Gone Coastal

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The next big thing

For me that is. It's been an occasional topic of conversation for months. It's been the subject of some anticipation, some fear and an increasing level of busyness lately. It's only four weeks away.
It's my return to working life.

I was midway through the bottle routine last night - just done washing and not yet started filling - when I felt the need to stop, sit down and pray. Normally such urges come with a specific person in mind, maybe a known situation or a vague sense of need. Tonight I had already sat down before I realized I didn't know what I was to pray for. A number of people have been on my heart in passing today, so I thought, "Okay, Lord. I'll just spend some time on those and follow your lead." I felt pretty sure that a significant focal point would come out of that.
I was a few stops down the list before I caught that still small voice. (Not an audible voice, just a sense for me.) Something to the effect of, "That's all well and good, but what about you?"
"Huh? Well, I guess I should pray about all this stuff coming up." I did. Or I tried to. It was like having a severe case of writer's block in the middle of a conversation. Later, when the bottles were done, I started this post, but set it aside when I realized I still hadn't made it past the surface in prayer. What could I honestly write to finish it?
The last big thing was the arrival of Tweetie. And even before she was conceived, I was coming time and again to God, saying, "I need you to be with me on this. I can't do it on my own." The image of my pregnant figure folded on my knees with arms outstretched (a mental image that accompanied the right attitude at least - most of my prayers were done in comfy chairs) is burned into my mind.
I came back to prayer this morning, having showered early, and awaiting Tweetie's wake up. After considerable fumbling, I think I've finally started to get the point. I've been working pretty hard at getting all my ducks lined up, preparing myself and Tweetie for the transition, and generally working to improve my odds as I set forth to do this on my own. Perhaps I've taken the wrong lesson from my little girl?
So, I'm praying again. Lord, let me see this transition through your eyes. Let me be guided by you in the choices and preparations I'm making. I am so grateful for the time I've had to spend with my daughter, your gift, and for all the growth you've brought us through. I thank you again for all the grace you have poured out on me and my family in this season, and I pray that you would keep me from guarding my heart against your continued outpouring as I return to work. Draw me to you when I need help to find balance. Draw me to you for wisdom in parenting. Draw me to you for strength to stand apart in the workplace. Keep me mindful of the other plans you have for me, and of new doors opening.
A song, Someday by Over the Rhine comes to mind. The second verse and chorus:
and if you need my attention
be bizarre
feel free to ignore convention
(it's alright)
and if it's a matter of permission
you can do me harm
i wouldn't miss it for the world

i'll pray
don't leave me alone

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Yup, it's something we all do, and it's the one thing I can say with certainty that I never procrastinate on. I do a little every day so it's not such a shock at the next marker. And so the latest one passed quite gracefully. Mostly. And if you're wondering, I've never really kept it a secret. I marked a quarter century shortly after our wedding, and we recently marked a decade of marriage, so if you do the math, that makes me thirty-five.
As it happened, the Bear was out of town on my birthday, but he left a day later than planned so he could take me for a nice dinner first. I spent a good part of the actual day packing, doing laundry and sorting papers to be dropped off to the bookkeeper before I left to join the Bear. I then got birthday greetings all the way up the line, starting with a night at my mom's, a morning stop at my sister's, a visit with our old friends in K-town, and a late birthday cake when I caught up to the Bear at my in-laws. And LOTS of strawberries at every stop, which I've always associated with good birthdays.
Like most things these days, though, my perspective is a little different. I don't feel old at all, but perhaps I'm conscious of being not quite so young. And when I think about being thirty-five, I think about when I started to be aware of my own mother's birthdays and her age. It was her mid-thirties. (Oddly, I don't have nearly such clear memories of my dad aging, though he was born in the same year as my mom). By the time Tweetie reaches that point, I'll be into that next decade. The number doesn't really matter much, but I'm gonna have to work a little harder at keeping myself in good shape to keep up with her. And I do feel like lately I've wanted to work a little harder at procrastinating. Or at least being a bit less effective. I can't stop the clock, but I can limit what I let it tell me.
Here's to living fully to as many more birthdays as I'm granted.


