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Showing posts from 2008

2008 in review

All the cool kids are doing it. And for once it doesn't involve taking my life in my own hands. Like that time I tried cliff jumping and ended up belly flopping. That there was stupid, and I was trying to catch my breath, stay afloat, and pull my bikini top back down over my breasts where it belonged as they all peered over the edge to see if I was okay.

No, I'm talking about the end of the year favorite post retrospective for 2008.

January-I finally got around to writing a 100 things post. A lot has changed since then and I have just finished updating it to reflect all the changes.

February-I started recording daily moments I wanted to remember. This one may be my favorite but it was hard to choose.

March-More moments. The Boy wrote his first haiku. And he wasn't happy about it.

April-I didn't write much because someone called CPS on our family. The charge was eventually dropped but it was an awful experience nonetheless. I wouldn't recommend reading it really. But in …

5 years old

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My Girl, you are 5 now. Just like sun after the long darkness of a winter night you are like the hope filled dawn, pale and bright and filled with the promise of life. (Of course, being a solstice baby that simile is perhaps a bit too obvious, though no less apt.) You are shockingly beautiful when I am aware enough to really look at you. I love to watch your face when you are talking animatedly about something you find exciting or amusing, you call to mind every cliche I ever heard about a girl who is glowingly beautiful, alight, full of life.

I sometimes wonder if I am the right mother for you. You see, the Boy, I get. He is me all over again and most of the time I know exactly how to parent him. You on the other hand, you are often a mystery. I don't understand you like I do him. You are surprising, and frustrating, and rewarding by turns.

You are so strong and brave when it comes to physical hurts. You don't cry when you get a scrape or a fall. You hold still for a sliver ext…

Writing on other subjects

When I found out that Veronica Mitchell, the voice of Toddled Dredge, might be accepting guest posts for her twelve days of Christmas series on the incarnation, with her starting off point being the texts used in Handel's Messiah I sort of [cough] volunteered [cough cough]. And she was too polite to say no.

I thought it might be a good chance to try my hand at a different kind of writing on a subject that it dear to my heart.

It turned out to be easier to write than the Girl's birthday letter, which I still haven't finished even though her birthday was last week. So you can go and read over there today. And then come back here later. I might have another post finished by then. :)

Non Commercial Christmas- A few more thoughts

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So I know for some people with children the hardest part about the whole idea of not exchanging Christmas gifts with each other and giving to others instead is really emotional. We worry that they are missing out some how. We remember magical childhood Christmases and waking up to gifts and decorations. Will we be stealing the wonder if we don't do it the way our parents did?

A few thoughts. First, I think it's really really good for out kids to realize that not everyone is as well off as them. Even most of the poorest people in the US are still in the top 5% of the world's wealthiest people. How will our children learn gratitude, respect, compassion, service, and responsibility if we allow them to believe that it's normal for them to have such abundant blessings while the rest of the world doesn't? Every night my little Girl prays for the kids in Thailand to have enough money for mosquito nets so they don't get malaria. She knows that one of the reasons I don&…

1000 Gifts Friday-Week 9

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Technically it's not Friday any more, I hasn't been for two hours. But I haven't been to bed yet so it's still Friday to me.

This week I'm thankful for:

Sister in Law who arrives for dinner bearing chick flicks to watch together while a husband is away.

Same SIL who will stay the night and go with us ice skating tomorrow, and provided the admission vouchers. [It's odd for my grew up in Canada brain to realize that this will be the second time in their entire lives my children have encountered ice to skate on. And we have to do it inside.]

Friends who have time to stop and talk and enjoy a meal together.

My dear little two year old girl.

The people who are going to do all the web design work for the charis project so I don't have to any more.

Joanne, the kind stranger who drove us to the dentist in the pouring rain.

The bus driver who gave us shelter.

The friends who hosted the fundraiser.

Sunshine again.

Love that knows the worst and still loves, that seeks the best i…

2 years old

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Dear Little,

I can't keep up with you. You've been pushing me along at your own pace since before you were born. From sending me into labor 3 weeks early, to a shotgun delivery, literally less than 4 hours from when I noticed the contractions to when you emerged, your fist next to your head, to standing on your own at 6 months and walking at 29 weeks, you have always had your own agenda to keep, and you are not the type to wait for me to be ready before you leap ahead.

You sort of remind me of your daddy.

You can say daddy now, the whole word, every consonant. You couldn't do that last month.

You are so alive. Unflinchingly, unapologetically joyful, or sorrowful by turns, throwing yourself headlong into whatever it is you have decided to tackle, especially me when I'm squatting down low enough.

