Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Immanuel - God With Us

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm alone in the house while the rest of the family has gone to the evening church service.  Nathan has a bad cold and wasn't going to make it through the 45 minutes that started past his usual bedtime, so I elected to stay behind so I could have a shower and some peace amid the bussle that is the holiday season.

I know it has been quite some time since I've posted.  I figure that could say a couple of things.  I'm probably very busy...maybe even too busy.  Which is definitely true.  Getting Reuben out the door for the bus by 8:00 every morning definitely makes morning blogging impossible, and by the time the kids are in bed at the end of the night, I'm just ready to crash on the couch.  Or maybe my brain is in one of those dim places where I don't even think in blog posts any more; the inspiration to write is dulled out by busyness and life.  My hiatus from blogging is probably for both those reasons.

But today?  Why the post?  I have a few moments of rest.  True rest where I've told myself I'm not doing anything work related until after Christmas (maybe even after New Year's...)  I don't have any deadlines looming over my head.  The house is completely silent, and I don't have anything on TV distracting me.  It's amazing how my brain can suddenly kick in when there is quiet.

Christmas is my favourite time of year.  I love the time spent with family, the fun of decorating the house, the yummy goodies that get baked and shared, and I love that I have a reason to celebrate, a real reason, that this Jesus I love came down to earth, and we get to remember that in this special time of year.  I was reminded a few weeks ago while driving to work how He is called Immanuel - God With Us.  And it was like I had a little light go on and I felt the true meaning of how important and wonderous it is that God came down to earth in the form of a baby, this baby, Jesus, to be God With Us.

It feels me with joy to know He is with me.  He reminds me that He has loved me with an everlasting love, and His love keeps me going, through the busyness and the hard days, and through the quiet and the good days.  May you, dear faithful readers, remember His love and the reason we celebrate Christmas.  He is with us.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Not much to say

In some strange fluke, it's 6:30 and Nathan is still sleeping.  Of course, there's also a thunderstorm so Reuben had me up bright and early, and I'm not taking advantage of any extra sleeping time.  If I'd known he was going to sleep so long, I'd have hopped in the shower, but one of Murphy's Laws of Parenting states that the baby will always wake up once Mommy is in the shower with shampoo in her hair.  I didn't want to risk it.

So I figured I'd throw a quick blog post out there.  I wish I had something a bit more inspirational to say, but it's been a rough week since Nathan spiked a fever last weekend that went for three days and has developed into a nasty cough/runny nose.  He's been miserable and clingy, and it's been difficult to get anything done, which presents a challenge because we're having Reuben's birthday party with his friends today, and by Friday the house was a disaster.  Things are mostly back under control at this point, except for the basement, which I'm hoping to get to later this morning before the boys show up.

Sorry it's not more exciting, but anyway, it is what it is.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Counting Gifts: Week.....???

So clearly, I have not been very disciplined in my posting about counting 1000 gifts.  I confess I have been equally undisciplined in actually counting the gifts and doing the daily readings in the journal to go along with.  I've let fatigue be my excuse to let myself get ho-hum about going through life.

I need to stop making excuses.

So I'm renewing my commitment to the goal to count 1000 ways God shows His grace to me, 1000 little ways and big ways throughout my day that He sends me His love, gifts that are brand-new and gifts that have been here the whole time but are new every morning.  I'm praying He opens my eyes to see them and that I can keep up the momentum to do this each and every day.

...and I think I had more to say, but I got interrupted by waking up children, and now it's time to get the morning before-school routine going.  Here we go, counting gifts along the way...

Saturday, September 14, 2013


The sky is clear, and it looks like it should be a beautiful day today.  But I know the truth - it's cold.  I had to add an extra blanket to my bed last night, and no, I didn't have the window open.  I am not like all the people out there who love Fall.  I hate to be cold.

Motivation is hard to come by lately, as evidenced by my lack of posting.  I'm still working on finding a good routine with the kids in school, and while I'm enjoying the quieter days, I've never handled change well.  It's funny how as much as sometimes we long for change and get excited by it, the reality of adjustment is often harder than we want it to be.

Counting 1000 gifts is going slower than I expected.  I'm really just not good at remembering to think about looking for graces God gives me throughout the day.  I thought it would help to leave the journal out where I can see it, but I've become too good at ignoring where it sits by the microwave.  This is something I need to work on, and I have a sneaky suspicion if I can figure out how to get this habit going better, it might help out with that whole lack of motivation thing.

Nathan keeps me on my toes.  He's a climber in a way that the other kids never were.  He's gone from climbing on kitchen chairs, to climbing from there to the table, to getting stuck on the chairs when he climbs on them when they're pushed under the table, to figuring out how to pull the chairs out so now he can climb up whenever he wants, and he climbs up on the office desk, and he climbs on the table in the living room that we've been using to block his access to the entertainment unit, so now he has access to the DVDs and everything else on the upper shelves of that piece of furniture -- I throw my hands up in frustration!  And I am really not looking forward to when he figures out how to climb up on the couches...although he might not get into quite as much trouble up there...

Anyway, that's all of that.  I'm still here, still plugging along, and one of these days I'll get more motivated to post more frequently...

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Changes and trusting

My little girl got on the bus yesterday for her first day of school.  I thought sending the first one off was supposed to be the emotional experience, but I feel like this year's been harder than last.  Don't get me wrong - I have to be completely honest and say that part of me has been really looking forward to the kids going to school.  I'm getting really tired of them always complaining that they're bored.

