Saturday, November 30, 2013

371 to 380

371. Sam clearing his toys off the bookshelf and cuddling down in it for an imaginary nap.
372. Dinner at Donald and Elizabeth's ... with take out to bring home! Yum! We were so thoroughly spoiled.
373. Doing a family photo shoot with the self-timer in the snow.
374. Patrick doing laundry with the kids.
375. Tackling a chore I've been dreading and killing it in ten minutes.
376. Scrubbing the shower with my favourite mint scrub (and using all the hot water ... sorry love!).
377. Movember ending; kiss bliss at last!
378. Making a duplo tower taller than Sam.
379. Vava falling asleep in my arms.
380. Patrick playing Christmas music for me all day, even though he's not really a fan ♥.

Friday, November 29, 2013

361 to 370

361. Thick & fluffy snowflakes, dreamy naptime weather.
362. A pretty decent night's sleep :).
363. Driving behind this irresistible slogan (picture below).
364. A good chat with my brother.
365. Vava waking up from a car-nap and shopping so cheerfully.
366. Cold sweet mandarin oranges.
367. Quoting William Carlos Williams when my kids coloured a red wheelbarrow.
368. Sam's fierce bedtime snuggles, and his sweet 'you okay, ma?'
369. Vava hailing neighbours with her happy wave.
370. Lazing under a cozy blanket while Patrick tidied the house.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

351 to 360

351. A recipe book - including one for Nshima! - from my lovely thoughtful Jo ♥.
352. Patrick putting out the garbage
353. A quick chat with my sister.
354. Greeting the kids post-nap with their toothpaste & tooth brushes .... insta-smiles.
355. Sam sharing nicely at playgroup.
356. Both Sam and Vava wanting a good snuggle this afternoon.
357. Vava and her friend giggling together and trying to hold hands during supper.
358. Having friends join us for dinner.
359. Looking through old pictures of people I love.
360. Going to bed a little earlier ... good night!

What Comfort & Joy Looks Like

I woke up for what seemed like the millionth time last night, because Sam was cough/crying in his sleep.  He has this cough - it just seems to be sticking around - and it's waking at least two of us up every hour or so.  Sometimes he sleeps right through it (lucky bum), other times he cries and I go in, pass him his sippy cup, rub his back, and settle him back to sleep.  Sometimes all of this wakes up Vava too, who wants a bottle (since she's awake) and Mama's on duty, and so it goes.  Back and forth, praying for a little more sleep.

And then morning comes and they're raring to go but somehow I struggle to shake the sleepiness off.

This is my ideal morning: I wake up before the kids after 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I have coffee and some quiet time, tidy anything left around from the night before, and prepare the kids' breakfasts.  Then I turn on some music and let it drift up the stairs until they wake. 

This is morning lately: Sam coughs into the monitor, loud, and cries.  Vava stirs, and joins him.  The cacophany manages to penetrate my (oh so blissful!) 2-hour sleep-coma, and I find my feet hitting the floor for the fifth or sixth time since I went to bed.  I carry a gigantic kid in each arm, counting each stair because my eyes are too heavy to open.  The sixteenth step is the floor and I can put them down and zombie-walk toward my coffee (thank you, Patrick!).

I shouldn't even be writing about this.  Parents with fussy sleepers will shoot me - because my kids both soared through sleep-training with ease, and when everyone's healthy and all things are normal, they both sleep for a solid, uninterrupted 11-hour stretch.  So I'm used to being totally spoiled, I know.

I was whining to Patrick about how tired I was, how tough it is to get up every time Sam coughs, how annoying that Vava wakes wide-eyed and wants a bottle for sleep to resume ... when it hit me.  This is what comfort and joy looks like.  You wanna keep Christ in Christmas? 

Because I've been thinking about that (bossy and dreadful) phrase we see every year about this time ... Keep Christ in Christmas.  

I don't know what the slogan-slingers mean, exactly, when they say that.  Are they protesting the shorthand X-mas?  Are they rejecting the generic Happy Holidays?  Are they wishing for a little less Santa Claus and a little more Baby Jesus?  I'm not really sure.  But it made me think.

What am I celebrating, and how?

