I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


This place is so pretty under a white blanket. I know I'll be longing for the lush green again before the winter's out, but it's all so pretty with a new cover laid down last night. The girls are itching to get out and make footprints all over the pristine lawn. I am thinking, not so much itching, that I need to get the snow chains on the tractor and hook up the snow blower attachment.

The birds are excitedly hopping around the suet and seed we put out, and are proving a huge distraction to lessons - but are in themselves an opportunity to learn, so I try to keep some semblance of focus with the girls but can understand the gazes shifting from paper and French lessons to the chickadees and blue jays who arrive for the feast. The verb conjugation just can't compete.

But what is learning if only confined to books? Sure, some things must be read about. Case in point: R and A are both enjoying reading about Alexander the Great right now, and since a trip to Asia Minor and ancient Macedonia is not in the cards, books are our best bet.

Much as we want certain academic standards, one very important goal in our home schooling is for the girls to love learning, to ask 'why?' and know how to find answers, to appreciate and be thankful for the things of life that we too often overlook. So much can be learned by patient observation. So some days, I chuck the lesson plan so we can get out and experience life, not just read about it.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

clubs and parties and engagements, oh my!

Clubs: I spent a couple of hours on Sunday night going way out of my usual zone, heading downtown to a nightclub by myself (mucho thanks to D for watching the girlies so I could do this) to see uber-drummer and his band play a set. So I walked into Zaphod's feeling decidedly out of my element, chuckling at how non-homeschool-mom-ish it was, and how I didn't know anyone there, and how much older I was than everyone I saw. And then he saw me and came over, big hug, he was so glad I came out and all smiles, I think a bit surprised I came, and I decided: this was so worth coming. To have someone genuinely glad to see me, not because they need me to do something, but just because I'm there. To show him he's valued and loved. They then proceeded to rock the house - very well-done, very tight, original music though heavier than my usual listening fare. But as a musician I could definitely appreciate the talent the guys have.

Parties: This Saturday night we're hosting the gang from the Sunday morning crew (band, sound, & media) and spouses here for a 'do. I'm having fun this week making appetizers, finally using all these elegant little recipes I have collected and not been able to use. Last night I played with phyllo dough (brie, grannysmith apples, shallots and walnuts. Wow.) and today is Asian dumplings and meatballs for the freezer. I do love to play in my teensy little kitchen.

Engagements: Dear nephew Bean is engaged. To a lovely girl who is a perfect match for him in so many ways. Our families will celebrate their marriage next summer. The girls are ecstatic, D and I are so happy that this special guys has found such a great girl.

So happy. And yet my thoughts jump from there to J. Maybe they were already there (first snow of the winter always takes me there), but I'm sure the leap would have been made anyway. I don't want in any way to diminish how wonderful this is for them. It is precious to find that one who becomes your friend, your partner through life, and so much more.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


I'm almost done A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. It's one of a series of classics I've been going through, including Notre Dame de Paris (Victor Hugo) and Silas Marner (George Eliot). It's good. Very good. I've always liked Dickens's writing, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, and Pickwick Papers being my favorites. Tale has a shadow hanging over the story - one of those stories where the foreshadowing is helped along by one's knowledge of history. The characters are in Paris in 1792, not exactly a safe haven. And I think I can see a nasty but noble end in store for one Mr. Carton.

Dickens can tend strongly toward the over-melodramatic (case in point: The Old Curiosity Shop) but his characterizations are wonderful. From Mr. Jingle to Miss Havisham, the Dodger to Scrooge, Joe Gargery to Pickwick, they are enjoyable to read. Some, true enough, are quite the caricatures, but they are fun nonetheless.

I do love to re-read an old book. It's like visiting with a good friend. You already know them, but each time you visit you find out a little something else. Maybe it's something new about them that you'd not noticed before; maybe something they say reflects on your own life in a new way. Or you can just sit, and be.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

baby, it's white outside

There's something about waking up to an unexpected snowfall. No idea it was coming and more is, apparently, on the way tonight. I woke to hear D saying 'whoa, it's a good thing I got the snow tires put on yesterday' and looked out my window at a true Winter Wonderland. Well, no sleighbells ringing, but the scene was picture perfect.

