Thursday, 31 July 2008

Two blissful days and nights

I have had the last two days all to myself here at home, and have had an absolutely lovely time. James is working in London, and my parents graciously took both boys for two days so that I could catch up on some sleep, socialization and solitude.

First and most importantly, I got my first two nights of eight hours of sleep in more than a year and a half. I stretched across the bed and snuggled into my pillows to fall asleep, and then lied in bed lazily when I woke to the sun's rays streaming into the room. Yesterday I took a luxuriously long shower - this morning the water on our street was turned off, so no such luck. But one uninterrupted shower is more than I've had in a long time!

Yesterday morning I hosted a brunch for some of my friends. I created a delightful spread that included a ham and broccoli strata, fresh fruit and dip, homemade croissants with either chocolate or cinnamon sugar inside, both orange pineapple and strawberry banana smoothies. My friends also added a few treats of their own and altogether we had a feast! I had been hoping to eat out on our deck, which looks over the backyard and opens into the playroom (easy kid supervision), however yesterday was the only day this entire week that it rained! And not only did it rain, it was the biggest storm of the season! The rain came down in buckets just half an hour before my guests arrived, sending thunderous claps in utter defiance to my pleadings to hold out until after the brunch. It did clear up - as the girls were putting their coats on! Ah well. We lounged around in the living room and still had a marvelous time.

After making a pit stop to nurse Caleb, I spent the afternoon window shopping for ideas to decorate our bedroom. For our fifth wedding anniversary, we decided that we would spend some time and money on making our bedroom more of a romantic retreat. Right now it's really just a mishmash of old and broken furniture, a tired old comforter, and altogether too much blue! The ideas are still bubbling in my head, but I hope to be finished sometime in August.

Last night my sister and I went to see the film "Mamma Mia!", which was funny, touching, and the perfect movie to see while James was away. We had a great time out together.

This morning I went antiquing. I have never nosed in Antique shops before, but let me tell you, I am never buying furniture from a massive box store again! Be gone laminate and veneer and particle board! Actually, one of the shops I was in also sells hand crafted antique replicas, which, to be honest, is more in our price range. In fact, most of the hand crafted furniture pieces were less expensive than their big box store counterparts.

After that I went over to Home Depot, which is bast becoming my favourite store. I have discovered I have a huge love for wood working. I'm still working on the fence, but I did build a stair for the deck on Monday, and next I'm going to build a headboard for our bed. So I wandered up and down the aisles, fingering the wood and filling my head with possibilities.

This afternoon was devoted to my beloved fence. It's really coming along well. With Colin giving up naps I rarely find time to work much on it. So this afternoon my dad came up with some of his tools and we worked at some of the more difficult angles that needed sawing. We were really motoring until...we have one post we can't get into the ground. There is about 4 or 5 feet of thick roots from an old tree right where we need a post to go! We spent an hour trying different things, with no luck. I'm still not sure what the answer is...but we did get a lot finished. Even though I have powered along for over a month all on my own, there were some aspects that needed a second set of hands, and I'm grateful my dad could lend his. We were in our element.

And then...I picked up my tired worn-out boys, who had way too much fun with my parents and my sister. Most surprisingly, Caleb slept 11pm to 7am last night, and Colin took long naps both days! I'm not sure what my mom's secret is, but I'm hoping they continue this pattern for me!

And so ends my two blissful days and nights. I love my family, I love being a mom. But as both an artist and an introvert, I sure do need some time to myself, to unwind and recharge.

So here we go again...

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

One day

Ahhh. I have a dream of one day living in the south of France. Ten years ago I spent three months in a beautiful little village called Ollioules on a student exchange. My host family lived in a house up the side of a small mountain. The homes were shades of cream, rose, salmon, all topped with the famous rust coloured tiles, and shutters of every colour under the rainbow thrown open at the windows. The terrain rolled over the hills, filled with the purple hues of lavender or the red earth of vineyards. The sparkling blue of the Mediterranean Sea spread out below us and the smoky violet of the mountains rose behind.

I spent three months in paradise. I spent each day conversing in a lyrical language, basking in the heat of the spring and marveling that palm trees grew in such abundance in France. I strolled through markets that are open daily and visited daily by many. Fresh baguettes adorned the table at every meal, as well as a platter of unending varieties of cheese.

