Wednesday, May 16, 2007

...growing up...

I can remember vividly the excitement of going away on a Youth Retreat for the first time. Everything was thoughtfully packed away in my bag. I made sure that I had the right clothes, the right makeup and hair products. I thought about who I would sit with on the bus and where on the bus we would park ourselves for the three hour ride to our destination. I was so excited.

The details of that weekend are a blur now. After all it was over 20 years ago that I boarded the bus that first time. But many other weekends followed and I eagerly anticipated each one during my years at youth. They were weekends spent with friends, old and new. Rushing to look my best at breakfast in the morning. Eyeing up the boys sitting together, trying so hard to look cool. Countless campfires and hikes and Games of capture the flag and snow volleyball. Services where my heart was moved and altar calls where we prayed together, cried together and grew together. I remember trudging back to cabins with friends, talking until late into the night. I remember pranks we pulled on the boys and the ones they pulled on us. Incredible memories and monumental decisions were packed into those days away from home.

And where did the time go?

Was it just yesterday I turned around and that life, my youth, was gone? The years slowly pile on each other, one by one, until you finally start to feel “grown up” but a small part of still feels 17 with all the same intense feelings that define those times in our life.

And now I find myself at the other end of the spectrum. My son will go away on his first youth retreat this weekend. Its hard for me to believe he’s old enough but underneath the boyish face I look at a young man is starting to emerge. I’ll send him on his way understanding just a little of the excitement he’ll be feeling. I’ll be the one to wait and pray while he begins his own journey to independence. I’ll start to trust others to begin to help influence and shape him. I’ll (try to) pry my fingers, ever so slightly, from the tight grasp I have on him. Knowing the One who loves him best has a secure handle on every detail of his life.

And I’ll anticipate the minute he comes back home full of stories and his very own memories. Oh. I’ll bask in those moments, knowing how fast life moves and how very few years I have left to keep him this close to his home and his mom.

Monday, May 14, 2007

...Spring Fever and Chocolate Bunnies...

Big C searching for minnows.

After an extremely snowy winter spring has finally come to stay in our little neck of the woods. It may have been posted on the calendar a while ago, like March, but in Canada THAT is just a number on a page. Here we are unable to slip a pair of colourful capris over our white legs and don a new pair of sandals permanantly until May.

Little T and his sister "Pickle" playing with kittens.

There is something about this season that is so invigorating. New baby kittens and budding tulips aside, the brightness of the mornings and the soothing feel of the warm sun gives me the push I need to get us out to clean the yard, pick up all the toys, shoes, discarded mittens and other clothing that has found its way to the backyard. There are a few advantages to the snow however. In fact there is something revealing about spring's thaw that I wrote about here.

This is a view of our pool - wanna go for a dip anyone??!

This spring we purchased an invisible fence for our dog. She is a beautiful golden retriever with the most gentle personality. Her only flaw is that she can't find a spot on our 1/2 acre backyard that is QUITE RIGHT to do her "business" on. The neighbours yards all seem to have much more enjoyable spots to leave her treasures. And let me tell you how endearing that makes us to the neighbours. Because we have a huge backyard that would cost thousands of dollars to fence we just tried ever so hard to keep the dog on out property. But wanderlust reared its head again this spring and we gave in and spent the $399 on an invisible fence with a collar that zaps her if she runs too far. IT WORKS AMAZING. She sticks close to home and doesn't need to be tied to a rope outside. If you need one of these we found out after the fact that there are many sold on E-Bay because they work so well after a month or so people don't need them any more. It would have been useful information to have had before we spent $399 but it was worth every penny to me. The delightful side effect of the fence is her "tresures" seems to land near our back door which, while good for neighbourly relations can be a little hazardous for our shoes.

The dog & toddler buds!

It got me thinking/wishing for an invisible fence for toddlers.

