Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Semblance of Sanity!

I am happy to stay - beyond thrilled, really! - that we are on the home-stretch of the paint fiasco - er, painting "project" - that has taken so much of our time lately. If I do the math correctly (which is dubious, considering I've averaged 5 hours of sleep per night, not including wake-ups!), we've gone through ...
... at least 6 rolls of tape (even after purchasing that lovely $15 "trim brush" that should save you from taping - but after 3 cups of coffee, even a $15 brush can't make it a neat line!!)
... approx. 13 gallons of paint (so far, we're not quite done yet!!!)
... excuse me while I whip out my calculator for this one!! ... 59 hours of painting alone. That does not include prep, sanding, priming, moving furniture (or chasing children off the furniture!!)

However, it was beyond time to repaint. Here's what it was...

Here's what it is in the process of becoming...

And here's the mess of our living room for the last 2 weeks!!

I'm learning a lot of things while repainting the house...
... like the art of cooperation. Nothing says lovin' (or not :P) like painting together! J & I approach such projects very differently, and even after 10 years, we find ourselves growing in the area of Skillful Negotiation Tactics.

... like the reason I've not tackled this before is because I lacked confidence, mostly. I am most tempted to procrastinate when I feel overwhelmed by a project. Give me a room, okay. Give me a whole house (with a rather specific shade of carpet :)....) and it feels a bit big.

... like functioning on little sleep and actually thriving on little sleep are very different things! I can survive on 5 hours a night; I am not my best self on 5 hours a night :)!

... like my mind has a lot of time to think (that is when I wasn't keeping the dog from the paint try or listening to Little M weave together one of her imaginative adventures or chasing Sweet K away from Diggy's food dish - which is totally gross, I know!! - or having two little ones climbing on me - apparently any one on the floor is fair game - and trying to tackle mommy!). Some times those thoughts bring revelation. Some times those thoughts turn sour, and I find myself frustrated or discouraged or just plain gloomy. Time to think can become time to pray, and to find God in the midst of those tangles.

... like this was the color my home was meant to be. At least for now. It's warm and cozy, and much more my style. I look forward to the additional projects I've bookmarked for the fall. Until then, we'll tidy up the mess we've made, repaint the girls room, a few day projects here and there and

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Online wonders :)

I had just laid down almost $300 for new glasses. (And truth be told, I've discovered I don't even like them as much as my old pair!!) A number of people came to me and shared how they had purchased glasses ONLINE! Not only that, but they only cost like $30!!! WHAT!? Where were you a week ago :)?

If you are hunting for new specs, you may wanna give the online route a go! I know I will the next time around. Check out eyeglasses. With these prices, you could even get a couple of pairs :) - something simple or something bold or that little something in between :).

Both J & I wear glasses, so there's a good chance our kids will too :P. These are cute - and so are these - and these!!

They walk you through the whole process of ordering - you just have to have your prescription handy. One site I checked out mentioned the importance of also obtaining your pupillary distance (precise measurement between the centre of your pupils). Most opticians will include this information only upon request. If you ARE planning to purchase glasses online, you may wanna read through the general information even before obtaining your prescription so that you know which specific questions to ask!!

If you've purchased glasses online, let me know how it goes! These glasses may seem to last forever, but eventually they will wear out and I would like to give the online option a try!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Paint paint paint

Repainting the whole house (well almost, we finished up some basement stuff last summer!!), in and around children and activity and the summer sunshine, has proven to be quite the undertaking! Any time now, the little painting fairies could arrive. I would be quite happy.

However, J informs me that the little painting fairies (probably called College Pro Painters, or something like that!) would likely be out of my budget, and wouldn't NEARLY give me the same satisfaction as doing it on our own! Yeah. Right.

I must admit, though, things are coming along well. After this week (all things going well, and if it doesn't, you'll hear me hollering out in the middle of a wide open field like a crazy woman!) we should have the main area completed. So warm and lovely. And I'm looking forward to the quieter days of autumn when I can take time and put in a few finishing touches.

Until then, I am trying to find a few spots of sanity and a couple of moments to call my own!

