Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Sitting outside in the peace and beauty of my parent's place in Victoria, i watch my sweet 5 year old dance in the grass waving bright green leaves. Suddenly, she starts to sing -
"Oh no, you never let go of me..." She's singing to Jesus...
i can't help but join in... until i notice she's not singing anymore.
She's standing in front of me, arms crossed with her nose about an inch from my face.
"Less talky, more looky."
Ahhhh, chastened...
After a day out on my parent's new boat, i collapsed in the teeny cabin & shut my eyes as we motored home... Suddenly a sharp little voice is squealing in my ear,
She bops my head unceremoniously as i try to ignore her.
Four second later, she is sprawled out next to me dead to the world.
Yes... i'll admit... i was tempted...
Shall i spare you Mollen's operetta on the ferry? i know, it sounds like a story you'd like to hear, but it was in the bathroom...
It was an operetta detailing her adventures in the bathroom...
While 2 other ladies snickered at me i stood there with a weak grin, willing the song to end as i waited for her to emerge from the stall.
Someone ratted on me to Neil & told him that i blogged about him buying me coffee. He decided he needed to check out my lies, & as i was scrolling to the right place, he glanced at my sidebar & exclaimed, "WHAT??!! God has more posts than ME???"
My mom was tucking Mollen into bed & she suggested that they should scooch over so that there would be room for Peyton, "Nuh- uhn!!" Molls retorted, "i'm not sitting in YOUR farty place!"
Gagey was fussing in the van & his fussing became more loud & insistent the longer he was ignored till Mollen piped up, "Uh oh! Look out people, he's gonna BLOW!"
So, as i said, i'm on holidays... so blogging may or may not be sparse this week... i seem to always find the time & desire to write, so we'll see...
& yes, i realize i have 6 kids & most of my quotes are from only one of them... Let's pray that the rest of them NEVER catch up to her in their smarty smart mouth ways k?

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's the End Of The World.

Woke up to about a teaspoon of coffee in our coffee container.
Neil & i looked at each other.
What do we do?
He valiantly gets his shoes & keys & offers to go to Second Cup - right down the road - & pick up more beans. Do i just want the beans? Or do i want him to get me a fancy coffee?
My heart skips a beat as he looks at me expectantly...
He has a glint in his eye like he's almost laughing at me.
Maybe he's remembering the time when he sent me into the movie store to pick up a movie. We lived in a town - (village?) of *maybe* 500 & some guy renovated his front porch into a movie store. He had some shoe racks with about a dozen movies that he rented out... (if i'm exaggerating, it's not by much...) Anyway, Neil was our resident movie pick-er-out-er, but that day, he'd had enough & he sent *me* in to find something...
45 minutes later. FORTY-FIVE minutes later, i came out with nothing. i couldn't pick. He laughed, bound into the store and out again in 30 seconds with some random movie in his hands.
My man, the mover and the shaker.
And me. Completely disabled by decision making.
Funny, since i've made some pretty tough ones over the years - homeschooling being one of them...
Anyway - back to the coffee...
"i don't know..." i blush... it's first thing in the morning & i'm caught off guard. It's such a simple question - & yet...
He looks at me & says, "Honey. If it were the best day of your life, what would happen?" He grins.
Why does he do that?
Because he loves me.
He wants to be the knight in shining armour that makes my day perfect.
"Never mind."
He slips on his shoes & leaves.
5 minutes later, he's back. Vanilla bean latte in one hand & a bag of Paradiso coffee beans in the other.
My knight in shining armour. Saves me from the perilous land of decision making yet again...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sorry, Pupcake...

Getting supper on the table at our house can be rather chaotic at times. Cairo, can you get cups? Sloanie, put that salad on the table - Charter, did you get the water?
As we were all trying to get our evening meal ready, i turned to Mollen, "Molls, i need you to get forks for everyone."
She looked at me, thinking, with one finger on her chin before responding, "Sorry, Pupcake, no can do."
Charter, as he's peeling potatoes for supper, "When i grow up, i'm totally gonna be a cop."
Me - (i've only heard this 3000 times since he was 4) Mmmmhmmmm...
Charter - But then i'll probably get fired.
Me - (This is new)... What? Why?
Charter - i'm not a very good listener. When i get fired, i'll drive a golf cart.
Neil - At least he knows his weaknesses.
Mollen - Momma, is it my turn on the computer?
Me - Nope.
Mollen - How would you like it if i punch you in the throat?
Me thinks Mollen has been hanging around her dad too much. He thinks this story is hilarious.
i didn't want to post it, but i did at his insistance.
S.o. n.a.u.g.h.t.y.....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Minerva had another poetry challenge this week - & it wasn't an easy one. She challenged her readers to try writing a sestina. The poetry form uses repetition in place of rhyming and uses the last word of each line to create the pattern. Since i found it really hard to write, let alone explain - you can find out "how" here - (i can't believe that the original version also had you follow a meter pattern too). So, here is my first ever sestina - ;)

Family (a sestina)

The Family - my family
fresh, new & not to be torn asunder
vows spoken in voices tender
rings exchanged - the beginning of our joy.
Husband - wife - names so fresh
A union in it's perfection, exquisite.