I'm celebrating the Saviour of the world, born of a virgin, laid in a manger, given for all humanity. I'm celebrating God's generosity by giving gifts, celebrating Jesus' coming to the world by hanging up lights, celebrating His quest to bring many sons to glory by making special effort to spend time with - and love - family.

But how did God celebrate that first Christmas?  I'm not trying to be blasphemous or anything, but when I wonder what His Christmas was like, I think it was a little bigger on the sacrifice and smaller on the may-i-have-more-gravy-please.  He celebrated that first Christmas with a gift.  A costly gift. A sweet baby gift. And he wrapped that gift up in the silver paper of starlight, the golden ribbon of angel-song.  Heaven's perfect lamb.  He gave Him to us ... and that Christmas, Heaven was a little emptier.  The Son, poured out for our redemption.  

When I think about Christmassy feelings, I think of things like a warm house, lots of delicious things to eat, twinkly lights, cozy clothes, happy laughter.  I think about the security of being inside when snow howls outside, nibbling something dipped in caramel or cheese.  I remember the Christmas when Patrick and I fell in love, and the heart-stopping wonder of belonging and foreverness.  I don't really think about getting up in the middle of the night for weeks on end.  About wiping runny nose after runny nose and changing soggy bums.  About preparing her bottle when I'd rather be turning my pillow to the cool side. I don't think about putting myself last.  

But that, really, is the spirit of Christmas.  Isn't it?  Giving your best for someone else's blessing?  Like God did.  It's not about surrounding ourselves in comfort and joy, but others. Not about feasting and filling ourselves (all fingers pointing at me, I know it), but, in honour of Jesus who gave Himself as the Bread of Life for starving souls everywhere, giving food to the hungry and clothes to the naked and love to the lonely.  And my crib-bound babies, crying and lonely and hungry in the wide dark night, are the nearest needies I know.  But there are more too - homeless and hungry and cold and I don't even have to look outside of my neighbourhood to find opportunities to pour out.

Keeping Christ in Christmas starts here.  When the monitor carries the sound of my midnight babies, I can bring comfort.  When I'm buying groceries, I can buy for the food bank too.  When I plan parties, I can search for the lonely to invite.  When I make a Christmas list, let it be for giving - not receiving. I might scrupulously say Merry Christmas and sing Silent Night more than Jingle Bells and buy verse-engraved presents from the Christian bookstore but if I'm not giving with His sacrificial love, I'm not keeping Christ in Christmas.  

I'm praying for eyes to see the corners where I can shine a little merry brightness.  Looking for someone who needs a little comfort & joy.  I think there are two little squawkers in the middle of the night that could handle a Christmas-hearted mama and some joyful self-sacrifice.  He's already blessed me with comfort and joy ... so You know God's going to ask me to be like Him ... and pour it out.

God rest ye merry, gentle readers :).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

341 to 350

341. Listening to Sam's conversations when he plays alone. (Today Diego wanted to ride the tractor but he was too big and it would break.)
342. Stripping the bed and letting the kids jump on the mattress.
343. Sam helping me with laundry.
344. Vava nestling down like a kitten into fresh soft blankets.
345. Sweet Emma watching the kids s we could both go out together!
346. Sam and Vava going to sleep like champs.
347. Christmas music in four-part harmony.
348. That achey-happy homesick feeling ... wishing my sisters could meet my new friends.
349. Realizing my old boots will crunch happily through another year's worth of snow.
350. Fuzzy sheets fresh on the bed! Goodnight world ... hello coziness.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

331 to 340

331. Patrick getting the kids out of bed.
332. Bowling with the basketball and four toy trucks standing on end.
333. Vava down on all fours for the serious task of eating snow.
334. Smoothing baby oil on winter-dry skin.
335. Painting mess and happiness.
336. That bluey golden moment when it's still technically light out, but dark enough to turn on the Christmas lights.
337. Kids bursting because Patrick came home.
338. Two big clean babies in fuzzy warm jams, cuddling mama and papa before bed.
339. A gorgeous new song, fine in my ears.
340. Sam trying to obey the letter of the law by taking imaginary bites at suppertime.

