Friday, April 30, 2010

Prayer for our Soldiers

I have a friend who kissed her soldier husband goodbye yesterday. He'll be in Afganistan for seven months. He has two young sons missing their Daddy already. It breaks my heart to think about the pain she is feeling today. I really can't focus my mind on much else.

I kissed my husband goodbye this morning. He'll be gone for eight to ten hours, and he'll be in no real danger while he is gone. He travels occasionally for work, and I hate it when he is gone for more than a night or two. I complain about having to manage mealtimes and bedtime routines by myself. I hate sleeping alone. But my complaints seem so very petty when I think about the long, lonely months that my friend is facing today.

This war has not hit close to home for me. I occassionally remember to pray for those members of our armed forces placed in harm's way across the world. That shames me today. I need to make their safety a matter of daily prayer, and reach out to those waiting at home.

Prayer for Our Soldiers

Lord, to you be bring our plea,
We humbly ask on bended knee,

We pray that you would be shield,
That around our soldiers, evils yield.

We pray that from each day's new start,
You'd bless them with a fearless heart.

We know that there's a time for war,
Lord, bless this cause they're fighting for.

Help them bravely fight the fight,
Guide them always with Your might.

Be there Lord, when times grow lonely,
Help them feel Your Spirit only.

Lift them up and draw them near,
Kiss away each salty tear.

Hold them close 'til there's no doubt
Of what your love is all about.

Guard their feet on rocky trails,
Guard their minds, so they'll not fail.

We pray that not one weapon prospers,
And that no act of terror fosters,

Against our beloved soldiers here,
For oh Sweet Lord, we hold them dear!

For Mark Allen Frye
by Sharon Frye

My friend's church held this family up in prayer last Sunday, and I know they appreciated the prayers. Their only concern was that people continue to pray and to care for this woman and her children while her husband is gone. I know his greatest concern is for his family, and that people will continue to shower them with the love he will not be here to demonstate for the next seven months. She will be missing his touch, and worrying constantly. Their boys will be asking for their Daddy. It is a long time, and a few weeks from now, most of the world will be busy with their routines and not taking time to think about those protecting our freedom overseas. I wrote this to remind myself to pray for all of them, since I don't live close enough to do much else, and to encourage others to remember her, and other military families, in these difficult times.

This is a sad morning for my friend. But two other ladies I know are welcoming new life into the world today! So this is a glorious morning for them! The Bible tells us to praise God in all circumstances, so that's what I'm choosing to do today. I'm thanking the Lord for these precious new babies, and praising Him for the happy reunion that will take place in November.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pure Gold

Only time for a short post this afternoon. I spent the morning on a field trip with Connor; a very cool fire safety/bicycle safety demonstration at the YMCA Children's Safety Village. Connor loved it, and I loved being there to watch him loving it. Unfortunately, safety demos always remind me of all the awful things that could happen, so I try not to dwell on them too much. Hopefully enough to keep my kids and our home safe, but not enough to live in fear.

When I got home I went back to my lovely little scrapbooking nook and made a few greeting cards, before I need to take my table down to make way for my new office area. I had a wonderful time scrapbooking yesterday, but I finished what I need to do, and now my house needs some attention. Of course, I didn't get right to housework when I finished. Instead I picked up the book I started weeks ago, which I love, and read just a few paragraphs before I found one that was so beautiful I just had to record here.

"I simply loved him as if he were my one and only lover, and he loved me too with the same simplicity of appetite and desire which made me wonder what I thought I had been doing all those years when I had been dealing in the false coin of vanity and lust. I had not known then that all along there had been this other currency of pure gold."
Phillipa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl

It just seemed so eloquent and true that I had to write it down. It describes perfectly what we feel when we find what we didn't know we were looking for. I could apply it to all sorts of situations: finding Mr. Right, first time motherhood, experiencing God for the first time. So often we think we have the real thing, when what we are really dealing with is counterfeit. Pure gold. The whole idea fills me with profound gratitude for the life that I have been blessed to have.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time for Scrappin'

My little scrapbooking nook is all set up! I have my trimmers and scissors and markers and setter and photos and embellishments and tons and tons of paper. I have a comfy chair and beautiful natural light streaming in the windows. I have 6 hours of uninterupted scrapping time stretching out before me. Can you imagine a better scrapping day than this?