Broken, he holds me - our lost son, exquisite.
Unforgotten member of our family.
Snow falls, my grief remains fresh.
First hardening, softening, changing, my whole being asunder.
He twists my hair in his hands - remember our joy?
i cradle him still in my memory so tender.

Thinking i'll break if he's too tender,
he hardens himself - the balance is exquisite.
Dawns the morning of cautious joy -
Precious daughter! Healing gift from God, Family.
Joy gives hope and we will not be torn asunder.
New levels of love, my soul takes flight with what is fresh.

Peace reigns as days dawn fresh
Little ones grow in our embrace so tender.
We scoff at what would tear us asunder
whispered promises in twisted sheets at midnight are exquisite.
Children run, grow, feel safe - strong roots of family.
Seasons of pain, seasons of peace, seasons of joy.

Clouds form, shadows creep to steal our joy.
We're safe, but others are sinking, the enemy is fresh.
Fathers gone, mamas absent, children insolent - family.
When did that word lose it's meaning, tender?
Torn apart, pain exquisite -
destroyed, deformed, maligned, asunder.

Floundering, sputtering, drowning, asunder.
He hears, He sees - our pain, our sorrow, our joy.
"He makes me lie down in green pastures." - exquisite.
"He restores my soul" How can those words be fresh?
He beckons our broken hearts in tones ever tender,
The Author, The Finisher, The Creator of family.

His love is exquisite and fresh.
Our quivering joy, tender.
No longer asunder, family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wrongful Life

"What are you gonna write about momma?" Sloanie asks me as she drapes her arm over my shoulder looking at the blank page & the blinking cursor in front of me.
What do i tell her? That i want to write about how stupid people are? How blind? How hasty & foolish? Should i tell her that i want to write lovingly as a follower of Jesus, & yet furiously & venomously as a member of the human race?
Instead, i show her a blog entry from a favourite blog of mine, A Little Something Extra For Us - it's the sweetest blog about a family with 3 gorgeous boys - the middly guy has Downs Syndrome & the whole blog is spattered with sweet photos of family life with a busy home filled with preschool aged boys. Ooos & awwwwwws punctuate our conversation as i look for the link i want to show her.
Finally, i find it.
Jenny, the mom, recently posted a link to an article about a couple whose baby's diagnosis of Downs was missed during the pregnancy and so they're suing - a "wrongful birth" or "wrongful life" suit against the medical establishment that missed the vital diagnosis that would have prompted them to abort their child.
Reading through the comments section of the article is almost too much for me - & i know it's too much for my pre-teen girls who are gathered around me, getting an explanation of the genocide that is legal and encouraged in many countries including our own, so i skim through the article, explaining the gist of what has happened. They look at me - sadly - full of confusion & doubt. i feel the same way. Is this the world we are handing down to our children? One void of compassion & humanity? One where we create our own definition for 'worthy of life' & then go on a murderous rampage stamping out all beautiful lives that fall somewhere outside those limited parameters?
God help us.
i read a similar article not too long ago where a couple was suing the doctors for a failed vasectomy. i can imagine the child growing & learning of the supreme disappointment that his life & birth were to his parents - i can imagine the parents - cheeks red with shame as the one who they tried so hard to keep out of their lives, fills it with joy & wonder...
When will we wake up & realize that we've got it all backwards. Life is a gift - even in it's fragility & it's requirements of fresh faith each and every time new life begins... God is the giver, God is the taker.
Man should be humbly filled with gratitude.
i need to add a post script here - i was talking about my prolife stance with someone one time & he said, "You have to be prolife, you're a Christian".
i'm not gonna lie - Jesus is everything to me.
But, even if i weren't a Christian - i would still be prolife. Science backs us up again and again. There are no two ways about it - life begins at conception and abortion ends a life that has already begun. As a human being, i stand 100% against abortion. Mothers and Fathers should be willing to lay down their lives for their young & a just and generous society should welcome life, not throw it away.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

neil made me cry last night

Not is a bitter cruel way -
But the cry that you can't help but make when you see the fresh green shoots start to come out from the black soil in spring...
The feeling that wells up in your chest as you watch the sun rise - or set...
A beautiful piece of artwork - a wonderfully choreographed dance - an exquisite piece of music flawlessly rendered & wrenching all those deep places in your heart you had forgotten existed.
Neil made me cry last night - as i watched our love grow, deepen, change again. He can make me cry with a pause - a certain gentleness that doesn't come very often - a raised eyebrow, a look that lingers...
Love can be so impossible to capture in words - It flits around, alighting for a moment - allowing itself to be perceived when we look for it & sit in the wonder & awe of it's beauty.
It can be so easily neglected & ignored - allowed to survive but not flourish.
Neil made me cry last night - and the tears only watered the scarred roots that have become strong - the sacred bond of a man & wife that God Himself joined together - growing into something beautiful...