Monday, June 25, 2007


Well, the Bear's on the road again. But this past Friday and Saturday, my mom (Mor Mor to her grandkids) was over for a quick visit, and she brought my four-year-old nephew with her.
Now, the Bear and I have been auntie and uncle for almost as long as we've been together, and Uncle is a title the Bear wears very well. Okay, well there's been this slight tendency to load his sister's kids up on sugar and high excitement and hand them back, but that's not the point of this post. Since most of the nieces and nephews are a little older and more interactive, he very much enjoys exposing them to new things and investing a little of his wild life into them.
Case in point, a few years back, my niece came out to stay with my mom for a few weeks in the summer. While she was here, we hooked up with them at a friend's ranch in Cache Creek. Between the dogs, ATV rides and driving lessons and stories, he was a hit. That Christmas we got a card from her. She remembered her uncle's name, but I was 'mom's sister'. I still laugh at that!
So, back to this weekend. Our nephew is also very fond of big, manly men like the Bear, especially when he has a big loud red truck and other such cool things. The soundtrack for the two days was peppered with "Uncle ..." When I had talked to the Bear about our nephew coming along with Mor Mor on the visit, the wheels had immediately begun turning, and rolling down the runway. The Bear was scheduling a checkout flight with a local flight center and secured permission for a certain small passenger to come along. An hour is a really long time to hold the attention of a four-year-old, but they came awfully close with flying. And with his own headset part of the package in a small aircraft, the Bear gave him a chance to help out with the radios. Apparently, the exchange went something like this:
Cessna - "Gawf - Mikuhl - Alfuh - Zooloo downwin right. Reekehsting runway free fohr fuh touch an go."
Tower (female controller)- "Awwwwww! That's so cute. Honey, you can have anything you want!"

I suspect that memory will be a keeper for all involved.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Papa's day

Lest anyone think I'd neglected the Bear on his first Father's Day as one, rest assured he was not forgotten. I think I came up with the near perfect gift for him at this time and occasion (IMHO). Something to share with Tweetie.
I picked up a bike child carrier trailer at MEC, and the Bear took it out for a test spin in the afternoon.

Tweetie took it all in stride, though this next shot might be considered false advertising. The happy grin only came after they stopped and, camera ready, I sang the first line of Five Green and Speckled Frogs - she really, really likes that song.

She also wore her freshly minted Father's Day shirt for the occasion. It was remarkably hard to get a clear shot. She wouldn't stop dancing around!

And lest there be any doubt which bear's her papa, this one's marked with three toes.

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Dear Dad,

Dear Dad,
As you know, a little over 9 months ago, my life changed. Some of those changes began for me in the 9 months previous, as our little girl grew within me. But for her dad, the changes that came with her arrival were a bit more of a shock to the system, as they likely were for you some thirty-five years ago. I was your second child, so you had some idea what was coming, but you and mom had been in a new country for barely a couple of years.
In the years since, I've collected many memories that come to mind when I think about you, but as I've looked back over them with the eyes of a new parent, I've seen many of them in a new light. For Father's Day today, I'd like to share with you some of what I see in those memories today.
Most of the memories, of course, were from weekends-with-Dad. I was always conscious of the limits of our relationship, but I've come to appreciate the efforts it must have taken to fill those weekends with experiences. How do you concentrate the things you want to share into a bite-sized package? I think you found some great ways.
You broadened my horizons, taking us to cultural events around town, from the Powell Street Festival, to matinees at the Vancouver Playhouse, to the Folk Fest, Children's Fests, Jazz Fest and even Expo. My interest in understanding how other people view things and how their stories shape them was fed regularly.
Along the way you also developed my palate. You've always had a remarkable knack for finding hole-in-the-wall eateries with authentic tastes from around the world. Tastes I wouldn't otherwise have encountered. And you were always ahead of the wave, like when you introduced us to Korean BBQ well before it became trendy (and a little less authentic). In turn I've expanded the tastes of that consummate bachelor I married (he's become a bit of a gourmet lately), and hope to do the same for our girl.
You showed me the world. As you followed the work to different places, we visited you at both ends of the gold rush trail, in San Fran and the Yukon, taking backroads and detours along the way. You taught me to look beyond the tourist brochure and seek out the true life in the places we visited. My first whirlwind tour of Europe was with you, and I treasure having climbed the leaning tower (though I recall it took some whining persuasion on my part), my first view of glass being fired and blown in Venice, and of course, the many variations on the toilet theme.
You fostered a love of the outdoors, and taught me it was okay, even healthy, to step beyond my comfort zone and take a few risks. Walking the trails up to the Lions and cross country skiing at Cypress when it was still free. The overnight hike up Black Tusk to see snow in July. Later the West Coast Trail, including a lunch of fresh mussels while we waited for our ride across the river, and a world of exciting life in the tidal pools. Even hitching a ride back to the origin of the trail. On the boat I spent far too much time below deck for your taste, but I really did love sailing into all those familiar coves and harbours, encountering the wildlife, and standing up across the deck in a hard wind, gunwales dipping into the waves. All that time sailing and exploring probably has a lot to do with my attachment to the coast.
A few of the earliest memories have become more vivid of late. In Lions Bay the house you built was across the street from the new school . I still remember when they were putting in the playground at the bottom of the lot, you were helping out. I followed you for what must have been hours as you took load after load of mulch on the path down the hill, and I so kindly hitched a ride back up the hill each time in the 'empty' wheelbarrow. I remember asking you to do those push-ups with the clap in the middle in the mornings because you were so strong. And I remember one day, after I was old enough to go to that same school, I tripped on the way down the driveway. I'd tripped once about a week before and got a couple of little scratches and you had shepherded me on to class, so I plucked myself up, a little bloodier this time, and began to shuffle on. You came out the front door and called me back up to the house where you cleaned me up properly and made sure everything was patched up.
These are some of the moments that capture how you've shaped me and cared for me as I grew up. I hope our little girl will have a chance for a few of her own adventures with her Opa. Maybe in the spring?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sidewalk refreshment