Another advantage of having four feet of snow surround our house is that it is very HARD for three year old boys to walk very far. Even if he didn't have to be bundled up in boots,, snowsuit, hats, mittens and scarves that cover all but your eyeballs its hard. It tends to become a huge sandbox where he can sit oout for 10 MINUTES and make castles and snowlumps before he wants to come back inside to play.

But come spring thaw, the word "boundaries" leaves his vocabulary. (if it was ever there) He has found that a three year old can run so much farther when there is only grass beneath his feet. He can run right past the neighbours yard and onto the road. He can run towards the field where the green tractor plows the field, or he can hop on his bike and head to the park at the end of the street . Yes three years olds can head just about anywhere they take a notion to go when they have 4 wheels and orange crocs.

And so...these are the first places we looked when Little T went missing the other day.

I was doing laundry and trying to keep him inside (HA!) but he kept escaping out one of the doors. Then I would either yell for him, cofirming the "Crazy lady" rumour going around the neighbourhood, or run around looking for him, drag him back inside kicking and screaming, get him settled down and watch for his next escape attempt. He keeps me on my toes but I am developing a great radar.

But one slip up can cause the whole household into chaos.

This time I looked all the usual places the escappe usually heads and he was nowhere to be found. So I dispatched the troops (aka. my older kids) to the park, the road etc. We could not find the boy anywhere. I looked in closets, under beds and in bathrooms. I wondered if there had been a partial rapture for a minute even. But for the life of me I could not find the him. My heart was beginning to race a little faster and I had begin to offer up desperate little prayers.

Then I went back in my room for a minute and looked at my unmade bed. I thought I saw the duvet moved ever so slightly and figured I better investigate. Sure enough under my blankets I found this:

Yep... little stinker had kept quiet for a reason. I looked at him sternly and said, "DO NOT MOVE A MUSCLE BOY." and I ran to grab my camera.

Then I asked him. "Little T, what are you eating?"

He replied as the brown drool puddled on my sheets, "NUFFIN!"

"I See." Looking at him trying not to laugh and asked, "Well, there seems to be a few chocolate bunnies missing. Do you know who ate them?"

He nodded, a confession was forthcoming, "Yes mommy, Pickle. Pickle at the Bunnies!"***

Friday, May 11, 2007

...summer reading...

So I am deciding on the books that I want to read this summer as I play lifeguard by the pool. Hopefully the writing will inspire me, make me smile, make me think and maybe nudge me to my knees a few times. Here are my picks. If you want to, join in and leave yours too.

Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson- I have started reading this one on a recommendation from another blog. Here is the description for this book:

Every year I think there must be more to life, and every year, despite a new car or a trip to a new land, new milestones and triumphs in my son's life, or a redone deck, a pool, a spa, or entertainment system, I take stock and think once again, I was made for more than this. But I love my stuff.

Heather Curridge is coming unhinged. And people are starting to notice. What's wrong with a woman who has everything--a mansion on a lake, a loving son, a heart-surgeon husband, and soapstone countertops--yet still feels miserable inside?

Yet when Heather spends the summer with two ancient Quaker sisters and a crusty nun in a downtown homeless shelter, she suddenly finds herself at a crossroads.

Sometimes you have to go a little bit crazy to find the life you were meant to live.

I am VERY slow going through this one, which is strange, because its a novel. Its not that its boring but I haven't sat down for a long stint and the book hasn't sucked me in emotionally like say a Karen Kingsbury novel.

But I am thinking and thinking is good.

I just read this:

"...normally read fast-paced mysteries and suspense, and quick reads in magazines and online. Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson wouldn't let me do that. The pacing of the book, which was perfect, slowed me down, forced me to think. The characters and setting are so vivid, so real, and the story so poignant, this book will stay with me a long time."

...and am glad cause it means I am not just losing my brain cells at an ever quickening rate!

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - This is one I have wanted to read for a while. It is simple and yet there is so much I want to understand in it that I am reading along at a snails pace. Maybe I should take notes - like on this blog - hey!!?? there's an idea.

