Friday, March 30, 2007

They get you every time: Lessons from tub shopping

The inside scoop on plumbing fixtures salesmen: They show you a tub that you fall in love with, for a price that fits well. But then they show you the faucet set that would compliment the tub. And you fall in love with it too. In fact, you fall even more deeply in love with the faucets because they are pretty and shiny, and come in sets that match your tub to your sink to your shower, and your feminine heart flutters at the concept of a "matching" bathroom, so you begin hatching mental plans to match the master bathroom to the main bathroom to the powder room to the kitchen . . .

Once they are certain your heart is invested-- they do this by watching the wife's facial expressions closely-- they chalk up the price list, and hand it across the desk. This is what you see:
Roman tub-----$600
Tub faucets-----$700


Aidan had his poker face on so as to disguise his astonishment, and I, mercifully, didn't look at the list until we left the store. In this way we avoided an embarrassingly conspicuous reaction. But wow! What they really do in the business is sell you a tub to accessorize your faucets. And the frustrating thing is they did get to me. I love the faucets. I want the faucets. I feel I need the faucets. But it is clear that I can not have the faucets. Hear my heart break.

Just a few days ago my brother-in-law asked me my opinion on faucets, and I laughed; "I'm not going to get emotional about sink fixtures. Just give me a $20 collection to look at and I will pick the nicest one." Here I am, three days later, in mourning over the Town Square Collection.
I am nearly a marketer's dream. They snare me emotionally, but sadly for them, I haven't the funds to act on it.

Friday, March 23, 2007


A spring day, if ever I saw one. The sky was a crisp blue, and the smell of melt was in the air. (I have recently been finding myself obsessively checking my kids' diapers, only to realize that the offending odour is coming from a winter's worth of burried dog doo-doo lying freshly exposed on the street.) Chalking up the smell as an intrinsic part of the wonder of spring, we decided that a BBQ was in good order.

We carefully packed the car FULL of equipment and food and headed off to the country. Having made a mental note of what a lot full of loose soil and melting snow would look like, I had been proactive in my pursuit of minimal mud mess. Caelah would be wearing brand new wet pants pulled snuggly over her rain boots. And Elijah would be wearing his full snowsuit, despite the mild weather. I figured that if they were covered from head to toe in fabric of some sort, they would remain clean, despite the inevitable superficial damage. Did my plan succeed, you ask? Oh, dear me no. A tale in pictures:Within one minute of pulling up to the house, Caelah, Connor and Elijah had found the mud pit behind the house and gotten to work. They were in up to their knees in seconds. And my darling girl had managed to smear a wad of mud all up one side of her face.Frozen, after an hour of mudplay, the kiddos stripped off their socks, which had managed to be caked in mud despite having been tucked inside rain boots, which had, in turn, been tucked under rain pants, and they toasted their toes by the stove.However, despite the all of the precautions taken to keep out the mud, one thing was left unaccounted for--little accidents. Chilled and excited, Caelah didn't quite make it to the "bathroom" in time. And since no extra clothing had been brought, she was given Uncle Connors pyjama bottoms, Grandpa's work socks, and Grammie's sneakers to wear. She wore them proudly.And just because this is one of the cutest things I have seen in a long while, please have a side view of the motley outfit. Happy, mucky mud days.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


The walls are going up. As this process is taking place, I have suffering through deja-vu. The uncomfortable sense that things look way to small has been revisting me when I walk around the second floor. I know better by now. I have learned to patiently wait for the walls to be up completely before making a final judgment. I think, however, that it will take some beds set up in each room this time for me to be fully comfortable with the space.

For my vertigo-prone friends, you see that plank that stretches across the gap at the top of the stairs? That is the boys' attempt at a "safety rail." Unfortunately, they had little 2-foot tall people in mind when they built it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A sermon. An analogy. And a victory.

A sermon . . .
For the past few weeks my pastor has been trying to do justice to the subject of conquering sin. Big job. His heart's desire is for his flock to understand that sin can be conquered. But that it not a mystical experience. It is, rather, a daily fight. He first read from Hebrews 12, forcefully hammering home that sin MUST be conquered. That there is no excuse for complacency. His sermon was met with some discomfort. Some members of the congregation felt like they had been slapped. But me, and my purge-happy tendencies, loved the verbal kick-in-the-pants.
This past week my pastor tried again. "I didn't want you all to come away without hope." And so he reread the passage, and proceeded to reinforce a growing conviction in my heart: To conqueur sin is to be determined to break free. It is a conscious decision, that must be followed up with actions. Easier said than done . . .

An analogy . . .
"Throw off everything that hinders..."(Hebrews 12:1) While he spoke I felt like I was cliff jumping. Can you all picture yourself at the top of a 60-foot cliff? The analogy was readily available to me, since I have had extensive experience with 60-foot cliffs. (For the less adventurous, try picturing 20 feet. Still high enough for you to get the picture.) What you feel at the very top of a lakeside cliff is a great tension between the desire to jump-- to fully submit to the pull of the water below, feeling the powerful rush of air as you fall-- and the desire to keep rock solidly beneath your feet. You can stand there for five, ten, fifteen minutes trying to will yourself to JUST JUMP.
And then you do jump. It is a moment where you bust through your wall of fear and act completely irrationally. And you fall, fall, fall---Wham! You break the surface of the water, and despite any pain that may follow from the impact, your veins are pumping with the thrill of victory and accomplishment.