But something is missing. What could it be?

My scrappin' girls, of course!

February 12, 2010

Now that was a fun scrapping day! Yvonne, Amanda, Merry-Lynne, I'm dedicating my day's scrapbooking to you! Love you guys, and miss you sooooooo much! Especially today!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Redecorating Already

The frustration with living in a new house is that it takes so long for it to feel like home! Especially if there are renovations planned. We are finishing the basement this year --- sometime before winter. So that means that all the other areas of the house are not quite what they are going to be. One of the biggest challenges I have had is with the front room. I'm sure it is meant to be a living room or dining room, but we have been using it for an office. The problem with that is that the first thing you see when you walk in the front door is the office mess. I love having the desk right by the front window, where I can look out into the beautiful sunshine while I'm writing. It definitely beats the "hole in the wall" office we had in our previous home. But it is really not the aesthetic I want as a first impression for visitors to our home.

It took Chris a while to convince me, but we really do need a cozy living area. An area with no tvs or computers. Just cozy furniture, for reading or visiting. The challenge there is that it means we will have to buy furniture. I guess that isn't all bad, either! But where to put the computer?

We could go back to the "hole in the wall" and put an office downstairs, but I really hate that idea. I spend a lot of time in this particular spot, and I don't want it to be where I can't hear what is going on in the rest of the house. The kids computer was in the upstairs hall, in the nook by the front window. Really prime real estate for a computer that is hardly used except for the occasional video game. So I finally made the decision. The kids computer moves into the guest room. The family computer moves up to the "nook" upstairs.

Today I got inspired, before the kids even left for school, to get the kids computer moved into the guest room. But I declared that the family computer would not be moving this week. Instead, I am taking one week to set up a table in front of the window and do some scrapbooking. I haven't touched my scrapbooking supplies since I arrived in London, and this is the perfect time. There are some pages I want to get done right away, and what a beautiful place to work! Chris helped me set up a table and warned me not to fall in love with it. I just might!

But then again, I'll have my lovely front room available now. Maybe a scrapbooking room?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Red Tape and Holes in the Wall

I am always slow getting going on Mondays, and Mondays following a long weekend are especially hard. The kids had Friday off for a PD day, and it was a beautiful day so they enjoyed lots of outdoor play with friends in the neighbourhood, while I tried to help my house recover from the days of neglect due to Tracy's whirlwind visit. Saturday we all trekked out to the Spring Home and Garden Show, then came home and worked in the yard and showed the basement to a potential contractor. And yesterday we went to church again (a much better, more friendly experience this time), and the kids and I went to see How to Train Your Dragon in the afternoon. We've had lots of fun family time, and now that the house is quiet again, it is time for me to get some work done.

I've already been somewhat productive. My goal for this week is to get a good start at becoming eligible to teach in London. So this morning I sat right down and called the Board Office to find out what is required of me to get on the Occasional Teachers list in London. Apparently all that is required is that I reactivate my membership with the Ontario College of Teachers, and set up a profile on the Apply to Education website. Sounds simple, but there is a lot of red tape involved in those simple steps.

Red tape. I hate red tape. Why can't things be simple? First I have to dig through boxes (of scrapbooking supplies, I think, so maybe this is a good thing...) to find my teaching portfolio which contains my NB Teachers' Certificate and contact numbers for my references. I also have to contact those references (who all have to be principals) and make sure they remember me from when I worked for them all those years ago. Then I have to contact UNB and have them send my transcripts to the Ontario College of Teachers. I have to go to the Police and get an up-to-date criminal record check. And it goes on.... Is this all really worth the effort?

Of course it is. Because I worked hard to earn a degree that says I can teach elementary school. I have valuable experience that is worthy of being put to use. And I love teaching. I just hate the red tape that I have to tangle through to get into a classroom!

