Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Great Expectations

I need to start off this post by apologizing to my brilliant husband. My last post implied that he didn't know exactly what he was doing when he challenged me to write every day. How I underestimated him! Of course his main goal was to get me in the habit of writing, so much that I would be hooked by the time summer came. I think he is still holding out hopes that I'll be a published author someday, and he knows that writers need to write. It was all part of his master plan. Congratulations and thank you, Chris! You tricked me into it!

School is officially over for the year! The kids arrived home yesterday with big smiles, full back packs, and great report cards. Connor received a "Math Master" award and Janelle was given an award for "Most Cooperative". Once again, they were both beaming with pride when they showed me their awards. There is something so magical and promising about the last day of school. The air is absolutely electric. I have loved the feeling for over 30 years! Freedom! Nearly 10 weeks of possibility stretching out ahead of us.

I always start the summer excited! It is my very favourite time of year. The slower pace, fewer demands on my time, sunny days, family events. I love summer. The kids are playing at the playground and I am dreaming up ways to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of this precious season. Today started off on the right foot: I didn't get out of bed until after 9 a.m. Lots more days like that are sure to come. Our four-week trip to New Brunswick will dominate the middle of the summer. Four weeks sounds like a lot, but I know it will FLY by! Between visiting friends and family in Fredericton and Saint John and enjoying lazy days at Tracy's cottage, I know the time will disappear way too fast. I'm also counting on beach time here in Ontario, maybe a visit to African Lion Safari or Canada's Wonderland, rainy day trips to the library, a sunny day visit to Storybook Gardens, maybe a family bbq in Toronto, and lots of time reading one of the many books I have stacked and waiting (now that's another post waiting to be written). And of course there is still that basement we have to get finished.... Summer.

I know that nine weeks from now I'll be realizing there are only a few precious days left, and we didn't accomplish nearly as much as we had hoped. But as long as I am intentional about making summer days their very best, I know many of my great expectations will be realized. Now Connor is off to a friend's house to enjoy the pool, and I can hear Janelle and her friend Avery laughing outside my window. We're off to a great start!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I met the challenge! I have added a post to my blog for every day the kids have been in school since we moved to London. They haven't all been works of art, but that wasn't the point. I think I was mistaken about what the point of Chris's challenge was. I don't think even he knew what the importance of what he was asking me to do would be. He thought he was giving me a project, something to keep my mind on in this new city while I was home alone. That worked. It was a success. But more importantly, I was successful in getting hooked on writing again. I can't imagine stopping.

This blog has been a wonderful way to keep in touch with so many different people. There are people in several different provinces and states reading it; people I talk to regularly and people I hardly know; people at my stage of life and people with whom I have nothing in common. Some leave comments, some have signed up as followers. Some occasionally send me an email or Facebook message to let me know they appreciate the blog. My most devoted follower has to be my mom. She lets me know that she notices if I haven't posted anything before 3 o'clock in the afternoon! I have other friends that I have hardly talked to in years, with whom I have been able to reconnect through this blog. I love that I can just put my thoughts out there every day and somebody back home is going to read them. Somebody back home is going to know what I'm thinking or feeling that particular day. The ones back home that I miss so much can still be part of our daily life because I can share it with them so easily.

When I was in university I wrote constantly. Nothing was real unless it was recorded in my journal. Those journals were not for public consumption. In fact, I went back and read them last year, and I don't even think they are for my consumption anymore! My writing was very personal, very private. I still want to write to preserve the thoughts and feelings I have today for the future. But now I also want to write to make a connection with people. I am writing for me, because it brings something alive in me that is really powerful and freeing, but now I am also writing because it can bring me into people's lives on an ordinary day and we can share something. I love it.

So today is the last day of the challenge. But today is clearly not the last day of the blog. I still want to open up my window on this journey and share the view. It's the last day of school, so it will not be as easy. I won't have regular alone time to reflect and ponder what I'm going to record each day. But I'm hoping I'll still be able to manage 3 days a week. It may be more difficult when I'm on vacation in NB. I won't have regular access to a computer, and I'll be far too busy, either visiting with friends and family or soaking up the sun with a good book. But I'll be back. I promise.

