Monday, February 28, 2011

How'd church go?

One of the littles asked in the back of the silver fox as we drove home in the dark.
"Oh, it was so good!" Molls little voice piped up, "i was the prettiest girl in my class!"
& you know what? i let her have that one.
Most of her life, being the 4th girl in a big family, she's the one with the unbrushed hair & the mismatched outfit with a pass me down skirt 3 sizes too big.
& she did look darn cute...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

who would i have been?

Who would i have been - had you not come...
with your thick brown hair & hazel eyes always lookin' for me...
finding me...
holding me in your sight.


i'd be different.


My house would look different - if we two were not knitted together - at times one seeming indistinguishable from the other - my life would look different, my thoughts would look different... even my wardrobe and my words have been affected by the melting pot of marriage.
i imagine us - over these years - one saving the other.
Arms reaching out - sometimes mine - sometimes yours... rescuing the weaker from certain disaster. One extending grace even when the other was clearly in the wrong. Rebuking shame - inviting love to roam freely here.


Who would you have been, then - had i not come...
challenging you with my passion and encouraging you to be willing to stand alone...


You'd be different.


& i've got your back - just like i know you've got mine - fiercely holding onto the good things that i know to be true of you - and doing my best to act with grace when you fall.
God gave us to each other - sometimes allowing one to salvage the beauty of the other that might had been quashed... had we not come.

Friday, February 25, 2011

humour me...

"Kiss me..." i begged, "Hold me in your arms."
"i'm getting too old for this." You grunted, and for just a moment, i thought you weren't gonna.
& then you turned, and i was wrapped, engulfed, smothered, in your arms.
And then, the day...
You had your coffee in a to go cup... i knew as i crept out of bed - after being up no less than 4 times in the night - that i would only have ten precious minutes before you opened the door, climbed in the van and drove to the airport... i could have stayed in bed, but you didn't want to be alone for those early morning minutes - & so i humoured you, my crackling morning voice offering a friendlier good morning... and good bye.
Let's never get too old to humour each other, k?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

impassioned pleas... & no nonsense replies

i found a note written by Mollen... my daughter.
The letters were large, and penned in red. i could read the emotion in her tiny diva heart as i read her tragic note:
Deer Peyton,
I hav to move. It is my onle coes (choice). Do you car? Do you hav a ansr?
Followed by a box marked "yes" and a box marked "no" with the saddest sad face ever in between them.
Peyton... neil's daughter, had responded.
The Yes was checked and the No was x'd, and underneath in tidy blue ink were the words, "don't be stuped".
the end

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

angry juice

i was having a nasty Tuesday morning...
The day was only hours old and i had already seen two children cry over their school work, i had refereed too many fights to count, and i was trying to organize the house after an impromptu night away at my sister's house.
Finally, it was Ephraim's nap time. i folded his tiny body in my arms to carry him upstairs to get him ready for his snooze.
But he was angry. He kept flailing his body away from mine and crying out as he smacked me with his chubby little starfish hands.
We peeked into Cai's room to say g'night as we usually do if she's working up there when he goes down for a nap.
i smiled at her, "Ah, Ro - i'm having a hard day - i've lost my patience way too many times already & it's only morning..."
She smiled back, "Maybe when you nurse Ephraim when you're mad, it just feeds him angry juice 'cause he seems pretty mad too..."
& i think she's onto something.
Mothers have this inestimable impact on the mood and the atmosphere in the house. When we give in & like a child, allow ourselves to be tossed and turned - swept away by the tempers and exasperation that surround us - we're not doing our job...
i know we're not perfect... but i see us as a kind of a greenhouse... sheltering from the inclement weather and protecting tiny buds so that they are fit to bear fruit.
i smooched Cai - and whisked my tiny boy away to my room. It was tidy - a haven - and i shut the door. i crowed over my little one as i changed his diaper and wrapped him in his sleep sack. He spat out his soother in anticipation as i took him in my arms, and fed him...
happy juice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

this one's for the girls




more cell phone pics because mel asked way back when i actually cut my hair... (& that's my sister stephanie on the phone... she said she wanted to see one with my hair down).
So, yeah - for anyone who doesn't know me on fb - i woke up & was having an ugly day - & instead of putting on some make up like a sane person, i grabbed the scissors & started chopping my hair.
i'm glad i did because bangs are super fun.
Thanks for the acting on a whim gene, mom.