Chris suggested that I work through some of that red tape every morning before I start writing my blog. Then I can use blogging as a reward. But the real reward I am going to give myself today is this: I am going to start hanging pictures on the wall. What makes a house feel more like a home than pictures on the wall? It's time. And after overwhelming myself with the idea of all that red tape, I deserve a reward. So I'm off to get the hammer and the level. It's time to start making some holes in the walls!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just When I REALLY Needed It!

I have always said that God gives us little treats when He knows we need them. Little "pick-me-ups" that help get us through a really difficult time. Sometimes we don't recognize them for the gifts that they are, but I try to give Him thanks and praise when I do. Tracy's visit was definitely one of those gifts.

The past week had been particularly hard. A lot of things were piling up on me, and I was missing home. When I saw Tracy standing in my doorway Tuesday evening, it was almost surreal. It really took me a few moments to register that she was really there! She definitely pulled off the surprise, with a little help from my husband (who had somehow gotten me to get the spare room ready without suspecting a thing!) I had absolutely no idea that they had been planning this for over a week. Praise the Lord for seat sales!

We had a wonderful visit. I showed her around London, and learned my way around a bit more as I did. We went to a "chick-movie" together. We walked the kids to school. We shopped. And shopped. And then shopped some more. I love helping Tracy spend money! After school yesterday we took the kids to "Candyland", a little candy store in our neighbourhood that we hadn't checked out yet. And last night we had dinner at home, played "UNO Extreme", put the kids to bed, went for a walk, and watched some TV with Chris.

Today we got up early and headed to the Covent Garden Market as soon as the kids were safely delivered to school. We had breakfast at the market and walked around downtown a bit. Then we headed out to shop some more. Tracy had a couple of returns to make, but she ended up spending more money. We found the perfect wall hanging to go over my fireplace, and she decided it was exactly what she was looking for as a housewarming gift for us.

Just after noon we headed back to the house so she could pack up and get on her way to Toronto to meet Blair. I was sad to see her go, but most of all I was just happy that she had come. I feel happy and thankful and connected to home. And ready to get back to real life here.

Thank you so much for coming, TJ! It meant the world to me!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meeting at School

We met with the Program Development Team at the school today. Basically it was a positive meeting. The primary concerns were Connor's ability to keep himself on task well enough to complete his work in a reasonable amount of time, and the anxiety he experiences when he doesn't get his work done and has to spend recess in the homework room.

Lots of things were said, by the teacher, by the school psychologist, by us. The principal and learning support teacher basically just acted as witnesses. Hopefully progress was made. Primarily, we wanted to impress upon all of them that this has been a huge transition for Connor, and it hasn't even been a month yet. We have gone through 4 1/2 years of school without one negative comment about his behaviour, and less than two weeks after starting at a new school there are complaints from the teacher. How much are we expecting of this little (at least in my mind) boy who has just endured the biggest change of his life? The psychologist was very much the voice of reason, saying that this has only been a very short time and Connor would of course still manifest anxiety over all the new people, expectations, and environments in his life.

Most importantly, we impressed upon the teacher that Connor needs to be well aware of what is expected of him, and what the consequences of his actions will be. If he isn't surprised by a consequence, he will usually take it without too much problem. But if he is suddenly told "Nope, no outdoor play for you today", he will have trouble dealing with that. He is sensitive, and needs to feel safe in his world. He needs to know what is coming. I have to deal with this all the time. Chris is constantly reminding me not to spring a form of discipline on Connor that he wasn't expecting. It isn't fair to do that to him.

So I hope his teacher will take that into consideration. And I hope she will try to integrate some positive reinforcement techniques into her teaching. Chris was very forceful in asking what techniques the teacher uses to keep students on task. Her answer was not particularly satisfying, but at least Chris made the point that keeping a 10-year-old on task in the classroom is not only the responsibility of the 10-year-old. I think this teacher has previously taught middle school grades, and has the same expectations of grades 3 and 4 as she had of those students. I think she needs to add some motivation techniques to her repertoire. Positive motivation is so much more effective with Connor. His NB teacher had a reward system, where the kids earned play money that they could spend at occasional classroom auctions over the course of the year. Worked like a charm for Connor. I wished afterward that I had mentioned it at the meeting, but I don't want to sound like I am trying to tell his teacher how to teach.

