Thursday, June 30, 2005

But it was just a little white lie...

She sat in the tree waiting for Booboo. The last time she'd perched in her favourite spot, he'd crawled down the tree to see her, wiggling his way onto her finger when she offered it. She waited and waited for him this time, but he didn't come. I checked the leaves in the nearby branches to see if he was perched there. "Maybe he had to take a nap," I offered, but she wasn't convinced. "I'll wait a little longer," she said, "Maybe he'll come. He doesn't usually have a nap." After several minutes though, he still hadn't come, so I lowered her to the ground.

The girl in the tree was three-year-old Maddie. Booboo was her pet caterpillar - a little green caterpillar she'd found on the front steps one day. Fortunately, there are lots of green caterpillars on our yard these days, and all of them pass for Booboo, so it's not hard to find him when she wants to play. She picks him up and carries him around the yard. He arches his slim back, clutches her skin with tiny suction-cup feet, and explores the architecture of her arm.

Her older sisters look at her with a mixture of respect and disgust. She offers to let them hold her pet, but they hide their hands behind their backs and shake their heads.

After we left the tree behind, she was soon distracted by backyard swings and rubber balls. I returned to my task of washing the car in the driveway.

Before long, I heard her calling me excitedly. "Mommy, MOMMY! I FOUND BOOBOO!" She was jumping up and down beneath the branch where he was hanging by an invisible thread. "He's swingin'!" She put her hand out, and Booboo lowered herself into it. "He came to see me AFTER all!"

Proudly, she carried her pet over to me. "Look Mom. Here he is! He wants to watch you clean the car." Gingerly, she put him down on the ground close to the car door. I sprayed the car window with Windex and tried to step around Booboo as I finished my job.

As three-year-olds do, she disappeared, caught up in some other wonder. But she didn't forget Booboo. A few minutes later, she called from the steps. "Is Booboo still there?"

I looked down at the ground to a horrifying sight. There lay the body of Booboo, crushed beyond recognition. Carelessly, I'd ended his short life under my the heel of my shoe. Quickly, I brushed his body out of sight before Maddie arrived at my side. "Nope," I said, "he crawled away. I think he went looking for adventure." My response satisfied her and she skipped away. Before long, she found Booboo on the other side of the yard. "How'd you get way over here?" she asked her wiggly friend.

So, I ask you, my friends... was I WRONG to tell a little white lie to my three year old daughter? Did she really need to see the broken body of her friend? I think not! I suppose I have a lie AND a murder on my conscience, but that's still better than breaking her heart.

For Matthew

I got a little choked up when I read the link that Anvilcloud sent us to - where Real Live Preacher had written about the death of a premature baby. It sent me back to the time when I said good-bye to my own son. In memory of Matthew, here's a poem I wrote shortly after we lost him. Matthew, I still remember you.


When I no longer move in your womb
And my heart stops beating with yours
Please remember me

When I’ve long since left you
With nothing to hold onto
And no-one to smother with kisses
Please remember me

When you’ve packed away
My never-worn clothes
And the crib with no imprint of me
Please remember me

When my sisters have grown
Past bunkbeds and barbie dolls
And I’m still your forever infant
Please remember me

When the world no longer knows that I was
And those who do call me “fetus”
Please remember me

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The man in my life

Wasn't he a cutie?

Random conversations

Don't ya just love it when random conversations pop out of nowhere and surprise you with their depth and inspiration? Like when you sit next to someone on the bus, expecting to stare out the window all the way home, and instead you find yourself engaged in a mind-blowing conversation about kids and doubts and homosexuality and church and sin? Or when you sit next to another mother at the soccer field, and before you know it you're both admitting how much it scares the shit out of you to be a parent?

I had one of those conversations last night. After the kids were in bed, I escaped to the bookstore for some inspiration. That's my favourite place to go for inspiration - but usually I get it from books, not people. I've been struggling with this major writing project at work, and it just WASN'T coming together, so I went looking for a bit of comfort or solace or whatever. I was trying to write something about "breaking bread" (for a magazine I'm producing) - how, by sharing our resources and getting involved in people's lives, we can extend our community beyond our borders and "break bread" with the global community.

I curled up in one of the big comfy chairs with a stack of books on my lap. Unfortunately, none of them offered me what I was looking for. Little did I know that inspiration was waiting for me - not between the pages of a book, but in the conversation with a stranger.

A young woman in the chair next to me saw that I'd been perusing through the religion/spirituality section. Her opening comment was "What I want to know is what's the difference between Judaism and Christianity?" Normally, in a bookstore, with limited time for my most precious pastime - perusing books, I don't welcome conversation. But this time, since the books weren't giving me what I was looking for, I put them down, and turned my full attention to her. "Well," I said, "I'm not an expert in religions, but I think the essential difference is that Christianity, though based in Judaism, accepted Jesus as their messiah."

