Monday, August 31, 2009

::Garden Tomatoes::

Our tomatoes are ripening on the vine.
They are like candy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

::Warthog's Tears::

know God is doing a heart reno in me when I begin to feel genuine compassion for those I normally wouldn't. The other day the kids and I were at the park when a Day Camp swarmed the structure. There was a boy who immediately stood out from the rest. He was pushing and shoving kids left, right and center, throwing sand; a stereotypical "bad kid." And they kept calling him "Warthog." (Special camp name, I'm assuming.) The appropriateness of which was, no doubt, lost on no one, as he spent most of his time rampaging through the yard, bulldozing anything that stood in his way. At one point, after having really hit the mark with two big handfuls of sand, a mommy bystander went to talk with one of the staff members. The boy was taken off to the side to be dealt with.

When I am particularly callous and topped up with pride, I have no patience for anyone else's parenting. And as this kid was lead away by the staff girl for a talking-to, I was braced for a watered-down, ineffective session that didn't penetrate the boy's skin. Didn't happen. Instead, she wrapped her arms around him, held him and simply asked; "why would you hurt a friend?" He burst into full-body, heaving sobs. He huddled into her arms and stayed there crying for a very long time. When she asked him if he wanted to go play, he shook his head. He wanted to stay there in her arms. And it hit me so intensely. He just wanted to be touched. To be paid attention to. Don't we all? When we've been left untouched, unnoticed, unloved for too long, don't we act out in our own unique ways? Acid-tongued words. Invented dramas. Embellished victories. Look-at-me clothes or haircuts. . . And it takes a rare person to look beyond the unattractive character--to completely set aside judgment-- and see someone who needs a bit of love.

Since "Warthog's" tears, my eyes have been opened to many examples of love-needy people, wrapped in ugly externals. This includes me. I have had one big bad attitude lately because my pride is currently taking a beating. I'm socially out of the loop, hauling around 35 extra pounds and way out of the lime-light. I can feel the resentments seeping in. I am handing out small unkindnesses and feeling perversely satisfied when someone else joins me on this uglier side of things.

Warthog's tears have begun to mend me. And I know why. Because for five minutes I was completely absorbed in him. Not me. I wanted to be the girl with my arms around him. I wanted him to feel loved and wanted. That kind of outward focus really does a number on pride and nurtured resentments.

The book of James says that if we indulge ourselves long enough, we will find ourselves packed full of poor character. We come to God with our hands open and then self-spend. Once we've used up all our resources, we keep on asking for more. When more never comes, we turn ugly. James points out the better way: Strip down to humility and be showered with grace. Ask from God in order to give. He'll show us where to spend our grace. He will give us the eyes to see who most needs our arms wrapped around them.

Look inward. Who have you been thinking about? You? Look for someone else's tears. Dry them up with your love.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

::Boats, Balls & Baptisms::

very busy weekend. We packed up the whole family for our annual weekend at the Prince's cottage. This year we had to cut the weekend short, but we made good use of the time we had: swimming, boating, tubing, lounging, game-playing, eating, laughing, staying up WAY to late. . .

Back home we celebrated Mom and Dad's 35th anniversary in a very cozy way: finger food and a slide show. The kids and I were thrilled to see Aidan as a baby. In many of the photos it looked like Gabriel was staring back at us.

Sunday was Annorah's baptism. She wore the gown that was first worn by the eldest of Mom Van Dyk's sisters. It has, since, been sprinkled with many baptismal waters.

Sunday afternoon is usually spent at "Grammie and Grandpa's." Grandpa decided he need to begin training his grandson to catch a football and throw a perfect spiral.

Go, go, go. . . and loving it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

::Lantern Party 2009::

ast night I hosted the Second Annual Lantern Party. {See pictures from last year HERE.} This morning, I am suffering some mild heartache that I didn't take pictures. There were nine beautiful women & loads of beautiful food, but I was so caught up in it I left the camera untouched. Some would say that is as it should be, but a photograph has always been able to transport me back. . .

. . . these will have to do. Along with my memories: drinks, anyone? oh, half of you are pregnant. . . citronella shower--"Am I on fire?". . . MOSQUITOES. . . kittens attacking tablecloths. . . very welcome news. . . man in a suit on a swing. . .the birds story-- poor, poor birds. . . so much food. . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

::Four for Five?::

We already have three thumb suckers.
Will Annorah be our fourth?

Monday, August 17, 2009

::Two Kittens::

despised squirrels in the city. They made life miserable. Chipmunks were always the cute smaller cousin that frolicked about in the forests with puffed up cheeks and cuteness abounding. Now that we are out in the country, I have come to despise them as well. In fact, chipmunks have supplanted the squirrel for #1 wildlife species I would happily place on the extinction list. {Unless mosquitoes are allowed on the list.}

I plant a bush, the nasty critters tunnel under it. I sow some seeds, the little beasts dig them out. I feed the family dinner on the back porch, an army of furry monsters invade and poo all over the table cloth. Agh!