Tomorrow I'll write about my kids' last day of school, report cards, vacation excitement. Today I just have to add one photo, of the poem Janelle wrote on the card she made for her teacher. I hope you can make out what she wrote. I think we may have another budding writer in the family!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Soccer Star

After seven summers of running back and forth to the soccer field, this is going to be my last summer as a soccer mom. Connor decided last year that he didn't want to play anymore, and we were supportive of his decision. We figured after 5 years he knew whether or not he loved the game. This year is clearly Janelle's last year.

She had a tournament on the weekend. While she loves to "be part of it", she doesn't actually want to "be part of it". She is happy to run onto the field when it is her turn and become an "on-field spectator", but she doesn't want to get anywhere near the action. My favourite is when she starts chatting with her invisible friends while she is standing out in the middle of the field. You can watch her hold long conversations with "someone" while her team is at the other end of the field battling for a goal. At one point on Saturday, after she came off for a shift, I had a chat with her about it. I said "Nellie, you know that your imaginary friends really aren't supposed to be on the field with you during the game". She replied "But Mom, they're in my head, so they have to go wherever I go. I can't just leave them behind!" Well, how can I argue with logic like that?

My girl is clearly not an athlete, much like her Mama, but she has a rich imagination and a definite flair for the dramatic. So soccer isn't her thing. I'm happy that she spent four summers "giving it a try". I'm proud of the fact that she will try pretty much anything. Yesterday we went to a brand new (to us) church, and when they called all the children to the front to sing a song for the congregation, Janelle headed right down to the front to join them. She didn't know the words or the actions, but she wanted to be there! Then she followed all the other kids, not knowing a single one, downstairs for children's church. I am amazed at her bravery. Maybe next year we'll find out what her "thing" is, whether it be dance or singing or drama or whatever. It's definitely something, and she's not going to shy away from finding it!

And here is a picture of the soccer star, taken this morning, after losing her second front tooth in the night. Cute or what?

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Terrific Kids

Each month, the kids' school holds a "Terrific Kids" assembly, where awards are given in recognition of qualities demonstrated by students representing one of the letters in the word "Terrific". This month the quality the teachers were looking for in students was "capable". Connor's teacher called on Tuesday to let us know that Connor would be honoured today as a "Terrific Kid". She said he has certainly shown himself to be very capable through the whole process of moving to a new school and fitting into a new class. He didn't know anything about it, but she wanted to invite us to attend the assembly. I've been keeping the secret since then, and yesterday, Janelle's teacher called to let me know that she also would be honoured at the Terrific Kids assembly. Janelle didn't know anything about it either.

This morning I got up and got myself ready and told the kids they would need to ride their bikes to school on their own today because I had too many errands to run. The assembly was scheduled for 9:00 a.m., immediately after the first bell rang, and Chris and I didn't want the kids to know we were coming to the school, too. I sent them off on their bikes and then Chris and I arrived in the van right at 9. I'm pretty sure Connor caught a glimpse of us on the schoolyard before his class went inside, but I think it just piqued his curiosity. Janelle had no idea we were there until she was standing in front of everyone receiving her award, and I caught her attention for a picture.

They both looked so proud! I certainly do have terrific kids! They have handled this enormous transition with such grace, and their dad and I could not be more proud. I am just so glad they were recognized in a forum that they appreciate: their own school. Days like today do so much to make this feel more like home to them, and to me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Neighbours

We're not the new neighbours on our street anymore. The house next door to ours has been empty since shortly before we moved in, abandoned by a young man who found himself without a job and, apparently, without much hope. We've watched this sad little house move through the stages from abandonment to being re-inhabited. We answered our door the day after we moved in to a banker looking for the owner of the house. We watched workers fill a dumpster in the yard with all the belongings left behind by the previous owner. I saw the realtor put up the "For Sale" sign. I heard the lawn mowed weekly by a lawn company sent to keep the place in shape. I looked up the listing on MLS, and even peeked in the windows once to see what this sad little house looked like inside.

Three weeks ago a "Sold" sign appeared. Was it my imagination, or did the house look a little happier? I noticed a number of times in the evening a car would drive down our street and slow way down, the driver looking longingly at the little house next door. A few days ago the "For Sale" sign came down, and the kids speculated about when the new people would move in, and would they (please please please) have "kids our age". I warned them it was finally time to stop playing in the empty driveway next door. Yesterday morning I exchanged pleasantries with the meter-reader from London Hydro who came for a final reading before the new owners moved in. And finally, last night, Connor announced happily "There are people moving in next door! Mom, you have to go meet them!"

