God walks among the pots and pans {pretty, happy, funny, real}

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On March break I took the older kids to Well-Read Books – a cozy second hand book store with a beautifully contained section that feels like a living room for kids. There are perfectly sized chairs for the wee ones and children’s books organized in manageable themes. And just the right amount of books – not too many. Sometimes at the library it feels like there is too much to choose from, especially when the baby has got lost somewhere in the “M-P Kids Fiction” isle and the toddler is fighting another kid for the barbie in the toy area (barbies in the library, really?).

We quite happily spent  45 minutes in this store looking at books and left with a stack priced at an average of $2 a piece. Score.

And then we retreated home and to the cozy the book nook that is a favorite get-away for everyone, when there seems like there is no place to just be alone.

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I also walked away with an old set of kids encyclopedias after inquiring if they had some. They gave me a partial set for $5  as no one is really looking for these anymore. In fact, its the same set I had as a kid!

I wanted them because every time Ethan has a question about something (Ethan: “When is the Earth going to explode?”. Me: “Do you mean the sun?”. Ethan: “No, I mean the Earth”) and I direct him to try and find out on his own, he asks to go on the internet.

Again, I am no Luddite but I am not a fan of this option. You should see the sites that come up when he enters “exploding earth” into google – and I guarantee  he won’t pick the Wikipedia site but searches according to images leading him to some rather some apocalyptic site promoting a new escape pod.

So instead he gets some 90’s graphics but also some relatively accurate information about our aging sun (sans exploding earth).

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We are trying to give Ysabeau at least one chore every day that she can do, so the 10 year old doesn’t feel like he is entirely singled out. She seems to enjoy cleaning the table, with an eye for spotlessness that only her mother can appreciate.

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This new book release by Bishop Robert Barron makes me happy-  Vibrant Paradoxes: The both/And of Catholicism.

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This book is a supposed to be a philosophical narrative rather than one of Barron’s easily digestible popular books. Nonetheless, I expect it will be delightfully manageable book compared to those of many great Catholic theologians.

For my secular friends who ask: Why would you be excited about this book? Because it will be a defense of why Catholicism is not simply a black and white solution for those who can’t handle the gray of life. Catholics hold to beliefs that are seeming opposites, held not in tension, but in a beautiful dance where harmony and balance is the outcome of a mesmerizing pas-de-deux.

 Justice/mercy. God/man. Authority/liberty. Faith/reason. Corporateness/individualism. These are pairings that might seem contradictory, but ultimately can only make sense in relation to one another. In Catholicism, the answer is not a blending of the two but the unique suspension of ‘Both/And’, where the integrity of each aspect is honoured.

Personally, I find some many of the frustrations we have in society are created when we decide not to live in the (at times uncomfortable) dance of these disparate pairings, but rather choose one over the other.

For example, in fear of blending into an undefined corporateness in our families, schools or societies, we perhaps have overemphasized the role of the individual. Instead, I like this ‘Both/And’ approach. It is very sensible. Though it is most certainly a mystery, meaning we can grasp it but but it is certainly a less comfortable answer at first.

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My kids are serious about food.

My neighbour captured these great pics of Ysabeau trying to wink. I love the things we adults take for granted – I feel like patting myself on the back that I learned to do this when I see how hard it actually is to make it second nature.

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I am so glad winter is almost over. Mostly because I am done with the icy puddle that is perpetually my entrance. I so happy with the layout our home except for this entrance area. I feel it was designed for a kid-less home. Here I am demonstrating what Ian likes to call “staging”. The things on the stairs might move – in the next century. I can’t figure out how to make this space work better.

But my friend shared with me a quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila -“God walks even among the pots and pans.” The home is a sacred space.

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I am increasingly happy with our office space which sits to at the top of this entrance area and is connected to the kitchen and dining area. Again, space is a premium here so I carefully calculate how each corner and nook can be used.

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Here is our latest family pic. I credit Ian entirely.  I had to share with you one of the trial shots as the camera was precariously balanced on the stroller and time-set so that Ian had to run back over to us each time. The final edition was only the 15th shot. The kids stayed remarkably silly composed.

