Monday, 31 December 2012

foggy head and Happy New Year

Our munchkin came down with a cold on boxing day and I soon followed suit. Sean's week off work, therefore, consisted in taking care of his two sickies.

Today was Sean's first day back at work, so Isaac and I were left alone in our mutual sickness. My head is still foggy so I won't write much, I just wanted to say something about love. Whenever Isaac and I are sick at the same time it always challenges my idea of love. It's just plain hard to give him all the love and attention he deserves when I'm not fully functioning myself. Sometimes it's actually painful. Sometimes I want to cry. Sometimes I do cry. It's the Cross. I'm now getting too sleepy and foggy to coherently connect all the points I wanted to make but it was something about God loving us. A lot.

May His love bless you and yours this Christmas season and bring you health and happiness in the New Year.

Friday, 14 December 2012

my marriage to a Hobbit nerd

Last night Sean and I had a rare date night and went to the premiere showing of The Hobbit (it was great; we loved it. If you're a fan you should go see it, pronto). We weren't sure how busy it would be and wanted to be sure of getting good seats so we arrived two and a half hours early.

There were only five people ahead of us in line. One of them had a tattoo in Elvish on his arm.

As we sat there chatting with our new found Hobbit friends I realized something. I had been suspecting it for some time. As the premiere approached, Sean's daily visits to fan sites and meticulous watching of every trailer, clip, and tv spot tipped me off, but last night confirmed it. I am married to a nerd.

The thing is, I don't think I realized how much of a nerd he was when I married him. I thought he was a "movie buff." I now know that "movie buff" is just a code word for nerd (just a warning for all you single ladies. Beware!).

All of this has had me thinking about the mystery of the human person. We are made in the image and likeness of God, which gives us greater depth than we can ever know. We grow, we learn, we change. Every day. Until we die. Which means that no one can ever really be boring. If we find someone boring then we're not looking closely enough.

I've also been reading about the temperament types: four categories that explain the natural inclinations and tendencies of different types of people (The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett). I find it extremely interesting and helpful to some degree, but I've begun to notice something. It's pretty easy to pigeonhole people that I don't know very well, but the better I know someone the harder I find it to fit them into a category. Sean is the most difficult by far. When I think of all the different sides of him that I'm getting to know I find it almost impossible.

After pulling my hair out over it for a little while I've realized that it doesn't really matter. Because people don't ever fit neatly into categories. If they do then it's probably because, again, we're not looking closely enough. Take the categories for what they're worth (because they are helpful when used properly), and then forget about them and just marvel at the beauty and complexity of God's creation.

Two and half years ago I didn't know that my soon to be husband was a big ole' nerd in hiding. Now I know. And that's awesome. It's amazing that after two and a half years I'm still only scratching the surface of the mystery that is my husband. Every day, if I make the effort, I can find a little bit more of him to fall in love with.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

parenting books

Does anyone else completely freak out when they read a parenting book?

I pick it up and start to skim. This looks interesting. Wow, a lot of this sounds like what we're doing already. Wait a minute! I'm in the section of things that you're not supposed to do! Oh no! We're not nurturing enough...or maybe we're too nurturing and not spending enough time teaching him how to play pat-a-cake. Uh oh, he's not eating enough solids...or else he should be exclusively breastfed until he's two. If he doesn't get enough sleep his brain won't develop properly...but if we sleep train he'll grow up to be a sociopath ...aarghhh.

I happen to be a bit of a perfectionist, so my approach to parenting has been to research everything to death. There is truly a sea of advice on the internet and in parenting books, a lot of it contradictory. The problem is that every child is different, every parent is different and every situation is different. How can any parenting book have all the answers? How can any google search for "parenting tips"even scratch the surface of decision making that goes into parenting? There are thousands of great parenting ideas out there, and sometimes I get myself worked up thinking that we're failing miserably if we don't do them all.

