Friday, February 27, 2009

::A little bit of lemon goes a long way::

Our van pulled off the highway at the Bank Street exit. We were six cars back, but I saw the scruffy guy holding the sign that said; "HUNGRY. Every bit helps..." The teenagers I was chauffeuring began to squirm in their seats as he drew near. I could tell the young guy in my front passenger seat was dying to press the automatic lock button to his right. But I had another idea entirely. I asked the boy in the middle to look under my seat for the baking tin. I asked him to pass it to me. And when the hungry man came to my window I offered him a lemon tart.

"Oh, thank you ma'am! God bless you!" And in a unrehearsed, raw, heartbreakingly genuine way, he tossed his sign on the grass by the side of the road and began devouring that tart with such fervour, had I not been driving away, I would have offered him the whole tin.

Maybe these men and women take the money we give them and spend it in a way that we deem
"unstewardly." But no matter the habits they have picked up along the way, no matter what ends to what means, they are living a hard, hard life. And they are walking up and down those highway exits because an unpleasant road has led them there. Our hearts should be soft when they tap on our car windows.

Now, one month later, I have received word from one of our inner city missions. I had asked what I could do to help, even from such a distance. She said I could bake. I immediately thought of that lemon tart. I can do that. My kids and I will stir ingredients together each week, and pray together than that food brings another soul off the streets and into that building where they will meet kindness and hope.

It's a start. A small step. But, even a little goes a long way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

::Gabriel's Day::

Why not take our kids on dates? I heard this concept a few weeks ago and took a liking to it. I recall going on dates with my Dad as a kid, just him and me: a bike ride to the river for a picnic lunch, a trip to the Museum of Nature followed by ice cream . . . And perhaps it's more important to make this effort when there are more children vying for your time. Aidan's dad made sure to spend one-on-one time with each of his boys. No competing for attention. No trying to be heard over the dinner din. And I, for one, relish the chance to indulge each of mine according to their passions.

Date #1 was bestowed upon Gabriel, as his birthday conveniently fell in the path of this burgeoning tradition. I was given the honour this time around, since it was a work day for Aidan. With Isaiah freshly tucked in for a nap, and my two eldest off to school, my newly-three boy and I went first to Chapters. I had every intention of buying him a few books that took his fancy, but instead we settled on one of these:

{Eco-points for me! It's all recycled material, and the driver's helmet-light is powered by pumping the dune buggy up and down. Cool.}

We chatted over a cookie at Starbucks. Gabriel spent more time under the table with his new toy than in his seat. Next, we popped into Walmart to gather a few snacks for the movie: juice boxes and Whoppers. Finally, we grabbed tickets at the AMC for the only kids movie showing at the moment; Hotel for Dogs:

And I must admit, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I likely enjoyed it more than my little man. He brought all of his textbook three-ishness to the experience. First I had to disavow him of the notion that a "big monster" would come up on the screen. {If we had come to a viewing of Monsters v. Aliens, there would have been a problem.} Next, he had to be taught about the fine art of whispering. "Look at the dogs, mommy! They're chasing that car!" He did a pee-pee dance at one point and I rushed him to the toilet. And by the end he simply "wanted to go home."

So, yeah, the movie thing should be limited those 5 years and up, perhaps. But the whole outing was great fun. Gabriel had me to himself and blabbered on a mile a minute. I translated his dialogue to the strangers he was addressing. We walked hand-in-hand and took our time. . . It was good. Aidan will accompany Elijah on the next date. And Caelah and I will head out after that. We figure every other month or so we can afford to take one of the kids out.

And, oh, there's more! On Gabriel's Day he got to choose the menu. We had french toast for breakfast. We made mini pizzas for dinner, {I let them use cookie cutters to cut their cheese into fun shapes: hearts, stars, butterflies...} And the evening was topped off with JUMBO rainbow cookies for dessert.