But then it hits me how much of a change this is.  How I'm going from three kids home all the time down to just one.  How I'm not going to be as much of an influence in my kids' lives anymore - especially Reuben going every day to grade 1 now.  How I have to learn to trust God more than ever as I let these pieces of my heart walk out that door into the wide unknown - a wide unknown that has such potential to cause great hurt.

It's hard not to worry about what might happen to them when I'm not there to make sure they'll be safe.  I have to put them in His hands and rest knowing that He'll carry them through the joys and the hurts.  All part of this thing called "parenting"...

(Side note: I had more thoughts, but my brains has suddenly shut off and the children are getting restless ie. Nathan wants breakfast, so that's it for now...)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Five more sleeps till school starts

I've been meaning to sit down and get a post out for a couple of days now -- I missed my Monday "Counting Gifts" post again, but Tim let me sleep in that day, so I have a good excuse.  I'll probably just keep this short because I'm not feeling particularly inspired to say anything specific and my brain hasn't quite kicked in from the coffee.

I'm tired.  I know I say it a lot.  I hate that it seems to have taken over my life, this tiredness.  And in this learning to say "all is grace", I have yet to determine how being so constantly fatigued is a grace.  If there's a lesson here, I'm too tired to see it.

I have to get back to a better morning routine yet again.  No, I haven't gone back to my Candy Crush addiction.  I've actually done quite well with that.  But I haven't been as consistent with my blog reading and writing and starting the day trying to focus on Him.  More often than not, I end up on Facebook or some other website and fiddling around until I realize the kids are hungry for breakfast, and I've wasted my morning time.

So, time once again to fix my habits.  The never-ending battle...

(And for the record, the title of this post really has nothing to do with the post.  I just couldn't think of any other title that worked.)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hearing Him

I think today might actually end up being one of those short snippet posts I keep saying I'm going to start writing.  I feel a bit obligated to post because I haven't done as much lately, which I know is a silly reason to post, but there it is.  We take our motivation where we can get it.

Have you ever heard God speaking to you?  I mean, more than just a sense of His presence or a general leading in a certain direction?

Last night on my way to work, I was coming around the curve at the top of the Red Hill Parkway, and I don't know if it was the music I was listening to or the way the sun angled through my windshield, but I suddenly and very clearly heard Him say to me, "I love you.  You are mine."  It wasn't audible, but it sure was clear.  It was one of those goose-pimply moments where I felt so close to Him, a closeness I haven't felt in some time because sometimes you're just in one of those seasons where you're walking more by faith than by sight.

It's in those seasons when the brief moments where you walk by sight are that much sweeter and more precious.  So today, facing another day of caring for the kids by myself after Nathan got me up for the day at 4:30, I'm remembering His words, that moment from last night.  He loves me.  I am His.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The day begins...

Morning starts a brand new day, and I am woken by a small son and a bigger son, and we go downstairs.  My coffee flows down, liquid warmth, and slowly my brain begins to function.  This morning I find myself thinking random phrases, putting into unending run-on sentences a description of what goes on around me. 

I slice peaches and bananas to feed these hungry few, and I think about the hungry many that I read about on the Internet.  The TV plays in the background as my hands get covered in slimy mess - peaches are hard to cut when they've been peeled - and I peek out the window to see two small birds hopping around on the grass outside under the birch tree.  A gift?

Interruptions are a constant part of the every day.  Children are hungry, bored, tired, just need a cuddle.  I pick up this small one, now finished his breakfast, and we walk to the toy room.  He leans his head on my shoulder, and we look out the window to the backyard together.  He loves to look outside, and the wonder on his face as he sees God's creation melts my hearts.  "Paaa," he whispers, because that's his answer to everything.  I leave him standing at the door as I try to come back and put the words onto paper that fill my head with a constant flowing stream.

I stir the oatmeal.  I notice that the clock on the stove reads exactly 7:00 as I wonder how it's possible to feel so extremely lonely while at the same time just wanting to run away from it all and become a hermit.

Life is hard, and the encouragement from those around and those online helps, but there is still this day to day living and the plodding on one day, one step, one moment at a time.

I watch this little one as he plays with a ball, pick it up, put it down, watch it roll away and chase after it.  His smile and curiosity brings such joy...

I reach for the forgotten oatmeal, not quite yet burned, but definitely done, and I find myself noticing how this allowing myself to think in sentences helps to find the grace in the small things.  It slows my brain to think with words instead of feelings and reactions, and it becomes easier to live in the moment because life suddenly isn't an emergency, but this naming of it all...yes...that is what this is, and Ann speaks of it in the "One Thousand Gifts Devotional", page 57, how naming gives identity and meaning and solves mysteries.

I wish I could say this is easy to keep doing.  But the truth is that to keep my braining running on like this is also tiring, and I have limited stores of energy in my sleep deprived state.  So for this morning, I enjoy these brief moments of higher functioning.  Too soon, the children spill from the living room to the kitchen, words running cacophony, jumbled, drowning out whatever thoughts still percolate, and I'm back to reacting, providing for needs, one moment at a time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Seeing gifts while camping

I know I missed my Monday update for counting gifts this week.  You'll have to forgive me.  We went camping from last week Friday through till Wednesday, and I deliberately left my laptop at home so I couldn't even blog if I wanted to.  Our trip was as relaxing as camping with a one-year-old can be, but I was pretty ready to come home when we did.  The waves on Lake Huron were ridiculous this year - only one day where it was actually calm, and the ensuing noise from the surf started to drive me batty and made sleeping difficult.

