Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Cares

Christmas came and went so quickly, maybe it feels that way because of the main holidays falling on the weekend this year. I was so busy the two weeks before Christmas tying up last minute stuff, there were no thoughts of finding time to blog. This week I find the rush to have passed, remnants of Christmas wrap and cardboard boxes cleaned up, gifts organized and ready for use and wondering how long I should leave up the decorations. It feels so good to take some down time this week: puzzling, eating left overs, reading, watching the kids play with their Christmas toys and drinking coffee with Wayne.

We had an slightly different Christmas this year, for one our gatherings were spaced and allowed us to not feel so rushed from place to place. We enjoyed our first Christmas Day at home with our little family with nowhere to go. It was good timing to be home because we were feeling a little under the weather over Christmas. A very welcoming Christmas gift was Mom and Dad coming over with chicken noodle soup and spending time with us. Our family gatherings went well with games, chatter, tons of good food and good times. Hanna was so excitedto take part in all the Christmas events and Jake was pretty merry along the way despite the colds and sniffles that we're still fighting.

Hanna took so much delight in her gifts, especially the red night stand Wayne built her. She was so proud when we moved it beside her bed and has arranged all of her special things in the drawers. I also received a handmade gift from Wayne that he crafted in his woodshop. He's been so crafty in that little shop lately and he's full of ideas for future projects. His delving into woodworking again reminds of our first Christmas together when we dated and his gift to me was a pine hope chest that built for me. I knew then we were on a road to a life together and I'm so thankful to be spending my Christmases with this man who shares his love, laughter, and talents with me. Wayne had some Christmas holidays this year that weren't by choice but rather because of big repairs to our semi truck. The time off was certainly costly but we invested that time into much more important matters of the heart and family. I heard somewhere in last while that Christmas time is when we feel the Lord so close at hand and heart because of it being the time he came to Earth. Christmas brings about a focus on relationships and brotherly love and bringing about a new perspective for the new year ahead. That semi truck certainly takes much of our focus as it brings about our provision but along with that it's brought much stress for Wayne this last year. This last week has taught us though that God has pulled us through a year of this venture, it still seems an uncertain furture, but what is true and faithful each day is that God has provided us with each other, our children and our home and hearts where He is showing us His will. One of my ultimate gifts this Christmas was the strength He gave us to put aside the anxiety and worries that followed us all year. In the time of test we worked it out together, felt God close at hand and were able to fully find the reason for the season.

I never did take time to wish my online friends Christmas greetings. So I just pray that you all had a very merry Christmas and that you experienced much joy, love and peace.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Happenings Here at Home

I can't believe it already the 1st of December!  A busy month ahead of me as Christmas activities and preparations come into full swing. A busy month behind me as I've (almost) fall cleaned my house from top to bottom and have begun many activities. With fall cleaning I've gotten back into my groove of simplifying and organizing my home. A lot of things made their way to the MCC store or to the landfill. Pictures and frames waiting by the wayside are finally appearing on the walls thanks to me finally acknowledging that I do have some handywoman skills. I've done some rearranging that my back is suffering for now however I'm quite enjoying my new crafting area. Thanks to my mom we have her old dated floral couch set in our basement and it's looking not so 'tacky' as they completely compliment the colors on the walls. So now Wayne and I are sitting in comfort while we watch Jets games. Did you catch that? Yes, I'm watching hockey on TV. Something I thought I would never do. Not only that, I can now attach names to faces and am actually paying attention to the game. Shocking, I know. He hasn't said it out right but I quite certain Wayne is enjoying me taking part in game night dates.  

