Wednesday, 31 July 2013

God's creation

A couple of weeks ago my grandmother, my sister and I, along with our children, spent a week at a cottage together.  The temperature soared into the 40s with the humidex, and sleep was hard to come by in the stifling air.  That was how one morning found me wandering the shores by the cottage at sunrise, well before my children began to stir.

The heat was visible in the hazy air.  The lake gave no relief; even its colour was a purple-grey that gave no indication of the deep blue cool promise it usually offers.  I grabbed my camera to capture some of the stillness of God's creation.

After the trip, when I looked back over the footage, I was disappointed by the results.  The images I captured were beautiful in their own right, with the light playing over the angles, sunbursts on the water, well framed and focused photographs, but none of the shots seemed right.  The wide angles were too wide to carve out detail and the close ups excluded the vastness of the beauty.

There was a moment as I stood on the shores of the lake in which the horizon receded into a tiny strip of land, and the towering trees were but a pencil line above that.  What caught my breath was the vast expanse overhead, the feeling of the infinite atmosphere bent in a covering arc over the earth below.  The uniform colour of blue was light and hazy and, at the same time, at the feeling of expanding forever into space and folding in to protect its inhabitants.

It's in these type of quiet moments that my soul knows this life is not an accident.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Little town

There is something in me that has always yearned for the country.

But today, I needed to do a quick cut on my mitre saw that my sister-in-law had borrowed.  So we hopped in the car with the wood, drove five minutes, cut the piece, and came home.

On the way, I dropped off a cup of coconut to a friend who needed some for a recipe.

Last week we had friends over for dinner, and had two surprise drop-ins from other in-town friends to borrow items from us.  Each stayed for a half hour visit to chat and let the kids run around.

This wonderful idea of community is only possible because we live in town.  It's giving me seconds thoughts about so passionately pursuing country-living.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


We've been doing really well on our goal to bike more and drive less this summer.  Caleb is getting really good on two wheels, and Ben will reluctantly get into the trailer when we have to go across town and I know it's too far for his training wheels.

I've also been taking the boys one by one on nice days, after dinner, for a ride just the two of us.  Each ride is completely different, both because of the skill level and the personality of the rider.

A couple of weeks ago when Colin and I went biking at the local conservation, we biked 11 km together.  As we went along, we would pass about ten minutes in silence.  Then one of of would speak a sentence or two, to which the other would reply.  Then we would fall once again into our comfortable silence.  It was striking to see how alike Colin and I are, both introverts, both love nature, both happy to just be with each other without feeling the need to fill the beautiful peaceful silent with words.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Oh, how those early months of life mean so many changes, so quickly!  I tell my kids almost daily to please stop growing.  They get a kick out of smiling and swearing they are growing taller before my very eyes.  Then they stretch themselves up onto their tiptoes and widen their eyes to huge saucers (not sure why they equate big eyes with growing!) and giggle as they "grow."

Two weeks ago, on the very day she turned 13 months, Juliette started walking.  We spent the morning at an indoor playland, and with all that room to roam, she let go of my hand and wandered off in amazement.  At the rate she walks now, you'd hardly believe she only has two weeks of experience under her belt!  And she is in love with shoes.  After the last week on vacation up at a cottage, she stubbed her big toe so many times it was permanently scraped and bleeding all week.  And so I reluctantly covered up those lovely little toes that I've let go barefoot everywhere for the past 13 months.  Now she wants to wear shoes everywhere.  There are a handful of different pairs on the shoe shelf, and she loves to go and bring you some to put on her feet.  This morning when I asked the boys to get their shoes on to go, she was right in there, sitting on the floor with them, trying so hard to wiggle her feet into her sandals.

She is also moving past her simple finger foods.  The easy to make peas, carrots, blueberries, raspberries and bananas are holding no interest.  About a month ago she gave up on pureed food completely in favour of finger foods.  Now she seems to understand that the "big people" have full meals on their plates, and she wants some of that.  Unless I serve her chicken.  That girl could eat an adult size chicken breast and still ask for more!  I'm on a quest now for some more complex food ideas for her, but it's not an easy task.  I need foods that can be made in advance and frozen, so I'm not preparing an entire second meal every mealtime.  And they need to be grain-free and dairy-free.

Juliette puts herself right into the fray with anyone and everyone.  I guess that comes from the chaos of three older brothers who aren't really that much older.  There's a lot of movement in our home, and she is not one to sit back and watch or get lost.  It's good to see her brothers pulling her right into the fun.

My arm muscle definition is massive.  I spend most of my day carrying her, sitting on my hip and balancing her in the crook of my arm.  I don't use my baby carrier because most of what I do during the day requires me setting her down and picking her up a hundred times an hour.  Built in gym.

