Friday, October 29, 2010

November Challenge

I just got a message from my friend and fellow blogger, Denise Nielsen, who informed me that November is National Blog Post Month. She challenged me to write a blog post every day in November. It didn't take long for me to consider that -- after all, I wrote a blog post for every school day last spring! So how hard could it be? But this challenge includes weekends, so I'm going to have to dig a little deeper.

I know I've been a little slack in my blogging this fall. I've tried to stick to my "3 days a week" goal. I've been in a bit of a slump. There just isn't much going on in my life that is very interesting. My biggest concern is that my blog posts are going to be really mundane! Do I really have something interesting to say for 30 days straight? I feel bad for my poor readers.

However, I remind myself that reading my blog is a completely voluntary thing. I'm not forcing anyone to do it. And I know my mother is going to love me no matter how boring my writing is! So I'm really doing this for me. But knowing people are reading it does help...

Meanwhile, I have to head to the grocery store, and if I'm going to write every day starting Monday, I better get stocked up!

(In case you weren't already thinking it, yes, this is "Mundane Post #1").

Happy Halloween everyone!
Connor, Janelle and a friend, just home from school on orange and black day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Treasure Chest and a Gold Mine

I love Kijiji! This week alone, I've sold:

a doll house for $80 (the one I always wanted, and that Janelle loved for a while, but recognized when she had outgrown it and was ready to move on),

a pretty witch costume ($15) that Janelle wore last year and was my favourite she ever wore — but let's face it, she's not going to wear it again,

and a pile of Janelle's outgrown clothes, sold for a dollar a piece. I'd love to save them for my neice, but I'm pretty sure that they'll be way out of style before she's ready to wear them. I'm just glad that some little girl will wear them — and that they are not taking up space in my house anymore!

 It's a gold mine! Maybe this should be my new job. Lately I always seem to have cash in my pocket because I've sold something. Then again, I supposed I would eventually run out of things to sell. But if you've seen my house you know that would take a while!

This summer I found the china cabinet that I had been wanting for years. It already feels like it belongs in the corner of my living room, like it's just always been there. So I guess Kijiji is also a treasure chest!

A treasure chest and a gold mine. I think the bigwigs at Kijiji could use that! Maybe I have found a new job for myself!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Treadmill

Not a real treadmill. Sadly that is still leaning up against the wall in the basement waiting for its home to be completed. But on Tuesdays I feel like I'm on a treadmill!

In the morning, I'm in denial. I clean up the kitchen from breakfast and lunches while the tv drones on in the background (because I have to be in the mood for a quiet house). I might read a book, or catch up with friends on Facebook. I have a leisurely shower. Then I look at my to do list for the day. Usually it includes some shopping or laundry, and it always includes getting an easy dinner started for when the treadmill is really on a roll. Today it's crock pot beef stew. At three-thirty I either pick up the kids, or wait for them to be dropped off by my neighbour. Then I run through Janelle's piano lesson with her to make sure she has met all the goals for the week set by her teacher, and make sure she gets her homework done before we need to leave for her lesson. I also nag Connor to get through his homework right away because, hey, it's Tuesday! At 4:45 we head out to Janelle's piano lesson, at 5 o'clock, for half an hour. Sometimes I drop her off and come home to make sure dinner is ready for when we get home at 5:45. Today, since dinner is in the crock pot, I'll be taking Connor for a quick trip to Party Packagers to see if any of the Halloween costumes inspire him, since he still hasn't decided what he's going to be this year. Pick Janelle up at 5:30, run home and hope there's not much traffic, serve dinner. The kids program at the church starts at 6:30, so Connor and I drop Janelle off there. Usually I have to have Connor ready for basketball before we leave to drop Janelle off at the church, because while she's there I take him to Chris's office downtown so they can go to basketball at Mother Theresa High School, at the opposite end of town. Tonight we've decided that I'll take Connor to basketball myself, since I've never seen his new team play. Chris will come home and pick Janelle up at the church at 7:30, then bring her home and put her to bed. Connor's basketball goes until 8:30, when we begin the half hour trip home. At that point I expect I'll put Connor to bed and fall asleep myself. Two weeks ago when the boys got home I was already in bed. That's Tuesday!

