Life in June

June is coming to a hectic end and we are heading full force into July without a break in sight. But the sun is shining and Peter’s work schedule will (eventually) slow down so June is also getting really good. We spent a good portion of this past weekend at the beach, including a Saturday dinner picnic. Pearl loved playing in the sand and the creek and trying to find tiny crabs. Here are a few pictures from our life lately:

Our hikes (or “forest walks”, as Pearl calls them) often look like this when we have Bella around. Bella runs ahead and off the trail, Pearl runs after her, yelling, “Bewwa! Come!” Bella does not often listen.

The tricycle we found at a thrift store in Washington is a big hit. Pearl is now tall enough so that her feet can reach the pedals. Bike riding is limited to the carport/driveway currently but we have big plans to one day bike to the park.

“Pearl help!” is something I hear a lot. And while it would definitely be faster for me to empty the dishwasher myself (and the cutlery would get into the correct spots), I remind myself that we are (hopefully) instilling good habits. Plus, she’s such a cheerful and eager helper!

We are currently spending a lot of time in our backyard and in this little pool.

No one can say Pearl doesn’t know how to relax.

I decided to let go of keeping the play dough colours separate. It still makes me cringe when she mashes them all into one giant ball, but it also means I can let her play by herself and get something else done and that’s worth it to me in the long run.

We are currently making our lists of goals and dreams and projects for the summer. No big plans but lots of fun and friends and sunshine ahead, I hope.

A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of an epic tantrum, I picked Pearl up and carried her outside. Sometimes a simple change of scenery can help calm her down and give us a fresh start so I held her, thrashing and screaming, against my body and walked to the end of the driveway. Turns out, a crew of men were arriving to work on our neighbours’ roof and so as Pearl wept and I paced back and forth, speaking to her softly, I had an audience. Most of them were young men who watched me with surprise and a hint of laughter but one fellow, a little older than the others, gave me a knowing nod. I can only assume that at some point, he too has done this walk.

Posing with flowers from our backyard.

Pearl is two. Tantrums are part of our lives right now. She has intense desires and a growing sense of independence. She wants to do so many things by herself and so many of those things are still hard or impossible for her to do. Sometimes she just can’t do them (like reaching the light switch in her room) and sometimes I can’t let her do them (like buckling herself into her car seat). Her vocabulary is constantly expanding but we often run into moments where she has trouble expressing herself or I have trouble understanding her. Sometimes I’m impatient, sometimes she’s tired. We might go days without a tantrum or we might have three in one afternoon.

A rainy day at the park.

More and more these days, when strangers ask how old Pearl is and I tell them, the reply is, “You have your hands full.” Sure, but not really. Pearl is smart and fun and imaginative and delightful. She’s two, she’s not a rabid wolf. She’s learning a lot – about herself and the world – and it’s my job to help her figure it out.

New gear for the summer.

I do believe that some ideas can be become self-perpetuating and so I make a concerted effort to avoid the idea of “the terrible twos”. Why should I approach an entire year of my daughter’s life with the idea that it is or will be terrible? Can I honestly expect that when she turns three, everything will magically be easy? I can miss the docility of a newborn and look forward to the independence and real conversation of a five-year-old and still embrace and enjoy where we are right now.

Stories with Bella.

Two. It’s playing games that she’s made up all by herself. It’s waiting a painfully long time for her to climb into the tub “her own self”. It’s the morning cry of “Hi Mum!”. It’s the sharing of lip gloss, it’s pulling toy cars out of my washing machine because she fills her pockets with them. It’s rushing out of the shower because I can’t hear her anymore, only to find her quietly looking at books in her room. It’s learning who is this little person that I helped bring into the world but is suddenly so much herself.

Observing what Pearl refers to as a “pillar-cat”

The tantrums are hard and frustrating, I won’t gloss over that. The reasons for them vary and are often minor and I regularly find myself wondering if I should have just given in right away but of course I can’t give in now or I’ll teach her that tantrums work. So we walk to the edge of the front yard or we rock together in a chair or we read stories and look at birds and it usually ends with a cuddle. Two also means there is always another chance, always a time for cuddles.

I pray a lot. The last three years of pregnancy and parenting have brought me more joy and sorrow than I ever knew before. They have stripped me of many of my illusions and brought me continually to my knees, praying for the Lord’s guidance. I have a feeling that won’t change any time soon. They have also filled me with a greater and larger and better thankfulness than I have ever before experienced. Two is good. I am thankful for my two year old.

Easter 2017

I’ll admit it, this post is nothing more than cute pictures of my kid. While I’m fully aware no one else but her dad cares quite as much as I do, I also think these pictures of Pearl having her annual Easter Hunt in our backyard are pretty adorable so I’m going to show them to you.

Patiently waiting while Peter hides the goodies.

