Monday, 31 March 2014


At the doctor's office today.

Benjamin: I love it here.
Me: Do you think you might like to be a doctor when you grow up?
Benjamin: Nope. I want to be a Daddy.
Me: That's wonderful. But you can be both a daddy and a doctor.
Benjamin:  I can?  Yes!!!!

Saturday, 29 March 2014


"When Juliette grows up, will she be a boy?"


The time has come to wean.  James and I have a 17 day anniversary trip in June when my mom will be here to watch the kids.  Since Juliette is still nursing 3-4 times an hour (yes, an hour) and not able to go to sleep without being nursed or held, it's time to do some serious training.  We have two months, which some days seems like a lot and others seems like just a breath.

First up, weaning during the day.  I'm on day 6.  The only way Juliette and I have made this work is by being out all morning.  Which has been physically exhausting, since I'm still not sleeping well, and mentally exhausting for the introvert in me.  Nevertheless, every morning from 8:30am - noon we have been out walking, playing, at the library, the Early Years Centre, or with friends.  The hardest part is the -10C weather and the three feet of icy snow everywhere.  Will Spring ever come?  She still asks constantly to nurse, but I've stuck to my guns - only at naptime, and between midnight and 6am if she wakes.

Second up is feeding this girl.  She eats almost nothing.  Breakfast might be half a scrambled egg.  Lunch is two or three grapes, or maybe a couple bites of applesauce.  Half a slice of ham, if she's feeling like it.  Dinner is two or three bites again.  For a long time the nursing would have been filling her up, but with her activity and growth there's no way that can be enough now.  So for the next while. I will fill her up with her favourite foods - oat pancakes, bacon, eggs, mango, broccoli, and chicken hot dogs.  Not the ideal diet, but foods that she is guaranteed to eat.

The final step will be total weaning, which I honestly don't have a plan for. When I go away to france, perhaps I'll come home and she will have forgotten it.  My other reason for weaning is that while nursing I must adhere to the same strict diet she is on: no wheat, rice, corn, soy, dairy or beans.  Instead of slowly adapting over the last six months, my body has instead rebelled and I "cheat" here and there during the week, doing more harm to the weaning schedule.  My body needs more food than it can have right now.

I never thought I would have to face weaning like this.   I had every intention of nursing until Juliette decided she didn't want to nurse any longer. I found that, in theory, I have no issue with extended nursing, no age limit that should mean cutting her off.  It saddens me that the path I thought I would take is not the one I must walk.  But since neither of us is benefitting from breast feeding, then it is only a selfish desire within me that stubbornly endures.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Another Monday

I love Mondays.  After the wild weekends of everyone home and most of my energy involved in managing four young children, it's a nice breather to find some order.  Monday mornings I tidy and clean and get work done.  I am more productive on a Monday than any other day of the week.

I realized yesterday that a good part of that probably has to do with Sunday.  While Sundays are always packed with our church responsibilities (James is the clerk for our church and I run the Primary, a program for children 18 months - 12 years) somehow we still come away recharged.  It's a testament to me that we have more than just physical and mental needs - Sundays fills a spiritual aspect of me that buoys me up when I don't get time to refill physically (sleep!) and mentally (withdrawing for a time).

Friday, 14 March 2014

"The manger is clean"

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
- Proverbs 14:4

I came across this little gem today, and I was amazed that such a short phrase packed such a powerful punch.

You see, I never seem to win the battle of a tidy home.  I have two sources of aggravation in my life: when too many people are trying to talk to me at once (hello, introvert) and when people use things and then just drop them when they are finished with it.  Our house is not that big - you can get anywhere in it in less than 10 seconds.

Lately my frustration has come down to pillows.  This long, hard, cold winter has led to a relaxation on indoor sports here.  The boys have discovered a small plush ball and some couch cushions can be turned into a pretty awesome game of handball hockey.  But that means that at least a half a dozen times a day I'm picking up the cushions from the floor and setting them back on the couch.

The playroom pile grows even when no one is in there.

The laundry multiplies on its own.

The shoes walk around the house.

The dishes climb out of the dishwasher.