It was interesting, though, how much easier it was to find gifts from God while surrounded by His creation.  Along with this, life slows down significantly while you're camping, and it was that much easier to breathe deeply and take the time to really see what was going on around me, not to mention I love all the smells that go along with camping, so half the time I was breathing deeply just to enjoy the fantastic scents filling the air.

Another lesson occurred to me that needs to come out of this journey of 1000 gifts - connecting those gifts with their source, and seeing God's love for me through the graces He gives, and being thankful to Him, not just being thankful to be thankful, but actually being thankful to the One who gives the gifts.

There is so much to learn!  Sometimes I feel like it will take a lifetime to learn everything I need to.  And maybe another lesson there is that I don't need to learn it all at once, to go slow and pick one lesson at a time.

So for now, I continue to focus on seeing the graces around me as gifts.  Maybe once I get that down, I can work harder on being truly thankful to the One who gives them to me and recognizing His love through them.

Some highlights from this week's list:
- shooting stars
- sand under my feet
- a seagull
- a ladybug
- the many smells of camping
- splashing running into the lake
- a little boy, breathing
- fresh cucumbers

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

After a particularly rough night

After a particularly rough night with Nathan (up at 1:30am...for some reason I thought it was 4:30 and I got prematurely excited until I came back to bed and saw the clock for real...and then he proceeded to be awake till after 3), my morning devotional speaks of trust.  Trusting God as being the source of joy and something we must do to combat anxiety.  Ann quotes Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

And she points out how God has already given us the greatest gift, his Son Jesus, and if He gives us this amazing and wondrous gift, how can there be anything He would withhold from us?  "How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right?" (One Thousand Gifts Devotional, p.34)  He is worthy of our trust because He has already given us the greatest of all gifts.

I'm struggling with this today.  If He truly gives us all the things we need, why on earth am I not getting enough sleep??


I allowed myself a long tangent of mindless ramblings that ended up spiraling out of control into some pretty deep cynicism.  So I stepped away from the laptop for a moment and walked out onto the back deck with Nathan.  The fresh air reminds me to breathe deep and clear my head, and I come back and delete what I wrote because I didn't like it, and most of it didn't make much sense anyways.

The long and short of it is that today is a hard day.  And I know I still need to choose joy and choose to see the gifts, but it is so hard when I'm just trying to function through this fog of sleep deprivation, and the struggle to trust God's goodness and His grace is following close behind.  One step at a time, just doing the next thing... 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Choosing to see the gifts

I found myself contemplating my search for graces a bit more yesterday.  An interesting thought occurred to me that I think is a bit of a breakthrough in the whole thing.  You remember how I talked yesterday about how I'm not good at recognizing God's gifts around me?  Yeah, well, I've realized a bit just how terrible I am at recognizing those gifts. 

That phrase, "all is grace", if all is truly grace, then every single little tiny thing about this life is a gift from God.  Every.Single.Thing.  It shouldn't be so hard for me to find God's gifts because they literally are all around me, surrounding me constantly.

The issue isn't that I have to wait for God's gifts to come for me to see them, as if He only gives them out one at a time like when you receive presents at Christmas or on your birthday.  His gifts are continuous, they're already here, they're everywhere, and we don't have to wait for them.

So the problem is with me.  If I'm not recognizing God's gifts, I need to change my perspective.  If I'm not seeing grace, it's not because grace isn't there.  Grace is always there because all is grace, and I need to choose to see it.

That's the key.  Seeing the gifts is a choice.  I can choose to recognize something as a gift, or I can choose to see it as an inconvenience, or an annoyance, or I can just ignore it completely.

It's my heart that needs to change, and I need to choose to be thankful.  And in choosing thanks, I also choose joy.

Don't get me wrong.  This is no simple thing.  I get that.  Just because something is a choice doesn't mean it is an easy choice.  Maybe it should be.  Sometimes I wish it would be.  But life brings challenges.  The day to day wears us down, and we are tired, and we struggle with depression, and I have been there, and I am there, and choosing joy and choosing to be thankful is hard.

But maybe my realizing that seeing the gifts is a choice will make it easier for me to see them.  Because the gifts are here, the grace is here.  I must choose to see it that way.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Counting Gifts Week 1

It's been one week of counting graces.  I didn't quite get three a day, but each day did at least have one.  As I said to Dad in an email earlier this week, I've discovered two challenges.  One, I'm not very good at recognizing the gifts of God in the little day to day things around me yet.  Granted, we've just started on this journey of 1,000 gifts; clearly, I have a long way to go, and isn't the point of it to get better at it as we go? 

The second challenge is that I'm not good at remembering to even keep my eyes open to look for graces to begin with.  I've gotten so used to just plodding through the day, getting from one task to the next, struggling just to find the energy to keep going, that I often forget to engage in the world around me and notice the good things with which God has gifted me.  Can I blame sleep deprivation for a bit of that?  Nathan's had some up and down nights lately.  It is a continuing struggle not to get angry at God about it - childish and silly of me probably, but when it's 4am, and you just want the baby to go back to sleep without needing me to stand there till morning, and my brain stops thinking rationally and my soul just cries out to God, "How long?  Will you forget me forever?"

I digress.

So, obviously, I need to practice this practice of being thankful for big and small gifts, of praising God throughout the day, and maybe even in those dark hours of the night.  And really, calling it a "practice" is so right - something we need to do over and over to work at getting better at it.  It's my goal to get better at it enough that I will start to see the gifts around me as they happen and be thankful to God for His grace in the moment, instead of needing to look back at the end of the day to count His blessings.  Which is not a bad way to do it and is kind of how things are at this point, and certainly, I probably won't end up writing them down until I finally get a chance to sit down and have some peace.  But I want to be better at being thankful here and now, when life gets messy and loud, and to learn things like being thankful for two, healthy rambunctious boys instead of being aggravated at the noise and interruptions.

