Friday, December 31, 2010

Well said!

Today I was over at Small Notebook, and read this: "The quest to organize isn't an end to itself, but a means to accomplish other, bigger, better goals."

With that in mind, I'm going to try and add a system or two to my life in 2011. I'm already enjoying the simplicity of minimum maintenance, and am so excited to think about all that I will be able to accomplish with a system for my closets, or for my internet time, or for working on our property. What's not to love about being organized!?

Yes, I love baskets, too. And closet systems (you know, shelves custom-designed for your closet), and scheduled bathtimes, and electronic appointment calendars that fit inside your cell phone.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Original Clean Queen Doesn't Stage a Picture Post

Today, as I was baking, Katherine called me. I looked down at her, and smiled. She was trying to get toys into my dish-washing gloves. I grabbed my camera and took a picture. So cute.
But what was that?? My baby carrier, draped over the back of the couch. I couldn't post *that* picture; everyone would see how messy things were.

I glanced around the kitchen. Oh, my! How had this happened??

The dishtowel was bedraggled,
the tupperware was sort of thrown into its place,
there was a used banana sprawled all over the fruit dish -

....even the cupboards were open.
And not *neatly* open; they were all at sixes and sevens.

What a mess. I decided that I was taking myself too seriously; that I should post the picture anyways. And for good measure, I'm posting other pictures, too; to shatter Nelleke's nice, but not altogether accurate, image of me as the original Clean Queen. You see, Nelleke?

And no, this wasn't staged.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Buttercup Lives the Simple Life

My sister in law, Renee, wrote this comment on another blog recently:

"The more I read post like this the more I want to give, to live a simpler life, I pray that I could give more and trusting that God will provide only what we need and trying to figure out what are my "wants" and my real "needs" there is a difference between them."

I keep needing to figure that out, too. Living in this small house, I think about this often. Not all the time, but sometimes...
Sometimes... when I get soaked, showering Katherine, because the bathroom is too small to have a tub. Or when we get groceries, and there isn't enough room in the kitchen to put everything away, and I have to keep the cereal in the coat closet. Or when I drive 46 minutes (one way) to do my laundry, because we don't have the room for a washer.

Don't feel sorry for me... I don't! To be honest, I enjoy the things I listed; going to mom's to "do my laundry" (aka visit), having so many groceries the kitchen can't contain them (can you say 'good provider?' I love that man!), and showering a baby that actually pants in eagerness when I mention a shower (love her, too.)

Oh, I'm getting off topic. I meant to say:
When I think about the woman who used to live in this house, I realize how easy I have it! She raised three children in here in the days when this house was still a woodshed, without even things I consider basics, like sinks, and a kitchen.
If I think on, I remember Gladys, my 95-year-old neighbour lady. Born in 1915, she lived through wars, lean days on the farm, miscarriages, and isolation; she grew her family's food, planted an orchard, raised 6 kids, and went to work in town when money was tight. When Katherine and I walk up to see her, she always has something positive to say. She still lives in the old farmhouse; you could say that it's bigger than my house, but she can't use the upstairs; because the stairs are bad for her heart condition.

And here I sit, thinking, "I need more space for my cereal." As Michelle used to say, "Suck it up, Buttercup."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Katherine is One Today!

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward."

I knew it before, but now I *know* it.

It was a good year - praise God.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Good Listen

One of my new favorite things to think over is parenting, and one of my sisters recommended this sermon by Albert Martin. He brings out the Biblical fact that our parenting is to be patterned by God (that's the sermon title, actually; "Parenting Patterned by God").
In this particular part of his series, his focus is on how God relates to His children. He shows the atmosphere of warmth, love, and compassion that characterizes God's relationship to us, and points out that there should be that same atmosphere in the home, between parent and child. SO important!
I enjoyed it, and learned some vital things about mothering. I strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thoughts on the Unfortunate Necessity of Having Another Hot Turkey Sandwich