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This post is a link up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Puffed sleeves and the depths of despair {pretty, happy, funny, real}

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There is a type of egg decorating that is not for the faint of heart: Pysanky. I was introduced to this art by the lovely ladies of Mary House. This is an ancient Ukrainian tradition. Eastern Christians have generally tackled this fine art during the reflective time of Lent.

IMG_0419I have read that the tradition has been passed down from mother to daughter. No kidding! My daughter, even at three, has some instinct to treat the egg preciously. There may be some careful boys out there but they don’t live in my house. My egg already has a crack in it from one young man.  That’s OK.  At the time of Lent – and as these are meant to symbolize the gift of life – the crack is also is a reminder of my own flaws and how these are part of each beautiful and unique person.

Historically, as part of the decorating process, the dyes, wax and stylus were brought out at night. I am guessing because precision is near impossible with kids around and the chance to work in quietness was probably a blessing – but I can imagine the difficulty of working on something as delicate at this by candlelight. Apparently, many eggs were made over the course of Lent. One site says enough were made for “ten or twenty for God children”. Ha! I have have two God children so I guess I am going to have to figure out how to make one more…maybe next year.

The process is sort of a reverse-painting. Hard to explain. The candle is used to burn away the wax that is put on at the beginning to preserve the lovely white lines you see here.

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I am always disappointed (thought not surprised) at how often these days, chain franchises and even new businesses are opened without a thought given to aesthetics. I wish there was a beauty inspector who had to sign off on a certain level of aesthetic sense. I know it can beauty can cost but other times it can be easily achieved. A new grocer specializing in locally grown and crafted (baked goods) food has opened here called “Farmer Roberts”.

It is truly delightful and makes shopping an enjoyable experience (and not much more pricey).

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We don’t have many hard and fast rules in the house; I tend to make them up as I go along. But Ian and I are in strong agreement that pets are not part of our near future. For many reasons.

Ethan is mourning the loss of a potential pet badge at cubs, so I promised to bring him to the animal shelter to walk an animal now and then.

This is Sweetie. Yes, she is sweet – even I will admit. I enjoyed looking at my children through a glass window while they fed the little puppy. I asked the volunteer on duty if we could take a dog for a walk.

IMG_0405She took one look at me with my unruly 3 year old, my distracted 10 year old, and my baby with no socks on – clinging to me in distinct fear of the little baby animals all around us -and questioned whether we could really handle a “dog that pulls”. Point taken. She gave us Sophia who was actually really lovely and helped to ease us into the art of dog-walking. She was easy, compared to the bipeds in our group.

The accommodating volunteer had attached a second leash to Sophia after Ysabeau lost it when she saw that Ethan was given the main leash. I have a feeling Sophia was shaking her head inside, knowing this isn’t the greatest idea.

Nonetheless, I still categorize this outing as generally “happy”.

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When Ethan arrived to live with us he had difficulty reading for more than 10 minutes (which I think is often common for 10 year old boys). He would became visibly depressed. My heart soars because today he is reading quite easily for 45 minutes and he just completed a read-a-thon at school which asked for 10 consecutive days of reading for more than 30 min per day.

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We just finished reading some books from the fantastic New York best-selling series for kids. Check out the Who Was/ Who Is series. They are the answer to what I have been looking for. The classics are great but Ethan can only handle the Queen’s English for so long. And I simply must limit the graphic novel intake. These lovely little novelettes combine interesting and understandable prose with some lovely illustrations, and (speaking to my heart) a good deal of history.

He loves to read in this chair that leans so far back he almost hits the floor. I get a laugh out of seeing him here many evenings in his “old man” robe that he insists on wearing before bed.

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Each winter, a big snow removal truck comes and pushes all the snow from the surrounding roads into a giant hill in the middle of our cul-de-sac. And I mean GIANT. You can get a sense of the size from the house on the right side of the photo. It is a essentially a homing beacon for most kids in the neighbourhood. The kid who has extreme-sport parents on the other street brought his dirt bike to ride down.  My kids and the neighbour’s kids are fairly normal snow recreationalists.

