.  Now, if I couldn't solve this problem, life wouldn't fall apart.  It might mean shifting storage bins more often than I'd like, and stepping around baby furniture, but an acceptable level of peace could still be attained.

But I'm after more, and so I'm reaching out for help.  I have two amazing friends who are really good at organizing.  Whenever I step into their homes, I feel so completely relaxed, because their homes have a spacious feel, even if the square footage isn't massive.  I've always loved how I feel in their homes, and so this week I gave them a call.  I asked for help.  I invited them over next week to help me figure out how to get to the next level of organization in my own house.

Here's the thing - one of these friends is going through a really tough time right now.  She hasn't felt up to getting out or being involved in much.  When I called her, I could hear her heart soar.  She expressed how much she loves this kind of project and was overjoyed to be asked to help out.

So here's the question - who is helping who?  Really, we are mutually helping each other.  This "help" is about building relationships.  It's about reaching out in my own little community of people.  I have learned that asking for help does not always mean I am being a burden to someone else.  You'd be surprised how often people will want to help out.  People love interaction, and in this day and age we get so little of it as people retreat to their media filled homes.  People also love to teach and share their experience and expertise.  I want to tile my front entryway, and I'm sure if I asked there would be several people who would love to come and "help" me learn how to do it.  I just think how happy I am when someone recognizes my own talent and asks me to give.  Very rarely do I feel overwhelmed or  unwilling; rather, I feel blessed by friendship and a useful part of my community.  I have something to give.  Everyone has something to give.

It makes it easy to see how asking for help isn't a weakness at all.  It's an important part of life.

Friday, 14 September 2012

I'm not your friend, I'm your mother

Do any other mothers out there struggle with the desire to be their children's friend as well as their parent?  I know this is a common difficulty when your kids become teens, and I've heard many times about how we must resist trying to always be the "best friend" to a teen and stay firm in setting boundaries and laying out discipline.  What I didn't realize is that I might have to face the same thing with a two year old.

Benjamin is exploring all his boundaries as a two year old.  (Come to think of it, it's probably very much like a teenager would!)  He says "no," he gives us attitude, he acts out, he breaks the rules.  Every day I walk the fine line between keeping him safe, teaching him the rules, and not breaking his spirit.

Lately whenever Benjamin is unhappy with someone, he blurts out "You're not my friend anymore!"  Sometimes the words are shouted in anger, sometimes they tumble out full of tears.  He uses them with friends who aren't playing the way he wants, with his brothers when they frustrate him, and most often with James and I when we say no to him.

My reaction used to be "I'm sorry, but this is the way it is," if I had the patience to be calm.  I'll admit that sometimes I might lose my temper and react a little more harshly.  But then, the other day, a phrase slipped out that rang so true I've used it every time since.  Benjamin said "You're not my friend anymore!" and I said "I don't have to be your friend, but I do have to be your mother."  My tone was kind, level, gentle.  I wanted him to know that my refusal may not be the actions of a friend, but it was the caring gesture of a parent who loves him and wants him to be safe.

This is a good lesson for me to learn early.  You see, I love working with teenagers, and I'm excited for my own children to come to an age where we can have late night chats and play sports together and go for hikes and do big projects.  But in all that, I will have to remember that I must be a mother first and friend second, until my young ones leave the nest.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Home Team

My husband runs a small business, and while business owners are super busy all year, our really busy season is the summer.  Well, really it's spring, summer and fall.  There is a slight reprieve in the winter.  Summer is the worst of all, though.  Which means most days he is gone before the kids get up and home after they are in bed, and working again in the evenings.  Which means that, at home, I go it alone, a lot.  Most of the time I'm okay with that.  We find our rhythm and make it work.  Sometimes, however, I burnout.

That's why I needed this beautiful reminder, posted on the Power of Moms website:

"This is the life we decided on, the roles we chose. And many evenings, as the sun gives way to evening, I think of him in his office and wish he were here. He thinks of me too, tries to call, but dinnertime and bedtime are so crazy, I rarely answer the phone. What remains, however, is the fact that we are both working for our family. Just in different locales. It doesn’t matter who is working harder, or longer. Marriage is not a contest. It is mutual work, for the same purpose, with the same goals. And I love Doug for being so committed to us.

As I shoulder more of the burden at home, I must make a conscious effort to resist resentment. I’ve gone to that place where anger swells and I fester in a selfish corner feeling put-upon and alone. I don’t want to go there.

I must be disciplined enough to see clearly what we are about, not the dishes and the hours on the clock. Doug and I are building something marvelous together. Something we wouldn’t be able to do without each other. We are a dependent team. And together we are nurturing lives, making a family."

