Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Hmm. Even my analogies seem to be lacking. I'm nearing two months of being in bed, and aside from a fairly in depth and lengthy reading list and season 2 of "The Office", I feel I have actually accomplished very little.
Okay, I will give myself a little break. I suppose it's hard to get creative juices flowing when you're staring at orange walls all day, confined to a bed, with the biggest thrill being that I can see out the front window from my bed.
But I'm grappling now for something bigger. In the past I have dabbled in all sorts of different writing styles, including poetry, short story, novels, theatrical plays and screenplays. What I feel right now is a longing to write, but with no focus of even what type of writing I want to do, let alone a subject.
I also have always found it hard to write when I'm happy. Does that seem strange? Probably not, when you take a close look at those in the entertainment industry. It's wrought with angst and troubles and distraught personalities. There is something about melancholy that feeds creativity.
It's also hard to write when your day to day life is not filled with varied experiences. The more you are exposed to, the more subjects you have at your fingertips to explore. And so my very happy life that happens to be fairly stationary right now is the perfect formula for writer's block.
And still I lay in this bed, frustrated at the hours I could spend typing away on the laptop, pouring out my heart and mind and ideas into a personal creation, and yet nothing comes.
They say that you should write about what you know. The problem there is that I have lived a charmed life, void of troubles and trials and heartache and angst. Oh, that's not to say I haven't had emotional ups and downs - it's just that in the grand scheme of things, life has pretty much gone the way I hoped and expected. Which, unfortunately, makes for fairly boring subjects. And although "creative writing" insinuates that the author can go to imaginary places previously unexperienced, it is truly difficult to find an authenticity in such journeys without some personal access.
Ah well. At least I have rediscovered the passion to write. Perhaps just keeping that swimming in the forefront of my mind will lead to something I actually want to put on paper.
Monday, 29 June 2009
Some days I have to put a stop on Colin's adventurous nature, like asking him not to climb to the top of the couch and jump over it. I personally have no issues with him getting out his energy with a little climbing, but Caleb follows right behind, thrusting himself up and over the back of the loveseat, which doesn't sit against a wall. While Colin manages to balance on the top of the couch, Caleb inevitably will propel himself head first right over!
But the funniest copycat moment occurred this past weekend while we were playing in the backyard. Colin was running around the yard, Caleb scurrying behind as fast as his legs would take him. If Colin darted into the playhouse, in followed Caleb. Then over to kick a ball, around a tree, down the slide, over to high-five Dad, over to hug me, back around the tree, tearing across the lawn. Then, as Colin was running across the yard, his feet got tangled beneath him and he tripped, falling hard to the ground. There he lay, recovering from the fall, when along came Caleb behind, and he immediately threw himself to the ground, lying face down in the grass.
I burst out laughing. Nothing was going to elude Caleb! After a few seconds they both got up and ran off again. But this event is a perfect example of this copycat stage Caleb is in right now.
Sunday, 28 June 2009
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." - Genesis 2:24
Those familiar with the Old Testament will recognize the above scripture, and understand completely the meaning of the word "cleave" - to cling to, to hold onto dearly.
But have you ever thought of what the first meaning of the word "cleave" means? Think of the object "cleaver" - that big butcher's knife that actually cuts things into two. The first definition of the word cleaver is actually to split apart.
So where on earth did this second use, used in Genesis, come from? Actually, the Hebrew word is what shines light on the subject. When it was written that a man should "cleave unto his wife", it actually insinuates a rejoining of two things that were previously one.
When I read this last week, the whole idea of marriage held new meaning for me. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were not joined together for the first time, and told to henceforth cling to each other; rather they were rejoined together, a couple that had been separated for a short time and was being brought back together.
Now when people talk about their spouse as someone they feel they always knew, or when they mention that upon meeting this person they immediately knew "this was the one", perhaps we can understand that a little better. They aren't meeting someone new and falling in love, they are finding the one from whom they had been temporarily "cleaved" (split apart) and were now cleaving to (rejoining) that loved one again.