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But lo! One unassuming day while Ethan was at school, the dump truck and digger came – complicit in the city’s plan to eliminate any liability they may have in kids getting hurt on these mounds.

The picture below was taken from Ysabeau’s view from the window, who was excitably sending visible distress signals to the driver. She asked why it was being taken away. I explained that only in the Yukon do we enough snow that it is literally picked up by a dump truck and thrown away.

Toward the end of the snow removal process we got in the van to the rec centre and the driver of the digger pulled in close to us, rolled down his window, apologized to Ysabeau, and said that sometimes it is hard to do his job. Bless!

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I was inspired by a friend who mentioned that when she has to rush out of the house because otherwise she will simply never get out – just grab the jar of PB and crackers – and presto! -instant snack at your final destination. Thanks for inspiring me. I suggest slamming down can of raisins for instant snack sophistication:)

I am glad that libraries don’t outlaw the PB.

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Xav likes spaghetti.

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I am of the mind that there should be a book written called The Marilla Cuthburt Style of Parenting – for all us parents who are graced with child who is an “Anne of Green Gables kindred -spirit”. These kids neither hide their disgust, or elation, at opportunity.

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Ysabeau is most definitely an “Anne-girl”. As her daycare worker so aptly put it- “She has a flair for the dramatic”. I’ll say. I have endless amounts of “puffed-sleeves” and “depths of despair” moments in my future, and I take full genetic responsibility (well, half). I have no doubt I will find my daughter one day on the river reciting the Lady of Shalot in a shoddy old canoe.

For instance, what I thought was the time-old tradition of sharing the nativity story to Ysabeau at Christmas has turned into a multi-seasonal reenactment of Mary’s piety , head-covering and all (see below).

But I don’t think we give Marilla enough credit for her parenting wisdom. Her “stuff and nonsense” approach was perfect for a girl who struggled with self-control and perspective. In fact, despite their different personalities, they fall in love with one another. They change one another. Temper one one another.

So yes, I appreciate that times have changed and positive parenting styles are all the rage, but I think we can label Marilla’s style as positive (positive for children and teens prone to excessive drama and rashness) – and more importantly, one that suits her unique relationship with her foster child. I hope that Ysabeau and I were put together for a reason. I notice that I tend more toward Marilla’s style (as Anne did in some ways when she became a parent) and I hope there is some providence in that.

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(For my non-Catholic friends this photo may seem quite alarming, as though someone is forcing her to do this. Believe me, she hasn’t see me do this at home and it came on totally impromptu. My friend who is travelling around Europe has a 5 year old son who is a little similar to Ysabeau, and on their visits to old churches and monasteries, he kneels down and bows over one knee like a medieval knight every time he enters a a church built before 1800. The atmosphere compels a response. Love it!).

This post was a link-up with my favorite blog at Like Mother, Like Daughter – because it’s important to maintain the collective memory.

Northern Light {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

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In mid February Ethan and I went to the the installation of the new Bishop. The Catholic elementary schools prepared some beautiful secular and sacred artwork for the occasion. Look at these lovely ones by the Grade 4 classes in the style of the late Ted Harrison!

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The art teacher offered this stunning rendition of Our Lady of Guadaloupe. Ethan has been learning to mimic sacred art traditions in his religion class. Below you will see his version of our Lady which I felt was quite well done!

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Cabane à sucre at the Yukon Rendezvous festival! Ian had gone hunting and so the least I could do was take the kids to the sugar shack. It is apparently a fine art so it takes about 20 min to get the syrup to a certain temperature so that it will turn into a candy type consistency. They then pour it in the hot snow and roll it up onto a stick for the kids to stick in their mouths.

Xavi’s first birthday was a success! He single-handedly devoured most of that cake and whenever we put anything slightly resembling a cake in front of him he starts to shake and scream at the table. People are impressed when we put out a nice bowl of mashed potatoes to see our 14 month old start to go crazy reaching for it. Taste is truly one of the most amazing sensory experiences.