Monday, November 25, 2013

321 to 330

321. Vava's rabitty front tooth.
322. Sam and Vava being so happy to see each other this morning.
323. Vava bringing cranky Sam a favourite train and making the stormclouds flee.
324. A glad message from an old friend.
325. One of Vava's friends visiting this morning and totally bossing  the forward crawl.
326. The magical way a good playlist can soothe & settle everyone at once.
327. The wonder of God choosing a mercy seat to meet with us. Mercy. His heart is fixed on blessing us, redeeming us, meeting us in costly mercy.
328. Calendar squares filling up with good things.
329. Cycling beside the old man I inspired to gym-read last week.
330. Beautiful snow and bearable temperatures.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

311 to 320

311. The strange and lovely sensation of being small ... sitting in a crowd of people who are all standing and singing glad to the Lord.
312. Being surprised by a fresh blanket of snow after Sunday school.
313. Stealing a nap on the couch while Vava played.
314. Finding a dollar!
315. Vava's irresistible cuteness in her stripey hat, even when she wears it on top of her hood.
316. Cute blue boots for miss V to wear with dresses.
317. Sam spontaneously thanking Patrick for making him a snowball.
318. Christmas carols that melt self and greed and pride clean off the heart.
319. Getting my first shoveling exercise of the season.
320. Organizing the pantry and realizing there is more yumminess there than I thought!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

301 to 310

301. Patrick being home with us; hooray for Saturdays!
302. Sam's massive recent appetite took a little rest today ... I actually did something other than feed him.
303. Taking the kids bowling - they were both so excited, and got to use the ramp.
304. Nice warm blankets to wrap around them in the car.
305. A chance to reconnect with my Emma-girl.
306. A peek into a fascinating book.
307. Quick hellos with dear friends.
308. Lovely faces around the table.
309. Creamy sweet smooth cheesecake!
310. Christmas lights up and a-twinkle.

Friday, November 22, 2013

291 to 300

291. My God's kind heart - overwhelmed by His tenderness today.
292. Chilling with mamas and sharing each others' struggles.
293. Last night's leftovers for lunch and supper today ... yum!
294. Both kids napping at the same time, for a long time, so I could write.
295. The clear morning sky rimmed with ominous heavy clouds.
296. Fat snowflakes dancing in the air.
297. Silly Vava saying Hi Poo when I change her diaper.
298. A quick just-to-say-hi phone call from my mama.
299. An envelope stuffed with good tears and love, addressed hilariously.
300. Unexpected old friends sitting around our table & laughing. There ought to be a really rich old word to describe that satisfying-loneliness feeling.

when it's your own fault

Sam is two.  There are lots of things I tell him not to do.  Some days it feels like all I do is say "no!" in varying degrees of sternness.  Sometimes I turn around in the middle of telling him not to do something and find him doing that EXACT thing ... like reaching up to touch a hot burner, or pushing his sister, or turning on the TV.  Gah.  Seriously, I need a recording of myself saying "no, Sam" on repeat, just so I can save my voice.  I have good reasons for saying no - he'll get hurt, develop an ugly character, or turn his brain to mush - but Sam doesn't always see the reasons.  He just hears the "no", that burden I place on him ... and sometimes decides to disobey.

When he gets hurt, he flies to me.  Tears welling and overflowing.  Full-on wailing.  He heaves himself against me and wraps his arms around me and cries snot and tears all over my neck.  

And I coldly say "you were warned!" and walk away ...
No!  Ugh, it hurt me just to write that - of course not, a thousand times, no!
When my darling boy is hurt, I comfort him and hold him and kiss him, and rub his back and smooth his hair and wash his face and when his sobbing is done and his breathing has returned to normal and all that awful tension is gone from his body, I talk with him and remind him again about obeying mama.

And that's God's heart for us too.  Jesus told us so - you remember the parable of the prodigal son?  I like to think of it as the parable of the waiting father.  God provides for us and teaches us and when we disobey Him He is always waiting to wrap us up in His great arms and comfort us while we cry. Yes, even (especially?) when our hurt is our own fault.

A friend was sharing a piece of her struggle with me recently, and she confessed that she didn't feel like she could pray about it, because she felt like her burden was her fault, the natural consequence of her own actions.  And she broke into tears.

