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.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Raindrops of Gratitude

"Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow."
- Author Unknown

It was so wonderful to wake up Monday morning to see that it had rained in the night. It wasn't much but the ground was wet and crystal beads of rain were shining every where. A Thanksgiving morning of splendid colors with the renewal of moisture. I couldn't resist taking Hanna out along with my camera and capture the colors of what's left in my flowerbeds.

I would be content with fall all year long but then I suppose the beauty would cease to amaze if there was never a change of season.

There is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Showers of rain have been almost painfully few this late summer and fall. I gave up on watering the yard because it was all too dry to keep up with. We could count on one hand how many days of rain there have been lately. Yet on Thanksgiving morning there are countless drops of rain hanging on the branches till late in the morning. In this I'm reminded that despite the days when blessings seem few, God has not forgotten. With practice of Thankfulness we would recognize countless showers of blessings even when times are dry.

Hanna asked me to take a  picture of her and I because "we are best friends!" Good reason for a snapshot although I forgot the camera was zoomed in when I took it. :)


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Heart Felt...

I'm catching a few minutes of blogging while sitting down with a steaming bowl of fresh Turkey Vegetable Soup and waiting for the buns to rise. I have a list of what feels like a hundred things to do today but I will be thankful to at least stroke a few off that list, like making some yummy thanksgiving foods, cleaning the bathroom, washing the floor, sticker book time with Hanna, putting tomatoes in the freezer, and hopefully finding time to try a recipe for homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte(a recipe I'll share if it turns out). I just love cooking and baking fall comfort food...cranberry loaves, pumpkin cinnamon buns, beef stew and dumplings, chicken pot pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream cheese roll..basically anything to do with pumpkin. It's delicious just writing these down and way less self indulgence if I only stick to writing about them. :)

So this first week of Blogtober I realized that blogging every day takes a lot of effort and somedays there just isn't enough energy for it. Oh well, it'll just be the the month where I try my best to keep up. It's been a good week in this household, with some milestones met. On Monday my handsome hubby turned 30. We celebrated Sunday night but he wouldn't let me call him thirty until Monday.He's gone through many changes in his twenties: marriage, babies, buying a home, job changes, new friends, new family, and more. Wonder what changes the thirties will bring? I'm so very thankful for the man that chose to love me as his life partner and be a wonderful, fun loving father to his children. There are countless blessings to having Wayne as my love and provider.

I've been thankful this week too, that I've had time to catch up on practical things around my home like cleaning up outside, canning two batches of tomatoe soup, eventually getting laundry folded and put away and actually having ambition to make good suppers each day. The harvest has been blessed and I'm excited each time I walk into my cold storage to place fresh cannning on the shelves or more frozen goods into the freezer. There will be much to carry us through the winter.

Miss Hanna was much easier to handle this week due to an effort and prayers on my part to be  more patient and seek strategies that don't have me losing my cool so quickly. There were some big challenges like an over  the top temper tantrum but she and I both came out in the end having learned a good lesson. I was very pleased that she followed through and told Phil at the grocery store that she could not have a treat that day because she hadn't been listening to mom. It's hard giving consequences but proves when obedience follows. As a mother I try to instruct daily and each day I find I'm also being taught.

And what can I say about this sweet, dimpled, lovable boy. This week he's officially nine months old. With that milestone his two top teeth cut through, he stood up in the crib for the first time, does not lay still at all when I change his diaper and is still sleeping soundly through the night. I'm just so in love with this little version of Wayne.

There are a multitude of things to be thankful for, may our hearts be open to the bounty this Thanksgiving and each day following.

"We never approach God without cause for gratitude.
Thankfulness, a duty and delight greatly prominent in the Bible, is the declarative mood of gratitude - a bright fire in the world's frigid zone,
the memory and homage of the heart, a master force in soul-building, the greatest tonic faith has. Be ye thankful."
[Robert G. Lee]


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Being Aunty Chris

 Don't those eyes immediately capture your attention? Boys always get those big charming eyes and lashes that every female desires. Well those charmers belong to my nephew, Chase. Hanna calls him "my sweetheart" and it's not hard to see why.
I've been babysitting him since the beginning of September. Many days have been filled with the two kiddos chasing each other around the house, bouncing off energy on the trampoline, screaming and laughing over their crazy antics and laying in bed together; looking at books. They fight, hug, say sorry, laugh, fight some more and on it goes as toddlers do.