The kids have had quite the month too. Jake is in high gear in this house and I find myself placing things higher and forever checking to see of the stair gate is closed. He's already managed to have a second black eye after a nasty encounter with the corner of the dishwasher. The tough little guy was back to his dimpled smile only a half minute later. He's screeching a lot and had been driving us a little wild in the evenings as those eye teeth are taking their sweet old time in coming out. He's finally starting to get a little more cuddly but whips away so fast when those diaper tabs come undone and he's free. He's a workout alright trying to wrestle him back into clothing. Hanna has taken it upon herself to become very 'bossy' over her brother and tries her best(or worst) to undermine my authority. She's changed a lot in the last couple of weeks, a bigger girl attitude and just bit of growing up I think. She's been playing so much and using quite the imagination. Her latest gig is 'packing up' she fills every suitcase, bag, and purse to the max(but quite organized) and carries them around and then 'unpacks'. Pretend makeup has her quite busy to  thanks to a two dollar Dollarama buy. Much time has also been spent riding her bike in Wayne's woodworking shop while he's working.

So basically that alot of what we've been up to. At the moment I spend too much time on Pinterest, have taken up crocheting, am making lists to keep organized, reading books that have been stacking up for a while, enjoying the snow landscape, and sipping on a lot of coffee and hot chocolate. A lot of what's going on now is gearing up for Christmas and waiting like Hanna is, for "Jesus' birthday party"

The pics below are moments that have made me smile and brightened my days.

Jake finds himself stuck in a window frame while I'm fall cleaning, it was quite dramatic. 

Crocheting a scarf after a lovely visit with a friend who gave me the how-to lesson. So rewarding to see it take shape.

Our simple country Christmas tree.

This pumpkin is quite settled in for the winter I'd say.

Those lights were only a novelty until he got all tangled up. Kind of  an attempted photo shoot that you just give up on and can't help but sit and laugh.

And who could resist all that love and affection. He looks just smitten; and got about a dozen kisses.

Here's to more love and laughs.
God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Farewell Fall

I've been on a blogging break since the end of October as I've been scrambling to get all kinds of things done before Winter really sets in. Fall cleaning, babysitting, preparing for a bake sale,meetings, Ladies morning out, chasing my crawling boy around, doing a lot of puzzles with Hanna, watching Hockey with my Hubby(still can't believe I'm getting into it) putting outside things away, hauling garbage away to the dump, woodcutting work bee at our place, organizing and simplifying, the icing on the cake: an unexpected trip last weekend to Grand Forks with no kiddos in tow.(although the best part is coming home to them again.) All in all, a busy few weeks. What's not done: the windows are not cleaned from the outside, the chickens and cats need heat lamps and more straw, procrastinating on cleaning my kitchen and etc. I'll get to it someday soon but at the moment it's visions of Christmas, crafting, visiting, shopping, hot chocolate, baking and coziness.

The shifting of seasons is such a beautiful time. Each year children look out the window in awe at the first snowfall, eager to get outside and feel it on their faces. The clean blanket of white covers what is already the dull grayness of fall. Like a clean slate. Sure it brings with it the cold which is often not welcomed when bundling up children. As soon as they're bundled up it seems as though it falls off as soon as they start walking. Hanna throws her mitts off here and there. Jake tugs furiously at his toque strings. and I\m huffing and puffing trying to get everywhere on time with them. Staying home never feels as sweet as it does in the winter:warmth, safety, and peace.

Many fond memories of fall, but now tis the season to bring out the Christmas tree and prepare for the Holidays. Hanna is excited about Jesus' birthday party coming up and is daily singing Away in a Manger. This season can be a stressful month for me because I always tend to leave things till the last minute with shopping, baking, preparations for the holidays. My prayer is that I will take this month one day at a time, and live each day in celebration of the Ultimate Gift.


Monday, November 7, 2011

A Time for Change

Busy days and hectic schedules, that's what my days have felt like lately, for a long time actually. I hear that life doesn't slow down. I don't even have a job but I find in the midst of Nursery School mornings, public commitments, homemaking duties, grocery shopping, and managing children through it all, it's hard to focus on my husband and put him in the forefront. Especially when I feel like hiding out by myself for a while. Does that sound really selfish? Am I the only one feeling this way? I hope not... I pray for God to speak to me, to show me the changes I need to make. Then why, when He speaks through the direction of my husband, do my defenses rise and I protest. I walk away feeling offended, exactly the topic we are studying in my mom's group. It's funny how when you study a subject like overcoming offenses, that's when it seems you struggle with them more than ever before. Wayne and I just haven't been on the same page. Our love hasn't waned but our time spent together sure has. When that gets put on the backburner, you all of a sudden start feeling like you took opposite routes somewhere along the way. My female emotions erupted on me this weekend, and his feelings in return. It was so needed. I was invited out Saturday night but didn't feel right to go and  I'm thankful I stayed home to take time for coffee and conversation. We both recognized the need for some changes to be made,  to take some time for ourselves and commit to a date night a little more often. 

