Friday, December 11, 2009

Sugar and Spice

Here are some pictures of our most recent photo shoot. The shoot was meant to document Nolan turning six months old and Kathryn turning two, but since you need three shots for the package we dressed up the other two as well. The photographer wasn't anything inspiring, but these girls were ready for their close up and once Nolan got the camera to himself he started having fun! Happy Celebrations Everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Supersize Me!

I love, love, love that we have a 'big' family. I know that when you compare us to the Duggers and the like we are a teeny family, but I do believe we fall in, or at least near, the category of today's big families. And I really enjoy it.This week we did many family things; our Christmas card photo shoot, a meal in a restaurant (gotta love kids eat free!), Operation Christmas Child boxes, family movie night at Belle's school and tomorrow the kids and I are headed for the Santa Claus Parade! It's been a full week, full of fun, full of family. I love that we don't necessarily have to find other people to hang out with, (although we enjoy that just as much). The kids play with each other, they feed off each others moods and every now and then they run back for a little snuggle. I like that they look after each other in crowds and whenever we go anywhere the first thing they do is introduce their siblings, (even to random strangers in the grocery check out line).I am glad we were able to stick out the craziness of newborn days and decide to 'go down that road again' three more times! There are many days I don't have a clue how I'll get through, but I am so thankful that I do because I couldn't imagine our family with even one less person.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


There is a great study tool that I was introduced to a while ago. It's called The Truth Project and it is a set of material from Focus on the Family. The basic premise of the study is answering this question: Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?

I've gone through all the material once and am on my second round of small group study with it. So many thoughts, questions, internal conversations all ring in my head and I want to share them, but I find myself struggling to put them into coherent thought patterns. I'm going to keep trying, but for now here are two video clips shown in this week and last week's sessions. Instead of me telling you what I think, tell me what you think.

Watch this.

and This.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I got a haircut. I know it's a good haircut because people did double takes and someone exclaimed; "Amanda, I didn't even recognize you!". I like getting good haircuts.

I've just been through one of the busiest quarter ends since I started my transcriptionist job in August 2006. It has been hectic and I'm a bit brain fried right now. It was also well worth it.

I am trying to get into a regular rhythm of blogging and although I can't think of much to say I needed to keep the rhythm and post something about myself on 'all about me monday".

I am going to see Twilight on Sunday. I may or may not be a little too excited.

I am going to be a single parent for 96 hours this week while Nick goes away to Atlanta. I have something planned each day and am actually looking forward to our events. Sad that Nick will miss them, but happy that I can continue to live life to the fullest with four kids sans husband.

I am going to bed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Evolution of a Name

Just before school started for Bella this fall I wrote her name on a cardboard box and she copied it. I thought to myself; "My kid is amazing!".
Then school started and she began learning letters. "I" became a stick with a hat and shoes. When asked to write her name she did: "I". A little Zorroesque if you ask me. Three strokes quick as lightning.
(They're at the wrong side of the line there, hard to see, sorry)

Since then she has been learning more and more letters and her name continues to evolve. (The 's' are usually backwards and being a leftie she starts at the right and goes to the left most often).
I wonder how long it will be before she can write the whole thing perfectly.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Intrinsic or Extrinsic

One thing I find about being a stay at home mom is that it is seriously easy to be lazy. It's a bit of a paradox really: the comparison of self with others and the weight of expectations put upon the SAHM shoulders is not balanced but rather almost erased by the belief that we need to put ourselves first, take care of our needs so we can take care of others and that everything on our plate is nearly impossible so really, let a few things slide, for sanity's sake.

At the bus stop last week another mom of small children told me I could show up in my underwear and she would still be impressed that I managed to get to the bus stop on time. And the weird thing is, that is tempting. Not necessarily to show up in my underwear but to believe that people wont judge me if I do show up that way simply because I showed up and that in itself is a feat. To let myself not judge me for how I show up, to be glad simply that I did.

Husbands who work just as hard as we do are constantly reminded to encourage and support, that the job of a SAHM is so all encompassing. To come home and not ask; "what did you do all day?". But my suspicion is that many of them stew and harbor negative feelings that their shirts aren't ironed or they should let their wives sleep on Saturday mornings as a way of saying thank you.

I've often wondered why I don't feel the same push to be 'successful' at my current job the way I did when working in an office or even cleaning other people's homes. In discussion a phrase was introduced to my vocabulary: intrinsic motivation. Defined by Wikipedia intrinsic motivation: "comes from rewards inherent to a task or activity itself -the enjoyment of a puzzle or the love of playing." and it is in opposition to extrinsic motivation: "coming from outside the performer, ie money, coercion, threat of punishment."