Yes, I needed this reminder.  Isn't it beautiful?  My favourite line is "we are both working for our family.  Just in different locales."  Sometimes it's hard to remember that, when his work seems so much easier since it doesn't involve 4 children under 6, nursing a newborn, changing diapers, refereeing squabbles with a two year old, or helping with homework, making dinner and trying to tidy all at the same time.  It's hard to remember when I can't hear myself think over the noise.  But we both have the same end goal in mind, and we each have our own role to play in getting there.

I need to remember this when I feel like the work-life balance his completely out of whack.  I need to remember this when the cleaning is piling up because the kids take all my time and attention.  I need to remember this when I wish he would be home to watch the kids so I can take a shower more than twice a week.

Team.  Team.  Team.  What he does is vital to the home life vision we have.  What he does enables me to stay home with our children, to take them to school, be there when they get home, cuddle with our newborn all day and desperately hope something I'm saying is getting through to our two year old.  Team.  Team.  Team.

We are the Home Team.  I think this idea needs a little creativity boost behind it so I can get some sort of art made to hang in our home.  Because this Home Team is awesome and unbeatable!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Simplicity Challenge #5 - Bedroom Closet

The other day we all woke up in the morning a little chilly and something inside me leapt for joy - fall is in the air!  Fall is my favourite season.  I love when the weather has a little nip, enough so that the air is crisp and fresh and I get to pull out favourites jeans and sweaters.  Yes, fall clothing is one of my favourite things.

It also meant it was time for the semi-annual clothing switch.  Because our house is older, the closets are tiny and the room small, which means there isn't space to keep all of our clothes out all year.  So now I must put away shorts and t-shirts and summery wear and pull out sweaters and pants and pullovers.  It means lugging up 9 large totes and emptying them of their contents and refilling them.  It also means culling the closets of clothes that no longer fit or are no longer worn.

This year I tried to be extra vicious with the culling.  I used a method that worked really well.  For the summer stuff going to be packed away, if I didn't wear it this summer, I donated it.  This might seem obvious, but there were a couple of things that were favourites from years gone by (some I still had from high school) that fit fine, but that just didn't make it into the rotation.  Gone.

The second method was even better.  Because I love sweaters, I've got lots.  They are big and bulky and take up lots of room, and I couldn't believe I actually had 4 big bins of fall/winter clothes that were just mine.  When I opened the first tote, I pulled out the first sweater and my heart smiled and my face smiled and I couldn't wait to wear it.  The second sweater did not illicit the same reaction.  Aha!  And so my method was born - if the item didn't make my heart sing and excited to wear it, it went into the donation pile.  I now have a HUGE garbage bag full of clothes to donate.

The boys' culling was easier.  Stuff Benjamin outgrew is now in a box for hand-me-downs.  And anything that couldn't fit into the boys' drawers went also.  Three boys' clothes in one laundry basket means I'm doing laundry before they can go through two drawers of clothes, so there really is no need to have more than that.  Easy-peasy.

And so challenge #5 went fairly well and was pretty painless.  I have also told myself that as the season goes on, anything that I don't wear at least once a month must also go to a better home.  Because my goal of less stuff outstrips my desire for a big collection of outfits.


The most notable change from life in the working world to life at home is my understanding and definition of urgency.

I am amazed at the level of stress created by the professional's determination of things that must be addressed now.  A phone call coming in reveals a crisis that sets off an avalanche of actions as a result. A late night email cannot be ignored until 9am the next day, but is assessed, addressed and answered immediately.  A hiccup in a detailed plan results in chaotic and urgent micro-managing until some semblance of order is restored.

I look at all of this from the outside and shake my head.  These words: urgent, crisis, immediate, problem, are being horribly misused.  Urgency is a gashed open head wound gushing blood and needing to get to the ER.  Crisis is a word I now reserve for families in foreign countries who live in the crosshairs of gunfire, or children who have never eaten a full meal.  When did these words get redefined to mean a missed advertising deadline, or a client with a question about a project?

Blood pressures skyrocket, stress levels soar, headaches pound, families are ignored, because of this faux sense of urgency.  I heard somewhere that the little blinking red light on the Blackberry phone (the one that indicates some sort of action on the phone, be it a missed call, a phone message, an email, or a text) - that red light begging to be attended to creates the same chemical brain reaction as an addict needing their next fix.  The user has a physical reaction that creates a need to check why it is blinking.  We have seriously messed up our brains if that is the case.

I wish the professional world could take a step back and see not only how silly it all is, but how potentially dangerous for health and well-being and relationships it is.  Unless you are an emergency responder or a doctor, your work is not urgent.  It is not life or death.  It can wait until tomorrow.  The higher ups need to stop creating this false sense of urgency for their employees, who feel trapped in the age of instant communication and forced to offer instant replies.  Everyone needs to just shut it down at 5pm, walk away, and relax and enjoy their loved ones.  I have a feeling that in the long run a healthy, happy, balanced workforce will be infinitely more productive in fewer work hours.

