Monday, December 5, 2011

Fabric & Elves.

And so we begin the last week of classes.
Which will lead into the last 10 days of final exams.

And where do I want to be?

At my sewing machine.
Or with a paintbrush in hand.
Or donned with an apron (And sweatpants. And a baggy t-shirt.), baking Christmas goodies.
Or surrounded by a small mountain of sharpie markers.

You see, I can honestly say I'm very happy with my life. I enjoy most parts of most days. Maybe even more than most parts.

But. There's just this one little thing I wish I had more time for.


Especially at this time of the year, I get so many ideas of things I want to make. Partly it's the inspiration of Christmas craft magazines. Partly it's that I just joined "Pinterest," which will knock your socks off with its DIY craft ideas. And partly, of course, it's that my alternative is studying for final exams.

Another reason I can't complain about my life is that I genuinely believe there are many more than one ways for me to be vocationally fulfilled. When I am at school or in front of a class, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am born to be a teacher.

But, when I'm browsing in Michaels or sitting in front of a swath of colourful fabrics, I am also completely within my dreams.

Perhaps I have now jumped on a series of alternating years of teaching my heart out and crafting my heart out during nap time for little redheads...

Or, I suppose I could start a craft school.
Very similar to the North Pole, I would imagine. And, I mean, that's gone over well for as long as anyone can remember.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sunshine and Salad.

I'm about a quarter of a way into a 16-page paper. It's due later today.

So, naturally, what a great time to blog.
Every athlete knows it's good to warm-up before you work out or play in the big game, right? [Side note: my HKin professor says that's not necessarily true in current research. But I'm old-school. And invariably tight]. So, I offer you... my warm-up.

Many little things have adorned my journey lately. Not the least of which is the Christmas music playing about 7 feet away from my desk.
And the peel of a Christmas orange sitting beside me (throw it out.... check).
And the much-appreciated sunshine lighting up my world. Literally and metaphorically.

I had a birthday last week. My 30th.
And... it was fantastic, for all of the right little reasons.

Rather than just list them, I'll identify why each of these little things was so particularly meaningful.

1. Ry took me to the Olive Garden for lunch. I love the Olive Garden. But we don't like waiting for the inevitable 45-75 minutes you have to wait for supper. Word is apparently out: non-stop fresh salad is the most amazing meal you'll ever eat without feeling a drop of sick after.

2. My parents bought me a sewing machine! I love crafts. If it doesn't work out to be a teacher... I would like to be a professional craft-doer. Maybe both. Anyways, isn't there something kind of romantic about sewing your own things?

3. Ry planned a surprise for me. I love surprises, any shape, any size. He picked a date for us that was something he knew I would enjoy, even if it's not his cuppa tea (which it turns out maybe it could be?). We painted ceramics together for 2 hours!

4. My voicemail was full. I love bragging.... Just kidding. I have a teeny tiny mailbox. But it meant a lot to me that people tried to call. I also appreciate the FB messages. It's a nice little thing to know you crossed someone's mind for a period of time. People are often so thoughtful with words, I find.

5. When we got home from our painting adventure, the kitchen was clean, and the table was adorned with three of my favourite things: flowers, sour candy, and a craft magazine. I love my husband.

6. My sister-in-law sent me a package full of wonderful things. I love getting mail. Among the treats was one of the softest pyjama shirts I have ever slept in. Every night is a nice little thing right now.

7. We had a sweet party with a bunch of friends on the weekend. I love bunches of friends. We played a games tournament, concluding with some of the most hilarious skits and song compilations I have ever heard in my life. The humour, the kind words, and the chocolate-dipping with friends was icing on the cake of a wonderful intro to my 30's.

8. Last, but not least... although perhaps littlest. I was delighted to be pregnant on my 30th birthday. I love this. Subconsciously - and at times consciously - I have always hoped I'd be a mom before I hit 30. Well, I'll take it. I am deeply thankful that God has granted us this gift at this time. And that I'm past trimester #1.

