Monday, December 19, 2011

The Messiah

It is nearly Christmas.

We were on our way to a party, and we needed to pick up goat cheese.  The idea of the party was that everyone would bring pizza toppings, and we were bringing the ingredients to make a goat cheese, fig, and caramelized onion pizza (which is, incidentally, amazing).  So with the kids in the back seat and snow falling heavily, we drove to the grocery store.  I parked, while Jan ran in to buy the goat cheese.

I was listening to CBC Radio 2.  They were broadcasting a concert from Copenhagen, the idea of which was to celebrate and promote world peace by incorporating Arabic and Jewish music into traditional Christmas music.  They had an amazingly beautiful version of a number of pieces from Handel's Messiah, re-orchestrated with Arabic drums.

There's something about the beginning of the Messiah.  The text is from Isaiah 40.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

I will admit that even when I was studying the Bible in university at CMU, I  got choked-up in when we were studying Isaiah, and we got to chapter 40.  I'm not sure I can fully explain why.  The beauty of Handel's music only adds to the emotion, and in this performance the tenor (who was excellent) kept breaking away from Handel into Arabic music, which added a plaintive mystery and beauty to the already beautiful recitative and aria.

So I told G, "This music, that we're listening to, is very beautiful."

She listened quietly for a moment, then asked me "Is the man who is singing sad?"

"No, he's not sad.  He's singing to God's people that they don't have to be sad anymore.  He's saying: 'It's okay, you don't have to cry'"

"Why is he saying 'it's okay'?"

"Because ... God's people don't always do what God tells them to do.  And when God's people do bad things, sometimes God punishes them.  But here God is saying that their punishment is over.  God is saying that they don't need to be sad, that they don't need to be punished.  God is saying 'I forgive you'".

She thought about that for a moment.

"Like how when I do something bad you forgive me?"

I was feeling emotional already, and at this point I could barely keep it together enough to say, "Yes.  Exactly like that."

It is an amazing thing to watch a child learn, to watch a baby learn to sit, and crawl, and stand, and talk; to watch a toddler learn to express her ideas, and show off her memory, and exercise her imagination; to watch a child discover the world, and God too.  And it's humbling to think that I am responsible (partly) for teaching her.  Human fathers fail to be a fitting mirror for our heavenly father.  But what I want to do is be the kind of father who can be an image to my daughters of God's love.  And I know I will fail, but I want to try.  To hear my daughter describe me that way, even for a moment,--to hear her think: "What is my daddy like?  What does he do?  He forgives me." is almost unbearably moving.  It is exactly the kind of father I always hoped to be.  It also makes me think of God so differently to think that God's love for me is like my love for my daughters.  It was an insight, on an emotional level, to realize that God forgives Israel--that God forgives me--just like I forgive G: easily and endlessly.

I said, "I love you, G", and we listened to the concert, until Jan came back with the goat cheese.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Unsolved Mystery of the Blocks

So here's what happened. Back in the spring of 2009, G was 6 months old. We had found a bag of 60 wooden alphabet blocks at a thrift store for $6. It was a steal and we loved them. But, G was a little young for them, so we put them in an ice cream container and put them on our windowsill. We brought them down a couple times for her to play with, but they kept ending up all over our apartment. So we put them away on the sill until she was a bit older. A few months later, I went looking for them. They were missing. I didn't think much of it, assuming they'd turn up eventually.
In the summer, we moved apartments, across the street. I kept thinking "they'll turn up in the move". Paul thought so too.
We packed up our entire apartment. Everything we owned went into boxes and went across the street.
The blocks did not turn up! We searched our new apartment to no avail.
The two of us are positive that we never took them out of the house, we had no reason to. The window ledge they were on was the second floor with no easy access from the outside. Both of us remember that they lived on that ledge.
This was almost 3 years ago, and it still bugs us. What happened to the blocks? Where did they go?