In this discussion I came to the conclusion that being a people pleaser I am definitely not intrinsically motivated. Lose some weight? Why, no one expects me to be wearing skinny jeans. Get my house white glove clean? Why, everyone knows and understands and appreciates that it will be messed up again the moment it is clean. Learn a new skill? Why, I'm much too busy teaching little people new skills.

A friend of mine who is much wiser than she gives herself credit for was having this conversation with me and off handedly said; as Christians shouldn't we ultimately be trying to please God? If only she knew how deep she was.

I find it mind blowing that I love to do things for other people and yet find it so hard to do things for the most important people in my life. That I tend to groan about washing a floor or am known to say; 'I can't do it ALL, give me a break!" (when it ALL would consist of emptying the dishwasher and running a vaccuum over the carpet).

So maybe I'm not extrinsically motivated, but rather intrinsically motivated and in truth I don't do things because I just don't want to. I think that's a hump to get over.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

W is for Walt

I find that a lot of people start talking about mid winter trips this time of year. There seems to be an inevitable group of people who will begin to share the anticipation of their trek to Florida or California as soon as the first snowflakes flutter. We are not taking such a trip this year, but one day we will.

I think maybe I've shared my dream family vacation before but I've been thinking about it a lot as I get to know some families who regularly make the drive down to Florida. The families I know don't go to experience DisneyWorld but that's what I think of whenever someone says they're headed that direction.

I am so stoked that in the year 2017 we will be taking an all-out-vacation-to-end-all-family-vacations. You must be thinking I'm crazy to be excited about a trip that is 8 years away, but I am. When I go shopping and am holding something awesome in my hand I stop and think, 'Do I want this more than DisneyWorld?' and often the answer is no. So back on the shelf it goes.

I've already started planning the basic itinerary. Christmas morning the kids will wake up and rush downstairs to find the bottom of the tree empty. And when they burst into our room to weep and wail and gnash their teeth at the injustice of it all they'll find us sitting on a pile of luggage, grinning ear to ear. And we'll tell them we're heading to DisneyWorld and they'll catch our excitement. Each day will feature a different child with a me and mom date in the morning and a me and dad date in the afternoon while everyone else just hangs out. Dinners at restaurants featuring menus that that particular child will want one of everything off of. Evenings renting movies in our hotel room, or going to shows, or something as a family. We'll stay in some ridiculously over-priced theme suite on New Year's Eve and catch the fireworks and really feel like 2018 will be a magical year for us. We'll fall asleep feeling like princes and princesses in our castle and wake up ready to make the best of every day and every moment of the coming year.

It's going to be awesome. I can't wait to see how it unfolds once we put details into dreams.

What's your dream vacation?

Introducing Nolan James Franks

I sort of fell off the face of the blogging planet with Nolan's arrival. I think part of the reason for my lack of desire to blog was a feeling of responsibility to stick to blogging etiquette and announce the arrival or our newest member with their birth story. Since this particular story begins with me passing out simply thinking about getting an IV, (yes I literally blacked out while waiting to be hooked up to the pitocin) and ends with my OB literally up to her elbows in me scrapping pieces of flesh off my uterus, I didn't exactly make finding time to share that story a priority. ;)

One thing this particular birth experience created for me was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for doctors who care. Our family doctor has ALS and his disease had progressed to the point that he could no longer deliver babies. When he shared the news with us I joked that he could still deliver our baby as he missed the arrival of both Brooklyn and Kathryn by mere moments so it would just be our usual routine. It began as a joke but by the end of my delivery experience I truly wished he could have been there. The OB I was referred to didn't show up to deliver Nolan although she was paged 3 times. Instead she chose to look at real estate. The second thing Nolan's birth created for me was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for labour and delivery nurses! Mine were the best. One of them attends our church and just happened to be taking a break from overseas work and the other is my twin, apparently. These ladies got me through the roughest four hours of my life, and did so with smiles on their faces even though they were stressed out.

I find it hard to believe that Nolan has already been here five months, but at the same time I forget how old he is. Being that he is significantly bigger than the girls I think of him as older. I keep on trying to sit him up for pictures and he has to flop over before I remember he's not that capable yet.

A lot of people ask me what gender differences I'm noticing and the answer so far is none. Well, it's a lot harder to keep him full. He's already on solid foods and he eats a lot, but not often, he also likes to sleep. He eats breakfast, lunch, dinner and before bed at 7. And he already sleeps 12 hours a night. Such a blessing.