This is the third fall that I've had Chase at my house and this year stands out as the one that the two are really forming a close bond. Chase tells his mom that he loves coming to Hanna's house and it so reassuring to have him smiling when he comes in the morning. Some mornings he stays asleep when Susie carries him in, and she tells me that his way of showing that he's really comfortable staying here. It's been a bonding time for him and I and I'm so proud to be his Aunty.

Chase and Hanna have been sharing new experiences together like beginning Nursery School. On Mondays when I take the two, we have to stop in front foyer and say good morning to the fishes in the school fish tank. It hits me how fast the years will fly when I see them carrying their backpacks down the hallways eager to see their class and it's not even Kindergarten yet. Chase and Hanna are only six months apart and will be in the same grade during the school years.

Something really unique about Chase is his ability to color and stay in the line. It astounds me how he focuses and there is absolutely no scribbling all over the page. And the good thing, it's rubbing off on Hanna. Everytime she colors now she excitedly says "Mom! I'm staying in the lines, really good just like Chase does!" The comparison is not too close but she getting much better. He's been learning from Hanna with catching on to riding the trike around the house. The first several times he kept spinning out, often giving up with some attitude. But practice has won over and now I deal with the both of them expertly racing around the house. My toes have been run over a few times already. It's so interesting watching them interact, often I can't help but laugh out loud at them, and other times totally exasperated. Jake loves watching them too, screeching and laughing.

I also had the privilege of babysitting my two nephews, Dillon and Reid, from Waynes' side of the family one morning this week. We spent a morning together while Hanna was in Nursery School. Reid was a little magnet to any stair in sight and boy can he motor; loved his big smiles while cruised around on the trampoline. Dillon, the little farmer boy, informed me that John Deere just doesn't run like red and pointed out exactly what farm implements I should stock up on. Couldn't help but chuckle. It's so interesting getting to know all the unique characters of these kiddos!

I'm also getting a lot done because they're keeping themselves busy with playing and I don't constantly have a 'helper' at my side. Although every morning my list to do is way longer than what I actually get done. Today I figured on canning in the morning and fall cleaning in the afternoon. Well between refereeing child spats, mealtimes, and a baby routine; canning became an all day affair. Oh well, it's been a good day! I missed doing a thankful 'Blogtober' post yesterday due to no time and trying to get to bed earlier. I had Chase yesterday morning too, so today I'm double thankful for the time these cousins are spending together. It's defintiely tiring and trying at times but these are precious times and memories for years to come.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Nature's Remedy

I stood on my porch this morning just taking in the beauty that fall brings. It makes you want to breathe so deep, that the fresh air will stay pungent in your lungs all day. Jake and I walked to the chicken coop and opened the doors to a flock so eager to get out and about into their treasure hunting world. The leaves were so dense beneath my feet, it was tempting to roll about like a little girl. Maybe that will be tomorrow's plan with Hanna! 

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad. ~Edwin Way Teale

I just love the feeling that I get strolling about my yard. It like the trees are winding down to take a long nap, and the birds and wind playing a lullaby. The leaves a warm blanket to the ground that is getting colder. I love the awakening of Spring, the Renewal; and the slumber of Autumn, the Peace.

Today I'm left thankful for Nature's healing touch, His light shining through the Masterful crafting of this earth.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sundays' Smile

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
William Cullen Bryant

A very short post as I'm fighting heavy eyelids. A most wonderful October Sunday today;just loved the warm, colorful afternoon as Hanna and I crunched though the blanket of leaves all over the yard. God gave rest and rejuvenation to my soul today. It felt good to serve the Sabbath with a smile today and I'm left thankful for:

*puzzling with Hanna in our pj's

*an encouraging group of women in mother's sunday school

* a challenge to keep the faith amidst struggles and hurt

*taking in the beauty of a fall afternoon and freezing the moment with the click of a button

*Hanna riding her trike to the neighbours and joining a group of children for play

*hotdogs and fries for supper

*coffee, cake and celebration for Waynes 'tomorrow' birthday

*a day of feeling blessed

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
Elizabeth Lawrence