And I cried with her.

And then I laughed, because there is one thing motherhood is teaching me and it is this: God's tender, kind, dear heart is always loving His children.

Yes, even this God who gives us commandments, laws, and makes His expectations clear in His word.  His laws - much like my rules for Sam - are for our blessing.  Not because He's power-hungry, or gets a kick out of saying no.  No.  Because He is kind and good and blesses us and protects us and cares about our character and peace and comfort and joy.  That's why He gives us crosses.  To make us strong, to keep us steady, to build us into good things.

It wouldn't be called a cross if it wasn't difficult.  I don't have to tell Sam "you can't leave the table until you eat this bowl of blackberries!" because he loves blackberries.  So I don't burden him with that rule. But I do burden him with "you must have a nap" because even Sam doesn't like himself when he is overtired.  I do burden him with "don't push your sister" because I want him to enjoy a loving relationship with her (and be able to get along with other kids), so I require him to practice self-control.  I do burden him with boredom, because it gives him a chance to think and wonder and create.  The cross he bears - the rules he is given -  will strengthen his character and shape his personality and help him to grow into someone good and loving and intelligent and strong.  It's hard - but worth it.

My mom and dad and aunt and uncle visited recently.  When they were here, we got talking about our crosses - the particular burdens and struggles that God has given each of us to bear.  My aunt said that if everyone's crosses were thrown down in a heap, and we got to choose which one to bear, she'd choose her own again.  It made me think about my own cross - and I would too.  Some of the struggles I carry, you already know about. Miscarriages.  PCOS.  The ebb and flow of motherhood exhaustion.  And some burdens are private - heaviness that God lays on me alone, to bear before Him and grow strong in the carrying.  Sometimes I drop the burden, try to shuck off that yoke - and get hurt.  My own fault. And I find myself hurting, crying - and I knew better.

And I run to my Lord.
Sometimes I don't even have the words.
I just cry in the presence of the Comforter. (Oh, God is kind!  He is the Comforter!)  I throw myself into His presence with my ugly tears and incoherent wails and everything.  
And He loves me and He cares for me and He forgives me and He washes my face and kisses my cheek and when the storm subsides He reminds me to obey Him.

Ah.  Some days, Sam's constant disobedience is my cross.  Vava's determination to explore the world one bump at a time with her precious bald head is my cross (and hers ... :S).  Being so far away from my family is my cross.  When it gets heavy, tiring, overwhelming, I take so much comfort, place so much hope, in the assurance that God is crafting me into someone good and loving and intelligent and strong.  

My So-wise Father ... thank You for loving me.

My cross-carrying mamas ... keep on with your rules and your comfort and the thousand toddlerly repetitions.  They'll learn.

My burdened friends ... come cry in the arms of the Comforter.  Even when it's your own fault.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

281 to 290

281. After we dropped Patrick off at work this morning, Sam declaring, "Sam no want Papa work. Papa home. Sam work." ♥
282. Garbage day, fresh start, five minutes without a stinky diaper in the house ;).
283. Vava walking around and playing independently at playgroup.
284. A just-when-I-needed-it reminder that Jesus is with me.
285. Yumtacular supper for company that canceled ... so we got to enjoy all that deliciousness and prettification ourselves :).
286. Christmas lights shining merrily from a happy house.
287. Hazelnut Mocha Pressies and cranberry tea.
288. Patrick running to the store for formula at bedtime because I thought I could wait til tomorrow, but Vava woke up and wanted tomorrow's portion tonight.
289. Neighbourhood chimes singing in the dark.
290. My soft, high bed at the end of a busy day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

271 to 280

271. Chats with my sisters this morning. Is there anything more reviving than feeling loved - celebrated - understood by your sisters?
272. Playing outside with my giddy goons.
273. Pleasant temperatures and mittenless hands ♥ ... one less battle.
274. Sam's glee at playing catch with a really bouncy ball.
275. Vava figuring out Sam's pull-tab book and reading it to herself this afternoon.
276. The relief of hiding in the bathroom when both kids decided to yell/wail for a solid hour.
277. Friends joining us for supper.
278. That sweet stillness ... kids in bed, carpet vacuumed, dishes done.
279. The cozy sway of my rocking chair.
280. Sam cheering for himself after (unwillingly) cleaning his marker off the cupboards.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