So, wherever you are... crank up the little things.
Pull out the slippers... Put in an old movie... Mix up the sugar cookie dough... Life is grand.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Twenties & Fives.

Little things sometimes add up to be a loooot of money. I'm sure you've noticed.

For example, tax. Try not to think about how much you've spent in tax over the past year. Or the past month. Especially if you're living where we are and it's a hefty 12%.

Other things add up too, though. Like, say your car gets hit, say. Say it's just sitting out front of your house minding its own business, and then boom. Ouch.
Miles of scrapes.
Dented in wheel wells.
Five feet of metal ripped off.
Oh, and almost forgot.
Axel broken.
Don't know too too much about cars, but pretty sure you can't drive when that happens.

Anyways, that's obviously not the little thing. That was kinda the big thing.

Here's the little things:

#1 - Rental car. ICBC covers the rental... but we "strongly encourage you" to get our insurance package. Being hyper-sensitive to potential danger, we of course gladly accept the kind offer. For only $16.99/day you can be completely insured. Let's just say we have the car for 16 days, the first 8 of which it is parked. Just sitting there. But we had to. Ya, good job math whizzes. Ouch again.

#2 - Then let's say your bank kindly reminds you that you should do a lien check before you buy the car you're considering. Great idea, we'll take one of those. Of course you will... for $65... plus tax. But niggling in the back of your brain is "what if we get saddled with someone else's loan? I mean, he seems like a trustworthy guy, but...." Yep, all good.

#3 - Oh, and for just $22 more, you can make sure that the car actually hasn't been in any reported accidents. Again, I mean, he seems so trustworthy, but we should check. For 2 cars we're thinking about. First one, well spent. Car came back with seven accidents. Seven. One of them was a total write-off. Suddenly the $22 is a breeze - thank you for saving us from a likely lemon and a lying gentleman.

The second one... perfect. Normal. No accidents. Just like the seemingly-trustworthy guy said.

#4 - Then of course you want to have a thorough inspection done on it. With inflation, the $102 you paid for that service three years ago has now made the reasonable, gradual jump to $156.
(At that rate, if we're buying a car another three years from now, I'm reading up and then inspecting it myself. Or using an iGadget of some sort that will, by then, be able to do it for me).

#5 - I think my favourite little thing was when the guy at the insurance plan place tried to scold me using a little money as leverage. Yeah, scolding. I know, I'm like do you know that I'm almost 30? Only I didn't say that because then he might have said "Right, so then you really should have been mature enough to remember that one document you forgot..."
Instead, he said, so much more scoldy-pants: "I'm going to have to charge you 5 dollars for forgetting that document [you should have obviously known to bring]." Five whole dollars? Take it, buddy. We're scamming you. You have no idea that we've paid way more than that for far littler things than a document that lets us buy or not buy the car.

Funny thing is, he forgot to charge us.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Institution and Resolution.

This post isn't going to be polished.
I'm supposed to be getting into my homework any time now, but I can't focus because I just feel so relieved.

I've had some "issues" with my schooling to start this year off. It came down to a lot of trying to find a paper trail, needing to prove why I felt I was misled, yada yada...

It's been a process. But in the end, when it all comes down to it, my resolution has come from sitting in a room with 3 people who can do something about my situation - one who knows me a bit better than the others - and sensing that they genuinely wanted to help me get it right.
I was heard.
I heard them.

In the end, that's all that really matters. I don't have to be right. I just want to be a teacher some day :). Again.

Anyways, I am just so thankful, but for a different reason than I originally thought. Originally I thought I would be thankful if I achieved a result I was hoping for. And for sure I am thankful that things are working out in a way that's not going to cost me more time or money than we have.
But I'm for some reason thankful for the difficulty of the process. I've learned a lot this past few days - following a chain of hierarchy and conversations...
And through it all, I have somehow sensed that this is exactly where God wanted me to be. I think He is refining something in me through this process. So I feel the 'wear' of that for sure. But I can honestly say I feel content.