When I skim through a parenting book and panic starts to set in I'm gradually realizing that I need to take a step back, a deep breath, and remind myself that we are not perfect. It's one of the great tragedies of parenthood that I can't be perfect for my sweet, innocent Isaac (short of sainthood, of course, which is a work in progress). As inevitable as it may be, it actually breaks my heart to think that our sinfulness will affect Isaac for the rest of his life. We are not perfect, our parenting is not going to be perfect. Sigh. We're just doing the best we can with the information that we have.

The solution, like so many others, lies in prayer. Prayer that, through grace, we'll raise a holy, happy little man, in spite of our faults. And prayer that through parenting we'll have the grace to grow ever closer to God and to sainthood.

Friday, 9 November 2012

awesome strangers at Mass

This morning I took Isaac to Mass. I love going to daily Mass. Or perhaps, to be more honest, I love the idea of going to daily Mass. Participating in Holy Mass is nothing short of the greatest thing that we humble human beings can do. I believe this to be true. And yet...

By the time Isaac and I are bundled up for the walk--racing to get my coat on before he gets up too many stairs, pulling him off the stairs to his screams of protest, digging through piles of laundry to find his missing sock, deciding that no one will really notice if his socks don't match, trying to get his coat, hat, mitts, and boots on while he takes all the shoes off the shoe rack--I'm already tired. By the time I've struggled out the door with the stroller in one arm and Isaac in the other I feel like my arm is going to fall off (the one that's holding my 28 lb baby). Then there's the Mass itself.

Sometimes I see babies in church who are content to sit in their parent's arms and watch as the Mass proceeds. If they get restless they flip through one of those adorable baby bibles. If they get tired they rest their head on their parent's shoulder.

I confess that when I see those babies my thoughts are not always holy. Because Isaac has never been one of those babies. I don't want to imply that he's "bad" in church. He's usually very happy to be in a new place with lots of new things to look at and touch. What he is not happy about is having to stay still. So he doesn't. We can't let him roam free, but he's pretty much in constant motion in our arms. He leans forward for the hymnal, but it's not enough to just touch it. He has to stand in my lap so that he can touch it from a better angle. He then has to tell everyone in the church how happy he is to be standing on my knees (in his own language of course): "do da dee doe-DAH, doe-DAH." You get the idea.

This morning, by the Consecration, he was getting restless and I was getting tired of his squirmy-ness, so we went to the soundproofed children's room where he could have a little more freedom and I could (hopefully) concentrate a little more on prayer. I had forgotten that his favorite part of the children's room also happens to be the least soundproof: the door. He can reach the handle and pull on it making the door rattle and he loves to knock on the glass panel. There I was, trying to follow the Mass and at the same time wondering how much of Isaac's noise was audible outside and trying to figure out a way to stop him without making him upset, when a man approached the door.

I recognized him as the old gentleman with the cane who always comes to daily Mass and sits at the back. He had always seemed friendly but all I could think was, "Oh no! He's going to tell me that they can hear Isaac banging on the glass and that I should restrain my child."

I opened the door for him and smiled weakly. He said, "I just wanted to mention..."

Here it comes, I'm about to get an earful.

"I just wanted to mention that I think mothers are the most important people in the world. I really mean it."

"Thank you." I was so touched my eyes welled up a little. "The most important people in the world." What a humbling compliment. What beautiful recognition of the sacrifice, the hard work, the joy and heartache of being a mom.

At the end of Mass we were back in our pew and getting ready to go. Many of the people walking by stopped and said hi to Isaac. One lady commented, "I just love hearing little ones at Mass. It's not often you hear them at daily Mass." When I said that I always worry he's being too loud she protested, "Oh no, he was so so good." Once again I was touched.

You see, since we moved here and I started bringing Isaac to daily Mass when I've had the chance, I've been afraid of what people think of us there. It's not a young parish and daily Mass would be so peaceful and so quiet apart from Isaac's many noises. I'm always afraid of being disruptive and of being judged on how I "handle" my baby.

Lately I've been pretty slack on going to daily Mass. With all the winter gear to put on, it's a lot of effort to get there. And Isaac has been harder and harder to contain during Mass as he becomes more mobile. Sometimes by the end of Mass I'm frustrated and feel like I haven't really prayed at all. Some days it just doesn't seem worth it (which is a sad and horrible thing to say).