Isn't that a beautiful thought?
And in much the same light, note this scripture in the book of Joshua:
"But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day." (Joshua 23:8)Again, don't read this as "find God and cling to him", but rather as "find God and be rejoined to him." When a person comes to God will full purpose of heart, it is often described as feeling like one is coming home again. Now we can understand Joshua's words here - we were temporarily split from God, but we can search him out and cleave to (be rejoined with) him.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Lately I've had a peek at the other side of children's birthday parties. I've always known that some kids like parties themed, but to me that meant nothing more than paper plates and party hats. I don't even do specially decorated cakes.
An acquaintance of mine recently had a birthday party for her 7 year old daughter. It started off with her daughter wanting to go bowling, and then, as she writes, "spiraled from there." It was '50's themed. Here are a few things she did for the party:
- sewed poodle skirts for the girls and t-shirts for the boys
- used old 45's for the invitations, and made a personalized record label for the invites
- refreshments were milkshakes, and cupcakes decorated like records
- back home for a hula hoop contest, bubble gum blowing, the twist, a drag race, and the limbo
Wow. I know everyone has their talents, and I can easily acknowledge this isn't one of mine. I grew tired reading her account of the party and just thinking of what went into the planning! It makes me grateful for boys who will hopefully be happy with a baseball or football game and burgers on the barbecue. Oh, wait. We have only winter birthdays. Perhaps I'll take up my parents' solution for my December sister of having her party with friends in the late spring. That seems like an easier solution than hosting a bunch of boys inside the house, or doling out a ton of money to take them out to a special place.
What were some of your favourite birthday party memories? Did you bask in the glory of intricate plans or prefer a more laid-back approach?
Friday, 19 June 2009
We have a larger TV downstairs, but because we don't pay for cable, we actually don't get an television programs on the set downstairs. We tried to hook up the large rabbit ear anntennae, but to no avail. So, in the end, the rabbit ears migrated upstairs to the little 14" TV in our bedroom.
The TV itself cost $80. It's a no name brand with no fancy functions.
We only consistently get one channel. That's it. Fortunately it's a pretty good channel, so most programs we're even interested in watching (which isn't much) we can see. Most days we also get a second channel, although the colour signal often drops, leaving a hazy black and white image. It is also generally pretty fuzzy, which you get used to. My mother-in-law came up the other day and couldn't even make out the picture! A third channel with mostly reruns comes in periodically, the but signal won't hold more than a minute. But if you flip the channel up and then back again, the signal reappears. Yes, I have watched more than a few shows this way, remote in hand, constantly flicking back and forth, back and forth.
And la creme de la creme about our TV - our neighbours have some sort of device that interferes with the signal. I have no idea what it is, but it completely scrubs the image, and the sound converts to a local radio station! It generally lasts about 30 seconds to a minute and then reverts back to the TV signal. Sometimes this will go on every few minutes for 10 or 15 minutes, sometimes it's just a one-off. I've learned how to follow along story narratives while missing several chunks of the plot line.
We don't watch much TV under normal circumstances, so it's never really been an issue for us. People keep suggesting we go out and buy a new TV, but I can't bring myself to do that when the one we have works perfectly fine. What business do I have of throwing away a perfectly good appliance? My mind shift in consumerism has definitely contributed to the way I look at buying new things now. Plus, it makes a great story for posterity.
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Friday, 12 June 2009
Then I read a comment a friend wrote about her husband. She said that one of her favourite things about her husband was that he always made sure to put a handful of change in his pocket so that he could drop some coins into the hands of each and every homeless person he walked by. This image has stuck with me for good. Here is a man who takes God's call to "Feed my sheep" seriously enough not just to part with his substance when it is convenient, but to take advance measures to share the abundance with which he has been blessed.