Nolan has brought so much laughter to our lives. We are generally a happy bunch. We get comments about how happy our kids are regularly, but Nolan laughs out loud. He giggles at his sisters. His eyes twinkle. He is truly the perfect punctuation on the sentence of our family. I am so excited to see his personality emerge as he moves on from infancy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Identity Crisis

"What is man that you are mindful of him
and the son of man that you care for him?"
Psalm 8:4

So often when I read the above verse I read with cynical and sarcastic undertones. It just makes sense to me that the Bible, a story full of God's awesomeness, would point out the folly in humanity saying 'check me out!'. But as I spend time gazing upon the face of God I have come to hear it differently. I picture in my mind some surfer dude who just caught the sickest wave, completely soaked in water and wonder of the Creator of that water waxing poetic: 'WHAT IS MAN?"

It causes me to pause for a moment and consider that I am made in His image. He took an itsy bitsy bit of what He is and fashioned me out of it. Little nuggets of everything that makes God so awe-inspiring and He put that in each one of us. How cool is that?

I will confess that I am a somewhat insecure person. I do struggle with believing that I am worthy, that I am a self to esteem. But thinking of it in light of the knowledge that God created me in His image I have to see that it's not just a monkey on my back, it is something that grieves the heart of my Creator. I struggle to see how worthy I am because I don't fully comprehend how awesome He is. To truly know myself I have to first deeply know Him, what an amazing purpose- to spend my life learning who He is and who I am in Him.

I often get caught up in the 'me' bits of life. What has God called me to do? What is 'unique' and 'masterpiece' about me? What part of the body am I? It has dawned upon me that this is a pretty selfish perspective. I should be searching for God's agenda and how I can aid it, not how I can be me, but how He can use me.

With our family now completely the way we always dreamed it would be I find myself in an identity crisis. If I'm not an incubator, who am I? I am in awe that I find myself wondering these things and that God had already laid out the answers for me before I asked the question.

"Who am I that you are mindful of me?
That you hear me, when I call.
Is it true that you are thinking of me?
How you love me, it's amazing!"
-Israel Houghton-


I find myself in a mental whirlwind these days. I am surrounded by so many wonderful and challenging friendships, in the throes of amazing and life altering studies, bombarded with the sheer awesomeness of the people I share my home with. So many thoughts to ponder, so many things to apply, so much to nurture and grow within mine own self. I haven't been around these bloggy parts much in the last five months, but am hoping a return here will enable me to at least plant the seeds my brain and heart want to plant so I can come back and reflect, remember and remark as often as I need.

One lesson I am currently learning is the power of structure, and a lesson I am re-learning is the freedom in discipline. So I am going to become a disciplined blogger and I am doing it for the benefits for myself. A lot of what is on my heart and mind is who I am as a Christian and I want everyone to know anything I share is not a judgement or a soap box, but is me thinking out loud through what I'm thinking through. There will be times when I need to shake myself a bit and I hope my words never come across otherwise.

So, if you're still there dear readers (Hi Elizabeth!), get ready to enjoy this blog again! I'll be here Monday to Friday with little nuggets of myself to share! I'm really looking forward to reconnecting, it has been far too long!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm full.

Full heart

Full hands

Full days

Full nights
With all the fullness, I haven't figured out where to put blogging. But I'll be back as soon as I find a space for it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Tag because I Lag

The third trimester is winning around here, (that's right folks 9 days until I'm due, so like 21 days until the baby gets here, jk). And my blog has been a-sufferin. Luckily Jenn saw fit to tag me today!

The purpose of the tag is to list five reasons why I like being a Mom. I'm currently working on Katy's First Year scrapbook and since I'm accessing her pictures on a daily basis, she will be our pictoral example of my Five.

1. You get to dress your kids up in costumes like this, for the express purpose of taking pictures. And no one thinks you're insane.
2. Watching little people explore, learn, test and create is amazing. I have been blown away by how uniquely each of our daughters do those things. It also helps me recapture the wonder of all that is around me.

3. Food. "It was all the kids would eat." is the best excuse EVER to consistently have fresh baking in the house, to have breakfast for dinner and to eat frozen pizza every meal for a week when life gets hectic. (Not that I do those things on a regular basis.....)
4. I get to play. I am 5'2 which makes me about the size of a sixth grader. ;) But I can actually fit in the slide structures at places like Chuck E. Cheese and Kidsport. Inevitably one of my children will be unable to navigate part of the tunnel maze and I must go rescue them! I like that I get to play, and again no one thinks I'm long as the children are with least they wont tell me to my face that they think I'm insane.
5. Being completely changed by such small people is really cool too. In the beginning of being a mom I got all caught up in trying to teach my kids. Life is so much better now that I let them teach me.

I tag Amanda ; Erin and Jill !

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Saturday is National Scrapbooking Day and I am celebrating by taking the day off and going away to scrap. So while I'm preparing what to take, you get to see inside my head.....Confessions of a Scrapbooking Mind. Today's post is my reflections on a devotional I read this week that actually had to do with scrapbooking, loosely of course.