Very similar to the sore-muscle feeling you experience while you're drinking your smoothie after a hard work-out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meat and Potatoes.


I thought it was oh-for-two when I first sat down to write about the little things I missed in the process of being a really cool, well-read person.

But nope, oh-for-three. And that's just the ones I know about...

I was really excited a few weeks ago to find the title of a book I've been wanting to get on Amazon - and cheap, too! So I added it to my "shopping cart." No biggie. What's this, free shipping if I spend more than $25? Yes, please.
So I added one more book I've been looking for. Great deal. Puts me at $26.81. Nice.

We leave on our trip to Ontario.
We get back.

I anxiously look for our mail, and I'm so lucky. Like, I thought I was going to have one of those "please pick up your package at this post office that's in the busiest traffic area in your city at your earliest inconvenience." Which would have been fine, because excitement would have gotten me there.

But, like I said, I'm so lucky. The box just came right to the door; imagine that.

But I don't feel as lucky right now. Because the original book-I've-wanted turns out to not be that book exactly. It has the same words in the title. And even the same author. But rather than being the meat and potatoes study I was looking for, it's the "Personal Reflections" series about the book I originally wanted. Nothing against personal reflections. Heck, I'm an Education student. I can reflect with the best of them.
But that's why I was craving meat. And spuds.

At least I got the second book right, though.... Oh, wait. Nope. Same title I asked for. Same author. But if I had zoomed in on my original order screen to 700% or so, I would have noticed the tiny white writing that says "Participant's Guide." Great, I guess, if you have the DVD series. I don't. And I'm too disappointed to get it now.

But I said oh-for-three, didn't I? Well, this one just kicked me while I'm down. Not having the benefit of learning-from-my-mistakes this morning, since I didn't have our mail yet, I am now swimming in a pool of unluck.

Always a fan of saving a few bucks, I decided I'd try ordering my textbooks online today as well. This decision came on the heels of my decision that I shouldn't have to pay $96 for a book I can see when I can order one from an invisible place for more like $17. I would still be feeling proud of myself, except that I just checked the order status of three of the books I ordered; try to spot the one I'm concerned about:

1) Processing order.
2) Processing order.
3) Awaiting publication.

How is that even fair. I was duped into believing that if a book had a virtual cover the size of a large postage stamp, it had a real cover somewhere the size of an individual pizza box. With, like, actual pages beneath it.

Silly thing is, you probably would have felt sorry for me if I just told you that last one. Now you're singing to yourself (quietly, so as not to make me feel bad), an octave above your usual pitch, "...common denominator?..."

Me too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gloves & Java.

I had a craving to write this morning.
I didn't wake up with it.
Because, really, the only thing I wake up craving is coffee.

I heard the mild rebuke in Ry's voice yesterday when I explained how my day was off-balance until I found that precious cuppa. Yeah, that's right, I said cuppa. Do you know what cuppa is? I don't officially know... but the author of the book I'm reading has used the word a few times, and I want to be like her. She's a really good writer.

But, see, that right there is an example of not a really good writer: to describe the creator of a delicious, haunting novel as "she's a really good writer."

She weaves a magical web...
Mysteriously, she orbits the edges of a tragic tale...
As pieces of an entangled puzzle are gently connected...

(All of that without a thesaurus, by the way).

So, this delightful novel has all of the things that I need in order to drink the author's KoolAid:

- The majority of it takes place in England (really, I could stop here, as you know if you've been reading me).

- There is a garden involved, and it's both wild and perfect. Perfect.

- Also there's an English cottage, shrouded in mystery but you know it was beautiful once-upon-a-time...

- The inside of the front and back covers have drawings that are carefree yet magical.

- England is a prominent setting.

- Actually, the other setting is Australia, and I love hot places.

