Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas From the Franks '08

Teething, toilet training and time-outs have been the theme of 2008 here in the Franks household. Our life with three toddlers can best be described as creative chaos. It will never cease to amaze me how quickly ‘artwork’ can appear on the walls, floor and children; how quickly cute and cuddly can turn into foreshadowing of the teen years; or how each of the girls visibly grows up with every blink of my eyes.

This year brought about a few momentous occasions for Nick. In July Nick and a few of his buddies were fortunate enough to have their ol’ ball-and-chains cut them loose on a ROAD TRIP!! Yankee and Shea Stadiums were the destination and I heard they were amazing. Nick could tell you much more about his adventures- but I choose to be blissfully unaware of the hi-jinx of that vanload. In September Nick put the finishing touch on his 10 year journey of pursuing preparation for vocational ministry. Nick passed through the accreditation process and can now look back on his schooling and training with contentment that choosing to persevere brought him to his goal. Oh, and Nick turned 30 in November. Waaaaaaayyyyyyy before me.

Isabella entered into the wonderful world of weddings this year with two flower girl gigs. In July she did a wonderful job at the Green wedding and bogeyed the night away on the dance floor. In November she once again sent folks into sugar shock with her cuteness at the wedding of Nick’s brother Andrew and his beautiful bride Mary. Isabella grew a lot over the past year both in stature and in intellect. It amazes me what she knows and it keeps me on my toes when she tries to trip me up to get what she wants.

Brooklyn has accomplished much this year. She has learned her ABC’s and begun to count. She is talking in complete sentences, usually telling someone what to do and her physical strength has become rather shocking. You can most often find her….well actually you can’t because she doesn’t sit still. However, you always know she’s around because she never stops talking. So much of Brooklyn can’t be put into words like her strut, or this great angry face she makes when she wants to bend you to her will.

Kathryn is now one and almost walking. She has a couple words, (‘mama’ and ‘baby’) and enjoys being upside down and tickled. It has been such a blessing to see the way her face lights up when her sisters pay attention to her. Often their playtimes end in dog piles, the three of them giggling and wrapped up in bear hugs.

This year I have had many opportunities to grow into my skin as a mom. We went through a few trying times, (like living without a vehicle for four months), and some great experiences, (like the Women’s retreat in September), which began in me a great refining work. I’ve been able to reconnect with my love of scrapbooking and been able to meet many wonderful ladies who share the same hobby. So many fantastic people have entered my life, and the life of our family, in 2008- we have been truly blessed.

This coming year is sure to be chockfull of growing experiences as we wait on God’s timing and for Him to reveal His plan to us. Nick is seeking a ministry opportunity and our family will grow once again as we welcome Baby #4 in June. The girls will continue to grow and the fall will find us entering the world of kindergarten.

We trust that this letter finds you happy and healthy and enjoying the Christmas Season.

With Love; Merry Christmas

Nick, Amanda, Isabella, Brooklyn and Kathryn

Friday, December 19, 2008

S'more Katy

A few candid shots from Katy's first birthday party. We just spent a quiet evening in with my mom and dad who were visiting. I had been quite sick leading up to the celebrations, so we didn't get to our traditional Teddy Bear cake. We will have one next year though- what's that you want an invite? ;) My grandmother makes these wonderful teddy bears. Each of the girls have one, (and I hope there's one in the works for Baby 4). Katy really enjoyed this teddy but wouldn't get too close as she definitely has a favorite cuddly.
She went right for the candles, hence Nick holding her hands back. She has no fear this girl. Is that a common trait of the third born?
Just like Brooklyn she is most happy when she has a full tummy and a messy face. Surprisingly she fell right asleep after all that sugar.
And this picture was from breakfast this morning, way too cute to pass up posting. This is really how she smiles, not her initial smile, but when she wants you to keep doing something that makes her happy. I just want to freeze it forever.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Kathryn turned one last week. It's mind-boggling to me that it's been a year since she was born. Time really did start going quickly with the arrival of Isabella and Brooklyn; but Katy introduced warp speed to our lives. Not only did the days begin moving faster but the milestones began coming earlier and before I knew it she was a little lady instead of a baby. Instead of listing her milestones, trying to make the few pictures I have of her look like hundreds, waxing eloquent over her qualities or trying to put into words why she is the bestest Kathryn Elizabeth ever; I want to tell you about the one thing she has done differently than our daughters before her.

Before Katy came into our lives I had been a mother for 33 months. I had sacrificed my way through sleepless nights and breastfeeding woes and all that other newborn stuff. Welcoming a third baby girl into our family wasn't 'brand new' in the way welcoming Isabella was 'brand new', or how welcoming a boy would have been 'brand new', and yet it was a totally 'brand new' beginning.
Due to my current baby brain and other stresses in our life I just can't find the right words to explain how Katy made me a mom instead of a mother. When she was born my heart grew about four sizes; my love for Isabella doubled, my loved for Brooklyn doubled, I had love for this new person, and I began loving my new role as mom. I will be forever thankful for Katy, the timing of her arrival and how my life has changed since she has entered it.
Katy is amazing but even more than that she enables the amazing in everything else to shine through. There really aren't words to describe how amazing having her in our family is.
Happy Birthday Katy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Life Cycles

There's a phrase that people have been using in my life since the fall of 2003. Ever since the first time it was uttered it makes me cringe, and every time I've heard it since I get a funny taste in my mouth. Season of Life. This phrase entered my life once I was married. I entered this adult world with new social rules I didn't understand, rules that were never explained, rules that were defined by the statement; "they're just in a different season of life than you.'. This statement came to represent boundaries I didn't like, I didn't understand and I didn't want to accept.