I survived the meeting, although there were moments that I was afraid I would dissolve into a puddle. Now I just want to put it behind me and move forward. We need to talk to Connor about what is expected of him. He does need to take responsibility for his own work, and if he doesn't finish on time, he needs to accept the consequences. That's just something that goes along with growing up. But I don't want to spend any more time worrying about it. We have all lost enough sleep over this. Time to move on.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Church Shopping

Yesterday was our first venture out to church on our own in London. We went to the church that we can actually see from my bedroom window. It is a very large church, probably 2000 attendees over three services on an average Sunday. It is a very polished church: theatre seating, flawless sound system, impressive musicians, engaging dramatic presentation, attractive kids area. The pastor preached a very good message. Janelle enjoyed the kids program, and found a friend from her class there. Connor prefered to sit with us, and although he was quite fidgety by the end, he seemed quite interested as well. All in all, this was probably a great church.

But the problem with church shopping is that it is impossible to figure out on one Sunday whether or not this is the church that will feel like home someday. Everything about this church was excellent, but no one wanted to talk to us. No one cared that we were there. The problem with church shopping is that we are trying to replace something very personal with something that, necessarily for a while, is completely impersonal. It is like replacing a pair of favourite old shoes that fit like a glove, that maybe have some holes and don't look very nice anymore, but feel wonderful, with a brand new pair that looks perfect, but feels a little too tight and leaves some blisters after a few hours of wearing. Our old church was far from perfect. We did our fair share of complaining at times. But it was ours. It was home. We knew everyone, and many of them felt like family. Chris had been part of that church for over 30 years. It was impossible to walk in the door without saying hello to a dozen people! I worked there for three years. It was quite literally my second home. How do you replace that?

I made  a joke at "Kidmo" a few months ago, on a particularly rowdy night (must have been a full moon) when the kids were driving the leaders CRAZY, that perhaps I'd like to find a big church where I could be one of the anonymous 80% who comes to church Sunday morning but does nothing to add to the ministry there. It was a joke, because everyone knew I wouldn't be able to do that. I need to have a ministry outlet! For the past several years it has been a number of things: nursery director, mom's club leader, choir, praise team, home group host/leader, Sunday School teacher, "Kidmo" leader, Junior Church volunteer, among other things. I'm not bragging about all I've done. My closest friends have contributed just as much. I just need to be a part of things; I need to do things that I feel are going to matter in eternity.

But I can see how it would be easy to become one of the anonymous 80% at a church like the one we went to yesterday. It would be easy to remain invisible. No one recognizes us, no one knows that we are new. No is going to ask anything of us. No one is going to seek us out to find ways to get us involved in their church. I think I'm just coming to understand that it is up to us to find a church, to find friends, to find an area of ministry where we can be used. It seems daunting. It seems overwhelming. It seems like something that is going to require much prayer.

I hate church shopping. I don't want to "try out" all sorts of churches in London. I want to walk into one and have it feel like home. But, I doubt that is going to happen. I don't think any church is going to feel like home without requiring something of me.

We are going to a different church next Sunday. Just to "try it out". But we may be back to the one we tried yesterday. You can't judge a book by it's cover, and you can't judge a church by one Sunday. This is going to take some time. And effort. And serious prayer.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Princess Janelle

Janelle and I found this picture yesterday. It was taken last summer at Shining Waters in PEI. She wanted me to find a picture of her for my desktop background, and this is the one we chose. She loves it because it makes her look like a princess riding her unicorn. I love it because of the look on her face.

My daugher is not much like me. She is far more like her dad: independent, confident, ready to try anything. Her only resemblance to me might be her tendancy toward the dramatic. She loves to sing and dance and make up stories and imaginary friends. And she isn't afraid to do any of that, no matter where she is or who is watching. Everything is an adventure to her. The world is a playground and she wants to go on every ride. I hope she never loses that confidence, that self-assuredness that is so evident in the look on her face in this picture.

Because in her mind, and my heart, she truly is Princess Janelle. And nothing is out of her reach.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

That Smile!