The fields, browned and mangy looking only yesterday, were pristine. The fences were outlined in white and every branch was carefully balancing an inch of snow. All was grey and white, except that the evergreens looked very smug, as if to say they had gotten the memo about the monochrome color scheme but wanted nothing to do with it. They still bore the snow on their broad shoulders, but insisted on adding color to it all. It was peaceful, that sort of hush that only comes on a snowy day.

The girls underwent that sublime change from half-asleep to wide-eyed and wide-mouthed as I woke them and pointed out the window. I think M and A were ready to go out and play, jammies or not. A visit to a friend's new home later resulted in the construction of the winter's first snowman. He was pretty dingy thanks to their still-dirt yard, but a snowman it was.

The dogs seemed to be puppies again as they jumped for snowballs, while the chickens stuck out their heads, pecked at the snow, but refused to set a toe outside. Wonder what they'd so if I just carried them out and dropped them in it?

And more on the way. Tonight I shall curl up with a book (almost through A Tale of Two Cities. The best of times, worst of times and all that).

Monday, 19 November 2007

15 ... nah

I feel like I'm poking my head out of a foxhole to see if the shooting has stopped. All quiet on our front, apparently. Now I just have to clean up after it all.

The conference went well and was another reminder of how humbling leading 750 people in singing can be. Wow. These people, out there on the front lines, all together singing and hearing them was awe-inspiring. It was one of those glimpses of heaven - people of all different backgrounds, from all across the country, united. Wow. And me, I was thinking, "ok, God, You just keep amazing me". It was exhausting, exciting, exhilarating, but above all it was ... what adjective? Awesome. In the literal I-am-awed sense. It wasn't reliant on me. It's good to remember that.

The song I had written was likewise warmly received and people really seemed to connect with it. I now have to find a way to make it available to the many people who asked for it. Again, humbling and awesome. Surreal to hear so many people sing something that came out of my time at my piano (and driving with goaliemom!).

Saturday, we went into town and helped with the final setup for the Santa Claus parade. A team of very dedicated people had been there since early in the morning setting up a couple of floats and our church's van and fun cruiser, which were prepped to hand out hot chocolate and goodies along the route. We arrived mid-afternoon, along with Bee, in time to finish up the sound system setup and the last few lights. A group of four of us sang on the float - very fun. My voice was kind enough to join us for the day. My left eye, meanwhile, had decided to get infected and be all itchy and red. Good thing the parade was after dark or I might have frightened the children. It's fun to just go along, smiling and waving at families. The singing was a bonus.

Yesterday, the cold hit D full force. I think he had managed to stave off the worst of it but spent yesterday afternoon sleeping, then was up for a few hours before heading back to bed for the night.

This week I have hopes of thing getting back to the usual routine. This afternoon is spent digging holes for tomorrow's septic tank pumping (note to self: CLOSE WINDOWS), a few other things in the offing, but we're mostly back to normal.

Whatever that is.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


And now I share what I have learned since blog #151. This could get real dull, real fast. Funny thing is, I do learn things from the little mundanities (I have no idea if it's a word. It should be. The mundane things of life. I'd better call Oxford and tell them I have a new entry for them) of life. Who knows when they will present themselves at your doorstep, waiting for you to decide whether you will ignore them and step over them in the pursuit of your day, or sit with them a while and learn something?

I've had no choice but to sit with the little guys this past week. I've been an annoying sort of sick. Not enough to make me feel justified in doing nothing and sleeping all day, but enough that my voice was disappearing fast. Typically, that's not a huge deal. The week before a nationwide conference at which I'm slated to lead the singing, it's frightening. Thursday it was fading, so on Friday I went on a self-imposed ban on talking and whispering. It was one big game of charades at our house, and the kids loved it. I felt like an idiot, knowing I had the ability to speak but writing notes or waving my arms around to try to salvage my poor vocal chords.

Saturday was more of the same, and while I felt dumb in every sense of the word D was kind and a huge help but amused. Sunday morning I talked, sang nothing, and then the ban was back on Sunday afternoon. Last night's rehearsal was where the mundanities started showing me things. They reminded me that I'm expendable. While it might be nice to be irreplaceable, there's also some serious pressure in that. The amazing band crew came to the rescue and we planned possible other leaders to songs I had planned to lead. This morning I was reminded during my study time that God's pleasure in me is not reliant on my performance. Even when my abilities fail, the love is still there.