By the way, Chris and I went to our community group last night and left Connor and Janelle with a sweet 13-year-old girl who lives just around the corner. They loved her. I loved that they loved her! And she's coming back next week! Yahoo! Maybe we'll actually plan a night out together one of these days. Ahhh... that's a whole other blog topic...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Time for a Babysitter!

We've lived here seven months, and the only times Chris and I have been out together on our own have been when we've had family visiting or when he has taken a few minutes away from work while the kids are in school. It's time to call a babysitter. This seems like one of the biggest obstacles we've faced since we moved here. But it probably wouldn't if we had different kids.

Correction: if we had different "kid". Janelle, I'm sure, will be thrilled to have a babysitter come. A new person to entertain! Connor, on the other hand, is a completely different story. When he was little he loved babysitters. When we lived in Kingston, having a babysitter was a rare treat. He loved it! In Fredericton, we very rarely had babysitters, since we had Nana and Grammie Haines close by, but when we did, it really wasn't a problem. Until he turned eight years old, and suddenly something in him snapped. He was terrified of having a babysitter. We'd had a bad experience with a sitter a couple of years earlier, when one of our neighbour girls had a boyfriend over and then lied to us about it. Connor was old enough to tell us the real story, and the "history" on our internet filled in the blanks. But this didn't seem to affect Connor negatively at the time. We just never invited that sitter back. Two years later, however, he seemed to develop a real phobia of having a babysitter. We would have people over to babysit whom Connor knew well, our next door neighbour or my friend's daughter, but it didn't seem to matter. Everytime it became a drawn out tearfest, that was quite embarrassing, and discouraged me from ever going anywhere again. In the end, we just kind of avoided the situation and only had Chris's mom or stepmother babysit from then on. But then we moved.

It's time to call a babysitter. I went to our church community group for the first time on Monday night, alone, because one of us had to stay home with the kids. The point of this group is really for both of us to go, so we can get to know people in our community. It is our opportunity to make some grown up friends. We decided that for the first week I would go alone, and while I was there I would see if I could get some recommendations of sitters in the area. It worked! I got the names of four highly recommended girls, all within a one km radius of our house. I decided I'd call one right away and see if she could sit for us next week. But I've been procrastinating. I chose the one I want to call. Jordyn. She lives right around the corner from us and was the top of everyone's list. She's 14, and has three younger siblings. She seems perfect! But I haven't called yet.

Yesterday was our school's Grand Opening Ceremony, so I attended to see Janelle's choir sing "This School is Your School". I sat with my neighbour, who happened to arrive at the same time as I did (late, as usual). I noticed the hostess of our community group sitting across the gym from me, with a woman who looked quite familiar, probably from school field trips or parents committee meetings. After the ceremony was over, this woman came over to talk to my neighbour, and she introduced us and told me she lives just around the corner. We chatted for a few minutes and she mentioned her oldest daughter, Jordyn. Hold on, I thought. Is this too much of a coincidence? I asked her last name, and sure enough, she is my future babysitter's mother. I told her that I'd just been given Jordyn's name as a possible sitter, and that I'd be calling soon. We continued to talk for several minutes, about our kids and the church, which she also attends. Before I left I said, "Well, tell Jordyn I'll be calling!" How cool is that?

So now I have to call. And I have to deal with Connor. We've already warned him many times that this is going to happen. Hopefully he'll take it like a 10-year-old! Or maybe he'll just beg me to wait until next year when he can babysit Janelle on his own. Tempting... But I don't think I can wait that long for an evening with grown ups. Time to bite the bullet. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hailey!

First I must apologize for being absent from my blog this week. Actually, it was absent from me. Some technical problem (ugh!) was limiting my internet access, so this is the first time I've been able get on and write. So, technically, I wasn't absent from the blog, the blog was absent from me. But let's not split hairs. Today is a special day!

