Friday, January 30, 2009

This 'n That...

Neil's gone. i hate when Neil's gone. Things happen, like our credit card quits working, i have booked dentist appointments, the kids have music lessons, jams, we plan a trip to edmonton... & then... *poof*... he has to be in Las Vegas sending me a pic like this from the airplane:



& saying 'sorry, no time to phone, it's 17 degrees here... going golfing...'
i swear... i've gotten in trouble for calling his "business trips" "holidays" - but really... :)

(An aside - is that a reflection of his wedding ring in that pic? & if so... awwww...)


Anyway... we're having fun here too -


* i got my first organic produce bin delivered & it looks awesome.




* i decided to be a hero & still take the kids to Edmonton even without Neil. Eeeek! Praying for good roads...


* At the dentist today, they gave me a referral to take Sloanie to the orthodontist?! They said that she has a funny bite & that her space in her front teeth needs correction... hmmm. That surprised me.


*Annnnnd.... here are some pics of Cai's room makeover.






Thursday, January 29, 2009

inklings

Softie - pt. 2
i could tell Sloanie needed to talk to me one morning, so i sent the other children out of my room & waited for her to start. She has these huge eyes & there were tears welling up in them. She sort of laughed & said, 'i don't know why i always feel like crying lately!'... i waited again, folding diapers...
'Mom... the other day when i was watching the kids.... i yelled at them...'
'mmmhmmm?'
'& then they wrote me a big apology on the white board & said all kinds of nice things... & it made me feel horrible'...
'yeh...'
'lately, i don't know why i'm so mean.... i would give anything if i could make myself be nicer to the little guys...'
i told her that *that* inkling... that desire... that *conviction* was put there by the Holy Spirit ~ because God loves her & He's trying to teach her something. Her job now, is to be sensitive to that still small voice, to pick herself up when she fails, to have the humility to apologize & the grace to move on & strive to do better.
i love when my little ones remind me of the things i know to be true.
The Holy Spirit *convicts* us with teeny nudges...
The enemy wants to destroy us with *condemnation*...
There's a huge difference between the two.
Conviction tells us that if we're in a relationship with God, we'll want to learn to be more like Jesus...
Condemnation tells us that we will never ever measure up & that we're a hopeless cause...
Conviction brings us to a place of repentance.
Condemnation brings us to a place of despondency.
i want to teach my littles to listen to that still small voice... that *inkling* that tells them to strive to be more like Jesus & to be soft to His leading. i want to teach them to shrug off condemnation because we don't need to bear those kinds of burdens.
i remember once when i was little, my mom took me into this grimy pawn shop. She was looking around... & all of a sudden, i tugged at her arm & said, 'can we get out of this place? It gives me the creeps.'
Mom immediately took me by the hand & walked us out of there. Once out, i remember she told me, "Paige, i want you to *always* listen to that voice. God gives us those feelings for a reason."
It's a learned habit, to listen for God's voice.
& it can become a habit to ignore it too.
May i daily become more sensitive to His leading...
& tender & obedient to His conviction...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ironing anyone?

So, i had my iron out ironing up the bottoms of Cai's new curtains - (for Christmas, she got a 'room make-over' & it looks AWESOME!!)
Anyway...
Mollen is in the kitchen baking cookies with Cairo as i'm cutting & ironing & she glances over & says, 'Mom! You NEVER use that thing...!'
Truer words were never spoken...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Softie

Softie
After a very difficult labour, you were born. My limbs just shook...
When we had both been taken care of - wrapped in warm blankets - & given to each other, we gazed into each others eyes.
So different from when Cai was born - she was so sleepy, but your dark eyes didn't want to close.
& so we stared at each other... drinking each other in...
Making friends.
At home, daddy would lay you on his chest & exclaim how 'she just melts'...
We nicknamed you 'softie'.
Your difficult journey into our arms had bent your sweet nose & made your eye swell up - but your skin felt like velvet.
Cairo cupped her little hands in front of her & begged, 'hold her!'
From the moment you were born, the two of you were inseparable.
You, the faithful friend - fiercely loyal...
& She, the protective first born who never wanted to leave you behind.
i remember when my belly started to grow when i was pregnant with Peyton. You would climb onto my lap as i played the piano & i felt your little form - like a clinging shirt 'round the little one inside.
What a blessing you have been, Sloanie - my little soft one.
Even these days when i feel your arms encircle my waist every morning... & feel your little grey hat tuck itself under my chin - (when did you get so tall?) - you remind me to keep my arms open...
& my heart soft.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