The phrase hung around after we started having kids. I'm sure people mean it as an encouragement, another way of saying: 'Hang in there, this too shall pass.'. Changing millions of diapers, 2am feedings, being a human jungle gym-don't blink- it's just a season of life. After this phrase is used by the people you see on a regular basis, well, regularly, it gets personalized. No longer is it just a season of life, now it's the season of life you're in.

If this phrase rings a positive note with you, we will begin having a different Consider the seasons for a moment. There are only four of them, they happen on a regular and somewhat predictable basis. In your lifetime, (let's say 80 years as an example), you'll experience 80 summers, 80 autumns, 80 winters and 80 springs. When I consider those three facts the phrase season of life becomes depressing to me.

Let's equate the seasons with an emotion, I'm going to go with what I think is the general consensus. Summer-joy/contentment. Autum-nostalgia/hunkering down. Winter-depression/ surviving. Spring- expectation/excitement. I have to confess that I love winter and despise summer, but I think my point of view remains the same regardless.

You find yourself in the summer; happy happy. Days at the beach, family vacations, a lax routine, longer evenings, lighter meals, millions of pictures. For most summer is the season you long to remain in forever. But inevitably the days get shorter and the weather cooler. We start becoming nostalgic in the fall and wishing for days gone by. We hunker down and accept the impending winter and the trials that come with it.

Enter winter. Short days, inclimate weather, routines disrupted beyond our control, stuck in the house, isolation, sickness (let's not even start to talk about the boogs!). We begin trying to wish it away, looking to Christmas as our beacon that 'this too shall pass' and on boxing day we cross our fingers that every warm day is the beginning of spring. And finally spring arrives. Soon, soon, we'll be able to shed our clothers and spend more time outside and soon, soon summer shall be here.

I imagine that when people use the phrse season of life they don't literally mean they expect you'll follow the pattern every 365 days. I don't think they expect to spend one quarter of their life feeling joy and three quarters of their life longing to get it back.

Are you beginning to see how this phrase is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me? When one is in a hard time the last thing you want to hear is that there are more hard times coming. When one is in a time of pure joy you don't want to consider you might have to leave that state. When one is exhausted, dragging their feet, trying to merely survive, you surely don't want to imagine that one day you will be well rested only to become exhausted again.

Personally I prefer to think of life in phases. It's true that we will go through phases more than once, but never from the same perspective or experience. For example the newborn phase. Once you're there as a newborn, once (or four times) as a parent, and then as a grandparent. Same phase but completely different. I find that a much more encouraging description. The phases of life; you're born, you live, you die (loosely) rather than the seasons; summer, fall, winter, spring. I don't know about you but I prefer to live with the hope represented in moving forward rather than being caught in a cycle.

It may seem like a silly thing to dedicate time and thought to, but I think it's an intriquing point to consider how the language we use defines our perspective and opinions.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008


I don't think I can put into words the lovely feeling that existed within me this week when a couple people mentioned my blog. Mentioned that they read it, and that they enjoy it, and that they look forward to reading it. Myself, I really enjoy writing it; but I find that every now and then it does a number on my self esteem. I have to remind myself every now and again that I write these thoughts to write them, not to have them read. It's like that line in Sydney White; "'s not about being read, it's about being written!"

It really is my intention to write more often, and I hope to begin writing on a regular basis very soon. There are however a few hurdles that must be overcome. I am simply not taking very many pictures right now. My hands are often quite busy wrangling in three little people and there just isn't room for the camera. This causes me all kinds of distress, being the chronological scrapbooker that I am, and also makes it hard to write posts as I really don't want this to become a words only blog.

Then there's the exhaustion, our life is moving forward at such a crazy hurtling speed. I seriously cannot comprehend that Katy will be one year old in one month! Our days are constant as well as our evenings and our weekends are already booking up into the New Year. I'm not complaining as I'm one who truly loves busy-ness, but it doesn't leave much time for the quieter, stiller tasks in life.

And then the puking, and the naesousness. Oh my the naesousness. (I don't even think I'm spelling that right.) When my insides are spinning, it's a bit tough to focus on a computer screen without having to run to the bathroom. I'm hoping it will dissipate in the next few weeks as I enter the bliss that is the second trimester, but if there's one thing pregnancy has taught me it's that it is unpredictable. I'm not sure what, or how, but I do know that since our family will be complete in May I want to make an effort to document this final journey of new life in our family.

I do have great intentions. And hopefully those will fall into action in the next few weeks as I strive to be more disciplined in how I spend my time and what I make my priorities. Thanks for your patience while I work through the hurdles.