Nursing is hard work! Lately I have been realizing why it has become common for mothers to stop at 6 months. Katherine eats so much, and mommy eats even more!
Poor Kevin. He was so excited about the apple pie that I had made... and so disappointed to find it all gone after getting one piece. It's a trifle embarrassing for me, eating 2 servings of everything at supper, while he eats only one, but it seems a necessity, these days.
I'm back to my 17-year-old weight, and can't seem to gain anything back. It's time to buy new, smaller, clothing. Maternity outfits, baby-weight still there outfits, regular outfits, and now skinny outfits. I'd rather not.
I worry about going to visit family in Ontario next month; I'm never going to be able to eat constantly while visiting; they'll think I'm addicted to food or something. And it's not just the social aspect of things; the logistics of carrying a purse full of food with me as well as the baby seem too challenging.
Well, I must go and have another chocolate chip cookie... Oh, the trials of motherhood.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

1 reason I'm glad to be home with Katherine:

Informed Christian parents are concerned. Carl F. H. Henry rightly observes, “Training children in the Way is a matter of parental duty. The rebellious child in your own home who on occasion is tempted to tell you to go to the eschatological unmentionable may be the most important potential leader you will ever direct into the service of Christ.”[1] A child is a parent’s greatest missionary enterprise. All other goals are temporal, but a child’s relationship to Christ is eternal.[2]

Henry, Christian Mindset, p. 18.

Phillips and Brown, 221.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Seeing the pictures of Nelleke's sweet new baby online, I remember how nice it was to hold a baby that small. Josiah looks so precious - now that I've had one, I am so aware, with every new baby, what a huge blessing they are from God. What a great thing to give us!
As my baby grows older, God's goodness to us remains obvious. There are lots of times when her behaviour reminds me of the facts of original sin, but grace comes to mind even more often. I love babies.
(Especially my own!)

A few things that make me smile, this week:
- The way she stands up in her crib, her chubby legs shaking with the effort, grinning at me, so excited to be standing.
- The word she says right now: "UpUpUp," which means, basically, "UpUpUp."
- The sign she does for "Daddy;" mainly when I put her in bed, as a method of staying up,
or when I begin to change her....

'Change.' she signs; 'Daddy.' I smile encouragingly. She signs it again. 'Change. Daddy. Change.'

"Oh, Honey," I say to Kevin, "She wants you to do it." So he does.

Best thing I ever did, teaching her sign language.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

17 Months Ago...

Kevin signed his life away as I gleefully looked on.
I have the nicest feeling that he doesn't regret one bit of it.

I don't either.

Monday, May 17, 2010

“Those without a sense of entitlement shall inherit the earth.”

“Those without a sense of entitlement shall inherit the earth.” That’s what he said. Well, that wasn’t his only interpretation, but it was there, amongst a variety of illustrations on the nature of meekness.

That brought me up short. Meekness – yes. Meekness is good. But to consciously deny my own rights? My rights! That was something else.

But here he was, saying that it wasn’t something else at all. That meekness involved forgetting one’s own rights. That my “sense of entitlement,” as a wife, as a woman, as a member of society – that had to go.

He did qualify it. “I’m not saying that there can be no communication and talking over of things.” But at its root, he assured us, meekness meant understanding how worthless we are, in ourselves, apart from God.

I don’t know about you, but in my head, I think that I have a right to say that about him, to slice and dice that nasty person with my words. Don’t you see what s/he did? I have a right to expect my husband to do certain things for me, and I certainly have a right to make like a popsicle if he ignores my needs, the insensitive clod. I have a right to get angry at people who toss McDonald’s wrappers in the ditch on *my* property. To feel bitterness towards them as I trudge along with my garbage bag, cleaning up someone else’s stinking mess.

I have a right to that first kiss, when Kevin comes home.

To be thanked, for my time and energy spent in making that meal.

To receive courteous service at the bank and grocery store.

It’s only fair.

Let’s think about fairness for a moment. When Jesus Christ died because I sinned against God, was that fair?

When I consider that, my perspective changes. How can I insist on getting my ‘rights,’ when Jesus put everything He was rightfully entitled to aside, choosing mercy and love instead?

And how can I do just the opposite, insisting on my rights at the expense of mercy and love? Now *that* wouldn’t be fair.

Inheriting the earth aside, the sense of entitlement needs to go!

And what a nice bonus that is; inheriting the earth. It’s very encouraging, as I carry on in meekness, even when those McD wrappers pile up and the first kiss goes to the baby.