Monday, June 22, 2009

i am the proud new owner of my very own PR.

So, i told you on Friday i would tell you something interesting on Monday & nobody bit! Nobody had curiosity eating them up at night while they wondered what juicy tidbit i could possibly have for them come Monday. Well, 's ok... i'll tell you anyway... i have a PR.
Public Relations?
Press Release?
Puerto Rico?
Personal Record.
i ran in my very first ever 10k race this weekend (yes, on Father's Day - i am a bad wife...)
The whole thing made me pretty nervous... i couldn't remember one single reason why i thought it was a good idea to register in the first place by the time race day rolled around. It was gloomy & cloudy & really cold - with even a sprinkling of rain. i didn't tell many people 'cause i found the whole thing kind of hilarious. Mollen asked me, "momma, are you gonna race against other mommas?" & it all seemed kind of silly - but i still wanted to do it.
Neil was a trooper - he dropped me off to get my time chip & went & got hot chocolate for the crew (yes, it was that cold). Then he came to cheer as i crossed over the start line. The first few seconds were just kind of almost walking, almost jogging as there were a ton of people & it was very crowded. Right away, i ran into a piece of luck. A HUGE FAST man went in front of me & kind of cleared the way through all the beginning rabble & by the time i lost him, i was out of the crowd finding my own pace. i had my watch on, so i was keeping track when i could see a km marking & i knew my pace was pretty right on what i've been at home & i was feeling pretty good by the time i came around the bend to the 5k finish line (the 10k racers just passed on the side & did a second loop). That's when i saw my whole little crew jumping & cheering at the sidelines & they were so cute, i could have cried... The second 5k there were a lot less runners & i felt like i kept up my pace pretty good - even though it felt like so many people passed me. When i got in sight of the finish line, i saw my littles again & people waving me across the finish line & it was all so distracting, i forgot to look at my watch - but i knew i had beat my goal of 55 minutes & i was pretty happy with that.
When i got home, & checked my time online, i found out that i came in second out of 27 for my age division & i thought that was pretty amazing for my very first race. 11/95 for women & 46/191 overall.
So, my very first PR for a 10k is 53:07.
i may be looking for a new one someday soon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fun Friday Sprinklings.

1.) Neil doesn't read my blog.
2.) i love summer storms.
3.) Food cooked by someone else sounds *delicious*. i don't care who.
4.) My parents have 19 grandchildren. Cairo wants *someone* to have one more & then she will prepare contracts for all the grandchildren that state they will have a minimum of 5 children each so that my parents can have 100 great grand children. Yes. i know. She's a little funny - & she plans ahead like that.
5.) Some people look funny when they run. i hope i am not one of them.
6.) When i expressed my concern about this to Neil, he offered to video tape me (laughing). i declined.
7.) i keep listening to this song... i can't wait till we get to heaven & there *will* be unity.
8.) i overheard Cairo asking Mollen to sniff her armpits to see if her homemade deoderant works well.
9.) Mollen said, "OK, but you have to give me gum or money."
10.) Cairo said, "Never mind. If you want to sniff my armpits, you have to pay me."
11.) How could i not love being a mom?
12.) Does anyone like cliff-hanger posts? i will post something *interesting* on Monday. See you then.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

i am a poet

So after claiming to not be a poet in my last running post, my friend Minerva started a poetry challenge on her blog. Her first challenge was a Haiku - we've done those ones with the kids, & Cai even had a Haiku challenge on her blog not too long ago, so i thought i could handle that one. My first effort went like this:

Bright red strawberries,
sweet juice drips down dolly's face
Warm baby giggles.

