Wednesday, 23 March 2011

About a Boy

Four years ago today, a very special little boy came into the world.  He couldn't make up his mind whether he wanted to come out or not, so it was a bit of a stop and start kind of a few days.  However, he did manage to find his way and when he did, he was "born with the caul".  A rare occurrence, the amniotic sac was still over his face when he was born.  The midwife explained to us that in medieval times the appearance of a caul on a newborn baby was seen as a sign of good luck and was considered an omen that the child was destined for greatness.  We didn't think much of it, just happy to have a healthy, amazing and perfect little boy.    

Ephraim just a few minutes after birth

Ephraim at 1 year old.

Ephraim at 2...

and Ephraim at 3

Since then, Ephraim has filled our lives with joy and happiness and silliness that I could never have imagined.  He has his moments (see this post for the most recent...), but he is such a loving boy, full of life and passion.  We love him incredibly and cannot imagine what our lives would be without him! 

and the ripe old age of 4!

So, here is to a little boy who has me wrapped around his little pinky, who gives the best kisses and hugs, who loves snuggling with his daddy, who refuses to learn how to blow his nose and who is compassionate and loving and courageous and encouraging beyond his years.

Happy birthday to a little boy who is destined for great things.  

Monday, 21 March 2011

Blogging and Scrapbooking

Last night, Mike and I sat down together after hearing about a death in the family.  We processed about this for quite some time, talking about death and transitions and grief and family.  Mike then grabbed all our scrapbooks that I have done over the years and looked at each one.

It seems that when we are faced with death, one of the things that we turn to are stories.  "Do you remember when..." and "How about the time when..." and "I wonder what happened when...".  We talk about what the person said, what the person did, who they were to us all in the context of stories.

A few years ago, I took a class called "Blogging for Scrapbookers", and in all honesty, it didn't go very far.  However, over the years, I have realized that many of the things that I write about on my blog, in one way or another, make it's way into my scrapbooks.  So when a second edition of the class was being offered, I jumped at the chance.  

And then I got the first lesson in my inbox this morning, and was asked the question:  "Why are you taking this class", in light of our conversation last night, the answer was easy.  The stories.  The photos.  And bringing them together in one place.  If I get to scrapbooking them and making the stories 'pretty' it will be icing on the cake.  But for now, it is more imporant for me to get the stories down as they happen.  

I'll worry about the rest later.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Joy of Luck: Green

So yesterday was St. Patrick's case you hadn't realized.  Around here, the day progressed pretty much the same as usual. 

This included the conversation - that I have had, I might add, with Ephraim for the last few weeks day in and day out - after he finished his breakfast:

me:  "Ephraim, please put your dirty dishes on the counter".
Ephraim:  "But I never have to do that".
me:  "Well, today would be a good day to start, don't you think?"
Ephraim:  "No.  It's too hard." (with his voice becoming increasingly whiney)
me:  "It really isn't too hard.  You may not leave the kitchen until the dishes are put away on the counter."
Ephraim:   "But Mommy it's the girl's job!"
me:  "Who made the mess Ephraim?"
Ephraim:  "Not me." (as he averts any sort of eye contact whatsoever)
me:  "Ephraim, please put your dirty dishes on the counter."
Ephraim:  "Pffft."

Before we had the conversation, I took a look at that cereal bowl and realized that there will soon be a time when I won't be standing in the kitchen with my coffee in my hand having a conversation about dishes with Ephraim.  Pretty soon he will be going to school full time with the girls.  And pretty soon I will be off to work in the morning.

It is just a green bowl on a make-shift table.  But it represents the end of a phase and the beginning of a phase.  Who would have thought a simple conversation could be so profound?

And it did end up on the counter after all...

Joy of Luck: Gift

Last month, I signed up for this free online photography class.  What ensued (and is still happening) is a photo+word documentary of various aspects of my love for Mike.  She is offering another class called "Joy of Luck" (sign up here).  It is only a week long, and thought it would be fun to try it again, this time focusing on all the blessings of life.

Today's prompt was about an inanimate object/thing that is taken for granted.  