I'm really pretty shy about introducing myself to people. But my neighbour across the street is just about the friendliest woman you'd ever meet, and she was already out making friends with the young couple unloading the half ton in the yard, so I decided I might as well join her.

It's funny the things we notice on a first impression. The first thing that struck me about this young couple is how VERY young they are! If I had to guess, I would say early twenties. They made me feel so old! No wedding rings, but she is wearing a very large diamond, so I expect that wedding plans are underway. No kids to play with, but maybe there will be babysitting opportunities for my kids in a few years. Both were very friendly, and seemed happy to meet a few of their neighbours so quickly. The young woman seemed absolutely giddy about moving into her own house for the first time.

The sad little house looks downright content today. And Connor wants me to make cupcakes to take next door.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bed in Summer

My poor babies do not want to go to bed. And how can I really blame them? At 9:15 the 6-year-old across the street is still out playing in his yard. Our new next door neighbours moved in today, so there is lots of excitement on the street. The sun still hasn't found it's way to bed yet, and the kids just don't think it's fair that they should have to snuggle down when the world is still awake.

June is a wonderful, magical month... except for a couple of things: teachers still give homework in June (some even assign projects!), and school-night bedtimes come way too early. I love Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "Bed in Summer". I couldn't say it any better.

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Robert Louis Stevenson

I'm going to read that to the kids tomorrow night. But I don't think it's going to help.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

African Lion Safari

Today was Janelle's end of year school trip to African Lion Safari. Great spot, but POURING RAIN!!! There were moments without rain, but there were many moments of torrential downpour! But it wasn't all bad.

We sat with Janelle's teacher on the way and on the way back, and I got to know and appreciate her much more.
We saw some AMAZING animals really close, and since they weren't baking in the sun, they were alert and walking around.

I got to know a neighbour, the mom of one of Janelle's friends who lives on the next street.

I found out what it's like to watch an elephant show through pouring rain. I had always wondered...

I made a new memory with my daughter.

Janelle enjoyed all of it, rain or no rain!

The good news is, the sun came out, just as we were leaving!

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Bike!

I got a new bike on Saturday!

I don't know for sure how long it has been since I've gotten a new bike. I do know that I got it at the Canadian Tire in Summerside PEI, so it must have been before July 1983. And I'm fairly sure it was at least a year before that because I remember doing a lot of biking around Summerside. There was a 10 km loop that I loved to ride, sometimes all by myself. I think I was probably 11 when we bought my blue 10-speed, the same bike that is in my backyard here in London, leaning against the fence, and showing its age. I loved that bike! It was my primary mode of transportation for several years, until I turned 16 and found a new love in driving a car. I thought it was the most beautiful bike ever made. It took me everywhere, to the beach, to friends' homes, to the corner store. And now it sits abandoned in my backyard. Old, rusty, unloved.

But my new bike is shiny. My new bike has 18 speeds. My new bike has full suspension (whatever that means). It isn't a fancy bike. But it gets me from Point A to Point B and, most importantly, it allows me to ride with my kids. Now that Janelle has cast aside her training wheels, riding bikes can become a major family activity. Yesterday we parked in downtown London and explored some of the bike trails along the Thames. Chris and Connor were way ahead of us girls, but we were both proud of ourselves just for being there! I didn't ride nearly as fast as I did on my blue 10-speed 25 years ago, but that's okay. Janelle needed me to stick with her. It was a beautiful ride on a beautiful day, and I am so looking forward to this new stage of our family's life.

Today I rode to school with the kids. And I rode back after school to pick them up. That was plenty for today. I am sore in places I forgot could be sore. I guess I'm showing my age as much as that old blue bike! But unlike that bike I'm determined to get myself into prime biking condition so I can keep up with my kids. There are lots of fun biking trips ahead!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and I can't help but use today's post to pay tribute to four very special fathers in my life.