I cried the day I left. I have returned a few times, and each time feel a sense that I am returning home.

Before I had dreams of success, wealth, fame and many of the other ideas that infiltrate the mind of a young budding artist. Now I dream of a quiet unassuming life in a little village in France. Perhaps a modest Bed and Breakfast, or owning a small bookstore. Something quiet that allows a bit of interaction with neighbours and strangers alike. Now I dream not of a specific goal, but of an atmosphere, an attitude, an ambiance.

One day.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

My new, very big challenge

Reading a book may not seem like such a big challenge, compared to some of the projects I've taken on in the past, but this one will be.

No it's not Tolstoy's "War and Peace" (actually, I've read that already) or "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" (I own it, but it's still sitting in its beautiful box on my night table), but the Old Testament.

I have read many parts of it, studied its stories and lessons, participated in Sunday School classes with this as the text, and generally delved into pieces of it. But I have never gotten right down into it, reading from Genesis 1 t0 Malachi 4.

I have no illusions that this will be easy or fast. There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament. My goal is to read 5 chapters a week. do the math and that means it will take me three and a half years! Slow and steady wins the race, right? I figure anything faster will make me feel like I'm just trying to get through it, rather than learn from it.

I've never been a fan of reading the bible chronologically. I've always been a subject studier - choose a topic and read different chapters and books that cover it. But I think there is something to be said from reading chapter to chapter. Hopefully it will provide me with a much better understanding of what led up to the chapter or event which I read.

What I'm really hoping to discover is deeper insight into the history of God's people. What was their life like? What were their thoughts and feelings about his commandments? How did God ask them to live? I'm very familiar with the New Testament and its tenets, but wonder if I have a gap in my understanding because of the lack of knowledge from the Old Testament?

So I will embark on this challenge. I feel a little daunted, but also excited.

I was also thinking it might be fun to have a little reading group, if there was anyone interested in it. I find as a new mom with a fussy baby I only get to hear snatches of Sunday School lessons. So if anyone is interested in joining my challenge, reading the Old Testament, and meeting once a week, or every two weeks, or even just once a month, to talk about what we've read, let me know. I'd be more than happy to host! If schedules don't permit, perhaps an online journal would be helpful also. (Although I'm really trying to move out of the online world a little and more into the real one! How I crave human interaction, and conversations with someone other than my children!)

Friday, 25 July 2008

Myth-buster

Those of you who know me on a day-to-day basis should have no illusion about my perfection as a mother. But for those of you who don't, perhaps this entry is for you. Although I believe in trying to be as positive and uplifting as I can, I also believe in honesty. And this entry is about to bust any myths you might have about the outward image we so often wear.

After a week of very trying days and nights in our house, I finally reached my limit today. And while we were out at a children's play centre, I broke down in tears. I had my own all-out melt down, and not within the safety of my own home, but out in public in front of friends and other mothers and complete strangers.

Caleb is sleeping less and less at night. He does a stretch from 8pm to 1am, and then begins to scream starting around 3:30. By 5:30 he is up for the day. He sometimes takes a morning nap around 8am, but not always. Add to that Colin deciding to forgo afternoon naps, and you can see that my own sleep deprivation is starting to really compound. In fact, even if I try to go to bed early, I toss and turn for hours!

So today after struggling all morning with an exhausted Caleb, I finally decided to go to the Early Years Centre, hoping that he might fall asleep in the stroller. No such luck, but he seemed to be content to play with the toys.

Then he lost it. Screaming, crying, throwing his head against the floor, not wanting to be held, writhing everywhere. With only a few other children there, I decided to stay for a while, instead of making a quit exit like I normally do. After half an hour, I took him to the entry way, so we wouldn't upset the other kids. I looked up and my eyes rested on a poster of a crying baby that said "I cry to tell you something".

Well, that was it for me. All I could think of was how if that was true, then I must be a terrible mother, seeing as I can't even understand what my own baby is trying to tell me.

It was only a moment before the staff (who all know us really well) stepped in. One took Caleb from me and took him to a quiet area, another stepped in to play with Colin. And I just wept and wept and wept. A concerned mother stood quietly nearby, delaying her getting ready to go routine, just in case I needed something. She didn't pester me, just spoke a few soft words and then tarried in case I chose to talk.