She's starting to get used to the baby seat on my bike, which makes me happy.  I plan to bike a lot come the fall, when it's just her and I.  In fact, I hope to bike everywhere as long as the weather is good.

She has finally come around to cuddling.  Before, she cuddled to nurse and that was it.  Even at bedtime, she preferred nursing instead of cuddling.  But last week at the cottage we spent a lot of time in our bathing suits, slathered up with sunscreen.  So that meant she spent a lot of time wrapped up in a towel after a swim or a bath.  Now she absolutely loves to bring a blanket or a towel to me, to wrap around her shoulders and sit up on my knee, her head leaning against my shoulder.

She is a tour de force, that's for sure.  We always know what she wants and how she is feeling.  But I wouldn't expect any less from one of my kids :)

Monday, 22 July 2013


(My absence last week was due to a vacation I took with the kids, my sister, my niece, and my grandmother.  Details to come once I have the photos to include.)

I got word last week just before leaving on vacation that I would once again have an essay published in a book!  Last time it was a small excerpt; this time its the whole essay.  I'm not sure yet what the format is, as I noticed there are only eleven essays to be included.  Nevertheless, I'm excited.

Yesterday I got word that a short film for which I wrote the script has garnered some interest from an investor that wants to move ahead with 4-5 more short films to package together.  I was contacted by the producer in hopes that I'll be on board again.  These projects also mean assistant directing again, which is probably one of my most favourite roles in filmmaking.

I've always loved writing.  I still have a huge box in the basement of things I've written over the years, going back to my elementary school days.  I always wanted to write something bigger, something to submit to publishers, something to find its way to the printed page.  I always thought that would happen once I sat myself down in front of a computer and simply banged out my masterpiece one word at a time.  I've had hundreds of ideas pass through my mind, a countless beginnings of stories that floundered and were abandoned not long after their genesis.

Now, instead of a big bang, there seems to be a slow creation process instead.  A blog to gather ideas, a few blog entries submitted to a website, a couple of essays published online, a produced script, a printed excerpt, a printed essay... I look around at these new beginnings and smile with a little excitement.  Maybe, one day, I will look back at this time and pinpoint it as the true start of a writing career.

I still have those couple of really big projects I want to get to, but not yet.  Those will be reserved for days down the road when my children are more independent and need less of my constant attention.  Funny enough, I no longer feel a sense of urgency to get something done right now.  Now, there is a feeling of a peaceful journey, an idea that I'm walking down a path I am meant to walk, and there is no need to run.  All things in their time and season.  Accomplishments need not be all finished in my early years.  A book written when I am 25 or 35 or 55 years old is still a book written from that which is in me.

And so I write.  Likening the experience to birthing a baby (an often used simile), while the experience is usually painful if it is to be honest and true and if it is to reach others, it cannot be forced too early from the womb.  There is a set time of gestation, and when it is ready, it will emerge into the world at exactly the time it was meant to.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Last week we sang "O Canada" at church, in honour of Canada Day.  I love our national anthem.  In grade 5 we had to learn all the verses, and I still remember them all to this day.  I have a real patriotic streak running through me, which has trickled down to my boys.  Even Benjamin known most of the English first verse from preschool this year.

So that Sunday at church, as the organ sang out the opening bars, Benjamin's face lit up, he jumped to his feet and loudly proclaimed for all to hear: "It's the hockey song!"

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Summer goals

Okay - so those aren't fabulous pictures, but here are Colin and Caleb's summer goal charts.  (You can see Colin's 5 chapter books already completed.)  We worked on coming up with the goals together, a combination of things I hoped they would learn and things they wanted to learn.

- learn guitar, practice 10 minutes a day (I need to buy new strings for his guitar)
- ride his bike twice a week (to help him learn to navigate our town on his own)
- write weekly in his journal
- read 5 chapter books
- catch 100 pop flies (to help him improve his baseball skills for his team this year)

- cook Sunday lunch (he wanted to learn how to cook)
- learn the trumpet
- ride his bike (learn to ride on two wheels)
- write in journal (dictate to me, and then draw a picture)
- read 100 books

Both boys also have a summer workbook to complete about 3 pages a day, to bridge the gap from June to September and keep their French up.  So far things are going fairly well.  Bike riding is something I love to do also, so every day (so long as it's not raining) I'm taking one of the boys on a short bike ride. The workbooks they work on during naptime to keep them quiet.  The journal we write in once a week during naptime also.  The books are on their own time.  The pop flies haven't started yet, but I've top-loaded our summer activities, so July is pretty busy while August will have more time to ourselves.

Monday, 8 July 2013


I started our summer reading program again this year, the one that was so successful in teaching Colin how to read last year.  Last summer, I told Colin that if he learned to read, and read 100 books, I would give him $10.  I had gauged out the amount of time we would have and tried to set up something that would take almost the whole summer.  Instead, he taught himself how to read on day 1 and had read all 100 books after the first week.