It turns out she's a young Jewish woman who feels torn between her old traditions and an attraction to the freedom that she sees in the New Testament - the grace that overcomes the law. She's marrying an orthodox Jew with a long list of "Thou shalt nots" and she's struggling with how much of it she accepts. She thinks the Messiah can offer her freedom from that. At the same time, she's seen too many Christians who think they're better than everyone else because their religion is "superior".

What an interesting conversation we had! What a wise young woman! She had some unique insights into the New Testament, because she'd read it in Hebrew and in English and had tried to understand the differences she found between the two languages. Like the interpretation of the passage that refers to us being called to be perfect (Matthew 5:48 - "be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect")... she said that in Hebrew it means something more like called to growth.

At the end of the conversation, when the bookstore closed, I slipped her my business card. I'm not sure why, or whether she'll contact me, but it just seemed like such a pleasant moment I didn't want to end it without the possibility we could continue the conversation. I think I'd like to hear more about this young woman's journey. Her approach to faith was refreshing and hopeful. She said that, though her mother had raised her in the Jewish tradition, she felt that in some ways, she'd been paving the way for her to come to the Messiah.

At the end of my last post I asked for wise questions. I got some last night. And though we didn't "break bread" last night, it helped inspire me this morning as I wrote (and FINISHED! YAY!) my project. After all, breaking bread is about breaking down the barriers, isn't it?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Just call me "elder Heather"

No, I'm kidding. Don't call me that.

But it's true, I am an elder now. I answered the questions correctly - "yes, with God helping me", so they let me in. I had my feet washed by the pastor (a nice touch, I might add, though I wish I could have washed HIS feet too). I knelt on the floor, the current elders prayed for me, and I was commissioned.

If you think that makes me old and wise and beyond reproach and spiritually mature, then you would be WRONG on all counts. I'm none of those things. I'm weak and foolish and I have a faltering faith. I gossip too much, I'm slothful, I'm impatient, I struggle with arrogance... I have a long list of undesirable qualities that I won't expound on in too much detail, lest you think less of me (yes, I'm insecure and proud too.) But despite all these things, for reasons I'm not sure I understand, people in our church seem to think I have the right giftedness to serve them as elder. I hope they're right.

You could say that, for the most part, I'm working out my faith with "fear and trembling". I don't have very many answers - in fact I have way less now than I used to. The older I get (or should I say the "elder" I get :-), the more the questions outnumber the answers.

My friend Jo said this "I'm glad you're an elder because I know that you understand people like me, people who have trouble with faith." It is for people like Jo that I will be faithful as an elder. For that reason, it was worth accepting the challenge, as much as it still gnaws at my belly somewhat. As much as I can, I will continue to offer a safe place for people with questions. I will try to reserve judgement, and have an open mind and an open heart. I will try to serve in a way that honours people and honours God (or at least the God of my understanding - that's the best I can offer, because my understanding is limited).

Don't come to me for wise answers. But if you have wise questions, I'd be happy to listen.

Friday, June 24, 2005

FINALLY - My "a-ha" moment!

I finally figured out the identity of the mystery person in the airport! Yay! I'm so happy! She came to our church for awhile (haven't seen her lately). I didn't talk to her much, but she looks like an interesting person. I think her name is Mary, but I could be wrong.

Now I can finally sleep at night! I hope she figured it out too, 'cause I'd hate for her to be losing sleep over it!

Back from Ottawa

Was I just in Ottawa? I hardly noticed. It was less than 24 hours (about 21, to be exact), with 8 hours spent in a workshop, 8 hours spent sleeping, and an hour or two for traveling back and forth to the airport. That didn’t leave much room for being a tourist. Other than a quick glimpse of the war memorial and parliament, you could have convinced me I was in almost any city.

Luckily, I’ve been to Ottawa quite a few times or I would have been rather bummed not to be able to wander. We did go for a walk down Sparks street and ate a late supper at an outdoor Lebanese restaurant (yummy falafels), so it wasn’t all business.

I was at a workshop about Food Aid. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers on Food Aid converged on Ottawa for the day. I was moderator for one of the panel discussions, which was kinda fun. I thought I’d be in way over my head, because I’ve only worked in this field for a year and didn’t think I had a very solid grasp on the issues compared to those people who’ve been immersed in it for most of their adult lives. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I knew more than I thought I knew, and there wasn’t a lot there that I didn’t understand or hadn’t heard before. Either these brilliant minds were dumbing it down for us lesser beings, or I’m smarter than I think I am. :-) I’m hoping the latter is the case (please don’t burst my bubble if you know otherwise).

This was one of those trips where I realize how many people I know. There were 2 people on the flight on the way there who I used to work with, and then there were 4 people in the Ottawa airport who(m?) I knew. None of these people were connected to each other – I know them all from different places. Bizarre. Most of them work for the federal government, and because I spent so many years in the government in several different departments, I know a lot of people by now.