Hailey Pauline Constantine is two years old today! Wow, it seems like yesterday I got that text from Brad (which took me a while to figure out since it was the first text I had ever gotten!) saying "At the hospital". Then a few hours later, another text: "Starting to push". I remember sitting through Janelle's gymnastics class that evening, wondering what was going on, when we'd hear the news that little Sophie was finally here. In the car on the way home from the gym my phone rang, my little brother's voice saying "She's here, but she's not Sophie!" Good thing I didn't buy all that cute "S" monogrammed stuff! Wow, I was an aunt. Again. I couldn't wait to get to Saint John and get my hands on her! I didn't get to see her until the next day, when the kids and I rushed down to the hospital after school ended at lunch time. And, oh, the first time I held her I was in love all over again.

Isn't it amazing how we just immediately love those that are our own? As a parent I know that feeling on a whole other level, but it really is similar with nieces and nephews. I was sitting in the waiting room with my Mom and 19 month old Connor when Jillian entered the world. Seeing Connor's reaction to her made my experience of meeting her all the more special. The day Charlie was born I was a little preoccupied, only six days away from giving birth to Janelle. But he was there along with his mother and sister, my parents and grandmother, and Brad, when we brought our little girl home from the hospital. What fun we had passing those two babies around!

My kids have grown up right alongside their cousins, Jill and Charlie, despite never living in the same city. If you ask Connor or Janelle what they miss most about New Brunswick they will invariably tell you "Jill and Charlie". I love that they love each other so much. The girls are easily as close as sisters, and the boys, regardless of the 3 and a half year age gap, relish every moment of their time together. I love that, and I pray that time and distance doesn't change it. Unfortunately, we didn't have nearly enough time with Hailey before we moved. She was pretty wary of me when I first came home to visit this summer, but I did my best to win her over. I think I was successful to some extent. We bonded over snacks, and I did get some voluntary snuggles. But I know that now, two months later, she doesn't remember us. It is one of the hardest things about being away, knowing that she doesn't know who we are and how much we love her.

But technology, although frustrating at times, is a wonderful thing. I get to see pictures of Hailey all the time on Facebook, so I can still watch her growing up even so far away. When we finally install a webcam we can even talk to her, face to face, so she can begin to recognize us. Time flies way too quickly! I don't want to miss any of it!

Happy birthday, my sweet Hailey P! I wish so much we could be at your party Saturday. And happy birthday to your Mommy and Daddy, Jody and Brad, too. Birthdays are special days for parents, too, as we look back and think about how blessed we've been. We will be thinking of all of you today, and on Saturday! Aunt Nan loves you all so much!

Friday, October 15, 2010


My kids got a ride to school, and home from school, with a neighbour today. I wasn't feeling very well today, so I really appreciated it. There is a nice couple down the street who have two children near our kids ages, their son is in Janelle's class, and we've gotten to know each other a bit since this school year started. She is an Educational Assistant at a school about 10 minutes away, and he is a fireman, so their kids are alone for just a few minutes after school, just a few days a week. I offered to drive them to and from school any day that it's rainy or cold and their parents are working, and to just be available if the kids need anything before or after school. The other day they offered to take my kids to and from school any day the dad isn't working. The mom dropped off a bag of hand-me-down clothes for Janelle yesterday. The kids are sweet, and I love getting to know my kids friends. They are good neighbours.

I've just been thinking about how important good neighbours are, especially this far from home. This is also a reminder to be a good neighbour. You never know how much it might mean to someone someday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Giving Thanks

I know it's a few days late, but really, it's never to late to be thankful, is it? We enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner at Karen and John's home in Toronto. The weather was gorgeous, much more like summer than mid-October, at least in my experience. 23C Saturday and Sunday! It was a first visit for myself and the kids, and it was so nice to see Karen in her element, cooking for us! Lori and Ben came, too, and we travelled to Burlington late that night to crash in their guest bedrooms. We realized later in the evening that it was the first time Lori, Karen and Chris have all been together for Thanksgiving in over 20 years. That put my thoughts of missing my brother and sister on this one Thanksgiving into perspective!