Here's a sampling of some of the gifts I found this week.

- Nathan sleeping till 4:40am
- a hawk soaring in the sky
- enjoying a walk together as a family
- a foot rub
- rain on the roof
- a morning dove calling outside my window
- Reuben's spontaneous laugh
- brushing Kaylee's hair
- catching up with a friend

How about you?  If you've decided to join us in the counting of 1,000 gifts, let us know how your week went by commenting below.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Venting about the floor vent

After almost three years of living in our house, I have determined that the people who lived here before us were, for lack of a better word, idiots. 

Okay, that's not kind and maybe a bit harsh.  They probably weren't actually idiots.  But they sure were challenged when it came to "do it yourself" fix-it projects around the house.  They might not have been idiots, but they should definitely have learned somewhere along the line that maybe it would have been a better idea for them to call someone to help them with various renovations that they tried to do before they put this house up for sale.

Case in point: you see that hole in the middle of the floor?  That's a furnace vent.  In the middle of the floor.  First of all, I'm pretty sure that at some point, they decided to widen the doorway between the kitchen and dining room to give a more open concept feel.  Which I'm not really opposed to, and in general, it does work for our house, and I'm glad of the extra space.  However, it means we have a furnace vent in the middle of the space between the dining room and kitchen.

The second problem: see how the vent and the vent cover thingy are lying on the floor next to the hole?  Yeah, well, somewhere in the process of either making the hole or redoing the floor around the hole, the hole became too small/too big/completely the wrong size to properly fit a vent cover on it.  That black piece is supposed to screw into a little lip that should be around the hole.  Except there is no lip.  So the black thingy just sits loose in the hole, and the vent sits loose on the black thingy, and Nathan likes to pull it off and play with it.

And then yesterday, Reuben walked through the kitchen, stepped on the black thingy, and wound up with his leg down the hole.  Twice.

*sigh* and *grumble*

I'm not entirely sure how this thing should be fixed.  Maybe we should be the ones calling someone to come fix it for us.  Figures...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

All is grace...

Dad and I are taking the Joy Dare.  It's a "dare to live fully right where you are".  We're using the "One Thousand Gifts Journal" by Ann Voskamp to help us out, and by counting three gifts from God each day, we're going to find one thousand of them in a year.

It's my new plan to try and open my eyes to the graces of God that surround me each and every day, even in the mundane.

We started Monday, and I can tell I haven't made this a practice yet.  There's a few difficulties that I've noticed right off the bat.  First, I'm not good at even remembering to keep looking for the ways God shows me He loves me through the day.  Second, when I do remember to keep my eyes open, I'm not very good at recognizing His gifts yet.

On her blog, Ann frequently says, "All is grace."  This is clearly something I need to work on seeing.

So that's what's up.  The plan is to blog about the gifts I find at least once a week.  I'm thinking Mondays will be my day to shoot for because Ann does a link-up on her blog that day for everyone that's doing the count.  I know, today is Wednesday.  We were still in Chatham on Monday morning, and Tim let me sleep in yesterday after the kids had a miserable night.  I'm happy to report it was a bit of a fluke, and Nathan's sleeping habits have actually improved somewhat.  He's slept past 4am three times now!!  A gift to count for sure...

Oh, and if any of you have ever thought about making your own list of 1000 gifts and just haven't found the motivation to do it, won't you consider joining us?  Feel free to let me know in the comments if you do...  :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nothing earth-shattering

I know I've kind of disappeared a bit this week.  Don't worry.  I haven't gone back to my Candy Crush addiction.  The older two kids have been at my parents' since Monday, and Tim fantastically allowed me to sleep in for a couple of days.  It's amazing how much of a different two and a half hours of sleep makes.

I have now joined the kids here for a few days, so I don't know that my posting will be any more frequent while we're here.

I don't really have anything more profound to say than that.  The downfall to taking a few days break is I've also let my brain shut down a bit, so I haven't been pondering any blog posts throughout the day.  I've got a bit of blog reading to catch up on, and maybe that will lend itself to some inspiration for another day.

That's it for today, folks.  I really need to figure out how to use Mum & Dad's Keurig in the mornings...

Monday, July 22, 2013

The pause between storms

The storms on Friday night were pretty spectacular.  I can't remember the last time we had a good storm like that come through while I was awake to see it.  We stood on the front porch watching the lightning for quite a while.  I remember thinking, "Isn't God awesome?"  And for a few moments, I pondered how the storm showed God's strength and might in a way we don't see very often, and I found myself filled with such a sense of peace.

How odd it was, standing there with the lightning flashing and the thunder booming all around, feeling a peace I don't often feel these days.

It's made me think a bit how storms in life do not always cause us to do the same thing - realize God's strength.  Through nature's storm, I saw God's power, and I realized how small I am, but knowing that He was (and is) in control, I felt peace.

Why can't I do the same thing with the storms in life, with the storms within myself?

Perhaps this is the lesson to be learned, that when I have storms in life, I need to remember God's strength, that He is in control, and in so remembering, I will feel that elusive peace.  And maybe that is part of the purpose of storms, to remind us that God is in control, to remind us how small we are and how much we need Him.