90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper - Ever wanted to know what Heaven was like? This author was pronounced dead for 90 minutes and went to Heaven. Meanwhile a stranger on began to pray for this dead man and he came back to life and to this Earth. I have a lot of friends and loved ones that have recently gone and a friend said they were really encouraged after reading this book. That and the cool title helped it make my "must read" list.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - What a totally cool title. It intrigues me greatly. From the reviews I read its about Missionaries that head to the Congo with all they think they need and find out what they really need. Isn't that just how we all are...all the things, ideas etc. we really need - how much of that gets in the way of what God wants to do?

A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards - I bought a new copy of this a while ago and though I have read my favourite snippets again I want to read this one from beginning to end.

Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling by Neta Jasckson - YIPEE - the Yada Yadas are my favourite novels. Don't let the bright covers fool you - they are FAR from chick lit. Seriously, if you haven't read any of these books get thee to a store or a library AS SOON AS YOU FINISH READING MY BLOG!! This is a brief description of what cannot be encapsulated in a li'l ol' nutshell of a blog:

What do an ex-con, a former addict, a real estate broker, a college student, and a married mother of two have in common? Nothing, or so I thought. Who would have imagined that God would make a group as mismatched as ours the closet of friends? I almost didn't even go to the Chicago Women's Conference -- after all, being thrown together with five hundred strangers wasn't exactly my "comfort zone." But I would be rooming with my boss, Avis, and I hoped that maybe I might make a friend or two. When Avis and I were assigned to a prayer group of twelve women at the conference, I wasn't sure what to think. There was Flo, an outspoken ex-drug addict; Ruth, a Messianic Jew who could smother-mother you to death; and Yo-Yo, an ex-con who wasn't even a Christian! Not to mention women from Jamaica, Honduras, South Africa -- practically a mini-United Nations. We certainly didn't have much in common. But something happened that weekend to make us realize we had to hang together. So "the Yada Yada Prayer Group" decided to keep praying for each other via e-mail. That worked for a while, but our personal struggles and requests soon got too intense for cyberspace, so we decided to meet together every other Sunday night. Talk about a rock tumbler!--knocking off each other's rough edges, learning to laugh and cry along the way. But when I faced the biggest crisis of my life, God used my newfound girlfriends to help teach me -- Jodi Baxter, longtime Christian "good girl" -- what it means to be just a sinner saved by grace.

Every book deals with an aspect of the women's lives. You will come to love each quirky character for their real-ness. You will wish you were a part of Yada Yada. This one book deals with facing really painful situations, letting go, growing up. God is prodding them on. As the father Denny tells his daughter, “Sometimes God knocks the props out from under us to help us grow up. Life goes on. We have to keep rolling.”

Ouch and Amen!

And so... I am off to use my Chapters discount card to mail order the books I don't have on this list. In the meantime I'm gonna brew me an un-sweetened ice tea with lime and get ready to READ... please join me, there's plenty of room on the swing!

...pureed fries anyone?...

I'm lovin' Ronnie!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 quoted...

"All children not claimed within 24 hours become the property of The Walt Disney World Corporation. They will be taken to the "It's a Small World" ride, their little feet crazy-glued to a piece of cardboard and taught to sing that ANNOYING song in 37 different languages!"
- Cruise Director on Disney's Jungle Cruise.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

...Silly Songs With Sanjaya...the part of the show where we...GET BACK TO THE REAL SHOW!

I have to confess that I would love to have seen Sanjaya back as a side show - JUST TO SEE what he would have done with his hair and clothes...imagine "Headbanging with Sanjaya".

...I am secretly a "rocker chick" at heart and I love me some Bon Jovi. But seriously was this not an amazing week on Idol? The kids stepped up and rocked the joint...

Phil must have earned himself a few million votes by picking this song. Blaze of Glory is one of those power songs and all his years of singing it with a comb in the mirror finally paid off. (How many stars got their start on a hairbrush I wonder?) Seriously he was da’bomb!