"Picture this, years of photographic debris littered hither and yon; some photos crammed in drawers, taped on mirrors, stacked on desks, magnetized to the refrigerator, stuffed in shoe boxes, propped against window frames, crinkled up in purses, pressed in old books, mixed in with the bills...This is indicative of how for years I have handled our family's pictorial history".

I'll confess, this actually makes me cringe. There is something about a picture that has to be treasured, well most of them. I've always had a central location for my pictures, even before I was a scrapbooker, a box that I could go to and retrieve any moment that I had snapped. That of course was before we went digital, when I actually made people pose and didn't just snap away. But the last phrase she uses, 'pictorial history', really hits home for me. This is the way people will know our stories, but pictures aren't enough there has to be some documentation to go along with it. I don't want folks to flip through and think, 'Oh that looks like a nice sunny day.'; I want them to know why there is a picture of that day in the first place!

"I've always meant to organize, alphabetize, and categorize these frames of life, but I'm not naturally organizational, alphabetical or categorical. In fact, I'm more eclectic in my approach to life. Some might say I'm a willy-nilly, helter-skelter, or if-you-can-find-it-you-can-have-it kind of person. Now don't get me wrong; I like a tidy environment. Just don't open a door or drawer without taking some precautions. But if you do pry open a drawer, would you mind seeing if you could find the three rolls of film I misplaced from our family vacation, summer 1992? I know they are here somewhere. "

Enter the digital age. I snap a lot of pictures. It keeps me outside longer than 10 minutes while the kids are amusing themselves. But don't even get me started on Nick's clicking fingers! He actually stood in centerfield of Rogers Center and took a picture of the empty seats, then turned two degrees and took another, and again, and again until he had shot all 360 degrees of the stands! We've been digital since January 2005 and have over 10,000 pictures. (And no, we don't do it professionally at all!). I sat down a while ago and organized all our digital images with the help of some great software. But then we got a computer virus. Luckily all our photos were saved onto an external drive, but they didn't save in order. I'm back to the drawing board, re-organizing all 10,000 with new pictures added daily!

"I also know I need to get a grip on our photos. So I took the following action. First I conducted a pictorial roundup. All floaters were brought into the living room and placed inside Les's grandfather's trunk that presides in front of our couch. This activity actually took weeks, as we rooted around retrieving wayward pictures from strange and unusual locations (medicine cabinet, toolbox, clothes dryer). "

Enter the deceptively good thing about the digital age; I know where all my pictures are. One central location- my hard drive. They aren't cluttered or being destroyed, but when was the last time I printed one?

"Once the majority had been packed into the trunk, I purchased albums of all sizes. Then I sat down in front of the mountainous heap, and in a brief time became overwhelmed with this wide-load project. I couldn't figure out how to separate them into categories. Should it be years, events, houses, individuals, vacations, celebrations, crises or all of the above?"

I love my photo organizing software. I get to put a single picture in several different locations, one photo can be stored in a folder for an event and by each person in it. Then I can search and have all those pictures magically pulled out of the folders and at my disposal. Ahhhhhh. But I am a slave to chronology and often forget about the gems of pictures I have of certain events and picking pictures out of the millions becomes my headache. I still want to include every picture, but there are just too many, and inevitably as soon as I finish a page I'll find THAT picture, the one I wanted to center the whole page around to begin with....

"This brings me to my next dilemma: How does one toss out a picture without guilt? A person's likeness is so personal it seems like a violation to discard them. After all, what if those individuals have rejection issues?"

I giggled outloud at myself when I read this paragraph. I'm an anti-pack-rat and tend to throw things out before really thinking it through. That's only a picture of Brooklyn's toes in those cute sandals, toss it. Only to wish I had it back the next day. Not all pictures have to be of faces, right? Sigh, I guess there will really be millions of photos on my hard drive when I pass on.

"Gradually I'm making progress with the development of our albums and have in courageous moments thrown out a few strangers. I've even parted with a myriad of duplicates. "

The key word here seems to be 'gradually'. I wish I was more up-to-date on my scrapbooks. I often feel like they're missing out on journalistic integrity and becoming glorified photo albums. But this slave to chronology will continue to slave away! Isabella has an album of her first year, and Katy's is almost done as well. Somehow I skipped over Brooklyn so I'll have to go back and remedy that ASAP. I think that when all the kids are in school I'm going to adopt a monastic lifestyle for the hours of 9-3. I will sit in peace surrounded by my photos, sipping hot tea and recalling memories of days gone by. Or maybe not. The best part of scrapbooking is that it's a hobby that will last a lifetime, (or more).

Excerpts from 'Say Cheese' by Patsy Clairmont

Monday, April 27, 2009

Life's a Zoo!