And thanks to everyone who stops by, and who likes to read! It was really lovely to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I still have not yet taken the time to learn to edit photos, so I'm sure there are real gems hidden in here, but I know there's a few people who like to see photos of the girls when I have a chance. The other day they brought down their princess dresses, (even one for Katy), and asked us to take pictures of them. They then put on a short recital wherein they all sang different songs louder than each other.
Isabella stopped to pose.

There was some wrestling going on, (typical while one is dressed like a lady),and Nick had to prove to the girls he really is stronger than them.
Brooklyn took a break to take care of her baby and check in with the office.
Katy was just absolutely giddy to be playing with the big girls.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


While my computer was out of commission Brooklyn turned two and it's not an occasion I want to let slip me by. Brooklyn is growing into such a quirky person. It took a little while for her personality to begin to shine, but now it's so bright it would blind you. Brooklyn is like the colour blue, a zillion shades and hues to her but none of them offend the eye.

She is our 'scratch and dent model', as one friend kindly put it. I've been waiting all month for her bruises to clear up so we can get some professional pictures taken. She just takes life at full speed, no fear, it doesn't matter what she crashes into. Her sister's head, the edge of the dinner table, the pavement. Hopefully she'll take some time to slow down as she matures, or become a UFC fighter. :)
She is curious. Even though the majority of the world happens over her head she wants to know what is going on all the time. Obstructed views will not deter her, they are merely obstacles to climb over. One of her most favourite places as of late is the zoo. She could watch monkeys, gorillas and orangutans forever.
She's a ham. I thought no one could get funnier than Isabella, Brooklyn is giving her a run for her money.
She is kind, gentle and sweet. She actually sits with her legs crossed on a regular basis. She never goes anywhere without that Teddy, (initially, we're trying to keep him homebound to prevent issues in the future). She will play mommy to anything from Katy to the remote control wrapped up in a kitchen towel. She loves to sing; 'rock a bye baby, tree top, fall', over and over and over.

She is doing so many big girl things. She's been potty trained for a few weeks now, drinks out of a regular cup and tries to sneak into the older kids Sunday School class so she can make the crafts.
She loves the outdoors. Would play out there forever, that is if you tell her she can't. As soon as you let her go outside she just wants to come back in, (why is that?). She is very adept at jungle gyms and slides and loves to swing.

She's rough and tumble, almost always prefers noises over words, can make noises with her body that rival her father's, and like to smash anything. In her heart of hearts she's a princess. Loving dress up and just begging her hair to grow long enough for a ponytail.

It's been an amazing year of watching Brooklyn grow, I can hardly catch my breath when I consider this year coming up as she continues to expand her vocabulary and her experiences; that she will get to share them with me and I will get to see them through her eyes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Happy Thought

I am most thankful for photos on those days when no one is obeying and all you can do is toss up your hands and say; 'Does anyone want pizza for dinner?'.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Last weekend I went away for a few days on the ladies retreat at our church. Initially I was looking forward to the retreat as a time to connect with women, relax and sleep; I came home realizing that there are way to many women to connect with, relaxing is hard when you're away from home and sleep is overated.

A lovely speaker spoke to us, her messages were amazing and her voice was soothing. Yay for the English. The whole weekend was focused on Matthew 11:28; "Come to me all who are weary....and I will give you rest for your souls."

There were four main sessions focusing on different aspects of the verse; come, learn, trust and abide. I plan to be doing different posts on each one over the next month, as a reminder to myself of what I learned and was challenged by.

I was really challenged by recalling how many times I go away for these weekends and come home with my head full of knowledge that I don't look at again. This time it will be different. The sessions were like lectures, only she talked to us in completely relational terms and with a friendly attitude. It felt like each message was tailored to me, until I turned to the person sitting next to me and she said the same thing and the lady beside her said the same thing.....

It was so nice to be retreat-ed to the love of God. To hear it from an academic point of view and have it touch my heart. I came home looking forward to each day between this retreat and the next one, instead of already looking forward to the next one.

It was so nice that when I came home I just giggled. The sink had some dishes in it with a bit of water, the vaccuum cleaner was out and plugged in, the trash was somewhat gathered and everyone was asleep in the girl's room. I giggled because over all of these things the smell of pancakes filled the air. It is our sunday routine that I get to get myself ready while Nick makes pancakes for the girls and takes care of breakfast. He tried to be a bit of mom while I was gone, but he didn't get so caught up in trying that he forgot to be dad, and that made me smile and giggle.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Isn't it the way it always goes? A million creative blog posts enter your mind, and you actually have spare time to write them, and then your computer catches a virus! Nick's fixing it while I'm away this weekend, (yes, you heard right, away, blessed church women's retreats), but I will be back on Monday. And with some regularly scheduled programming!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


My lovely friend Tara tagged me and since I love her, (and her blog), I am now going to list five unusual things about me.

1. I HATE the summer. Hate, hate, hate it. And it's more than the potential of sun burns and mosquito bites and sweating. I hate the aloneness of summer. When everyone heads away to 'relax' at their cottage or spend time on a family trip or just sleep a zillion hours. I despise that planned ministries at church end in May and don't start again until September. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the things that family vacations and cottage get-aways stand for, but I still HATE summer.

