Monday, April 30, 2007

Just for Now

I have gone into my friend Tamie's blog countless times to watch this You Tube video. So, I figured I should give her credit and then post it on my blog. The performance of this song is exquisite. Please watch and enjoy.

Nurturing our Marriage

Bryan and I were given a great gift on Friday. Our friend Becca offered to keep the kids for the whole day so we could enjoy a leisurely all-day, no curfew date! She stayed the night so we could stay out as late as we wanted to. Wowee.

We fled for the mountains with our rain gear and hiking boots. The rain was pelting the windwhield as we drove, but we were happy and feeling alive and determined not to let the rain affect our day together.

We spent most of the day traipsing around Lynn Canyon and LightHouse Park in North Vancouver. We bush-whacked along the coast, scrambled on seaweed-slicked rocks and watched three majestic eagles soar on the breeze just above us. A small fleet of ships had set anchor in the water between LightHouse and Stanley park and we wondered aloud where they were from, what freight they were carrying.

We rested on the shore for a long time, leisurely picking up strings of conversation from long ago, easing into a restfulness together where we could really SEE eachother, and hear eachother's hearts.

The darkness began to settle around us. We stood slowly and stretched. We circled around and over the rockface a different way than we had arrived and loaded our gear and rain jackets in the truck.

The drive along Marine Drive was breathtaking. Dramatic evening light arched behind the distant lighthouse and surrounded the sillouettes of Madrone trees along the shore.

Since we were chilled and dampened from the rain, we decided to browse in a local bookstore and settle in with hot drinks. We ran into an old friend, talked about the books we had lingered with, returned into the night refreshed.

Much of our drive home was in silence. The rumble of road and soft patter of rain on the windshield was restful and sealed the feeling of solidarity and deep knowing between us.

We were reminded how important it is to spend time together nurturing our marriage in beautiful, natural settings. We are blessed to have family nearby who love our children and enjoy taking care of them so we can have dates together. But we usually go to a concert, or out to eat, or to a party with friends. And though these events are fun and encourage and inspire us in different ways, there is nothing like a day in nature together.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ginger Tea, Garlic and Kleenex

Our family has been hit with a few strains of yucky colds. They have lasted almost two weeks and we are ready to be healthy again!

I bought an 8-pack of Kleenex and we are on the last box. I am surrounded by mounds of used tissue. Even though I am a nurse and have dealt fine with more blood and bodily fluids than anyone would want to, I am still significantly grossed out by snot. And the kids have not learned how to blow their noses all that well. So, their bodies have to "blow" their noses by repeated sneezes. oh. wow. I am struggling to maintain composure in all of this.

The rain continues to fall in these parts. The dampness is keeping loads of people ill. All of our family friends have at least one child with a cold. We seemed out of the woods on the weekend, but on Monday, we started sneezing and coughing again.

So, I decided this morning that we are going to pull out the big guns against these colds. I have some isotonic mineral water, lemon-flavoured cod liver oil and an herb tinture from our naturopath. I have chopped garlic and boiled ginger and vitamin C. I have plain organic yogurt to replace some of the friendly bacteria that has been killed by antibiotics for Alley and Soul-Baby's ear infections a few weeks back. And we are going to get lots of rest!

Our dear friend Becca (and Alley's Godmother) has offered to stay with the kids today so Bryan and I can have a day hiking together. She is a nurse, so I feel certain she will take good care of the kids in their sneezy, snotty state. And maybe a little fresh air and a break from the nose-blowing will do me good. I've been feeling cabin-feverish, if you know what I mean.

So, we will bundle up and head off for a day outside. I am really looking forward to it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


This last week has been graced with visits from our friends Mer and little Mer (of the Merry Potter) and Bree and Angus.

Mer and her daughter came up from Washington for Soul-Baby's Saturday birthday party. We have been friends for years, long before marriage and motherhood. They were able to stay through Monday, and it was wonderful to have leisurely time together. Our daughters are at an age (Alley-3 and 1/2 and Little Mer -almost 2) where they can play together and talk together. It was heartwarming to watch these little blondies, extensions of our own hearts, walking around, bumping into eachother, laughing, learning to share, growing to be friends.

Parenthood changes friendships. I find particularly with old friends, parenthood deepens what was already there. Mer and I have a deep well to draw from and I feel thankful for the memories and loyalties that continue to grow and expand. She reminds me of who I was before combining my life with another, and helps me integrate who I am and who I can be.