Yesterday morning in church an older man told Wayne that he'd been praying for us, and I'm so thankful for the timing of that prayer. God knew we needed a little help from up above. So last night was to be the start of our date night, thought we might head to Brandon, but the church bulletin had a reminder of Communion being held in the evening. What better way could we start date nights together other than partaking of the Lord's Table. We found last minute babysitters(thanks Grandpa and Grandma) and renewed our hearts as we took part in Communion. Remembering God's ultimate sacrifice reminds me that in order to be Christ-like in my marriage I must daily sacrifice my wants to create unity, striving to be what WE want to be together. That our marriage should be a form of worship for Him, putting aside the daily annoyances and stifes and seeking the bigger picture.

It was the perfect date. I was reminded of this picture below taken five and a half years ago when Wayne and I were baptized. We were ready to give public acknowledgement of our will to live for Christ and to enter into marriage in unity, on the same page. There have been many pages turned since then and today it is my desire to get back to writing our story on the same page again.
(we look soo young, and it's not even that long ago. :)

The video below was shown during Communion yesterday, and I can't help but share it here. It's human nature to think of ourselves but it's amazing what happens when we let Christ reverse our thinking.


Monday, October 31, 2011

A Time to Dance

So I can't say I was the most committed Blogtober-er this month, every day was just too much for my to-do list. My goal this month was to blog about Thankfulness, turning the everyday happenings into Grace for Him.

It's been a beautiful month: celebration of Thanksgiving, a season of Nature's beauty, time of reflecting, laughter, turning frustration into patience, spending more time with my children, greeting my hubby more cheerfully when he came in the door, letting go and forgiving, failing, trying again. I've learned that it takes a lot of effort to turn my days into Thankfulness, it doesn't come naturally. There are days where I went to bed feeling as though I failed miserably that day as a wife, mother and child of God.  I believe though that for myself, this blog has become a reminder for me to try anew each day, my accountability partner in seeking Grace. The words I type become a prayer, a form communicating more clearly to Him. There are so many times I can hardly form a prayer on my lips but my heart can pour out as I type or write.

This month, marking seven years since Dad passed, brought about different feelings in me. The years past have held such an ache inside when thoughts of Dad arose, but honestly that ache hasn't hurt this month. Maybe it's because I've been practicing thankfulness, turning the sad feelings into thanks for the time I had. I went back to Ecclesiastes 3, the chapter that has spoke to me for many years. It's the backbone of my blog and that verse I'm left with this month, and joyfully so is 'A time to mourn, a time to dance.' There is a time for everything, and doesn't it fill you with hope and thanks that after a time of mourning, the dance comes back again. I couldn't be more thankful to think of my Dad now and laugh with joy at the times we danced around the kitchen to the Saturday Night Polka Party or did the George Wescott Christmas Jig during the Holidays. I shared a dance with my Dad at my High School Prom and he was the only Sixty something Mennonite man dancing with a group of graduating Teenagers. I remember going to Austin rodeos and we could never leave until Dad watched a bit of the Two-stepping where the band was playing.

 I love to dance and definitely know where it stems from. And so I'm left knowing I can't dance with him again, I'm awful glad I had chance to for eighteen years and I can pass on those memories to my children with a dance around the kitchen, and turning on the Polka Party for old times sake.

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Sis!