261 to 270

261. A friendy morning!
262. Sam practicing his sharing words before kids arrived :).
263. Cozy quiet time in my new rocking chair nook.
264. Patrick coming home for lunch today! Yay!
265. Curling up in the crib with my sad darling. (hehe I totally did. And I fit!)
266. A reminder to turn commercial Christmas upside down, to find His presence, not presents.
267. Hazelnut syrup in hot cocoa. Mmm.
268. Getting laundry done ... ahh.
269. Songs that hit right where you're feeling.
270. Hilarious Vava, looking stubbly and homeless in blackberry juice and Sam's old shirt.

Monday, November 18, 2013

251 to 260

251. Vava taking 2 naps today, after a cranky early morning.
252. A visit from Chrissy, who came bearing peppermint hot chocolate and hugs.
253. Sam trying to make it lunchtime by eating at 930 so Chrissy would come earlier.
254. Vava in her snowsuit ... adorable string bean in a marshmallow cloud.
255. Friends around our table at suppertime.
256. Vava brushing her hair ... the substance of things hoped for? :)
257. Friends who love me even in ratty old clothes.
258. That oldie-but-goodie, the welcome-home kiss.
259. Fun food art for my young bottomless pit.
260. Adorable video of happy babies.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

241 to 250

241. Arriving at church during Sam's all-time favourite hymn (holy, holy, holy).
242. Vava willingly staying in the nursery for the first time ever.
243. Meeting (so many!) lovely Nova Scotians at church.
244. Sam pretending to sleep - like Vava - in the car on the way home, and talking the whole time.
245. Wearing gemtone tights.
246. The look on Sam's face when Patrick told him yes, we were going to let him play with the trains at Chapters.
247. An unexpected encounter with the original flooring upstairs, thanks to our leaky humidifier ... weirdly enough, tearing up the carpet was super fun.
248. A calendar full of happiness this week.
249. Breakfast inspiration ... egg and pepper owls tomorrow!
250. Sweet sleepy Sam murmuring to himself "I love Pa."
Sam pretending to sleep ... and oh yes, covered in cracker dust.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

231 to 240

231. Dancing in the kitchen with my one true love.
232. Patrick taking Vava for her first bottle of the day.
233. Happy breakfast a quatre.
234. Seeing friends at the parade.
235. Shopping with a silly dynamo of cuteness.
236. Hearing Petra on Songza and feeling like my brother-in-law was playing cassettes in the next room.
237. Making peppermint chocolate bark for the first yummy time ever.
238. Sam's contrite apology after waking Vava.
239. Enjoying a treat-tacular cheat day.
240. Friends who hug.  Ahhh.

Friday, November 15, 2013

221 to 230

221. Sam and Vava doing cheers with their sippy cups.
222. Vava's spontaneous and adorable kisses.
223. Happy cuddles with Sam before naptime - sunshine after rain.
224. When Vava forgot the words to peekaboo and jumped out at me and said "baa!" instead.
225. Sam's glee at walking over the train bridge.
226. Vava gobbling soup and calling for more between bites.
227. The big bright moon in a wide black sky.
228. Family cuddles around an episode of Peppa Pig.
229. Laughing so hard with my heart-sister I could barely breathe.
230. Making a schedule for tomorrow with lots & lots of boxes to check.  Ahhh. I love checking items off lists!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

211 to 220

211. Sam and his pretty friend holding hands and watching for cars.
212. Vava calling "again!" every time she reached the bottom of the slide.
213. Lovely snowflakes, falling but not staying.
214. 3-minute mug cake.
215. Safety on the slippery road.
216. Cloud-shrouded sunset, mysterious and dim.
217. Chatting in the kitchen with Patrick, kids settling into sleep.
218. Neighbourhood dogs taking a breather during naptime.
219. Winning a battle of wills with Sam.
220. Patrick almost using air freshener instead of shaving cream. (Hehe I'm glad he caught it in time)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