Growing up, I was the luckiest kind of girl. I had a Dad who tucked me in every night, who gave the very best hugs, and who showered me with love in all kinds of ways. He taught me to ride a bike and to drive a car. He rode the tilt-a-whirl with me and loved every minute. I always knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was treasured. I was proud of my dad. I still am. Today he is Papa to my kids, and I couldn't ask for a more loving grandfather for them. They love that twinkle in his eye every bit as much as I do. I am so thankful that just over a week ago I got to feel one of those world-class hugs, and in about a month I'll get to enjoy another one. Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you so much!

Like all princesses, I grew up dreaming of finding a prince to carry me away to his castle. One of the most important qualities I prayed for in a husband was someone who wanted children, and who would be a good father. My prayer was surely answered. We don't live in a castle, but we have a great little family that I wouldn't trade for all the jewels in the Tower of London. Chris is an awesome dad. He is wise and caring and fills us all with love. He has taught our kids to ride their bikes, and before long he'll teach them to drive a car (yikes!), and yes, he rides the Tilt-A-Whirl with them, too (it's a good thing, since I can't anymore!) He helps with their homework, lets them help him with chores, and teaches them things I'd never think to show them. He is exactly the dad I grew up dreaming I'd find for my children. Happy Father's Day, Chris! Words can't express how much I love you, and how thankful I am that our kids have you for a dad!

Marrying Chris 14 years ago brought another dad into my life. I have loved my father-in-law, Bliss, since he was just "my boyfriend's dad". Now I love him for so many reasons! I have always been grateful to him for raising my husband so well, from adolescence to adulthood, and giving him the tools to become a good dad himself. And now I appreciate what a wonderful grandfather he has become. I love to watch him watching his grandchildren, so proud and enjoying every minute. My children are blessed to have a Grampie like Bliss. Happy Father's Day, Bliss! Lots of love from "the best of the lot"!

Less than two years ago, my baby brother became a dad, and I'm so proud of the dad he has become. I always knew he would excel at the role of father, especially after I had my own kids and saw how much he enjoyed them. I did have my doubts about how he would handle diapers, but he is a pro. He plays with his daughter, cares for her and disciplines her. Somehow he transformed from "my bratty little brother" into "a really awesome dad". How did that happen? Hailey is the luckiest kind of girl, just like I was, to have Brad for a Daddy. I guess he must have learned from the best! Happy Father's Day, Brad! I love you, and I love watching you be Hailey's Daddy!

These are the four special dads in my life, but there are so many others that I know who deserve a tribute this Father's Day. I don't think there are many men reading this blog, so I will address this to the women in their lives. Please do something special for all those dads this weekend. Remember how blessed you are to have them in your lives!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Especially for the "BM Girls" — You Know Who You Are!

Two days ago I penned a weepy missive about my wonderful friends, and I feel in danger of doing it again, but I will try and stop myself. I've been thinking a lot the past couple of days about a particular group of girls back home. I was so blessed to be part of a ladies Bible study group that was just amazing. Now I know that sounds like a bunch of women with their hair tied up in buns and noses stuck in the air, but only if you've never been part of a group like this. Over the past 5 or 6 years we went through a number of studies written by Beth Moore, a brilliantly talented and hilariously funny author and teacher, and we all felt just like she was a member of our group. At some point we started calling ourselves, for lack of creativity, "the BM girls". What a sad name! Each year we would start a new study and we'd have a full house on the first night. Then as the weeks passed and the homework piled up our numbers would dwindle. There is quite an elite group of ladies who actually made it all the way through one full study (10 weeks that we would cover in 20), and even fewer who made it through all of them. I hate to brag, but I did finish all of them! Those of us who did journey through an entire study together developed a real closeness to each other. If you have travelled through any of Beth's studies with me, please know that I feel a special affinity toward you. God has used you in my life, and we share something that a lot of people just don't get. My husband certainly doesn't! If I had missed a week and was watching the video at home when he walked in he'd say "Listening to that woman yelling at you again, are you?" Ha! She doesn't yell -- She just gets excited!

This week my friend Jocelyn took me to the local Christian bookstore. It was my first visit, a long one, and I left far too much money there. (Oops, I forgot that my dear husband reads this blog. Oh, well, how could I help it? At least it isn't conveniently located in our corner of the city!) I noticed Beth's latest book on the bestseller shelves, 20% off! Could I really be expected to leave it there? Especially when I read the title.