2. I cannot answer a question, in writing, in a simple sentence. I always have to explain myself. Like now. While I point out my quirks and then justify them.

3. I am in love with ER. All the seasons. I actually got misty eyed when CTV first announced this will be the last season.

4. I cannot wear clothes to bed. It can be freezing in our house and I still cannot wear a shed of cloth to bed. I feel all trapped and smothered when wearing pyjamas in bed. Out of Bed is a whole other story.

5. I am rhythmically challenged. I cannot clap and sing at the same time. In church I look like one of those totally white kids, standing there with my hands on my hips or crossed in front of me. If I'm clapping it's because I don't know the song. I can't explain that one. It's just who I am.

I tag,

Northern Lamb

Monday, September 15, 2008

Worthy of Praise

I have just a few seconds while the kids are asleep to fill you in on some of the wonderful things that have happened around here.

One is a bit older, but I just realized I forgot to share! We have a vehicle!! I'm too cramped for time to find the link about our van dying, but after 4 months of living without a vehicle we found an affordable van for our family. The amazing part of it is that about a week after purchasing the vehicle we received a love offering from the church which paid for the vehicle to the penny! How cool is that!?!

Our other exciting news happened on saturday. About 10 years ago Nick sensed God's call on his life to go into full time ministry. Nick heeded the call and headed to Bible College where he filled all the necessary requirements, followed by an apprenticeship which ended in May. All of this work was to get him to the place of becoming "accredited"; which means he has the credentials to work in the Alliance denomination as a pastor. And as of Saturday morning, he is! We now begin seeking God's direction and looking for opportunities to be used in full time ministry. So very exciting.

What has God done for you lately??

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I don't know about you, but I struggle with the planning side of eating. For the last year or so I've been trying out different strategies to make meal planning and preparation easier. I did Once a Month Cooking and loved it, truly loved it. More so the process than the actual meals, but the last chapter of the book is how to adapt it for my own recipes.

My struggle is that I just don't want to think about it. The days are so full of mental energy that I would really like to put dinner in it's slot and just do it, not think about it, badda bing, badda boom, dinner's ready.

Then I found this; a meal plan that does exactly that. It's by Kraft and the theory is one bag of groceries, five entrees. Several of them I would consider one dish meals, and the ones that aren't are very easily completed with a salad and bread. The meals all take around 10 minutes to prepare, and use little dishes so cleaning up is easy to.

I can tell you that this has revitalized my fervor for meal times! Thought I'd share in case you need some inspiration too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wrong Side of the Tracks

When I arrived in Georgetown I didn't feel like my life was perfect at all. I had created certain expectations in my mind, and not a single strand of life here was living up to those expectations.

As the new kid in town I figured people would be calling me up, inviting me out for coffee and over for dinner, (surely everyone would want to know me!); we had found a house to rent, a house- not a basement suite, surely it would be glorious, (I wont even go into how I feel about this house); Nick was coming back where everyone knew his name and wanted to aid him in succeeding in life, look out countless blessings!

Let me take my foot out of my mouth for a moment and state for the record that we have been blessed beyond measure since arriving here. However, my Greatest Flaw spent the first year of our G-town experience in fine form.

Life had worn me out; physically, mentally, emotionally. I just wanted to revert to being small and have someone take care of me all the time.

I wanted new friends, but I didn't want to make the effort of the first invite.

I wanted deep relationships, but I didn't want to be vulnerable first.

I wanted to be blessed, but I didn't want to do the work of being a blessing.

And yet at the same time I did, I just wanted it all to be easy. I wanted to live reactively instead of proactively. I just wanted to move onto Easy Street for a little bit.

I wasn't myself when we first got here. I was lazy, apathetic, moody, and painfully shy. I chose to do the least amount of anything possible, I whined, I cried. I met the worst version of myself and although I didn't like her company, being with her was easy.

Then one day the switch flipped. I've been trying to figure out exactly when it happened, but haven't been a very disciplined journaler as of late and so can't put my finger on it. But I woke up and I felt rested, rejuvenated. I was ready to be me again. Being who you are is hard sometimes. We live in an incredibly critical world. But becoming who you are after being someone you are not is almost impossible. First impressions are so hard to re-write. I don't have any regrets in life, save this, choosing to be selfish instead of putting my best foot forward in August 2006.


I think now is the perfect time to let you in on one of my greatest flaws. I am a hopeless romantic. Hopeless. I'm 28 and have watched A Cinderella Story a million times. Sydney White is on our movie channels this week and I watch it daily. Trust me when I say that Nick doesn't stand a chance, (although it would be nice for him to try......).

But the romantic in me goes far deeper than my relationship with my Prince Charming. It's about so much more than receiving roses, poetry, or those knock you off your feet surprises.

Although the commonly exploited theme in all movies romantic is the guy-gets-the-girl/ girl-gets-the-guy/everyone-lives-happily-ever-after; there is also an element that requires all of lifes trials and obstacles to be resolved and forgotten in a mere 120 minutes. Pause for a moment and think about how grand life would be if your Grandmother showed up on your front stoop and announced that Genovia is awaiting your arrival as their next Queen. Can't figure out how to get your hair salon straight-presto-it's taken care of. Lost all that baby weight but still can't justify the new wardrobe-huzzah-how about a walk in closet the size of your local 7/11. Were you the highschool geek-shazam-let's move you to another country where no one knows you and you can be whatever you want to be from this moment on.