I am more than ever thankful for moments like these:

...extra reminders in the pause between storms that God promises to be faithful.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Goat cheese cucumber dip

A while back, Laura and Chris came to my house to hang out one night and play this new game called Dominion.  They brought a snack with them that was a cucumber dip that we ate with regular chips.  I will admit, my first bite, I wasn't sure I liked it.  But the more I ate it, the better it got, and it has become a pretty consistent go-to guilty pleasure for me.  I could easily eat half a plate in one sitting, but I usually try to pace myself a little bit.  Today, I will share the yumminess with you...

250g goat cheese
Renee's cucumber dill dressing
feta cheese

Start by softening the goat cheese in a small bowl.  Depending on the brand you get, this is easier or harder to do.  Then add about 1/3 of the jar of Renee's cucumber dill dressing.  It works out to about 3 large spoons.  It's a bit of a guessing game because you don't want the dip to be too runny, so it's better to start out with less and add a little more if you need to.  (I took a picture, but for some reason it didn't upload from my phone with all the other ones...)

 Spread the mixture evenly onto a plate.

Chop up a bunch of cucumbers into small pieces and lay them on a piece of paper towel.  Blot dry.  I usually fill the one side of the paper towel and fold it over to dry them off, and that's about as much cucumber as I need.

Spread the cucumber evenly over the mixture on the plate.  You can be finicky and put every one just so (like me) or you can just sprinkle them and let them lay where they fall.

Crumble some feta on top.  I usually eat these with regular chips, but apparently you can also use tortilla chips if you prefer.

And there you have it.  The original recipe called for a clove of garlic to be added to the goat cheese mixture, but the one time I tried it that way I didn't like it at all, so I leave it out now.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Little things

The morning greets me early again.  I quietly sneak downstairs with Nathan, trying not to wake the others in house.  It's easier to deal with being up early when only have one child to deal with instead of three, and Reuben and Kaylee are pretty wiped after having a "stay up" over at Aunt Laura and Uncle Chris's house on Monday night.  :)

It's early enough that the sky is still gray, and I play the guessing game of if it might rain today or if it's just too soon to tell.

Turns out it was just too soon to tell.  Now that my coffee is done, and I sit down to read and write, I can see tiny clouds in the sky tinged pink with the colour of the sun rising.  Not the heavy rain clouds I was hoping for to break this ridiculous heat.

And I try to find little things to be thankful for so that I don't start the day out grumpy.

Like that I didn't have to wake up in the night for the other kids, just Nathan.

And my house didn't get infested with ants overnight even though I didn't sweep the floor after supper yesterday.  (I swear, one crumb left on the floor by mistake, and it's like a giant blinking sign to all the ants in the neighbourhood, "Come eat here!")

And even if it doesn't rain, at least it looks to be a bit windy outside today.

And unexpected evenings off from work - without losing the income.  :)

I try to remember the things I did that worked last time I was in a funk.  Your prayers and words of encouragement are appreciated.  I find little things to look forward to...a few nights without the kids, our camping trip in a few weeks, treating myself to a yummy snack...(my latest guilty pleasure is a cucumber dip recipe that I got from Laura and Chris ages ago...maybe I'll take pictures when I make it tonight and blog it tomorrow...)

Anyway, time to go make up a menu plan so I can get groceries this morning.  I'm looking forward to a nice cold grocery store to walk around in.  :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Being real

Two of the blogs I read in the mornings had posts today about having crummy days and just wanting to run away.  I could relate a little too easily.  It feels like it's been a long stretch of crummy days lately, and I'm getting a little tired of it.

The exhaustion is wearing me thin.

And then I feel guilty that my complaint is that I just need more sleep (because I think that's what it is), and I wonder why I can't be happier about the rest of life because when I look at the ways God has blessed me, He is so good and faithful.

It is ridiculous how lack of sleep changes your perspective on everything.

This daily struggle to find joy, this daily struggle to see His grace forgiving me each and every time I lose my temper - oh people, how I struggle!  My heart echos Psalm 77:7-9, "Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show his favor again?  Has His unfailing love vanished forever?  Has His promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has He in anger withheld His compassion?"

Will I be sleep-deprived forever??

And of course, the answer is No.  But there is such a difference between knowing that this too shall pass and having it actually pass.

So I struggle on.  And feeling this exhausted at least reminds me to take my vitamins every day again.  And I consider starting to exercise a little more regularly too because isn't exercising supposed to give you more energy?  (Who am I kidding? I am way too tired to exercise at this point...)

Anyway, that's where life is at, people.  I don't want pity or sympathy.  Maybe just some prayers.  And if any of you might be experiencing some of this too, you can know that you're not alone. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A breath of summer

Happiness is sitting on the couch beside the open window and breathing in the smell of summer washing over me. 

How do I hold on to this moment forever?

For once, this brief instance of time, I feel peace.  I could sit here forever.  Would it be wrong if I let the kids watch TV all day just so I can sit here and enjoy this?

I look out at the big tree in my front yard, and the scent of nature fills my senses, and I'm transported to memories of campsites and being outdoors, and suddenly, I can't wait until August and the camping trip we have planned.

And I wish we could make houses out of trees, real trees, and that we could live in nature constantly so I could always feel this peace because how can you feel anything but that when you are surrounded by God's creation?

Of course, I know this is unrealistic.  Winter comes with its harsh cold winds and biting snow, and on those hot humid sticky summer days, I'm pretty thankful to come indoors to my air conditioning.

But today, just today, I cling to this.  I breathe deeply.  In.  Out.  In again.  Out again.  This is right.  This is good.  Thank you God.