Enter-- two kittens. All of my hope is pinned on their fuzzy shoulders, (and razor claws and pointed teeth.) They will become our killing machines. They will seek and destroy. Yes, they will leave gruesome presents on our doorstep for us to find in the morning. But that is exactly the point. Every gory gifts is one less rodent digging up the garden and pooping on our linens.

I asked the kids to name these two, but they kept suggesting their friends' names, or an animal from a Disney cartoon. . . It wasn't working. Then, taking matters into my own hands, I thought I would infuse our new pets with an extra powerful dose of hunter's instinct by naming them accordingly.

Benelli & Remington

For the hunters among you, no explanations required.
For all others, Google is your friend.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

::Elaine's Stay::

Paying homage to Elaine and her big heart, with a photo collage.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

::Good things in the morning::

This is what my birthday morning looked like:
Berry Smoothies. Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Red-berry mouths.
Good things.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

::Lumiere Festival 2009::

ast year I was contacted by the producer of the Lumiere Festival about my lanterns. She was hoping to book me for a possible lantern workshop. When I responded favourably she said she would be sure to get in touch closer to Lumiere 2009. She did.

Rather than a workshop, Joanne asked if I could produce enough lanterns to put on display. She was asking me to be one of their featured artists. So tempting. Of course, while oblivious when asked last year, I now knew I would have a week-old baby girl by Festival time... But I was determined to try and make it work. And I did.

Twelve lanterns were dropped off at the Crichton Community Center in time for the festival. I didn't expect to be able to see them on display, still being in recovery mode. But Elaine and I found a way-- public transit.

The buses took us right to the mouth of the park--little girl in fairy wings, baby in a snuggly--and we began to explore. Superficially, it was, in a word: Pretty. Lanterns hung from every tree. A forest path was lit up with toadstool lanterns. A string of lights floated on the water. . . Whimsy & romance . However, there was an undercurrent that pricked my senses. I tried to block it out and enjoy the prettiness. But there it was-- a decidedly uncomfortable vibe about the place. It was a celebration of mother earth, feminism and New Age weirdness. Strange masked creatures flitting about. Odd chantings rising and falling. . . This world I had stepped into did not welcome me. My lanterns fit snuggly into the atmosphere, but I did not.

If I were asked to contribute to the festival again, I think I would have some strong reservations. I am rarely struck with a need to set myself bodily apart from a place or circumstance. But, as I mentioned to someone in hindsight, it felt like "my invisible crew" was warring with "the other invisible crew" above my head while we were there. Ugh. Anyone ever felt this? So, this is not an anti-endorsement of the Festival so much as a warning for those who are sensitive to things unseen.

I was grateful for the chance to showcase some art. And Caelah was able to freely enjoy the carnivalesque atmosphere, free of an awareness of the taint. But I believe our first Lumiere will be our last.

::Poke, poke, poke::

o things got a lot harder with Isaiah before they got better. He and I had a few weepy days as he misunderstood my arms-length approach to be a punishment, and I broke my heart keeping him away. Slowly, slowly, I was able to get down on the floor and wrap my arms around him until he had his fill of me and wandered off. He regained his security bit by bit. And now he has set his site on his little sister-- an object of curiosity. Poke. Poke. Poke. She is proving to be long-suffering. She will never know what it feels like to be left alone.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

::Settling In::

I have been so blessed with support and help this last time 'round. Annorah and I came home to a quiet house, and were promptly joined by my friend from Kingston for a whole week! She has been doing laundry, dishes, heavy lifting, scrubbing my shower. . . At this moment she is out doing groceries.

Annorah has been a textbook baby. She asks for food about every three hours, and sleeps in between. She gifts me with very awake moments-- just staring out at the world. I am completely infatuated.

The big test came with the arrival home of our four older kids. How would they adjust? Early days, but I was very relieved to see Isaiah scamper over to Norah and gently rub her head. (He also poked her eyes, but we can work on that.) It was VERY challenging to nurse Norah, however, because Isaiah wanted on my lap. He dissolved into huge gasping sobs when I tried to keep him off. I made a compromise-- him up on top of both Norah and I, using her as his pillow. It took a bit of arm strength to keep his full weight off her, but she didn't complain.

Wow. All five are here and learning to accommodate one another. And, of course, I am doing a lot of adjusting myself. Thankfully I have people around me making the process a smooth as can be.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

::Norah's first pictures::

I'm free.
We were discharged this morning. We won't be going home until this evening, so are hanging out at Mom and Dad's. I figured people would want to snuggle Norah outside the hospital setting. If you are in the area today, come on over!
These are the first few photos of Norah without the usual polish I give them. I will post more when I am home and settled. Thank you all again for your prayers. It went so well--beyond what I had anticipated. We have been so tremendously blessed.