Like all moms, my heart is very tied up in my kids, and especially in their feelings. If one of them is hurting, I am hurting. Connor is a very sensitive soul, and he has had a rough week. He likes his new school, and has fit into his class easily and made friends, but he is struggling with the expectations of his new teacher, particularly in terms of finishing work on time. This week he has spent some time inside during outdoor play times, which is very difficult for Connor. He had a breakdown one night, and I spoke to his teacher about it the next day, and now she has set up a meeting for us to discuss it with her, the principal, and other specialists in the school. It's no surprise that this has upset Connor even more. He doesn't want to be the subject of a meeting. Like me, he just wants life to float by smoothly with not much rippling in the water.

So I was thrilled last night when he started smiling again. Way back when we first told the kids about the move last summer, we promised Connor that we would get a new bed for his room. Maybe a bunk bed, maybe a loft bed, but definitely a new bed. He grabbed on to this promise, and his excitement about moving grew from there. Since we've been here, we've looked at beds, but hadn't settled on the right one that would meet his needs, and our price range. We decided a loft bed would be the right fit, but they are not easy to find. Yesterday I found one. ON SALE!!! So late yesterday afternoon we all trekked out to the store to look at it, and we all agreed it was the perfect one. Then Chris decided he would save the delivery and set up fees and bring it home and put it together himself. It made for a bit of a late school night, but it was so worth it. As you can see from the look on his face, Connor LOVES his new bed! And I love THAT SMILE!!!

(Please disregard the mess on the desk and dresser — We were moving things around quickly and didn't have time to tidy up before picture time).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Days

How do I define "happiness", and how does it manifest itself in my life? I sat down to my computer several hours ago to compose my daily post, and I started by visiting another friend's blog to find some inspiration. I don't always "steal" ideas, but today I felt like I needed something to get my juices flowing. Denise's blog about Happiness presented not only some inspiration, but also a challenge. She had been inspired by another blog to write about what happiness really and truly meant to her, and she wanted to see what others had to say about it as well. Perfect, I thought. I'll just write about that today. Then I started thinking. Easier said than done.

I think I am basically a happy person. I've always been someone who can (eventually) see the bright side of a situation. It's what I've been determined to do ever since arriving in London. I want to make this a happy home for my family. But what is happiness? And what do I need to do to get it?

I decided to do some errands and some thinking before I started to write. I changed the ink cartridge in the printer. I paid some bills. I filled out some change of address forms. But all the while, the happiness question was in the back of my mind. What I was really thinking about was, how much does my happiness depend on my frame of mind, and my choice?

Three words have been tumbling around in my mind, trying to settle themselves in their appropriate places. These words are: happiness, contentment, and joy. Are they all the same thing? I don't think so. The Bible says that joy is a fruit of the spirit. That means that if I have the Spirit of God present within me, I will manifest joy. It isn't a feeling, it is a fact. Joy, to me, is very bound up in peace and love and hope. I'm not trying to sound like a hippie here, but having joy, peace, hope and love is intrinsically a very spiritual thing. Joy is the way my world is coloured. A day is a day, but a day with joy is a Day! Even my bad days are coloured with joy. And that is certainly a part of happiness. But happiness is different. I always have joy. Sometimes I have to remind myself of it, but I do. Happiness is something I have to work on.

Distinguishing between contentment and happiness may be a little more difficult, but I think I can do it. Contentment is a general wellness, a feeling of being satisfied with the way things are. I am content in London. There are days that I am happy in London. But I had a lot more happy days in Fredericton than I do in London. I'm sure that will change as circumstances change. I can manage my contentment. I can decide to be content. I can't always decide to be happy. I can decide to focus more on the things that I know will make me happy, and I think that is the point of this whole exercise.

Focus. Seeing the glass half full. Choosing to hope. This is where we can find happiness. There are certain things that we know will make us happy. And if we first choose to be content with the life we have, and then choose to focus on the parts of that life that bring us happiness, we will find a lot more happy days.