up with mr. moo

It's early Saturday morning... Gage slept all night (*yay*) but woke early. i thought maybe i could pull the ol' nursing trick & get him to go back to dreamland for a little longer, but when he started blowing raspberries on me, i knew it was all over...
Mollen said to me the other day, 'i think Gage likes you best out of everyone in this family. Because you're the momma, and because you HAD him... and because you have boobie juice."
In the darkness, i dared to make eye contact... i could barely make out his features... but he was staring at me... waiting for me to look down & he squealed & rolled over like i had put forth some outrageous challenge.
He's turning into such a monkey.
i have learned that these are precious moments.
i have learned that babyhoods are fleeting things & that soon, there will be a sweet toddler, a lisping preschooler, a sweaty preteen in my arms.
He reaches to my neck... Since before he was born, i've always worn a pendant & he fingers it as he babbles at me...
We slip out of bed - Gage shouting 'dadadadada!!' looking over my shoulder... Neil pretending to still be sleeping. i wrestle him to the ground & somehow manage to get a fresh diaper on him - passing him whatever i can get my hands on to distract him so he doesn't try to escape. i pick him up...
a solid little boy in my arms.
He whispers in my ear as we tiptoe down the dark hallway & stairs - past his sleeping brother & sister - to the kitchen to brew some coffee.
After awhile, big sisters wake & come to steal their baby brother from me.
Coffee's ready...
New day's beginning.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brennan

Thinking of the vT's today as they remember their little boy whose fragile life turned our attention to the Father, who lovingly provides. May He bring comfort to their family today.
Love you Jen. We remember Brennan with you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

giftings - what you probably don't know about me

For the past several months, i've been helping out with the music at our church.
i love music.
i love especially working with *good* musicians. There's this one guy who's a drummer & some Thursday nights, he gets incredibly creative - & in music, you can just play off of each others creativity & i don't know how to describe it without sounding like a huge nerd - but it feeds something in me.
There are challenges to it too - but for the most part, i love putting together packages & helping to organize that part of our services & help to fill in that need our church has for music.
On the other hand - lately, i've been feeling like there's this other *need* in the circles i travel in & it's been on my mind that there needs to be a 'gathering' opportunity for all the homeschooling families in my area.
i don't love gathering.
My husband describes me as a hermit. i'm ok when i'm out & about, but to plan an outing makes my stomach sick. i probably don't at all seem like an introvert to anyone i've met in real life - but going out, being around other people (not including my family) takes *everything i've got*. (This sounds so selfish when i type out these words, but in the interest of being honest, i'll leave it as is... :) i know that God wants me to be an interactive part of society... but it's not at all something that comes easy to me. When i invite someone over, my heart beats faster, i get stomach aches, & when the doorbell rings, i start to sweat & i find myself very glad when i can just hide behind Gage because then i have something to do with my hands that suddenly seem too awkward to actually be apart of my body.
When i wrote about Auntie Marlene encouraging me to practice hospitality, that was HUGE for me. Neil has really encouraged me that way too - to just let go of my discomfort - to think past my own problems to the needs that might come through my door. i *want* to be that house where friends can gather & feel comfortable & at home... & i want to be able to 'get over myself' & build relationships without having a panic attack... so long story short... this is something i really work on. Neil doesn't ask me anymore - he just invites people over. i try not to think too much anymore either - i just say the words, 'Want to come over?' & then deal with it :) We end up having people over a lot - & that's *good*.
i don't know why it's not like that for me with music. Maybe because there's this folder of music between us? Maybe because i know what's expected of me? Maybe because i'm fed by the music enough that my social inadequacies don't bother me so much?
So, this burden - this idea - this *need* that i'm feeling in my homeschooling circles makes me very uncomfortable.
One time when i was talking about a different need i was seeing in our church with a very wise woman, she told me this: it's not always up to you to take up the challenge & organize an event or a ministry... (don't get me wrong, sometimes that's *exactly* what you're supposed to do) - but she encouraged me to take the first step - which is to pray about it.
So, i'm praying about a homeschool gathering. & i guess i'm taking the second step too, which is to organize an afternoon playdate where we can all meet & maybe get to know each other a bit. i don't know if i have the tools in my toolbox to tie the pieces together to make something like this happen, but i get the feeling that it is time for something like this to happen in our community. It's been interesting as i've been talking to other mamas the response has been very enthusiastic & very much, 'what can i do?' & i just shrug & say, 'i don't know'... but maybe once we all meet, the right leaders will step up & take over... ? Or maybe if we try to get together once or twice, it'll be obvious that i'm wrong & we're all a bunch of introverts who would rather slit our wrists than get together & be social?
Wow, have i ever put together such a rambling non-sensical post?
Mamas in my area - looks like the afternoon of Febrary 5th is a go. Email me if you want details.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

heaven



Heaven.

i guess it's supposed to be this big comforting idea.