I thought of this experience yet again when I was reading one of my favourite scripture passages the other day, found in the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. How easy it was for me when I walked daily by those with so little, to tune them out, or make them a common part of the landscape. I am grateful for the example of those who remind me of the great commission we have to love and serve our fellowmen.
Ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just-
But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, Oh then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Okay, they aren't really mysterious, they are two absolutely amazing friends of mine who have really taught me what serving others is all about. I am always eager to help others and always volunteer my name as someone to call if they ever need anything. But I find myself rarely called upon. I know it's not because of trust or friendship - it's simply our reluctance to actually call when we need help. I think most people suffer from this - either because they don't want to depend on others, or they aren't sure how and when to ask for the help they need. Since I've been ill with this pregnancy, though, I have been shown how to really step in and serve even before a need is voiced.
Several friends rang up and told me they were dropping by with dinner. One day I even ended up with three meals at once (which I was able to freeze). Other friends have dropped in to amuse my boys, or take them for a play date, especially during the days before we had our nanny in place. And then there are my two garden fairies, with all their kids in tow, who beautified my front gardens, and are now out back planting my longed-for vegetable garden. My friend had inquired whether or not I wanted them to plant it - and I had opted out, unsure of if I would be able to tend and care for it during this illness. But it seems my garden fairies, likely knowing my excitement over the past two years of finally planting my own garden, have stepped in to get things going...er, growing...anyway.
I'm so grateful for the amazing friends I have, new and old and rekindled. There are so many things that tie us together, and so many differences that make the friendships spicy and interesting. I have always had a wide variety of friends, but I am discovering the richness of friendships as an adult that is never really present as a child or teenager.
There were no beds, so the only place they could find for me was...in the maternity wing. That was really not fair. There I was, sitting in bed, listening to mom after mom come in, deliver, and go home with a little new baby. And I knew that it will be another 6 1/2 months before I get to go home with mine. They don't usually take early pregnancies in the maternity ward, so the whole thing was unusual.
I spent three days and two nights hooked up to an IV, being pumped full of all sorts of different vitamins and nutrients, plus a steady dose of Gravol. And I've never felt better! Also contributing to my feeling of well-being was my inability to go anywhere other than the bathroom. There was nothing to take me more than 10 feet from my bed, and so I stayed rested for the whole visit.
All the tests came back fine. Diagnosis: I am losing nutrients and such in my body as if I were throwing up non-stop - except that I'm not throwing up at all. Basically the baby is taking so much from me my body isn't able to compensate and give me enough energy to do anything, hence the difficulty in breathing, eating, talking, walking. The hope is that by the time I'm 4 months along my body will have adapted enough that I can be up and going again.
I'm on a much more strict bed-rest policy. I haven't left the home in over a month, but I was going up and down the stairs for food, and occasionally to see the boys. The hospital visit boosted all my levels, but the baby will continue to drain me, so I need to conserve all I can and get past the first trimester.
I've been devouring books and keeping up some great email correspondence. With only two TV channels, I don't spend a lot of time watching the television except to fall asleep to its drone at night. I'm really missing interaction with people, but this won't last more than another 4-8 weeks. In the end, I guess it really isn't a huge amount of time.
As I was leaving the hospital, however, I did tell the nurses there was no I was coming back and leaving without a baby!
Saturday, 6 June 2009
"For Women Only" is a book based on a massive amount of surveys and data collected that addressed the ways men think. Shaunti researched extensively to figure out what the differences were between men and women, how it affected relationships and communication, and how to help women understand how their man's brain works.
It was eye-opening. And I'm not one of the typical girly-girls, all emotion and shopping and tears and chick flicks and romance. I mean, I'm typically woman in many ways, but I have a bit more of an understanding edge to me from my tomboyish beginnings. But this book deals with some core elements of what makes a man different from a woman, and even I fell into every female notion they presented. I guess it would be impractical to say every man and every woman can be categorized as they said, but because Shaunti's research looks at the hormonal and physiological and instinctual reasons behind men's actions, I would venture to say her book would apply to 95% of the population.