We took the girls to a local park and watched them squeal and slide headlong toward the soft, wood chipped-ground with static hair and flushed cheeks. Beautiful.

Bree and Angus arrived on Wednesday in route to the east coast of Canada. Angus is a friend of Bree's from the Omack area in Washington. They are taking the train Coast-to-Coast in one month. The Vancouver area is their starting point. We can't wait to hear stories from the road!

Bree has been a dear friend for years. We went to the same University for Nursing (a few years apart) and enrolled in a Doula course together when Alley was an infant. She now lives in Portland, but we keep-in-touch and welcome any chance to visit eachother.

Visits such as these are like windows opening in my soul. They turn my eyes a different direction and open blinds to let in streams of light. Our hearts reunite for a time. With the goodbye, I felt a portion of my heart carried across the ferry to an island in Washington and stowed away in a back-slung bag on the coast-to-coast train.

Fullness of life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Guess who's 1!

Our strapping Soul-boy is one-year-old. We celebrated at our home on Saturday with a pancake breakfast. His morning nap is usually 8:30-11:30, but I decided to wake him at 10:00 (halfway through HIS party) so the celebrants could at least see the boy! I suppose it was more for the older siblings, parents and friends anyway:). He seemed to absorb that something special was happening when we all looked at him and broke into song, a cheery one with HIS name in it.

The first 6 months of his life flew by. He SLEPT ALL THE TIME. Seriously. He was our "4-naps- a-day" boy for 6 months. When he was awake, he was nursing or smiling. Then he went to 3 naps and now he takes two long ones: morning 8:30-11:30 and afternoon 1:30-4:30. His daddy is 6 foot 8 inches, so he was doing a whole lot of growing in his first year and needed sleep and food.

And now he is walking, and playing ball, waving "goodbye" and "hello", signing "more" "food" "milk," and fully weaned (2 days before his birthday). He drinks locally collected goat's milk and eats a pureed version of whatever we're eating.

When Alethea was younger, birds and fairies were an emerging theme in her life. They continue to hold symbolism for her, and for us, as we think about her character and personality and about our hopes for her. I will write more on that later.

And for Solomon, it is rocketships. Over the last 3 months, we've been given a lot of "Rocket Ship" stuff: sweatshirt, pajamas, t-shirts, robeez shoes. I started to notice this last month after I had folded and put away a load of laundry. I started thinking about this symbol and have chatted about it with my husband.

Astronaunts are dreamers and visionaries. They have to believe that the moon and the planets exist, that they can walk on the moon, that they can arrive, can survive. They have to be brave and willing to go "where [few] men have gone before." They have to stay calm under alarming circumstances. It's important that they are adaptable within varying environments and unafraid of change. They have to prepare meticulously for a journey into darkness, hoping to find what they are looking for. Astronaunts also carry the hope of those they leave behind as they shoot toward the sky.

Solomon is very calm yet determined. He has a quiet, inquisitive gaze. He seems to set the atmosphere with his strength and peacefulness and doesn't seem to be swayed by unrest or chaos; he remains unruffled by what is happening around him.

We believe he has the heart of an astronaunt. We believe he will have a unique vision in his life, that he will want to pursue at all costs. And we will be right behind him, cheering for him at each step of the way.

It seems a lot to put on a little one-year-old! I suppose to balance these high hopes and prayers we have a lot of simple joy in being his parents and in seeing how he surprises us! We feel immense joy in seeing our children grow and deepen and become who they are meant to be. And we are thankful for this first year in his life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Family Time Away

I just unpacked and washed our clothes from our time in Whistler over the weekend. There was sweaty, stinky snow gear: gloves, woolen hats and socks, long underwear. We had such a wonderful time, that I still felt warm with memories as I loaded it all in the washing machine.

Some dear friends offered us their timeshare at a condo for Friday and Saturday and we gladly took them up on the offer.

Whistler is gorgeous. It's about 2 hours north of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky highway. The village itself is pedestrian-only and is full of quaint accomodations, restuarants and shops. It's a very high-end resort destination nestled just past Squamish and along the coastal mountains.

Shortly after our arrival, we explored the village and had lunch at a cozy French Bistro called La Brasserie des Artistes. The ski and snowboard festival was just getting started and people from all over the world were making their way across the courtyard and toward the live music near the Blackcomb Gondola.