- Instead of saying something like, "It didn't make sense to her", the author says something like, "The truth still fitted like someone else's glove..."

- There is also an English castle, an English ship... although I still like the English garden and the English cottage best.

So. Here I am, with my cuppa - which I can now assume means tea, given the quaint yet illustrious setting. But I have my Canadian cuppa, which led me to sit, which led me to write, which I hope will lead a few of you to read...
Not my words.
Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yarn & Parsley.

It is wonderful to have time.
Time that isn't already spoken for.
Time that can flex as we go.

Yesterday, we did yoga for an hour and a half, and it didn't make us late for anything.

We watched 2 periods of a hockey game, and then left the cafe... (but really, how much did that have to do with having time, or was it sparing ourselves?)

I crocheted almost half of a blanket that I've been working on for... sheesh, I don't know. I bought the wool when I lived in Regina, so what does that tell you?

On a different note, I also spent some time while we were watching the hockey game looking up healthy recipes - which brings me to my next train of thoughts:

I really enjoy looking at healthy recipes. I sometimes even like shopping to make those recipes. And even less frequently, but still occasionally, I like making the recipes.
Really, though, just by browsing through them, I feel like a healthier person. I mean, I could be looking at the "how-to-make-a-cake-that-will-leave-your-dinner-guests-longing-for-more" page. But I'm not. I'm looking at oatmeal and dressing-less salad, and quinoa.

The problem I find is this:

I also really like some food that is not good for me.
I don't think what we eat is by any means all bad. In fact, I think I'm a pretty balanced eater/cook. But I definitely resort to comfort foods and cravings more frequently than I care to admit.

And sometimes that makes me feel guilty.

So, the only reasonable solution I can think of, really, is to stop looking at those healthy recipe pages.
All they make me do is wish that I had a garden combined with a green thumb.
And a kitchen full of herbs combined with a food processor.
And an organized grocery list combined with a lot of time.

Instead, I am choosing to be thankful. Thankful for tasty treats, for 4 food groups, and for the very occasional salad.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ferries & Toothpaste.

I used to live in paradise.

You know - a place where every day you wake up, and are amazed at the flowers, the sunshine, the beaches, the fact that you can't remember the last time it rained, and where the sky for some unexplainable reason seems closer.

Today, this week... I am in paradise again. Just a different one.

Ry and I arrived last night at a place where the moment we drove off the little ferry... we were "here." Here as in the place where we will certainly find rest. Certainly find relaxation. Certainly find the little things that we need to jump start us into the following season (volleyball camps).

We embrace these little things.

Things like the "Island Library" that is the only place to get internet... and is open 3 times per week.

Things like the fact that our bedroom has a king-size bed. And carpet. And windows on 3 sides.

Things like two sinks in the bathroom. I love love big bathrooms. If our when-we-buy-a-house-some-day bathroom is bigger than our w-w-b-a-h-s-d bedroom... I will be okay with that. Don't you think it's such a luxury to have space while you're... you know... brushing your teeth?

Things like a hottub that faces the ocean.

Things like a table where I can do a puzzle, and watch Road to Avonlea on my computer all at the same time.

Things like a basket full of slippers that belong to the owners. And things like that their whole family is very tall and must have big feet and therefore Ry and I can fit those slippers.

Things like beach decorations. We drove around the whole island last night, and most houses have that paradise-style decor: fishing nets, big glass balls, shells, starfish, sand, stones... gardens.

I am running off to something wonderfully unimportant... like crocheting a blanket, reading a novel, or eating yogurt.

Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lists & Libraries.

Oh my. 3 months.

Well, no excuses. And I'm here to write about the combination of little things that have made for a wonderful Saturday.

I attribute most of them to one little thing in particular:
A list.

I am a list person. Are you?
I could do the same thing twice: Once after writing it on a list; Once without.
I think it's fairly obvious which one leads to greater happiness.