This one goes out to my fabulous forty-something sister as a belated happy birthday post. Trudy is a one of a kind gal and being her little sister is a pretty honorable position. I would never have thought as a young girl and the fifteen years between us that we could form such a close bond as sisters. The love of sisters though, defies age and the gap closes. However, I laugh ridiculously when she is asked about her grandchildren (my kids) when we shop together. She does not find that funny and makes sure she gets the point across that she is not my mother. Nor does she appreciate my razzing about it, but how could I not, being her kid sister and all. :) (Theoretically speaking she could be a grandma, but shh don't tell her..haha).
 I grew close to Trudy as I grew into my teenage years. Kind of around the time when you think your too old to hang out with the kids at family gatherings and adult talk holds a little more interest. Trudy was often the one I went to with all the confusion of teenage years, interest in boys and dating life, and when things got frustrating on the home front. She was a mentor in many areas of my life. We grew close spiritually, laughed so silly, sang loudly, worried and vented together and have made many memories. My albums tell many a story of times together. That bond has only grown stronger as the years have passed into me becoming a wife and mother and often still needing my big sisters' advice and prayers.

What I love about my sister:
*when she's up, she is up and her spirit is contagious
*she wears her heart on her sleeve and can't hide any emotions from me
*her old fashioned-ness
*her commitment to Jesus
*she's the only one I know that orders her food at a drive thru and drives away forgetting that there is actually food coming. and we laugh like silly till our guts hurt after the fact. and there are several more moments I could mention.
*she's a whirlwind: when she cleans house and I always know it's her at the door by the sound of her bouncing footsteps on the stairs and fast knock on the door. in German mom always calls her "ganz augesheckt!" 
*she is young at heart
*she's kinda crazy at times

*her laugh lines remind me of our dad
*any time we clean, cook or paint together, the old tunes come out and the dancing often lets loose
*she's still a farmer's daughter, helps run a farm of beef, dogs, chickens, roosters, and cats. Her dad's old granary now serves as a summer tea house

*she has a big heart for her kids on the bus that she drives and Hanna will love the day she gets to climb on Aunty Trudy's bus. There have been many happy mornings when Hanna looks out the window and sees the big yellow bus pulling up while I get the coffee pot ready. She thinks all buses we see must be Aunty Trudy.

*she loves music from growing up singing and playing church hymns and out of the German Gesangbuch with Dad to singing along to honky tonk songs on the radio; she's usually the campfire voice that gets us laughing and singing along.
*We come through heartaches together and grieved the loss of our father. Seven years ago, a day before her birthday, Dad passed away and the day after there was no cause for celebration in our grief.
Time has healed her wounds and today we delight in our memories of Dad, sharing laughter, tears and silence.

*one of the things I love most about my sis is the love she shows to my children. I see so much of her in the character of Hanna and Aunty Trudy is very dear to her. She has helped me through many struggles in motherhood already and the help I've received from her in the past few years has been invaluable. I have to admit to being very spoiled when it comes to having big sisters. :)

*we've seen the worst of each other but the beauty of sisters is in forgiveness and helping each other to bring out the best through love, support and family ties that can't be broken.

Happy Birthday Big Sis!

 An older sister is a friend and defender,
a listener, conspirator, a counselor
and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too.
-Pam Brown


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Homeplace that Built Me

Down highway 34, just past Pine Creek bridge, turn left, four miles west to Delta Colony road, turn right, one mile north, turn left, one and half mile west to the farm with a long driveway and a little white shed that looks like an outhouse at the end of the lane. That where I grew up. Dairy, beef farm and home place of Cornie and Mary Friesen. The place I called home for nineteen years; full of jam-packed memories. This past summer I visited friends that were visiting only about  two and half miles away from the farm. I turned off the thirty-four to head west and immediately images filled my head of times spent in this area. Six years later and the drive feels so familiar like it was just yesterday that I was driving Dad's Chev to Wednesday youth night. After my visit I felt the urge to turn right and head to my old home, maybe just drive past. I didn't though. The last time I drove by I struggled to keep the tears and memories at bay. I guess it's hard to go back and realize that it's not that life anymore and the connection is severed by someone else calling it home now. After Dad died we wanted nothing more than to find closure by say goodbye to that place in life, I was eager to leave the burden of sad memories the place created.