What’s bugging me though, was the person I ran into whom I just can’t place. I didn’t have much time to chat with her (I was running to catch my connecting flight), but as I ran past, we both said something like “don’t I know you from somewhere”? We’d been on the same flight and clearly she’d been trying to figure out who I was too. She said she knew my name was Heather, but she really couldn’t figure out how she knew me. I’m still puzzled. Who is she? I hope that one of these nights when I’m lying awake trying to figure out who she is, I’ll have an “a-ha” moment and remember. It’s REALLY bugging me!

Okay, here's another thing that's bugging me... I have no idea if I used "who" and "whom" correctly in the above 2 paragraphs. That's one of those grammatical things that stumps me. But I guess I don't care enough to grab my grammar book and check, so if I got it wrong, I'm sure one of my grammar-obsessed family members or friends (yes, there are several of them) will point it out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The view from the front seat

One more time before I go

I leave for Ottawa this afternoon. It's a short trip this time - less than 24 hours. Tomorrow night, I sleep in my own bed again. It's a bit of a shame I can't stay longer - it would be a lovely time of year to enjoy that beautiful city - but I'm sure my family will be happy to have me back so quickly.

I feel so very lucky that, for the past 8 years, I've been in jobs that allow me to indulge my passion for travel now and then. Most of them are fairly short (except for the biggie to Africa in February) which is better for the sake of family unity. I wouldn't want them to get TOO used to not having me around - I still want them to need me at least a LITTLE.

Marcel does an awesome job of keeping things going while I'm gone. Sometimes I think he does better WITHOUT me. In the mornings, for example, when I happen to be there when the kids get ready for school, I get in the way and the process ends up taking longer.

I love going to the airport. I love walking down the bridge and stepping onto the airplane. I love paging through the in-flight magazine. I love the view of the cottony clouds beneath me. I love watching the landscape change as you fly over it. I love stepping off the plane, picking up my luggage, and stepping onto foreign soil. I love the mix of excitement and apprehension when you've left the airport and you're not quite sure where you're going or how to get there.

About the only time I DIDN'T like being on a plane was the last of 5 flights on the way home from Africa when I'd already been delayed for more than 24 hours, lost my luggage in Rome, had to spend a night in Amsterdam, got re-routed through Vancouver instead of Toronto, and ended up stuck in the window seat in the very back row of the plane. Talk about a claustrophic place to sit! Especially at the end of a VERY long trip!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

And then, sometimes, I kinda like him

My mom's new husband dropped in tonight. Mom was away with her sisters, so he'd gone for a bike ride and ended up at our house. It surprised me. He just dropped in and hung out with Maddie and me in the back yard for awhile.

It was easy. It was comfortable. There was no pickin' fights about Biblical interpretation. He gave Maddie a mint, teased her a little, and talked about Mom. It was nice to see him smile when he said her name. It was nice to know he likes us enough to show up even when it's not Mom's idea.

I have to let these little moments matter just as much as the other ones.

What you would have overheard if you'd followed us into the bookstore yesterday

Julie: (reaching for my hand) Some kids don't LIKE hangin' out with their Moms. But WE do.

Nicole: (reaching for my other hand) Yeah, WE like our Mom!

*Grin* Kinda wish I'd had a tape recorder. I might want to play that back to them in a few years when the hand-holding is over.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Painting can be good therapy. At least when you don’t have a child at the bottom of the ladder saying “I want to help you paint. I want to help you paint. I NEED to help you PAINT!”

N&J&M are gone to school, my painting helper is gone to the sitter, and I am alone with my thoughts and a paintbrush. It’s getting a little hot out there, so I’m escaping to my basement for some coolin’ time.

Here are some of the thoughts my mind wandered to while I painted and gazed out over the rooftops of my neighbours…

1. In this world of changing fashions, why hasn’t tiny white paint specks on the face become a trend in cosmetic design?

2. Is the backyard neighbour leading as sad and pathetic a life as I THINK he is? From my vantage point on the ladder, I had a great view of his well-manicured yard that only HE enjoys. He’s got a nice deck with 4 chairs around the table, but in the 6 years we’ve lived here, I’ve only ever seen HIM sit at that table – enjoying his barbecued steak alone. It looks hopeful – that yard of his – like it was meant to be shared. But the only eyes that gaze upon those flowerbeds and ornamental trees are his. And occasionally mine. I suspect he looks at our messy yard with some loathing and I KNOW he’d like us to trim our overgrown trees so that they shed less leaves on his yard. Perhaps, though, he looks at the swing set with some mixture of jealousy. And perhaps, when he throws the stray balls and Frisbees back into our yard, he wishes he had a reason to keep them.

3. One other question about the backyard neighbour – did he have a family tragedy this past weekend? He left the garden hose strewn across his yard. Yikes! I’m afraid that only a tragedy could cause him to be so careless and MESSY!