Friday, July 12, 2013


It's been about a week since I made the decision to stop playing Candy Crush in the mornings and go back to starting my day by reading and writing blogs.  I'd have to say that so far, I've been pretty successful.  Clearly, I've been posting more regularly.  (Yay!)  My phone sits untouched on the table or the counter for the majority of my morning, and I'm not starting my day zoned out and focused on a game.

This is not to say that I never play Candy Crush ever.  I still play on random occasions throughout the day when the kids don't require my attention, and I've got a quick minute to take a little break, and there was that one day where naptime totally sucked, and I was exhausted and just needed to escape, so I gave myself permission to zone out and use all five of my lives in one sitting.  But otherwise, I've been good at limiting my time on the phone, and I think we're all happier for it.

I feel like my brain is more engaged again.  I'm back to going through the day thinking up random phrases that I can turn into blog posts.  I forget most of them in my perpetual state of exhaustion, but at least I'm thinking them to begin with.

Anyway, I feel like I'm cutting this short, and I should say more on the subject, but life (aka. the kids) calls for my attention, and it's time to get to it.  Off I go...back to the trenches...

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Sometimes I wake up at 3am after sleeping solidly for four and a half hours thinking to myself, "Wow.  So that's what it feels like to get a decent chunk of sleep for a change."

And then sometimes, I finally roll out of bed at 6:30 feeling no different or more rested because I had to spend over two hours after waking up at 3am trying to get Nathan back to sleep.

Sometimes I get angry at my one-year-old when he doesn't go back to sleep after I feed him in the middle of the night.  Sometimes I get angry at God for not doing more to help that one-year-old get back to sleep so I can get more sleep and not be so tired all the time.

Sometimes I remember when Jesus said, "In this world you will have troubles, but take heart.  I have have overcome the world."  Sometimes I remember that He doesn't promise to take away our trials, but He does promise to be with us through them.

And sometimes I forget.  Usually, those sometimes when I forget is the sometimes when I get angry.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that God forgives me anyway.  Sometimes He sends little messages to encourage me.

Sometimes it helps.  Sometimes I need to hear more before it sinks in.

Sometimes I wish I could just go back to remembering what it felt like to get a solid chunk of sleep.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

My Garden

It's finally time for the long awaited post with the update on my garden.  I went around the yard yesterday and took pictures with my phone because I finally figured out how to upload from my phone to my blog.  I'm very happy as this significantly simplifies the whole picture upload process and makes this post much easier to do.

Full view of the backyard garden
My gardens this year have some very lovely flowers, thanks to my Aunt Amy who is borrowing my beds until she has a garden to put her perennials in after they moved here to Hamilton last year and also thanks to my Dad who split of bunch of things for me last fall.  Allow me to take you on a quick tour:

Herb barrels
Here are my herb barrels.  In the left barrel are chives and in the right are basil and parsley.  I'm actually not super thrilled with my basil this year.  I think it's a different variety than I had last year, and I didn't care for the taste as much when I put it into a salad last week.

There are black-eyed susans on either side of the barrels and one tucked in behind that you can't really see.  My hope is that they will fill in all around the barrels.  I can't remember the name of the purple flower in front.

Here we have some coreopsis and coral bells from Aunt Amy, and some daisies and echinacea (cone flower) from Dad, plus a bush and some ivy that was already there.  The picture's a bit small, so they're not easy to see, but they're there.  I need to find something to fill in front yet.  It's a bit of a chore keeping the bushes from not completely taking over, and I need to be very on top of the ivy as well, but when they're kept in check, they have a nice look to them.

Closeup of coral bells

This is a pink bee balm (I think) from Aunt Amy.  It just bloomed this past weekend, and it's quite lovely.

Shade garden
This is my hosta garden with a bleeding heart thrown in.  This corner is almost completely full shade, hence the choices here.  You can't really see them very well right now, but there are a few lily of the valley plants thrown in the mix as well to fill in some of the gaps.  The hostas are now blooming, and I'm quite happy with how this garden has turned out.
 The gardens beside the house continue to be a bit of a work in progress.  We've cleaned up the ivy off the chimney and from the garden in front of it.  There used to be a spruce on the corner in front of the ugly furnace vent.  I've put in a lilac there instead, but it's still a bit too small to fully block the ugliness.  Hopefully we can just replace that at some point.
Here's a bit more of the side garden, the part right next to the gate.  Apparently it could use a bit of weeding...  There's some red bee balm on the top left.  Next to it with the tiny yellow flowers is a different variety of coreopsis from Dad.  Then a sedum which is probably in the wrong spot.  I think it would prefer a bit more sun or something because I can't get the darn things to bloom if my life depended on it.  You can't see it well, but there's also an anemone flower a bit in front of the coreopsis.  It bloomed quite nice earlier in spring.  I filled in some of the holes with some spare annuals, but they should also be in a bit more full sun area.  Oh well. 

Last but not least, here's a shot of the big tree garden in the front yard.  I put in all petunias this year, and it looks quite nice at the taking of this picture.  A week ago I wasn't too sure how it would turn out as it appeared that our friendly neighbourhood rabbits were enjoying the taste of them, but some deadheading and significant watering later, and they appear to be picking up.  I'm hoping the whole thing fills in, but we'll see.