This trend can also be referred to as Sitcom Seducery. Ran your hubby's new car into a light post? Just wait 30 minutes and the two of you will be laughing so hard your sides hurt while you wax the newer! even better! car that just showed up in your driveway. Teenage daughter running amuck? Don't worry the next door neighbor will take care of it for you.

I am a hopeless romantic. My life doesn't stand a chance. Curveballs have abounded in our mere six years of marriage, but those instant fixes, not so much. Where is Extreme Home Makover? Why doesn't TLC feature my crazy life? Where are the Home Made Simple Mavens? Surely I am deserving of someone to walk in my front door and zap away some of my worries, aren't I?

The thing about being a hopeless romantic is that it's not fair. It's not fair to the people in your life, but it's mostly not fair to yourself. My life kicks ass. Pure and simple. It is the PERFECT life for me, but too often I only realize that in retrospect.

Forging On.

I think I've finally recalled where I was heading with my last post in this vein.

Working from home.

When you first start a family and all your sense are filled to overflowing with the sweet smell of all things Johnson & Johnson, the sweet touch of a (clean) baby's bum, the amazing taste of living a worthwhile life, and the sight of all the melt-your-heart-moments of parenting; you begin to feel that working from home is the. best. option. ever. Suddenly you're reading entrepreneurial websites and magazines, trying to figure out how to create the income you need out of old dish rags. After successfully navigating the first three months of a child's life you begin to feel like superwoman, surely you can do anything!

There are a lot of times that working from home is not all that it's imagined to be, (at least by me). Even though I am at home all day with my kids I've missed many firsts. Like when Belle was little and started saying 'hello', (her first word), I honestly thought it was part of the dictation I was transcribing. Even now on days when I have to get work done, I only see them playing out back through the window as I glance up every few seconds. Balance is constantly elusive as I'm working for my paying gig, but see the tasks of my un-paying gig piling up. Not to mention the sleep deprivation. I've been so blessed with good sleepers, and from really early on, and yet I am up until two or even three a.m. a good share of nights just trying to get everything done.

For so long I felt like I stradled two lives. One in which it was my sole responsibility to bring in a certain amount of bacon, one in which it was my sole responsibility to cook the bacon. The division between the two, a blur. I sit here at my computer to upload pictures, try to keep them organized and share them with the world. I also sit here, sometimes, and get paid by the minute. Not to mention that I want to sit here to do things purely for my own pleasure.

I have about 500 square feet that are my home, my office, my life. The 'mommy' hat never comes off, even when I'm 'at work'. The domestic to-do list doesn't fade into the background, even when I'm focused on typing 90+ words a minute. Within me exists a constant nagging voice; 'is this really what I am supposed to be doing at this exact minute?'.

I don't think working from home is any harder than working outside of the home, or any harder than just, (and I say that completely sarcastically), being a stay at home mom. I think all lives have a degree of hard. I work because the choices we've made lead to responsibilities we must endure.

When I arrived in Georgetown I was standing on the precipice of an entire year of not working. Due to the graciousness of my previous employer I had worked enough hours to entitle me to mat leave benefits. For 12 whole months I was going to be a full time parent, a full time wife, a domestic goddess. The possibilities were all coming up roses.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thanks K8!

I went through a brief period in which I was addicted to 'John and Kate Plus 8'. I began watching hoping to find out all kinds of hints and tricks for things like family budgetting, fun games for toddlers and other stuff like that. I didn't find the show to really provide that much insight into those areas of their life, but I rather enjoy John and so I continue watching. I think I've seen every episode on TLC eleventy billion times and am very eager for the new season. I also would love to take the kids to Pittsburgh, which isn't that far, simply to go to the zoo. I think we'll only be going if we can borrow Aaden for the day.
There are a few tidbits I've enjoyed gleaning from my hours peering through their fishbowl and when it started raining today I finally put one of them into practice!
As I'm sure I've mentioned before Brooklyn eats everything. I'm trying to get her more involved in crafts but she eats all the supplies! Case in point: yesterday she made a lovely necklace at our local Early Years Drop In Center by stringing various pieces of craft supplies on a piece of yarn. By the time we got home there were only two pieces left on it; a piece of foam and one of those confetti hearts you can by at Hallmark to go in your card. The rest of the pieces had been bitten and ripped off during the car ride home. Oy.
I recalled from 'John and Kate Plus 8' an episode where the six are playing with edible peanut butter play dough. I searched through the shows archives and found nothing, (it is not a helpful site), but upon googling 'Edible Playdough' found a link to the recipe allegedly used by Kate on the show. I picked up the ingredients and today we gave it a try.
This is quality control making sure we've actually put in equal parts peanut butter, honey and powdered milk. Then added flour until it was un-sticky enough to play with, but still sticky enough to be fun as mud.
I believe it passed the test. Isabella gives our creation her seal of approval.
Katy definitely knows she's missing out on the fun, but has been appeased with arrowroots, cheerios and shredded cheese.
Just look at the goop, said with minor disgust, from the I'd-rather-watch-someone-else-get-messy kid. Just look at the goop, said with utter glee, from the I'll-be-the-one-getting-messy kid.