4. Is it a sign of the onset of insanity if I talk to little green worms? I was concerned that it might be Maddie’s friend BooBoo and I didn’t want to be the cause of his untimely death, so I urged him to get out of the way of the killer paintbrush.

5. In what universe is it considered good family relations to pick a fight with the daughter of your new wife about the lack of Biblical basis for her new role as elder?

6. If a ladder falls in the backyard, and the only person there to witness it is lying unconscious on the ground, does it make a sound? (Don’t worry, it’s just a hypothetical. No ladders fell.)

7. Will the new neighbour next door leave the back yard as overgrown and unkempt as the last one? If not, I’ll miss it. Partly since I’m rather fond of the wild look and partly because it makes OUR yard look almost manicured. But I’m sure the other neighbours won’t miss it – especially the one who was complaining about the hornets’ nest forming under the unruly pile of compost in the corner.

8. Is unkempt a word? Is kempt?

9. Am I ANY closer to building some semblance of a team out of the ragtag group of people I’m supposed to be leading? Did ANY of them get any value out of our recent team retreat? Is it worth the bother? Do leopards change their spots?

10. Why is it that every time I climb the ladder I forget one of the things I was supposed to bring up with me?

11. If I paint the trim of the house dark green, does it mean I’ll have to paint the fence and the deck the same colour? If so, perhaps I should have thought of that BEFORE I went to all this trouble.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Just checking...

If I lock her in her room until she turns 4, will I get arrested? I promise I'll slip her food under the door, and probably even let her come out for potty breaks. Ah, c'mon... PLEASE!

It seems Maddie has become possessed by the "three-year-old-there-must-be-at-least-ONE-boundary-I-haven't-tested-yet" demon. The fun easy kid who once was has been replaced by this OTHER creature I hardly recognize and am not particularly fond of. At this moment, Marcel has left the house, primarily because she pushed every last button he had and he really didn't want to be found guilty of child abuse. I'm next.

Whoever came up with "terrible twos" hadn't yet lived through the "more-horrible-than-living-with-the-tasmanian-devil" threes.

You know that advertisement where the kid in the back seat is busy emptying the mother's wallet and tossing all the items out the window? Yeah, well, not so funny when it happens to YOU! Fortunately nothing actually left the car, but she had torn apart everything in the two bags in the back seat of the car, and hung three things out the window before I managed to get things under control. Thank God for automatic windows that I can control from the driver's seat.

Oh, and before the "hanging things out the window" incident, I was particularly impressed when she spit at me in Zellers.

Those of you who still have illusions that Maddie is a delightful, happy-go-lucky, charm-the-pants-off-ya child, THINK AGAIN!

Anyone want to babysit? Like, maybe for a YEAR?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Happy Birthday Julie!

Happy Birthday Julie

My dearest Julie;

You turn 8 years old today. You’re getting so grown up and so smart! Today (and every day) I want you to know how much I love you and how proud I am of you. I’m so glad you’re my daughter. I’m so glad God made you and that he gave me the privilege of being your Mom. I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

Eight years ago, you entered our family. We were so excited to see you. You were beautiful right from the start. We were happy to see your red hair. I love red hair, and so did your Grandpa. He always wanted a red-headed granddaughter. I’m sure he’s watching you grow from heaven and he’s very proud of you, his Red Bowler.

You were a real treat as a baby – so easy to look after. You didn’t need too much – as long as you got fed and cared for, you didn’t demand too much more attention. Your big sister Nikki was quite curious about this new person Mommy and Daddy brought home. She wanted to play with you and cuddle you. (I know she doesn’t want to cuddle you much now, but she used to!)

We knew from an early age that you were special. You learned to talk at a really early age – earlier than most kids. When you weren’t even 3 years old (younger than Maddie is now), the day care teachers told me that, when you saw 2 kids arguing, you suggested that they should compromise. They were amazed that you’d use such big words even though you were still pretty small. You kept learning and kept amazing the grown-ups with how many words you knew.

This carried on when you started going to school. You hardly took any time to learn to read. It seemed like one day you didn’t know how to read, and then suddenly the next day you did. Before long, you were reading chapter books. And now, 2 days before your 8th birthday, you finished the 4th Harry Potter book. Wow! Not too many kids read that much before they’re eight! I hope you keep it up because a love for books is a really valuable thing to have. It opens up the world for you – shows you all kinds of interesting things and teaches you to think.

You learned other things quickly too. Before you even started kindergarten, you wanted to know how many halves were in a certain number. “Mom,” you’d say, “how many halves are there in eight?” I’d tell you to guess, and you were usually right. That was one of your favourite games for awhile.

You’ve always been my most cuddly kid. I can usually count on you to crawl up into my lap and sit with me. You give great hugs. One of my favourite parts of the day is when I get off the bus after work and you come running down the sidewalk and throw your arms around me. It makes me feel special.