I mentioned to my hubby that he might want to get one of those Leather Jackets that Phil was wearing but he wasn’t sure it would go with his khakis and oxford...

Oh Jordin... you have some Rockin’ hair so don’t take Simon’s jabs to heart. But honey, you know after that performance you may just be "Stayin’ on a Prayer". I loved, loved that you agreed with the judges when they said it "wasn’t your best".

Laskisha and Simon Sittin’ on a stage
First comes love
Then comes marriage...
Oh yeah, "This Aint a Love Song" but the girl rocked! She was great, not screechy this week but I just can’t get over the fact that Simon liked Lakisha’s lips. Sooo...funny!

And for this week, I am officially a "Blaker Girl"... if I was 17 and single I’d be swooning. I was really worried what he was going to do "You Give Love a Bad Name". I mean, Beat Boxing Bon Jovi??!! Come on! But I was more than pleasantly suprised. He kept the rocky essence of this power-house song and added an incredible TWIST.

I was watching Gilmore Girls last night and one of the characters had to eat a big bowl of shredded wheat so that she could get her throat all scratched up so she could sing all "gravelly and rocky" Chris coulda used some of that cereal. He was a cutie this week, however, and while "Wanted: Dead or Alive" needs more guts and raunch to do it justice, the performance, like all the rest, was good.

Melinda DOOlittle... you DOO everything so well. From a gospel standard to BON JOVI! Seems that you channeled your Inner-Tina-Turner to pull this one off. You had fun, laughed at yourself and you "rocked-on" with perfection, thank you very much! I can’t wait to do church with you someday! You are my American Idol girl!

Now, unlike last week someone has to go home. I think it will probably be Chris or Jordin.

Phil, Melinda and Blake have got to stay.
Rock On Internets!
Back to Boomama for more...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

...secret obsession revealed!!...

So.. when I'm not blogging or chasing children or doing laundry again and again and again I am peeking into my secret obsession - blog reading. Here I can laugh with moms all over the world, share in their sufferings and try out a few new recipes. Some day I'll get my techie-head screwed on right and post my fav's on the side but until then... let me introduce you to some of the best writing in Bloggetyville.

The momma of all mamas is Boomama...She's got a heart of gold and her southern accent just makes me smile. I know I have never heard her in person but her writing is that good. Here are some of my favourites. Firstly, in honour of the less than stellar colour I am now sporting may I present Me and My Hair-Brained Ideas as an appetizer.... for a main course lets go with Serving the Internets One Clogged Artery at a Time and for dessert lets go with the trends and talk skinny jeans... If you are a TV kinda person this and this are hits. But be warned - her charmingness is addictive and you might never come back!

And a few new blawgs I am beginning to love.

Mental Tessarae has this post "From the Hazardous Area of my Mind" that shares the reality of worrying over our children's safety. Me and my imagination can so relate.

And another new favourite is My Best Investments. It is a blog written by a dad that takes an oh so funny view on life with kids. Hard to pick fav's but here and here and here are great starts.

And for a challenge to your faith and a glimpse into the strength of the human spirit read Heather's battle with a Brain Tumor here. She is really amazing and this Thursday she will be operated on to remove the tumor in hopes of saving and prolonging her life. There is an amazing prayer chain started by Kelli who has her own story of waiting for a transplant. Another blog that I peek in on is about Ashley Adams a little girl who is fighting for her life. She has had a triple organ transplant and now is fighting cancer. The miracle and glimpses of grace her mother shares are inspiring.

These three remind me life can be so hard but God is Good - ALL the time.

...the perfect guy...

I met the perfect guy in church 2 Sundays ago! He was tall, had dark hair and eyes and olive skin. He was dressed pretty well too. But, what really got me was that he was really praising God as he sang. While I tried to sing my eye kept being drawn to him and as he raised his hand in worship my heart skipped a beat...THERE WAS NO WEDDING RING ON HIS HAND!!!