Monday, February 21, 2011

proof

The free proof copy of my book is in the mail.
The more i think about it (& it's not even in my hands yet), the more certain i feel that there are some minor changes that i'll have to make before it'll be ready. i'm trying to make a list of things in my head that i might need to or want to change...
i suppose creative things are always like that - could be improved upon, made clearer, better, stronger. At some point i'll just have to let go & trust that the (worthwhile) message will overcome the obstacles of my mistakes & oversights.
i hope having the proof in my hands to look over will be helpful in determining the worth of any possible changes.
i had an idea the other morning... for a sequel.
i'm excited to have some feedback to see if it's a story worth continuing... there are so many more angles to explore.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

her birthday

i remember her birthday.
She was late - and i remember her due date coming and going - and begging in whispers to neil that she not be born on the seventeenth.
The seventeenth was my baby's due date. My sister in law and i had been pregnant together - but then... my little boy came early - and my September grief was still too raw in February to fathom sharing the date that we had circled on the calendar to be his...
But, my little niece - in God's grand design - was born wee, pink and wailing on the seventeenth... and it's her day.
i remember my mother in law phoning to tell us that their baby was on her way. i remember feeling like flinging the phone from my ear - grabbing my little blond sprite in my arms - and running.
i felt a panic - like the giant waves of my grief would wash us out to sea... and in my agitation, the need to gather my chicks under me... to protect them while the angry winds wailed... but there was one tiny chick whom i couldn't gather - & even though i knew he was safe at Home - i felt my job incomplete.
i held Cairo - my tiny comforting wisp - in my arms - and tried to remember with gratitude the little one i was carrying in my womb...
but i wanted Caleb.
When she arrived... i think neil took the phone call, at least, i can't remember it. And then days came after that day and softened the blow... and the years passed - and the injustice of that date lost it's sting somewhere along the line.
Now she's 13 - & one of the sweetest girls in the world. She's shy around both neil & i - but loves my girls like they're her sisters....
And the seventeenth? ... it's her birthday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

comin' up...

"When is your anniversary mom?"
He's such a conversational little boy... grinning at me as we drive home from his basketball game.
"It's in May."
"How many years will you be married?"
"It's a big one this year, we'll be married for 15 years!"
"Wow. Hey... You were married for WAY LESS than one year before you got Cairo?"
Darn. i have to explain this again? Humbled times seven...
Oh, God - let it be that my little ones gain more from my authenticity than my failures take away...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

father's hands

His blond head is nestled under my chin as he gets his morning bearings.
The middle boy.
Sleep is slow to leave him - and for the moment, his perpetual high speed motion is slowed to real time as he sits in my arms.
He takes my hand & in that moment, i notice how like his daddy's hands his little boy hands are becoming. His broad thumbnail is just an exact replica in miniature. Each thick finger reminds me of those brown hands i love - and i know what these boy hands will one day become.
Oh Father, give me Your Hands...
Make my features so like yours - that others can't help but see the family resemblance.
Make me an instrument that hears your instruction - and obeys.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

cover art


i asked my momma if she would paint a picture in watercolour for the cover art of my novel _40 weeks_. This is what she came up with & i love it for a million reasons.
i love the fall colours of the leaves on the trees - i love the simplicity of the balloon that is a symbol for the teeny lost babe- but most of all, i love the message that she wanted to portray with the imagery of the pregnant woman standing in front of the government building (the painting is of the parliament buildings in Edmonton, Alberta).
My heart sentiment that a change in the laws of our nations will only follow the softening of hearts is so sweetly captured in this gentle picture. i'm so glad my mom was able to so eloquently state just exactly what my vision was in writing a book in the first place...
i'm so close i can taste it - & i'm really excited about it.
Here is what my mom wrote about her painting:
I was inspired to paint this simple picture, by all the bereaved women who participate in the annual Walk to Remember at the Alberta Legislature. I was struck with the fact that legislation alone will never effect the change in public opinion about the value of children. The gentle act of a bereaved mother releasing a balloon…with a name attached…accompanied by a prayer…kindly spoken or written words…shared tears…these are both poignant and powerful tools.
Shirley Sloan

Monday, February 14, 2011

point form

i know - it's not usual for me to blog in point form, but i can't help myself today...
* ephraim is officially one. He's doubly sweet - & still won't walk.
* today is valentines day... & all the little hearts & lovey decor remind me of the music softly playing as i was told my baby's heart had stopped beating... oh the years that have passed, little one.
* i'm almost done my book... as in, i'm days away. The cover is in it's final stages & the little details are all coming together. i can't wait to share it with you.
* i'm completely overcome with my inadequacy. i wish that creating things didn't make me feel so completely exposed and vulnerable - but my big sister told me to soldier on - & finish well - & so i'm trying my best to write for my Audience of One.
* My inlaws are here for Ephraim's birthday & they're taking us out for lunch today. i plan on eating big... huge.
* i cried last night 'cause i'm a girl - & i can't help myself.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"How to get him saying Be Mine this valentines day..."