All in all a fun way to spend a rainy morning here.

I would also like to point out that I am not embarassed to publish a picture showing my kitchen, for the first time in a million years. The journey I've been on of embracing the SAHM that I'm becoming has me filling my time with things like dishes and expanding our rainy day bag of tricks beyond Disney. Balance is still elusive, but days like today remind me I'm spending my time right where I should be.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Most Beautiful (Flower) Girl in the World

Waiting to ride in the 'fancy car'.
She was so quiet and well behaved during the ceremony.
It would seem that dancing in the gazebo was way higher on her priority list than posing for group photos.
Trying to get her in the groove to do the portraits, which never happened.
Isn't she so cute? She did an amazing job during the ceremony, and ate well during the reception. She also danced the night away until midnight. At about 10:30ish I put her in her pj's thinking we'd go home early. She went to say some good-byes and ended up back on the dance floor. She lasted about two minutes before she ran over and asked for her dress back because her pj's don't twirl. I know this was a very special day for her, and am so glad she was asked to be involved.


I am sorry to have left such a gap since my last post, but I find myself not sure where to go next. This is one of the areas in my life wherein I feel way too vulnerable to be completely transparent. The long and the short of it is that our family is in "that financial place" where people can't understand why I don't work, but our family is in that "focus on your children" place that people can't understand why I would work. It's this funky middle ground where we aren't chasing after possessions, but we aren't hugging trees either.

Add to that, a lot of what this journey has been for me has been about my faith in God and my relationship with him. Something that not a lot of people understand, or the people who don't understand are just more vocal. Putting Christ at the beginning, middle and end of everything I do is hard. It's another hard thing that is totally worth it; but God is often so quiet and the world is often so loud.

On top of which I am trying to become a better person, let's just put out the Open House sign for self doubt and temptation and exhaustion.

I promise I am not done sharing. I just need a few deep breaths before I get back out there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Circumstances Dictate

A few weeks after Isabella was born the company I had been working for called me and asked me to consider coming back to work as soon as possible. I went in and talked with them about their expectations; hours I would work, pay I would receive. I went home to consider and crunch the numbers and reality hit me pretty hard when I realized that it would cost more for me to work than to not.

But at the same time I needed to be bringing in some sort of income in order for us to stay afloat while Nick was in school since he, rather inconveniently, could not be in two places at the same time. Apparently the question: to work or not to work, had one answer: yes.

I was blessed to be able to do my previous job from home for about a year. It meant that we could keep a roof over our heads and food in the cupboards and take care of our needs. But man did I have wants, and insecurities.

I just didn't want to be judged. I didn't want people to look at our family and wonder what we were thinking when we decided to have a child, and as my belly began to swell with #2, I didn't want them to click their tongue and look down their nose at me. I wanted people to see through my stuff what a great parent I obviously was.

So I got a second job. A paper route that meant I woke at 4:00am to have the newspaper delivered by 6:00am everyday and then I looked after Isabella and our home and did my other job and cooked delicious dinners and spent fabulous evenings with my husband.

As if. The second I stopped relying on God things began to suck. True we had more money coming in than before. True we were able to buy things and do day trips, but we were so unhappy. I was overworked and tired and not taking care of what I should be taking care of. I hit a wall and burned right out. Something had to give and so the paper route went.

I found myself stuck in the middle ground: wearing a business suit attitude and my sweats to work, and man did they chafe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ideally Speaking

While I am keenly aware that children come into existence on God's timing I have always pictured my children close in age. It's true that I desired to have my babies 18 months apart on purpose. My siblings and I aren't close in age and there's always been a gap between us simply because we've always been at different stages of life. I graduated from college the year my sister graduated from the eighth grade. Nick and his brother are also a few years apart and been in very different places throughout their lives.

We wanted close friendships for our children and hoped that having them close in age would set a good foundation for that. I mean high school is already a completely different world now than when I attended, I can only imagine what it will be like for my children and how great for them to have someone to experience it with. I will never truly 'get it', but at least their siblings will have the same frame of reference.

Being a mom of three children this small is hard work, but anything worth working for is worth working hard for. I didn't know how many people it would bother to witness a woman with three small children. On three separate occasions a random stranger has quipped: "Looks like you need to get a new hobby!" directly to my face. I didn't realize how many people would be baffled to find me out of the house! "alone"! with three small children! and still smiling!

But I didn't expect, or even desire, to be their primary caregiver. In today's society two income families seem to be the norm and I figured that I would continue in my line of office administratin while Nick became a youth pastor and we'd partner with a wonderful daycare to raise our babes. I'm one of those women who actually likes day cares and thinks Early Childhood Educators are unsung heroes.

It's not that I don't want to be responsible for my children, it's not that I don't believe myself capable, it's not even that I don't feel up to the challenge.