Last year, Easter was even earlier but we had Pearl outside in a springy dress. This year was boots and rain jacket.

Her hunting skills have really improved though.

This was her favourite find. We had lots of chocolate eggs and bunnies for her but since she doesn’t get much chocolate, she didn’t really know what they were. We filled a couple of these eggs full of goldfish crackers and she knew right away what that was.

She did miss some obvious hiding places.

But she got there eventually.


And then got to enjoy her spoils!

I hope you all had an excellent long weekend!

Pearl is 2!

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Last week we celebrated because our girl turned two! We’ve been talking with Pearl for a while about her birthday and that she would be two and she’d figured out the response to, “How old are you?” (“Two!” said with a huge amount of glee.) Though “two” also became the response to any other question involving a number. (How many dogs do you see? How old is Dad?)

Toddlers are great at celebrating their birthdays because their expectations are pretty much nil to begin with. This came in handy when Pearl woke up with a bad cold on her birthday and was running a fever the morning before her party. After warning the other moms, turn out was a little lower than originally planned but Pearl rallied after a nap and, in the end, seemed to enjoy her day.

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Because Pearl is very into tea parties right now and because there’s a song called “Tea for Two”, we decided to have a tea party for our brand new two-year-old. We kept it simple with scone (made by my father-in-law) with jam, fruits and veggies, and cookies in the shapes of woodland creatures. (Pearl “helped” me make them.) And, of course, vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting.

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Pearl got thoroughly loved on by friends and family and the afternoon was a lot of fun. She poked at her cupcake and never ate it but had a few cookies and scones to make up for that.

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The backpack was her gift from Peter and I and she wore it most of the day.

We feel so thankful for our beautiful, fun, healthy, smart girl and extra thankful that so many people, near and far, love her, celebrate her life, and have joined with Peter and I in praying over her life.

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January…

After the three of us recovered from our extended colds, January turned out to be a pretty good month around here.

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Pearl is now 23 months! Her hair is long enough that it occasionally gets in her eyes, she is currently getting a new tooth, and she is full of energy.

We stayed away from most of our usual toddler groups and drop-ins because we didn’t want to spread our germs around and so we ended up spending a lot of time outdoors, exploring the forest nearby and playing at the local parks.
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When the new year began, I made a list of a few goals for myself and while I haven’t worked out five times a week (probably not a realistic goal anyway), focusing on a few small changes have made a big difference in my attitude. Lots of outdoor time is key for both Pearl and I and makes our days more interesting.

Another of my goals was to spend less time on-line, especially before bed. I always have a book (or three) on the go so it’s a simple switch to close the computer and read inside. As well, I’ve stayed away from Facebook all month and I feel like that’s made a difference too. My Facebook feed is just too full of pregnancies and babies and while I normally love that I felt that I needed to step away for a while. I’ve been surprised at how good it’s felt for my own well-being.

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Pearl and I went on a fun adventure, just the two of us. We took a day trip into Vancouver, walking on the ferry and spending the day downtown. It was rainy and busy but we had a blast and I can’t wait to try it again when the weather’s better. We walked around a lot (her mostly in her stroller), Pearl had her first drink at Starbucks (steamed milk), and we rode the SeaBus just for fun (Pearl’s first time).

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Recently, Pearl had an appointment with the speech therapist. At her 18-month check-up, she wasn’t quite hitting the amount of words they expected her to have at that age (around 20) so we went on a wait list for speech therapy. By the time the therapist contacted me, Pearl had added a lot of words to her vocabulary; Peter and I estimate she has about 50 words now. It didn’t seem like it would do any harm to have her assessed by a professional though and to see if there was anyway we could help her along. I wasn’t sure how it would go since Pearl isn’t always the most outgoing around strangers. The therapist was awesome though, having a tea party with Pearl and bringing out lots of toys to engage her, all while surreptitiously jotting down her observations.

In the end, our suspicions were confirmed – Pearl is totally fine! It’s been apparent that she understands what we’re saying, including multi-step ideas (like, “Go get your boots and put them on”) and she’s adding new words to her speech everyday. She’s simply learning at her own pace and that’s okay! Just this past week or so she’s begun putting two words together to form sentences (“Hi mum!). I’m still glad that I took advantage of the appointment, plus I learned a little more about how to aid her speech development along. I can’t wait to hear what she says next!

I Made This!

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Don’t get excited – I’m not about to show you anything impressive. I am decidedly un-crafty and not a hands-on kind of person so I’m pleased that I actually made something.

Pictured above is what I started with. Four wooden boxes found for free. When Peter and I spotted them I was sure I could do something with them. At the time, Peter was re-doing our deck and didn’t want to take on anything that involved sanding or painting (fair enough) but I was sure I could figure it out.

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My first step was to sand the boxes. I used a sander! A power tool!