It hard to think of you apart from what the act of bearing you has taught me. It was while pregnant with you that I finally realized that all good things are gifts. They are not righ…

I'll Tell a Tale of Kindness

Last night went really well. People were surprised to learn that it was our first time doing a presentation like we did because we seemed like we had our stuff together. That was a relief, I must not have said ummm too much. And I didn't actually cry, though I did skip half of a cue card when I almost choked up and said something to the effect of, "I really don't want to talk about what happens to those kids, right now, but it's bad."

The first great thing to come of it happened last night already. We are getting a free logo design for the charis project, and help with the web development end of things, as well as streamlining all the technology so that it's really easy to use and update. They were even talking of making video presentations further down the road. I am so excited about it. It will be good to have someone who knows what they are doing working on these things. Yay!

[On a side note, I have to figure out how to respond to people who tell me they re…

Random Tuesday

Our fundraiser is tonight. Which means that I am rewriting cue cards and heading out to the store to buy more cranberries for a cranberry cake...

Correction, I am back from the store where they had no cranberries and I am now deciding whether or not to fudge things with canned cranberries, or make an apple tart instead. But all that peeling and slicing and pastry work may be more than I have time for...

I met a man at Kinko's who was photocopying an old book with lead sheets in them. He told me they were for his grandson, who's piano teacher refuses to teach him any thing but note reading. Which I translate to mean his piano teacher knows nothing of chord sheets and improvisation. He's taking them with him when he goes to visit for Christmas to teach him how to play them.

I thought that was sweet so we talked a bit more and I learned he was a voice major at Julliard and ended up teaching economics in high school for 30 years. So that was fun...

I have bunch of silk poinsettia…

Ideas for a Non Commercial Christmas #2-What about the family?

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Last week a reader asked,
What about your family though (not your husband's)? How has this way of Christmas affected their traditions and how you celebrate with them?
Which is one of the things I was going to talk about this week. Obviously, not everyone in your family circle will be immediately on board with this idea of not exchanging gifts in the traditional sense, or even with scaling back on the giving.

We haven't ever lived near enough to my family for it to be much of a big deal. We have never been in the same province/state with them at Christmastime. I explained, every year for a while, that we would prefer they didn't send gifts for Christmas, but save them for birthdays instead. I make clear that we won't be giving them gifts for Christmas. (Though for the first few years I seem to remember sending token gifts, little things to mark the occasion, often homemade by my children or myself.)

Honestly, my parents still send little packets most years for the grand kid…

1000 Gifts Friday-Week 8

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Gratitude. It's an amazing discipline. The more intentional I am about cultivating thankfulness the more content I become. It affects everything, my interactions with people, my over all attitude, my felt level of happiness. Could this one simple thing be the secret of happiness?

This week I was reading to the kids the Bible story about the children of Israel complaining in the desert. God delivered them out of Egypt, great signs and wonders if you believe the story. All the nations around them were afraid of them. He personally was present in the middle of them in a visible pillar of smoke or fire and every single day there was manna for them to eat. And what happened? They started complaining about the food. Really. They started saying that it was better in Egypt because there they had meat, and melons, and cucumbers to eat. Who cares if Pharaoh enslaved them, killed their sons as they were born; let's go eat melons again. In hindsight it's obvious how incredibly stupid i…

Now I'm a Bit Nervous

We're eating dinner last night and the Boy was making some irritating noise that was bothering the Girl. After a few rounds of her whining at him to stop it and him ignoring her I absentmindedly open my mouth to say something to him. What I hear myself say is, "Do you think you are being loving toward your sister right now by doing that?"

That's a bit of a surprise. I don't normally say that when he's being irritating. I wonder where that came from.

But it sounds good and I have their attention so I run with it.

"She has asked you to stop, are you showing her love if you ignore her and keep on making that sound?"

"No," he mumbles, staring down at his plate.

This was sort of working, so I take it a step further and ask the Boy if there is anything that the Girl does that made him feel like she doesn't love him.

"When she's ignoring me when I want to talk to her."

"Okay, now phrase that in a positive way, what could she do to…

Ideas for a Non Commercial Christmas

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I thought I would create a handy dandy little reference place for those of you looking to celebrate Christmas a little bit non traditionally by finding ways to give to others in need instead of exchanging gifts among friends and family in the conventional sense. (See this post.) They don't have to be huge dramatic steps at first. There are many simple and lovely ways to do this.

It has been so inspiring to wander the internet reading about how families get together in this season to give to those in need and create meaningful family traditions.