I haven't been blogging much the last couple of weeks because life has been crazy! Not crazy busy, but definitely not routine. The girls all got sick and I did too which has thrown off our regular schedules and really taken us for a ride. The weather has also not helped, there have been a mixture of rainy days and really hot ones. I prefer the rainy days, but am loving that on the days the girls can play outside they absolutely cannot keep their eyes open past 7:30!
Katy and I have been hanging onto our symptoms the longest and so I've had a few days to hang out with her while the girls run around outside, (the wind is just a bit much when we were told to stay warm to get better). Unfortunately I'm not as fun as Katy's siblings and she really wanted to be where they are.

She's such a monkey trying to climb out the back door, or up onto every piece of furniture, or casually walking down the front hall and straight out the door. She's keeping me on my toes this one!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Of Pigtails and Psychosis.

Brooklyn has been dying to have hair long enough for pigtails for a very. long. time. Every day that I comb Isabella's hair and adorn it with some kind of elastic or barette she asks me to do the same to hers. Yesterday her hair held onto the elastics for the first time. She was ecstatic, walking around touching her pigtails, telling her dad over and over; 'these are my pigtails Poppa'. It's cute, she's cute.
Lately I have really been enjoying CranRaspberry juice and Sprite as my beverage of choice to get through the loooooong afternoons. Yesterday I didn't just want a glass, I needed a glass. And well, I couldn't get the lid off the bottle.

Yes, that's right I took some scissors to it, but only after stabbing it with a knife didn't work. I may or may not be losing my mind.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Clear Hindsightedness

This is my favourite family picture. I don't post it as much as some others, and I have yet to scrapbook it. The quality of the photo itself is total suckage, but the moments it captures for me are purely priceless.

This picture was taken at last year's Jr. Jays final saturday game. We go to two Blue Jays games each year for sure. One to sign the kids up to be Jr. Jays, (you get some cool loot when you sign up at the field and all Saturday games are mini carnivals), and one to end the season with the Jr. Jays. After the game the kids get to go down and run the bases, then we wait for the grounds crew to do a few things and we head back down to the field for bouncy castles, pizza, autograph/meet some Jays and you can play on the outfield.

Looking at this picture I remember the not so highlighted parts of the day, sort of. It was snapped by an impatient Rogers Center employee just before we were almost escorted off the premises for the third time; Katy is wearing the top to an outfit Brooklyn is wearing the bottom of meaning there were spills, or poo, or both; Isabella isn't touching anyone in our family which is reminiscent of a meltdown of some kind; and I'm wearing my weary smile, which although it happens to be nicer than my posed smile reminds me that the day was tiring. I know there were trials to the day because in all honesty you can't have a day with three toddlers and no trials, but I don't really remember what any of them were.

However, I clearly remember the highlights of this day: Nick playing catch in the outfield and claiming 'This is worth the price of admission.'; the lovely lady who let my kids go down the bouncy slide for a half hour solid even though she had to climb up it with Brooklyn sometimes; everytime Isabella gently touched where her face had been painted and told me she was beautiful; the laughter, the game itself was stellar, the company of my family.

This picture is my favourite although I'm sure when it was snapped I had no idea it would be.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Blurry Vision

You know that saying; 'can't see the forest for the trees'? Sometimes the circumstances of life consume us individually, and so completely, that we cannot see clearly. Different things cause different people to lose their clarity of sight but I do believe it is common to the human experience.

As a Christian I know that the Bible has something to say about every circumstance, trial, joy and blessing that I endure, but often I forget to look there for solutions or even coping strategies. The following thoughts are a reflection on Psalm 73 and a sermon I recently heard by Bob Gould.

Psalm 73 is written by Asaph, who is only mentioned in the Bible a few times and has no memorable story to attach to his name. For all intents and purposes he was a worship pastor and there are several Psalms attributed to him (50, 73-83). In Psalm 73 he speaks candidly about things you don't expect your pastor to verbalize. For a moment he lets us behind the mask of those "in ministry" and lets us see their human side, a side we can all relate to.

"Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped, I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."

The Psalm begins with two very common thoughts, one: I know God is good, but I'm just about to give up, and two: Why do the rich have it so easy? Asaph was looking around at his trees and couldn't see the forest. Why does it seem that the wicked prosper and the godly suffer? In this Psalm Asaph equates the wicked with the rich, and although rationally we know that that is not the case, I'm sure it's a pattern of faulty thinking we fall into sometimes.

"If I had said, 'I will speak thus,' I would have betrayed your children."
Asaph feels that he cannot share his internal struggle with anyone because he is in a position of Christian leadership and if he confesses what he is thinking he will cause his flock to stumble, to sin. Therefore he keeps it all bottled up, festering away at him, clouding his judgement and his vision. Personally I'm not in a position of Church leadership, but there are many struggles I never voice out of fear of what it would do to the hearer. What if I confess that I just want to send my kids away for the day and the person listening is struggling with infertility? That would hurt them so much more than what I'm dealing with right? Those of us who are people pleasers can probably identify with this Psalm. Anything that could be construed as negative must be kept to oneself, you never know the damage it might do.