 However, time and healing takes away the burden and now I look fondly at the place where I was raised. It's bittersweet to take that road back in time. Part of me wants to feel the walls, sit at the kitchen table, open the barn door, take in all the smells of the farm, but it wouldn't be the same anymore. For now it's easier to look at pictures, the moments that were ours, frozen in time, stored in my heart. Someday I will go back when my children are old enough to understand stories of my childhood. When I'm ready to show them a part of their heritage.

It was a simple home, efficient and practical for a Mennonite homemaker who worked the farm with her husband, raised three children in the early years and a latecomer (me) in her later years. The house leaves me with thoughts of faspa, wood panelling,shmaunt fat and fried bologna, mom's long telephone cord reaching everywhere she went, Dad sitting at the head of the table with a cup of coffee, CBC radio, Saturday chores, nieces and nephews terrorizing me, the basement that scared me until I was fifteen...and that's only the beginning of endless moments. 

The Dairy barn; mom and dad's livelihood. I don't know how many years they ran it but it was what I knew until I was fifteen. I spent countless hours in this place, riding my trike around and around, napping on stacks of used up baler twine, playing with cats, watching mom separate the milk and cream,  filling watering bowls, spraying the floor in the milk house and shoveling cow manure into the gutters. My siblings before me all got a hand in milking the cows but Dad was just beginning to let me help when they decided to sell the quota. I was always disappointed that I missed out on that. Some of my fondest memories in the barn were that Dad never failed to wave goodbye to me from the barn door in the mornings when I was walking down the lane to the bus. I loved winter milking when mom and Dad would bed the cows with a walk behind bale shredder after milking. I loved the smell and coziness that filled the place and there were usually bales for me to jump around on. I'll never forget Dad's voice out back when he called the cows in for milking, "com moos, com moos.."Worst barn memory: dropping my backpack in the gutter and taking it to school because I was late for the bus. My back pack ended up in the janitorial due to a very foul odor smelling up the class. Talk about Grade two embarrassment.

Mom and dad did beef farming after the dairy. Dad couldn't part with the cows and would remain a farmer to the end. It was what he knew and lived. It was always sad to me to see that barn sitting cold and empty. Hindsight and years later there have been those of us who wish we had kept the dairy going but I suppose it wasn't meant to be.  

I loved going with mom to the field to bring out supper on a summer baling day. Or driving with dad in the old blue ford to say if the hay was dry enough to bale. Times of coolers, lawn chairs, food on the end gate, catching up on the days progress, wind blown faces, clear blue summer skies. I think next fall I might hitch a ride with someone to get the supper field experience again. :)

The smokehouse, only in use once or twice a year but with many memories of butchering. It was an event that was so exciting to me as a child. It meant friends and cousins coming to play, productiveness and play at the same time, Coca Cola, chips and baking, adults with a bottle of schnapps, Dad smoking the sausages till they were just right or a little crispy if he wasn't paying attention due to much fun he was having. The whole experience was family tradition, the smells, laughter, stirring the cracklings, eating the fresh spare ribs and ladling the lard into containers. It a lot of work but always a good time. We still carry on with it each winter, now at my sister's home with my brother-in-law manning the smokehouse with lessons he learned from dad.

Farming life was hard work and grit between the teeth for my folks. I didn't grasp how much time they put in to that lifestyle. For me its was exploring, free to roam, playing with friends, nieces and nephews, cousins, neighbours and hutterites,  jumping bales, riding along where I could, sledding down snow piles in winter or being snowed in and staying inside, forts in the bush, getting on mom's case, and so on. It's lifestyle you take for granted and in today's changing world it's hard to find.

Remember learning to drive standard in this old thing and the many times sitting on the back while driving to the fields or chasing cows.

These gas tanks never held much meaning to me until I was sixteen and allowed to put in the fuel and drive away with mom and dad's truck. What a feeling of freedom that was!