Our kids were congested and feverish from colds, so we didn't stay out in the snow too long, just enough to breathe crisp, clear mountain air and to get a feel for the atmosphere. On our way back to the condo, we drove leisurely through some high-end neighborhoods and got ideas for further renovating our little bungalow.

Since the kids were still sneezy and cranky and sleepy the next morning, we decided to keep them inside. So, we gave eachother awhile to explore alone.

I mostly walked around the village, popped into a few snowboarding shops, settled in with a cinnimon bun, apple cider and a magazine toward the end. It was lovely, and I thought a great deal about snowboarding and about whether or not I should try to get outfitted again.

I used to have my own board and boots and everything I'd need for a day on the slopes. But during my 4th semester in University, money was tight, so I sold my stereo and snowboarding gear to cover a looming tuition bill. I've been wanting to replace the gear ever since.

The shops at Whistler are expensive. I found a snowboarding outfit I loved and it was over $500! I was overwhelmed by the idea that all those bodies were walking around wearing and carrying nearly $2000 worth of stuff. I came back feeling pretty discouraged, that this hobby I love is extravagant and extraneous and not worth the money.

But I LOVE to snowboard. It is my favorite sport, hands down. Is there a economical way I can get re-outfitted? I had a long chat with a friend after the trip. He reminded me that I love used stuff, and serendipitous finds. And that if I'm willing to wait, there's a good chance I'll find just want I want and need, for a fraction of the price I'd pay for new gear.

This is more my style anyway.

Later that same day, I took Alley on the Gondola to the Tube Park. We had a wonderful time tubing together! I was amazed at how brave she was. I mean, she was barely tall enough to be allowed on the mountain. And she launched herself fearlessly down the mountain, laughing and squealing the whole way.

As we rode back down the Gondola, cozy and warm in our snowgear, I added up how much we had paid for it. Alley's snowjacket was a hand-me-down, her snowpants 50 cents at a garage sale, her boots 2 dollars at MCC thrift. My Down Jacket is 30 years old, a hand-me-down from my dad, my snow pants 2 dollars at MCC thrift. My hiking boots $125 new, but 5 years old and still trucking fine. Our hats and gloves no more than 5$ in total, from MCC thrift.

And we were super warm after a pretty chilly tubing adventure.

So, I am encouraged, that it is okay to do this seemingly "extravagant" thing I love. I just need to remember who I am and make mindful choices about what I REALLY need in order to do it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

God is With The Poor

(photos: WildHopeInternational Team)

My husband's aunt and uncle live in Africa with their 4 children. This is a picture of them shortly after their move to Arusha, Tanzania. They have started an amazing organization called Wild Hope International. This is a quote from their blog introduction:

"Wild Hope International is responding to issues of poverty, HIV/AIDS, poor education, lack of resources and spiritual hunger. We like micro-enterprise and dignity-producing methodology. We love seeing people become all God intended them to be. We're also interested in caring for and enjoying God's good Creation. Wild Hope is a faith-based, registered non-profit organization formed by a group of friends with long-term experience in Africa.
Wild Hope, P.O. Box 40576, Pasadena, CA, 91114"

They are an inspiring family with an incredible sense of adventure and a finger on the pulse of God. They live loud with obvious belief in the BIGNESS of God, that He CAN do all things.

One recent post from their blog includes a YouTube Clip of Bono's award-acceptance speech. I want to share it.

Approaches to Homeschooling

"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of insturction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry, for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation stands mainly in need of freedom."

-Albert Einstein

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

-Mark Twain

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

-William Butler Yeats

I just finished reading a useful little book called: Home Is Where the Learning Is: Homeschool Lifestyles From Homeschool Moms, by Valerie J. Steinle. Though written simply and with a somewhat confusing layout, I enjoyed the outline of educational approaches and the collection of stories.

In the first chapter, she outlines 7 common educational approaches.

1) TRADITIONAL: parents use graded textbooks or workbooks-- they follow a schedule for 180 days of the school year.

2)CLASSICAL: children under 18 are taught using "the trivium" which has three parts:

*Stage 1: Grammar Stage: focus on reading, writing, spelling, LATIN, observing, listening, memorizing-- goal is to develop a general framework of knowledge, basic language arts and math skills.

*Stage 2: Dialectic Stage: starts around the age 8. children demonstrate independent, abstract thought. shaped by logic discussion, debate and learning to draw factual conclusions.