So what are the things that bring me happiness? The list seems daunting, but I'm going to give it a shot:
  • My children's voices (the happy ones, not the whiny ones)
  • The smell of spring in the air
  • The sound of my husband's voice on the phone, or even better, close to my ear in the dark.
  • A free hour and a good book
  • Scrapbooking (especially with friends)
  • Big sloppy kisses from my kids
  • A warm hug from a friend
  • The sound of birds singing
  • A classroom full of children eager to learn
  • Dancing with my daughter to music turned up loud
  • Hearing my son's basketball bouncing in the driveway
  • Fresh school supplies in September
  • Almost everything about Christmas
  • Summer vacation (especially at the beach)
  • A long talk on the phone with a friend
  • My husband's "I love you"
  • The peace I have after I've spent time in prayer and the Word
  • The smell of hamburgers on the barbeque
  • Shopping (especially with my Mom!)
  • Hearing my kids playing with their cousins and knowing how they are best friends
  • Writing every day
There are more. I'll probably add to the list over the next couple of days. These are the things that make me happy. And whether I choose to focus on these things or on the things that bring me down is a matter of my choice. What are the things that make you happy? Please leave a comment! Maybe I'll add yours to my list!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One Month

We moved into this house exactly one month ago. Since then I have:

Plus many other things that have escaped my mind at this moment. But I made this list so when I feel like I have a million things to do to make this house feel like home, I can look back and see all I have done already. And maybe I'll feel like it's possible to get there before tooooooooo long. I just have to put some thought and sweat into it. And start hanging things on the wall.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Christopher!

Regardless of the risk of inflating his ego, I have to dedicate my second blog in a row to my wonderful husband, who turned 40 (finally!) yesterday. Chris loves to point out that I was born a whole decade before he was (November 1969 to April 1970). This makes me exactly 5 months and one week older than he is, but he milks that for all it's worth! For this reason, I shamelessly celebrate his birthday every year, but especially milestone years like this one.

We picked Chris up at the airport yesterday morning, and began the celebration by going out to brunch at a little greasy spoon that we found in our neighbourhood. Then we come home and found...


and a gift...

Yes, I know it was a garbage can, but it's what he really wanted. Remember, we just moved into a new house. We actually decided to return it anyway. Might get a bike rack.

We spent the afternoon walking around downtown London. It was Car Free Sunday, so one of the main streets was closed. Great chance to see what's there without the hassle of traffic. We visited a couple of parks and the fountain by the river. We stopped in to the Market and got smoothies. Tons of great photo ops! ...but I left the camera in the car.

We came home and the birthday boy shot some hoops with Connor while I prepared a yummy dinner of tortellini with meat sauce. Then we played UNO and Pass the Pigs before bath time, followed by a bedtime snack of...

While watching Spider-Man 2.

Halfway through the movie, we tucked the kids into bed.  AHHHH, peace and quiet! Then we turned on the fireplace and had a glass of the Mike Weir Carbernet Merlot that Lori gave Chris for his birthday.

Sound like a perfect birthday? I hope the birthday boy thought so!

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Daily Phone Call

My husband is a very goal-oriented person. He is someone who starts a task and cannot think of anything else until the job is finished. This is true at home and at work. He is focused, and does not break that focus easily. That is why I rarely hear from him in the middle of the day. He goes to work in the morning, and basically I assume that he forgets anyone else exists until he comes home. Over fourteen years of marriage, I have learned not to take this personally. He just manages his life and work better when he doesn't have to break his focus.

Which is why I have been a little bit surprised every day since we've moved to London. Almost every day since he started work here, I get a phone call from him early in the afternoon. Just to see how I'm doing. I love it. I love him for it, because I know it isn't easy for him to drop everything and pick up the phone to check on me. He knows that it surprises me. He may not know that each of these phone calls means more to me than a dozen roses. The fact that he recognizes how hard this move has been for me, and tries to help by showing me he doesn't forget about me all day, makes my days here so much easier. Every time he calls it makes me smile.

I don't expect the phone calls to last forever. But I don't expect to feel this lonely forever either. He knows what I need right now, and is making an effort to meet that need. What could be more romantic than that?

Happy birthday, Honey! I love you!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Umbrella

Rain, rain, go away...
Come again another day...
Little Johnny, little Johnny
Wants to play!

