Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Everyone was right

     I am usually an optimist.  I look at my glass as being half full, the clouds have a silver lining, and rain makes the grass grow.  I 'keep on the sunny side' and try to encourage others to do the same....it's a little more challenging with children though.  If I hear something discouraging I always look for the redeeming aspect of a situation or person.  Some would call this stage a denial of truth, but I prefer being called 'optimistic until proven otherwise.'

    There is a story about a father who had two sons; an optimist and a pessimist.  Both were on the extreme end of their category and the father thought it was time to even them out a little.  He came up with a plan.  He purchased a room full of toys for the pessimist.  Surely with a room full of new toys the boy would be happy for once.  He showed his son the gift room, and to his surprise his son sat down and looked sad.  When he asked what was wrong the boy replied, "I'm so scared to play with them because I might break something."  Failure.  Maybe his second son would learn a lesson.  For the other boy the father, very thoughtfully, gave his son a pile of manure.  Of course this would maybe temper the unrealistic optimism his son had.  The father took his son outside and showed him his gift.  The father watched in shock as the boy ran and jumped in the pile of poop.  "What are you doing??!!!"  the father shouted.  The boy, grinning with all his might replied, "Oh daddy there's just got to be a horse in here somewhere!"

     Obviously I am not nearly that optimistic, but that's an awesome story and I've loved it for years!  Trust me this is going somewhere.

     Gord and I have reached the stage in our house that requires putting on/applying/installing the vapour barrier.  Gord has been telling me for weeks that this is an awful job.  I told him he must be exaggerating because he's never done it before, and he's a bit of a pessimist ;) I started interviewing my friends on this topic.   I chose to talk with my level-headed, and calm friends who I knew would be honest and not turn the molehill into a mountain.  Guess what?  EVERY! SINGLE! FRIEND! told me the same thing, "It's an awful job", "That is the worst part about building", "It's horrible."  By now I was beginning to question their sanity when it really should have been my own optimistic attitude that needed the reality check.

     My friends, it is going to be a long week.  We started last night, and...sigh....EVERYONE WAS RIGHT!!!  Good night, I hope we can power through this!  Daunting, that's my word.  Or, to quote all my children, (insert whiny voice) "This will take forever!"  We probably should have hired this out, but it's too late now and my optimistic self is scrambling to find anything redeeming in this project.  The trick so far is to tell myself to think about the furniture I can buy because we are saving ourselves money.  Let me tell you, last night I was thinking that better be some jolly good furniture!

     Every evening this week will be spent on this job, so don't distract me with offers of coffee or a good visit.  I am bound and determined that we will get this done.  I am sure it will get better as we go along, right?  Either way....I may get taken out for supper by my husband in appreciation for taking me through this.  See, I can't help it, there's my silver lining.

   

Friday, 26 September 2014

I survived!

     I finally took my kids to swimming lessons.  It's amazing how one can put something off for years.  There always seemed to be a good reason.

  1.  the smell of a chlorinated pool makes me nauseous
  2.  I found it hard with babies
  3. the lessons usually came at busy times in life
  4. lack of clothing in a pool
  5.  I dreaded the whole experience. 
    The past few years it's mainly been because of the 5th reason, well that combined with #1 and it just isn't very appealing.  However I finally bit the bullet and signed all mine up.  I was able to get them in morning lessons all at the same time.  Major score there.

     It became very clear very quickly that I have two groups of kids when it comes to water; those afraid of it, and those not.  My oldest and youngest love it, and my middle two like the water, but always on their terms.  The youngest 3 were all in the same class so that was good because they were a little nervous, but they had amazing teachers who quickly saw the fear my one boy has and they were so patient with him.  To be honest, I hardly watched Taylor at all because he was having the time of his life and didn't seem to need me there.