Today I really felt that these strangers were being Christ to me. With a gentle nudge Jesus was reminding me that it may be difficult but it IS worth it. Prayer is worth it. Being a mom is worth it. My wiggly one year old is a precious little person worth all the time and effort and LOVE that goes into feeding, clothing, cleaning, and entertaining him. It's worth all the lost mittens and last minute diaper changes it takes to make it to daily Mass when possible.

Thank you, strangers, for being awesome today!

Friday, 21 September 2012

these baby days...

It's true that mothers are always worried. I have discovered in the last year that I am no exception. And since Isaac has, for the most part, been healthy, happy and thriving I've had to invent things to worry about. For example: should he be eating more solids? Or maybe he's eating too much and not nursing enough? Is it normal for hair to take this long to grow in?

The big worry monkey on my back tends to be milestones. Shouldn't he be sitting, crawling, standing, talking by now? I am very sad and very ashamed to admit that I'm one of those mothers who thinks her baby should be some kind of prodigy. It's something that I struggle with. He IS my beautiful, amazing prodigy child no matter when he hits his milestones. I'm torn between loving him so much and savoring these fleeting baby days, and wanting him to achieve at the same pace or faster than other babies his age.

The next big milestones for him are walking and talking. He's coming up to a year old, the age I had in my mind as the time when he would start doing these things. And he is actually. As I read this to myself it sounds utterly ridiculous because he is pulling up and getting better and better at cruising along furniture, and he says Mama and Dada (somewhat randomly, but still) and tries to repeat sounds that you make for him. So he really is well on his way for an almost-one-year-old.

Sometimes I worry that I should be spending more time trying to teach him things. On the other hand, he will learn in his own time and I just want to enjoy these last days of babyhood. He is his own person with his own ideas of what he wants to do or not do, not my little puppet. Of course, I'll teach him things as we play, because that's what parents do, but I will not push him into things he's not ready for.

In conclusion, I'm silly and I need to stop worrying so much.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


I love my boys. I love that I can say that. I love that I can watch Sean with Isaac and swoon over my incredible boys.

When I was pregnant I think I secretly wanted a boy. I'm not sure why. There's just something so fun about them. I like to be feminine but I'm not really into pink or sparkles or princesses. I know that many girls are with me on this, but my nieces currently have a major disney princess obsession, so that's what I've been exposed to lately. Of course, I would have loved a little girl too and there are so many more cute things that you can sew for a girl that I'm excited for when we someday (hopefully) have a girl.

My mother-in-law, who raised 6 boys and 2 girls says that girls are more particular and boys are more laid back. Boys can be more of handful because they tend to be more adventurous but they're also easier to please in a lot of ways. If this is true then it's definitely a good thing that we had Isaac. We are a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of family right now. His adventures can be a challenge but he really is so easy going and flexible.

Anyway, I just had a swoon moment. We were trying to get Isaac settled down so we were playing with him on our bed. At this stage this means he'll look at a toy for thirty seconds, then lunge at one of us headfirst (in order to bite us...? Or give us kisses...?), use his head as leverage to get himself back up, repeat. Then Sean took Isaac to put him to bed and I just looked at them and thought--oh how I love my boys.

Friday, 7 September 2012


The other day I was reading from Luke's Gospel about the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. The part that has always struck me is that once she is healed "immediately she rose and served them" (Lk 4:39). I picture her getting up and starting to cook, or pouring them another glass of wine, or tidying up the room. This passage struck me especially today for some reason. We are all called to service, but I know that I'm particularly called to the same type of service that Peter's mother-in-law probably rendered that day. Being a stay-at-home-mom I'm called to love my family through cooking and cleaning (among other things, of course). I'm not very good at it. I find it difficult to do much while Isaac is awake because he always has to get into everything and while he naps I'd much rather sit down with a cup of tea and put my feet up than pull out the mop. Anyway, why am I writing this? Well, I suppose I'm reminding myself of the beauty of such service. Service, even in such small things, is good and noble work. It is work that is undervalued in our society.