Perfect I thought. I looked over at my husband, two seats down from me and began to plot and plan. How was I going to get an introduction to this guy? Me, being the quite shy and only bold in my own head type of person, decided hubby would have to do the introductions and we would take this slooow and casual-like. But let me tell you, on the inside I was already picturing the wedding. He would be standing at the altar, waiting for his bride...

And my awesome (once) single friend would head down the aisle on her daddy’s arm to meet him. I would sit at the back of the church silently rejoicing at how God had used me that Sunday morning to find the love of her life. ...makes you want to get out a hanky and wave it in the air don’t it??!!

You must realize that this is all going on as I am trying to sing "Blessed be Your Name" with the rest of the congregation in majestic praise, but I think God understood that there was something going on here (right!?). And then the song changed. The atmosphere in the church became quiet, somber as we sang a slow song. I focused myself, closed my eyes and leaned forward with my hands on the seat in front of me to sing. After a moment I opened my eyes and looked down...And.There.It.Was...just staring at me...taunting me, if you will. A filled out visitors card for the very boy I was trying to get an "in with". Truly this was a God moment and my ol’ heart did a hallelujah... well, that, and all my self control fought within me NOT to be NOSY but to SING THE BEAUTIFUL SONG. But, alas, my flesh was too weak and I looked. I did it. I read his name. And I noticed that he lived in a nearby town...excellent I thought, no need for anyone to move away...Now, what church would they attend?? Hmmm... As I pondered that,, I looked down again to the bottom of the paper. He wanted a pastoral visit...this was really impressive...this man was serious about God. Oh, and as I read further it said "healing for my family" and, isn’t that wonderful that he loves his family. And then, oh yes, I read the word I never thought would be there. WIFE... He had a wife and wanted prayer to restore their marriage. And in that instant, while the band played and people all around me worshipped, my hopes and dreams crumbled into a little pile o’ sand at my church shoes. As I watched my matchmaking dreams go belly up (yet again) I had one small, TERRIBLE thought. "Maybe, it just won’t work out with his wife and then..." AND THEN I REPENTED and turned away from the closed door. I learned a long time ago not to sit and stare at doors God has closed wondering what might have been. Let me tell you though. It was hard.

You see my friend is the greatest. The friendship started when she was still in youth group and we helped out the pastor and his wife. She would sneak sugar laden donut-bites to my toddler hoping he would get hyper. And then I watched her grow into such a strong, beautiful woman. She has always been a support, someone I could ask to pray for me. She has told the truth, had my back, laughed with me and cried with me. We don’t hang out often enough. She’s a social butterfly, busy with a multitude of friends and activities.

And did I mention that she is single?

While she attended the weddings of her friends and siblings we all hoped that "the one" would come along for her. If anyone deserved a great guy it was this chickie. And, while I never meant to become a matchmaker I seemed to find these guys, like the one described above that would be just perfect, if not a great story to tell at the reception.

But in watching her in her singleness, I have come to admire her even more. While many guys have come her way over the years she has never met the right one. She might tell you, as she laughs, that she is just too picky, but I think it is deeper than that. She is really waiting for God’s best. Even if that means being single and leading a life that is different from the traditional one she might have envisioned. If only we could all do that with "stuff" in our life. God’s ways are good. His plans are perfect. Waiting for His gifts is worth the time. She has taught me that... not in words, but through her life and example. Its one of the reasons I love her.

Someday I hope to sit at the back of a church, watching her stand by the back door, arm linked in here daddy's, beaming and in love. I’ll smile as I remember all the guys that "got away" so that the perfect one for her could be standing, tall, dark and handsome, at the end of the aisle, waiting to take her in her arms.

...and if God wants to slip his phone-number to me sometime to pass on... I will willingly do my part as "Yenta, the matchmaker" yet again... anything for a friend!