This week, her challenge was a cinquain. i don't remember ever writing a cinquain, but i gave it a go - here's my entry:

my breath
comes heavy now
pounding feet letting go
of pain and worry all at once
heal, run.

i know 's kind of like music - & i write music - but i rarely write the words without the music. i remember one song i wrote like that where i wrote all the words & then the music the next day - but it doesn't happen often. It's kind of fun to have a challenge & force my words to fit in somebody else's frame.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hear Me...

i remember one time telling my mom i didn't know how to pray just then.
Sadness -
Confusion -
Frustration -
had all taken hold & my words were all caught in my heart with no hope of escape. My mom reminded me that when we pray and our spirit cries out to God - even when words aren't there - He sees us, He hears us - & He has compassion on us.
It reminded me of our pastor when i was growing up. Before every service, we could hear him praying in the side room beside the sanctuary - his only words were, "Oh God".
i find myself there lately -

Oh God.
Hear me - in my weakness - in my brokenness - in my frailty.
Oh God.

There is peace regardless of the lack of words between us. My groaning heart is adequate. My faithful Father holds all the pieces and my trust is placed on a Solid Rock that will not shift and change.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Life As A Reality Show

Sometimes our pastor reads my mind & then uses my thoughts in his sermon. Either that or God tells him things to say to make my cheeks pink. This week, he talked just as a brief aside about imagining our lives as a reality show & how it would make us feel to see our thoughtlessness towards our spouse played out right before our eyes...
Funny story...
As i was running the other day, i was imagining this very thing. My mind was vacillating between the sheer joy of Neil seeing his obviously flawed actions and my own shame at being unveiled as the 'dripping faucet' i really am.
Don't get me wrong - i'm told if you google 'i have the best husband in the world' that my blog is the sixth hit (dare you to try it) - that must mean something - but despite his perfection, we've found that we still have a few rough edges to work off.
The Audience of One keeps His eyes on my heart. Knowing when my motives are pure & when i'm manipulating. The Audience of One isn't keeping track to update a gossip column & hoping for my marriage to fail so that ratings rise... He is daily trying to shape me to His image & allowing the dead, broken branches to be lopped mercilessly off so that my growth will be unhindered. The Audience of One loves me - loves the man i love - has joined us as man and wife in an inseparable bond.
May my reality show play out in love to bring glory to the Audience of One.

ps - later when i saw the pastor - i complained about something silly - i feel bad for that... my dad always taught me to be positive & appreciative... maybe i need to learn to be more thoughtful in every area of my life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cairo's Boyfriend

"Where's my boyfriend?!" She cries in her baby voice - tenderly tiptoeing down the stairs.
"i'm right here - playin' Poptropica on the computer." Her husky voiced 7 year old brother answers absently.
Cai giggles... "i was talking about Gage."
It seems like yesterday that he was her little boyfriend. Every baby becomes her special plaything - her most precious friend - her most cherished person. She was only 5 when Charter was born, but every sound he made - every flail of baby arms or tiny whimper was met with coos and all the tender, mothering care that a 5 year old could muster.
Now, her legs are becoming long and lanky - her 12 year old body is strong and capable as she seeks out her newest little boyfriend to admire.
What a lucky little crew to have such a trusty little captain.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tough Topics - Breastfeeding Anyway