Three years ago, around the same time that Chris first mentioned that a move may be in the works, the BM girls and I started studying The Patriarchs. I was determined to stay put, but God's steady message to the patriarchs was "Go". The next year, when I had started to think I was safe in my bubble in Fredericton, we began to study A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place, and as I dug deeper into the tabernacle I began to feel my heart prepared for a change. And last year, the week we put the house on the market, the ladies and I opened Esther, and talked about how it's tough being a woman, but learned God gives us strength for everything He asks of us. After all that, why should I have been surprised, here in this new city where I feel so small and insignificant and invisible, to read the title of Beth's lastest book, So Long Insecurity? Did she write it especially for me? I've read the first two chapters, and she claims it was written for all women, since most of us struggle with issues of insecurity. But it might as well have my name splashed across the front cover.

After I read the first chapter, I decided to go on Beth's website to see if she had any study materials to go along with the book. I found her blog, and Tuesday's entry brought me right back to my BM girls! It was all about laughing with friends. If there is anything that my girls and I have done together, besides praying together, it is laughing together! We have laughed until our sides split over so many things! And I can't wait to do it again. Keep your calendars clear, girls, because there will be lunch dates and cheesecakes nights coming up that you won't want to miss!

So, BM Girls, I'm diving into this one without you. But I'll be taking you along with me at the turn of every page. Unless, of course, you'd like to join me...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

9 More Days

 I just realized that I only have 9 more school days this year. Usually I am looking forward to the end of the year, since usually it means summer vacation for me. However, I have enjoyed having a little time to myself this year, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to make every day about entertaining the kids! I know I'll enjoy not having to rush in the morning. No more packing lunches. No more fighting about homework. But no more quiet mornings with a book, either.

I'm spoiled, I know. But I recognize how lucky I've been this year! I know most people don't get to enjoy a quiet breakfast in an empty house. Last year, if I had wanted a quiet breakfast I would have had to get up at 5:30 (which, if you know me, is nearly impossible!) But once you get spoiled, it gets pretty hard to give it up!

I am going to treasure the next 9 school days, and make sure I make the most of them. Actually, I only have seven days since I'll be spending 2 of them on school field trips! I'll read lots, shop lots, write lots. Which brings me to another question. What happens to my blog at the end of the school year? I have nearly fulfilled my end of the challenge. I have written blogs for every school day since the kids started class here in London. Do I keep going when I don't have a quiet house to write in? Actually, I don't think I could stop. It started as something to keep me busy, but it has become such a wonderful way to keep in touch with so many people! I may cut down to three or four times a week, but I will definitely keep writing.

And if I do stop, somebody kick me in the butt to get me going again, okay?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Wealth of Friendships

I'm often complaining lately about my lack of friends in London. It's true that I haven't made any new close friendships here yet, but I was reminded in the past couple of days that I cannot complain about a lack of friendship in my life whether it be nearby or afar. All I really need are those little reminders...

Yesterday Merry-Lynne reminded me of how much she appreciated my phone call Friday, even if it was right at supper time and just to get an address.

Julie called last night, but I missed her called while I was out running errands.

Krista called me last night and we talked for nearly an hour and when I got off the phone I couldn't get the smile off my face. How I miss her voice! But the wonderful thing is, every time I hear it, it's still the same!

Today I spent the day with Jocelyn and her little baby, Ellie. So much fun! We shopped and we talked and we cooed over precious Ellie. It truly is wonderful to have a connection to home here in Joss. I hope she knows how much I appreciate her.

And after a little pity-party I had on the weekend, I realized that I need to wake up and recognize that my very best friend, my husband, is right here with me, experiencing everything that I am experiencing, and loving me even during my pity-parties. He still calls me nearly every day, just to see how I'm doing and remind me that he cares. Even if he was the only friend I had, it would be enough.

But I am truly blessed. He is not all I have. I mentioned a few of my friends, but I have so many more! And in just a month I'll be making a trip to see them. I can't wait. Part of me worries about the time when I'll have to say goodbye to them, but my conversation with Krista last night reminded me that goodbyes are never forever. I know when "my girls" and I go out for lunch or evening cheesecake next month we will laugh every bit as hard as we did before I moved. Things will have changed and our lived will have gone on, but in a small way, time will have stood still.