i got the strangest advertising gimmick in the mail...
It was disguised to look like a magazine - but it was just pages and pages of advertising for a "medi spa"... They sold things like laser hair removal - "BE the Valentine this year!", Botox - "The price of beauty is not as much as you think!!", cellulite treatment - "Brings back that toned youthful look!!", Hyalorunic Acid injections for your lips - "virtually pain free!!" and one i had never heard of... "Lose Weight NOW with administered injections of hCG!!" (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) - which is familiar to me only because it's the hormone that occurs naturally in women during pregnancy... seems kinda strange...
There's more too... a full page ad for their 'head to toe' make-over - featuring a beautiful woman smiling in her underwear and high heels with arrows pointing to each area of her body that they can improve on. Before and after shots of women who received treatment for wrinkles, acne scars or sun damage...
Really?
This is how i get him to say 'be mine' this Valentines?
If that were true.... i'm pretty sure i'd have picked the wrong man.
Don't get me wrong - i like the confidence boost i feel when i put a little colour on my cheeks... i have been known to wear high heels & highlight my hair...
But i guess it's the idea that the world is trying to sell women (that maybe i have bought into too...) that age is repulsive - that anything other than youthful perfection is to be avoided, that women need to live in a constant state of airbrushed flawlessness...
It's funny too 'cause the other day i was chatting with a girl i knew in highschool and she remarked that she found an old picture of me that was just "hideous"... so guess i missed the boat even when i had youth on my side! hehe.
& yet... i'm pretty sure i'll be able to steal a kiss or two - even with my less than extraordinary lips... i'll still be able to nurse my babies even if i don't have "cleavage beyond compare", the lines on my face will crease further in evidence that i laugh - and cry, and i guess if my body ever decides to produce some hCG... though it won't likely accompany weight loss, it would accompany something incomparably better than weight loss...
So i guess the medi spa didn't win a new customer this year... but i'm pretty sure even without their services, i'll be lucky enough that he'll still be asking me to be his this valentines day & every day thereafter.

Friday, February 11, 2011

superman

Freshly minted three year old sits in his spiderman underwear and a pass me down shirt that's still too big, and should really be in the wash. He holds out his arms welcomingly to the (almost) one year old who stands unassisted only a breath away.
i'm sitting behind my one year old, watching my three year old as he smiles encouragingly to baby - i have my hands raised - hoping baby will take some steps, but ready to catch him if he falls.
His knees are bent - and his tiny arms are held out on each side, helping him to balance thus for what feels like an eternity as we hold our breath.
i hear Gage's soft morning voice crooning to his brother, "C'mon Ephyum. You CAN do it. You is superman, Ephyum, you is superman... You can do it..."
We exhale and laugh as tiny one hits the deck and makes a mad crawling dash to his brother's arms...
C'mon little buddy - you can do it... you is superman...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

ready or not

neither neil nor i were homeschooled as children - nor did we pay much attention to homeschoolers until very suddenly we became homeschooling parents. It was like homeschooling came to us - rather than us looking for it... as the best option for our little brood.
And so - sometimes i find myself muddling through very unfamiliar waters as i homeschool 5 different grade levels - while juggling the needs of two very busy little boys.
"Are you nervous for highschool?"
She asked me with her serious slate blue eyes. She hardly looks like a highschooler - her fresh scrubbed face free of make up - her tiny body folded in a chair in the dining room... and yet... our plans for grade 10 are beginning to take form, and nervous or not... highschool is right around the corner.
i don't know if i'm nervous - or excited... i do feel an unwavering peace that homeschool has been without a doubt the right choice for this child - for our family - for these years... but even amidst that peace there is the self doubt that prompts questions like, "Will she be ready to take on the world?"
That's when i have to take a step back...
Oh Father - her heart is Yours. Percentages, pre-requisites, transcripts, credit courses... all this? It's merely dust. The work ethic that drives her, the honesty and integrity that holds her and her love for her Father that makes her who she is... These are the parts of her education that are going to last.
So highschool, come. Come and my little girl will be ready to meet you. i'll watch her navigate new waters - untangle the threads from which she will weave her future and take on whatever comes next.
Ready or not... here she comes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

he speaks...