After my sweet snapshot in words about breastfeeding a 15 month old caused so much discussion - my momma suggested i write a post about my breastfeeding journey.
*warning - this post may not be for everyone - my bias is obviously for breastfeeding, since that's my personal experience. - Read on, or pass over as you wish*
My breastfeeding journey began when my oldest was born - actually, it began during my pregnancy when i noticed purple bruising all down my ribcage and in one armpit. i could hardly put my arm down for the pain & swelling. It was then that i found out that God had made me with *extra* breast tissue - in odd places. It didn't worry me too much, as i was a first time mom & i had no idea what i was in for. When Cai was born, i remember her teeny pink mouth rooting in reflex & opening wide looking for colostrum.
"Beautiful latch!" We were told - & indeed she did have a beautiful latch. When my milk came in, it also came in to the extra tissue under my arm and down my ribcage. i was in agony. As the milk had no way to exit, it soon got infected & i found myself with angry red circles around the hard lumps. Since it was my first baby, my assumption was that every woman went through this painful process. i had a whole new respect for anyone who had breastfed. Despite our beautiful latch, i got blisters, and i bled. i also noticed another painful symptom that i will get into later on...
2 months of perseverance later - the pain had subsided. The ebb and flow of my milk had worked itself out - the extra breast tissue had dried up, and it seemed we were pros.
i had been told to 'wean with the first tooth' - but when she got her first tooth well before 4 months, i knew that wouldn't work for us. We survived learning not to bite, and we soon learned to nurse for comfort - to use breastmilk to unstuff stuffy noses, to clear up eye infections and most importantly to nourish a little girl who was always in the smallest percentiles for growth.
i lost courage when i got pregnant again. i quickly weaned to whole milk. She was only 10 months though and the whole milk was very, very hard on her tender tummy. She developed fissures and i regretted almost immediately my decision to wean.
When we lost our baby, i regretted my decision even more... & i knew that the next time would be different.
When Sloanie arrived, i felt a little less naive. i found that there were actually women out there who breastfed without pain - & i wanted to be one of them. During my pregnancy, my hard painful bruises returned & again when she was born, we were again told, "Beautiful latch!" and she sure did have a beautiful latch. She nursed for about 45 minutes the first time she latched on. By the time she was 12 hours old, i had raw, red blisters - and again my bizarre, painful symptoms... i tried the teabags & lancinoh for the pain & used cabbage leaves for my engorgement.
We both cried when it was time to eat. i documented my first several weeks of breastfeeding in my journal so i could keep track for "next time" and try to figure out what we were doing wrong. After antibiotics from the mastitis from the extra milk ducts gave us thrush , i thought i knew some of the answers... & i had a few ideas of what to try, if we ever did have another baby.
Within 2-3 months, all was beauty in breastfeeding land, & i knew that if i had to work this hard to get established, i was gonna hold on a little longer this time.
When Sloanie was 16 months old, & i was pregnant with Peyton, i again decided to wean. i believed the stories that my babe on the inside would be safer if i weaned the one on the outside & besides i argued with myself, we made it to 16 months - a whole half year longer than with Cai...
When Peyton was born, & i went on the antibiotics for the unavoidable mastitis, i supplemented with acidophilous in the hopes of avoiding the thrush... To no avail. This would be the last time i would resort to antibiotics - i found other methods that seemed to work better with less side effects with my later babies.
My afterpains were brutal (as they can be after a couple of babies...) but my breastfeeding pain made my afterpains pale in comparison.
In Peyton's first year of life, she had rsv twice. She had bronchiolitis too & i remember many, many nights, holding her upright so she could breathe better. Her wise doctor told me to delay introducing dairy and to breastfeed into the second year.
She grew like a weed. The nurse said she had never seen a breastfed baby grow off the charts like my Peyton. Her growth gave me confidence & when i found out i was pregnant about a year later, i decided to nurse through the pregnancy. In addition to being good for my little girl who was so loath to eat solids, i wondered if it would ease my beginning woes with the new baby if breastfeeding was already established at birth... (Sadly, it didn't... but i don't regret my decision). i didn't advertise the fact, but i didn't hide it either. Furrowed brows and "tsk, tsks" did nothing to dissuade me. i was told that my child would be low birth weight... that with my small frame, i didn't have enough for both of them. Apparently they were wrong. Charter would end up being my largest baby. i nursed them both happily for another 2 years & Charter for another year after that. By this time, i had realized that my body, given the chance could eventually fight off the mastitis on it's own... i took acidophilous religiously at the end of my pregnancy & through the beginning of Mollen's life - and happily managed to avoid the antibiotics for both Charter and Mollen.
After my marathon nursing partnership with both Peyton and Charter (4 years and 3 years) i was very surprised when Mollen weaned herself at 19months.
And so it was, that by the time Mr. Gage came along, it had been awhile since i had nursed a little one - & i found myself looking forward to the whole process again.
When the familiar bruises appeared, even my dr. was stunned, but i wasn't. This was par for the course & i knew it was only gonna get worse. A couple of nights after he was born, my mom said to me, "Boy, your afterpains must be pretty bad, i could hear you moaning in the night."
It was me trying to get my little guy latched on that she heard - i would hold my breath... tears escaping - biting my lip till i could taste blood & sometimes i would still chicken out - reefing his sweet, tender mouth away from my painful, blistered self.
A few months later, i heard of something i had never heard of before called Reynauds Phenomenon of the Nipple i read the article & cried. It so *exactly* fit my painful symptoms, the colour changes, the sensitivity to cold... With each of my children - i had an alarming symptom - especially in that first couple of months of breastfeeding. i knew that it was *normal for me* but had a feeling that it wasn't really normal at all. Along with the *exquisite pain* of breastfeeding, i noticed that i would have a bright white colour - or a dark blue & purple on my nipple during these months. Obviously, this is just me, self-diagnosing - because by the time i discovered this name, Gagey & i had already pushed through that time & were enjoying our breastfeeding relationship immensely.
This post isn't a "woe is me, lookit how much pain i can take" martyr post - it's just another story to share that might help spread understanding that it's not always easy & the decisions we make are sometimes tough - but for me, i was so glad that i stuck it out because our problems so beautifully resolved themselves when i persevered past the first few months.
Breastfeeding, for me, was something that was worth the pain, the effort, the research and the agonizing beginnings. It is not something that came easily to me - nor is it something that i take for granted. When i nurse my now big boy, i am grateful that i learned to persevere - that i kept searching for solutions. Now i know that for me, - even though i went through the beginning agony each.and.every.single.time.i.had.a.baby....
It was worth it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