I love your sense of humour. You like making people laugh. When I was in the hospital with Matthew, you came into my room and hopped like a bunny because you wanted to see me smile. You still do things to try to make me smile. I love to see the twinkle in your eye because it usually means you’re playing tricks on me or thinking of things that will make me laugh.

I love to see determination in your face. When you make up your mind to do something, you usually figure out a way to do it, even when other people don’t think you’ll be able to. When you decide to bake, you want to do it YOUR way. When you want to learn to ride your bike, you want to figure it out YOUR way. Sometimes I argue with you, because I’m a lot like you and I like to do it MY way, but most of the time, when I just let you figure it out for yourself, you find a way. I was so proud of you when you learned to ride a bike – you made up your mind to do it, and you tried and tried until it worked. Now I love to go for bike rides with you. We have great conversations, and you’re not afraid to try new things.

You are a very compassionate girl. Often, when you have a treat that Maddie doesn’t have, I don’t even need to ask you to share because you think of it yourself. You like to make other people happy, and often that means sharing what you have with them. You even buy other people Slurpees sometimes because you don’t want to be the only one enjoying a treat.

I was so proud of you at your piano recital last night. You’ve been learning piano as quickly as you learn so many other things in your life. Keep it up, and soon you’ll get to learn to play drums, just like you want to. I’m glad you want to be unique and learn a different instrument. I know you’ll do well.

You’re a fun, interesting, smart, kind, beautiful girl. You make my life better. You bring something very special to our family. God made you unique – different from anyone else. He gave you special gifts and talents and you’ll find great ways of using them. I know you will always make people smile, you will show kindness to a lot of people, and you’ll continue to love learning just like you do now.

Thank you for being my beautiful daughter. I love you. Happy Birthday!

Love Mom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Middle C

She just needed to find Middle C.

We arrived early at the piano recital. Her first piano recital. Nervous energy straightened her spine and made her twist the ring on her finger. "Mom," she whispered, "what if I can't find Middle C?"

Only a few people had arrived so far, so we walked to the front of the room where the imposing grand piano stood. "Which one do you think it is?" I asked. She pointed. "Can your remember where it is?" I asked. "Yes - it's just below the letter F in the name."

Her turn didn't come until far down in the program, but when it came, she walked to the front, sat down, and played flawlessly. She found Middle C. She grinned a shy half-grin of pride as she walked back to her seat.

She's not alone, I thought. We're all looking for Middle C. We all need to know where our starting point is - our point of reference. Once we figure that out, we can move forward with confidence. Once we know where our security is - our centre - we've got it made.

This much I know

A body is not meant to function with only 3 hours of sleep. At least not my body. And certainly not on a day when I have to sit through an 8 hour board meeting. Where's that intravenous needle? I need CAFFEINE!

Some day, soon, I hope, my children will all be healthy again, and I will get to SLEEP!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I’m not particularly fond of catchy little sayings. Especially Christian ones. You know what I’m talking about – “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, “WWJD” – I can’t even think of any more because I’ve blocked them from my memory.

This mild dislike bubbles into pure loathing when I see these “pearls of wisdom” etched into Christian kitsch. Walking into an average Christian bookstore makes me shudder. Wading through the clap-trap of “test-a-mints” and Christian bobble-heads to get to the books is too painful to endure. So I very rarely set foot in those places. My dear friend Michele says it makes her want to do her best tae kwon do kick and destroy all those glass shelves of Christian mockery. (If you want to read a good book about this, check out “Addicted to Mediocrity”.) If you share my opinion, you might enjoy a perusal of “Truth is Stranger than Fiction” at the Wittenburg Door. Or check THIS out for a good laugh.

While the principle behind it may be reasonably sound, I hope no one EVER gives me a bracelet or bumper sticker or t-shirt with the letters “WWJD” emblazoned on it. What would Jesus do? Well, for starters, I don’t think he’d wear one of those bracelets! Or etch his name on plastic bobble-heads. He made trees and mountains, for God’s sake, why the heck would he want to associate himself with PLASTIC?

That’s my rant for the day, but that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. On the topic of WWJD, yes, I DO try to live by Christ’s example (or at least on my better days), but often I find myself thinking in terms of WW(fill in the blanks with the name of one of my friends or family)D. When I’m struggling with being a parent, I consider the super-mom in my life, and ask myself WWCD (what would Cathie do). When I’m stressed out with how messy my house is getting, I think about the clean freak and wonder WWDD (what would Diane do). There’s a long list for me…here are just a few…

taking a good photograph, hosting a party – WWCD (Cynthia)
making people laugh, understanding politics – WWMD (Marcel)
planting/caring for flowers, crafting word pictures – WWDD (Dwight)
doing computer-techie stuff, buying stereo or computer equipment – WWBD (Brad)
interpreting scripture, questioning “truth” – WWDD (Dad)
crafting a poem, initiating conversation with a stranger – WWSD (Sue)
coming up with teaching ideas for my kids, being a gracious hostess – WWLD (Lorna)
being a fun uncle/auntie, pleasing people – WWJD (J-L)
baking a cake, showing lots and lots of love – WWMD (Mom)
showing compassion, making people feel valued – WWLD (Linda)
being authentic, making kick-ass soup - WWMD (Michele)

On my more self-judgmental days, I can interpret that as weakness – that I don’t have enough confidence in my own abilities to trust my own judgment, or that I’m not relying on God enough to lead me. But on my better days, I like to think of it as letting people impact and inspire me.