We have been thinking about them again since we bought M wooden blocks for her birthday. It seems like the most logical, Holmes-esque deduction is that someone stole them. But who? And why?? I can't imagine any of our friends stealing them. Plus many of them knew the story of our missing blocks! They had opportunity to bring them back if they took them. How do you walk out of someone's house with an ice cream pail without them noticing?

It's like they fell into the black hole of oblivion. I may not, I almost certainly will not ever find out what happened to them, but it will bug me forever.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Books

It's my favourite time of year for reading! We had a Dickens Party on Friday, complete with Plum Pudding and Smoking Bishop. We read all of A Christmas Carol aloud to each other and it was fantastic. It took about 3 hours to read the entire thing and since the wine was a-flowing, the ghost of Christmas Past was a bit more rollicking then usual. We were all pretty happy to call out "God Bless Us, Everyone" in unison at the end.

I have discovered two books in the past few years that have become my favourite ones to read for Christmas. They are not as commonplace as A Christmas Carol, but both are fantastic. I don't yet own either of them, but I may just have to buy them soon.

The first is Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson.

It's the story of a mouse who climbs the tree and finds a nativity scene. Every night, he drags all the pieces out, including baby Jesus and sleeps in the manger until he hears the story of Christmas told by the family who lives in the house. He has a change of heart and realizes who it is that he's been dragging out of bed each night. It is an unexpected ending to a very sweet book, and one of the few picture books I've found that tells the true meaning of Christmas in a meaningful way.

The other book is The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder.

Gaarder is the author of the fictionalized history of philosophy, Sophie's World and the fantastic twisting, turning tale The Solitaire Mystery. He writes in Norwegian, but most of his books are translated to English. The Christmas Mystery weaves the story of a boy who finds an old wooden advent calendar with the story of a young girl many years earlier. The narrative draws you in and twists and turns. I couldn't put it down. Like Mortimer's Christmas Manger, it manages to tell the true story of Christmas without being explicitly about the Nativity.

If you get a chance to read either of these books this Christmas, I highly recommend them!

Monday, December 5, 2011

One Year Old

Today wee little M is one year  old. I took a monthly photo of her with the same toy, starting at 2 months old.

One month old, without the toy:
Two Months

Three Months

Four Months

Five Months

Six Months

Seven Months

Eight Months

Nine Months

Ten Months

Eleven Months

One Year Old!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Snow Day of the Season

This week, we got winter. I drove home from my Wednesday bible study with barely a few flakes. When I went to bed around midnight, the ground was pretty much bare.
When I woke up at 7am on Thursday morning, this is what I saw:

Over the course of Thursday, almost 30cm of snow fell. The university was closed, so Paul stayed home for the day.

There is something about snow days that makes me want to make them awesome. There are many regular days when I'm at home the majority of the day, but on a day when the snow is so thick that there's not a chance of going anywhere, I want to do fun indoor things.
So, after making a great snowman out of the super-sticky snow:

 We made salt dough ornaments to go on our Christmas tree (going up this Sunday!).
(Eagle-eyed readers may spot the Mario-inspired ornament) 

Salt-dough ornaments are super fun and easy. They turned out better then I thought. G was very excited about them, even when we told her they were not for eating.

(Please excuse my lack of food-photography skills.) 
I made doughnuts for the first time! They were super tasty.  I recently acquired a candy/deep fry thermometer and it made all the difference to this endeavor.

Monday, November 21, 2011

In just 2 weeks, this little girl will be one year old. Can you believe it?

I sure can't!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Many Robins

G: Daddy, you be Batman, I'll be Robin!
Paul: Okay, you're Robin.
G: There are lots of Robins.
Paul: Lots of Robins?
G: You know. There's Robin, Robin Hood and Little Red Robin Hood.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Trip

We took a bit of an impromptu trip last weekend and it was great to get out of the city.We suddenly realized that with a car and no church responsibilities, we were free to go away for weekends if we wanted, so we packed up last Thursday and rented a cabin in Port Blandford for a couple of days, spending one of the days driving up to Bonavista (which is the end of one of the peninsula's of central Newfoundland).