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Here is Ysabeau dressed up – by Ethan-to resemble the Queen. If you are wondering where the dress is, Ethan has explained that this fashion choice is to closely resemble what the Queen wears around the house. As funny as Ysabeau finds it, I bet Ethan choices are pretty close to what England’s very practical queen would wear.

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Here we have Ethan and Ysabeau’s interpretation of a Boxtroll.

Wardrobe choice for Ysabeau is truly a losing battle on my part. But I stand my ground when it comes to maintaining some level of practicality. Here I managed to just catch Ysabeau after she went to the entry way and called up explaining she is going next door to visit her friend Ember. Normally I wouldn’t look, but I am glad I did this time. It was -20 outside. Here I have just asked her to consider what might be lacking in her outfit choice today.

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This picture is of the date night Ian prepared for me for Valentine’s Day. We shipped the kids off to Auntie and he whipped up a steak about the size of my head and we enjoyed the most relaxed, quiet dinner since I can remember. Maybe this fits better under ‘happy’.

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There is nothing like processing meat from a hunt to make you face the reality of what it really means to eat meat. Ian and Bruce share a passion for hunting. Bruce is showing Ian how to make sausages with his fancy Cabela’s meat grinder.

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And for the most real post I could find that is extremely appropriate for International Women’s Day – regardless of whether you are a mother or not. With all these rather tedious conversations trying to justify women breastfeeding in public. Let’s just ask the most powerful woman of all time.

This first one is a beautiful icon, no? A black -or at least darker-skinned Madonna. Beautiful.

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Yes, Mary is squirting St. Bernard with her breastmilk.

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A gracious week

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It’s been about over two months since I posted last. Why the hiatus? Two people working full time. We basically spent most of our time doing this: Making lunches.

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Daycare is serious stuff. It’s not your momma’s daycare that we have to make lunch for. No processed foods, all the food groups have to be in the box, enough for two snacks and lunch. No juice boxes. I’m glad the daycares have to be strict. It makes sense. But now that I have time to blog, which means I am home and not working as much, I am reminded that my kids just get last night’s leftovers. They’ll be asking to go back to daycare soon enough.

But yes, I am back home. Having to prepare five lunches every night basically lost out on the cost benefit analysis of me working full time.

So I am returning home to this:

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Which isn’t so bad.

My first week mostly back at home with the kids – except for two days a week – was actually a fairly big week. Ysabeau has a new word for “big”. The other day she was sitting on the toilet and said ” Mom, you gotta come see this. I did a gracious poo”. She has used it a few more times in that context and I have come to figure out that “gracious” means “big. I am not correcting her because I kinda like it.

This has been a “gracious” winter for sickness. Our kids got sick, really sick, and then gave it to our neighbours kids just in time for the week they spent with us. Cute kids, impeccable timing. It’s ok though as I am pretty sure my kids have peed on their couches before, and they looked after the oldest when he had pink eye. It all works out.

They stayed with us the last week of January which we all know contains the dreaded “Black Monday”- the most depressing day of the year.  Visa statements come in, darkness seems to rule the world. I baked a cake on that Monday and forced everyone to have a really gracious day. It turned out pretty good even though I still had to pay the visa bill.

Here are a few leftover pictures from Christmas time and Xavier’s birthday. Star Wars was definitely the toy/brand/game/dress-up theme of choice this year. Here is our neighbour dressed up as a Jedi.

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Xavier  is already 14 months (more on him later). He certainly isn’t as happy right now as he was in his first year. It could be that Xavier, as the offspring of two people with significant choppers, is pushing through baby teeth that are equivalent to the adult teeth of some people I know. Its okay though, his teething choices make for some comedic relief.

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More pictures coming soon!

 

We moved!

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I’ve moved over from Weebly to WordPress. I hope its worth it. So far I haven’t figured out a way to import all my other posts so for now I will just link.

http://magnifichat.weebly.com/