There are lots of significant people in my life, and I like the fact that they inspire me. I think we should be open to letting people touch us, teach us, and change us. I don’t think we were meant to figure it all out on our own.

That’s part of the reason I like blogging and reading other blogs. I like sharing my moments of inspiration, and letting other peoples’ moments of inspiration touch me. It helps to know that there are other people trying to figure out some of the same things I’m trying to figure out.

And now that I’ve gotten to know a few blog friends, my list of WW_D will get longer. Thanks for that - but don't expect me to put it on a t-shirt!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Through the ears of a child

Don't you wish, sometimes, that you could hear the world through the ears of a child?

Saturday, in the backyard, Maddie heard the birds chirping in the tree and said "MOM! The birds can talk too!"

Today, in the laundry room, she heard the thumping of the washing machine and said "HEY! It's making music!" She even made up a song to go with the rhythm of the machine. It was something about dying monsters in the zoo. Not sure where that came from. But what a treat to hear music in the mundane things in life! From now on, when I'm doing the dreaded laundry, I'll have to listen for the music.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The interview

What fun! I got a real kick out of all those comments on the last post. It seems that when I'm feeling the least profound I illicit the most response. Not sure what that says, but I'll take it for what it's worth.

I got interviewed by my sister, ccap. She sent me the following five questions. Just for fun, 'cause she was hangin' around watching me, I asked Nikki the same questions. I included hers here too, because most of hers are better than mine!

1) If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Nikki's answer: “burp really loud so that you cause earthquakes. So Saddam Hussein would come out of his hole and die. Mwwaa-ha-haa!”

My answer: I can’t think of anything particularly meaningful, and since the thing I long for right now is a clean house, I’ll just say the ability to snap my fingers and have my house spotless. Guess I'm in a practical frame of mind these days.

2) If there were one childhood experience that you had that you could protect your children from having what would it be?

Nikki said: “when your mom says NO to Slurpees”

My answer: I played baseball when I was a kid, but I was never particularly athletic. I usually got stuck in the outfield because my skills weren’t worthy of the infield. I remember this one girl who’d moved to our town a year or two before. She was older than me and she was a bully. And she was good at sports. She hardly ever missed the ball. The day I remember in particular, I missed the ball when it was hit to my section of the outfield. She was in the outfield with me and she started yelling at me for missing the ball. When my mom picked me up after the game, I cried all the way home. It was one of my worst memories. Mom said I could quit baseball if I wanted to, but I really didn’t want to, so I stuck it out, even though I was scared of her the rest of the season. I hate bullies. I hate it when a person makes another person feel small. I wish my kids never had to experience being bullied.

3) What aspect of your daily routine do you look forward to most?

Nikki said: “playing on the computer when I get to go on IMDB”

My answer: I love it when all the kids are in bed, the housework is done (or at least that portion of it that I feel I need to do that day) and I can crawl into bed and read a book for awhile. On my worst days, when I’m really tired or when I get to bed late, I only make it through a page or two, but on my best days, I go to bed right after the kids and read for an hour or more.

4) What trait is most annoying to you in other people? Elaborate.

Nikki said: “there’s a guy in my school who pees in his pants”

My answer: Narrow-mindedness. I get really annoyed with people who have no flexibility to consider other ideas. I find there are incredibly narrow-minded people on both the left and the right side of the political spectrum, and that ticks me off. And c'mon, really, don't they know that I'm right and they're not??? teehee!

5) If you were attending a costume party and had all the time in the world to design a costume and had every item necessary at your disposal what would your first 2 picks be for the ultimate costume?

Nikki said: “lots of jewellery and lots of funky clothes… I would like to dress up as Oprah Winfrey or Michael Jackson”

My answer: Oh boy, this is a tough one. “all the time in the WORLD?” Yeah, but you KNOW I still wouldn’t get around to doing it until the night before! Hmmm…let’s see… some day I’d like to try to dress up like the world – make a big globe out of foam, paint all the continents - you get the picture. And perhaps another idea might be to dress like a peacock – a male peacock – with the magnificent plumage trailing behind me and the feathers that look like giant eyeballs. (I think I should come back to this question when I’m in a more imaginative frame of mind- that's the best I can do for now.)

Anyone else want to try?

The Official Interview Game Rules
1. If you want to participate, leave a comment saying "interview me." (Make sure I have your email address.)

2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.