201 to 210

201. Frozen yogurt tubes for my teether.
202. Sunshiney walk.
203. Lollipops for the kids from the nice lady at the store.
204. Mittens on strings.
205. Old movies on YouTube.
206. Sam "helping" clean up.
207. Running into a lovely friend at the gym.
208. Starbucks date, warm drinks, good chat.
209. Southwest salad for supper ... with bacon, because everything should be with bacon.
2 10. A fairytale, conceived and awaiting delivery.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

191 to 200

191. Sam exclaiming "oh cute!" when I put on my holey old sweater.
192. His amazement at the fan blowing a balloon straight up in the air.
193. Vava sticking out her tongue whenever she sees the camera.
194. An hour of quiet time in the wee sma's.
195. Phone call from Patrick just to say hi.
196. Sam eating his imaginary kitty. (It didn't suffer lasting damage, he snuggled down to sleep with it later.)
197. Dayquil.
198. Realizing that God is answering my prayer to make me a more patient mother by providing me with ample opportunity to practice.
199. Taking comfort in the long view.
200. Knowing that other mothers are in the same boat, bailing with faltering arms and praying for miracles.

Monday, November 11, 2013

181 to 190

181. Soluguard. Amen.
182. Vava saying tons of new words.
183. Fresh air and sunshine in the backyard; my sick babes needed it so much.
184. Sam bursting through the door with cough syrup, "Wook ma! Sam buy!"
185. Sam up late, dancing with delight in the lamplight.
186. Precious, hilarious Vava sleeping like a sitter, legs straight out in front of her.
187. A good book.
188. The bright gym and my favourite lazy workout.
189. Cranberry tea with my one true love.
190. All of those who fought for all of this.  Their courage and selflessness humbles me.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

171 to 180

171. Both kids having colds at the same time.
172. Tag-teaming the morning so we both got a little more sleep.
173. Borrowed movies - something new to make the day nice for our house-bound snotsicles.
174. Some one-on-one Vava time.
175. Lovely splash of sunshine.
176. Sam taking Monkey for a train ride
177. Tea tree oil in the humidifier ... mmm the smell.
178. Sunshine in the forecast for a solid week.
179. Settlers of Catan date this week!
180. Fresh inspiration to work hard and rest gladly.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

161 to 170

161. Yummy lunch with new friends.
162. Sam bowling with Weebles as pins... being the ball himself.
163. Hazelnut flavoured syrup in my coffee.
164. Vava going back to sleep after an interrupted nap.
165. Quiet afternoon with Patrick.
166. Sam's imaginary cat.
167. Patrick manning the kids and cart while we got groceries.
168. Vava going down the stairs all by herself for the first time ever.
169. Darling husband folding laundry.
170. A pretty new scarf that twists so beautifully.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vava Grows Up

Today I had one of those really strange moments where one little change means that nothing will be the same.  You know - the ones that hit you with surprise and clarity and probably seem a little more boggling because you were up three times in the night.

I took the kids to Mom's Group.  The big kids play downstairs, and the babies play on their moms' laps upstairs.  So Sam goes downstairs and Vava sticks with me.  Except today, Sam asked if Vava could play with him.  No no, I told him, babies play upstairs.  And then Sam brings toys upstairs to play with Vava, and she picks up a truck and goes brrrm brrrm and pushes it down the hallway, and sits at the top of the stairs.  So we take Sam downstairs again, and Vava sees a Little People play house and she's smitten.  She starts playing right away.  I wait a bit, pause, walk away, and she doesn't look up.  The last thing I see before going upstairs is Vava kneeling in front of the house like a big kid, carefully putting toy people into the rooms.

And then all the other big things she's been doing lately really hit me - she's been asking for her bottle and soother with words, not cries ("gwink" and "footh").  She and Sam have been playing pretty independently, with less interference from me.  She's been taking steps across the living room, when no arms are open to catch her.  She's feeding herself solids with very little (no?) guidance. It's not so much that these are big steps for a 12-month-old, but I guess I haven't been paying much attention to the fact that she's growing up ... and it just hit me as a really big surprise that she's so capable and independent.

I love my Vava-bell.