    I can say we had a successful 6 days of swimming.  Let me stop right there.  I live out of town and I homeschool.  I don't leave my house THAT often and do not seem to have the mental stamina to do so.  I am exhausted and would like a long nap.  We had 6 lessons in 8 days and it involves driving clear across the other end of Grande Prairie.  There are no 'quick' routes or shortcuts.  Driving in GP is never fun at the best of times so I feel like I have survived.  Hats off to you ambitious people who leave your house every. single. day.  I have no desire to imitate you, but I commend you.

    The days took their toll on my children though, especially my Wyatt.  One particular afternoon he was such a bear that a long nap was in order.  I was tucking him into bed and he was crying.  Through the tears he mumbled "I'm tired of living in this awful family."  Um, what??  He repeated himself, and then I said, WHAT???!!!  I have never had any of my kids say anything remotely close to that, not even to each other.  But remember the kid that keeps you humble, well that would be my Wyatt.  I was a little shocked, and sad that those were his thoughts.  I did keep in mind that he wasn't happy with the discipline he received or that he had to have a nap, and he was so very tired.  But, how did he come up with that?  I was trying to pinpoint where this attitude was coming from.  In my mind once I understand where something comes from, I feel better about it.  All I could come up with in this case is, it's the sinful nature.  Sin isn't taught, it's inborn.  Sure we pick up habits and sometimes we learn new things from others, but sin is natural.  And Wyatt spoke what was in his heart and that made me sad.  He doesn't understand the true meaning of what he spoke,  but as a parent it's one of my jobs to correct those ideas or misconceptions.  Thankfully his tune was much changed after the needed sleep.

     I am thankful we all made it though the week safely and I feel a renewed need to daily encourage each of my children.  It was hard to watch my one child shake with fear at the thought of going under water, but he made it.  Likewise, I don't want to cripple my kids in their ability to trust God when they are afraid, rather I am their cheerleader and encourager.  I am a proud momma this week....even of my cheeky boy :)

   

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The cat flew

     I was visiting with a few friends last night, and our discussion ended up drifting towards our children's behaviour.  Somehow the topic of kids throwing tantrums in grocery stores came up.  I can honestly say that I have never had to deal with this problem, other issues for sure, but I was glad/proud/thankful that I  missed that boat.  UNTIL, we ladies saw an object go flying past the living room window.  When we realized what it was that had taken flight, my shock gave way to horror.  My 5 year old had done the throwing and was preparing himself to launch yet another CAT.  I waited for a few seconds because I thought that surely my eyes had been mistaken.  Those few seconds took a life off of the next cat I'm sure.  My son picked up a fully grown cat and threw it in the air as hard as he could.  Now,  I admit, the ladies in the house (myself included) were laughing.  Please don't think we are so immature, but it was such an unexpected thing to see happen that we couldn't help it.  I called my boy in, laughing, and had to hide my face when I talked to him.  Believe me, we don't condone the mistreatment of animals, but again, it was rather unexpected.  I told him we saw what he had done, and his response was "You weren't supposed to see that."  Sigh.  Things got a little more serious after that and tears did come.

     It's official, my youngest is pulling stuff that the others have never tried.  He is his own person, not a shadow of his siblings.  He makes me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.  He's always had a twinkle in his eyes, and the look of trouble about him.  And yesterday he created a memory for me that I will probably laugh about for years to come.  At the same time being aware that discipline and training is crucial to his soul...and the lives of the cats around him.

     **update on the flying cats...both landed on their feet and are in good health



Saturday, 20 September 2014

There are days....