The thing for me is that although first steps and first words and first foods are exciting and momentus; the first step will be followed by a million more, and the first word by a billion more, and the first food by a trillion more. And anyone can help a baby learn to walk and talk and eat.

But the first piano recital could be the last, and the first basketball try out could crush a spirit, and first heartache may snuff a soul. And I don't want to be absent from those firsts, to be there for the first five years and absent for the next fifteen.

I would gladly choose to miss a first step in order to cheer from the sidelines for my daughter with two left feet as she trips down the soccer field, smiling, because she knows I chose to be there for those steps.

I would have gladly made that choice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Up North

Last week I took the girls up north by myself. It was good, although they didn't fall asleep before 9:30 and woke up at 6:30 each day; even though I didn't let them have afternoon naps. I didn't get the physical relaxation I was hoping for, but it was a great time. Brooklyn and Isabella both love being out in the boat.
Everytime we stepped outside you could be sure to find Brooklyn eating dirt and rubbing it in her hair. She still isn't talking much but rather expresses herself through noises, grunts and shrieks.
Isabella was a total ham. Here she is mid dance wearing my sunglasses.
Kathryn had the busiest week of all. She learned to crawl for real, get herself up to sitting and back down again and began making her first 'da-da' type noises. I can't get over how quickly she's growing up.
All in all it was a wonderful week, it took a lot of effort, but I'm sure it was appreciated by all.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More to Come

Well, there are a lot more posts to come in the vein of last week. I had a few too many things going on the last few days to keep going, but I'm heading off to the trailer to relax and write, so the story will flow forth once I return next Monday. Until then take care.

(And a special 'hi' to Amanda and Susan for all the comments. :))

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And on the Sixth Day....

Genesis says that 'on the sixth day God created man'. And he created woman to be man's helpmate.

I, myself, have always been independant and although I had a few highschool crushes I never dated anyone. That was fine with me, (on most days, I mean eveyone has their moments of weakness). It would have been nice to have taken some test drives, but I wasn't looking to purchase, finance or lease a heap of metal that would drain my bank account, cause me grief and leave me stuck on the shoulder when I really needed to rely on it.

I knew lots of nice guys but I was afraid the only guy in highschool who wasn't looking to simply get some would be the guy to ask me out, and I'd be stuck staring at the same face every morning for the next 70 years. I didn't want to be a heart breaker, and I didn't want to carry around much heart ache. Granted that was most likely some defensive tactic I brainwashed myself with to deny that fact that; as one guy friend put it, 'I'm just looking to have fun now, but when I'm looking to settle down-I'll find you.' I'd like to believe I wasn't a geek in highschool, but, well, let's say the jury's still out on that one.

But in my second year of college I was very content with who I was becoming, surrounded by great friends and contentedly living vicariously through everyone else who was sampling the meat at the CBC market. One day I sat in the same place for almost an entire day and in the afternoon Nick sat down next to me and would. not. leave.

I've shared the rest of that story before, (along with longer versions of my previous two entries, but in order to understand the present you sometimes have to reflect on the past), and the end result is that I've felt what it's like to be loved and chosen every day for the last six years and I am indescribably blessed by that. So much so that even if something tragic where to happen to Nick I would look for love again, (Please don't misread this sentence, I'm just trying to emphasize that having felt love I can now see how I mislead my self in my youth).

I have been completely converted from independant to part of a team, not just through the act of marriage but by the softening of my heart to be let myself be loved.

Then God Stepped In.

I needed a change of scenery and so I travelled. I travelled the insane distance of down three blocks and across the street. I took up residence at the Bible College. In a few short months it became clear that these seeming unfortunate events were by divine design and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Being submerged in the Bible College Bubble is hard to explain, but so awesome. There are cliques, the hot girls, the jocks, the musicians, the intellectuals- but it's totally not highschool. There are all these people who are Christians but while in love with God are also crazy about NKOTB and there are wedding magazines everywhere. Even though we each believe John 3:16 with our whole hearts there is still heartache, struggle, confusion.

Yet the walls literally ooze with encouragement and the fine line between friend and family is blurred. As a girl who has often felt 'on the outside looking in' I felt completely accepted and it was totally addictive.

While there Ephesians 2:10 became my truth: "for we are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.". I clung to that as I looked inside to discover who I am and to revel and glory in my self. I even have it tattooed on my body, (in the form of a butterfly). It was my greatest comfort and has become my greatest challenge.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Simply Pieces

When I was in the twelfth grade I had a vision of my ideal future. I had been taking an Interior Decorating elective which I loved and, according to my teacher, was pretty good at. I wanted to be an Interior Designer, but not just any Interior Designer, I planned on becoming the female version of Nate Berkus. By day I would hunt for furniture, demolish the interiors of homes, search through paint samples and carpet swatches- turning the homes of the rich and famous into exquisite havens. By night I would be at black tie fundraisers and parties planned by Colin Cowie. I would have dresses by Versace and shoes by Choo and I would have places to wear them.

(I must confess that this 'plan' was all fantasy. Though I was completely sold out to it, I hadn't thought it through).

I envisioned going to school in New York City and assumed I'd start off all Coyote Ugly: rank apartment on the Lower East Side; um...dancing... to pay my tuition, working hard all day and all night to pull it together. But at the end I'd have my credentials, no student loans, a padded bank account and I'd be at the center of the artistic universe.