I gathered myself up after a few minutes and gratefully scooped up my kids, plopped them in the stroller and walked home, tears still streaming down my face.

I'm feeling better now, although still tired. I am desperately hoping Colin naps today, as Caleb has already passed out in exhaustion (he had been up for 8 hours straight).

This motherhood thing is tough - really tough. We all have struggles. I don't air mine here necessarily for sympathy, empathy or to brag. Simply to make sure everyone knows that not a single one of us is alone. Our struggles are hard. It may look easy to someone else, but they have their own battles. And each trial is designed for us, to make us stronger. And a good cry is always in order once in a while.

You can do it!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Blogging World

The Internet is an interesting phenomenon. I wonder how many times we could cover the earth if we printed out every page of information available online. I also wonder just what kinds of things we would unearth. Personally, I think think the blogging world is one of my favourites.

It is a place to chronicle your daily life; a forum to express your thoughts; a way to keep up with friends and family.

I think it's neat to be able to peek in on others' lives from your own kitchen table. I have two blogs I check in with regularly, a few that I peek in on once in a while, another handful that I click on sporadically. They are a wide range of online journals - most are of friends and acquaintances, past and present. I enjoy finding out what old friends are up to. I take comfort in reading up about friends dealing with the same struggles and triumphs I am. Other sites I click on are topics of interest that I've stumbled on: homeschooling, homemaking, cooking, religion. Often these sites offer words of wisdom in areas that affect my daily life.

I also love the idea that friends of mine get to check in with me. I started this blog with the purpose of being able to keep long-distance family up-to-date with our daily life. I think, however, most of my "audience" is made up of friends and family that live close by! Perhaps they are tuning in to hear their own struggles and triumphs articulated, perhaps to reassure themselves that they aren't the only crazy ones out there. Either way, I'm happy you have come to share in my adventures.

I love this Blogging World. I love this new community of which I am a part. I love peeking in on others. I love sharing with friends. As much as I seem to advocate pulling back from technology, there are certainly aspects of it for which I am very grateful.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Little Bits

Every morning Colin asks me to build him a new train track. I'm actually starting to really enjoy the challenge of laying out a new design each day. Colin LOVES Thomas the Tank Engine. I'm not sure he's even aware we have other toys...
Colin helping me hammer nails in my fence. I'll have hammered nearly 2000 nails by the time I'm done!
Colin hasn't grown into his tricycle yet, but loves this scooter!
A hay maze. Every time Colin found the end, he'd just run right back in.
Budding playmates. Both boys are starting to realize just how fun it's going to be to have a brother around to play with. And I'm managing to grab a few moments to myself!
Hanging out with Caleb. He really loves to be around me, playing with me, hanging out with me. I hope the closeness he has to me now stays with us.

Keeping at it (HK #12)

This week's challenge was not just another sewing project, although you could view it that way. I have a tendency to try my hand at something and then never pick it up again. And so, when I lugged my sewing machine upstairs to sew my skirt, I decided I would get something else sewn at the same time.

When I bought the material for the skirt, they had the same pattern in brown, which I also picked up. Not wanting to make another identical skirt, I decided to put my hand to making an apron. After ruining several shirts and pants with sauce and oil splatter, it's time I made good use of this time-honoured piece of clothing.

I browsed online but couldn't find anything like what I was envisioning. And so, I drew up the pattern myself. My rough sketch was on a little notepad, and the only measurements were the numbers I scribbled beside each line. It took a little over a day (in the life of a mom, which means a few minutes here, a few minutes there to work on it!) and I was so pleased with the final product!

Now, to be honest, it's a little big in the top, and my thread kept bunching up, but these small imperfections are things only I would notice.

(The brown ribbon is what ties around my waist. The patchwork squares are inspired by the baby blanket I made a while back)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

A Woman's Heart

I'm teaching a Sunday School lesson this Sunday that has been sitting on my mind for the past few days. The subject is obedience, which seems to be a fairly obvious discussion. And yet one line gave me pause, and readjusted my view on the whole idea of obedience.

The line said that obedience was not a matter of doing what God has asked of us.

I stopped as I read that, a little confused. The passage had no further explanation on this point, but it left me wondering what is the whole meaning of obedience, then.