Gagey walked at nine months.
He sat early, stood early, walked early - climbed, jumped ran...
But i said that he was the strong silent type because speaking was not his thing.
Slowly - he added words to his vocabulary - amidst long stretches of silence - and now he talks like any other three year old.
Ephraim is another kind of chicken entirely.
He's almost one, and even though he has mad crawling skills - he has yet to take more than 2 consecutive steps unassisted. He pushes stools around, and climbs like a little monkey (he climbs to the top of our staircase and then goes as straight as a board and giggles as he "thump thump thumps" down the stairs backwards - to the delight of all of his brothers and sisters who shout 'Again!! Again!!' - but this little monkey can also... speak.
At first we thought it was a fluke - he would mimic sounds so well - and his jibber jabber had so many familiar syllables...
But now, i'm certain that i have heard responses that are meant for my ears - and that my tiny boy... has begun to figure out verbal communication.
My firstborn was talking clearly at this age - naming objects with a sturdy pointed finger... and i have longed to have another communicator like her - but they have all been so different. i wonder if maybe this little guy - who i'm sure i heard say, "brother" the other day... will be something like his big sister?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ephraim's ride

He calls from his room - in a desperate pleading tone....
Six voices cry out in unison, begging to be the one to rescue him.
One child is chosen - and comes triumphantly down the stairs carrying their happy burden.
His eyes lock on mine... "Come get me. i want *you*. Hold me."
i pluck him from protesting arms - and cradle him in safety for the moment.
Before long, he wiggles to the ground - my four footed baby - happily exploring from his unique vantage all that the world has to offer... the recycling baskets, an open bathroom door quickly slammed shut, the underside of the piano, the cupboard doors that open with no resistance to curious chubby hands.. Paper is torn, crumbs tasted, small stools are climbed and conquered...
He finds me again - but before he can reach me - he is grabbed, teased, thrown in the air and caught again... he twists and turns in his captor's grasp - trying to find me with his blue piercing eyes.
Rescued.
In mama's arms again - nose wiped, tummy filled, diapers changed. Mama's arms mean safety, comfort and protection from the chaos... He wants to stay there - and complains when he is unceremoniously plopped back on the floor as mama extinguishes fire after fire...
A new captor finds him - and flings him in the air - swooping him in circles... despite mama's warning that baby has just eaten and he might... or probably will... no - most definitely will... better yet *just did*...
Is there a slight smirk of victory on that little one's face as he is released to mama's arms once again - and the captor is left to clean up the small puddle on the floor?
Perhaps...
But this is just par for the course - on Ephraim's ride.

Monday, February 7, 2011

love lives

Shortly after we were married, i let neil in on a little secret. Sometimes, when i felt like i needed to - i climbed all over my husband... breathing in his smell and listening to his heart beating... Holding on like a wind might pull me away - and clinging to him like a baby to it's mother...
i whispered into my new husband's ear, "This might happen every once in awhile neil... when i'm insecure - i need to be close to you..."
Since then - when i use him as a jungle gym - he grins at me and asks nonchalantly, "Feelin' a little blue?"
& i close my eyes & hold on... Borrowing from his endless supply of peace - and finding my security burrowed into his chest.

& it's funny - how love can be in a touch...

One day - after i'm sure he felt like he had never had any personal space in his entire life - he picked me up & put me aside, "Leave me alone..."
& i did - the little hole in my stomach having been filled already - but i grinned at him as he walked across the room to get away from me, "You like it though... i know you do."
"We'll figure that out another day..."
& i guess we will - we have months & years to figure out the pleasures & the sacrifices that went into letting the other know they were safe...

My wordless man had to be told that i needed a verbal 'i love you' - "Once a day..." i specified - throwing caution to the wind & daring to ask too much, "With eye contact."
"We'll start tomorrow." He grunted - and fell asleep with his back to me.
The next day, he made me wait till 5pm...
The day after that, only till 7:30am... hazel eyes brimming with hilarity as he caught me wet from the shower, "i sure love you, paige..."
& Love lives...
and moves...
and breathes...
in our home - giving and taking -
Love lives...
making her home among us...
Love lives...
taking hurt & harsh words - & softening them with her tenderness...
Love lives - in words - in touch - in acts of kindness - in sacrificial silences...
Love lives.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

three

i love three.
i always have...
it's such an interesting age - full of 'why's' and 'let me doooo it's' and 'i not tired's'...
You're (hopefully) potty trained - but you don't need to do any school. You might still fall asleep in mama's arms - but you wanna keep up with the big kids.
Ah Gagey - we knew three would come.
You greeted me this morning with, "Are i two? Or are i three?"
Daddy and i each held up three fingers as you tucked your sturdy little body into the bed between us.
We welcome three...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