*Stage 3: Rhetoric Stage: final phase around age 15.seeks to produce a student who can speak and write eloquently and persuasively.

3) UNIT STUDY APPROACH: takes a theme or topic and learns all there is to know about it--integrates language arts, science, social studies, math and fine arts in a blend.

4) THE LIVING BOOKS APPROACH: based on the writings of Charlotte Mason--respecting children as persons, involving them in real-life situations, and encouraging well-written, intelligent books. no formal lessons for young children, just lots of time to play, reflect and create. once children at elementary age, encouraged to read the classics, travel books, historical biographies, art history.

5) THE PRINCIPLE APPROACH: uses Christian concepts. learning is based on principles-Individuality, Self-Government, Christian Character, Conscience. studies a lot of American history. emphasis on"reasoning through basic principles rather than regurgitating facts."

6) THE UNSCHOOLING APPROACH: letting children learn through their own desires and curiosities. generally unstructured. children pursue own interests with parental support and guidance. based on style by John Holt- his motto was "trust children".

7) THE MIXED APPROACH: a blend of the different approaches, adjusted for each child.

I tend to be a "take a little bit of everything" person. So, I was not surprised when I gravitated most toward the "Mixed Approach." I am doing about an hour of homeschooling with my daughter in the mornings during Soul-Baby's nap. She seems to really like/need variety. Sometimes we'll read, or work in an activity book. Sometimes we'll do flashcards for a little while. Other times, we'll bake and talk about the measurements: what comes first, whose cookie is biggest.

The other day, she seemed distracted, so we painted and played with play-doh. It seems important at this age (3 and 1/2) to just practice focused time together. It also seems important to her that I let her lead as we play, affirming that she has good ideas, and can interest me in her thoughts and questions.

I was encourged by this book, to keep at it, to stay flexible and to BE CREATIVE.

The following women were featured in the book:

Cherie Logan--mom of 10, author and speaker.

Lisa Odaffer--lives and homeschools on a 45-foot sailboat.

Gail Thomas-- focused on raising people who can build a life for themselves.

Donna Knox--midwife, mom of 9, particularly focused on helping homeschoolers avoid burnout.

Karen Gibson-- freelance writer, "unschooled" her teenager.

Debbie Hanson-- writes about her "hard-to-teach" child.

Lisa Hyman-Johnson-- mom of 2, former teacher.

I'll also include a list of websites:

Family Unschoolers Network

Eclectic Homeschool Online

Growing Without Schooling

Homeschool Digest

Homeschooling Fun

Homeschooling Today

Canadian Home-Based LEraning

I am amazed at the world that is opening for me as I research homeschooling. Homeschoolers are everywhere!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Serendipitous Garage Sale Find

Last Saturday, on the way home from the community Easter egg hunt, I stopped at a Garage Sale. I'm not sure what prompted me to stop, on Easter weekend, of all times!

But I'm so pleased with what I found! It's a foldable table made of Maple Hardwood flooring, identical to our own. The owner made it for his son who was living in an itty-bitty basement suite. He used it as a kitchen table.

We have struggled to know how to create more counter space in our kitchen without redoing the whole thing or at least adding a labour-intensive island. I think we have found the solution! Alley and I made muffins tonight on our new foldable table. And it worked wonderfully.

A New Template

I was having a lot of trouble with my old template. It was showing up differently between computers. So, I decided to start fresh! But again, I am having a hard time with my display. For some reason, the template wants to be long and skinny and won't let me add any page elements to the sidebar. Any suggestion?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Monastery on the Hill

I woke up around 6:15 this morning to go for a walk with my mother-in-love who lives just down the street. As I stepped into the coolness of the morning, into the early wee-glimmer light, I heard the bells.

These pictures were taken this afternoon during the kid's nap. My husband works from home and graciously agreed to let me spend some time at the Abbey while the sun was still shining.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Endless Worlds

The Public Library is one of my favorite places to be. The kids and I go at least once a week to return and borrow. It has become a journey through endless worlds, as though we are taking a trip together, wondering wide-eyed what we'll come across, what we'll discover.

During the past two months, I've started to borrow cookbooks. One of my favorites is called FROM A MONASTERY KITCHEN: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook by Brother Victor-Antoine d' Avila-Latourrette.