I bought an umbrella yesterday. Too late. I picked up the kids at school in the middle of a downpour, without an umbrella, or a hood on my raincoat. I tried to look dignified. I knew running between raindrops wouldn't help. So I just walked, at a regular pace, from my parking space on the street, up the driveway of the school, around to the back of the school, and in the door where I could wait for Janelle out of the rain. I walked the same slow walk back to the van with the kids, while they teased me about not putting up my non-existent hood. I even enjoyed it a little, not caring whether I got wet because there was nothing I could do about it. I got back into the van looking like a drowned rat, but I didn't run home and hide. I ran an errand. I bought an umbrella.
These pictures are two years old, but I thought I'd demonstate some of the pure joy that using an umbrella can bring.

There's nothing I can do about the rain, so I might as well enjoy it! As I've settled into the everyday routine of living in London, that is kind of my attitude toward life here. I will find some joy in the little things. This is where I live, and it's not going to change any time soon. I can't avoid the raindrops, so I might as well relish the walk through the rain.

It's still raining today. Not as hard, but I expect I'll have a chance to use my new umbrella when I pick up the kids again today. And tomorrow. By Saturday the sun is supposed to come out, but I'm ready for it any time now. This rain is stifling my creativity.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain." Thanks, Heidi!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Adventures at the DMV

For the first time since I began the challenge, I am writing this blog with both kids and a husband here at home with me. Don't expect it to be particularly profound. Don't even expect it to make much sense. I have all sorts of things going on around me. Noises. Questions. Demands. Not the quiet, creative home that I am usually writing in. Not total chaos, but not complete peace either. Today is a day like that.

The plan for today was for Chris and I to take the kids to school and then go get our Ontario Drivers Licenses. However, nothing ever goes as planned, does it? Five minutes before it was time to head out the door, Janelle announced that her belly hurt and she needed to go back to bed. If this had been Connor I would have questioned him on it, but Janelle loves school and only asks to stay home if she really isn't feeling well. So I sent her back to bed and left her home with Daddy while I took Connor to school. She almost instantly fell asleep, and stayed that way for a couple of hours. When she woke up, she felt "great", so we all got ready and I took her to school. Then Chris and I headed off for our adventure at the Drivers License office.

The first place we went was right around the corner from our home. The sign above the door said "Drivers Licenses", so we walked in and said "We just moved from out of province and need new drivers licenses". The reply, of course, was "We don't do that here". Of course not. Why would an office that said "Drivers Licenses" above the door actually issue drivers licenses? That would be too simple. So off we went a few km away to the "Drive Test" office. At reception we were told that we needed two forms of ID: our NB drivers licenses and one other, preferably a passport. I don't usually carry my passport, so I asked if a birth certificate would do. "Only if the name on it matches your drivers license." Hmmmmm.... if only I had been born Leanne Haines. An Ontario Health card would do. Hmmmmm.... what about an NB Medicare card? Nope. Well, is there anything that will work besides a passport? Hmmmmm.... nope, you're going to need your passport. Chris decided he might as well get his done, since the name on his birth certificate does match his drivers license, and then he said "If there is going to be a wait you might have time to run back and get your passport", and the receptionist piped up "Yes, there WILL be a wait". No kidding. I hurried home, grabbed my passport, arrived back 10 minutes later to find Chris seated in a room full of people. The line had barely moved since I had left. We were in for a wait. Why didn't I bring a book to read? At least I had my husband to talk to. My husband, who had his IPod to play with. Hmmmm..... Just over an hour later, and $150 poorer, we left with our official temporary Ontario licenses.

After we had lunch together I hurried off in the pouring rain to finish the other errands I had planned to get done today. I didn't have a minute to spare before it was time to pick the kids up at school.