I read at A Holy Experience about their tradition of sprouting wheat kernels, one for every kindness, to make hay to line the manger with on Christmas eve before the baby Jesus figure is placed there.

Larissa's family is holding an in family handmade auction this year. Each person makes a gift about $10 in value, and the family bids on them. The money is given to a charity that they all agree on.

I found this sight called Buy Nothing Christ…

1000 Gifts Friday-Week 7

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No, I didn't forget about 1000 Gifts Friday. I've just been way too busy to post the past 3 days. And the frenetic pace doesn't show any sign of easing in the next few weeks. But that doesn't mean there are any fewer reasons to give thanks.

Little practicing her words for things, pointing at them and carefully trying to pronounce words like tent and car and draw. And the smile I get when I guess aright what she's trying to say.

Cloudy days that require Uggs to warm my feet and hot drinks.

An unknown child sitting on a chair on her balcony at night, swinging her dangling feet and repeating over and over again, "Happy, happy, happy, happy..." as I am walking by.

That the Boy is so easily pleased with kindness. He has such a grateful heart.

Three turkeys, surplus from Thanksgiving donations, made their way into my hands this week, just as I was trying to figure out how to stretch the tight grocery budget to include a family with a new baby in it.

The always sweet…

7 Quick Takes

A la Jennifer F. But on Thursday instead of Friday.

1. On Saturday I was given a wedding present. We have these lovely dear friends Dori and Chad, who married the week before we did. We drove from their wedding here in CA all the way back to Canada the week before our wedding. They never did make it to ours. The nerve, going on honeymoon instead.

At some later date they also made the trek to Canada to visit Dori's family and several of our mutual friends. On one such visit they were handed a rather small little box wrapped with white roses to please give to us when they saw us again. That was more than 8 years ago.

See, they forgot, and then we moved to Canada for 5 years or so. And then they moved around a lot. etc, repeat. Finally, last Saturday as we sat down to dinner they presented this little parcel that they have faithfully held on to for more than 8 years, through dozens of moves. The wrapping paper wasn't even torn. We all had a good laugh about it.

I can't wait to wr…

Pressure cooked

You know that feeling, when you think you ought to write a post because it's been a few days, but there is a to do list a mile long staring you in the face and you've got nothing?

Yeah. That first sentence was your cue to stop reading and go somewhere else because this will be a directionless ramble. I used up my best writing at 4 am yesterday trying to get Little to go back to sleep again and commenting on another blog. I was passionate and poetic and almost teary about my response. This morning my brain is a dry, wrung out, exhausted dishrag. (See, even my metaphors don't make sense. How does a dishrag become exhausted exactly?)

My neighbors have a darling little newborn baby. I want to eat him he's so sweet. So in my clever plot to be allowed to hold him more often I am taking his parents dinner in the evenings. I think corn bread and chili is a fair trade for newborn snuggles. (Well, and I remember those fantastic ladies who barely knew me and brought dinner to my ho…

Why We Don't Do Conventional Christmas

I grew up celebrating Christmas much the same as everyone else does. Our family had it's little rituals and traditions just like everyone else does that were unique to us; buying a tree, mom sulking around angrily until dad got the lights untangled and put on, baking, homemade decorations, the tree almost falling down year after year, stockings and presents, etc. I can't remember a Christmas after 10 years old that I wasn't disappointed Christmas morning somehow. (Except for the year I got a mountain bike.) I was a little snippy, ungrateful and spoiled brat that I can remember. (I guess kids who grow up without a lot of money can be spoiled too.) Poor my parents putting up with me.

But I loved the part where we all got together with my whole extended family to sing Christmas carols and pig out on dessert. I loved the family dinner at my grandparent's house. I loved the story and the snow and the lights reflected off of the snow. I liked concerts and pageants, I like h…

1000 Gifts Friday-Week 6

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It would be a little bit lame if I missed posting on 1000 Gifts Friday because Thanksgiving has thrown me off schedule wouldn't it? Sorry, I've been too busy stuffing my face with turkey and then laying around moaning in the name of giving thanks to actually give thanks.

Well, it may be late in the day, but here are the things I wanted to share from this week.