It features recipes like :"Cloister Molasses-Apple Cake", "Epiphany Bread", "Benedictine Rhubarb and Raisin Pudding with Pentecost Cream" and other such shananagans. A thoughtful quote is printed at the bottom of each page. I have loved so many of the quotes that I thought I would write out some of the best.

" In the midst of winter, I realized that deep within me was an invincible summer." Albert Camus

"A brother who had been visiting with a hermit said, as he was taking his leave: "Forgive me, Father, for hampering you in keeping your rule." The hermit answered: "My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you on your way in peace." An early desert father

"Our hope is that the winter of humanity will gradually be transformed to the bursting forth of love, for it is to this that we are called." Jean Vanier

"Fickleness and indecision are signs of self-love. If you can never make up your mind what God wills for you, but are always veering from one opinion to another...from one method to another, it may be an indication that you are trying to get around God's will and do your own with a quiet conscience. So keep still, and let God do some work." Thomas Merton

"Whatever else be lost among the years, let us keep Christmas still a shining thing." Grace N. Crowell

"To find is to seek Him unceasingly. Here, indeed, to seek is not one thing and to find another. The reward of the search is to go on searching. The soul's desire is fulfilled by the very fact of its remaining unsatisfied, for really to see God is never to have had one's fill of desiring him." Saint Gregory of Nyssa

"We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T.S Eliot

"If you wish to put in order the inner dwelling-place of your soul, prepare the material necessary so that the heavenly architect can begin his work. In order for the dwelling to be light, so that the light of heaven can come in, there must be windows, which are our five senses. The door of the abode is Christ...who guards both the dwelling and its inhabitants." Saint Seraphim of Sarov

"It all adds up to one thing: peace, silence, solitude. The world and its noise are out of sight and far away. Forest and fields, sun and wind and sky, earth and water, all speak the same silent language." Thomas Merton

"I believe that without the impetus of love, it is not possible to begin or continue any journey of the spirit. But love, too, must know its measure and its limitations." Sister Thekla

"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence." George Eliot

"Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creative self-affirmation; cowardice produces destructive self-abnegation. Courage faces fear and msters it; cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. " Martin Luther King, Jr.

"God can bring summer out of winter, though we have no spring. All occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons." John Donne

"The past must be abandoned to God's mercy, the present to our fidelity, and the future to divine providence." Saint Francis de Sales

"Don't think of God as a very stern judge and punisher. He is very merciful...We must not despair, for there is no sin that exceeds God's compassion. It is always the devil that brings despair; one must not listen to him." Letter from a Russian Monk

"Readings, vigils and prayer--these are the things that lend stability to the wandering mind." Evagrius Ponticus

"A person can show his religion as much in measuring onions as he can in singing 'Glory Hallelujah'." Shaker Brother

"He who sees things grow from the beginning will have the best view of them." Aristotle

"As I see it, we shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God..." Saint Theresa of Avila

"Love God's young creation, love it as a whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God. Love animals, love every plant and everything. If you love everything, the mystery of God will be revealed to you in things...And finally you will love the whole universe with a comprehensive, all-embracing love." Fyodor Dostoevsky

"I like the fact that 'listen' is an anagram of 'silent'. Silence is not something that is there before the music begins and after it stops. It is the essence of the music itself, the vital ingredient that makes it possible for the music to exist at all." Alfred Brendel

"Just as water when it is squeezed on all sides shoots up above, so does the soul when it is pressed hard by dangers often rise to God to be saved." Saint John Climacus

"Monks should practice zeal with ardent love. They should anticipate one another in honor, most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or soul. Let them try to outdo eachother in obedience. Let no one do what is best for himself, but rather what is best for another." The Holy Rule of Saint Benedict

***Our family lives just down the hill from a gorgeous Benedictine Monastery. On clear, early mornings, we can hear the bells from the tower. I have always been drawn to the gentle peace and quiet of monastery grounds. Living near one is an immense gift.

The brothers are loving and welcoming. And they are accepting of children. When I was pregnant with Solomon, Alley and I would have picnics in front of "Saint Mary Lake."

I have a three-part series of pictures of her eating a banana during a sunny afternoon. In the first, she is holding a peeled banana. The second picture shows her taking an enormous, full-faced bite and the third is a wide-eyed, full-cheeked Alley with small squished pieces of banana on her chin. I hold wonderful memories from that summer with her.