This year I wanted to up the ante.  Although Colin hadn't read much throughout the year outside of school, and almost nothing in English, I told him that this summer I wanted him to read chapter books.  Real chapter books of a good length.  Preapproved chapter books by myself.  I figured that with the number of weeks we would be home, 5 full length chapter books should take him toward the end of August.  A reward of $10 was on the table.

He read the 5 books in 5 days.

I seem to be seriously underestimating him.

But it was so nice to see him devouring the books.  He would disappear up to his bunk bed for hours, just sitting and reading.  And often he would just lounge on the couch while the other boys played.  And he even brought the book to the table (although it wasn't allowed to stay.)  The books he read are bent and creased and the covers are flapped open - I love the look of those well worn books.

I even tested him - asked him what the books were about and to read a sample page for me.  He struggled with approximately 1 out of 10 words, but was still able to get the gist of the story.

Looks like I might have bankrupted myself once again this summer...

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tender Mercies

Recently I had my heart broken by a situation among friends.  Old feelings of just wanting to be liked and accepted by your peers came rushing in.  Those raw emotions so prevalent in the teenage years still surface every now and then, even through the tempering of adulthood.  My heart hurt for me, for my family, and most of all for my children.

My heart was in turmoil.  As I typically do in unsettling situations, I start rehearsing conversations in my head.  I imagined a confrontation, how I would frame my feelings, carefully crafting my words.  I longed to make myself understood, clear up confusion, and reverse the situation for the future.

During these times, I find it hard to sleep.  Over and over and over in my head I ran through those conversations.  Tears welled and dissipated, hurt gave way to sadness which ebbed out to reveal the pain again.  I felt that if I could only write the perfect script, I could talk with those involved and heal.

But then I read a challenge from a Women's Conference (Time Out For Women) I love to attend.  It recommended re-reading the messages from April's General Conference.  So I picked up the magazine that contains all the talks and opened up to the middle.  My eyes fell on a talk titled "Personal Peace."  As I read through, the words became a healing balm to my soul.  It wasn't the obvious lessons of the talk that I saw, but three small sentences that tied together a principle so profound I wondered how it had never occurred to me before.

"At the birth of the Savior, a multitude of the heavenly host praised God and proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

"His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness."

"The Savior's peace can blot out our hates.  Judgment is the Lord's."

In these passages, personal peace is directly tied to feeling love toward our fellowmen.  While I did not feel hate toward those who had mistreated me, I didn't feel good will toward them, I didn't have a love for them in me, and I certainly was making some judgment of them.  No wonder my heart was in turmoil.  I needed to call on God's peace to fill me with love toward those who had wronged me so that I could once again feel an abiding deep contentment.

The healing came in an instant, washing over me completely.  And while, in and of itself, this story has a perfect ending there, God's tender mercy did not just want to help me heal, he wanted to bring even greater blessings.  The very next morning a set of many incredible circumstances aligned so that I could meet a new woman moving to our town next month.  We spoke as though we had known each other for years, we had so much in common.  Amazingly, just as she was an answer to my own hurts, my friends and I were an answer to her pain of feeling alone after a move across the country.

It's amazing how God will not only heal our broken hearts but endow us with additional blessings as well.  He doesn't just want to wipe away a tear, he wants to see our hearts filled with joy.  These are two very different and separate actions, but God's love for his children is never more evident than when they are tied together, as they were in this experience.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

I'm having a barn raising!

Okay, so not a barn raising - but a kids clubhouse raising!  And you are all invited.

Here is the story.  I saw a great outdoor girls' playhouse on a blog the other day, and it jumped into my mind that I would love to have one for my kids.  (Only not painted pink with frilly trim.)  At first I thought I would purchase a pre-fabricated one, but then I realized how much I wanted to build one myself.

I have never framed (building term, not picture frames!) anything, but I have built a few things here and there (including our fence.)  I have never roofed anything.  I did hang a door last week, but I've never built shutters.  But I know people who have.  And I know people who want to.

You see, I learn by watching.  I was sitting here this afternoon wishing I knew someone who wanted to build a playhouse and actually knew what they were doing so I could crash their place for a weekend, swing a hammer, wield a saw, and raise a "barn" with them.  But as I haven't caught wind of that happening yet, I figured why not bring everyone here and do it together.  Maybe we'll inspire a few other moms to follow suit who are just as adventurous (there are a few I'm thinking of in particular) and maybe we'll inspire someone who never thought they could do it at all, but who then realize it's not that tough.  (At least I hope that's what we realize!)

So if you're interested, sign on up.  I think I'm going to try for the August long weekend (I need time when James will be home to watch the kids.)