Friday, July 17, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to converse with someone who'd also had a much different baby-arrival experience than expected. She shared, and I shared, and it was so good, but hard too, to revisit memories that were so painful and life-changing.

It brought back all the moments that were merely (barely!) survived in the first year of Sweet K's life. Even now, with kids and life and rough nights and activity, it took days to process it all over again. Moments to cry, quiet times of gratitude, soaking in the goodness of the "now". I suspect, every year around this time I will move through this cycle - a time to reflect, recollect and reconcile myself with the upheavals of life.

On the 3rd day of Sweet K's life, our caregiver noticed that her head circumference was measuring small. Not just small. Too small. Immediately we hooked up with a pediatrician, but it was about 10 days before we could meet with him. In that in between time, she was so... normal (I hate to use that word, but for lack of better description...) that we really didn't suspect anything was ... different.

The day of her first doc appointment, the world was as right as rain. It was a gorgeous July day, we were off on a family outing, and we, by God's grace, had no idea of the impending life storm that was about to be unleashed in our lives.

Time is such a funny thing. It can seem to stand still, spin wildly out of control, continue moving all around you - all while you are trying to absorb a single moment. The moment of initial diagnosis; the moment that completely turns your world upside down. The explanation of doctors visits, specialists, tests that would fill our calendar for the next year. Sleep deprived, strained, adjusting to life changes - I went numb, yet felt so much pain, that if it hadn't been for the fact that breathing is a reflexive action, I would've stopped completely.

We came home and "googled" microcephaly for the first time. The results were terrifying. So many possible conditions and life expectations loomed large and loud. Aside from the ocassional spoken word, all I could hear was the sound of the pounding in my ears.

And so, we prayed. From one second to the next, through each appointment, and all the waiting and wondering in between, I talked and cried (and cried and cried) and laughed and simply sat with God. What would He allow? What was coming our way?

Only a few short days after K's initial appointment, she went through xrays to see if her sutures had fused prematurely. All clear. No surgery required for now. This continued periodically until she was 9 months. Everything continued to grow beautifully.

A day or two following, she had an MRI, which was horrifying, but here too, God was present. Placing my newborn into a machine that looked like it would eat us all alive was soooo hard, but God's presence brought comfort in the pain. On our wedding anniversary (July 24) we received the fantastic news that her brain was fully and beautifully developed, just a bit smaller than average. This ruled out several scary diagnoses, and we celebrated long and hard!!!

A visit to the geneticist office. A gracious and encouraging person. A few ideas about diagnosis, but so comforting - yes there may be challenges, but we were spared some of the more intense ones.

A meeting with a neurologist. Again, yes, there were things to keep watching out for, but no signs of specific abnormalities. Unless there are unexpected complications, no need to visit again.

And on and on. And waiting, so. much. waiting. That is the hardest part, I think!! Possibly hip dysplaysia, no. Heart condition, no. Blood tests for a possible condition that is usually accompanied by tumors and cancer. No. We met so many people. The kindest nurses, doctors, (some not!!) and the most amazing conversations emerged.

Bottom line - primary microcpehaly is a condition that affects that size of brain growth. Mild development delays and learning issues are most likely, but not a guarantee. Sweet K is literally one in a 1,000,000. This is a very rare condition, as most kids born with MC go on to have a host of health and development issues. She fits into that (extraordinarily) slim category where there are no further complications.

Given a life "wish book," I'd never had selected this experience to walk through. It was excruciating at best, completely unnerving at worst. But again and again and again, the LORD taught me lessons of surrender, how to wait under His protection, and finding myself opening up again to His love in the hard stuff of life.

I am so grateful. Sweet K is a spunky little peanut who brings such joy. Except, when teething, when she is a terrible sleeper. Any suggestions!!!? I'm really tired of being awake half the night!!! :).

I read a line the other day (and "googled" it but it is lost 'out there' somewhere!!) that goes something like...
Life is composed of memories, not milestones.

So true, so true. And in these ordinary memories of life, we find life abundant.
Ordinary Miracle, Sarah McLachlan

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Family Notebook

We're trying something new around here. It's an idea that's been stewing for some time, fueled by some readings and blogs and such :).

We've started a Family Notebook.