Which brings me to my Gratitude list! Janelle was composing her own for homework today, and while I was giving her some ideas I began to form mine. Here goes:
  • My amazing husband and two awesome kids!
  • Good health for all of us.
  • Faraway family who love me.
  • Telephones and internet that keep that connection alive.
  • Friends, both in London and elsewhere.
  • Facebook, which keeps that connection alive!
  • A school that has become a safe place for my children in this unfamiliar city.
  • A wonderful church that has the potential to someday feel as much like "home" as my beloved church in Fredericton.
  • A beautiful house, that is feeling more like "home" every day.
  • Chris's job, which provides for all our needs daily.
  • And finally, to quote Karen Kingbury, my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has, for now, blessed me with these.
I hope everyone reading this celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. I pray we'll all remember daily to be thankful for all the blessings showered upon us in this part of the world. We are truly unaware of how very fortunate we are.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blooming Violets

Say what you will about bragging, but I just can't help myself. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I do not have a green thumb. So this little blog post is dedicated to my friend Merry-Lynne, who first gave me this African Violet for Christmas (the last time I saw it blooming), and then babysat it for me for five months until I went to Fredericton in the summer and brought it back with me. It must have been your loving care, my friend, because I have never been able to get an African Violet to bloom. But here it is!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I finally arrived at the hotel, found my sister, and filled my aching belly. I drove Tracy and her four friends (crammed in the back of my rental Cube) around Lowell, searching unsuccessfully for a Target. We did find a Marshalls and I was the only one who did not leave any money behind. The shopping portion of the weekend had begun.

And it continued the next day. We got up at our leisure and made our way to the hotel's continental breakfast, before heading next door to check out The Cracker Barrel's famous gift shop. I have to say, that is a great place to find something to take home to a 10-year-old boy! Treasures galore! Spy glasses! Exploding pop bottles! All sorts of toys that make endless amounts of noise! All I needed was some piece of Red Sox memorabilia and Connor's souvenir needs were met.

The daytime agenda for Friday had been a trip into Boston for shopping and sightseeing, but the tropical storm was apparently barrelling down upon us, so our wise bus driver and tour leader made other plans. They found a mega-mall in Burlington, MA, that easily satisfied this group of ladies, all with purses full of credit cards and US dollars waiting to be spent. Tracy and I spent the majority of our time at Justice (a little girls' clothing store), Crate and Barrell (beautiful things, but a waste of time when you only have one suitcase) and Macy's, where we found some awesome deals on children's clothes (including that important Red Sox t-shirt). We met the rest of Tracy's gang of girls at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch, where we wisely ordered our cheesecake to go. Afterward we spent 45 minutes chasing down a few other favourite stores before we hopped back on the bus to head back to the hotel. We passed a lazy couple of hours in our hotel room with our cheesecake and a quart of milk, and then got ready for the main event, the Living Proof Live conference.

I know I've mentioned Beth Moore and the awesome Ladies' Bible Study group I left back in Fredericton. We have shared many hours and many tears with Beth over the years. I was so excited to finally hear her speak in person. She always seems to know exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it. God has certainly used her to get through to me on a number of occasions, and I wondered what He was going to show me through her this time.

On the way to the arena, the tour leaders handed out a gift for each of us: pink Dollar Store tiaras, so we could identify each other in the crowd, and maybe catch Beth's attention, too. I was clearly travelling with a bunch of ladies who did not take themselves too seriously, because every one of us donned our crowns and headed into the building. We arrived at the Tsongas Arena along with 2800 other women of various backgrounds and denominations, and the evening started with the Living Proof worship band led by Travis Cottrell, a tremendously talented musician with a wonderful gift for leading people in worship. I don't think I've ever experienced a time of praise more focused and intentional. As we were singing one familiar song after another, dozens of names of God were being flashed on the screens over the stage area. Clearly our attention was being turned toward the One to whom we were offering our praise. Then Beth took the stage. She immediately established a rapport with the audience. She even mentioned the Moncton church that was the group we were travelling with (although she never did comment on our stunning head attire!)