I immediately thought of water.  Last summer I was in Mexico building a house and didn't have running water to shower or safe water to drink - it had to be trucked over the border each week from San Diego.  And then we were in Egypt, not being able to drink the tap water without getting desperately sick and having to drink bottles and bottles of water in that hot, hot dessert.  And even here in the summer when we are camping, doing the dishes or washing our hands means a long trek to the water tap.  Coming home and being able to just turn on the tap to drink or to do the dishes or to wash our hands is such an everyday thing, but so so foreign to many people around the world. 

Lately, however, our family and our future has been in transition.  We are transitioning from the very traditional "mom-stays-home-while-dad-goes-to-work" type of family to the "mom-goes-to-work-while-dad-goes-to-school"  type of family.  The former is comfortable and something I have know for years (going back to my own 'traditional' upbringing...).  The latter is a bit more murky and muddy and full of risk and the unknown.

I have known about this particular move for quite some time.  Mike and I have spent many hours talking about what this is going to look like, and I have spent ALOT of mental energy trying to figure out what I wanted to go back to in regards to work.

I have to take one step back here...I am not one motivated by the money.  So it isn't healthy for me to start looking at work and figuring out where I will make the most money.  And we have been very intentional about letting our children know that first and foremost, Daddy goes to work because he feels called to help people, not because we have to put food on the table.  For me, going back to work is less about the money and more about where I feel called, where I would feel fully valued, where my gifts will be most utilized.

With that in mind, I spent quite a bit of time and energy researching and talking and exploring the graphic design field.  This would be a huge jump for me:  in the job seeking literature, it is about changing industry and changing jobs - which is one of the hardest moves to make (versus just changing one or the other).  I was pretty sure this is where I needed to be.  It seemed a natural transition given all my graphic design work over the past few years.  So I wrote up my resume, applied for jobs...and the doors were closed.  I rewrote my resume, applied for more jobs, talked to potential employers and people in the field...and the doors were closed.  I talked to a few more people, and all I heard in my soul was that wasn't the right move.  I love designing and creating, but something deep inside me was pretty clear - "not now".  

So that left me with two options:  sulk and complain (which, admittedly, I did for a while...) or continue the search for my place.  After all the processing and discerning, I was able to look at my previous teaching career in a different light.  Updating my teaching resume was a piece of cake - everything about it felt 'right'.  And, with all my graphic design experience, it was that much stronger.  I realized that I was coming from a place of confidence and strength when seeing myself in the classroom again, rather than a place of defensiveness and uncertainty.

And for where our family is at right now - that is exactly what both I and my family need. 

This all leads me to the prompt (which couldn't have come at a better time, btw) - I have, for many years, taken my education for granted.  I have these two pieces of paper that were earned with hundreds of hours of studying and paper-writing and discussing and struggling.  And so, my two degrees - and the fact that because of them, Mike can go back to work knowing that he doesn't have to carry all the weight of providing for the family any more - is my photo.  

The prospect of switching things up is scary for me - all of these changes are outside of what we have known for the past few years.  But, it feels really, really good, moving forward in confidence and trust.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Love from the Heart

Almost 16 years ago, Mike made a promise to me. He promised in front of a whole bunch of people that he would love and serve me with tenderness and respect. He promised that he would encourage me to develop my gifts. He promised that all that he has would be mine. And he promised that he would give his whole self to me.

Of course, a promise is easier said than lived. And when we spoke those words to each other, we had no idea what the journey ahead would look like. And some days that promise is easier to keep than others.
When I thought about the question "What has your spouse given or promised to you?", I realized that each and every promise he made to me that day, he continues to act upon each and every day.

Like when he holds me so very close when I feel like life is becoming just too much to bear.
Like when he shares a line from a book that he loves.
Like when he goes to work day after day.
Like when he speaks so highly of me to his friends.
Like when he jumps out of bed in the dead of winter to fill up the hot water bottle for me because I just can't warm up.

Like when he poses for photos when he really would rather be doing something else.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Around Here

It has been a long, long winter.  And it doesn't feel or look like it is going to end anytime soon.  This causes a great deal of un-inspired living around here.  I just can't get motivated to do anything.  Mostly because I am always cold, but also because everything feels so heavy.

Around here life has been filled with this (dishes that keep piling up and counters that never seem to stay clean):

and with this: (laundry that is never quite done):

and with this (a basement that is near completion):

Around here, I am dreaming of planting my garden and walking in flip flops and packing up the touques and mittens and gloves.

Around here, spring couldn't come soon enough...