The book talks about a man's need for respect even more than love: when asked to choose between feeling "alone and unloved" or "inadequate and disrespected", 75% of men said they would rather feel alone and unloved. This ties to the idea of "I don't need to call a repairman" and "I don't need to ask for directions." The comments in the book really highlight just how important respect is for a man.
In the same vein, it also talks about the man's need to be provider. Need, not just want. Again, the questions and responses revealed what lay behind this urge, and how it manifests itself.
Well, I could go on and on. It talks about how 70% of men worry about being "found out", that they feel as though they aren't totally sure of what they're having to do. It talks about the emotional depth of sex. It talks about the visual nature of a man's mind. It talks about the taboo truths men wish they could express but know it's not socially acceptable.
Really, it's worth the read. It's not a big read, and keeps you turning the pages. You could finish it in a few hours. Actually, Shaunti's husband wrote a companion book called "For Men Only" - you get the idea. I have it, James is aware of it, but hasn't quite gotten to it yet. I actually peaked at a few chapters, and found myself nodding along, agreeing with everything it said. "That's exactly what it's like!" I found myself saying. And when Shaunti had men read her drafts of "For Women Only", she heard the same comment over and over again. Funny enough, that comment was generally followed by: "You mean, you women really didn't know that about us men?" And it's true. It's a completely different way of looking at the differences between the sexes, and I think a must-read for anyone looking to deepen their relationship.
I am printing and binding each year of entries so that I have a collection of journals for my kids and grandkids. What has really touched me about keeping this blog is that it is about a journey. In the same way that C.S. Lewis' letters were able to reveal the transformation that took place within him year to year, I imagine that if one were to read the collection of my blog entries, they would be able to see the small thoughts and events that shaped me into who I became. I'm not sure at what age you "become" who you are. I know I look at adults older than me and have a definite idea of who they are, what they believe, what they stand for. Personally, I feel as though I'm starting a few paces down all the paths before me, wondering which ones I want to take. I've written about homeschooling and healthy eating and child-rearing and political involvement and arts and education and social issues. I've read and learned a lot. I love to hear both sides of the story - balance and understanding are definitely key to who I am now.
I read about education and talked to parents and kids who attend home school, private school, catholic school and public school. Although I didn't opt for homeschooling, as I thought I might when I started looking into it, the things I learned have definitely changed the way I will educate my kids.
I read about healthy eating. I was surprised to find myself much farther on the line of natural foods than I thought I would. I'm not all the way over, eating only organic, eschewing fast food, banning junk food. But I bake my own bread, don't generally buy prepared foods, and rarely buy snack foods. I am hoping to plant my own garden to grow my own vegetables. I am excited to can and preserve my own food. I don't feel radical, but in comparison I've been told that I am much farther on the natural foods side than most.
My child-rearing ideas have actually not changed all that much, despite the constant saturation in so many different methods. I'm a fairly moderate and easy-going mom. And I think much of my own philosophies stem from my own mother. She passed on to me the idea that kids need to be independent, that they will learn and grow best when they do their own discoveries. The one book that has most influenced me was Merrilee Boyack's "The Parenting Breakthrough". Everything she wrote resonated deeply with me, and as she also raised boys, I was inspired by her methods, and her results.
My religious and spiritual ideas have widened. It is in this area that my passion for balance and understanding most overtly present themselves. I have seen so much division between the different sects, each willing to serve the "godless", and yet so frightened to interact with those of other faiths. I have a deep yearning to read and learn and converse and discuss with those of other faiths. I want to learn about Catholicism from a Catholic, Islam from a Muslim, Buddhism from a Buddhist. I want to unite with anyone who wants to make a difference in this capitalistic and self-centered world and really DO something about it. I think that if those whose focus is service and charity were to unite together we would be an unstoppable force for good. My own personal spirituality has deepened considerably as I find my firm footing in my faith. This is likely the most definitive of all my journeys.