So I hope you've enjoyed your tour of my gardens.  I didn't show you the very front garden because there's not much to see right now.  It fills in nicely with some daffodils and lilies in the spring, and I tried putting in some snapdragons, but they didn't take very well, so it's not much to look at at this point.  Overall, we've made some significant progress considering what this place looked like three years ago when we moved in.  If you ever want to come and see it in person, visitors are always welcome! :)

Monday, July 08, 2013

Tips for kicking the Candy Crush addiction

When Nathan woke me up before 5:30am, I was actually almost looking forward to getting up and blogging this morning.  I think progress is being made in the right direction here.

So I thought I'd let you know some of the strategies I'm using to help myself get through my Candy Crush addiction and engage with my world.

1 - Plan my mornings.  What this looks like for me: either at night as I'm falling asleep (which takes me a ridiculous amount of time even though I'm exhausted) or first thing in the morning after Nathan wakes me up and I lay there praying for him to fall back asleep, I think to myself, "What am I going to do this morning?"
 And the answer isn't allowed to be, "I'm going to sit and play Candy Crush until the kids scream at me because they want breakfast."  I tell myself that I'm going to sit in the kitchen with my laptop and read some blogs.  Sometimes I think about what post I might write that morning.  And I remember that every day starts with coffee.  Precious, precious coffee.  It's time to buy another package of the flavoured stuff to give myself that added bonus of an extra good cup.

2 - I deleted all my extra lives in Candy Crush.  See, Candy Crush has this thing where you need lives to play a level.  If you don't beat the level, you lose a life.  But you're limited to five lives, and then you don't get more for a set amount of time.  I think it's something like half an hour to the next new life.  But you can give your friends lives when you connect to Facebook.  I had collected quite a few - as in, like, 40 spare lives waiting to be claimed.  Which meant that I could play any time I wanted, and I wasn't limited by not having any lives to use.  Well, I deleted my extra lives, so I'm back to being limited to five lives at a time.

3 - I made a list of all the OTHER things I can do with my time.  Normal things like cleaning and gardening and actually putting the laundry away instead of just leaving it clean and folded in the basket.  The point is that when I'm feeling bored and wanting to escape, I can go to my list and find something productive to do instead of just turning to my phone.

Those are the three main things I've been doing in my attempt to spend less time on my phone.  So far, so good.  I've got a couple more ideas for blog posts to come, so hopefully this new morning routine will allow that to continue as well.  For now, I haven't had my coffee yet, so I'm off to go pour a cup before I try to say too much more, and it comes out completely incomprehensible because my brain isn't completely awake yet.

Friday, July 05, 2013

On kicking the Candy Crush addiction

I'm trying to get back into my morning routine of starting the day by reading blogs and doing some of my own writing again.  If this works out, I might actually manage to post more regularly like I keep saying I'm going to do and never actually keep doing. 

I've realized that starting my day by playing Candy Crush is probably not the best way to get going in the morning.  *insert sheepish grin here*

So today, I'm announcing my intention to change that up and go back to what I did back before I got pregnant with Nathan and had to deal with morning sickness and exhaustion and then he was born and my mornings just got crazy trying to deal with an infant and two other kids, one of whom needed to be on a bus three days a week at 8 o'clock, and I was still exhausted because of lack of sleep -- and really, that hasn't changed -- but I need to do SOMETHING other than being a tired zombie playing on my phone.  I don't want my children to remember me as the mom who was always on her phone.

Maybe being on my laptop isn't much of a change, but it sure is a heck of a lot more productive, and for some reason I don't feel quite as zoned out when I'm reading blogs and writing.  My brain is more engaged, and it's not quite as frustrating when I get interrupted.

My name is Marleah, and I'm addicted to Candy Crush.  But I'm not going to let a game take me away from engaging in my real life.  So I'm putting the phone down in the mornings, and I'm going back to a routine that worked well for me.  Boo-yah.

Hopefully more to come soon...

Friday, June 21, 2013


A day late, but still not forgotten.  Remembering my first, who was due six years ago yesterday.  Funny how so much time goes by, but the grief still sneaks up on you as sharp as ever on those memorial days...

Friday, May 24, 2013

So much for Nathan sleeping better...

I had a moment of deep thinking the other day while we were doing a day with a lot of driving - thoughts about saying good-bye and being too busy to notice life changing and then finally when you slow down, you feel like everything's changed, and you need to adjust but you're not entirely sure how because really, life is just going on the same as it always has, it's just you that feels different. 

Anyway, I had intentions of writing a semi-decent blog post about it all, but then Nathan started sleeping crappy again, and my brain power significantly diminished with the ensuing lack of sleep.  It's a small miracle I'm writing today because he had me up for over two hours last night when he just didn't want to go back to sleep after waking up at 12:45am.  And then I got into a somewhat heated discussion with God about how it was time for Him to step in and take over because I was at my wit's end, and how was I supposed to be a good mother to my other two children in the morning when I had to be up all night with a baby that was perfectly fine in all other ways but just refused to sleep??

I wish I could tell you how that conversation ended, but my sleep-deprived brain can't really remember.  I think I managed to not get too angry for once, and I'm pretty sure Nathan fell asleep eventually, but I think I also ended up patting his back until he did so, so I have no idea if God was involved in the process or not.  All I know is, it was a very short hour and a half later that he was awake again, so I finally took him into my bed, got him back to sleep, and had myself a short little nap before the cat came in and tried to wake us both up.  Darn cat.

Another completely random and unrelated thing of note, my daughter's new backpack has a little hole in it made specifically for headphones.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I am certain, though, she won't be using it any time soon.

That's all for today...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kick-starting my brain

I've been thinking over the last few days that maybe it's time to start getting more blog posts out there again.  I think it helps to see my Dad blogging so regularly.  It's funny though - when I used to blog so regularly, my brain was constantly thinking of posts to write, and throughout my day to day activities, in the back of my mind I would be writing posts to (hopefully) type up later.