I am part of a generation that was taught that being a "housewife" is not enough. It may have been good enough for our mothers but we're better than that. This attitude has been very damaging for many women, myself included. Don't get me wrong. I'm not an ultra-conservative traditionalist. Women have more options now and that's great. I just think that the traditional family structure, flawed though it may have been, was in place for a reason. Many women find great fulfillment in being full-time mothers. I mean, how many women really want to leave their kids to be raised by strangers eight hours a day? We want to be with our children, we want beautiful homes, yet we feel that if that's "all" we do we're selling ourselves short.

What a pack of lies. Looking after a home and children is a full-time job (hey, if I didn't do it I would have to pay someone to, right?). Heck, it's way more than a full-time job. It's give every ounce of yourself 24 hours a day 7 days a week. And then, when you've already done that, it's give some more because it's 3 am and the baby is teething.

Anyway, there have been many things written in defense of the whole wife/mother gig and that's not really what I intended this post to be about.

Awhile ago we were at a friend's wedding and one of the readings was about what it means to be a good wife. Ok, so the quotation that I can find is: "Like the sun rising in the heights of the Lord, so is the beauty of the good wife in her well-ordered home" (Sirach 26:16 RSV). But it must have been a different translation at the wedding because I remember it talking about the "radiance" of her home. I also remember being very humbled by that reading. When's the last time my home has been radiant? Probably never. Substitute "grimy" and "chaotic" for "radiant" and "well-ordered" and you've got a better idea of what kind of house we live in. I try not to be too hard on myself for this kind of thing. After all, in order for me to keep Isaac occupied while I clean I have to let him empty out the pots and pans cupboards. It's hard to tell that I've just been cleaning when there are pots and pans all over the floor. Also, sometimes I can get caught up in the details and forget the bigger picture: I think the greater point of this Scripture passage is that a wife should make her home a welcoming place. It should be a peaceful, loving environment that family members look forward to coming home to every evening. There's much more to that than order and cleanliness.

BUT, before I let myself off the hook completely--there is something to be said for order and cleanliness. In fact, there's a lot to be said. Keeping a clean home is part of my calling right now so it should be a form of prayer for me. If I tidy up after dinner out of love for my family with cheerful spirit of sacrifice I'm going a long way toward making my home radiant. So I guess I'm finally coming to the point of this rambling post: (with God's grace) I can do better. I can start each day with the resolution of making the most of it. I can patiently tidy up after my never ending whirlwind Isaac. I can make an extra effort and offer up those tasks that I find less than thrilling. And I can bend my creative energies toward making my home more beautiful. Lord, help me! I better print this out and tack it up somewhere that I'll see it everyday. Now, maybe I should go do some cleaning...

Monday, 27 August 2012

what to do, what to do...

So I obviously haven't been keeping up very well with this blog. I want to revive it but I'm not sure which direction to take it. I could document some of my sewing projects, or our home renovations. And, of course, I could always write about life as a mother to my sweet little man. It would be nice to write down some family memories as they happen. The point of starting this was that it was something for me to enjoy: no expectations, no pressure. I also want it to be a way to glorify God, not a way to boost my own ego. Hmmm....we shall see.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

one of those days

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel inadequate? I look at other moms and I think, "how do they do it?" They cloth diaper, they teach baby sign language, they start potty training from birth, all with a clean house and dinner on the table. Then I look at myself. I'm a lazy slob. We've lived here for over a month and I still haven't really cleaned the bathroom. Isaac doesn't know sign language, is not potty trained, and I totally couldn't hack cloth diapering. I rarely have dinner ready when Sean gets home and sometimes he ends up making it himself. Sometimes I'm grumpy. I don't always want to give myself fully as I vowed to do when I got married. I'd much rather stay contained in an independent, selfish, little pod. And Isaac, well, he is the joy of my life and I love him fiercely, BUT sometimes I'm impatient, irritable, etc. We let him cry because I couldn't handle being up several hours a night with him anymore. And sometimes, Lord forgive me, I feel the need to push him to be some kind of prodigy child who hits all his milestones early and is perfectly well-behaved, instead of just loving him for the wonderful little person that he is. I don't always like being a mom. Sometimes I'd rather retreat into the aforesaid pod to eat junk food and watch TV all day.