Monday, May 3, 2010

More Baby Signs

My sister told me that her baby only did one sign at a time. For instance, if he learned "more," he would stop doing the sign for "milk." And so I was not surprised when Katherine learned "please" and dropped "change." I still faithfully modeled the signs for her, but she stuck with "please."
(I had a suspicion that she thought it meant "pick me up, Mommy," but that was okay.)
And then, quite suddenly, yesterday, I realized that she did only one sign, because that's what worked. I had been changing her, picking her up, finding her soother, and other things, when she would say "please."
Then, while waiting in a long line at Green Village, she needed a change. So she said "please." I picked her up and snuggled her a bit, then put her back down. Change was impossible right then.
She tried again. I smiled at her, and told her she was a good girl, to be saying please so nicely. One more try. Then, finally, in desperation, she said "change" (which she hasn't said for at least a month), followed quickly by "please."
So I changed her.

In my opinion, babies only say one sign at a time because that's all they need to say!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Here in Lewis Mountain, we have water so hard it would disown its mother. It also layers itself on the sink and taps, making cleaning them virtually impossible.
Impossible, that is, without magic eraser. I recently discovered the Eraser's shining powers, and went to town on my sink, that very day.
When Kevin came home, I told him about it.
"...and look how nice and shiny the sink is! Isn't it nice?" I asked him.
"Mhmm." said Kevin from behind the paper. "Very nice."
I glanced at him and saw his complete lack of interest. "You don't care!" I cried, turning back to the sink, doing my best to appear to be stricken with grief.
Alarmed, he put the paper down and nearly jumped out of his chair, overcome with remorse, probably. Then he noticed that I was faking.
He looked at me disapprovingly.
"Someone who's on the emotional roller-coaster that you're on shouldn't make jokes like that!"

I just laughed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baby Sign Language

Katherine has learned to say "change!"
Her hand sign isn't exactly the same as mine, but it's close enough that we both know what she means. I am enormously excited about this success, and suddenly want to teach her everything: Please. Thank you. More. Milk. Mommy. Daddy. Apple Crisp. And all those other signs you hear about.
The tricky part is, of course, that anything I teach her I must first master myself.
It's the story of my life.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life has a Score

Last Saturday, Kevin recruited some strong men to move a piano into our house.
And then suddenly, he's living in a documentary.
The classical music begins.
Kevin waits for his cue. Around bar 14, he begins.
"...and here, on your left, you will see the ruins of an ancient castle, once occupied by Sir Walter Carmange, of Shropshire.
...Moving on, now, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to draw your attention to this fine example of Romanesque architecture, built in the late 1400's by one of the Queen's closest advisers, Sir James Aylward..."

And so I discover that, in Kevin's experience, classical music has been (mostly) restricted to the soundtrack for documentaries about the United Kingdom.
Now, quite suddenly, Little House on Lewis Mountain - on all day, every day - has a score of its own.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Now nothing makes a mom more defensive than...

Parental Labeling.

You've probably heard of it. In fact, you've probably done it, subconsciously. Or maybe even consciously.
"She's too easygoing." "He's too strict." "They're too organized." "They're all over the place." "She's too proud of him." "She's a mom, but acts as if she was still single." "She's so scared of germs, she washes the baby's hands after a diaper change." "Her kid will get more than his peck of dirt." "They're too suburban." "They're too redneck."

Everyone does it. And who does it better than one's family? They have known you longer than everyone else. They have a vested interest in your children as grandparents, uncles, and aunts. They watch you more closely than they would watch a friend, knowing where you come from and expecting certain things of you.

Families are expert labelers.

I became aware of my family's label for me shortly after my baby reached 2 months. I wasn't surprised to be labeled; I knew *I* did it. What did surprise me, though, was the label itself. "Dinah," they said, "is a worrywart."
A worrywart! Dinah the calm, Dinah the sensible, Dinah the rational - Dinah the worrywart??
Was I?
I knew where it had started. My baby has allergies. Before I figured out what exactly she was reacting to, she spent about 60% of the time feeling sick. Rash, itchyness, congestion, fussiness, and general blah-ness were common.
I told mom about it one day.
"She's sick at least 60% of the time." I said. "It's awful. I'm not drinking milk for a while, to see if that causes it, too. I know nuts are bad already."
The next day, Katherine was doing fine (a 40% day, obviously), and I went to mom's to do laundry.
Says mom: "She looks the picture of health." (Katherine smiles and coos at her.) "I don't know what you're worried about.
I never thought you would be like that, Dinah, worrying about your baby all the time."