i am a runner

i can't even type those words without a sheepish grin on my face.
i reserve the term "runner" for people like my father in law, who have run for years, 5 days a week, or like Karen who just ran her second half marathon, or Melissa who is getting certified as a personal trainer, or the girl who sold me my runners after analysing my gait (who i was too ashamed to run in front of...) not *me*, the poser with the nice shoes.
As i slipped off my runners this morning after our homeschool gym class at the park, i wondered, "Why not? Why can't i be a runner?"
"Because," i laughed at myself, "You're not. You're not a dancer either, or a poet, or a soccer player. You can't just say you are something & then choose to be it... There are rites of passage to go through, or it's a birthright, a childhood strength, a probation period before you can be called a runner. And you have none of these qualifications... you are a mother and a wife. You're not a runner."
But my heart betrays me... Running is like a fresh new friendship to me - full of first conversations, questions, getting to know you's... It's like when you meet someone for the first time & you really hit it off... you wonder if it'll blossom into a friendship - or not.
i don't need an ipod if i run... my conversations go like this, 'go legs... o, wow, i can feel all my muscles working... go lungs - you gettin' enough air? C'mon heart - let's keep it together - little faster till we're around that bend, then i'll slow it down a touch...'
i've never been too great at fresh new friendships. It's kinda like gardening for me... i get so excited to see the green shoots start to come up - but then i lose interest - get caught up in other things - forget to care for my little growing things... & my yield is weak.
But for now, in this season - as i lace up my runners & learn to call myself by another name,
i am a runner.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

job description

i was tidying up my room today & i found an old note that Sloanie had written me years ago. Generally, i'm not a packrat, but there was something in this note that had made me want to keep it.

I love you so much mom. (heart) You are the most beautiful mom ever. Thank you for caring for us and feeding us. I love you so much. You are the best mom ever. Thanks for helping us with the fort. You are the best at cooking and you are best at being kind to us. Thank you for doing your job. I love....
from: ?????

Well, that's a pretty complimentary note eh? hehe. i have to agree with her on one thing... i am the best... best... momma that my littles could have. Does that sound cocky? i don't think it is. God uniquely gifted me to be their mama. He put us together in this family for His purposes. He gave me more love than i ever dreamed possible for my husband & for our little crew. He daily shapes us to His image & uses each person in this home to rub the rough edges off the others. He knows i'm not a perfect mama, but by His grace, i'm *the* perfect mama for the little people who call me by that name.
i use to always feel a little insecure about Neil - that he was too good for me, too beautiful, good & put together for me... until i realized that what i had to give - my love - was a pretty incredible thing. i began to be convinced that despite my obvious failings, it was impossible that there was another woman on the planet who could love my husband as much as i did- & i purposed to keep doing the one thing i was good at. i feel the same way with my little ones - when i see other excellent mamas i wish that my littles could have someone who was a better teacher, more patient mentor, more consistent parent... but then i know that i *love* these little people & that will cover so, so much - & ultimately it will grow me in ways i never thought possible.
So, there's love. Despite my failings - i've learned to love. Not perfectly, just constantly.
On to my second observation about her little love note: - 'Thank you for doing your job'. People with paying jobs hear that all the time. & even if they don't, their paycheque says it for them.
i'm a stay at home, homeschooling mama - & my jobs are many & often i feel like i do many jobs poorly - but Sloanie reminded me that my job *is* a balancing act... & it's something that i have chosen to meet head-on. i know i haven't shirked - & even when i've failed - i've been giving all that i've got in me to give. *That's* my job. Givin' & lovin'...
& what a beautiful job it is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

homeschool convention

Homeschool conventions are funny.
i get such a small fraction of my motivation & encouragement from them... & yet - i love going. Why?
Because i get to be with my sisters & my mom.
My big sisters are 2 of the most incredible homeschooling mamas you'll ever meet. Both gifted in totally different areas - both entirely aware of the immensity of the *gift* God gave us when He gave us our little ones, both lovers of Truth & passionate followers of Jesus.
This year, for the first time, my dad came. i was trying to explain to Neil what it was like having my dad there too. My mom comes & is an extra set of hands to help with babies (we each bring our littlest ones) - & now, with my dad coming, it just made everything *easier* yet again. He made suggestions for meals & then at the end of each & every single one, pulled out his wallet & paid... He paid for our hotel rooms too... & he took every opportunity to tell us what good mamas we are & how proud he is of us.
GAGE SLEPT!!!! Praise God... & i mean that... i had to let him cry falling asleep all 3 nights but then he slept through. i came home hardly feeling tired at all.. God is so good... i was so worried about how much it would take out of me - (i am prone to the most incredible migraines & i was sure that 3 nights without sleep would put me over the edge - but God spared me that & i am so grateful).
i went to the homeschool convention believing that i'm gonna 'keep on keeping on' with the stuff that we've done this year & i still feel that way - but i've got a couple of extra ideas that i think i'm gonna work in there (a couple of writing books that i'd like to pick up from CHER)... Not too much money to spend to get everything on my list which is good 'cause i'm spending all my funding on violin this year i think...
God has been so good.
What a blessing to me to have my mom & dad there to support us all in this incredibly huge task of motherhood & by extention, homeschooling.
i wish we lived closer & that we could have that quantity too - but for today - i'll take what small snippets we can squeeze in & thank God for this family that He gave me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