Impromptu trips are fun, but can have their ups and downs.
The cabin was great. It was a cozy little place with 2 bedrooms. We don't own a playpen or anything, so we managed to make a bit of a nest in an open closet for M. It worked perfectly.

I forgot to bring our highchair, but M sat happily on our laps to eat. Parenthood does not have to be about bringing tons of stuff! We managed to bring all the things we needed for the weekend in one suitcase, our backpack diaper bag, a grocery bag and a small cooler. I'm pretty proud of that.

It was an absolutely beautiful drive. No rain, cool, crisp fall weather without being too cold.

One of the major highlights was this amazing playground in Newman's Cove. It had all the fantastic old equipment from our childhood, but the upkeep was great. Teeter-totters, swings, slides... G was in heaven.

Plus the awesome Merry-go-round. They just don't have these anymore. It was a blast. A perfect place to get out of the car and run around.

However, the downs part of "ups and downs" came when we arrived in Bonavista. We stopped for gas and realized that we had left our credit card back in the cabin at Port Blandford, and almost-2 hour drive away. We had already pumped our gas and through a (horrible) comedy of errors*, we didn't have money in our usual bank account. After much back-and-forthing, we finally left them with a license and debit card and a promise that we'd drive back to pay.

*It is quite embarrassing. It was a such an idiot mistake. I transferred money from one account into another in anticipation of our trip and, very stupidly, transferred it OUT of our main account rather then IN. And that amount just happened to be all but $25 of what we already had in our account.

So, despite seeing Bonavista's lovely lighthouse and beaches, it put us in a bit of a bad mood to say the least. We will definitely have to go back when we're all feeling happy (and have cash in our pockets).

Paul made the 4 hour drive there and back the next morning in about 2 and 3/4 hours, with me staying behind and praying that he didn't hit any moose!

In the end despite the frustration, it was fantastic to get out of town and see new parts of this beautiful province. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Five Stages of Wake Up

As I lay in bed this morning, not wanting to get up, I came up with the five stages of (a non-morning person's) wake up. 

Denial - It is not time to get up yet. My clock must be wrong. Is it daylight savings? Why isn't it daylight savings every day?  For parents: Why is that kid up so early? I'm sure if I don't get up, they'll just go back to sleep. If I lay here very quietly, they will know it's still nighttime, even though it's light out.

Bargaining - Just five more minutes. I have to get up when it's an even number on the clock. I have to get up when there's a 0 on the clock. For parents: I got up last time, you get up. I got way less sleep then you, you get up. No, no, remember how I got up two days in a row? Now it's your turn.

Anger - Why aren't you getting up, self? Now you don't have time for a shower/breakfast/getting dressed/warming up the car! For parents: Why is that kid still calling for me? Can't they just get up on their own? I TOLD  you I got up last time! 

Depression - Why did I sleep in so long? What is wrong with me? What's the point of getting up now? It's so late, I might as well just sleep longer...

Acceptance - Okay, that's it. I'm getting up.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back to Writing

If you had asked me as a five year old what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer would have been "a tightrope walker". Quickly, I discovered this was not the most lucrative of careers.
But if you had asked me at eight, I would have responded "an author" or "a writer". That career goal did not change. For the majority of my life, I dreamed of being a writer. I wrote endless stories. From my first picture book "Happy and Easter in: Chester`s Birthday Party" (a self-illustrated book about twin rabbits) to short works of fiction based strongly on the works of Janette Oke, to teenage angst poetry. In university, I was able to take three creative writing classes and, while I strengthened my skills, I also met many others who were skilled at writing as well.
Then, I was discouraged. There were so many other writers who were better then me. I imagined the sheer number of people in the world who were better then me. I loved writing, but my goal of getting published suddenly seemed so very far away.
Discouragement can be a powerful thing. It worked its way into my brain like a spore, slowly growing and growing until I forgot about my childhood dreams. Slowly, I stopped thinking of myself as "a good writer", then even as "a writer" at all. I busied myself with other things, working for the library, having kids, as that spore of "not as good as other people" worked its way through my brain. There was a tiny part that stayed free, a tiny part that thought "maybe someday I`ll get back to that".
Then, we moved here. I started up a new blog, thinking it might give me some practice writing again (and it has), and more recently, there was a theme in both church and bible study about our life's journey.
What is my journey? I always wanted to be a mother, and I am one. But that cannot and will not be my sole identity. For awhile my identity was the library, and it may well be again, but I felt at a loss for what exactly my journey was. Then the tiny part of my brain spoke up "a writer". I remembered the dreams of my childhood, the hours spent handwriting stories on looseleaf.
See, writing's not magical. I know this. You're not really a writer if you don't write. My production is going to be bad at first, but practice will make it better.
So I've vowed to practice.
This month I'm participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a quest to write 50,000 words in the month of November. The words I'm banging out now are not of the highest quality, but what they are to me is a habit, a daily writing habit to remind me that I love to write and it is a part of my journey and a part of my childhood dream. I owe it to that eight-year-old who told everyone she was an author.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How Superman Carves a Pumpkin