1. I'm thankful that I have the type of marriage, the type of husband, where a potential disaster has no power to cause strife. Wednesday evening the alternator broke in our vehicle. In the home of my childhood a car that was dead and needed repair the day before Thanksgiving would have been anything but cause for thanksgiving. There would have at least been bickering, maybe even full on fighting about it between my parents. There would have been stress and fear and impatience among us kids as we alternately hoped that dad could fix the car so we could go and hid behind things to try and escape the emotional fallout of…

Haircut picture

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Well, the best way to end an emotional/hormonal roller coaster of a week of course is to look in the mirror and declare, "Self, you need a haircut. You can't do much about the tired eyes and the skin that wishes the weather would make up it's mind, but you can hack off your hair. Won't that feel better?" And then you respond thusly, "That's a great idea self. Why, here are the hair scissors right here, how about we do this before we take a shower?"

What? That's not what you do? Oh...

Well...

I have almost cut my own hair before. I gave myself a pretty cute bob by tying all of my hair at the nape of my neck with and elastic and then cutting off the pony tail. Of course, the first time it was because I was planning to cut all of my hair off, that was just the first step. But it looked quite cute.

A few months back I tried it again, only with my beloved SIL standing by to fix and even things out, which she did, and it was again pretty cute I thought.

S…

Go vote for my Manly Man-Pretty please?

Well, I was going to post something about the haircut I gave myself this weekend today. I twittered it, but people wanted to see pictures.

I'll get to it. But first I had to tell you some good news.

See, I write over here too, for this other site called Blissfully Domestic, about marriage. And through that I found out about, don't ask how, the Art of Manliness-Man of the year Award Contest sponsored by Old Spice. (Of course.)

So when I found out that there was a $2000 cash prize involved... well I just had to write up an entry and send in a picture of the Genius Husband, because I think he's pretty great myself. Why shouldn't he win a basket of Old Spice products [snicker] for being his awesome self. Oh yeah, and $2000. And a great title to put on his resume, or his ...well, I'm sure the title would come in handy some how.

And I just found out that he is a finalist. Which is really amazing because I read all of the other finalists stories just now, sizing up the compet…

1000 Gifts Friday-Week 5

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I always have trouble going to bed at night. There's always on more thing to do, one more things I forgot to do earlier in the day that I need to do. There's always a vaguely unfinished feeling that keeps me puttering around when I should be sleeping.

That has lessened now that I spend the last few minutes writing in my gratitude journal each night. I end up putting it down with a smile on my face and go peacefully to bed. It gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day. It's the night cap I'm looking for. It restores peace to my weary heart that can only think of the things I didn't do today that I should have done. It silences the voice of discouragement in my head.

This week:

Friends who share the exact right words of comfort when I'm worrying needlessly.

The Boy and I had several rough patches yesterday. He wasn't listening, I would yell frustratedly at his , "But I didn't hear you" excuse because that of course was the problem.…

Forgot

I have a post up over at Blissfully Wed again.

Yes, I'm still talking about things husbands wish their wives wouldn't do. Apparently, there are an awful lot of things that husbands wish their wives wouldn't do since I'm still going on about it.

Yes, I know wives have a list, but that's not for me to write since men aren't reading these. Well, not many anyway, but they usually leave the funniest comments.

Creating a World Without Poverty-A Book Review

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This is probably one of the most important books I've ever read. How's that for a catchy opening sentence. But it's true.

If you don't know who Muhammad Yunus is here is the quick version. He's from Bangladesh, he invented micro credit, or at least figured out how to make it work in this century, he and Grameen Bank won a Nobel Peace Prize because of it.

He tells one story about how he became a banker to the poor. He met a woman named Sufiya. All day she would work to make bamboo stools to provide food for her family, but no matter how hard she worked she was never able to get out of poverty. He could not understand it, but as they spoke he learned that it was because of corrupt money lenders. In order to get the bamboo to make the stools she had to borrow money from a money lender. He would only lend her money on the condition that she only sell her wares to him, at the price he set. It was essentially slave labor, a cycle of servitude she would never escape on her …

My Heart is Raw Today

I don't know what triggered it exactly.

Was it thinking about whether or not to take the kids to the orphanage in Mexico for a weekend in December?

Was it thinking about what the Boy will do if he wakes up wet? Do they have a shower nearby?

Was it wondering about the Baby, and how she loves routine, loves her bed, loves knowing where everything is and how things work in our house? Would she nap at all in a strange new place?

Would she cling to me?

Is there any point in going if all I'm going to do is hold a clingy baby?

Or was it when I realized that these kinds of things are going to be their life for the next several months? Big transitions, the interruption of routine. Strange face and languages. Strange beds strange food.

How will they do?

How will I do?

I worry about them.

Tears press at the back of my eyes today and I fight to hold them back.

It is raw.

I know it will be alright in the end, that kids are adaptable. I believe it will all be worth it. I believe they will adjust and be…

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