I tell you this boring story to explain why I have not had time to write a real blog today. And why I'm not going to try now that homework time and supper prep time is upon us. We've entered the crazy hours of my day. Sorry! I'll try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

After Easter Pity-Party

They say the first holiday away from home is hard, and it is 100% true. I am emerging from this Easter four-day weekend feeling pretty empty. It's not that we did nothing to mark the holiday here in London. We got up and had our Easter egg hunt. The kids were thrilled with what the Easter Bunny left behind. We went to my friend's church for the morning service, and then back to her home for a lovely Easter turkey dinner. The weather was beautiful all weekend, far more like summer than the beginning of spring. We even got some necessary "around the house" stuff done. It's really not a lack of what we put into the Easter weekend in London. It's more about what we missed back home.

My family got together for an Easter celebration in New Brunswick. Now, we wouldn't always see my family on Easter weekend even if we lived in Fredericton. But it is more about what I couldn't do than about what I would have done that left me feeling sad this weekend. I missed seeing my nieces and nephew enjoying their Easter treats, and giving my mom and dad an Easter hug. Our church family celebrated Good Friday and Easter Sunday services together. I missed singing in the choir and seeing my friends on Easter Sunday morning. I missed hearing our Pastor's Easter morning message. As I said, we went to church, but it wasn't the same. I always try to make a big deal of what Easter really means -- Christ's resurrection that brings new life to all of us. Thankfully, Connor and Janelle understood, even without Sunday School, that this is what Easter is really all about. But it is so much easier when you have a church home, and you are involved in making Easter a special day, and sharing the message of God's perfect love. I still miss being involved in Easter productions that portray the passion week through drama and music. Being in the middle of it all makes it so much more tangible and filled with excitement. That wouldn't have happened this year even if we lived in NB, but it still added to my melancholy.

When we left home, I felt so bad about all the sad people I was leaving behind, and I didn't focus so much on myself. I was heading out to a new adventure. But on weekends like this, my focus is drawn to the fact that all those people who cried when we left still have each other. While we're out here, not completely alone, but feeling pretty alone sometimes. And feeling sad about how, while I am struggling to create a life and a home here, life back home has gone on pretty much just as it was before.

So on this gloomy, rainy morning, I am allowing myself this short, after-Easter pity-party. But I have sent my kids off to school, I have plenty of work to do to keep myself busy, I still have that great book to read, and I may indulge in a trip to the mall that I haven't gotten to yet. The pity-party is over, and it's back to real life. Back to focusing on the future and making London feel like home. So next year Easter won't be lonely. We'll have a church family to celebrate this most joyous day with, and hopefully that church will feel like home to us. The longing for New Brunswick will have dimmed enough that I will not constantly be thinking about what my family and friends are doing together, without us. I will be taking joy in all the good things about my life — here.

Quick Update: My meeting with Connor's teacher was fine, but it was the first negative feedback I've gotten from a teacher. Apparently, he is far too social for his own good, and it has been interfering with his ability to complete his school work. The other day, when the teacher took away his recess and lunch playtimes, he had a breakdown (outdoor time is pretty important to Connor). Somehow, we have to get him to learn how to focus during class time, and save his socializing for play times. At least, as his teacher says, he has had no trouble fitting in to the class!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Call from the Teacher

Connor's teacher called this morning. It was early, before school started, so I was out taking the kids to school and missed the call. She left a message, just asking me to get back to her by phone, or to stop in this afternoon when I pick up the kids. She said she just wanted to touch base, to keep good communication between us. As a teacher, I've made many similar phone calls myself in the past. So why do I feel a sense of dread?

I know Connor is a good kid. I know that he is certainly not one of the "problem kids" in any class. He is fun, and funny, and kind and friendly. He is a little chatty (ok, at times a lot chatty), and I'm sure he is easily distracted from his work. But all in all, I would love to have a kid like him in my class. And I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom! I can't imagine that she would have anything really serious to discuss. She just wants to make sure that we are both providing Connor with a smooth transition.

So I shouldn't be nervous about meeting with his teacher this afternoon. I shouldn't be, but I am. My "Mama Bear" instincts are kicking in. I know that it is important to keep open communication with the teacher, so that when a problem does arise in any form, we will all be prepared to deal with it together. I am used to coming at this situation from the other side. Being the parent shouldn't scare me!

But I still have a nervous pit in my stomach. And I don't think anything is going to make it go away before 3:30.