The answer came not in the passage, but simply rested on my mind later that day. It's a matter of the heart.

It doesn't matter what you're doing, if the principle of your action is not written on your heart. If you don't truly believe what you are doing, if you don't have complete trust in it, then it's fruitless. Obedience is a state of mind, a position of your soul, a strength of spirit. We choose to obey because we love God.

I believe when your faith is etched in stone, then "obedience" comes naturally. We are aligning ourselves with a Heavenly Father, our will with his. We seek to know his will and are willing to do it. We are rediscovering a divine heritage. The veil between this life and the next is paper thin.

I feel a new self being quietly born this evening. Something is emerging in me. Nothing has changed, only cemented itself.

The following are lyrics to a beautiful song that was playing as I was pondering on these thoughts. Being a "teacher and defender of the truth" spoke volumes to me, as I realized the strength and courage and steadfastness one needs to defend something. I need to "stand strong and immovable" in the truth I know. I am discovering the power that truly stands behind the role of woman in this life.

"A Woman's Heart"

Morning comes and finds her on her knees

The Spirit speaks and she is listening
She offers everything her soul can give
To make a difference through the life she lives
Her faith holds her family close
She understands what matters most
And her gentle touch is where love starts
That's the way of a woman's heart

She's a keeper of the vision
She's a beacon in the night
A teacher and defender of the truth
And everything she touches
Bears the traces of her light
She's faithful to what God Himself would do

She's a friend to the lonely and the lost
Everyday another bridge to cross
Her hands of mercy know the healer's art
That's the way of a woman's heart

She's a keeper of the vision
She's a beacon in the night
A teacher and defender of the truth
And everything she touches
Bears the traces of her light
She's faithful to what God Himself would do

Evening comes and finds her on her knees
She softly speaks and He is listening
The sweet assurance that she's done her part
She weeps in His peace
And that's the way of a woman's heart

Colinisms and Calebites

Colin: Look! Just like Daddy's car!
(He is pointing at a blue SUV. We have a little silver four-door).
Mommy: Remember Colin, our car is silver.
Colin: No, it's just like our car.
Mommy: I don't think so. (Wondering if he's colour blind).
Colin: No, look! (He runs up and points at the "H" on the trunk.)
(Yup - he's right. It's a Honda SUV, and we have a Honda Civic. He then proceeded to find cars just like his grandparents and his aunts. The kid has an eye for detail, that's for sure!)

***

Caleb:
- Loves to roll. He even managed to roll himself onto his stomach while swaddled up really tight. Incredible strength!
- Is nearly crawling. He manages though, between rolling and pulling and kicking. He really gets around.
- Is nearly walking. Has been pulling himself up for the last month or so, and has been walking holding onto our hands for the past few weeks. He may very well skip crawling altogether.
- Holds his own against Colin. There's no typical "laid-back" second born here.

***

Colin's compulsions:
- Walking the exact same path. For example, we have to walk on the left half of a sidewalk. He has to walk on each letter of his alphabet mat. Go up to the front door by the side of the step, no the front. Has a complete meltdown if you don't follow this. Won't continue on until you correct your path.
- Will not step on cracks in the sidewalk. He will even tiptoe on tiled sidewalks (the ones with little interlocking bricks). Isn't he a little young for this?
- His two sippy cups he keeps between his bed frame and mattress. They must be exactly one-third of the way between the top and the end of the bed. The blue must be on the right. Both spouts must face the bed. If he wants a drink, he has to pick it up, first the blue, then the green. If you pick it up for him, he will put it back in, shift them both until they are in the proper position, then pick it up again to drink.
- If you serve a food in a certain container, it must always be served in that container. For example, grapes go in a square tupperware, raisins in a round one, and cheerios in the yellow one. He will not eat it if it's not served as he first remembered it.
- I have no psychiatric degree, but it makes me wonder if it's a) just a good memory b)just two-year old antics or c) mild OCD!

***

Caleb slept through the night the other day! 8pm to 6am! Hasn't happened again, but he is getting better.

***

Both children believe that 6am is the ideal wake-up time. Me and my love for a shower disagree. It's getting hard to find a spare moment to jump in the shower, and sometimes a few days go by before I get the chance...Somehow waking up before they do isn't an option I want to consider (5:30am is too early while I'm not sleeping through the night!)