Here's a few quirky facts about the list I made:
- I broke "dishes" up into "Dishes Round 1" and "Dishes Round 2." I'm very particular. Very specific.
- I did in fact add 2 things after I did them.
- I tried to not write them in chronological order... but then I just had to. I'm anal.

Lists are a great conversation killer, apparently. Over supper, Ryan casually asked, "So, what did you get up to today?"
How easy is that?
"Here. You can read about it."
Besides a chuckle, conversation over.

While I did really enjoy my list today, I determined this morning that I would go a bit deeper.
The first item on today's list was "Devos". Which means a delightful time with my coffee, my Bible, a cherished notebook, and also a cherished 25 cent pen.

(At the risk of showing favoritism, my particular coffee mug and particular Bible can also be cherished).

Anyways, I'm going to search here for the balance between not over-spiritualized but not cheapened either:

It came across to me quite strongly that it's difficult to read about God's creative, intentional, rich-in-love purposes through Jesus without feeling convicted to encompass my one-page list with a deeper purpose.
So, today had one bigger purpose:
To notice God.
To hear Him, to see Him, to acknowledge Him.

It would feel irreverent to "cross it off" at the end of today - But I will say that that mindset did change the shape of my day. Not in the big ways, as we all know by now... but in the little interpretations of the day.

I can't even put my finger on everything that I noticed today. But I think it's in things like how I reflected, and like noticing that my thoughts could actually find some resolution instead of circling around my bumpy head. Renewed perspective, renewed gratitude. Peace ("You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind..." Isaiah).

And, I noticed that I got within like 2 feet of a bunny rabbit on my walk.
("walk to the library" was on the list; "find a rabbit" was not).


I want my life list to be meaningful.
And I will feel no hesitation about adding meaningful events after they happen.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lattes & Magazines.

People are funny.

I've been both observing and participating in the human quirks that exhibit themselves in so many settings. Here's what I'm saying:

The other day, I had to go into three different coffee shops before I found one with a place to sit. I had a homework agenda, so you know, I was on a mission. As the minutes were ticking away, I was progressively ticking as well. As in getting ticked at how many people had the same idea at the very same time as me. In the very same city.

Anyways. Have you ever noticed how people act in those situations? Here's a few observations:

- The hopeful eye-sweep of the place... then the glare and mild shake of the head on the way out the door. Followed by Timmy's drive-thru.

- The hopeful eye-sweep of the place... then the puppy dog head-droop, stooped shuffle to the counter, followed by placing an order with a melancholy tone. Followed by one last eye-sweep while waiting for your latte. Followed by listening to CBC radio in the car in the parking lot. While sipping the latte.

- The confident stride-in... the confident order placed... followed by a stare-down of every table in the place. Followed by a casual lean on the drink counter while waiting for your americano. Lean continues until a chair is vacated.

Just some observations.

Also, in grocery stores people are funny again. It's all about when you're in line.

In line, there's a way to "be." You have a serious face on. You're looking at the cashier to affirm yourself or criticize yourself on your choice (see first blog for reference).

Sometimes you look at magazine covers. For each one you think, "That's so stupid. How ridiculous." But you keep grazing. It kind of makes you feel better about yourself. Like morally superior.

Maybe you think about buying a chocolate bar. Then you think about your last workout like a week ago and you're like... no, better not. Morally superior. Good job.

Meanwhile, what you're really avoiding is that moment of awkwardness where the person ahead of you gets the last of their stuff on the conveyor belt. Then they realize "the stick" - you know the one I mean - is missing from this particular till. To show you they know they're 'supposed' to place it behind their stuff for you, they gently tap their last one or two items, like they would a baby's bottom. You get the message.

So you begin to place your stuff on the belt, leaving exactly 7 inches between your stuff and your neighbour's. It's only right.

And you repeat the socially appropriate steps with the person behind you.

Here's the second part about that scenario that I find funny:

In line, there's this feeling like everyone's a little shy, a little stressed, a little annoyed with anyone ahead of them.