But aren't we also called in Scripture to take up one another's burdens? Aren't we called to share with other believers in joy and in struggles? Why is it that we don't do it? Why do we always answer 'fine' when someone asks us how we are doing? (On a sidenote, is it really possible that no one noticed Asaph's struggling spirit? What keeps us from asking people deeper questions when it's obvious they need to talk? Or just reaching out a hand and helping instead of waiting for our help to be invited?)

You can read through the Psalm and see how Asaph has a distorted view of the situation. For example he thinks being rich equals being wicked and that rich have no troubles. Luckily however the Psalm is not just one of lament, he casts a light into the shadows.

"'till I entered the Sanctuary of God."
Therein lies the glasses Asaph was in need of. When you spend time with God your vision becomes his vision and instead of being stuck staring at tree trunks you have a bird's eye view. The bigger picture becomes what you are gazing upon and your perspective changes. When we spend time in the sanctuary we begin to see that it's not about us and we experience the peace, grace, power, and wisdom of God. Then praise abounds for we can see what God is doing around us, through us, and for us. When our vision becomes that of eternity we can see with more clarity. We do not take the spiritual life seriously unless we spend time with God. If we do not know his thoughts, if we cannot catch his vision, our faith is not a lifestyle but lip service. And God is all we need for every circumstance, we can find whatever we are looking for in the sanctuary if we would just go there.

I can confess that life at our house is heavy right now. There are many obstacles and struggles that could consume us. But by remembering, and being disciplined, to spend time in the sanctuary I will not be consumed. I will be able to enjoy the forest even when I am surrounded by gnarly trunks. What an uplifting thought in times of heaviness.

As humans we tend to think we have all the answers. When we find ourselves in a tricky or undesirable situation we start looking around for what to do to fix it. I would challenge us instead to think of what we could be and to sit quietly with the Almighty until we have 20/20 vision for the problem we find ourselves in may not be the problem at all.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

4:00 AM This is your Wake Up Call....

Over the past few weeks my body has begun waking up between 4:00 and 5:00 AM on a regular basis. Usually the cluprit causing my waking is the full bladder upon which my son is sleeping and it's undeniable need to be emptied. Waking up to pee in the middle of the night is common third trimester activity, but in my previous experiences I merely stumbled to the bathroom, relieved myself and stumbled back into bed. This time around however, I wake up raring to go for the day.

This development has several cons, (hello, I'm up at 4:00AM), but it also has it fair share of pros. I've learned a lot about being the best version of myself lately and getting up early in the morning helps me be good at being me. I love the dark, one of the reasons I love winter and why gray rainy days are my favourite. Getting up in the dark starts my day off well because I begin with something I love. I can also accomplish things: really accomplish them. I can fold a load of laundry without someone unfolding it! I can empty the dishwasher without someone climbing into it or grabbing a knife! I can sweep the kitchen floor and no one is grinding Cheerios into the carpet! And I can accomplish all these things without having to ask a child to 'please wait a sec while mom just gets this one thing done.'. Ah bliss. I can also be selfish with this time; surfing the net, watching the prime time show I wont while the kids are awake, eating my breakfast without getting indigestion from meeting the meal time needs of three toddlers. The hours of 4-7am are actually kind of nice.

But, the cons enter a little later in the day. I'm physically in need of a nap by 11:00am, I'm running in short supply of patience right before the pre-afternoon nap meltdown session. Therefore we all nap in the afternoon, which makes bedtime a bit of a marathon, since my 4 year old doesn't really need to nap. And I wake from that nap a bit on the cranky side having slept just shy of 'enough'. Dinner hasn't been happening as well or regularly as it should, and I find myself going to my evening commitments a bit on the groggy side.

I mess up, I'm sure, out of tiredness, but I learned the value of forgiveness. So I dust myself off, put one foot in front of the other, live through the last few hours of the day one moment at a time. Then 4:00am rolls around and I can pick up yesterday's pieces and put them in place. It's really not that bad, 4:00am.

(Sidenote: Even though there are pros to this pattern, I am still looking forward to when it vacates the premises!)

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post, I really enjoyed reading your responses!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aint it Funny

Isn't it the way. I stated a goal, and had very good intentions and then life just happened! You know what I mean, all your daylight hours consumed by good things, but things that are not the ones you intended to do! I have a whole theme of blog posts half written in my head, but no time to sit down and compose them! I will get back here though, it is a goal, April sounds like a month to succeed right?