Monday, 14 July 2008

Terror in your backyard

I just read a most terrifying blog post. A woman wrote about a fence she is building on her 10 acre rural property. She has two boys around 10 years of age, and two dogs. And one crazy neighbour.

The neighbour is angry that the dogs bark. Now, they don't bark incessantly, but they do bark at animals (like squirrels) and strangers. His course of action? He started firing his gun.

The woman, grabbed her kids and dogs and fled into the house. After calming down and having a discussion with her husband, they decided the best course of action would be to talk with the neighbour. A friendly conversation ended with the offer for the neighbour to call if the dogs were bugging him, and the woman would put them inside the house. Everything seemed fine.

Then a few days later, the dogs were barking again. And the shots rang out, again. The neighbour was yelling and swearing at the dogs and shooting into the air as he was coming down the woman's driveway. He confronted her at her front door, and she wrote she smelled alcohol on his breath (it was 11am). She called the police. By the time they came, he was gone.

And she learned something even more terrifying - there was nothing she could do. He was not allowed to trespass on her property, but there is no law preventing him from shooting his gun from his own property line. Which is what he did a few days later: roamed up and down their property line shooting in the air.

What on earth? I'm in shock and disbelief. How could this be happening, literally in our own backyards?

I do want to note one more thing on this story, to demonstrate the incredible love God can grant to our hearts. The woman made three decisions regarding this situation:

1) She would not buy a gun (as was suggested to her). Fighting violence with violence is not the answer, and two guns are more dangerous than one gun. And, in her words: "The only thing worse that an angry drunk with a gun would be a menopausal protective mother with a gun."

2) She would build a fence around a small area to keep the dogs close by.

3) She would pray. For safety for her and her family. For forgiveness toward the neighbour to fill her heart. And for the neighbour. If he is this touchy and angry, there is probably something much deeper going on.

We may feel that violent crimes are overrunning us. But we never have to feel like there is nothing we can do. The best advice for life: handle with prayer.

The many faces of Terri-Ann Gawthroupe (HK#11)

In an odd moment of contemplation this week, I realized just how varied my interests and hobbies are. I was working on two very different projects last week, and here are two photos to represent:



The first is me and my very first power tool I bought. It is a reciprocating saw to help in cutting the wood for my fence. (You can get a glimpse of the pine pickets behind me there! Still working away on it - it's a long process working by myself on it, and only being able to work on it when both kids are sleeping!) you should have seen me in the Home Depot - like a kid in a candy store. I think the sales rep was impressed I knew what I was looking for. (I also picked up 72 fence rail brackets and 1 1/2" galvanized 4D nails - and yes, I asked for them by name!)

On second is a photo of my very first real sewing project! That's right - building a fence, no problem. Sewing from a pattern terrified me! But I had this material from a few years back, and really wanted to make a skirt. So I hopped over to Fabricland for a massive clearance sale, and picked up this super-easy, first-time-sewer pattern, that happened to be just what I'd been looking for. (My favourite skirt I ever bought is this exact pattern!) And guess what? I finished it in a day, zipper and clasp and everything! I had to run back to the store for some facing, and a little pattern interpretation from the expert there (who couldn't believe this was the first thing I'd ever sewn!). But in the end, a total success. It fits like a dream and looks fantastic. And the sewing fairies were watching over me, because my striped pattern "just happened" to line up EXACTLY at the seam lines. Total fluke, but much appreciated!

And so, those are the two vastly different faces of Terri-Ann Gawthroupe.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Kitchens

I have a developing love for the kitchen.

In the past, kitchens meant: grabbing a quick meal, washing dishes, constant sweeping, washing dishes, scrambling to cook a meal, and washing dishes.

But with the help of a few old memories, and the aid of a couple new interests, the idea of the kitchen is evolving in my mind.

The first house we looked at (and nearly bought) spoke to me because of the kitchen. The front door opened directly into it. There was no hallway, no foyer, no fancy sitting room. The door swung opened and you were standing smack in the middle of a beautifully large kitchen. There was an old, big wooden preparation table in the middle of the room, and counter space and storage space that would thrill any mother. I immediately thought of life a hundred years ago, when daily life seemed to revolve around the kitchen. Kids coming in and out, mom cooking, baking, mending, sewing. The kitchen used to be the hub of the house!