The runner-up prize when we've prayed for healing...

Sombre angels with white robes & glowing halos - harps & streets of gold - Hawaii's climate - lounge chairs at the beach... Singing in a choir - getting all our questions answered...

No sadness - no grief - every tear wiped from every eye...

Yeah, i've read my bible... & i have cultural influences that have shaped the way that i think about this *place*... i have my own ideas of what seems right and fair...

& yet to me - to really get a grasp on Heaven seems to be impossible.

i find when i think about *heaven* ~ it's not this big comforting idea. There are too many unknowns. Is my baby a *baby*? What does it look like there? What work will i do? Is my child *waiting* for me there - or does time stand still & we'll get there at the same time? What do i know about heaven that isn't somebody's imaginings?

When i think about heaven - it makes me ache. It's too personal. Too unimaginable... Too foreign.

We've got ideas of Heaven, that need to be able to mix with the reality of death. The tangible, heart-wrenching, how am i going to keep on keeping on pain of death... contrasted with a bed-time story book version of Heaven.

To be honest... a bed-time story isn't good enough when we're talking life and death.

So, i was mulling this idea in my mind & all of a sudden, i stumbled on the comforting part....
God is there.
God is what i *know* about heaven.
God loves me... He loves my children... He has a purpose and a plan.
God is Good.
THAT is not somebody's imaginings - of white robes & angel wings with ethereal halos... that is TRUTH.
Heaven is *only* comforting because of God. Not as a half-fictional, half-reality based story to take away the tears for a just a moment - to imagine something comforting for someone who has lost someone precious...

But we're forced to believe & HOPE for what we do not yet see -(Romans 8 ~ the whole chapter)... i know... i keep referencing this passage in every 3rd or so blog post... 's worth reading again & again...)

When we lost our precious baby in February of 2007, i wasn't even far enough along in my pregnancy to have picked out names. From the time we found out our baby had died, until my body was able to give that little one up, God gave us time. Days and days that in my mind i have labeled as my Hope Vigil. God's presence was tangible, thick, palpable. Moment by moment, He met with me - When i woke up in the middle of the night, He was there. When i couldn't make myself get out of bed in the morning, He gave me strength. He met with me in my grief and comforted me. He gave me dreams, words, thoughts, beauty, art, music. My God - saw me - me - a needy little wife and mother, and because he *loved me* He saw fit to reveal Himself to me in those days like He never has at any other time in my life. When my children heard me cry that we didn't have a name for the baby, Sloanie very gently suggested that we name our baby Hope.

It was perfect.

That evening, to comfort me, they all cut out hearts in red (it was Valentines day when we found out) & they used the references in the back of their bibles to write out as many verses as they could that held the word, "HOPE". That passage in Romans became something that i could know about Heaven... Heaven was something *hoped* for... Not something i already knew. Our baby's name is a reminder that *hope* is precious - & that *hope* does not disappoint us (Romans 5).

This is the God i serve. A personal God - who chooses to reach in & despite the fact that there is so much about life and death that is unimaginable - He makes me capable of Hope.

Heaven is faith-building.

& yeah, maybe there are days right now - when the thought of it feels foreign -

... but i know that because He's there - it's more home than here.

So, we'll sojourn her a little longer - but,

"i am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (romans 8:38)

Monday, January 19, 2009

How we do it... swimming

i love getting an idea of how other families operate.

i was thinking as we were leaving the pool this Saturday that we've pretty much got 'how we do swimming' down to a science.

First off, the passes were a Christmas present from my parents - swim passes are an awesome, clutter free gift idea if grandparents are ever asking...

We make the kids change into their swimsuits at home & then we pack underwear for everyone. We pack 2 swim bags - one for the 3 big girls & one for Neil & i & the 3 littles. When we get to the pool, the 3 big girls can go to the ladies change room & we go to the family change room. (One thing we decided early on was that we'll only go for 'family' swim, not 'public' swim... It's much less crowded & there is a huge difference in atmosphere.)

i handle Gage & Neil helps Mollen into her 'floaty'. It's quick 'cause Charter & Molls already have their swimsuits on, so they just have to undress & they're ready. Charter is bouncing off the walls, but he's able to get himself changed & put his clothes in a locker. We bring our towels in & put them on the side of the pool. i usually take Gage - & because Mollen has a floaty & everyone else can swim well, Neil takes all 5 other kids to the diving board, or the slide... whatever. If he does laps with them, as they finish their laps, they'll come over to me & Gage in the kiddie pool. Sometimes we'll switch around a bit & Neil will take Gage - but Neil is so much more fun in the pool that the kids prefer swimming with him :) (Who could blame them? Their own personal Shamu...) & sometimes we'll all be swimming together - depending on how wiggly Gage is being & if he has a floaty on so he can be a little more independent.