Instead of breaking our knives on our incredibly thick-skinned pumpkin, we broke out the power tools.

Monday, October 31, 2011


...And after an unplanned month off of blogging, I am back. 
So, it's Halloween! I always enjoy getting dressed up and getting my kids dressed up. This year has been a superhero year. G chose to be Green Lantern and the rest of the costumes easily fell into place. 

Evildoers, beware!
At the local comic book store - we entered their costume contest.

I've been meaning to make a Batgirl hoodie ever since I saw a pattern online, and this year I finally had the time and energy to do it! Paul was Clark Kent (there is a Superman t-shirt under that white shirt), M was a baby Batman and I made G a Green Lantern costume. 

G had a chance to wear her costume on Friday at Storytime, then again on Saturday for the contest at the comic book store and for a Haunted Hike at the "Boo-tanical" Gardens, again on Sunday for church and now today for Halloween! 
We planned to go trick-or-treating, but the weather is very crummy right now. Windy with a side of rain. So, we'll see how much we actually end up doing. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Tell it Backwards"

Like most three year olds, G loves stories.  If she had her way someone would be either reading her a book or making up a story for her at all times.

And, again like most three year olds, she likes to hear her favourite books over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

But when even she starts to get tired of the repetition, she asks of a little variation on the familiar.  Lately she has a new request.  "Read it backwards." 

When you read "The Little Red Hen" normally it's a story about a hen who finds a grain of wheat and makes it into bread without anybody's help, and then eats the bread also with nobody's help.

But when you read it backwards it's the story of a hen who wakes up and invites all her friends to eat bread for breakfast with her.  They say no thank you, but she likes the bread so much she decides to make another loaf.  Then she sells some flour to the mill in exchange for some grain, and offers the grain to her friends.  They say no thank you again so she ends her day by doing some gardening.

Normally "The Little Engine that Could" is the story of a broken down train that is eventually rescued by a little blue engine who takes them over the mountain.

But when you read it backwards it's the story of a blue engine who abandons her train after bringing it over the mountain.  No other engines will help, until the dolls and toys fix a broken down engine which takes them back home.

And when you read "The Cat in the Hat" backwards it is exactly the same.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Photographer

G has discovered how to use our camera. Out of the hundreds of ones like this:

and this:

There are also some interesting ones from a tiny person's perspective.

And, of course, plenty of her sister:
Her Mommy:

 And herself:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Year on The Rock

So, as of a month ago, we have lived in this wacky island province for a full year. It's hard to believe, but, looking at how much my kids have changed (namely that there are kids instead of kid), it kinda makes sense.