My Nana lived for a long time in a large house that had a kitchen add-on. She told me that they used to build kitchens separate to remove heat from the heat of cooking from the main house. Once again, the entrance we used for the house came right into this kitchen.

My uncle is a fabulous cook. "Uncle Baden" dinners are famous in our family, and people will travel hours to partake of Christmas or Thanksgiving or Easter dinner at his house. We always arrive in early afternoon, and so are able to help in preparation, and visit with family while the delectable aromas waft in and out of the rooms. There was never less than three kinds of meat, two or three types of potatoes, three or four other vegetables, fresh rolls, and a whole host of desserts.

A television show I used to watch showed an episode where the mother took her teenage daughter along grocery shopping for a class project. The mother described how much she enjoyed grocery shopping, because it was a process that began with planning out her family's favourite meals, and then carried into the store as she thought about each family member and how much they would appreciate the things she bought and made.

As these and other memories have converged upon me lately, I am beginning to discover my love for the kitchen. Food preparation is becoming much more than simply getting a meal on the table. I am currently clearing out a space for a vegetable garden to start next year. And I'm reading a book about building a root cellar to store my crops through the winter.

I have always been fascinated with farming, seeing it as the career that is at the very heart of humanity. Food is the basic necessity of life, and therefore farming is the basic work of life. Although I don't see farming in our future, I do imagine our next house being one out of the town, with enough property in the back to grow a substantial garden, providing most of our vegetables myself. I see my children working alongside me, learning the true meaning of self-reliance. I see our kitchen as the hub of our house (as opposed to a play room or computer room or tv room), where my boys come to scour the corners for snacks and meals, and engage in a little conversation as they munch.

Why, you might ask, in this age of convenience, would I picture such a rustic image of the future? First, because I think self-reliance is not only important, but crucial in this day and age of uncertain markets, natural disasters, and world-wide unrest. Second, because I think it is an inherent drive for men and women to grow and farm through some hard work. I may not be packing up to living in an Amish community, but there is a simplicity and happiness to that life that burns naturally inside me.

"Slowly we are carving a new lifestyle. To some it might seem to be one that is looking backward, for it cherishes the homely, the rude, the unpackaged, the unmechanized, the careful. We do not think of it as a blind shutting out of any visions of the future, but rather, for us, the right way to face the future. The carving is not easy. It is often painful. But in it are the seeds of sanity, of joy." - Mara Cary, Basic Baskets.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

It all makes sense

Today I passed naptime in two ways: for the first half hour, I was catching up on some computer things (reading, emailing, etc). Then for the last hour and a half, I mowed the lawn, worked a little on my fence, and then dug a hole to plant a bush.

During this two hour block, I ate: a chocolate bar and a glass of milk, and later, a green apple and a glass of water. The first was while I sat at the computer, the latter was after I came inside from my yard work.

And then it hit me. I am very in tune with my digestive system (after many years of battling stomach ailments), and so I always eat to my cravings. Lately I have been eating much more chocolate than usual. This mystified me completely, after nearly 28 years of eating junk food sparingly.

But since Caleb was born, I have not been able to be out and active as much as usual. I have found myself confined to the house due to winter weather, lack of transportation, and having a toddler and an infant in tow. And it was during this period of inactivity that my body craved the chocolate.

Isn't that wild? The more active I am, the more my body demands fruits, vegetables and water. The less active I am, the more I crave sweets, chocolate, and juice. No wonder it's so easy to get into the vicious circle of laziness and eating junk food. I'm sure there is some fantastic medical
research out there to back me up on this, but I think it's amazing when you discover these truths by yourself. Now it all makes sense.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Standing Up

"We must make up our minds. Neutrality favors the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the persecutor, never the persecuted." - Elie Wiesel.

I have just finished a powerful book called "Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide" by Barbara Coloroso. I picked up the book for two reasons: 1) I have always had a deep interest in reading materials on the second world war. I once had the opportunity in high school to conduct several interviews with a survivor of a Concentration Camp, and her words deeply moved and affected me on this subject. 2) The author is mostly known for her studies and publications about parenting. I attended a workshop she gave last month, and was impressed by her ideas.

Upon finishing the book, however, I have learned a far greater lesson, and come across far deeper ideas, than I thought I would.