Anyway, when we're just about done swimming, i run & get changed first while Neil holds Gage & all the littles get warmed up in the hot tub. Then i come back for Gagey & the 3 big girls go get ready themselves. Neil & i tag team the younger 3 - but it's a lot easier because i'm not trying to get changed at the same time.

We are seriously fast :) hehe.


When we get home - i have one of these (jabba from Ikea) hanging in my basement laundry room:


& the (big) kids hang up everyone's swimming suits & put all the towels through the laundry. i keep a laundry hamper in my laundry room that is just for 'swimming gear' - i keep all the swimsuits in it (so there is no searching for swimsuits in various drawers...) and all the goggles, floaties, snorkel gear, flippers etc... so it's quick to find & pack our swimming bags on swimming days.

So, that's 'how we do it' for swimming... Maybe there's an idea you can steal to make swimming easier for your family.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2008 In Retrospect

LD tagged me - & even though i find i'm horrible at these things, i tried...

1. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

Wow, talk about starting off with a doozy... This is a tough question because i really feel like i have lacked nothing. i would love to have unity in my extended family.

2. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 6th 2008 Gage was born.

3. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Becoming a mama again. ~ Is that an "achievement"?

4. What was your biggest failure?

My "meal planning/scheduling" ideas... i am way too much of a 'fly by the seat of my pants' girl.

5. What was the best thing you bought?

My teeny angel pendants.

6. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Gage ~ he is an angelic baby.

7. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

"Appalled & depressed??!!" That's pretty harsh. ummm... i'm not too terribly impressed with the political leaders in our country this year... (or any other year in recent history...)

8. Where did most of your money go?

Um... living... food... shelter?

9. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Jason Upton 'i will wait for You'.

10. Compared to this time last year, are you

i. happier or sadder? If it's possible to be happier, i'm happier... but i doubt it. God has been so gentle & kind with me this whole year. As the author of The Shack said in his interview, "Joy is a constant companion".

ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner ~ i was 9 months pregnant at this time last year!

iii. Richer or poorer? $$wise?? Probably richer - Neil's starting his new business, but it's not costing much to get it going, so we're about the same... Maybe we have a little more debt paid off.

11. What do you wish you'd done more of? i wish i would have spent more time outside... getting my heartrate up...

12. What do you wish you'd done less of? maybe less wishing, more doing?

13. What was your favorite TV program? The Office ~ or any other show that gets my husband to laugh out loud. i love that sound...

14. What was the best book you read? The Bible (sounds so pretentious... i don't mean it to...)

15. What was your favorite film of this year? Hmmm... we did not watch a lot of movies... Maybe Juno 'cause i cried?

16. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? eeeek! i must be getting old because i don't remember my birthday this year!! i turned 32 though... i think... heh heh

17. What kept you sane? My husband... he is the most grounded, practical person.

18. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Hmm... i don't really know. Some of them really make me curious - but i haven't spent any time following them enough to know anything of worth about them... Angelina Jolie is one that comes to mind - because she has 6 children :) & because she has a reputation for caring for the needy...

19. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: i just asked Cairo what i learned & she looked at me & said, 'that 12 year old girls are amazing & fun?' yeh... that. :)

20. Word you said often enough that it should have been your catchphrase: Sloanie is my diaper helper... Whenever Gagey has a messy diaper, it has become habit to call out, "C'mon, poo-girl" & she comes running... i am a mean mom.

i tag Cairo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Older Woman

3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Titus 2:3-5

i *am* the older woman??

Sometimes i still see myself as a starry eyed newly-wed. Still too ignorant to have any wisdom to impart. -Despite the fact that i'm noticing this crease in my brow that seems to get deeper every day... & when i'm pointing to the words on the pages as Charter stumbles through his reading assignment, i can't stop staring at those hands that i'm sure belong to my mother.

i have been so incredibly blessed throughout my marriage to have had several "titus 2" women take me under their wing. i won't even get started on my mom *or* my sisters ~ they're worthy of their own posts :) Then there was Neil's mom ~ who gave me some big pointers & encouragement on how to keep house. Neil's auntie Marlene encouraged me as a newly wed who was far from my own family to 'practice hospitality'. She had me over for Christmas when Neil worked it & watched Cairo the day Sloanie was born. When we moved to Daysland, Gramma Ann (a grandma from the community who adopted us when she saw i had my hands full at church by myself because my husband worked shift) would phone me & ask me what God was teaching me & then excitedly share what He was teaching her. She filled my freezer with meat when the mill shut down & brought my little ones Flintstones vitamins instead of candy. When we moved to Sexsmith, Bernice was the first one who convinced me i was capable of homeschooling my little ones. She's also the one who gently encouraged me to not try to substitute my husband for God. That tiny shift in my focus has fed my marriage *and* my relationship with God. Barb (coincidentally, Gramma Ann's daughter) encouraged me to keep being creative... to keep writing music & to keep *thinking* & digging. Sharon answered my questions about Grace... & kept turning my eyes & ears to Truth.