These are my confessions. A few of them anyway. I'm sure I've left out enough to fill a whole Victorian novel. But now that that's out there let me just pray that God will use me anyway. That my faults will allow me to rely solely on His grace. That I will have the humility to finally stop trying to do it on my own and instead surrender to His Divine Will.

Now, maybe I should get some housework done before Isaac wakes up.

"I know my call despite my faults and despite my growing fears" -Mumford and Sons
"God doesn't ask us to be successful, he only asks us to be faithful" -St. Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

rebuilding old bridges

Yesterday I had such a good day that I forgot to write. Oh well, I think my favourite moment from Sunday was a three or four way tie anyway. Let's see if I can remember. There was:

-watching Isaac take almost every single item out of a box, exploring each one as he went
-making up with Sean after a fight
-Sean whispering to me when all three of us were in bed, "Isaac keeps licking me." Oh, that son of ours. Life will never be boring with him around.

Though yesterday was an all-around good day, I think my favourite moment was reading an email from an old friend from whom Sean and I had been kind of estranged. I won't go into details, but reconciliation and peace are beautiful things. It's no fun having someone out there who you think has some reason to resent you. It's great, on the other hand, to reconnect with someone to find that there are no hard feelings.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


Strangely enough, my favourite moment from yesterday involved laundry. Laundry does not normally feature as a highlight of my day, but there you have it, anything is possible. Yesterday I got our week's worth of laundry done in three loads! Only three! Pretty exciting, eh?

I won't bore you with too many details about our laundry situation, but let's just say that Isaac, though he may be less than three feet tall, sure knows how to make a lot of laundry. Between his clothes, and my clothes, and sheets and get the idea. Then, there's been the extra laundry that comes with moving and settling in. Sometimes it feels like it's never going to end. So, three loads...all I can say is wow.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


Yesterday's moment:

The car ride with Sean, Isaac peacefully conked out in the back. Just riding, talking, making fun of songs on the radio, hanging out with my best friend, happy that it's Friday.

Friday, 25 May 2012

iced coffee

It's so satisfying to discover that you can make something at home just as well as they do in restaurants. Let's face it: we're not made of money. So when you can enjoy one of life's little luxuries without spending your retirement funds it feels pretty good.

We are having unheard of weather for May. Someone has decided to skip spring altogether this year and jump right into summer. We don't have air conditioning, and someone at some point decided it would be a good idea to paint most of the windows shut. So it's hot. I'd forgotten how in the summer everything just feels sticky. It's this kind of weather that has me craving frozen coffee drinks. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, and in the heat I don't enjoy my tea as much, so getting some cool, sweet drink from a cafe (or, with our budget, more likely Tim Horton's) just feels like such a treat.

The chaos of renovations and unpacking makes me want to treat myself more, but it also means that we're on a tighter budget so I'm really trying to rein myself in. Living in the city makes it all the more tempting as there are now coffee shops almost within arm's reach. Anyway, after a little online research I discovered that iced coffee is really very simple to make at home. Using the "cold brew" method I don't even have to get out my coffee maker. Hooray!

Yesterday I enjoyed my first cup of homemade iced coffee. Getting to experiment with my own blends and save money at the same time...well, let's just say it tastes pretty sweet.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

little hands

Yesterday was a tough one. Isaac is cutting a tooth and was being somewhat of a crank-monster; we picked out paint for the kitchen, which stresses me out because it always seems like such a big decision, and it never turns out the way I think it will; and Sean FINALLY finished the trim in the bathroom (yay!). So as I was laying in bed I tried to decide on my favourite moment. Was it when Sean hung out with Isaac and I instead of getting work done on the house because he knew I was just about all babied out? Or was it the funny but slightly disturbing incident of Isaac trying to bite the bars of his crib (It was no easy task, let me tell you, but he was determined) as I was putting him to bed?