The premise of the book is that the roots of genocide can be found in bullying. Both stem not from conflict, but from contempt for another human being. Coloroso delves into how these terrible acts occurred, and how even after the world vow of "Never Again" post-World War II, that they continue to occur in countries throughout the world.

The crux of her book is what she calls the "Bullying Circle", which outlines the eight different roles that people take in a bullying situation. These roles are filled in every instance of bullying, be it in a school yard or political circumstance.

And so, as I read how these roles were fulfilled in history, it made me look inside myself and wonder, which role would I take? I believe I can say with surety that I am not the bully, the henchman, the active supporter or even the passive supporter. I pray I would not be the target.

That leaves three roles: 1) a disengaged onlooker, who observes and then turns away saying "it's none of my business" 2) a potential witness, who opposes the bullying, knows they ought to help, but does not act (for a variety of reasons) 3) a resister, defender and witness, who actively resists, stands up to the bully and speaks out against the bullying.

Do I have the courage to be what I want to be, the resister, defender and witness? Will I stand for truth and right, no matter the cost? Or do I weigh the personal outcome and base my involvement on that? Would I be able to convince myself that as long as I am not participating that I am doing no harm?

What do I need to do now? What can I do now?

I feel the desire and necessity to break from the comfort of my life. I feel there are a few leaders in the world that are sitting me in front of a media stage and surrounding me in a consumer-driven culture and telling me that "me and mine" are my primary concerns. Just keep watching the television, and buying more things, and hold to that which I have earned. I feel distracted from what is really going on out there!

I feel at a loss for information. How can I know what is really going on? What can I do if I find out? I want to open my eyes to see. I want to listen and not just hear. I want to act with purpose. I want to show my belief in the idea that humanity is everyone's responsibility. My responsibility.

Doing nothing is not harmless. I need to break out of my comfort zone. I need to "do".

"The road to Auschwitz was built by hatred, but paved with indifference." - Ian Kershaw

"Far more, and far more hideous, crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion." - C. P. Snow

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

Monday, 7 July 2008

Weekend away

This weekend James and I enjoyed a lovely weekend away, just the two of us. It's been over a year since we had this luxury, and it was a much needed rest for the both of us. My mother and sister graciously watched Colin and Caleb for two nights, which meant that I had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for the first time in a year and a half.

We didn't go far - just to a hotel near the Toronto Airport. I'm still nursing Caleb, and so I wanted to be able to drop in and feed him at least once a day (more for me than him!) He is just starting to take formula from a bottle, as long as it's not me giving it to him. Funny thing is, the only one he'll take is soy formula! I didn't even realize I had picked that up - I was just loading up my cart with one of each kind, to try and find one he liked.

My weekend began with a massage at the Hockley Valley Resort (a Christmas present from James - this was the first opportunity I had to go!). Absolutely heavenly. As the massage began, I started to think about how lovely it was, and how I could get used to this kind of pampering. And then I started to think about how I didn't want to get used to that kind of pampering, because there are so many people who need help in this world that I wouldn't want to be blowing money on a spa all the time. And then I started to try and pay attention to how the masseuse was giving the massage so that I could replicate the process for James at home. And then I realized that, hey, I'm supposed to be relaxing and having a massage and to stop thinking about so many things and just enjoy it! So I did.

Over the rest of the weekend we enjoyed good food (that we didn't have to cook and clean up after), some relaxing time by the pool, and having a chance to catch up on some reading. We caught a movie, napped, played some games together, slept, took a walk, rested, ate, and slept again. Yes, we did a lot of sleeping!

And now it is Monday, and I'm feeling quite refreshed. Bonus from the weekend: Caleb seems to be weaning himself from night feeds! Last night he went nearly 7 hours without eating and slept one four hour block! Yes, this is a huge step forward for us. And he slept in his crib until 5:30 am, when I brought him into bed with me for a morning feed. There are some things I don't want to let go of just yet! There's nothing like an early morning cuddle with your little one.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Colin, on money:

Colin: Mommy, look!
Mommy: You found a dollar.
Colin: Wow.
Mommy: What would you like to buy with it?
Colin: A doughnut.

***

Colin: You know, if you don't want that you could take it to the store and give it to the lady and she will give you money for it.