& then there were countless women my age & younger who over the years through their words - or example - have taught me how to be a better wife, mother, follower of Jesus. Melissa took a pretty incredible stand with her husband - when it could have really hurt his career - but it mattered more to them to live out their Christianity (wwJd) than to have job security. Jen - in Daysland & Shelly - in Sexsmith came & helped me pack & clean house when we moved... even though they were just young girls who could have been doing things that were a lot more fun. Eventually, i watched *my* girls looking up to these young women & it was a thrill when Shelly invited them to a sleepover on the bible college campus & treated them to supper in the dining hall :) The ladies in our homeschool group in Sexsmith became a sounding board... & really close friends... as we encouraged each other in this challenging lifestyle we had each chosen.
Boy, you get started thinking about it & it's impossible to name all of the incredible women that have hugely influenced my life...

And, yet... we don't just get to sit back & take notes, do we?

It freaks me out to even *think* of being an example - a teacher. Maybe because i was the youngest in my family... maybe because i'm constantly second guessing myself... maybe because it's so painfully obvious that i don't know it all...

i remember when Shelly asked if i would 'mentor' her. i don't know if i burst out laughing... but i know that Neil & i probably had a good laugh about it later... in my own mind, i just threw up my hands & thought ~ *what on earth do i have that i could pass on to this articulate, intelligent, confident bible school student that could be of any worth*? i decided that if she asked my advice i would try my best to tell her to listen to her parents and to God. (Seemed to me ~ especially after meeting her parents, God had given her some especially good ones...) She ended up coming to my house every Tuesday for i don't know how many years... (How many was it Shelly?? :) & if nothing else, i let her in on what God was doing in my life during those years.

Neil has encouraged me, in regards to being a Titus 2 woman - to just *be out there - available* & in his words to 'keep throwing out lifelines' when i see someone struggling... & when i've prayed about it... one of the things that i've felt i *must* do - is to be transparent. i pray that God will take my loaves and fishes & multiply them for His Glory.

People - relationships- teaching - learning -
it's important.

The Mollen Years part 2

Two weeks after Mollen was born, another young mama from my church lost her son. - He was full term & he got tangled in his umbilical cord. Suddenly what had already felt bleak, now felt black & dark... & my journal ~ that in previous pregnancies heard me whining about my postpartum body heard only desperate prayers.

i devoured my bible. i read the whole thing in 3 months & then flipped back to Genesis & started again. i sat at the piano with my bible open & prayed the psalms in song to God.

If i hinted to anyone that i was struggling, *i felt* that the response was, 'you brought this on yourself, you wanted all these 'blessings'... deal.'

My baby cried.

She cried like no other baby i had ever known. She cried all day & all night. She would scream for hours in the night... & i would hold her & whisper her middle name in her ear, "Solace, be comforted, be comforted..."

i took her to the doctor & they ran blood tests & found nothing. i tried changing my diet... She didn't seem to be gaining weight like my other babies did. We left any vacation early... exhausted with taking turns in a back room, holding a baby who bewildered us with her seeming suffering. i took her to the doctor again & again & they found nothing wrong with my little mite.

One Sunday at church, my friend who had lost her son came up to me & asked if she could hold her. i was just shaking - Mollen had been screaming all morning & Neil was at work - & i felt so grateful ~ nobody ever wanted to - or offered to hold her, not even Neil - because of her constant screaming. ~ She sat down with her & closed her eyes & just *breathed* my baby in. As i watched my friend hold my little one, i knew that in that moment, God was dealing tenderly with us both.

In our homeschool, the little ones made up songs - substituting each child's name like, 'Cairo, you're a blessing to this family, Cairo, we're so glad you're in this family, Cairo, you're a blessing to this family, Cairo Cairo, Caiiiirooo nananana..' (hehe, you have to hear it to get the whole effect)... or...

"The Beselt family loves each other, & we will never forget that... mommy, daddy & the siblings.... all love one another....God's love- everybody loves God's love - some people like to climb trees, but everybody loves God's love, everybody loves God's love."