What I have learned this year in Newfoundland:

-it's not a hair barrette, it's a buckle
-the snaps on your shirt are called hapses
-the porch on your house may or may not be called a bridge
-You don't Honk or Beep your horn, you Barmp.
-Pepsi, not Coke
-As someone who doesn't come from Newfoundland, I am a CFA (Come From Away)
-As someone who lives in St. John's, I'm a townie. Everywhere else in Newfoundland is "Around the Bay", and the people from there are called Baymen, regardless of gender.
-I cannot get away with adding b'y to the end of my sentences yet (and I probably never will, since I'm a CFA)
-Jiggs Dinner is delicious, but unhealthy, because of the insane amount of salt
-Quidi Vidi Beer (pronounced Kitty Vitty) is the best beer I've ever had and has turned me into a beer drinker
-Everyone calls you "my love" "my darling" and "my son"(if you're male), even if they've just met you
-The appropriate thing to say about a cute child is "God love 'em." and "She's some sweet"
-Speaking of which, "some" means "very" (eg. It's some windy! It's some hot!")
-What you eat on your fries is dressing (like what you'd stuff a turkey with) and gravy. And it is delicious.

Things I've done in the past year include:
-Whale sightings (both from a boat and from shore)
-Puffin sightings
-Scooping up caplin from the beach - an amazing experience
-Driving up Signal Hill approximately 6,000 times (and never getting sick of it)
-Spending at least 20 afternoons lounging on the rocky Middle Cove beach (and really never getting sick of it)
-One great trip off the Avalon to see the beauty of Terra Nova National Park
-Eating lots of fish and seafood, including several lobsters

In the future, I hope to do more of the same, and see an iceberg and a moose.

It has been an interesting year.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How to Hack your Ergo Carrier into an Impromptu High Chair

I don't usually post stuff like this, but I love sites like parenthacks and getting tips from parenting magazines, so I thought I'd post this hack I came up with when G was small.

I love my Ergo Carrier so very very much. We used it for G for over 2 years, and we use it for M now. We have quite a few carriers (slings, wraps, a mei tai), but Ergo is the one I'd recommend if you were only getting one.
I've had a few times when I've been out with it to eat at a place that didn't have a high chair (or all of them were taken) like, for example, the Costco food court I went to today.
So I figured out a way to strap a sitting-baby to a regular chair just using my ergo.

Step one:
Turn the ergo upside-down, so the waist strap is at the top and the arm straps are at the bottom.

Step Two:
Buckle the waistband at chest height around the baby, then around the back of the chair (obviously, this only works on chairs that have backs). Pull it quite tight, so they are secure. They need to have head control, so this works best for babies from about 6-12mo. 

Step Three:

Put the baby's legs through the sides of the ergo, bringing the shoulder straps back around the chair. Secure them together using the chest clip.

And there you go. Baby is secured to a chair, and you are able to eat your meal without a baby strapped to your chest, grabbing your food. 

Special thanks to my very adorable model. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So...this happened

I wish I could blame this on the kids, but, sadly, it was I who stepped on Paul's laptop in the middle of the night and caused this tear in the space-time continuum. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Life of M

 First off: apologies for the lull. When life gets busy, it gets too busy to post! We've officially been living in NL for a full year. I'm sure I'll post a rundown of all the stuff we've learned soon.

Many of my friends and some of my family haven't met our fabulous little 9 month old, so I thought I'd tell a bit about her.

M is seriously mellow. We thought that G was an easy-going kid, but M is even more so. I don't know if I want to have any more kids, since these two have been so great (especially in the sleeping department). The first 9 months of her life have flown by.

M loves her sister. For bathtime, they start off together, then G gets time on her own to splash and play, and often M will come and watch her, pulling herself up on the side of the tub, a new skill she's been perfecting lately. G looks at her and she looks at G and has this ridiculously cute belly laugh. 

She even puts up with being dressed up. 

M loves food. She eats with gusto and has gone from purees to chunks of food in less then a month. She has loved everything we've given her so far. 

Even a bit of corn on the cob.
She is way more "mouthy" then G ever was. I have to be so careful about what's on my floor, since she eats everything she can get her little hands on! 

M is super-smiley. Anytime I have her out and about in the carrier, she always smiles for strangers. She happily goes from person to person in a group, with a grin for each of them. While G was already a talker by this age, M is a bit more quiet, but always observing with wide eyes.