gratitude beats baditude

gratitude is transformative.
My sister told me i sound like Oprah when i say stuff like that - so i guess Oprah must've figured out that kernel of truth too... nothing changes a bad attitude like gratitude.
Amidst and entwined about the harder things in life - there lies the tiny creeping vines and blossoms of gratitude that make the hard stuff beautiful. Sometimes it's easy to feel engulfed in our own discontentedness - and harder to see what could be gained from our time being planted here.
So - there are seven tiny things (because we all know that good things come in sevens) - that have brought me joy lately... i'm gonna share the tendrils of gratitude & watch them change the landscape...
*jeans that fit - mostly. They're called Artist from American Eagle.
*bangs - 'cause life's too short - & hair grows...
*butterfly bedspread - an anniversary gift last year from my mother in law - i'm grateful for it every single day 'cause it is two of my favourite things - beautiful and functional...
*tomatoes - it's the perfect food.
*my ice blue stand mixer - beauty and function getting married again...
*Ephraim's sleep sac - a hand me down from a friend - his room gets so cold at night... but now he doesn't...
*seat warmers - seriously, their inventor is the smartest person in the world & they should be standard on any vehicle sold in Canada.

Friday, February 4, 2011

i don't know why...

...you needed me so many times in the night.
Maybe it was because Sloanie tucked you in - & you wanted to make sure i was there...
Maybe your big ol' molars were giving you grief...
Maybe you had a rumbly in your tumbly...
Whatever the reason -
i'm glad that i woke up enough to feel your fleshy clinging arms as they tried to stretch around my neck. i'm glad i felt your sweet breath as it calmed to the patterns of sleep in my arms. i'm glad i felt your still tiny, baby body curl up against mine as i held you close...
Oh Ephraim - i don't ever want to take your babyhood for granted. You wrinkle your nose as you give us a mischievous grin - you're growing - and you want us all to notice you. You took some steps and called to the big kids to come see... You're the youngest of seven - and you glory in your baby throne.
And so -
to wake in the night - a rarity these days - doesn't bother me too much. Our clandestine meetings - where each meets the needs of the other - are a sweet reminder that these days are short... and those nights? Those nights are worth it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

quality vs. quantity

it's a farce...
we desperately need both.
Neil took me on a lunch date today - we talked about drafts, men's personal style, won ton's and wall calendars. After moments of silence - he told me about work and asked me about homeschooling.
He took a phone call.
We talked about a wedding we're gonna go to.
Quality? i dunno - sure - a burger & won ton soup in a drafty restaurant might be quality...
Quantity? Yeh... 's more like it. Gimme hours & minutes with the one i love. Gimme days, months & years that pile into decades. Gimme carefree conversations and long stretches of amiable silence.
Quality needs Quantity to survive...
& Quantity needs a little Quality to thrive...
it's a match made in heaven.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

power

Mollen comes sobbing into the kitchen...
"What's wrong Molls?" i ask as i snuggle her closer.
She wails into my chest, "C-C-Cairo won't let m-m-me be her minion."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

homeschoolin' it - read alouds

A lot of people ask me what types of books i read to my littles when i read to them as a group. This has gotten harder the more children i have had & as their age span has widened. Some years i have separated them according to age to read to them - but i always found that the others were creeping around the corners, trying to be included too - so i usually look for things i can read to the oldest 5 together. Today, i thought i'd share some of what that has looked like for us this year.
i do individual reading with my emerging readers & my big girls are like sponges that absorb every book left open to their little tentacles... but big or little - each of the 5 students love to snuggle up in a blanket & listen to mama read.
This year, we're trying to read one chapter a day from the Bible - that has translated to reading since September: Proverbs, Jonah, Galatians, Hebrews, 1 John, Matthew & we're in the thick of Deuteronomy.
We're about halfway through our 2 history books that we're reading from simultaneously for our history this year - Story of the World & A Child's History of the World.
And then there's our read alouds since September:
Little Pilgrim's Progress
Treasures of the Snow
The Tanglewood Secret
Mr. McBrooms Wonderful One Acre Farm
Lumbercamp Library
Star of Light
Li Lun Lad of Courage
The Secret of Pheasant Cottage
The Family Under the Bridge
Rainbow Garden
Captive Treasure
You'll notice (if you're familiar with these books) that they're all a fairly easy reading level. i wanted to make sure that my littlest learners were engaged, and so i picked easy, shorter books. With my 2 little boys scrambling for attention, we don't always get a lot of time - but i'm trying to keep our habit & teach them that mama thinks this is a priority.
& so we finish off our first hour of homeschool together - snuggled in blankets around the fireplace - finishing hot chocolate & trying to shush tiny boys with little ones begging for another chapter before math starts.

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