'Rhythm dance' parties were held at any meal - 'i love bein' a kid... i love bein' a kid... etc... ' & then it was my turn.... 'i love bein' a mom, ya, i love bein' a mom!!' i'd shout them down any day. - (Hey, Neil wasn't around to get after us for excess noise!) i was grateful for our bible time. We read through, 'Leading Little Ones To God' & acted out bible stories. We learned to do our reading, writing & math, with the sound of wailing in the background. We all remember Mollen's first word because i was reading aloud & suddenly in her crying she shouted, "mama" ~ We all stopped what we were doing & congratulated her & tickled her & hugged her up... but she kept crying.

i hope that my little ones saw me clinging to Jesus.

But clinging was about all i was capable of. i remember distinctly one day taking my baby across the street to my neighbours house. Our children were friends & she is an amazing christian woman who i still admire. i had tears in my eyes & i said, "Colleen, please, just lay hands on her & pray for her to stop crying."

She did... but my baby kept crying.

i can't put exact dates on the parentheses around what we laughingly (or tearfully if i'm honest) call the Mollen years...

Over time after she was around 1 and a half things slowly began to improve. Not just with my little baby - who cried her babyhood away... but in those dark places in me, where Jesus met with me & healed me & spoke to me & tenderly walked with me.

Maybe there are logical words for what i went through... Maybe i was sad & lonely - & my baby had colic - but to me, it felt like spiritual growth.

i hope that Mollen would never be sad to read this little series of posts when she gets older. It wasn't her fault that she was a sad (& probably in pain) little baby. The *fruit* of the Mollen years is precious to me... The painful pruning produced a beautiful harvest. i am so grateful to God for those years & for the babyhood of the little one who brings them to my mind.




Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Mollen Years part 1

When we look back, Neil & i remember 'the Mollen years' as being particularly trying. Neil was rarely home... & when i say rarely, i mean he often went to work at 4am & came home at 2am... i mean when i had my babies, he was at the hospital as they were delivered at 6am, but at work by 9, i mean that Sundays, holidays, birthdays, summer days, freezing winter days... all seem to be in my memory - missing Neil.

i was still delighted to find out in 2003 that i was expecting another sweet addition to our family. i remember that moment, seeing that faint blue line & knowing for sure that i was falling in love again - closing my eyes & whispering, 'thank-you'.

Yeah, i was nauseous... tired... my oldest turned 7 in my first trimester & my other ones were 5, 3 & 1. i was homeschooling & just barely treading water... & i missed Neil horribly.

An excerpt from my journal 12 weeks into my pregnancy:

"at every stage, i look back at the last one & i can't believe how easy i had it & how HARD things are now... & then comes the next stage & it's even HARDER - then HARDER - & now... o-my, it's about to get HARDER.
Wow...
altho, i can't help but hope things are a little easier once i get over morning sickness... Baby, are you ok? Are you comfortable & growing? Are you a Mollen or a Seamus? Will you come in the night or the day? i can't wait to see you. Will you be big like Peyts & Charter? Or teeny like Sloanie & Cai?"

& later, around 19 weeks...

"Lord God, i'm starting to doubt everything i do.... homeschooling, having babies - being alone - God, it's all so hard. i look in the future & i look away 'cause i'm so tired. Is this what you want for me? God, i cannot do this alone. You've taken me from my family, (at this point, 7 years into our marriage, we had moved 6 times) from my husband, from friends time & again & is this for your purposes?

i *will* lean on YOU. i will draw near to you... and you will draw near to me. You will be my mother, father, sister, husband, friend. You are all."


My mom told me, "loneliness is God's invitation" ~ i decided to accept that invitation.

So, my pregnancy progressed... and things continued to happen...

*My 3yo hurt her foot & couldn't walk on it for over a week. i ended up carrying her and Charter a lot.

*My ultrasound came back saying that there were pockets of fluid in my baby's brain. They wanted to do another ultrasound just to make sure they weren't there - or that they were at least shrinking. After a second ultrasound confirmed what the first one said, my doctor told me that my baby was also measuring 4-6 weeks small and he didn't think we should have my oldest daughter attend the birth like we had planned... just in case... They planned on doing an u/s on her brain once she was born.

*In December we all got the stomach flu.

*In January, we got a cold snap. It was -40 not including the windchill & the icefog. All 4 of the children got the chicken pox. None worse than my 19month old son who got them in his lungs & subsequently got chicken pox pneumonia & ended up in the hospital.

i read my bible a lot....