And I also know that someday soon I will make new friends here in London. One of the other moms at the school today mentioned that we should exchange phone numbers and get our boys together this summer. She is really nice, and makes a point to speak to me every time we cross paths at the school or in the community. Perhaps that is a new friendship waiting to happen...

Monday, June 14, 2010


I worked hard today, dreaming of creating a little piece of serenity.

I fixed my little garden.

I created a little oasis for me and my book.

Three months ago we moved into a house that didn't have much personality.

Now, with a few flowers and cozy spots, it looks like a home.

I think I may be able to find a little serenity in this tiny corner of my world.

But not until after bedtime...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What Monster Ate My Weekend?

Suddenly it is Sunday night. How did that happen? It must have been that ruthless "time-eating monster" again.

Friday night was quite peaceful. Chris and Connor went to a movie. Janelle and I did some shopping and junior web-surfing. The boys got home after 10, and we all went to bed shortly after that.

Janelle had soccer pictures taken first thing Saturday morning. Then we tried a new place for breakfast. It was okay, but we can tick it off our list and move on to another. Off to Costco, Canadian Tire, Home Depot and the local garden center to stock up for all the work we planned to do this weekend. Quick lunch at the Lions Club hot dog stand. Then it was time to party. Well, not for me. For my very popular daughter who was scheduled to attend her fourth and fifth birthday parties since moving to London. The first was a pool party, and although the skies threatened thunder showers all day, it was a perfect day for it. Hot, hot, hot. Out to buy a few more supplies during the party, including a flat of fresh Ontario strawberries, grown so near my house I can practically smell the field — YUM! Sent Chris and Connor to Home Depot to buy supplies for converting the cold room to a warm room. Back to get Janelle, so she could be delivered to the next party, at a neighbour's house. This time Connor was invited as well, so Chris and I could get lots done!

NOT. Sent both children off to the party. We unloaded the van and ended up debating whether or not we even need to convert part of the cold storage room to a warm storage room. Somehow that decision ate up most of our free two hours. We did manage to squeeze in an ice cream and some shopping for patio furniture. But didn't get done nearly what we both had hoped. Kids came home. Chris went back to Home Depot.

Suddenly it was bath time. Janelle got out of the tub and I went outside to find Connor. I spent 10 minutes looking for him and chatting with neighbours, and when I came back in I found Janelle sound asleep in her bed, no pjs, tangled wet hair soaking her pillow. She had a busy day!

My hubby suffered through televised chick movies all evening, mostly because neither of us had the energy to change the channel. Went to bed somewhat early, and woke up this morning to Janelle, (I apologize, but I had to suffer through it, so you do too) covered in vomit. Sometime during the night she had thrown up, but she had no memory of it, so the two of us had to get her and her disgusting (but still pretty purple) bedroom cleaned up. She felt fine. Do we go to church? Do we warn Jocelyn and Mark and their new baby, who are supposed to come for lunch? Yes to both. Janelle felt fine. Must have been heatstroke, which her brother gets fairly often. Off to church.

We went to the same church as the last two weeks. Still nearly ready to declare it is "our church", but waiting for.... I'm not sure what. I enjoyed the service. The kids happily ran upstairs at Junior Church time. It almost felt like home. Maybe someday it will. Church ended. Back on the treadmill that was our weekend.

Stopped at Home Depot and Canadian Tire to try to make a decision about patio furniture for the front veranda. Then hurried home to get lunch ready before Jocelyn and Mark arrived. They decided to come after all. After dessert, Jocelyn, Ellie and I left the dishes to our husbands and hurried off to her church shower. Two hours of new faces, but I did feel like an honoured guest, and it was so good to see how loved Jocelyn is in her church. So many people have prayed so long for this baby to arrive safely. I was thankful to be able to be there.

Back home. Supper time. Phone call from Karen. Made up Janelle's room with clean sheets and got her snuggled into bed. Then I took out my contact lenses and put on my pjs.

Hmmmm... I think I forgot something. What could that be? What did I promise to do before the end of the weekend? The end of the weekend? How could it suddenly be the end of the weekend? Some monster named "Busyness" ate my weekend. And I have to write my blog post.