The socks, socks, socks, socks(!) fall where they will.

It is certain that this "manger" is never clean.  But, as the proverb goes, the manger is only clean when there are no oxen.  In other words, only an empty manger is clean.  Instead, my home is filled with loved ones.  And so just as the straw will fall to the floor from an overflowing manger, so the dishes and laundry and toys and shoes and socks and mess will fall from the bodies in my home.  But I have an abundant crop of love here, there is no doubt.  My home shows signs of loved ones living.

"Sorry for the mess...we live here."

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Simplify this Spring

It's that time again.  As March is in full swing, that yearning to clean and purge rises again.  Even when there is still three feet of snow on the ground and Spring is nowhere in sight.

I've got a good list of projects to try and get to this year.  I'm calling it "Simplify This Spring."  Some are big projects, some are little, but all are things I've had on my mind to do.  I like using pictures as a starting place because it helps me focus my mind on what I'm after.

(in no particular order)

1.  Bottom kitchen cupboards - under the sink and the pots/pans.  Both need some new shelving built so that I'm not stacking and restacking every time I go in there.

2.  Batteries.  From the big basket into a nicely organized container.

3.  Garage.  By far the biggest.  It needs entirely new built-in shelving, the built-in workbench needs to be relocated, and all of our bikes need organizing.

4.  Wrapping paper.  It's tossed in a very inconvenient spot in the basement.

4.  The boy's bedroom closet.  I don't know how I want it to look yet, but no matter how often we clean it, we can't keep up.  Translation: it's not working.  The clothes need to be lower, more shelving and maybe some buckets, a place for lego's a work in progress.

5.  The hall closet.  It's a terrible colour of orange.  And the broom and mop are always falling out on us.  Seriously, a coat of paint and a couple of nail, plus some way to organize the bags in the bottom.

6.  The master bedroom closet.  There is already a great organizer in there, it just needs to be purged once again.  Or maybe the bars need to be shifted around a little.  I would love less clothes space and instead have somewhere to put shoes and purses.  (Not that I have tons, but I like how this closet looks.)

7.  A place for belts and scarves.  This is cute and easy.

Minimalist mind shift

The other day, surrounded by yet another collection of scattered things around the house, I mumbled to myself:

"Argh!  I'm done with this!  We have too much stuff.  We need to get rid of some."

That, my friends, is what I call a "minimalist mind shift."  Because traditionally, in our day and age, when we have too many people and too much stuff we are supposed to want a bigger home to house it all.  And yes, I might feel some days like we could use an extra room or two, somewhere to separate children when things get too close.  But I never feel now like we need to get a bigger house for all our stuff.  I have won the battle against "stuff."

Monday, 10 March 2014

New youth workshop - Daniel

This past weekend I attended an "Especially For Youth" conference in London, Ontario as a workshop speaker.  This is one of my all time favourite things to do.  It's so much work, researching and writing and delivering a message.  Keeping teenagers engaged for an hour is no easy feat.  There is a fine line between engaging and entertaining.

I didn't know how this one was going to pan out.  I knew I wanted to talk about Daniel, and at the same time I started a Beth Moore bible study on Daniel.  This meant I was provided with her wealth of information, research and knowledge right at my fingertips.  Unfortunately, we are only three weeks into the study, so I had to race ahead to get a handle on the first six chapters.  Then the hard part was taking all that information and figuring out how to link it, what to emphasize, and what angle would be most meaningful to the teens I was teaching.

I really struggled with it this time.  I filled page after page and nothing seemed right.  I organized and reorganized and it was still wrong.  Right up until the night before I had to leave, I still felt like I was just reading them a story, not helping them really connect with scripture.

Then there was a little spark, at 1am.  I jumped out of bed and typed away for half an hour, unsure of what I had but needing to get it down anyway.  Once it was all out, I left the stream of consciousness in its jumbled mess and went to bed.