You know, if I remember correctly I took the black and white photos of the farm while Dad was still alive and yet looking at them now they portray such a finality, a foreshadowing of a farm closing its doors. The photos in color are a symbol of how very full of life my home place was. Oh, there was  from good to bad: anger, slammed doors, sorrow, tears, anxiety and worries. In fact those were common feelings in our household many years.  Many of those characteristics have shaped the way my family thinks and acts today. We've had to rise above the hard times though and I'm left forever thankful for took from my childhood home: love and care, security, respect for elders, hospitality, traditions, faith, family ties, commitment, prayer, learning from correction, sympathy, forgiveness,  homemaking, a simple life, and living that life in effort to please the Lord.

That place is now the in the making of memories for another family and I pray they are blessed by their life spent there. I will visit someday but for now will go back in the pages of my albums and memory.

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it. ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860


Monday, October 17, 2011

Time and Time Ago.

I'm back after a few days of not knowing what to sit and write about and not feeling energetic enough to think of something. As I've said before fall, especially October is my pensive month, a time I think of treasured moments. The other day my sister was telling me how her daughter had talked about a moment she would always cherish and my sister said that quality of her daughter was alot like myself. I thought about that for awhile and it's true, I hold on to and cherish a lot of memories. I'm usually stumped when I'm supposed to describe myself but this one definitely fits. They say you're not supposed to live in the past which I don't think I do because my reality is very real. However, my mind often visits times of childhood and the events that are seared into my memory. Pictures certainly help this cause. So this week I'm going to do some reminiscing and bring out some older photos to share. (also because I haven't snapped any new pics in a while.)  

Don't memories have a share in shaping our characters and the way we choose to live? The feelings we get from an action in the present are often associated to a memory of the past. We do things in our homes like our mothers did or repeat the same words to our children that our fathers used. The sound of a Braun dough machine will always remind me waking up Saturday mornings to my mom starting up her batch of buns. The Sunday Request Show takes me back to sitting between mom and dad in the front seat of the truck on the way home from church. Even as a teen I chose most often to sit wedged between my parents, singing along with my dad to Johny Cash or the Statler Brothers. I know for sure that these times have shaped who I am today and I want to share them with my children to store in their memory. Maybe I'm just to sappy. I'm probably the only person who cries while watching a summary of the Anne of Green Gables movies at a ladies tea. (being pregnant might have had something to do with that :)

So these pictures go back to September of 2007. I believe the celebration, a BBQ at my sister's summer kitchen, was in favor of family birthdays held in September. I thought of this event  because we had Thanksgiving at my mom's yesterday. Mom had us all say something we were thankful for and most of my family, not being great at sharing emotions vocally, said they were thankful for everything. That works though! When I think of 'everything' I think of all the changes in the last five years that Wayne and I have gone through and how we have come out thankful. At this BBQ in fall of 07 we were unaware that God had already formed a new life between us. It would be the change of a lifetime for me. Just over a year of marriage and about to enter a new phase, the anticipation of motherhood. Four years later we give thanks to be blessed with five years of marriage,  a three year old daughter and a nine month baby boy.

This picture of mom reminds me of those first years when it was so hard to have family events and not see our father amongst the men, laughing and smiling his lazy half smile. Three years after his death the pain was still raw, especially for mom and the sadness in her eyes. There was a yearning in all of us to feel his presence still. Dad would've loved sitting with a cup of coffee in a summer kitchen. Seven years ago at his last Thanksgiving table Dad said he was thankful for his family and that it was growing. So looking around our table yesterday at a family that his grown in more ways than just numbers, makes dads last words a healing salve. How could we not be thankful for everything?

great faith, patient
Katherine ('Teen')
creative, deep thinker

Trudy ('Trut')
funny, practical

This event also reminds me of these women who I'm honored to call my sisters. At the time Susie, my sister-in-law, was two months away from giving birth to Chase. Little did I know I would soon follow. These little children that were to come have played a big part in bring a new sense of joy and life into our family again. As sisters we all share different personalities and qualities but combined we bring something unique to each others lives.

Together we share many treasured memories.