I was trying to think of fun and innovative ways to introduce the kids to the discipline of journaling (and since they are only 2 and 3.5, I had to be creative!!).

So I bought a big notebook, some markers and every week we fill a page or two with tidbits that we've learned along the way. What did we play? Who came to visit? (If you stop over at our place, be sure to sign our scribbler!!)

I even printed out some simple clip art to glue into the book, to highlight fun events and experiences. Or some of the tough stuff too. No journal is complete if it is all the rough and tumble stuff of life is edited out!

I love love it because there is no --- planning, cropping, fussing involved. Just give the kids a crayon and let 'em go!

We even brought it along to family camping weekend and whoever wanted to could record a little picture or memory. How fun is that :)?!.

If you've tried this with your family, pass along any ideas or insights!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's true! We did survive!!

Wow. One week ago I was packing to go on our first camping trip of the season.

Who knew that you needed that much stuff to survive two nights without the creature comforts of home :P?

And with the chorus of of Aretha Franklin's I Will Survive running through my head...
I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love
I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
And I will survive
I will survive
Hey Hey!

You gotta keep it simple when you're without a radio and all :).

All in all, things went well. I think :). Aside from the two stints in the van, at night, for over an hour each, with a crying baby who doesn't usually cry a lot but I could hear here wailing from the washroom!!, who had an itchy bite that just wouldn't quit!

Yes, it is [far] more tiring than staying at home. And a friend of mine commented that she's amazed we go at all, considering how Sweet K sleeps (or doesn't!!). But if we hadn't gone, think of all the fun we'd missed...
- Late night family reminiscing around the campfire AFTER the little ones have finally fallen asleep (my dad introduced us to the game "What really irks you" and apparently some of us had more to share than others!!!)
- Lots of yummy snacks (no smores, Michelle, sorry! - but my mom brought enough salty and sweet snacks to keep us going for quite a while!!)
- Bike rides, stints at the park, watching Sweet K fall in love with the slides and observing how Little M has taken to the water now that she wears a life jacket
- Working on my sun tan :)
- And lots and lots of laughing. As we were wading with the kids, I turned to J and said - see, this life with kids is a piece of cake - to which he quipped - yeah, it's the marriage that requires the work!!! He got a good splash for that one :P.

I think I'm finally unpacked now. Finished the loads of laundry. Sorted the dishes and dried the swim gear.
And maybe, just maybe, we'll do it again!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The quest of the camper...

This weekend we will embark on yet another camping extravaganza. I'm still not sure why we do this to ourselves. Are we gluttons for punishment or just really really optimistic people :)...

... First there is the thrill of exhilaration when you finally get through on the Manitoba Parks website and secure JUST THE RIGHT camping locale. Oh yes, the one from last year. In the bush (ticks). With bugs (mosquitos). Little breeze. BUT the washrooms are close by, and that's a must!!

... Then there are all the nostalgic feelings of what kinds of camping memories will be made this year. Firesides. Time spent lounging at the beach. Great conversations. Enjoying the Great Outdoors. The thrill of cooking over an open fire (or coleman stove, which I happen to prefer!).

... However, as the weekend gets closer, reality sets in. Racing after running children. Trips to the washroom in the dead of night. Slogging through another teething issue in a campground surrounded by hundreds of witnesses.

... And gasp, we are still of the hardy few that use a t.e.n.t. Among families with children, we are a rare breed, I know. Before J and I had children, we would spend THREE AND A HALF WEEKS on the road, spending only one or two nights in a hotel. The rest - we lived out of our car and our cozy 4-man (read 2 people squished together) tent! But now, we prefer 2 nights at a time :). Sure there's the love of adventure and sleeping near the hard ground that makes it attractive, but really, we're saving the $10,000 you'd pay for a good used camper for our "rainy day" fund!!

... Yet, in this bug-eat-people world of ours, we do. it. every. year. Often several times. There's nothing like that cup of coffee outside (especially if mom has made it!), laughing around the fire side, escaping from the at-home-work (because folks, camping with kids IS WORK!!!), and giggling by another sand castle or splash in the lake.

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to create some really great memories. And it is worth it.
Right :)?


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