151 to 160

151. The kids being so happy because Patrick woke them this morning.
152. Bittersweet moment of realizing how grown up Vava has become.
153. Sam wagging his bum around and laughing.
154. "Corn hot, Va! Sam bwo corn? Bite now, Va."
155. Driving to get Patrick from work, we see a plane take off into the evening sky.  An astonished Sam exclaims, "plane crash moon, ma!" Perspective lessons from a two-year-old.
156. Coming out of the store into a dark world, Sam warns me, "shh ma. Sun fweep."
157. Vava waking up for the bottle she'd been too sleepy to drink at bedtime, smiley and precious.
158. Warm blankets for snuggling on the couch.
159. Taco salad.
160. Patrick laughing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

151 to 160

151. An early-morning shower.
152. Sam beelining for Vava after naptime, with a joyful hi! and a sweet kiss.
153. Midday kisses from Patrick.
154. Sam's eyes lighting up when friends came over.
155. Coffee for a cold drive.
156. A houseful of happy kids.
157. Compliments from a five-year-old.
158. Chilly chat with neighbours, hugs, hellos.
159. Strength for today.
160. Hope for tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

141 to 150

141. Sam and Vava chasing each other around the living room.
142. That unexpected moment when the sun shone through, and everything grey became pink and gold.
143. Both kids happily gobbling the same food for once! Three cheers for Pad Thai.
144. Breakfast alone with Patrick.
145. My dad's voice on the phone.
146. Sam's delight over finding a "baby tree!" (the spine of a leaf).
147. Vava's hilarious attempts to climb up the slide ... crawling, in boots and mittens.
148. Treats and laughter with fun friends.
149. Sam teaching Vava how to build a tower.
150. Vava's joy at being reunited with Baby after a 30-minute outing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

131 to 140

131. Vava on my hip while I was making supper, leaning over the bacon with her little hand out demanding "come! Come!"
132. A kind friend watching Sam so Vava and I could have a peaceful appointment.
133. Vanilla latte.
134. Naptime ... for me too.
135. Silly, growly hugs from Sam.
136. Sweet nurses for Vava's shots.
137. A fun evening out with the kids.
138. My big helper lugging a huge bag of mangoes.
139. Glancing back over some old prayers and seeing so many answers.
140. Old sermon notes - and old preachers.

No One Should Have To Go Alone

The last thing I saw you do was sink into the earth.

The preacher raised his black shoe and pressed it squarely over that bump in the plastic green carpet, and your body – locked up, so strangely – eased its way down into the precise rectangle you'd been allotted.

I don't know how I knew there was a pedal underneath the fake grass, or that it was the catalyst for sending your body away, but I knew. And when I think of that awful shoe pressing that awful pedal, I am filled with rebellion and suddenly I am four years old, fighting to throw myself on top of your casket, wanting to go with you because no one should have to go alone.

I think I've been wanting to go with you ever since.

Because no one should have to go alone.

Life is full of things I don't understand and since you died, the oldest part of me has only been alone.

It was inevitable, our goodbye. Your leaving was just a matter of time. You hadn't recognized your life in a long time, but I couldn't recognize mine without you.

I remember this one time. All the adults were gone, you were home with us kids. And my big sisters were wide-eyed because you had been carrying kibble out for the dog – and you ate some. I defended you, saying maybe it was good, who knew? Maybe you liked it – and if someone had lived as long and as kindly a life as you, then why shouldn't you eat dog food if you felt like it? It didn't seem to do any harm – to you, or the dog.

There was one of the thousand times we went for a walk. We got lost. I knew it wasn't quite right, that you shouldn't know your way home, and we shouldn't have turned into that street. There was a wilderness in your eyes, and I could see that you knew it wasn't quite right, that I should know my way home.

There was the book I loved. Long and wordy. And you read it to me seven times in a row, and even I tired of asking, “Again?” And I realized that you were different from everybody else but it was a difference that was okay.

You wore a grey cardigan. I suppose I must have spent a lot of time with my head upon your shoulder because I see it up close in my mind's eye. Feel the scratchy softness of it on my cheek.

Sometimes I turn to show you something and the world tilts a little bit, because you aren't there. A yellow flower on the side of the road, the spring's first pussywillows, that perfect mud for squelching between your toes.