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I bought wood glue at the hardware store and glued the boxes together. I used my heaviest books to weigh them down.

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Then I painted. Above is after one coat of paint. I did two but this was the longest DIY project ever so there was about a month where it sat half-painted in our carport. We had some leftover paint from when we painted our kitchen after we renovated last summer so I just used that. It’s a very, very light green.

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And the finished project! This corner of our living room (where our Christmas tree was a month ago) is now Pearl’s little play corner. I don’t love having all her toys in our living room but we have a small house and this lets her room be a quiet, sleeping place with just her books and stuffed animals. We have one other basket full of Duplo and a wooden box for her trains. And now I’m wondering if Pearl’s toy stash is excessive…At least this keeps them contained and easy to put away and Pearl seemed happy with the finished product.

If anyone needs any woodworking tips, let me know!

“The Lord was with Joseph”

We’ve lurched our way into 2017 in our household with bad colds for Pearl and I. Peter and I made it to 10:30 on New Year’s Eve and I spent most of January 1st in bed. Pearl picked up the illness from me and has had a rough couple of nights recently. Despite that, I’m hopeful for 2017. I’ve set some goals (I don’t know why that sounds better to me than resolutions but it does) and while the year may not look the way I hoped it would last summer, I am still looking forward to what it does bring.

Our house, morning of Christmas Eve.

Our house, morning of Christmas Eve.

As we enter into a new year, the story of Joseph has been on my mind. I know, not exactly seasonally appropriate but here’s what’s been on my mind.

Growing up, I heard this story a lot. Joseph and his dreams, Joseph and his colourful coat. Joseph and his brothers, more dreams, his success in Egypt. It’s told as a success story. It all worked out because in the end Joseph saves his family from famine. His brothers betray him, sell him into slavery, and lie to their father but it has a happy ending.

That’s not a false telling of the story but what’s struck me recently is that this couldn’t have been God’s ideal plan for Joseph and his family. Joseph is the son of Jacob, the great-grandson of Abraham. For four generations God has been promising to expand this particular family. God has promised that a great king will come from Abraham’s line, that Abraham descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky. It was never in God’s plan to let this family die of starvation three generations later. God could have kept them alive and safe in their own land. But He didn’t because Joseph’s brothers sinned hugely. Jealous of their younger brother, they could barely restrain themselves from killing him. Instead, they sold him into slavery in a foreign land where he suffered for years. He served in other men’s households. He was accused of crimes he didn’t commit. He spent years in prison. Genesis tells us that Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh. His entire youth was spent in slavery and imprisonment.

We know less about what Joseph’s brothers were up to in that time but what we do know points to them suffering too. Aside from a devastating famine, we know that Judah at least has turned from his brothers and raised sons who are “wicked in the sight of the Lord” and things degrade (Genesis 38, that’s a whole other story). We know also that the brothers are wracked with guilt for what they did to Joseph. When they stand in Joseph’s presence in Egypt and don’t recognize him, one of their first reactions to Joseph testing their honesty is to recall how Joseph begged for his life and they didn’t listen. No matter how many years have passed, his cries still echo in their ears.

My point is that none of this would have been what God wanted for this chosen family. God uses it, yes; Joseph remains obedient to God and faithful in his worship no matter the circumstances and God raises him up to a position where he’s able to help his family. But I don’t think God’s perfect plan involved those years of suffering for the brothers. It didn’t involve what followed for the Israelites – enslavement, escape, wandering through the desert.

Park time on Christmas Eve.

Park time on Christmas Eve.

I take comfort in this because I don’t think the way 2016 unfolded was God’s perfect plan for my life. We live in a sinful, fallen world, just as Joseph did and that means death and decay and broken hearts. It’s so hard to understand why an all-powerful God doesn’t step in and fix these things but as Christian we also believe that He is doing so. That when He sent His Son to die for us on the cross, that was the beginning of fixing all things. Making all things new. We’re not there yet and so we suffer. We suffer because we know that things are not as they should be. Just as Joseph suffered, knowing that his life should have been different, even as he gained power in Pharaoh’s court.

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Snowy Christmas Day in Vancouver.

Joseph trusted that God could redeem what had happened to him. That enslavement and betrayal was not the end of the story. We don’t know what Joseph’s relationship was like with his brothers after they were all reunited in Egypt. I can’t imagine that it was ever as good as it could have been. There are wounds that are not healed this side of Heaven. But the healing process can begin on this side. God works in our lives now, despite the sin, despite the roadblocks we try to put in His way. He works now. He is working now.

A ferry ride home.

A ferry ride home.

I am excited to see how God unfolds His plan for our family in 2017.

(The story of Joseph is find in Genesis 37-47.)