Getting established in the field of design would not be problematic as I would obviously be amazing and in no time I'd be living in a swanky loft on the Upper East Side attending weekly soirees and jet setting all over the world to decorate for the who's-who on every continent.

I've always wanted to be a mom, but not a wife, and so once life was humming happily at warp speed I planned on hopping over to the neighborhood sperm bank and ordering my brunette, blue eyed triplets from a donor named Don Juan whom I would raise with the aid of my chef, maid, nanny and personal assistant and my life would be one hundred percent perfect and complete.

Back in my reality a few unfortunate events occurred which left me broke and believing I would spend my life, um....dancing....on the Lower East Side becuase all I was worth were the singles I would be shamelessly begging for on a pole instead of a street corner.....

Monday, July 07, 2008

Setting the Stage

For as long as Nick and I have thought about having children we've always been a family of six and from the day I found out I was pregnant for the first time, all four of my children were already born in my heart. Before we decided to open the window of possibility in the arena of babies we got our lives together on paper: mom with a college degree to fall back on- check; manageable debt load with plan to eradicate-check; three months worth of living expenses in savings-check; dad standing on doorstep of career-check; solid foundation of marriage and faith-check. A wise person once told me that you can never be fully prepared for three things: marriage, kids and death. With the first two you come to a point where you just leap. Do your best to set the stage and let the performance begin. Life is not a dress rehearsal and the show must go on.

When Nick and I began our journey of conceiving we both felt it would be a winding road. Neither of us expected to get pregnant and stay pregnant easily and thought false alarms, miscarriages and complications would be our reality. It wasn't something we feared, but something we were prepared to accept. We have a healthy respect for the holiness of life and that we are not in control. Shortly after we decided to start our family we were privy to the pain and anquish of a tragic miscarriage in the lives of dear friends. As we cried for them and interceeded for them we began to truly ask if it was worth it. Was it worth it to open ourselves up to the potential for such pain in the hope of receiving uncontainable joy.

To completely blow us out of the water I found out I was pregnant just weeks later. I took the HPT while Nick was in Mexico on a missions trip and could hardly contain myself. I tried to calm myself down by planning the perfect way of telling Nick. We were house sitting a beautiful house at the time which provided the perfect setting for a candle lit supper under the guise of welcoming him home, at which point I could share the wonderful news and we would both spend the next nine months smitten and glowing like only expectant parents can.

Nick came home from Mexico completely fired up from his first short term missions trip and began tossing about ideas such as putting all our possessions in storage and squatting in Tijuana so we could build homes for poverty stricken Mexican people and help out local missionaries. His face was so full of excitement and all I wanted to do was grant his every wish no matter how crazy. But instead I blurted; "um, how about we stay here and have a baby instead?".

It only took a few hours, (and modern conveniences like running water), for Nick's source of joy to change from missions work to fatherhood. We ended our time in St. Albert, AB on a very high note. Everything was falling into place so smoothly for us to start living the Canadian style American dream. Nick's internship had been just the right mix of challenges and successes to solidify our faith in God's calling to full time ministry and we stood with one foot in a college dorm and the other in a nursery just waiting to take that last step into the domain of Grown-Up.

We moved to Calgary on the wings of well wishes with the beautiful 'come back chorus' ringing in our ears. Completely invigorated by the previous 12 months we stepped sure footed into the final lap. We felt secure in our plans and our preparations; the future was full of bright, bright, bright sunshiney days.

Merely days later we began the swift descent that usually accompanies a lesson from the Almighty and one by one all our wordly securities were stripped away. Un-employed mom-check; drained savings account-check; increasing debt with no end in sight-check; seeming insurmountable academic challenges-check; foundation's limits being tested-check.....

Friday, July 04, 2008

Time to Leap

Recently I finished reading "Eat, Pray, Love". I started reading it the day Elizabeth Gilbert was on Oprah for the first time, which I'm sure was ages ago. I only managed to squeeze in a chapter or two each night before falling asleep, and now that I've finished it, I forget how it began.

I liked the book because it made me think. Every time she made a point I really got to thinking about how it translates into my life, my faith, my worldview. I like it when books, movies, even shows channel my thought patterns. I think a lot and I'm a verbal processor, so there is pretty much a constant, (and constantly interrupted), conversation in my head.

One thing this book challenged me with was the process of her journey. That parts of it were done solo; parts with other people; parts for other people; and parts under the influence of other people and their opinions.

I have been on an incredible journey for the past two months or so. It has been truly life changing for me and mostly internal. Yet I long to share it- just to simply share it. I have struggled with what to say and how to say it afraid of the opinions of others, and that has kept me from blogging as much as I would like and from being true to myself.

Today is an interrupted day; plenty of chores, a constipated baby, new worries and challenges. I know that right now is not the time to do it justice, but I look forward to sharing my journey that has brought be from being a stay at home mom via circumstance to a stay at home mom via choice; from isolation to contented aloneness; from insecurity to confidence and from anxiousness to hope.

All I ask is that you be gentle, I'm still vulnerable.