Friday, 7 September 2012


I love my little bed mate.  This afternoon we took a nap together, and when she woke up after only half an hour, I curled into her little body, she laid her head up against mine, and she fell back asleep.  As I lay there, her breath, warm and sweet smelling of milk, fell slowly and steadily onto my face.  It was heaven.

She's already well into 9-month sleepers and firmly in 6 month clothing.  She fills the length out more than the rest of it, with sleepers and onesies swimming in the waist, but her toes and torso stretching to the very ends.

She is content as can be just to around me.  I sit her in the high chair in the kitchen, reclined to a "V" and padded with a soft plush blanket.  She watches as I work, and drifts off to sleep and wakes again without a peep.

She loves music.  Loves, loves, loves.  If she is crying, a soft song stops the cry.  She sits in her little bouncy chair next to me as I play and sing away at the piano or practice the flute.  Whenever she even begins a cry, one of the boys run immediately to her and sing "Twinkle, twinkle, little star."  Benjamin is always the first to hear and run to her, sometimes even before I've heard her cry.  "Mom, Juliette's crying!" he announces as he takes off to wherever she was napping.  I often find Colin with his head next to hers, cooing the song softly during those moments when I just can't get to her right away.

She loves the sling.  If she's ready for a nap and resisting a little, I pop her in the sling and she's asleep in seconds.  Literally, seconds.  She's almost never in it awake.

Her little coo is lilting and melodic and soft and precious.  It makes me stop everything and just stare in her deep blue eyes and watch her rosebud mouth quiver as she lets out those first sounds.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Labour Day

Monday was the last day of summer vacation before school was back in.  The weather was perfect and, while I did not want to plan anything big and wear the boys out too much, I was not going to waste the day lazing about indoors.

10am - Hour long kayak with Benjamin
11am-1pm - Hiking and Geocaching with the family
1pm-2pm - Special lunch out with everyone
3pm-4pm - Biking the trails with Colin
5pm-6:30pm - Swimming with everyone.

Yes - kayaking, hiking, biking and swimming all in one day.  It was fantastic.  Exactly the kind of day I love.  I really think Benjamin might be my kindred spirit when it comes to outdoors.  Colin would choose a movie, Caleb would choose a video game, but Benjamin will pick outdoors every time.

So while nothing was planned beforehand, we still wore the boys out with all the activity.  Everyone collapsed into bed tired yet happy, ready to pack in the lazy summer days for another year.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Mom and Me Camp 2012

10 moms.  47 kids.  3 days in the wilderness.


This is the second year we've done this camp, and for all the hard work it is, we absolutely love it.  The older two boys revelled in the freedom they were given, since we were nearly the only ones at the whole camp.  Benjamin wanted the freedom of the older two, and spent the days latched onto Jesse (14 year old boy) and Meghan (11 year old girl) and furiously exclaiming to me "STOP FOLLOWING ME!" whenever I had to shadow him.  Juliette slept and smiled and was all around charming.  All 10 moms watch over all the kids and a general relaxing feeling envelopes everyone.  I could write much, much more, but instead I'll let some photos tell the story.

Since I'm usually the one behind the camera, I love that I finally have a picture with my beautiful baby girl!

Benjamin made friends everywhere he went.  He almost never went into the water at the beach, but he dug and built and wheeled about sand like nobody's business!

Beautiful girl.

Face painting again.  Colin got the exact same thing as last year.  Remember last year?  When he gashed his head open right after getting this paint job?  And the real blood was pouring down his face? And we had to go to the hospital for stitches?  Talk about tempting fate!  (No injuries this year!)

Benjamin was covered in layers of dirt less than 5 minutes after we arrived and stayed that way the whole vacation.  Three baths after we got home and I'm still not sure all the dirt is gone.

One mom showing everyone how to clean a fish.  Always an adventure to be found at camp.

Like trying to get Benjamin's swim suit on at the beach.

Or Colin's frog catching.  He was the master, by far.  He spent much of his beach time lurking near the forested shores catching frogs of all sizes.  I hope those frogs made it out alive.

Napping at the beach.  And she also napped for all the driving we had to do!  2 1/2 hours up, 30 minutes to and from the camp each day (we stayed with my grandmother so my nursing baby wouldn't wake the camp during the night) and 2 1/2 hours home.  Not a peep from her.

Benjamin making more friends.  And playing soccer.  Seriously, he probably thought he'd died and gone to heaven. Benjamin was made for camping.

Water trampoline.  Yes, both Colin and Caleb are out there with all the big kids.  They swam in their life jackets, paddling their little arms for all their worth, to get out there.  Sometimes they jumped off, sometimes they bounced, sometimes they ran in circles, and sometimes they all just sat out there, talking.  I would have loved to have listened in on their conversation, but just watching it seemed like a very special kid moment.  One of those times when kids are talking very seriously about all sorts of things as they work through life.  These special moments are not meant for grown up ears.