When Beth announced the passage we would be studying for the weekend, I was surprised to find that it was Luke 2, the Christmas story. But it was the particular verse that she was going to expand upon that touched me. It was one of my favourites: vs. 19, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." I have always loved this verse, especially since I've become a mother. I love to think about Mary just sitting back and treasuring all the wondrous things that were occurring in her life, and really digesting their significance in the grand scheme of things. The title of Beth's message was "The Lost Art Of Treasure". I can't think of any better way to share what it meant to me than by listing her eight main points.
  • There are treasures out there! This really hit me from the very beginning. I remember thinking: She means there are treasures everywhere. Even in London.
  • They're not my treasures until they make it past my defenses. Hmmmm... That one hit it's mark! For six months I've been quite conscious NOT to call London home, not to start loving anything about it, not to let it reach my heart. I'm not going to experience any treasures here until I let them into my heart.
  • Treasures strung together can bring healing. It is finding those treasures that is going to ease the pain of being so far from home.
  • Most people will miss the treasure entirely. Of all the people who experienced Jesus' birth, Mary is the only one who took the time to treasure it. I want to treasure the special things about this time in my life, and in my children's lives. I don't want to miss it because I'm bitter about not being in New Brunswick.
That was Friday night. That was a lot to think about. When we came back on Saturday morning, I started tearing up as we sang the opening song. When Beth opened by asking us to share with someone what we learned the night before, I was a mess! It's a good thing I was talking to my sister, because she's seen me a mess before. I basically cried all through the morning. But they were good tears.
  • The fine art of treasuring got lost in the same trash as our time. As someone who has been a working mother in the past, I understand lack of time. But that can't be my excuse now. I have plenty of time to treasure the great things God has to offer me here and now.
  • Where there is one treasure, there could be many. Really, it isn't that I haven't been treasuring anything lately. I have been very thankful for the gifts that I have recognized: our trip to Indiana, Tracy's surprise visit, our parents' visits, our trip to NB in the summer, seeing Peter Pan at Stratford, having the Moores visit us on Labour Day weeknend, my trip to Toronto next month with Julie and Denise, and this trip to Boston with Tracy. But I know there are treasures in the every day here. They are the ones I need to appreciate.
  • We'll minimize our treasure if we look past the hardship and pain. Beth said: "When you go through things in life that you think should have killed you, but they don't, you know it's the all-surpassing power of Jesus Christ to save you. Treasure!" I remember a dozen years ago thinking I didn't know how people live through multiple miscarriages. I believe I treasure my children in a completely different way than I would have had I not experienced heartache in trying to have them. Not that I love them more than I would have, or more than other parents love their children, but in a very different way, on a different plane of understanding. Well, I never thought moving would kill me, but I did think I'd be pretty much miserable. And I often have been, but that's my fault. I haven't allowed God to pull me out of my funk and show me all the treasures He has to offer me here. And those treasures will be so much the greater because of what I had to go through to get to them! I think it's time.
  • When you feel like you've lost the treasure, look for Jesus. I have always known where I need to go when things don't make sense. Every major challenge of my life has been overcome by taking it to Jesus. He is faithful. He has all the answers. And He holds the treasures in His hands.
Beth had us turn to each other and pronounce a blessing on each other by repeating a form of these eight points. I almost made it through without tears, but not quite. I was overwhelmed by how, once again, God knew exactly what I needed to hear. And I was ready to head home and start living it.

I headed to the front doors with Tracy, and said goodbye to her and her sweet friends that I had gotten to know that weekend. Then I went back inside for a bit to avoid the traffic, look at some of the books and CDs for sale, and see if I could find any of my BM girls from Fredericton. I was lucky enough to catch Kandy and Carol on their way out, and I had already had a nice chat with Janice and Sandra at break time. It was so good to see their familiar faces and share some warm hugs! Then I was on my way.

The trip home was much less eventful than the trip down on Thursday. I got to Buffalo at 10 p.m. as scheduled, fueled up with some English Toffee Cappuccino at an American Tim Hortons, and started the 3 hour trek home in the rain. After I crossed the border I put on a CD that I had gotten at the conference of Beth Moore speaking at another conference. She certainly knows how to keep you awake! This time her message was about desire, and she finished speaking just as I pulled into my driveway, happy to finally be home, and ready to treasure everything about it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Whirlwind Weekend!

There and back in three days! I can't say the weekend went off without a hitch, but the flies in the ointment really just proved to make it more interesting. I'm so glad I took the opportunity and didn't let little things like a three hour drive to the airport, or needing to rent a car in Boston, keep me from making a memory.