Today I ask a question of the blog reading masses: If you compose blog posts, when in your day do you do it? Do you have a regular time, or just when the mood strikes? IF you don't blog, how about journalling? Is it part of your routine? How do you keep up with your desire to write?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just Curious

Lately I've been getting more and more curious about the sixth member of our family. The girls all have grown into very distinct personalities and I can see the ways in which they will be similar, and the ways in which they will be very different. I wonder how a boy will fit into the mix? I wonder if he'll be taller and obviously stronger than his sisters, will people confuse him for the oldest? I wonder if he'll be one of those guys who actually knows how to listen to girls because of all the training he gets growing up? I wonder how its going to change the dynamic to have a boy in the gang? There's only a maximum of 11 weeks until our family grows for the last time and I am wondering what's in store for us, what our family is like completed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Next Phase

A few posts ago I mentioned that I was considering what I wanted this blog to be about. It took me much longer than I anticipated to really reach down and figure out what is important to me as far as the 'blogosphere' is concerned.

I've thought long and hard about it and am now ready to blog with a vengence again. My blog will be a little more focused, (at least that's the intent), on me. If you come here for pictures of the kidlets, you wont be disappointed, they are after all a part of me. I am going to focus on the three things that are most important to me in my blog posts: my faith, my family/friends, and my creativity.

You'll find that I'm also a girl who loves schedules and planning, (did you know Administration is a spiritual gift?), and so there will be themes emerging and this blog will become fairly routine and predictable. That is the goal. Not that my children will all of a sudden stop being unique or that God will start talking to me in ways you've heard before; rather that there will be a routine to what I share and you'll quickly figure out to only stop by on Fridays if you want to hear about our Family.

For those of you that have been following this blog, thanks for hanging around! I hope you start to enjoy it once again! If you're reading this through the link on Facebook, welcome to my blog.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Baking with Baby Brain

I decided a little while ago to make a more conscious effort to celebrate holidays with the girls. I wanted them to be a part of the process, not just the celebrations. Valentines is first up in the year and so it has made a great guinea pig. We were planning to make cookies and cards to send to Grandma and Grandpa, and a few friends around town. One day I made all the girls have a nap, (which was good for all of us) and I laid out all the ingredients just like we do at Cooking Class at Superstore. I had everything measured and we were ready to go. The recipe we were using called for coffee.
You will notice as you scroll down the pictures that the girls are wearing different clothes. It took two days to make our cookies. I don't drink coffee, ever. So I had measured out the coffee as per the recipe directions, ground coffee beans that is.
Once we actually started the recipe I understood instantly that the coffee was supposed to be made, as in liquid, as in needed to hold the cookie dough together. Never mind thought I, I'm sure 4 tbsp of coffee can't make that big of a difference. We continued to mix together the ingredients. But alas our dough would not stick together.
Remember, I don't drink coffee. I don't even make coffee. I don't even clean the coffee maker, if Nick wants coffee its on his shoulders.
So the girls had to wait an extra day for me to figure out how to make coffee and whip up a batch of dough with all the proper ingredients in it. Then we set about cutting them out and adding cinnamon hearts.

I also had the nerve to ask them to pose for one more picture before I let them eat any. Isabella barely made it through the shot!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Righteous Appearances

If you lived in Jesus' day you would have been subject to the authority, and judgement, of the religious leaders of the day. They watched what you were doing, what you were wearing, what you weren't doing. They would look at your actions in order to determine your righteousness. Jesus came onto the scene and added to their system. True, people will know you are pursuing righteousness by the actions that they see, BUT you can't always tell a person's heart by what they are doing.

When I first became a stay at home mom I thought I knew exactly the expectations I was to get in line with; keep the house clean, put good meals on the table, meet your husband's needs and have the children magazine cover ready at all times. I quickly came to understand what those expectations were getting me into in terms of work. How quickly I grew weary of cleaning, cooking and keeping up appearances. It amazes me how short the time span was in which I stopped caring if my house and my family met people's standards.

This past week I began going to the gym, and I'll confess I'm a bit of a people watcher. There are two women at the gym that I am particularly drawn to. Both of them could be described by total strangers as "out of shape". They walk on the treadmills and they walk hard. The kind of walking that makes you sweat, makes it hard to breathe. While I notice them I wonder what got them to the gym. Several easy answers pop into my head and all of them have to do with meeting people's expectations of how they should look.

I remember watching some episodes of Oprah where a few families who appeared to "have it all" came clean about how little they actually have and how unhappy they truly are.

Appearances can be deceiving.

That girl with a body-to-die for who is actually dying for it.

That homeless man, begging on the corner every day, who is actually worth millions.

That mom at every event, always volunteering, constantly surrounded by people, who is the loneliest person on the planet.