Zip line - Colin.

Zip line - Caleb.  On the second and third time he actually let go of the rope above and spread his arms out like he was flying.  Hardly anyone had the courage to do it.  There's no picture of me, but I went down also, arms and legs straight out in the air.

The camp.

Benjamin on the ATV.  No, (Mom and James) it wasn't on.  But they had lots of fun pretending they were actually driving it.

10 moms, 47 kids, 2 dogs.  We are awesome.  (and crazy)

Hugging in families.

The amazing scout group that came up for a couple nights.  Their leader, in the middle, is the one who set up the zip line.  He brought it for his scouts, and then offered anyone from our camp who wanted to go on it a chance to do so.  Well, 47 kids and 10 moms takes a long time to get through.  They had it up for us over 2 hours the first night and 2 hours the next morning.  I overheard the leader talking to one of the boys and encouraging him about what an amazing service opportunity it was that the scouts could give such a joyous experience to all our kids.  It was hard work running the zip line, a lot of hours, and all during a trip that was a vacation for them.  I wanted to write this memory down so I remember when my boys are older how important it is to provide service opportunities for them.  Because only when we think outside ourselves can we really grow into who we are meant to be.

Benjamin elbow deep in mud and dirt, staring at a frog.  Yes, he was catching them, too!

Caleb and Aimee.  Caleb met Aimee the first morning we arrived and latched himself onto her for the entire three days.  If we wasn't playing with her, he was looking for her.  Every morning when we arrived he would give me this shy, sheepish grin and ask if I knew where Aimee was.  I think I only saw him apart from her once or twice the entire trip.  One evening at campfire a mom gave out glow sticks to everyone.  Well, the next morning Caleb had held onto his two sticks, and Aimee didn't have one anymore.  Caleb gave her one of his sticks and watched proudly all day whenever she held it.  This photo was taken just as we were about to leave.  I found Caleb in tears because Aimee was swimming so he couldn't give her a hug and say goodbye.  So I called Aimee out of the water and they gave each other the biggest hug.  Another mom snapped this photo of the two of them.  Very seriously Caleb asked if we could have two copies of the photo made, one for him to take home and keep in his special "stuff box" and one for Aimee to take home and keep.  Young love.

So that was just a peek into camp.  Everyone is already talking about next year.  I love that we have created this little tradition, something special for the kids to look forward to.  They won't have a chance to see any of these friends during the rest of the year since they live all over the Greater Toronto Area, between 1 and 2 1/2 hours away.  But each year we'll return to this camp for 3 glorious days of fun and freedom and they will treasure these memories, much like I treasure the ones I have of Six Foot Bay (a camp my grandmother took us to every year for about 8 years when I was younger).

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Believe God

Over the past year or so, I have often pondered on the difference of believing in God and believing God.  The difference in subtle, and yet can make all the difference in our day to day lives.

Believing in God is the first step.  You first have to believe in God's existence, that he has created us, that he has a plan and purpose for our lives.

But in order to really move forward in our faith, we have to believe God.  Believe that every word He has spoken is truth.  Believe that He speaks to us.  Believe that His promises are sure.  We have to believe what He tells us.

In order to believe what God says, we have to know what it is.  Here are just a few examples of what I'm talking about:

"Heavens above rain down righteousness: let the clouds shower it down." (Isaiah 45:8)
The imagery of a rain shower pouring down, soaking us from head to toe, is a powerful one.  Can we imagine God's power and righteousness and blessings pouring down upon us and our lives in such fashion?  Do we believe God when he says he will freely bless us in such a manner?  Can we look around and witness the evidence?

"Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Love, or charity, meaning the true love of Christ, never fails.  No matter what happens.  No matter what we do.  No matter what is done to us.  Do we believe God when he promises that His love can rescue us from anything, anywhere, any time?

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (Psalm 34:17)
God hears us.  He hears our pleas and our cries.  Whether we pray a "popcorn prayer" that is short and direct up to Heaven, or sink to our knees and beg for something, or have a heart so heavy no words can be formed to express our desire, do we believe God actually hears us?  Do we pray expecting answers?  Do we pray expecting deliverance?

The difference between believing in God and believing God really can make a huge difference in our lives.  Because if we believe what he says is true, our lives can be filled with the joy of his promises.  Then it also changes the way we read his word in scripture, because now we can search for those promises, and believe God when he breathes them over us.

I am trying desperately to move closer to the idea of believing God rather than just believing in Him.  I have this amazing glimpse of what life could be like if I was more familiar with His words and His promises and if I actually expected their fulfillment in my life.  And then, in a hazy mist somewhere down the road, I see my life bursting with joy, even in the storms of life, because I know God and believe Him.