3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I wanna be profound

I wanna sit down at this computer and type something profound and noteworthy. I wanna be creative and brilliant and wax poetic about something meaningful. I wanna make you laugh or make you cry or make you sit in awe of the way I string together words.

But I got nothin'. Big ZIPPO. Zilch. Nada. Don't know why, but I'm drained dry. Got no creative spark, even when I dig down deep. The only thing down there, in the place where there USED to be a creative spark, is a pile of smoldering embers, soggy and wet from too many days of rain, rain, and more rain.

So, in the absence of brilliance, here's a list of boring random thoughts...

1. I just finished reading "Secret Life of Bees". MAN I wish I could write like that. (Yup, for those of you who were wondering, that was one of my purchases with my birthday money.)

2. Tonight, after a long and frustrating evening, in which it seemed the only way I was interacting with my children was in the form of argument, I walked into the kitchen and heard the song Marcel had playing. "How could I live without you" - by Trisha Yearwood. That was one of the songs we danced to at our wedding. Right there, in the kitchen, tonight, we danced again. The kids were in bed, and it was just him and I in the kitchen. Yeah, go ahead and smile, 'cause it was a nice moment between two people who might forget sometimes, but after 12 years, are still pretty crazy about each other. And in the words of Trisha... How could I live without him? There was one day when I thought I might have to learn to live without him, but thank God, I didn't have to.

3. We've been doing interviews for one of the director positions at work this week. We've done six and have one more to go. Part of me loves being on THIS side of the table - getting to ask the questions and watching how people struggle to present themselves in the right light. What makes them answer the way they do? And why is that I form an opinion of a person almost before they've finished answering the first question? Do those opinions have anything to do with reality? But there's another part of me that finds this completely exhausting. And by the sixth interview, I have a heck of a time trying to keep them all straight. And then, the other part of it is having some empathy for the person on the other side of the table. All of the people we interviewed are from different cities and most from different countries, and so all of them have probably had to have conversations with their families - "if I get this job, we'll have to move away from home." And yet, only one of them will get it, and so the others will have to live with the disappointment, and tell their families that no, mommy/daddy didn't get the job this time. That's the part where I don't really like having their future in my hands.

4. PLEASE somebody make the rain go away. That's ENOUGH already! I got soaked and muddy biking home from work today, and I just wanted to crawl into the bathtub and CRY!

5. If I can JUST survive next week (board meetings, team retreat that I have to lead, major project deadlines) I MIGHT actually be able to take a couple of days off. Oh, I sure do hope so!

6. Somebody said to me today (not one of the people we were interviewing, by the way) "If you don't have passion for something, then you shouldn't be doing it. Find someone else who can do it better." It's not entirely practical, 'cause there are LOTS of things we have to do that don't have anything to do with passion, but I think he's partly right. But sometimes you just have to trudge forward and hope the passion catches up with you.

I think I'll go to bed now. Maybe the beauty sleep will help revive that creative spark. Or maybe not, and I'll slug (is that a word I can use as a verb?) through another sloggy soggy day just hoping some light will appear.

By the way, hello to Glenda! Don't know you, but I hear (from Michele) that you're reading, and you're welcome! If Michele likes you, I'm sure you'd be a friend of mine, 'cause Michele's got GREAT taste!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Three things

My blogging energy is flagging, so I just resorted to responding to Gina's "three things" tag.

3 names I go by:
Heather, Mom, Buddy

3 screen-names I've had:
maniju, hplauren, gypsywannabe

3 physical things I like about myself:
my hands, my ears, my feet (they’re nice and little and I can often find shoes in the bargain bin, ‘cause they don’t fit anyone else – unfortunately, they’re on their way to becoming my least favourite, ‘cause I’m getting old and now require custom orthotics)

3 physical things I dislike about myself:
my boobs are too big, my butt is too big, my nose is unattractive

3 parts of my heritage:
mennonite, farm-girl, Manitoban

3 things I am wearing right now:
my wedding ring, a “Make Poverty History” white band, my favourite underwear

3 favorite bands / musical artists:
U2, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan (ah, c’mon, can’t I say some more… The Waifs, Wailin’ Jennies, Sting… I could go on…)

3 favorite songs:
One Voice (Wailin’ Jennies), World’s on Fire (Sarah McLachlan), London Still (The Waifs)

3 things I want in a relationship:
respect, good conversations, humour

3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me:
muscular legs, a good smile, eyes

3 of my favorite hobbies:
reading, writing, cycling

3 things I want to do really badly right now:
have a nap, have a hot bath, hide (can you tell I’m over-tired from having sick kids and too much work to do?)