I think I LOVE Date Days!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


{Japanese Lanterns in watercolor}

I received a set of watercolor paints for Christmas. I think I am in love with the possibilities, but intimidated to the point of paralysis by the learning curve. . . I'll let y'a know.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

::Happy Heart Day::

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

::Careful hands::

I met with the man whose careful hands took my four children from my womb. Those of you who have been blessed with natural births will not, perhaps, appreciate the dependence a C-section-mama has on her surgeon. Apart from staying calm and praying a lot, and apart from dealing as best I can with the pain afterwards, it is all up to him.

This particular man has earn my trust four times over for so many reasons. He has always been supportive of our desire for a large family; "You're body is very good at this, so keep going, I say!" He sometimes speaks about the hockey game while we're in surgery. Partly this is a diversion tactic so I feel calm. Partly it's because he is genuinely at ease with what he does. And he has delivered all of my children well. There are many things that can go wrong along the way, but he has not erred yet with our little family.

So yesterday he and I had a frank discussion about the next months. He told me that he would start to look very closely at my health around 24 weeks. For the next ten weeks I can carry on as usual, exercising lightly, carrying groceries etc. But after 24 weeks he will look for signs that the baby is putting too much pressure on my uterus. If so, a season of trial will begin for our family. I will have to keep walking to a minimum. I will not be able to pick up my children. I won't be able to grocery shop without someone along to do the lifting. . . I will be on mission to keep this baby inside me for as long as I can. 28 weeks is the threshold I need to cross for baby to have a good chance.


It's an odd prayer, but if I had to put words to my request it would be; pray for my uterus. Pray that it holds this baby well into maturity. And pray that I find the resources I need to run this household, possibly from the confines of the couch.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

I see Hearts

Heart Day is coming up.
I see them everywhere:

I found a Heart in our woodpile.
Can you see it?

What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sound of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone's heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone's hearts would start to beat at the same time. . . That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn't have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war. . .
::Jonathan Safran::"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close::

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

::Trust a Bus::

So, I'm sure you've heard of this little add campaign by now:

A friend just sent me a great link. It's your turn to put words on the side of a bus.
In light of our recent 51-day bus strike, I thought this would work:

Here's another by Ani:
Try it.
Send me your finished product, will y'a?
Bus Ad Generator.

Monday, February 02, 2009

::Hands and Feet::

Aidan came up the stairs this morning, flopped onto the couch next to me and said; "Let's just pick up the phone and call her. I'm tired of us saying we're going to do things and not doing them." Agreed. So I called.

The phone call we made was to our dear neighbour Mrs. Gibson. The occasion of the call was to ask her and her son to dinner, both to enjoy their delightful company, but also in hopes of learning how we can plug ourselves into the community as a family. Margaret is a very active member of the neighbourhood. She works the polling stations. She fundraises. She helps at the Senior's Home. She has many things to teach us, and we are ready to learn.

"We want you to help us find ways for us to serve the community, along with our kids." Her response was wonderful. "Oh, sure! There are lots of things you can all do!"

Of course, this should come as no surprise. Haven't we been taught the same over and over again? The weak and the unwell. The aged and the lonely. The poor and the oppressed. They are living among us and we are commanded to take the surplus of love, hope and joy we have and put it to use in the quarters of the hurting. The truth is, however, I have been simply overwhelmed at the vastness of the need. Where do I begin? How will my children be able to minister alongside me?

As is often the case, the first step is the hardest: Just ask. Ask the wise neighbour and friend. Ask the seasoned servant who has been giving of herself tirelessly. She will gladly lead and guide. Of course she will, because she loves the people she is serving and knows that extra hands will be a blessing.

I eagerly anticipate the beginning of a very new way of living. And I urge you all to hold me accountable. Ask me in a few months how busy our hands and feet are. I pray that we will be able to bless you all with stories of outreach and service. In the meantime, would you bless me with stories of your own? In what ways are your servant hands busy? How have you been training your little ones to love and serve? I have asked this before, but will never tire of your examples and wisdom.