  • There are days when my head and heart are so full of useless worries that I want to shut my eyes and wish it all away
  • There are days that the monotonous daily chores of life become bigger in my mind than they really are
  • There are days (many) when I would like to move my sisters to within arms reach
  • There are days I do not see the beauty in having my children around me 26 hours of the day
  • There are days when I forget about the luxuries I live with daily.  A washer, dryer, dishwasher, and my best friend, the vacuum
  • There are days I wish all the liquor stores would burn down
  • There are days when I have to ask my children to forgive me, multiple times
  • There are days when I wish for an easy smile to be on my face
  • There are days I am so frustrated with the incompetence or insensitivity of people
  • There are days I wish I were wiser, without being older :)
  • There are days I wish I would finish everything I started, and that all my cupboards were perfectly organized
  • There are days I wish I were Mary Poppins.  I would love to snap my fingers and have everything on my 'to do' list, done.
  • There are days when I wish being patient would come naturally
  • There are days I wish I could do over again

    I wonder, when did my 'happy-go-lucky' attitude go away?  Maybe it was just a child's ignorance instead of real joy.  I wish for those days when being ignorant was an easy option.  Part of me hurts when I see how my own children are so ignorant of the world we live in.  They sleep peacefully at night, with a full belly in a warm and cozy home.  They do not worry about their food, clothing, or what they will eat.  It's interesting how God commands us to be like the little children who don't have those worries.   Part of it I know, is that they do not see the world for what it is.  They are aware of suffering but they don't see it daily.  I am very thankful for the home we can give them, for God has been generous to me in the husband he has provided.  But how do you become thankful for something you've always had?  How do I teach my children to be thankful when, as you can see on the above list, I seem to be having my own struggle being thankful for everything in my path.

    It seems to be a fine line between exposing my children to what the world really is and keeping them from the unnecessary knowledge of evil .   I confess, when I see an attitude of selfishness, part of me (the un-refined part) wants to show them how ugly and evil this world is.  And then I am tempted to tell them how some children do not live in a peaceful home.  I want to tell them of fear and what that does to a child.  But that isn't the right way to do it is it?

    One day I will share my story with my children.  Until then, it is unfair of me to expect them to appreciate the childhood they've been given.  Not that we aren't making our fair share of mistakes.  I want them to know where our families have come from, and what they've been through.  God always reminded the Israelites of their past so they could see how great His love and mercy was.  The same can be said of my family.  

     The simple truth is that God is good, even on 'those' days when I am not.  Unlike me He remains stedfast even in a storm, whereas I tend to be like Peter on the sea.  The storm brewing around me tempts me to take my eyes off of Jesus instead of clinging to Him more.  I wish I could be joyful in every circumstance of life, but I'm not perfect yet.  God keeps providing me with opportunities though, and I really should be taking advantage of them.   I have found it important to vocalize, even on the hardest days, that God is good!  The day may have been hard but at the end, He is good.  When I have failed as a mother, He is good.  When I am unsure of the future, He is good.   I am so thankful that at the end of a very long week, I can rest in His goodness.
     


 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hair today, gone tomorrow

     For 9 years I have watched Chloe's hair grow...and grow...and grow.  She was born with a head full of dark hair that turned curly, and I loved it.  I had to start putting little pigtails in her hair at about 6 months.  And her hair was either cute, or crazy.  Gord usually thought it was crazy.  I remember one Sunday morning in church Chloe was a little fussy, she was 1 or so.  Gord took her to the back and when he left she had two perfect little pigtails on the top of her head, notice I mentioned the exact location of the pigtails.  When he came back, 1 had stayed where I placed it.  The other must have come out and Gord tried to fix it.  I tried so hard not to laugh because it was NOT on top of her head, but at the bottom and way out to the side.  I would have taken a picture if I could have, and framed it. Obviously Gord does not 'do' hair.  He's had a few close calls though, including the time he took a trip with Chloe and Taylor to see his parents.  I was 8 months pregnant with Wyatt and did not feel like going anywhere, but I was excited at the prospect of two quiet days with Nathan.  I asked Gord how he managed on Sunday morning, and as I suspected, he conned one of his sisters to deal with Chloe.