3 things that scare me:
watching one of my children get ridiculed and knowing I can’t protect them, finding out I’m not as good at writing as I think I am, and one of my lifelong fears is getting buried alive (I read a story in the Reader’s Digest about that when I was a kid, and I’ve never quite let go of the fear)

3 of my everyday essentials:
my computer, hand lotion (‘cause my hands are ALWAYS dry), and these days, since my feet got old and wimpy, my custom orthotics for my shoes

3 careers you have considered or are considering:
writer, teacher, and this is what my grade 9 prediction was – a social worker living on a ranch (it also turns out that while I was persuing my seemingly useless BA, my mom was busy telling people I was studying social work. Turns out I’d be a lousy social worker, though :-)

3 places you want to go on vacation:
ANYWHERE! but more specifically… Brazil, Thailand, Australia

3 kids' names you like:
I could be boring and say Nicole, Julie, and Madeline (my kids’ names) but here are a few more… Natalie, Samuel, and… here’s one from my childhood – when I was a little girl, I always thought I’d have a daughter named Heidi

3 things you want to do before you die:
skydive (I think I might try on my 40th birthday – next year!), travel to at least 20 more countries, publish a book

3 ways I am stereotypically a boy:
I’m a lousy housekeeper, I hate the mall, I’d rather talk politics than fashion

3 ways I am stereotypically a chick:
I like to soak in a hot bath with candlelight and good music, sometimes I’d rather read a book than have sex (sorry Buddy), I worry about my kids fitting in at school

3 celeb crushes:
Liam Neeson, James Spader (something dangerous about him), Paul Newman (he may not be that hot anymore, but he’s just so noble and strong)

Anyone else want to play?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Maddie, again

In case you're not sick of Maddie stories yet, you can find one on Linda's blog. Linda hung out with Maddie for awhile yesterday, and found it worth writing about. And while you're there, stick around and meander through Linda's posts - she's a great writer and an interesting person. You'll be glad you did.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. We've got a great "village" and we're glad Linda's a part of it :-) And, as you'll see in Linda's post, Uncle J-L's got a unique and interesting role in that village too.

Friday, June 03, 2005


"Hello, my name is Heather, and I am a plant killer." Now everybody chime in "Hello Heather."

Is there a place for "plant killers" anonymous? I need to bare my soul. As much as it pains me to admit it, I have a black thumb. I am surrounded by green thumbs whom I love and admire - brother, sister, sisters-in-law, father-in-law, mother, co-workers, friends, blog friends, you name it - and yet, none of their abilities to charm the earth have rubbed off on me.

I love plants. I want to be surrounded by them. I couldn't BARE to live in one of those housing developments which are devoid of green. Both houses we've bought have been surrounded by big, old lovely trees. Fortunately, I haven't managed to kill the trees yet (except the one in front of our house is looking a little sickly and I fear it may have heard the rumours whispered by all the other plants and is cowering in fear of me).

Other than trees, plants enter my life, and before long, they give up theirs. I have taken possession of hundreds of plants in my lifetime, and as much as I vow to be kind to them, I kill them all. It doesn't matter what it is - houseplant, garden plant, cactus, the plant that everyone says "there's no WAY you can kill this one" - I have a remarkable ability to put an end to their green life on this earth. Perhaps that's the REAL reason I like dandelions - because it's the ONLY plant I can't kill. You've gotta admire the pluckiness of a plant like THAT!

It really pains me to admit this, especially since most of the friends and family who read this blog are of the green thumb variety. I feel like there is a black mark on my personality. I even wondered about the wisdom of having children - if I can't keep a PLANT alive, should I really take the risk of letting children enter my death-trap?

Oh, I suppose this is my cross to bear. All you plant lovers out there - please forgive me. It's not for lack of love that these plants died. I really DO care for them - that's the reason I stopped bringing them into my house or yard. I want them to LIVE and flourish and there seems to be little hope of that if I bring them home.

And so, I humbly acknowledge my weakness and say simply that I am forever grateful to those of you who CAN keep plants alive, because then I can at least enjoy them from a distance - on YOUR yards or in YOUR homes rather than mine.

(And if anyone out there in blogland is wondering, yes I DID manage to bring home 3 lovely daughters and have kept them all alive and healthy! So it seems my black thumb only relates to plants and not children. Whew!)

why you shouldn't get dressed in the semi-dark

Got to work this morning and realized that, even though I plucked these pants from the clean laundry pile, they are covered in grease stains. Big ones - the size of loonies - all down the front of my pants. How could I not have noticed this while I was pulling them on this morning?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I'm SO honoured!!!

Really, wouldn't YOU be honoured too if you got this personalized letter from the PREMIER OF ALBERTA inviting you to visit his province? Gosh, I just don't know what to say! Ralph wants ME! I'm flabbergasted! Do you think he'd take me out for a night on the town with his beer drinking buddies? Just think - he could talk politics with Marcel and we could ask him why his neck is so red! Or maybe, instead of just sending me letters on pretty stationary, he could share some of his oil wealth.

B&S - thanks alot for whatever you signed us up for. Sure do appreciate the 2 for 1 coupon for...(drum roll please)... a museum! Makes it worth a trip to Alberta, just for that!