"He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in his bosom & shall gently lead those that are with young." ~ isaiah 40:11

At 6:06am on April 19th, Mollen Israel Solace was born.
It seemed to be a miracle that all was well & the ultrasound on her brain later showed no fluid. She was also a beautiful size ~ We never felt surprised... just pleased :)

"Mom got here on Sunday at supper time & i started getting some contractions around 11pm. By midnight, i had suspicions it was the real thing & by 2, i was still unsure, but i woke up Cai & Neil to go to the hospital. i laboured 99% of the time in the shower with the handheld head & a towel over the labour ball... worked very well. Mollen was turned in the birth canal by 45' - it was *work* & hard & painful to get her turned around, but once she was, it was quick. She was 20" & 8lbs 9oz. Beautiful almost black hair (hardly wants to open her eyes...) & lots of rolls & soft sweet smelling skin. "Mis B" is like a teeny kitten when she cries. i did alright - no heroics, but Cai wasn't scared. & i was 'in control' for labour, transition & delivery. Dr. Molnar was a grump - but whatever - the nurses were awesome - & we did get in for her u/s. No results yet. i better go tidy up supper & help mom with the other kittens...."

A few days later my mom (& dad who had come later) left... & as my mom hugged me goodbye, i just felt something *sad* creep in... something bleak... It's the only time i remember my mom leaving after i had a baby & me crying. i just held my teeny baby & cried.
Neil was working his crazy hours still... School was not yet done for the year... & as the days & weeks wore on, i found out that even though i had already had 4 other children, i was about to learn a whole 'nother side of motherhood.


Monday, January 12, 2009

man things

Why is it that when Neil's gone, the house falls apart?
Seriously, as soon as he left, my cupboard door just fell off the hinges...
& this morning, when i got up, the fridge was full of warm things...
Not cool. (ok, no pun intended :)
i love the teamwork of marriage. The give & the take.
The ability to share tasks & divvy up jobs.
i love how poopy diapers are my job...
Strange flashing lights in the vehicle are his job...
Puke in the night is my job...
Bills getting paid falls on his side...
We share making coffee on Saturday mornings... & most evenings, we tag team the kitchen...
Each year that we add to our marriage is another year that we get to perfect our systems. We try to pick up each others slack... be strong in each others weakness... be gentle in criticism & yet honest with feedback.
i feel like in the 3 legged race of marriage ~ we're fairly evenly matched.
Now, if only he could come home & fix the cupboard & fridge...

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Jump

So, i've had a ton of questions in recent days from other mamas about homeschooling... i had typed this story out a couple of years ago ~ but i can't find it ~ so i re-wrote it...
If homeschooling's not your thing ~ take this story & apply it to whatever *good thing* you've been wanting to try & just haven't worked up your nerve yet.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Starting to homeschool can be scary.

It's like this huge leap into uncharted waters... not knowing if you'll sink or swim... wondering if you're doing your kids the biggest favour ~ or the biggest disservice. This niggling conviction that won't let go... & yet this unease that makes us aware that this idea makes us *uncomfortable*.

The summer when Cairo was 7 years old, we made a trip out to Kelowna to visit Neil's mom & dad. While we were there, we went to Peachland where there is this HUGE diving board. Trust me, it's even scarier in real life than on the movie. It was a beautiful, hot day. Neil & i dove in... & after watching some other kids jump in, Cairo excitedly asked if she could jump too.

So, up, up, up she climbed. Skinny legs shaking... tip toeing to the edge... and...

She froze.

Neil did some crazy head over heels leap & coaxed her from the water...

i stood at the top & told her she could do it...

But she couldn't.

She turned around and asked to climb down.

So, down we went.

This scenario repeated itself a couple of times before we were ready to leave the beach. In a final heroic effort, she climbed the ladder ~ *sure* this time that she would have the courage to leap. Everyone on the beach started cheering for her. Neil was in the water... Her siblings were screaming, "JUMP!!!!"

But after standing on the edge, staring down for several minutes, she turned to me... teary... & asked to climb down.

Oh, man, i felt for her. We climbed down, got in the vehicle & drove home. She poked my shoulder & when i turned around, she whispered (at age 7...) "Mom, now i know what 'regret' feels like..."

One Year Later.

We were passing through Peachland. It was cloudy & not as warm as it had been that day the year before ~ but my little girl had only one thing on her mind. She was gonna make that jump. She convinced Neil to stop & we all got out of the vehicle. She climbed confidently to the top ~ stood for one breathless moment...

And jumped.

video

That jump is tattooed in my memory.

It reminds me of how fearful i felt when i took the leap & decided to teach my little ones at home. It reminds me that i can go back & forth a hundred times ~ but i'll never really *really* know what homeschooling is about unless i take that final step that takes me right over the edge & into some pretty deep water. It reminds me how conditions aren't always perfect ~ there are diapers to change, laundry to fold, suppers to make... & in the midst of it all ~ trying to allow learning to happen... & yeah... it's hard sometimes, but oh-so-worth-it.