a friend won't shame

i learned that lesson from my friend Lisa.

After i lost Hope, i was terrified to tell the world i was expecting Gage.

One evening, Neil was out of town & it was 'bring your friend to gymnastics day', so my oldest 3 needed friends picked up & driven to gymnastics - Lisa's little girl was one of them. i had my Yukon loaded to the brim with little ones - & trying to ignore my nausea, drove them all to our destination. All through the evening, the nausea got worse, it came in waves & i prayed that i would just make it home. The time seemed to drag - & the noise seemed unbearable - i could smell everything - & i felt like crawling under my chair.

Finally, it was time to go & i loaded up the vehicle with excited chattering little ones & started back home. We got within blocks of the first little girls house when morning sickness prevailed & i had to pull over. i prayed none of the kids could see me as the traffic buzzed by - i was mortified. Suddenly i heard a quiet voice behind me, "Are you ok?"

It was Lisa - her & her husband were driving by & they saw us parked on the side of the road. Now, you have to understand there is an unwritten code among mothers... if you are sick, or your child is sick & you give that sickness to my child & i end up having to clean up puke... we are no longer friends. :) - Just kidding... almost.

"It's not the flu - it's not the flu -" i told her, "it's morning sickness."

i could hardly even get the words out of my mouth. My worry for this little one had been so great that it had overshadowed my joy. Her worried face immediately broke out in a huge smile & she deftly stepped around my puke & hugged me... "i'm so happy for you! Don't worry - this is me all through all my pregnancies too... it's nothing to be ashamed of!"

i don't know what i had expected... maybe raised eyebrows & an, "again?" Maybe i thought she would say, "oh... can i have my daughter now?" Maybe she would have pointed to my house that was only a block & a half away & said, "um, couldn't you make it that far?"

But no. She ignored my pukey self - my white face - & red rimmed worried eyes - she put her arms around me & comforted me & made me leave my shame right there on the side of the road.

i think Jesus wants us to be like that. i think Jesus wants us to help our friends escape the shame that would hold them down & keep them from the joy that is available to them.

Friday, June 5, 2009

By the time you read this, i'll be gone.

i'm addicted to pre-posting my posts. Sometimes it's funny to me 'cause i'll read what i've posted for that day & i'm just not feelin' it anymore.
You're reading this on Friday... i'm writing it on Wednesday. By the time you read it, i'll be in Vancouver at the homeschool convention with my family.
Not my family, as in Neil & the posse... but my *birth* family, as in my mom & dad & sisters... and Gage.
's a rare opportunity for us to get together & i'm really looking forward to it. We will each bring our littlest ones - and hopefully get some encouragement for everything that our next homeschool year will bring.
i'm planning for my next year to look a lot like my this year. i'll be schooling children in grades 2, 4, 6 and 8 - & as well, i'll have my little Kindergartener (the plan is that she'll go to public K just like the others did) & then of course sweet boy. My plans are coming together in broad strokes, i'm starting to get some of the pieces together - & for the most part, we're just going to 'keep doing what we've been doing'.
i'm in a comfortable place in my homeschool journey. Comfortable, because we've simplified, set attainable goals, and also because 8 years in, the fruit that i'm seeing from the day to day marathon of homeschooling looks promising.
So, i'm gonna enjoy the summer break with my littles. i'm gonna make them run, bike, play, get dirty and tired and happy.
& then i'm gonna welcome the school year '09/'10 & keep on keeping on.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

conversations with molls... & God & Jesus.