Socially and politically I feel as though I am an infant. I feel unduly influenced by media and experts, swayed easily from one point of view to another by a powerful speaker. I yearn to retreat into a small-town, Amish-like existence, and yet struggle with the idea that I need to stand up and be a force for good against the negativity around me. I don't even feel like I've taken any steps in these areas, just wandering by all the paths and straining to see where they might lead.
I do feel that over the years, I have been humbled incredibly. The sureness of youth that appears as haughtiness has melted away. I recall a favourite children's book that describes the late teen/early 20s as being a time when everything is so obviously in black and white, but as one matures they more clearly see the world in the shades of gray it really is.
The one thing I've noticed about this blog is that I'm gradually shedding the impartiality I started with. I have a propensity to privacy, and ability express thoughts without betraying feelings. I've come to care less about the level of exposure of myself to others. Those who are reading this are friends and family, genuinely interested in who I am really, not just who I can present myself as. They may read much more about me than they would ever learn in person, but I am open to this level of nakedness, knowing that deep friendships come from sharing deep thoughts and feelings. And deep friendships are to be cherished in this increasingly detached world.
I'm not sure I would ever be the best one to look back on my journaling and judge the distance I've come or the paths I've taken. But I definitely sense a space from where I was and where I am. I'm grateful for this medium that will mean I have a record of my life.
Friday, 5 June 2009
What I learned was both unexpected, and exciting. All three moms (who don't know each other) independently cited the exact same method: A HOT TUB!
Okay, this is me jumping for joy, because I'm not sure I ever would have caved to the expense of this luxury item. But to learn that it is the secret to raising sons...well, now it's not a luxury, it's a necessity. Bring on the catalogues! Mama's going shopping!
You see, my friends told me that everyone in their families, including the sons, love the hot tub. There's nothing like a nice soak outside beneath the stars to relax and unwind from the stresses of the day. And it's hard to do much else while in the hot tub - there isn't the distraction of the phone or the television or the computer. It's just mom and son. And this atmosphere seems to be the perfect scenario to encourage the traditionally clammed up, private teen boys to open up and tell all to a quiet, listening, and understanding mom. My friends said they were amazed at just how much their sons were willing to talk about in the setting of a hot tub. It might start as silence, but before long they were divulging their worries, fears, goals, triumphs, experiences, stories, and anything else that was filling their minds. Something about the hot tub encouraged a steady stream of thoughts poured out into the night. What a contrast from the traditional monosyllabic grunting system of communication most teen boys use!
I'm sure it will work equally well with girls, although girls don't generally need as much encouragement to get talking. I'm glad I learned this secret while my boys are young - I'm sure this will take some extra finance planning to be ready to put in the hot tub by the time the boys are entering their teen years. But isn't this the best excuse ever for getting a hot tub in your own backyard?!
Because of some severe reactions to immunizations, we stretched out Colin's schedule of needles. Over the first year and a half he received most of them, but we held off on the controversial MMR shot until he was past the age of three. This meant that when I took him this winter to get the needle, it would be the first time he would really be conscious of what was taking place. The funny thing was that he was so excited! He had a fascination with going to see our family doctor. Anytime he tripped or fell or bumped himself he would always proclaim "I'm sick, I need to go to the doctors." Colin has a little doctor's kit and loves to play "going to the doctor". The kit includes a needle, which of course is not really representative of what getting a real needle is like. I tried to prep him in the days leading up, show what the doctor would do, and trying to emphasize that it might hurt for a little bit. Somehow the notion of pain didn't transfer, because he just couldn't contain the excitement. He told everyone in excited tones that he was going to the doctors to get a needle.
Well, the day arrived and there we sat in the doctor's office. Colin kept asking "When do I get my needle? When do I get my needle?!" The doctor brought out the needle and Colin proudly put out his arm.
