Monday, April 30, 2007
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
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
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
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
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
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
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
1.) If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.