So, yeah, that's how I feel about my battle with sin. Leaving the cliff is doing something about my sin. But that something takes monumental effort. That is the nature of beginnings. Just initiating some movement is incredibly hard. But once you do, the blessings become apparent, and they help sustain and encourage the forward movement. (Or downward movement, as my analogy better illustrates.)

Can you feel the tension? Does this resonate with you? When you have been strolling along comfortably in your life, and you are suddenly made aware of some sin. It tends to become more and more and more apparent. Every sermon convicts you. Every comment seems to strike you. And every glance seems accusitory. Your conscience becomes smitten more and more sharply. But as uncomfortable as all of this is, you are aware that making a change is going to be equally as uncomfortable. To do nothing, however, is to never find peace. You will always long to be nearer to God.

A victory . . .
We must jump. And the jump comes with deep deep rewards. I want to share a personal jump that has resulted in much joy. This is what my cliff ledge was composed of: lots of good books from the library, all of which I was eager to read, and all of which would have transported me to a fictionary world, serving as an escape from reality. There were episodes of the Gilmore Girls to watch, or some other television show, empty of meaningful content, but requiring passive attention. And lots of materials to help me indulge in creativity. This, to me, was a most appealing environment, filled with things I love to do. However, most notably absent, are my children and my duties to them.
This is what the jump looked like, when it came: All the books were returned to the library. The Gilmore Girls episodes have remained untouched. And the craft supplies have been religated to naptime.
The rewards have looked and sounded like this: Pillow fights, airplane rides, wrestling, giggles and glee, lots of 'I love you mommy's', a deeper friendship between my two eldest, progress in potty training, deeper God talks with my little people, and a more intimate awareness of who each of my children are. I am falling inlove with them. These rewards will surely sustain me.

And yet I know that it isn't so simple. I will have to wake every morning with fresh resolve and a determination to set aside my natural inclinations, in order that a might choose those things which are more excellent. The fact that I have revisited these ideas over and over again with you through this blog indicates my ongoing struggle. But also attests to God's unfailing attentiveness to us. He is steadfast at His potter's wheel, molding us into better likenesses of his son. The cliff will always try to root me into immobility, like a giant magnet, but because I have the power of the Spirit at my disposal, I will keep making that jump over and over again. Ever higher. Ever more rewarding.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Quick house update

There has been little to no movement on the house all winter.

A) Weather. It's TOO cold to work. The upstairs windows have been delivered, but the boys haven't been able to install them, lest they freeze themselves stiff, or lose some fingers to frostbite. And the frustrating thing is that the house will not keep the cold out until the windows are in. So the only workable space is in the basement. And working on the basemnet doesn't bring the move in date any closer.
B) Other priorities. We haven't been able to get anyone out to help. I think I was a bit naive. I assumed we would have lots of help. I figured it would be easy to get a work crew together-- a real testosterone-fest. But no. It doesn't help that Aidan has a hard time asking for help either.
C) Sickness. It's just that time of year. So even the few people that we do have available to us have been in and out of the flu or colds.

So, we aren't getting anywhere fast. And I am getting antsy. Hopefully, come spring, that will change.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A few good pictures

How low can he go?Hallelujah snowman?

Sunlit baby:
It's a girl thing:I can't get enough of flower shots. Yeah, yeah, their easy. So what?!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cane Toads

I've been on a documentary kick. It's one of the only ways, I could think of, from which to glean tidbits of semi-useful knowledge in a short period of time. I've been learning of the one-child policy in China, the Indian Bhopal incident, a short history of the Maya, (shudder). And then came the Cane Toads . . .

The back of the box reads as follows:
A magically sustained work that is, at once, a tribute to toad resiliency and a cry to wipe the ugly little beggars off the face of the Earth. -Dallas Times Herald
I also read somewhere that if Monty Python were ever to produce a documentary, it would look a lot like this. How could I resist? I so wasn't disappointed.

Perhaps it was the fact that it was filmed in the 80's. Or perhaps it had everything to do with being an Australian-produced gem, but the entire thing had an air of the caricaturesque, (my word). At most, two minutes of serious commentary would be maintained, only to disintegrate into absurd interviews with the most zany people imaginable. For example, the film was composed of two factions: toad lovers and toad haters. The toad hating camp yielded a gentleman who proceeded to go tearing through the countryside at night spearing toads after his exotic pet cat was poisoned to death by one. Another described, in great detail, and with a severe stutter, the damage he could inflict with his piece of metal pipe. Another still, actually admitted to habitually veering back and forth across highways in order to squash as many of the toads as he could under the wheels of his VW camper. (This last was accompanied by incriminating footage.)

The pro-toad camp was composed of individuals no less amusing, if perhaps, a bit more disturbing. An elderly couple waxed and waned about the joys of sitting out in the backyard with their toads, feeding them cat food and having them hop all over their toes. While another woman recounted how her two daughter once adopted a pair of toads as pets, and would dress them in dolls clothes and throw them tea parties. "The most contented little dollies, they were-- but just SO ugly." Have I mentioned yet that these Cane Toads are roughly the size of a cat?

And I would be remiss in omitting to share the lyrics of one of the background tracks. This particular one was crooned in much the same style as a Sinatra ballad;

"If anyone could ever love a Cane Toad
It would have to be another Came Toad.
'Cause if anyone could ever love a Cane Toad
They'd have to love him warts and all."

This is a plug. If you need a laugh, or a distraction, or have nothing else to do with three-quarters of an hour, have a look: Cane Toads: An Unnatural History."