So, if that's you... Standing up at the top of that diving board... shivering & wondering... Hop in... the water's fine.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Road To Emmaus

Cai's starting a new bible study called The Stranger on the Road To Emmaus (John. R. Cross).
That story has always kind of bothered me.
i felt jealous of those men who got several hours of *face time* with Jesus... & He explained the bible to them as they walked along that road to Emmaus & they got to ask questions & were given the opportunity to just *be with* Him... Sometimes i wished they would have at least written down what He said.
Let me in too, Jesus...
So, last night i was asking Him about that. & all of a sudden the thought hit me... 'it's not too late'. Jesus is here... i'm here... the road is long... i'm aching for some company... it's a date.
Relationship. 's a beautiful thing...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

kung fu

So, Sloanie (10) & Cairo (12) were in their room doing their math when in walks Mollen (4). They tried to shoo her out because in her cuteness, she's pretty distracting... Mollen was resisting ~ & finally Sloanie asked her, "Mollen, we're almost done, just go out for 5 minutes."
Mollen turns to them with an indignant expression on her face. "N-O".
Sloanie looks at her & says, "What did you say to me??!!"
Silence.
Mollen turns, furious... "Sloanie. You are a disgrace to Kung Fu. If you have any respect for who we are and what we do, you will be gone by morning."
*sigh* i guess she watched Kung Fu Panda too many times over the holidays. Way to time your lines, Molls.

Sunday, January 4, 2009



Deborah tagged me... & even tho she wimped out & put the most non-embarrassing addictions EVER on her blog (seriously... check them out... ) i will still play.

Here are the rules to receiving this award:

You have to pass it on to 5 other fabulous bloggers in a post.

You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.

You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.

On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them.

Sooooo... here goes... (in whatever order... schmozzle as usual)

1.) There are some things i will eat too many of ~ even if i get sick later... One of them is pepino peppers (they come on the side of a pizza from papa john's ~ & honestly... yum)

2.) i am addicted to Neil. i can't have too much or even enough. He's delicious.

3.) i am what is known as a 'birth junkie' - i love hearing birth stories, baby stories... or better yet, giving birth myself. hehe. It is a miracle i never tire of.

4.) i love the internet. Specifically Wikipedia, Google and Blogger... (with a special shout out to Babycenter)... i have NO idea how homeschool moms did it 20 years ago. i always quote Einstein, who said, 'i never memorize anything i can look up'. Yeh... i'm just trying to be like Einstein.

5.) i love my piano. Gives me an outlet for joy, pain & all that's in between & to express my gratitude to God ~ who is, by the way, the best One to be addicted to...
So to tag, i choose: my sister Stephanie, my sister Jess, Jen, Mel & my dd Cairo. Aaaannnnnd, anyone else who feels like it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

More Dates & Grace

Neil bought a dvd player for our room. i hate watching movies in the basement & we haven't watched a movie together in forever. Last night, he rented Juno 'cause i've wanted to see it since it came out...
So, we got to watch in comfort...
Eating cheesies & sharing a Jones soda.
i had to turn off my lamp so he wouldn't make fun of me when i cried. Some of the scenes were a little close to home.
One that comes to mind...
When Juno tells her dad that she's pregnant & he says (something to the effect of), "i thought you were the type of girl who knew when to say when."
& she looks back at him & says, "i don't know what type of girl i am."
i remember exactly... *exactly* how i felt when i was 19 (3 years older than the character in the movie ~ which is centuries when you're a teenager...) with no wedding ring on my finger, living far away from the one i loved, trying to finish school & not tell anyone why my pants quit fitting. i remember feeling some things for sure - that me & this little baby were a team. From the moment i knew she was there... i sought out every bit of information i could. i memorized what parts of her were developing and i remember where i was the first time i felt her kick.
i remember discovering that even though i didn't know what type of girl i was... i knew the kind of God i served.
& His Grace was sufficient.

Friday, January 2, 2009

9 random links for 2009

To see our nutty New Years, click here.
To see a yummy recipe i tried that nobody else in my family liked, click here.
To hear a song i like right now, click here.
To read a blog i read the other day that has a bajillion crafty ideas, click here.
To discover Sloanie's favourite website, click here.
To hear the 3 part interview with The Shack author that i thought was better than the book, click here here & here. (Does that count as 1 or 3 links??)
To see a good thing i would like to own, click here.
To read the story (different version, but similar...) my sister read to me on the day i almost drowned when we were really really little, click here. ~ It always made me cry...
And, finally, if you're still in the mood to surf after allll that! This guy is the type of self motivated, out of the box thinker i'd love to raise my children to be ~ click here.

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