I was a grumpy mum this morning. We were up earlier than usual, and I had a lot of stuff running through my mind. A good walk helped a bit, a little snooze too, and I confess a bit of unloading on some good friends via e-mail.
But the most pleasant part of my day so far was just a little while ago. Tweetie's rather unsettled today, so I opted to practice walking with her out front again. Caught the neighbour's daughter-in-law heading for her van and we got to chatting, which turned into an impromptu playdate right on the sidewalk. Their little girl's a real cutie. She's about twice Tweetie's age, but with the Down Syndrome and related health issues, they're at almost the same place developmentally. We just sat on the sidewalk and chatted about mom things and life in general, and kept the girls from poking each other until we both knew they were overdue for feeding. It was most refreshing.
The neighbour's been renovating and his son is here most nights working on the house, so I'm looking forward to hanging out again some time.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007


I've been a full-fledged mom for a little over 9 months now, and it's taught me an amazing amount of things. Things about myself, about my own parents, about my husband, about life. I rather expected that.
What has surprised me is how some of the simplest, everyday things can be so heartwrenching.
Tonight, as on other nights, it was holding the line on bedtime. I decided some time ago to fix a final bedtime. There's a window where she'll normally go to sleep, but after a certain time, if she's not actively feeding and there's no other real need, she goes in her crib. But no matter how clear it is to my head that all her needs are met, that she needs sleep and I need to take care of other matters before I can sleep, listening to her cry in her crib can be agonizing to me. The very idea of my child falling asleep in distress goes against my maternal drive to comfort and soothe. My usual compromise is to stay in the room - read blogs, e-mail, play solitaire - until she's settled or asleep. It comforts me to be there, and I don't find myself second guessing as much whether I missed some trauma that's upsetting her.
For whatever reason, that ache ran a little deeper tonight. And I found myself wondering how much deeper my heavenly father has ached for me at times when I cried out for what I thought I wanted.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And the winner is...

There's been an ongoing debate around here for awhile over whether Tweetie would learn to crawl or just go straight to walking. She was bearing weight on her legs even in the hospital. As she grew she found many ways of moving herself across the floor when she was so inclined, but didn't show much interest in efficiency. While the Goddess was visiting last month, she started lifting up to hands and knees in earnest and seemed ready to explode into crawling. We had fun watching her rock back and forth, and laughed a little (gently and kindly of course) when she'd reach beyond her balance point into a faceplant. It seemed an interesting experiment to her, but when it came to getting around, sliding and spinning was just as good, apart from the frustration of looking forward to a target and moving backward. But the Jolly Jumper was great fun and kept her interested in being upright.
Well, sometime on the weekend, I was carrying on with whatever I was doing, Tweetie on the floor nearby. And then I looked at her and she was on hands and knees again, and then a knee moved, and a hand, and the other knee and hand. She covered about a foot in distance, backwards still, before flopping down. And I'm happy to say she's also learned to flop comfortably back on her bottom or belly. I've since seen her make a few tentative moves in a forward direction, with a look of great satisfaction.
So, crawling wins, but second place results will be in very soon. In the last two weeks, walking practice has become a regular part of the day, with each days steps taking her farther, from a few feet, to the next room, to a full tour of the main floor. At least a couple of times a day now, she wants to be walked. My back is looking forward to her taking those first independent steps, but my heart would be happy to keep her at the end of my arms awhile longer, so it doesn't need to be restarted after every unanticipated hazard she approaches at full speed.
As I got tired of doing laps from living room to kitchen, I tried a couple of times taking her out front. Much too much happening out there, though. Today I carried her to the sidewalk, where she took about three of her steps and promptly stopped to smell the roses. Each and every one, and the dandelions, too.
I guess I should pay attention.