     As much as he has commented on her hair and the state of it (lately it's wild) he really does like the long hair on her, and it's a guy thing anyway.  I do too, besides I have 3 boys, and I like the fact that I can do something pretty with one of my child's hair.  So when I mentioned to Gord about cutting her hair he was a little...hesitant.  And then I asked him how much fun he had when he combed her hair, after a wash, when I was away.  "Not much" was his reply.  So after much thought, we decided to go for it.  Chloe was thrilled, as she really can't be bothered to look after her hair these days.  She lets the kittens play with it, loves having it open (hello knots),  and hates combing it or having me play with it.  She's old enough to manage her own hair, but she really just has too much to do it on her own.

     Yesterday Chloe and I met my sister Mitch (aka Maria), and her daughter Courtney in town.  My niece had a birthday yesterday so we've started a new tradition, dinner in town with the girls to celebrate their birthdays.  But as it turned out, both girls were ready to have their hair cut so Mitch found a place for the girls and while their hair was getting chopped, we solved the world's problems...or at least talked about our own.  I did notice that the young lady doing Chloe's hair seemed a little overwhelmed.  I felt bad for her when she started combing it after the washing...it takes a long time, even with leave-in-conditioner.  I finally went and helped her.  Chloe is donating her hair to the Cancer Society so we took off 10 inches, which to me doesn't sound like it's that much, but what  a difference it makes on Chloe!

Sunday morning 

 Courtney & Chloe



    Her reaction to the hair loss is far better than a man's :) "I feel so light-headed" or "Taylor watch my hair move when I run".  She loves it and it took all of 5 seconds to do a comb-out this morning.  So it's safe to say that it is a success.  She looks older, I was wondering if that would happen.  And as she walked past me this morning I got a good look at her back...it's very long.  I miss my little girl, but 10 years from now I will miss the girl that I have right now....so I guess I will just take what I can get.  This morning it's a 'stress-free hair' kind of morning.

   

   


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Joy in chaos

   Now that my months are limited in the shop, I find I have to work with my attitude of contentment..and joy.  You'd think I would be bouncing with joy over the house going up and that should keep me going.  Instead, I feel like the walls of the shop are closing in on me.  I'm a little edgy about everything it seems.  The corners, and I only have a few of those, seem to be filling up with stuff, and the never-ending dust everywhere is getting on my nerves.  I am one of those people who is always much more at peace when my surroundings are peaceful.  And yet, as a Believer I am to find peace within the chaos (not because of it), and joy.  It's a fine line for me.  I love having a kept, tidy, and organized home.  And everyone who knows me well can stop laughing now....I know you've seen the state of my bedroom!  Everyone needs a drop zone, and since the shop space is so limited, our bedroom seems to hold that title.  Bleh.

    I was looking at a catalogue of organizers a few years ago with one of my sisters.  I was oohing and aaahing over how amazing all the compartments looked.  My sister thought I had lost my mind.  Obviously that wasn't on her wish list!  But on a serious note, what does that tell you about me?  It's slightly concerning, I think, to drool over organized sock drawers and spice cupboards.  Being in the shop has not helped in my craving for tidiness, in fact I think it's feeding the need for everything to have a place PERMANENTLY.  As in, "Kids don't touch the books!  They aren't for reading, but rather to enjoy looking at their spines as they sit in their orderly places."  Or "Who has dared to sit upon my nicely fluffed couch cushions that I JUST had to shove back onto the couch?"  (note to self, never ever ever buy a sofa with detached cushions)  So when I get into one of my moods, I am obviously struggling with a greater issue than an unorganized mess in my home.  I know it stems from chaos in my heart...sigh.