I was in the car at 6:45 a.m on Thursday morning, only 15 minutes behind schedule. The weather was cloudy but not rainy, and I put on my tunes and settled in for a long ride. Construction in Brantford and a nosy border guard held me up a bit, but I arrived at the Buffalo airport in just under three hours. By this time it had started raining quite hard, so I was thankful I had brought my raincoat and an umbrella. I parked in an enormous long-term lot, and made my way to the shuttle stop, just as the shuttle arrived to whisk me off to the airport. Things were moving along splendidly.

Then came the first challenge. I had checked the weather on Tuesday and saw that rain was forecast for Boston on Friday (which is why I had come prepared). I remember also noticing a note about a tropical depression over Florida. I must have filed that info under "not important to my trip", and didn't think about it again until I tried to check in to my flight to Washington. It was delayed, possibly cancelled. In fact, due to the weather, nearly half of the flights to the east coast were being cancelled. They'd have to send me on a flight to New York, which was supposed to leave at 11:10, but wouldn't likely get out until 1:00, and then on to Boston around 5:00, arriving at 6:00. I figured that was fine, at least I'd get there, and only a couple of hours late. I proceeded through security and to my gate to settle in for a long wait with my book.

Around 11:00 an airport employee came rushing into the waiting area saying "We're leaving right away, but we have to board immediately". Great. I'd just have my long wait in NYC instead of in Buffalo. We arrived at LaGuardia around 12:45. Once inside the airport I started looking for a place to have lunch, but was quickly interrupted by an announcement: "Anyone with a later ticket to Boston, come to Gate 19 right now if you'd like to take the 1:00 flight". That's me! I headed to Gate 19 and had my ticket exchanged. Is this possible? Because of a tropical storm I was going to arrive in Boston early? That doesn't happen every day!

Wonderful. Two-thirty arrived, and I arrived at my destination. Sort of. I thought of grabbing some long-awaited lunch in the airport, but decided to get my rental car first. How long could it take? I found my way to the shuttle pick up area and watched for the Budget shuttle. I saw countless Hertz shuttles. Several Thrifty shuttles. Quite a few Avis and Enterprise shuttles. Where was the Budget shuttle? Finally, I saw it making its way through the traffic and beginning to slow down at the curb. I grabbed my bag and started toward the bus, just in time to see it speed up and pull away. %#$&!!! I decided to go have a seat on a bench, knowing I'd see many other rental shuttles arrive and leave before another Budget shuttle would be by again. About 20 minutes later I was finally on a shuttle and on my way to my car.

At 4:00, just after my scheduled arrival from Washington, I was in my car and ready to make the half hour trip to meet Tracy and the rest of her bus trip at the hotel in Tewksbury. The GPS system I had brought from home was plugged in with the address of the hotel programmed and ready. The woman at the rental agency had given me a map, just in case. I was ready to go. I headed out of the airport and immediately into a tunnel. Traffic was moving smoothly. Everything was working out just as it should. I emerged from the tunnel and the GPS took a few seconds to reconnect to the satellite. But there was a fork in the road ahead. Which way to go? I hadn't looked closely enough at the map to know, and my GPS wasn't ready to tell me. I picked a lane.

I picked wrong. And I couldn't get off that highway for 5 km, which had me right in the middle of downtown Cambridge. At rush hour. With a very rumbly tummy. I had eaten nothing that day except an apple danish at the Buffalo airport. And now I was stuck in an unfamiliar city in gridlocked traffic. My husband knows how I get when I'm really hungry. I'm completely irrational. So I called him to express my frustration. He was maddeningly calm, as usual. I texted Tracy on her bus trip. She did not expect to arrive until between 6:00 and 7:00. I hoped I'd arrive before she did!

In the end, I arrived at the hotel at 5:45 p.m. Only an hour and 45 minutes after leaving the airport. I drove right past the hotel to the Wendy's next door and ordered a hamburger. I sent Tracy a text telling her I had arrived and was having a quick snack before checking in. Her immediate reply came saying that they had just pulled in. What excellent timing! We had both arrived. Time to start our weekend.

To be continued...