Where are you?

I mean, I know where you are. I know you're in Heaven, and life is glad and good and you're home – finally, home. I guess when I ask where you are what I really mean is I miss you here with me.

121 to 130

121. Vava trying to stand on her head.
122. Christmas music.
123. A happy story about a friend's new crush to start the day off with a smile.
124. Crayons with Sam, drawing tracks, tracks, and more tracks.
125. Patrick coming home; best moment of every day.
126. Friends for supper.
127. A room full of lively fiddles and instant homesickness.
128. Stack of dishes,  done.
129. Sam's awe (fear?) at the speed with which white clouds can tear across a black sky.
130. A just-right pillow.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

111 to 120

111. Bath toys, bubbles, and cute baby bottoms.
112. Vava's delight over bacon bits.
113. Sick Sam snuggles.
114. "Night Ma! Kiss?"
115. Banana pancakes.
116. Texting with my family.
117. Chat in the sunshine.
118. Smiles at the grocery store.
119. Refreshing shower.
120. Heavy clouds at sunset.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

101 to 110

101. Warm husband who snuggled me close in my chilly, fevery sleep.
102. And brought me tea.
103. And manned the kids.
104. So I could sleep until 3pm.  Seriously.
105. And did the grocery shopping.
106. And put the kids to bed.
107. And cleaned the house.
108. And did the laundry.
109. And told me he loved me.
110. And drew happy faces on my feet.

Friday, November 1, 2013

while it was still dark

it's still dark.
maybe there's a huge spray of stars overhead, or maybe it's cloudy, but either way - dark.
dawn hasn't yet softened the pitch into something more navigable.
and these women come along, carrying jars and baskets and bags.
and sorrow.
that heaviest burden.
it's night, coal-dark, and their hearts are darker.
i think it's too stark for tears.  i think their throats and eyes are burning, that dry ache of despair and confusion.  
there's no way they could have slept.
maybe they sat up and whispered together.
maybe they stared into the dark, eyes wide open, hearts nailed shut.
they walk stark in the horrible awareness that this is a world without hope, carrying their bottles, their last things.
it's not like they'll be able to use them.
it's a pointless walk, at best.
their heart's hope is dead and gone, their grief unresolvable.
but still they come to the graves.
they come to soften the blow of death, to anoint it, to give tenderly what was not permitted in those last searing hours of life.
good samaritans ... late, but better late than not at all.
and perhaps they can persuade a guard to relent, crack the seal, and release their tears, their mourning.

dawn whispers in the east, and 
there are guards, sleeping, all around.
the breeze quickens, slight, a breath
and there is an odd scent of - spring - 
and the stone is rolled away

the stone is rolled away
and the dead they came to wail over is
standing there
glad and perfect and FINISHED!

light streams from everywhere
and joy is deep and sweet and still
and glad and
the relief!
the stone is rolled away
death is gone
leave that tomb for someone else, 
it's irrelevant
this resurrection changes


Ninety-one to One Hundred

91. Children's Tylenol in the long painful night.
92. Coffee in the early painful morning ;).
93. Sam and Vava waving to each other from opposite sides of the patio door.
94. Simple but yummy side dish for supper.
95. Airplane rides and giggles.
96. One-sock Vava.
97. Sam's fascination with bugs, and his determination not to let any get too close to mama.
98. Sam licking Vava, "yum baby!"
99. Sam passing the markers to Vava; dexterous darling conquers the tightest of lids.
100. Sam hiding under the table, announcing "Sam hide ... make poo. Sigh ... No, make mess." (No poop ... just an attempt to drag a red herring across the Case of the Art Supply Mess.)

Eighty-one to Ninety

81. Up early while the kids slept late. Stillness.
82. Sam passing Vava snacks in the car.
83. Playgroup ... and mom chats for sanity's sake.
84. Creating a spectacular blackberry-mandarin-vanilla salad dressing.
85. Cinnamon candied walnuts.
86. Neighbour-love for the kids! Love our street.
87. Sam passing out candy by the fistful.
88. Guests.
89. An adorable baby announcement.
90. Invitation for next weekend - yay!