    It's really no one's fault but mine.   I know it is completely possible to go through the motions of Bible reading and prayer without really being filled, and yet I crave to be filled by Him.  Love, joy and peace are the result of quality time with God, so if I am feeling a lack of any of those....well, I know what the remedy is.   The season that Gord and I have chosen to be in (so don't feel sorry for us) is one of intense busyness and frustration.  My mind is easily occupied with 'house' issues, instead of the 'heart' issues.  It's trying when it comes to time management or keeping the home running smoothly.  I am Gord's right hand woman when it comes to picking things up for him because the stores are always closed before he gets there.  I deal with long lines, phone calls for price checks, quotes, and hauling things with a truck that make me slightly nervous.  This week it was doors and gas lines. I had a fear of the straps coming loose and doors sliding onto the highway.  Well, the straps DID come loose, and thankfully I noticed.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of hauling a massive gas line where it hung well over both sides of the pick-up, as well as the back end.  I made it home safe and sound....Gord was smiling.

    On one of those trips home I was quietly contemplating that this is what a 'helpmeet' CAN look like.  It's different I'm sure for everyone, but this is what it looks like for us.  God did not call me to be the leader, but the helper.  And Gord is not my helper, rather my leader.   I cannot see Gord stepping into my world the way I do into his, but that wasn't really God's plan either was it?  It is impossible for me to expect Gord to go do all my shopping for food, socks, and underwear for the kids...although I would like to see it, just once.  It's just not going to happen if life continues as it has been.  Likewise, I may do what I can to help him, but it is not my responsibility to provide income for our family.  Yes there are times when we our lives are turned upside-down and we have to crossover into areas not usually within our realm.  I think of mothers who have to fill the role of fathers, or vice versa.  Or the mother has to go out and support the family due to illness or death.  But in OUR world, as it is now, I do cross over into Gord's world more than he does into mine.  Guess what, it's perfectly okay.  I enjoy being able to help him when he needs it.  I enjoy learning new things so that I understand what he's talking about.  I do feel like a partner, not just a wife.  That's how it works here, however each home/marriage is so very different.  Which is why it's never wise to look at others. The truth is that God will lead YOU where He wants you, and He gives the tools to do what He's called you to do.

    I am pretty sure my kids would rather have a messy house than a grumpy mother.  I know they will remember one more than the other, and I don't want it to be the latter.  Over the next few months the chaos will continue and most likely get worse.  And I will do my best to remember that it's for a season, and it's not really the end that matters, but how we got there.

   

 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Friendship

   I love my friends, and I'm not just talking about those that have to be your friends (aka sisters), but those that simply choose to be your friends.  If I think about all the friends in my life it's kind of amazing.  The longer we live the richer our lives become because of friends.  Looking at my circle of friends now I should probably clarify a few things.  I have friends that I see only once a year, if that.  Some I see a few times a year, and some I see once a month or so.  Distance does not hinder true friendships.

   I was born and raised in BC so when I moved to Alberta in my early 20's, I left my world and stepped into my husband's world.  It's so different to make friends when you move to a new environment.  Everything changes, especially when you move from a beautiful, tiny city with clear lakes and mountains everywhere, to a small town with farmland all around you and days so long it's hard to go to bed.  I loved the move and although it was all new to me (cannot believe how much the weather was discussed) I quickly felt at home.   I made new friends from work, and automatically was introduced to a whole new group of people because they would become my in-laws.  I loved having family friends, but it was also important to me to have friends of my own and work helped with that.  It's very easy to limit one's friendships to family if you are surrounded by them, but I saw blessings that friends outside that boundary could bring.  

   The beauty of having different friends in different places is something I am only now discovering.  Some friends link me to my past; they are deep-rooted.  Others are relatively new yet they are just as meaningful, possibly because they only know me and not my family.  They know the person I am now, not the person that I was at 15 and that has value of it's own.

  Each friend brings something different to a relationship.  I am not of the mindset that all my friends should know everything about me...it's not always necessary.   Likewise my expectation for each friend changes as well.  I have a friend that will take my children at a moments notice if necessary and it won't stress her out one bit, whereas another friend may be my 'go to' person to bounce ideas off .   I have friends who let me cry on their shoulder.  However,  God alone is the only one that knows everything about me...and He is the one who should be all things to me.  Yet in His mercy He provides friends that refine me, encourage me, challenge me, and sometimes question me or my motives.  Yet, it is wrong to expect this of any one person here on earth, not even my husband.  Christ alone fills that void, but to have a physical person to talk to and drink coffee with is a blessing indeed!