When the weather allows, I take walks up the hill. I rest awhile in the light reflecting through multi-colored stained glass windows, and I breathe slowly in the silence. The fountain in the foyer tinkles in the distance like garden-party wine glasses.

I guess it is the monk in me. The "monk" in the mama, that draws me there.

When I next venture up the hill, I will take a few pictures to share.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Simple Goodness

The smallest, toddling man in our family has learned to walked. He took his first step on March 22nd, the day of his Uncle Jack's birthday. His large, cloth-diapered bum waddles back and forth. It seems the momentum is what knocks him down. I've wondered if I should try some light-weight disposables on him for a few days to see if it helps. But the waddle is too cute!

At this time last year, I was extremely pregnant. Twinges of pain were shooting down my legs. I was sleeping very little at night, wanting to sleep all day. I was very eager to go into labour.

We had joined some dear friends for Easter Dinner and I was sure I would go into labour by the end of the evening! But, it dragged on into the next day. And on the evening of April 17th, the day after, I went into labour. Soul-Baby was born just after 2 am on April 18th.

It has been a full year already. A full year of loving this small human who has changed our life. As I see green-stimmed daffodils flinging out their vibrant yellow trumpets, I remember seeing them the morning after giving birth and being amazed at their boldness, at the way they beckon spring.

Last night, we drove to the public library together. My husband shuffled through CD's with Soul-Baby while I helped Alley pick out books and a couple of children's DVD's. For some reason, the combination of simple goodness made my heart literally throb. It felt bursting with love and thankfulness. When we got in the car, I said: "My heart expands near to bursting multiple times a day. I love this time in our life." And we felt thankful and humbled at the simple gifts we've been given, quieted by the fleeting fragility of these days and moments.

It seems appropriate as Easter draws near, to take some moments to give thanks for what has been born in our life, making room for new mercies every morning.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I've been thinking...

I had a fun surprise this morning. Andrea at The Flourishing Mother has tagged me for the Thinking Blogger Award. This means that I get to:

1.) Say a hearty "thank you" to Andrea and encourage others to visit her site for some delightful reads.
2.) Choose 5 blogs that I think deserve the award.
It will be a challenge to narrow it down!

The participation rules are simple:
1.) If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2.) Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3.) Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

So here are five blogs that I thoroughly enjoy visiting on a regular basis. They each "get me thinking" in different ways:

1) INTRICATE SIMPLICITY: a journey into the intriguing life, experiences and thoughts of Rach, a talented New Zealander and homeschooling mama of eight! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading what she is up to, and she is always up to something! She always has great books, gardening projects, and knitting creations on the go, and still manages to sleep. Inspiring woman!

2) FIGHTING CANCER WITH POETRY: a delightful blog by my real life friend , the "Merry Potter". She has recently completed intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment for Stage IV Large B Cell Lymphoma. Her friends and family have been amazed and inspired by her strength of character through it all. She is an excellent and whimsical writer/poet who I am thrilled is in the blog world. She has always made me think, in real AND blog-life, and is full of fresh ways of seeing the world.

3) CONNECTED AT THE ROOTS: a reflective space where Brynn, mom of 2 very cute sons, writes about everday blessings, education, parenting, sustainability and whatever else comes to her mind. She has created an inviting, thought-provoking space. She and her husband recently gave their 3-year-old a camera and have kept a chronicle of his "perspective" in a space called "E-man's eyes". She has a post here, with some of his first attempts.

4) SILENCE COMES TO HEAL THE BLOWS OF SOUND: an open, poetic space where my real life friend Tamie weaves stories and prayers and poems. She writes about becoming human and shares stories from her Pilgrimage in Spain. She has always inspired and intrigued me in real and blog-life. Since we live many miles apart, I appreciate the chance to have glimpses into her world more regularly. As I was writing this post, I visited her site and realized she just received the "Thinking Blogger Award" from another! But I couldn't resist giving her two. Why not? She deserves another.

5) SCRATCHINGS OF A CHURCHMOUSE: a wonderful scurrying place where Cheryl records her thoughts and reflections. She grew up in Holland and came to Canada for University where we became friends. She and her husband recently became Orthodox and she writes about their journey of spiritual learning and snippets of life, in general. They recently gave birth to a son and spend more of their blogging time at their family site The Kumquat and We. Cheryl is a truly delightful person and conversations with her have always put me in a thinking space.

And those are my 5! Enjoy.