The next day the kids were home for the first day of March Break and so there was no opportunity to fine tune anything.  All of a sudden I was pulling out of the driveway with three young women in the car that I was driving and we were off.  That night I dropped off the girls, but instead of going to my hotel I dropped in on a friend.  Part of me wanted to hole myself up in the hotel room and hammer out the details, but something else pulled me to my friend, to an evening to sit and chat and engage in a beautiful exchange of encouragement.  As the evening passed I finally had to pull myself away and get a good night's sleep.  She and her husband spoke a word of prayer over me as we stood at the front door, a much needed blessing.

The next morning, finally rested and able to enjoy some quiet, the words filled my mind.  Alone in my hotel room, the workshop finally pulled itself together.

Later that morning I stood in front of my first group of 60 youth and launched into the story of a biblical personage that was their age, facing much of the same trials they are facing.  And it was incredible.  The Holy Spirit was present and their hearts were touched.

I could see their minds being challenged as they each took a piece of string and laid them in a line in the middle of the room, as we named our weakness and resolved never to cross that line.  At that point they were thoughtful.

I ended the workshop by having four of the 15 year old young men kneel in a group, just as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego did that dark night when they prayed for an answer to King Nebuchadnezzar's dream.  As I bore testimony of the reality of a God who cares about their fears and will answer their prayers in the same way, many of the teens wept as they felt the Spirit.  The four boys kneeling quietly sobbed. It was a phenomenal experience.

Two of the boys kneeling in that circle are friends of our family.  The are the eldest sons in their respective families, and their parents are parents to whom James and I look as examples of how to raise our children.  I was so touched that in an age and culture that worships self-centredness and entertainment that these two boys could reach beyond such earthly matters and feel something spiritual on such a level.

I know I have a calling in this line of work.  I don't know that it will ever be an easy process, but it is a gift I have been given and I am so grateful to be able to use it so effectively.


Our boys have discovered a new passion...chess.  They have played no less than 10 games a day since they got their set on Saturday.  All three boys very quickly learned the names of the pieces and how they move.  It's so cute to hear Benjamin's little four-year old voice say "I think I'll move my knight up there next to my rook."

Colin is a serious player.  He is really good at seeing the consequences of each move.  He is rarely caught off guard.  Given a few months I'm sure he will be able to think three, four, five moves ahead.

Caleb is a passionate player.  He tries to play both sides, with all seriousness.  He's just as excited to take one of your men as he is to point out when you get to take one of his.  He narrates every game, every move.

Benjamin is really trying to take it all in.  He understands how the pieces move and loves to capture any man.  He's just playing one move at a time.  And every now and then he decides to play "magic chess" in which any of his men can move any way they want.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Feeling old (school)

This weekend I've been asked to be a workshop speaker at a church youth conference again.  This is absolutely one of my favourite things to do.  It's a lot of research, writing, editing, memorizing and preparing, but I love it.

I'm almost all ready to go.  I'll be talking about Daniel, from the Old Testament.  I'm really excited because the group of kids I'm speaking to are 15 years old, which is about the age of Daniel in the chapters I'm highlighting.  I love when I can make God's word real to the youth.  Last year I talked about Esther and I think the kids really connected to the idea that she was a young woman like many in that room.

I got a little nervous this afternoon, though.  I was messaged in a group, along with all the other presenters (there are eight) and asked what we needed.  I was first to reply: 50 pens.

The other speakers also replied: a TV with Apple TV, a projector to hookup to a computer, a TV to hookup to a computer, a project, a TV...

The only thing I'll be using is a pen, a piece of paper and the bible.

I'm old (school) that way.  I'm also reminding myself that this is not a popularity competition.  I do not have to compete with the other presenters.  I do not have to be the favourite, the best, the flashiest, the most entertaining.

I have to be a conduit for the Holy Spirit.

(But I still have to stand up in front of all those teenagers.  Wish me luck!  And oh yeah, it's in London Ontario, so I'll be away from Juliette overnight for the first time.  Wish James luck!)

Saturday, 1 March 2014


Benjamin is building a lego house.  Currently, it has a front door, a window, a stair case, and a mat on which to put your boots and shoes.  Home sweet home.

Oh, and there is Dad (Superman) and me (the alien head from Toy Story.  Yes, just the head.)