Check. Now all I have to do is wrestle Connor away from the basketball game, tuck him into bed, and settle down with my book. On the couch. In front of my husband's beloved basketball game. Bye-bye weekend. See you in 5 more days.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Plans on Hold

Three days ago we were ready to get right at the basement and get it finished. Today we aren't sure when it will be done.

Chris had his misgivings about our decision to hire a couple of guys starting their own business to do the basement, and when it got right down to the night before they were going to come, he shared more of his concerns with me.  I didn't feel comfortable with it if he didn't feel comfortable with it. He called them yesterday morning and asked them to clarify of few areas of concerns, and the answer he got was not satisfactory. So we decided not to use them after all.

Chris has always wanted to do the work himself. He knows what he wants to do, and he knows how he wants it done. He has done it before, and knows he could do a good job. I know that he is meticulous about any project he is working on. He does not cut corners about anything. The only issue is time. The idea of having our basement finished in a month was so tempting! But really, it doesn't need to be finished until winter. He really could take a couple of weeks of vacation and do most of it. Or even a week and then hire the rest out.

He is going to meet with another company, a well-established one this time, in a couple of weeks. We don't expect they'll have time to do the work this summer, but perhaps they could take it on in the fall. In that case, Chris may be able to get a start on it and they can finish it up later. Either way, I know he'll feel much better about the end product.

So I guess the "time for the big project" has not come after all. Plans are on hold until further notice. But most of the boxes are cleaned out of my basement...

Thursday, June 10, 2010


My family plays games. Usually card games. Of my memories of family times growing up, playing cards ranks among the most frequent. We all learned to play "Patience" at a young age -- and to be very good at it! My grandmother loved to play "Skip-Bo" and "Flinch", and we loved to play with her. I don't remember any one of us being any better at cards than anyone else. We just loved the time we spent playing together. Chris has always teased me about being such a shrewd and competitive card player. I never thought of myself that way, but maybe there is some truth to it...

A couple of years ago my parents discovered a new game, "Wizard", and I love it! We played it often on vacation last summer, along with "Sequence", and it quickly became a favourite. To everyone but my dad.

If anyone loves to win more than I do, it's my dad. He is a fierce competitor, and if he isn't winning, he isn't having fun. And unfortunately, he just isn't often that lucky with Wizard.

The first day of their visit, Mom bought me a pack of Wizard cards. She hadn't brought hers, and she thought I needed my own. So that night, despite the basketball game on TV, we played Wizard. Chris won. The next night Mom and Dad and I played. Mom won. Sunday night we didn't make the boys play, since there was basketball and hockey to watch. Mom and I played "Sequence". The next night Chris beat us all at Wizard again. Dad and I are clearly the most competitive of the four of us, so he was not enjoying all these defeats, but I was really just happy to being playing cards with my Mom and Dad.

Last night, Dad was watching what turned out to be the final game of the hockey playoffs. But I insisted that he also play Wizard, since it was his last night here. Needless to say, he wasn't excited about the prospect, but he played. And more than winning myself, I hoped that he would win (of course that didn't affect how I played my game!) And — whattayaknow— Dad and I tied, soundly beating Mom and Chris! And Dad's team won the Stanley Cup, too, so it was a good night all around.

I do love to win at cards. But last night I honestly loved that my Dad won. Because I appreciate so much that he played with me, even though he didn't really want to. So maybe next time he will want to play! And maybe then I'll be able to win on my own!

(I understand that I have missed a post, and I do plan to catch up, but I'll do it on the weekend. It has been a busy week!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Time for the BIG Project!

I've been doing all kinds of projects in the past month: gardening, painting, blogging, cleaning. But now it's time for the major project that we committed to when we bought this house. It's time to finish the basement.

When we were looking for houses it was one of my "must haves": a finished basement where the kids can go so I can have a little peace and quiet. A big family room with lots of room to entertain, where we can finally put a flat screen TV for family movie nights. But the house we ended up with didn't have a "finished" basement. It just had a big open space full of possibilities.

Well, it's time to turn possibility into reality. Dad spent this morning moving boxes back up into the garage, and I'll start dismantling the temporary playroom this afternoon. Thursday and Friday the new insulation is being installed, and then things really start moving. The builders we hired expect it to take about 3 or 4 weeks. Time to start picking lighting and maybe even a fireplace!