I had just about settled on the former moment when Isaac woke up. After nursing him, rocking him, carefully placing him back in his crib and oh-so-quietly sneaking out of the room, I buried myself back into bed. Five minutes later he woke up again. So back up I get, and repeat the soothing process. Once again I successfully sneak out of the room. This time I hadn't even hit the bed before he woke up again. It must have been the teething, because his mommy-radar was set on ultra sensitive last night.  

I decided to give up the dance and bring him into our bed. After some initial squirming he rolled over towards me and gently patted my face with those little baby hands as he fell asleep.

Now, to truly appreciate why this was my favourite moment of the day, you have to understand about Isaac's hands. They are not just sweetly-dimpled instruments with which he explores the world, they are also Claws of Terror. Claws of Terror that pinch and squeeze and scratch, and make their way up your nose with a force one would not have believed of something so small and chubby. So, last night, when those Claws of Terror transformed back into little searching hands that seemed to say, "Where are you Mama? I just want to make sure you're still near me," well, let's just say those are the moments that I want to hold onto.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

favourite moments

I've decided to try each day to find and write about a favourite moment. I know, I know, sometimes those kinds of blogs make me want to puke too. I'm not doing this to brag about my perfect life with my perfect family (cough cough); rather, I hope that taking the time each day to think of the good/funny/beautiful things that happen will help me find joy amid the frustrations of unpacking, organizing and renovations. It's more like an exercise in cheerfulness than anything else. 

So, here goes. My favourite moment of yesterday was Sean and Isaac forehead to forehead screaming at each other. This may sound odd but Isaac has entered a screaming phase lately (mostly happy screams). He is definitely determined to push his voice to its highest decibel. He has also been trying out different kinds of screams. There's the full-on shriek. Or a more throaty yell, with almost a hint of a growl. Or, one of my personal favourites, the puppy-like yelp. While this habit can be annoying (like today in the library) and more than a little grating on the ears, it's also pretty funny. Sometimes we scream back at him, and he thinks that's pretty cool. Hence, yesterday's moment: Sean and Isaac with their faces pressed close together screaming for the pure joy of it. I wish I had had a camera ready.

Monday, 16 April 2012

About leaping

In case anyone ever reads this other than my husband, I wanted to explain the title of my blog.

I'm a very cautious person. Tell me a plan and I'll tell you the ways that it might go wrong. Call it pessimism or call it realism, I'm always thinking in terms of worst case scenarios. It is not my best quality. Just ask my husband and he'll tell you that I've squashed his enthusiasm on a number of occasions.

On the other hand, my mom made a comment a while ago about how I always do things the hard way. Looking back on my short life I find that this is true. I'm always doing things that from most people's perspectives don't quite make sense. I chose to go to the high school that was further away, where none of my friends were going. I chose to go to a university that was even further away and that none of my friends (or relatives, or acquaintances, or anyone for that matter) had even heard of. And my husband and I got engaged when I was 21, with a year of university left, no money and no job prospects. And just lately my husband and I decided that he should quit his stable job and we should move before he even had another job lined up. How does a cautious, careful person like myself come to make these decisions?

I can only say that God made me. Every time I was afraid. Every time I spent sleepless nights worrying. I wondered how I would make new friends, how I would deal with living so far away from my family. I job and apartment hunted, I made budgets in a frantic effort to figure out how we would survive. And every single time things worked out better than I ever would have thought. God keeps asking me to take these leaps that go against every grain in my body, and when I say yes His work in my life is astounding.

The high school that I chose gave me a great education and friends with whom I managed to stay out of trouble and have the time of my life. My university experience truly changed my life, made me a better person, and there I met the people who are still my best friends, and the love of my life, my husband. Our marriage has been a blessing and, though we don't have a lot of money, my husband has always been employed and we've always had everything we need for ourselves and our son. And the very day that my husband quit his current job he got an offer for another job that he really wanted. I am profoundly grateful that God has given me the grace to make these leaps that have so shaped my life.

So we are in the midst of our latest leap right now. My husband has one more week of work at his current job and we move at the end of the month. I'm excited and nervous. I've given up making budgets for now. I'm sure moving and settling in will cost more than I ever would have expected anyway. Gradually I am learning to just let go and trust. My husband, the incurable optimist, is helping me.