***

Colin: Mommy, do you have any money?
Mommy: Yes, I have some money. Do you need to buy something?
Colin: No, I'm too little for money.

***

(I can't believe that at 2 years old, Colin has already grasped the concept of how money works!)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Girl's Camp Youth Workshop

Another year in the bag. This year I celebrated Canada Day at a Christian camp for girls. I was invited (back) to be a youth speaker.

Time allotted: 1 hour.
Subject: anything I chose.
Degree of difficulty: high.
Payoff: unmeasurable.

I chose to speak on "Surviving a spiritual wilderness". I wanted to talk with them about how to hold to their values, standards and beliefs after they leave something like camp and go back to a world that holds to the opposite of nearly everything they stand for. We talked about the tools they have to stay close to God, and then the reality of the choices they have to make. I ended with the story of Joshua's last words (in the Old Testament) about "choosing this day whom you will serve."

I was up against a lot. First of all, an hour is a LONG time for any teenager to pay attention to one thing. Second, I was just after lunch and right before beach time. Third, I was on the second day of camp, which meant they had all stayed up the entire night before talking and laughing, which meant they had not slept. But fortunately, other than three girls (right in the front row!) that closed their eyes and seemed to sleep through the entire thing, I think I really got through to some of them. We talked, we laughed, I recounted some personal experiences and we took examples from biblical stories. This is the second year I have done this, and it was a great experience.

As the camp was a 2 1/4 hour drive away (in the beautiful Pinery Provincial Park in Grand Bend, Ontario, right on Lake Huron), I left early in the morning. I took the back roads, which I had mostly to myself. Windows down, music cranked, the open road stretched out before me and the brilliant blue sky above. I love driving, and I don't have much of a chance to take trips like this anymore. I arrived in time for lunch and took the chance to talk with some of the girls there. After lunch I gave my workshop, and then it was down to the beach. I'm a chicken for cold water, and so I passed the time chatting with friends, lying in the sand. I met a wonderful new friend with a passion for music like mine. She showed me some guitar tricks (I skill I intend to learn in the coming years) and we chatted about favourite songs, Christian music trends, marriage, and life in the church.

We cooked foil dinners over the fire for dinner (one of my favs!) before I reluctantly climbed back into the car to drive home. Even though it was a holiday, I found myself alone on the road again, driving with the sunset at my back.

I always love to work with teens. I'm absolutely useless in a class of young kids (like the disastrous seven-year-old Sunday School class I taught last week!), but give me a youth group and I'm in my element. I hope to do lots more work with teens in the future.

Happy day!

We did it! Last night, Caleb went from 10:30pm until 7:30am without breastfeeding, and sleeping in his crib!

He woke up at 2:00, at which time I shook James awake to try and give him a bottle of formula. But by the time James got out of bed, went downstairs to mix the bottle and came back up, Caleb had fallen back asleep. He woke again at 4:30, at which time I stumbled out of bed to rescue James, and let him know I was willing to breastfeed. But there Caleb was on the change table, getting a diaper change and sucking at the bottle! So I assured James that he had everything under control and went back to bed.

Caleb woke again at 7:30 in the morning.
And slept the entire night in his crib.
Oh happy day, all is well!

We'll try this method again tonight. Then the two night after that the boys will be with my parents while James and I enjoy a little local getaway. My hopes are that come Sunday night, Caleb might be settling into this new routine. I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Homekeeper Challenge #10 - Blanket


This is a baby blanket that I made last week. The material is all flanelette, the front is the squares and the green portion is the back. A friend of mind showed me how to sew this together, and for those of you who know me, this is a huge accomplishment. You see, I am not, and have never been, a sewer. I own a sewing machine - a massive 50 pound 50-year old workhorse that my grandmother gave me. Actually, it's probably the best machine for me, since I think it could hold up to nuclear war. And so there is probably very little I could do to it to damage the thing.

I saw this blanket my friend had made and it inspired me to lug the old machine out and actually try my hand at this art. The result, I think, was a great success. Best of all, it only took about six hours of actual work time (and with my kids, time is a precious commodity, and a rare one also).

Inspired by my success, I now have a skirt pattern upstairs along with some great summer material. I'm hoping to sew myself two skirts over the summer. And this morning I actually hemmed an old pair of pants into shorts! Believe me, for me - this is big!