Appearances can be deceiving.

I lost track of the families on Oprah, but I believe they journeyed internally to figure out why the sought after so much stuff. They had to get to the heart of the issue and purge away the excess to find true happiness.

I'm convinced those two ladies will still be at the gym walking just as hard six months from now. I'm convinced because of the determination on their faces and how hard they are working. They have to be operating from a deeper motivation than looking like Ms. Hollywood.

I've come to accept and embrace that the expectations I tried to live up to when I first became a SAHM will lead to nothing but fatigue and unhappiness. Now my expectations have to do with eternity, and that is much more fulfilling than temporarily appearing right.

I don't think people will ever stop being like the religious leaders in Jesus' day. There will always be a set of criteria by which people judge each other. But, for those of us who want to live a pure life of true righteousness there is only one set of expectations that matter.

And while we may be able to keep up appearances in front of man, God sees right through them. Appearances can be deceiving but the heart shines a light on the true motives for why we do what we do.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Look at ME!"

Kathryn is really coming into her personality lately. She has begun to develop a sense of humour, she has preferences and she wants to be just like her big sisters. This past week she has started saying "Hi!" into a cell phone, climbing up onto chairs and tables, making little jokes and trying to manipulate us with her tears.

I've really been noticing with her that even though she is going through the same stages her sisters went through she is definitely unique. When she is thinking you can see it on her face and so you know when she's doing something on purpose. It leaves me awestruck when I watch the concentration on her face as she has to put her cup right beside her plate at supper time or how she makes a plan to attack one her sisters, but never gets there because she starts laughing too hard.

I would describe Katy's character as bright; both in intellect and disposition. She lights up our days and illuminates the best part of every person she comes in contact with. I can only imagine the great things she'll do in her corner of the world.

Monday, February 02, 2009

This past week was one of those weeks when I would have loved to ship the kids off to Grandma and Grandpa's for a few days. The demands of caring for three small children, all of my domestic responsibilities, being a good wife and striving daily to grow closer to Christ and closer to who He created me to be is more than a full time job! But it's a full time job without weekends, without sick days, without stat holidays or vacation time.

At least for me it is.

And although I don't have those times off from being a mom I still need them. I still need time to put myself first, to take a break from my full time job. I don't have a good answer about how to do that well. I take my moments to watch my favourite tv shows, have a bubble bath, "escape" to the grocery shopping, plan time to spend with friends. But there is something about those extended times away that I still need.

So, imperfect as it is, there are days when all we do is watch tv and eat next to nothing. Days when Nick spends the day at work and then comes home and does my job too. Days I yell more than I should and days I would like a do-over for.

The chores never magically disappear, the kids don't teleport to the grandparents so I can get some rest. But God is faithful. Somehow a moment, a literal 60 second blip, breaks into the fog of my fatique and I have found the rest I so greatly needed. How great is it that I serve a God who is not interested in me merely surviving, but also thriving! He provides the rest I need and then some as it takes extra energy to get the chores caught up, extra paitence to restore discipline and routine, extra humility to accept my faults and seek forgiveness.

Yesterday at Church I was reminded that we are not called to success, but to submission. We are not called to perfection, but called to show Christ at work in our failings and Christ revealed in our success. That is a great encouragement for a soul weathered by mom guilt, a soul that sometimes gets stretched too thin, a soul that could use a week curled up next to a fire. He is faithful to provide all of our needs, the ones we take to Him and the ones He already knows.

May that encourage you this week, especially on your most tired day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wintry Fun

Since the whole country seems to be in a cold state, here are some pictures to warm your heart! Yep, the girls got to play outside for the first time this past week. Nick works some days only in the afternoon, so I talked him into taking the girls out for half an hour on the nice day we had last week. This is at the end of their time, they each posed on the snow pile Poppa shovelled for them.
It was too cold for Katy to sit around outside so we stayed inside and took pictures of the fun. Nick started throwing snowballs at her and she thought it was the funniest thing ever. Belle and Brooklyn both go into the fun and pelted us with snowballs.

On a daily basis Isabella asks if she can make a snow angel. She finally got her chance. This was the very first thing she did as soon as I opened the door. Fell in the snow and started making an angel.

Hope you can stay warm today Canada!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Scene Stealer

Ultrasound Tech; "Well, this looks like it will be your last pregnancy."

Myself; "Pardon?"

Ultrasound Tech; "Yep. It looks like you finally did something right."

Myself; comment.......
Ultrasound Tech; "I'm not supposed to tell the gender. And I wouldn't tell if I wasn't sure. That's definitely a boy you've got there!"

*I painstakingly pointed out all of the baby's facial features to the girls. All they can remember is that this last picture is his bum. Thanks Nick ;)