Then the needle went into the arm. The look on Colin's face is permanently seared in my mind. There were no tears, no yelling or crying. He just looked at me, his eyes loudly speaking his thoughts: "This hurts." It was a look of confusion, of betrayal, that this exciting moment was suddenly deflated because it was not at all what he expected. It was a look that said "Why are you doing this to me? Why is this hurting? This isn't like my needle at home."
He didn't cry at all - my little guy is tough as nails. But he doesn't talk much anymore about going to the doctor for every little bump now. He's not scared of the doctor - he still suggests going to the doctor for those serious illnesses. He's just a little more selective about it now.
I was watching a program today about a mom of three boys who wrote a book about the experiences of raising a family of boys. One thing she noted is that boys love to go on adventures - hence the constant need to climb and run and dig and discover and go out on their own. She was talking about the more specific things that boys get into - like climbing trees, trapping bugs and small animals, rearranging the furniture. But I totally related to this sentence - that boys love to go on adventures - because that's exactly what Colin's favourite game is now. He announces "Mom, let's go on an adventure." There is no specific goal or destination. The game involves packing up a knapsack with as many toys as can be stuffed in, slinging the heavy bag over his tiny shoulders, and then hiking around the main floor of the house. We circle through the living room, kitchen, playroom and front hall, just walking, walking, walking. But his little mind understands the boys' need for adventure, and even if he doesn't have the capacity to plan a specific event, he gets that there is a journey involved and by golly, he is going to have an adventure today!
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Growing up I was taught to pay tithing - giving a tenth of my earnings back to God. I heard so many experiences about how paying an honest tithe led to miracles in money matters: stories of desperation where money showed up when there seemed nowhere to turn. I have never experienced this, but I have seen myself taken care of at every turn. As a teenager I was given a blessing that as long as I paid tithing faithfully, I would not only have enough for everyday needs, but an "abundance to share". And although I may not yet have experienced the "abundance" yet, I certainly have never lacked for everyday needs.
Amazing job opportunities always seemed to fall into my path. In my last two years of high school, someone approached me to start a piano teaching business. The exact right amount of clients found me, enabling me to work few hours so that it didn't interfere with school
The first summer after university I worked in the film industry, which enabled me to learn a large amount of money in preparation for the next school year. And then as I started second year a company called me to offer me a part-time admin job. The company was 3 blocks from my school, and said I could work around my school hours. They paid me an excellent wage, and my employers took me under their wing as though I were a daughter and sister. During summers they hired me on full time. They shifted me around the company to fill up my hours, as I learned accounting, production and web. When I graduated, I worked full time until the following February, when they abruptly let me go. I was devastated at first, until I took a deep look at my life. The job had served its purpose. I had graduated debt-free from school. I had saved up a good amount of savings. And in the next few weeks I became pregnant, and so ill I wouldn't have been able to work.
While piano teaching wove in and out for a few years after that, I haven't worked steadily since. But our family has been blessed through James' work. During university and for a few years after, he worked for Chrysler, in a protected and well paid union job. And then two years ago a business ownership opportunity presented itself, which we felt inspired to accept - all just before the instability of the auto industry, a situation which very well might have meant James losing his job.
And so, in a time and economy that is so frightful, I am beyond grateful for this blessing in my life. Today I conversed with friends who were telling me the great faith they are building as they are being tested financially - those who need to work multiple jobs, those who have to choose which bills to pay and which to let lapse, those who face frightening debt and job insecurity. I know that no trial defines a person; I know that one blessing is not greater than another. I know God challenges me and blesses me in different ways than he does others. But I would be an ungrateful child if I did not profusely thank my Father in Heaven for this blessing in such a time as this.
And also, in recording this blessing and story, I wanted to record that God does make promises and fulfill them. The scriptures are filled with "If....then..." covenants God makes with us. If we follow this commandment, then we will be blessed in that. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10) "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10)