Snow Day (and other Christmasy moments)

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We don’t get a lot of snow in our part of Canada and when we do it tends to melt away pretty quickly. Despite seeing snow in the forecast, it was a lovely surprise to look outside this morning and realize the white stuff really was coming down.

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Pearl’s seen snow just once before in her twenty-one months of life. Last year on Christmas Eve we drove up to a slightly higher altitude so that she could experience it. This morning, as the flakes were coming down, I bundled her up and we went for a walk right away because I wasn’t sure if it would last all day. (It’s now past noon and it’s stopped snowing though there’s still a little on the ground.)

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Thank goodness for hand-me-down snowsuits from older cousins!

It’s wet and slushy and it won’t be here long but Pearl had a blast stomping and playing and insisting I make more snowballs. Today nicely corresponds with a professional development day so our local park was full of kids out playing in the snow.

And then we came home and cuddled up with warm milk, banana loaf, and The Littlest Hobo.

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It’s definitely feeling like Christmas around here. This past weekend we went out on our annual Great Christmas Tree Hunt and we found a good one.

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Pearl’s not that in to looking at the camera these days.

We picked a full-sized tree this year in hopes that Pearl’s old enough to understand that she has to leave it alone. So far, so good. She loves when we turn on the lights and is delighted by all the new little decorations around the house for her to play with.

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Every day Pearl is growing and learning and it feels like every day we have more fun together. I’m so excited to watch her enjoy her second Christmas.

Monday Thoughts

Lots of puddle weather recently.

Lots of puddle weather recently

Grief is a strange, lurking beast. While I’m prepared for it in many ways, it surprises me at so many other moments. Sometimes I can ready myself, steel my thoughts against it. And sometimes it simply appears.

Pearl and I went to get our flu shots today and I’d forgotten one of the questions they always ask:

“Is there any chance that you’re pregnant?”

Sometimes, I’m completely undone by these moments. By a reference to pregnancy loss in a television show or stumbling across a pregnancy announcement on Facebook. And sometimes I can take a deep breath and carry on with my day.

Fortunately, today was a deep breath kind of day. “No. I’m not pregnant,” I told the woman who was just doing her job. Pearl and I got our shots. Pearl was brave and only cried a little and then enjoyed playing with bubbles and fell in love with the stuffed Panda the nurse gave her. Today was a good day.

This is the box her Duplo came in. She loves to sit in it.

This is the box her Duplo came in. She loves to sit in it.

Pearl is 20 months and a bit and is full of personality. Her vocabulary is slowly increasing (this morning she said cheese!) but even without words she knows how to make herself understood. She is full of energy and affection and laughter.

Big Bear going for a ride in Peter's backpack.

Big Bear going for a ride in Peter’s backpack.

She’s in a swim class this fall and loves it and we have lots of fun. Bath times are full of kicking and splashing now too. She meows whenever she sees a picture of a cat and will set up tea parties for her four best stuffed animal friends. She hates getting dressed most mornings and wants to wear her pyjamas all day. She likes to brush her own teeth. She continues to want to live on a diet of carbs and cheese but will eat almost anything in smoothie form.

Pearl’s most consistent words are “dad” and “mum”. It took a while for her to say “mum” and now that she does it makes me so happy.

She loves this guy a lot.

She loves this guy a lot.

I’m reading a lot of the Psalms lately, working my way through slowly, using those beautiful poems as a jumping off place for my own prayers. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in my sorrows, that God has heard and answered other anguished cries.

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer,
and by night I find no rest.

Yet You are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In You our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and You delivered them.
To You they cried and were rescued;
in You they trusted and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22:1-5

This past weekend, Peter and I got to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of friends. “Only forty-three and a half more years to go!” we told each other. I’m sure you don’t get to 50 years without some ups and downs and some sorrow and lots of laughter. (I can tell you that you don’t get to six years of marriage without those things.) I’m so glad that God brought such a good partner into my life to make this journey.

I just realized that almost all of these photos are Peter and Pearl. That says a lot about what a fantastic dad he is, I think. But just for good measure, here’s one of Pearl and I:

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

Halloween 2016

Yesterday evening Pearl went trick-or-treating for the first time ever. She also ate candy for the first time so all in all, it was a very big day.

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We weren’t sure what we were going to do with Pearl this year. Knowing there will be many years ahead of us where she’s eager to trick-or-treat and dress up, it didn’t seem crucial to push her into this year. Especially when there’s no way she’ll be eating all that candy!

But a hat she already had and a fifty cent costume from the thrift store and we couldn’t resist. So here you have Winnie-the-Pooh!

We went out early, trick-or-treating in our local mall, which was busier than Peter or I had ever seen it before. Pearl didn’t quite understand and at first tried to give her candy back. We didn’t stay long but she seemed to enjoy herself. A quick stop at the grandparents’ and three little candies later and it was home to bed.

Next year will probably be really crazy!

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