Monday, June 11, 2007

and a little rest goes a long way

Yesterday was the latest in a string of long days, the ones that stretch you just a bit. Not bad days, but their cumulative effect is a very weary mamma, prone to making a bit of a mess. A few nights ago I was so tired when I sat down for a bit with the bear, I was downright giddy. I've heard from a few other moms that their tolerance for alcohol was noticeably down after having a baby, but this was silly. The Bear had himself a drink, and I felt tipsy!
Anyway, all this rambling is just the setup for one of those stories. The ones that seem to come with parenting, and you just have to share so you can laugh at it. Or at least someone else can laugh with you. And if it ever happens to them they won't have to wonder why they never hear of this happening to anyone else.
Tweetie had taken a bottle not long before and it was time to put her on the potty. Typically I'll put her on, cue her, and depending on what signs she's given me and how sure I am she needs to go, wait awhile. If nothing happens and she's getting restless, I'll give her a wipe for good measure and we'll carry on. This time she'd been giving some signs before that she might be ready to poop, and she was a little overdue so I thought I'd give her lots of time. I settled myself in to entertain her with various mamma-daughter silliness. (Silliness, thankfully, comes rather easily when I'm tired.)
After waiting much longer than the usual time, I decided I'd probably got my cues all wrong again, and other than a bit of gas, we weren't going to get anything out of this sitting. I took a quick peek in the bowl to be sure, then hoisted her up to take her back to the change table across the hall. Halfway there she erupted in a wail and uncomfortable squirming. At the same instant I noticed an equally discomforting squishing sensation on my arm. Tracing back my steps to the potty, and more importantly the soap and running water, I discovered that what had not been in the bowl when I peeked had dropped off to the floor beside the toilet when I hoisted her and the remnant had been sheared off by my forearm in the nursery entrance. I'd forgotten the obligatory 'wipe for good measure', which would have saved me much further wiping and scrubbing. Well, at least she's not old enough to try and help.
Thankfully, while walking the dogs in the afternoon I was struck with the brilliant idea of going out for chinese. The Bear didn't have to cook, there was no cleanup from dinner, and as a bonus, Tweetie fell asleep on the way home from the restaurant and was in bed nice and early. Bottles were done well ahead of schedule and I even got some good mom-and-dad time with the Bear before heading to bed for a pretty decent night's sleep. Today started with a nearly dry night diaper and later a perfectly placed deposit in the bottom of the bowl.
Ahh, the wonders of a little rest. Actually, it seems a lot like the old days when Mondays were for recovering from the weekend!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Tex over at the Maru was tagged this week and proceeded to tag me, among others. Here's the rules I'm loosely obliged to follow (we seem to have started a little rebellion over rules).

1: People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
2: At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
3: You may need to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog

So here are eight random things you may or may not know, or care to know, about me.

  1. When I was a kid my hair was so blonde and fine a friend told me I looked bald when we were in the pool.
  2. I played trombone in the band. Never was one for the road most travelled. I still have my 'bone on a shelf, and I'd consider playing it again if I had some context. I taught three other girls to play, too. Before that I played banjo. Well, I took banjo lessons, anyway. Gave the banjo away awhile back. I also sang tenor in vocal jazz and chamber choir. I miss singing the most, especially with a group willing to work hard on getting it just right.
  3. I studied computer science at UVic as a stepping stone to architecture school, but I never stepped. Sometimes things change. When I go back to work following mat leave in (AACKK!) seven weeks, I'll be putting on my techno geek hat again. Right over my current favourite and always present headgear: Mamma.
  4. I once fell for a guy whose lives to be the hero. Many kinds of hero. Random acts of kindness hero. Balance the scales of justice hero. Hero with the cool toys and crazy tales. I think his personal favourite is the nobody-else-coulda-ever-pulled-that-off hero. Keeping a hero ready to go and well-stocked with clean capes is hard work, but more than ten years later, he's still mine.

    half-way there, gotta think up some more stuff.