My brain seems to have been shut off because I don't do that so much anymore.  Maybe it's because I'm so tired...

But last night, Nathan had the best sleep he's had since he was an infant, if not the best sleep he's had ever.  His first feeding wasn't until 2:45 -- and he didn't wake up even once before that!!  Frankly, he's a pretty crummy sleeper and usually wakes up several times through the night.  This has given me hope that maybe there is improvement in sight, and maybe I may start being a little less sleep deprived.

Which means maybe my brain will start working properly again.

Or maybe it won't because somehow being a Mommy permanently changes the way your brain works because now you suddenly have to keep track of all kinds of random details about your children that don't really have major significance but still need to be remembered, like diaper schedules and how much food they've been eating and what letter day it is at school today or if they even have school that day.

What's interesting to me is how I've noticed that as I consider re-starting my blogging habit, I am doing more of the post-writing thing in my head the way I used to.  It feels a bit like I'm forcing it instead of it coming naturally the way it used to, but it has me wondering if that is how it is to a certain extent, a habit that I need to re-develop instead of waiting for it to just come.  Maybe my brain just needs a bit of a kick-start.

Maybe I need to change the way I blog a bit, plan out my posts a little more intentionally, or do like Dad, and just write shorter posts.  I do need to write about my garden at some point, hopefully with pictures.  It's changed quite a bit since my last post about it.  Every now and then I make something new in the kitchen, and I keep meaning to take pictures while I cook, so hopefully I can get better at that, too.  Apparently crock pot bread is a real hit, so maybe I can find something else to do in the crock pot that people will like, too.  :)

Anyway, at least for a start, you have a new post for today.  We'll see if I actually get any better at posting regularly...  (I just re-read my post -- there's a lot of "maybes" in here...)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

With sadness...

It's been probably our busiest week of the entire year, and my mind has been anywhere but on everything I've had to do. 

It's hard to focus when I consider the events of the past few days and the nightmare that the Bosma family is experiencing.  My "trials" seem so trivial in comparison.

And somehow, my life keeps moving on.  I keep doing those seeming millions of things that need to be done this week - meetings, parties, prep for All Ontario Youth Convention, Reuben's first field day at school...  But it's all tainted with a bit of sadness, and in the back of mind, I continue in prayers for a woman I've never met, this brave woman who speaks boldly to the public about the her husband that will never be forgotten while choking back tears and asking for prayers for herself and her daughter.

It all hits a little too close to home, and I can't help wondering if I would be so brave if it were me facing such horrific loss.

Please pray with me, that in the days, weeks, months and years ahead God will continue to provide this family with the strength, comfort and peace only He can bring.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Help Find Tim Bosma

I don't know if this will help or not, but this family needs our prayers.  I watched the statement made by Tim's wife yesterday, and I couldn't help but be in tears.  The little things I complain about through my day seem so trivial to the nightmare she must be going through right now.  If anyone out there reading this knows anything about where Tim or his truck might be, please call the numbers on the poster below.  Repost and share with your friends so we can get the word out everywhere for people to keep looking for Tim and his truck.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Of spring cleaning and fixing up basements

I've been thinking for a while now that it was about time for me to write another post.  I can't say that I've felt particularly inspired by anything that makes me overflow with words, but since that last time I said anything was just before Christmas, and it's now the middle of April, it's high time for an update.

Nathan is almost 10 months old.  Eek!  When did that happen?  He eats solids like a champ, has three almost four teeth, sits up amazingly on his own, and loves his Jolly Jumper.  He is nowhere near sleeping through the night yet, but I have, for the most part, accepted that it is my current lot in life to live in a sleep-deprived haze, and so have managed, again for the most part, to move through the phase of post-partum depression I wrote about last fall.  There are still good days and bad days, as will always be when parenting small children, but the bad days are not quite so miserable, and I'm able to enjoy the good days with a bit more energy.

Speaking of energy, I'm actually motivated enough this year to do some spring cleaning.  And when I say "some", I actually mean I made a plan to systematically go through each room of the house and clean absolutely everything.  Even the walls and ceilings.  Even going through the closets and organizing them.  I just might even find a day to steam clean the carpet in the living room.  I got some spectacular new cleaning products that have encouraged me in my motivation to clean, and I think it is making all the difference.  :)

Also, we got the work done in the basement we were planning.  Well, we didn't do the carpet yet because carpeting is expensive.  But we did get a wall put up on the side of the stairway that was open to the furnace, and we put in some new light fixtures to brighten it up so the kids will be more comfortable going down there.  We also cleaned out all the junk in the room down there and painted it a darkish blue that goes well with the white trim.  Most of the toys have been moved downstairs, as well as the carpet from the toy room until we can install carpeting.  We also had an old TV and VCR that we hooked up for the kids to watch videos if they want occasionally.  Tim just needs to finish putting in the subfloor at the bottom of the stairs and putting up the drywall on the furnace room side of the wall, but the space is now usable for the kids as a playroom, albeit a bit on the cold side.  I'm sure they'll be thankful for that when the weather gets hot in the summer.

Anyway, I'd say more by way of update, but all three kids are up, and Nathan's fourth tooth-yet-to-come is making him miserable.  It's also a school day, and we now have about an hour to get Reuben out the door onto the bus.  So I hope you've enjoyed the update, and I'll try to find some inspiration for posts a little more frequently.  Maybe you'll get some gardening or food posts...