"Momma, do i have to pray out loud?"
"No, honey - but momma likes to listen to your prayers and agree with you... It does my heart good to hear you talk to God."
"Oh. Ok, you can listen then."
(clearing throat)
"God and Jesus (this is how she addresses every prayer), Thank you for soooooo many good things, like flowers and ants. And you made bad things too, like spiders and boys - but some boys like spiders, so that's interesting. Amen."
We've come through some serious prayers in the past few days - so a little comic relief did me good.
Oh, God, reach this little girl who is so full of spunk and hilarity. Help her be *good*, Father. Give me more wisdom, more patience, more creativity as i parent this little person who seems to require so much of me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tiller - my response

It seems it's all i've been hearing and reading about. The late-term abortionist who was shot and killed while serving as an usher at church.
i knew i should probably have a response. This blog is unabashedly prolife... & yet...
i wasn't sure how to focus my words. So, in light of my uncertainty - i will just post my thoughts 'free-flow'.
i think dr. Tiller was a bad man. i heard him on TV saying, "What i do is not illegal, it's not unethical and it's not immoral."
He's wrong. And i think he likely knew he was wrong - he saw the tiny limbs and the broken bodies of the ones whose lives he took, but murder for profit was his bread and butter - so why not act the part of the knight in shining armour for this "vital part of women's health programs in America"(specializing in abortions after 21 weeks gestation). It's the saddest thing in the world that it's not illegal... but there can be no question that the choices that dr. Tiller made were both unethical and immoral.
i think dr. Tiller's church was neglectful and broken. Pastors have such a difficult job... people coming to them with their broken lives... looking for Jesus... Shepherding the followers of Christ and teaching truth. They can't be cowards who hide behind untruths, muddying the waters and allowing an unapologetic murderer to serve in any capacity. Jesus didn't shy away from the truth because it made people uncomfortable. Neither did John the Baptist, or Elijah... we need men and women and children who are unafraid to speak truth and to shine light on the horrible injustice of abortion. Ignoring it because it's not illegal is a cop-out. i don't wanna fight either - but truth must prevail. Slavery was also legal at one time, & Hitler's government condoned genocide.... i love that quote, "truth is not determined by a majority vote." Our governments are not infallible. Often times they make choices that are dead wrong. Abortion is one such example.
Finally, i think that the man who shot dr. Tiller was wrong. It's just not the focus of what i wanted to say... i wish that Tiller's death would soften hearts of mothers and fathers towards their children... & make our nations cry out to God for mercy. But under these circumstances, i don't think that's likely to happen.

Jesus - bless the little ones. Forgive us for our inability & unwillingness to protect them. Keep me soft... i'm tired of crying - & yet... i know it's my soft heart that want & that you will use for Your Glory.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Takes my breath away...

We were invited to one of Neil's work associates house for supper the other night. In conversation, the wife was talking about going for a walk with her husband. He's much taller than her & his strides are longer & while they walk, she does the talking & pretty soon, her breath is gone as she's trotting along, trying to keep up, while also not allowing any lag in the conversation.
Made me laugh.
i used to bug Neil to 'say something back to me!' when i would talk his ear off. He would smile & say, 'i like listening to you...' (ha!)
i had been talking to children all day & was aching for a little adult conversation & when he would walk in that door, i was like a hungry animal & i was ready to exchange some words.
Over the years, we've evened up in conversation... he's actually a pretty chatty guy. - Nothing like Lisa's James, but still... he can keep up his own end ;)
Now, our conversations are oft repeated, well travelled paths. We'll prattle on about work, children, secret goals & irritations. Sometimes we cover some new territory - sometimes one of our words sound like an alien language to the other, but we still listen.
i've learned that i need *quantity*... Not just with conversation, but with touch & company too. i need to see him lots, email him too much & be able to touch him when i roll over in bed.
i need to be able to 'let it all hang out' with him, knowing he'll sift my words & not hold the bad ones against me.
Sometimes i need to trot alongside him, letting our conversation take my breath away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

i'm gonna help you obey...

i remember once watching my sister parent her first born. He had been asked to do something - & he was dragging his little feet to do as he was told. Finally my sister took his little hand & gently but firmly told him, "momma's gonna help you obey, son." & she led him through each step of obedience.
i tucked that one in my memory banks - loving the gentleness of the discipline & yet the firm follow-through. i've used that line with my own little ones as i've tried to teach them to obey.
Today was like deja-vu.
i was in a circumstance where i find myself repeatedly lately. i had been told to do something - & i was draggin' my feet to do as i was told. Finally my Father put his fingers on my heart & gently but firmly told me, "i'm gonna help you obey, loved one." & He led me through each step of obedience. i felt my attitude shift as my focus was moved from my own selfish desires to my Father's love.
i almost wanted to laugh out loud at my own circumstance - feeling so plainly his gentle rebuke and correction. Feeling Him tell me that He wasn't gonna let me fail on this one. Feeling that i was a child again - & that someone was watching out for me - & growing me into something better than i am at present.


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