  5. I can do the wave with my eyebrows.
  6. If I had the opportunity to go back to school at this point, I think I'd do a Masters of Christian Studies at Regent College. A number of reasons, but one big one is that they offer a concentration in Christianity and the Arts. And they don't limit their definition of arts to music and drama. So hard to find much real discussion around visual arts, and to actually take time to do research on it and do work in that kind of context? Mmmm, very tempting.
  7. We have a daughter, nine months old today. The Bear's sister has two girls, his little brother two boys (so far). My sister has two kids, one of each. So in theory, if we had another and it was a little boy, both our extended families would be all balanced out. I've always kinda liked the number three, but I've also kinda grown attached to being married ;)
  8. I've been to Europe once with each of my parents as a kid and once with the Bear in 2000. We've been talking about a trip to Africa where we could visit some of our missionary friends from MAF.
So that covers eight random things. Now there's the tagging of others. I still can't come up with anywhere near eight that haven't already been tagged; Perhaps we're a bit incestuous here in our blog circle. Or maybe it's 'cause there's a lot of folks that read us and don't post comments to let us know who and where they are. Anywhere, I'll go half way. To Shirtless, Viscountess, the R. Pletts, and Poisho (cause you're waay overdue for an update anyway), "Tag, you're it!" Some of you have your hands rather full with various things right now, but that's OK, I did away with the time limit.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

dream time

Well, we ate at a fairly civilized hour tonight - Tweetie a little after six and me and the Bear about an hour later. And a most civilized dinner it was, as well. One of the Bear's favourites, beef medallions with this great balsamic and red onion reduction, with steamed asparagus and a salad. I told you we don't always eat MREs, just more often than we should. But I digress.
As a result I was able to get Tweetie settled toward her bedtime right on schedule, with all the bottles already rinsed and collected and no kitchen collisions.
Ten after nine, Tweetie had drifted off in her crib and I went back downstairs. Fifteen minutes later I heard her crying, and it drift off as it often does. Something was troubling her, likely either gas or her teeth, so I picked her up and took her to the potty. That way she could pee from her bedtime bottle and stay drier the rest of the night, and I could rub her back to help with any gas at the same time. Again, I digress.
She eventually settled again and I put her back down. She went back to sleep, but the first ten minutes were intriguing to witness, as she squirmed and tossed, eyes closed and by all other signs asleep. I could only imagine she was dreaming, and not a pleasant dream. It's one of those unanswerable questions. What do babies dream about? What is a dream like for them? What is thought like when you don't have words? But the heart wrencher for a parent is wondering what could possibly a baby's nightmare?
She's settled right down again now, and I've prayed for her (which at least made me feel better). Some day she'll have words to tell me what her dreams are filled with. Perhaps it was a horrible episode about being attacked by a giant Kleenex, her current nemesis. She was, after all, wrestling vigorously with the extra blanket.


Favourite meal ideas?

Yes, I am on a quest for input, so all you folks who read but never post comments, scratch your heads and by all means put your two bits in.

I hate to think about it, but I'll be heading back to work in less than two months. The Bear does the lion's share of cooking 'round here, but as a rule we kinda get around to food when we get hungry enough, and that's typically not long before we get to bed. Once I'm back at work during the day, my time's going to be even tighter than it is now, and I'd like to get into eating at a more conventional time (as opposed to after all the bottles and formula are prepped and I'm already half asleep). But to make that happen, I think I'll have to step up to the plate and at very least do some serious meal planning ahead of time and get things started after work if the Bear's absorbed elsewhere. But we've gotten so lazy in recent years - even worse since Tweetie arrived - that our current concept of meal planning is making sure we have enough MREs from Costco in the freezer. That's not the only thing we eat, it's just the default when we're not inspired over what to run to the store and buy ingredients for at the last minute.
So, I'm looking for a little help. Some inspiration to jumpstart a good meal planning habit. My ideal criteria (though I'm open to lots of things that don't fit) is simple stuff, can be made in large portions and makes good leftovers, can be cooked with minimal attention after initial prep (so if I'm taking my turn I don't need to choose between burning dinner or neglecting Tweetie), few dishes used, and lots of simple, common ingredients we can keep as staples.

Send me what ya got!