I smiled wryly. "Neither did I."

I considered my worries legitimate in the face of that unknown allergy that was making my baby unhealthy and unhappy. But mom, and others in the family, as I soon discovered, thought that babies are just sensitive little people and I should get used to it.

They had a point. They had experience with babies. They *knew.*

But then again, she is my baby. I have experience with this particular baby. I *knew.* I reached up, peeled the label off my forehead, and stuffed it into the garbage can.

If I've labeled you, I take it back. I didn't know.

The moral of this story: You'll never be able to label with complete accuracy. Bring the labeler back to Staples and get your money back. Buy chocolate instead. Relax and enjoy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Little House Tour

It's about time I showed some updated pictures of our house. As it stands, the picture in your mind is probably something like this:

Or even this:
Which is not the way it looks today; not at all.
And so, here's a tour through my house, showing you some of my favorite things.

Pot lights.

My shiny new faucet and deep sink.

Cream-colored counter-top and my favorite dish.

Blue Thistle walls and a light fixture I really love.


Flowers from Kevin

Cupboard doors. I can only show the doors, because the bathroom isn't finished, yet...

Guacamole paint upstairs,

...with white trim.
And, oh!

my baby is awake! End of tour!

You know you have it good when…

  1. You press a button and your van door opens.
  2. You iron four shirts and you think that was a lot.
  3. Your baby shakes her head ‘no’ to tell you when she doesn’t need a change.
  4. You accidentally put extra sugar in your batch of cookies and have to double the recipe.
  5. Your husband says to leave the dishes because he wants to snuggle.
  6. You realize that God has been at work in your life, because an incident that would have bothered you terribly a year ago doesn’t faze you at all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sturdy Legs

I was talking to mom, and told her that we got Katherine a Jolly Jumper.
"She's too little." said mom. "I would never put a baby in one of those until they were at least 9 months."
Says I: "But Sophia has one, and she's only a wee bit older."

Mom paused for a moment, then recovered.

"But Sophia has such sturdy legs."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Window Mistreatments

Inspired by frugalandsimple's "window mistreatments," I made curtains yesterday.

Kevin had been hinting that we needed a curtain for the window at the top of the stairs for quite a while. (Mostly by flying to the light switch and shutting it off every time I walked by wearing my pjs.)

I don't really care for hand sewing, and don't have a sewing machine, so I put it off, waiting for a day when it would be convenient to borrow mom's machine and sew for 5 days straight. As if that's ever convenient. No wonder I procrastinated.

But yesterday, as I was about to head home from Moncton, I remembered those window mistreatments. I could do that.

So I went to Walmart and chose fabric.
"Three meters." I told the girl, guessing at the size of the window, and how much I would need for the other two windows at the back of the house.

While she was cutting, I picked out some iron-on hemming tape. I chose extra strength, just in case.

I picked up a curtain rod, too. (I had measured the window - three and 2/3 purses long, my purse being the only unit of measurement I was sure to have with me in the store)
I took it all home and got started. I didn't have a ruler or measuring tape, but that didn't matter. I held the fabric up to the window for approximate length and width, and used the lines on the floor to guide me as I cut.
This might not be a good idea if you haven't washed your floor in a while. Just saying.

Then I got out my trusty iron and ironed in hems with the tape around each piece of fabric. The tape worked really well! I decided that modern technology would drastically reduce demand for sewing machines.

I folded over the top of the curtain and made a long pocket for my curtain rod to slide through. And that was it! I hung them up.

My seams weren't perfect, but can you tell?

I didn't think so.

It took less than 2 hours, all told, including the time it took to find the screwdriver to mount the curtain rod.
With panel curtains selling for 20$ or more apiece, I figure that I saved 32$. And I got the fabric - somewhere between voile, linen, and cotton - that I really wanted.