The minute they get to the till, though... it's all smiles. "Hi there. Yeah, I'm great, thanks for asking!"
Let me translate that for you:

"For the last 9 minutes, I've been a critical, judgmental person. Now I have what I want so I'm a really great person. Thanks for asking."

Remember, I fully admitted at the beginning: Observer and Participant.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Buttons & Black Clouds.

I had a thought this morning.

I was thinking through different situations I am aware of with friends/colleagues/etc where there's just that one person who pushes their buttons in the wrong way.

We all have those people.

And if we don't right now, we have at some point, and we will again.

Anyways, in the context I'm thinking of, I've been considering what kind of advice I would give. These aren't like actually "harmful" annoyances, by the way. Bothersome, yes. Frustrating, yes. Unfair? Perhaps. Keep that description in mind so that the proposed idea is applied appropriately.

My idea is this. What if instead of the hours and hours we (particularly members of a particular gender) spend going over and over the things that drive us crazy about another person... We came up with a new phrase:

"Oh man, so quirky right now."

Got it? Quirky.
Not "what a terrible person."
Not "he/she is an idiot."
Not "they're purposely trying to hurt me."

They're quirky. Period.

I dunno, I kinda like it. When I think of someone as quirky, the annoyance becomes more of a trait than an all-encompassing black cloud surrounding my view of that person.

And let's be honest. We are all potentially that person for somebody else, or will be at some point. Do you want to be the black cloud?

Nah. Let's get quirky.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gerbers & All-Stars.

You know what, it's been a great week or so.
Yeah, it has.
And, as always... you know where I'm giving the credit. The little... yeah. Those things that change you and inspire you without knocking your socks off in the most obvious of ways.

Here's a few.

I no longer have 3 night classes a week. Great, right?! Yeah, it's great. So, for the first time in a long time I can be in a girls' Bible study! I felt really content getting to sit around a table with 9 other wonderful women (suggesting I'm also wonderful with how I phrased that), talking about the Word, and writing in one of my collection of most favored notebooks. Also, eating chocolate almonds. Mmm.

Then, the next day, I woke up. Yep, the little things...
Okay, actually I woke up to check my email... and discovered a snow day! 3 classes became Zero. I read a novel at 8 in the morning. We went for brunch with great friends. And then I beat them all in Settlers. Lovely.

Then, the next day, best ever.
Not because I got braces, which I did.
But because my husband dropped me off at the orthodontist... which was nice, but not the nicest part...
He dropped me off, then he bought me flowers!
He said he thought I should have flowers since I was having braces :). I adore these flowers. And all of you little-things-appreciators know why without me having to explain.

Then, the next day I took my Grade 8 basketball team to a 2-day tournament in Duncan. I better just list the little things that made the trip such a quality time...

- These girls know how to ask questions - they show genuine interest without even realizing that's what they're doing!

- Watching the most consecutive offensive rebounds in a row... without a single basket being scored :)... and nearly having a heart attack every time.

- My team cheers for each other so loud without me ever having told them to do it. Any other coaches out there know how unusual this is.

- Putting in one of my players and having her eyes light up as she says, "really, you want me?!" I'm sure we could all take a lesson from that.

- Awesome parent chaperones who kept me caffeined, laughing, and encouraged. And who, as a group of 3, cheered louder than any bus load of other parents in the gym. 

- Having one of our players who has never really played before suddenly get it and start hitting shots and making great plays and stealing the ball and hitting the floor and... This precious girl sometimes isolates herself from her peers, but it was something else to watch her blossom in this and to see the team just draw her in in their own way and love on her... and then to see her beam when she got an all-star award (which she didn't take off for the rest of the day) :). To be honest, what I loved almost more was how the 11 other girls exploded in cheers, without hesitation, when she got her award. To me, this makes my team beautiful.

May your week be full of conversations around a table;
Moments of unexpected rest;
Thoughtful surprises received or given;
And precious people in whatever form they come.