Little M was love in action on Saturday afternoon. I had gone to sleep for a bit, and woke on my bed to hear little elfin footsteps go across the room, then a slight rustling, then back out of the room. Back and forth, back and forth went the tiny tread. I opened my eyes to hear her whisper "no, Mommy! Go back to sleep!" I obliged, curious but still tired. Then I heard a wee voice from the door say "one, two, three!" and the lights were turned on, and the door closed. I sat up to see what she had done. There was my room, transformed as only a seven-year-old can do it. Pieces of looseleaf, cut to resemble crude snowflakes, adorned my bed, the shelf, the dresser. A Lego robot hung in the window (??) and a whole herd of My Little Ponies stood on the chest at the end of the bed, looking at me. My slippers had been placed beside the bed and on the floor, her socks and a scarf made a little happy face.

Was it practical? No. I cleaned up most of it later. Was it loving, did it warm my heart, make me feel better in a way nothing else could? Absolutely.

The conference starts tomorrow and while I continue to keep talking to a miniumum, hope and pray that my voice returns, continue to drink hot lemon and honey, take vitamin C by the handful, and plan to pick up some serious medication to get me through the week, I know all is not lost and I am valuable and I am loved even if I don't sing a note.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


This is my 151st blog. I started in January feeling a little pretentious to be putting my thoughts 'out there', but have really enjoyed getting things down and connecting online. I've also found out a few things.

I like my simple, kind-of-dull and yet fun-in-itself life. I know many women don't have the freedom to do what I do, to stay home and not have to go to a job and bring home a paycheque. I appreciate this part of my life. I don't mind that my job is that of being a wife and a mom. If that was all that defined who I was, it would be enough. There is the musician, the wannabe farmer, the occasional reluctant mini-triathlete, but I am content and pleased to be my husband's wife and my kids' mom. That I get to be that and so much more is a bonus. I hope I never take it for granted.

I can miss someone and still have joy in my life. The missing isn't cheapened by it, but in a way that I can't fathom, it is enriched by the joy. Sad smiles are still smiles, and more poignant ones at that.

For all the crazy things that happen at our farm, I don't want to ever move back to suburbia. The conveniences aren't worth it in my book. We are so much closer to nature here and have become more 'green' than I would have with a disconnect from the reality of the environment. I wouldn't call myself a crusader, but when I see directly how little ecosystems work together and the diversity of life, I get more determined to do my little part. We're sort of accidental organic farmers. Is there such a thing? I think we're becoming it. The thought of spraying stuff on our fields does not appeal when I see the meadowlarks and bobolinks flit around over their nests, when I watch the girls run happily through the grass.

God is good. I overlook it, I forget it. But He stays the same. Thank goodness His constancy isn't dependant upon mine.

I don't think I'll ever do a month of trying to start all my titles with "in" again. Well, maybe. It was kinda fun.

Friday, 2 November 2007

deep conversation

Last night was band practice, the typical busyness of a Thursday night. After the gang had gone home, the girls were in bed and the dust had cleared, I had a good chance to sit and talk with Goaliemom, who has been staying with us since Monday and has the audacity to go and leave us today. The talk was of many things but ended up 'in Rome', as we call it. We talked about life and loss and grief and had two interesting observations.

One: that in the cultures and times in which grief is expressed very vocally and obviously (think of wailing, wearing black, etc), there is a certain health which goes beyond our 21st-century North American 'get over it' mentality. Someone who pushes down the grief and puts on a good front is "being so strong" or being healthy and "having closure". But at what price? Yes, we do work through things and in some ways we find a new normal, since there is no getting back to the normal we had before. But sometimes it just isn't tidy and it certainly doesn't happen in as short a time as people seem to think. Sometimes you walk through the woods and end up right back in a place you thought you had left long ago - it's like that with loss. You think you may have dealt with something, and then - wham - you get smacked with it again. All roads lead to Rome.

Two: that sometimes to grieve and work through things, we need to be alone. So often we worry that people who have lost someone shouldn't be alone. And while there is a time for support and being there for someone, there is a process through which we can only go in solitude. There is a nakedness of the soul that only comes when one is alone, and that nakedness is where we can truly, in a real and raw way, work through things. Yell at God. Cry. Ask questions that have no answers, but still demand to be asked. Then ask them again.

Thanks for the talk, GM.