I decided to take a few "before" pictures today, and I'll add to them as our new space starts to take shape. It's exciting, but it sure feels like a HUGE undertaking right now!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bike Day!

Yesterday was bike day at the Haines household.

Janelle learned to ride her bike without training wheels.
She did a great job, learning in just about half an hour.

Afterward, she biked all the way home from the ball park by herself. What an accomplishment! She was so proud of herself — and we were pretty proud of her, too.

Afterward, we all piled into the van (Grandma, Papa, Connor, Janelle, Chris and me) and went to Zellers to buy Connor a new bike. He has grown so much that his knees hit the handlebars of his old one, so it was time. We knew the kind of bike that we wanted was on sale, so we decided to go and see if they had a 24" bicycle that would be perfect for Connor. It was clearly destiny — the only 24" bike they had was green! He was sold right away!

It was a special day. One that we will always remember.

And we're especially glad that Grandma and Papa got to be here for it, too!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Too Much Fun Being Had!

The reason I don't have time to update my blog....

...too much fun being had!

Sorry, but we're just too busy with watching basketball, eating, shopping, exploring, playing Wizard, watching hockey, eating, touring, playing UNO Extreme, shopping, getting the van fixed, eating, playing Apples to Apples, dancing between raindrops, laughing, and enjoying every minute of Grandma and Papa's visit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Two Peas in a Pod

Papa and Grandma have arrived, just in time for Papa to enjoy the hockey playoffs with Connor. This is how they spent last evening, far longer than Connor should have been up. But is was worth it, just to watch them snuggled up on the couch.
We succeeded in surprising both of the kids. I told them after school that there was "a surprise" coming, but wouldn't give any hints. Connor kept asking if it was something "worth getting his really excited for". I tried not to answer him, but I'm afraid the really excited look on my face might have given me away. They arrived just before supper, and it was an awesome moment when they drove in the driveway. Lots of hugs and smiles. So happy that they're here!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Changed Forever

My baby girl lost one of her top front teeth yesterday. She actually let me pull it out! She was so brave, and so proud of herself afterward! It was a special tooth, because it was the one that she chipped when she was 18 months old. It always gave her a very unique smile.
I always say that after kids loose their top front teeth they start growing up. Those adult teeth will grow in that look way too big for their mouths for a few years, and they are changed forever. Makes me want to look at pictures of her old smile and hold onto it for awhile.

My little girl is growing up. But look at that beautiful smile! She couldn't be happier about it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thoughts about another Maritimer

I'm trying to get my house rearranged and ready for my parents' visit (they are on their way now!), but I wanted to finish a book for my (possible) book club that is meeting tomorrow night — even though I won't be there because my parents will be arriving. These are the comments that I sent as my contribution to the discussion:

Just finished the Anne Murray autobiography, All of Me, and I thought I'd send you a comment or two to take with you to the book club meeting. I actually enjoyed the book more than I expected to, probably because I'm a Maritimer and I enjoyed all the connections I could make with the story. For example, Athena Regional High School, where Anne taught in Summerside, later became Athena Consolidated School, which I attended from grade 5 to grade 8. It was interesting to be able to picture the place she was talking about. Similarly, her tales of UNB in Fredericton were very familiar to me. I found the early years stuff really interesting since it reminded me of things my parents often talked about during my childhood. I heard countless stories of the Springhill mine disasters growing up, and I enjoyed reading her first hand account. Later on, I found it was a little heavy on the name dropping, but I guess that is to be expected in the bio of an entertainer. I didn't think a lot of the stories she included needed to be there, but I guess she was trying to fill out the skeleton of her story with various items that we wouldn't necessarily have expected. Overall, I am glad I read it, if only to recommend it to my mom, who is from the same era and grew up just an hour or so from Springhill in Moncton, NB. In general, I'm not a big fan of bios for book club discussion, but perhaps that is a generalization I shouldn't make. In particular, I think this biography really doesn't lend itself well to book club discussion, because it really is a very simple "This is my life" story. There's really not a whole of depth to explore as a group.

That's my writing for today. Back to work! There's much to do!