  Age is also a blessing in friendships.  I am friends with a lady that I would consider to by my 'mentor', and she is not only older but a grandma as well.  She has been in so many different situations and has come through them  willing to share her experiences and mistakes with me.  That is so encouraging!  Friends my own age are often  dealing with the same dilemmas that I am and it's always good to know that I am not alone, and, I am not crazy.  And we will all have a younger friend/s at some point and that's also a blessing.  It can be challenging to watch them make the same mistakes that I made, but then realizing that God now gives me the same opportunity to encourage another person along the way.   One big bonus to having younger friends is that their children are usually far younger than your own, and I love have little one's around again.   It's good for my children to be around toddlers and babies and teach them to watch out for others. It's far to easy to be a 'taker' in life, but it is most likely that God puts people in your path so that we are taught to give beyond what we thought possible.

    Gone are the days of 'Best Friends'.  For me I now have 'Great Friends', and I like that it's not exclusive.  It leaves my mind open to meeting new people and making new friends, and with them comes an abundance of new experiences and knowledge that I can learn from.   So to all friends from my past, present, and future, thank-you!  May God bless you today so you can continue blessing those around you.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

House update

     Last night we FINALLY decided our house colour.  This has been the one thing that we have hummed and hawed over.  Just when we thought we had it planned then something  changed our minds, and we're usually not that fickle.  If you count building a shop (and we are living in it so that makes it a house right?), we are on our third build.  So far we have gone with the same siding colour every time.  You could call us boring, OR, reliable.   Maybe that's the same thing.  Anyway, since I am not one for change I was fine doing the same colour again, but Gord didn't mind doing something different.  And the only colour we could agree on was green.

     I am not a trendy person, and I would rather not pick something overtly trendy if it means I am going to regret  it after 5 years.  And house colours are trendy!  There are also classic colours.  They never have the 'Wow' factor, but the colours never really age or look terrible.  Everytime we looked at the varieties of green they were too dark, too light, or we (me) saw something I just didn't like.  I didn't say too much in the beginning, but the longer Gord was undecided the more nervous it made me, so I finally told him my preference.  I'm not sure if he's relieved yet, but it didn't take much persuasion either.

     The funny thing is Gord really likes our current siding, he just wanted to do something different, which I understand.  But we were thinking maybe this isn't the place to be different.  Green IS a beautiful colour, but we are surrounded by it.  Gord deliberately cut the house plot out to be close to all the Spruce trees on our property.  So maybe green on green isn't the best idea.  And now you know  that our colour will be....boring.  Canyon Clay, if that helps ;) But, with plenty of stark white trim and windows to offset the clay colour.  Also, now I can go really dark on our front door and our decks.  It will work, I know it will.  I will also be completely content with it, which I can't really say about the green.  Maybe I would,  if I took a chance, but that's really not my style.  The best part is we can save a few thousand by going with the neutral colour....and I have plans for that money :) Remember the state of my furniture?

     We are both relieved with the final decision, and can now move on.  Our shingles are going on as I write, and Gord and I will start prepping our basement today if possible.  By next week we should be to lock-up which is great because I hear that's when the bank give you another draw.  I also get to see if I've made the right decision on exterior doors.  Gord was so laid back about what I picked that it makes me nervous.  My kitchen is ordered, wood stove chimney is prepped thanks to Gord, and we are hoping to finalize flooring soon.  Things are moving along, even though it feels a little slow some days.  It's wonderful to be on site and watch each change take place.  It's also overwhelming if we look at the list of things that have to happen in order to finish our house.   I suppose that's like anything else in life, so one day at a time it is....with prayer and coffee.