Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

June 27, 2010

Rainbow

I love a good storm, with the raging thunder and bright flashes of lightning not to mention the amazing sound of rain thrashing against the window. There is really nothing better than a good storm on a hot summer night! When I was a  kid we would get into our bathing suits and rush into the rain (before the thunder and lightning started of course) and dance in puddles. Once, while visiting my Aunt in Ocean City NJ there was so much rain that the storm drains filled with water and what had been a nice quiet road turned into an awesome water slide! We all grabbed our beach inertubes and flooded the street, going for the ride of our young lives! I remember it being a long ride but I imagine that if I looked at that street now it would be a short little incline... ah childhood!

I think by far the best storm I have ever experienced was in Austria (yes, almost everything leads us back to that beautiful country in central Europe... half my heart is still there). I was 19 years old, it was a hot day in early July and I was having a particularly bad week. I had just gotten word that a friend back home had lost his brother to a freak accident, I was lonely for friends, and I was frustrated with life in general (I was a rather rebellious youth and generally angry and frustrated). So, that particular day I walked out onto the edge of our mountain (we call it the sound of music hill as it looks quite like the hill that Maria does her intro dance and song 'the hills are alive'). So, I am on the Sound of Music hill and in the mountains in front of me are the angriest clouds, rain was streaming down my cheeks and great bolts of lightning lit the sky. If I didn't know better I would say that God was seriously pissed off about something! I stood at the base of the storm and screamed as loud as I could, hoping to vent some of my anger and frustrations, the storm drowned me out. I screamed louder, becoming angrier but still the storm drowned me out. Anger egged me on and I could sense the anger in the storm as if it were God joining me in my emotional upheaval; so we raged together, we shared the angst, we growled at life and we spent ourselves with our tears...

Tired, I turned around, thinking of heading home, and there before me was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen in my life. Gone were the angry clouds, the rainbow filled the entire mountain scape before me and my heart, which had only moments before been tired and spent was filled with a renewed hope, a peace and sense of love that I still feel when I think back to those moments. God had met me in my anger and then showed me peace and love to counter my burning feelings.

That was the best storm I have ever witnessed. Tonight, the rain outside is simply soothing, reminding me of times gone by and filling my soul with peace and hope once again.

June 26, 2010

Toronto Violence

So, it seems that I wasted my rant on housework when if I had waited just a few short hours I could have ranted about the protests going on just a few kilometres from our home. Toronto rioting? What? Insanity?! Prostests I understand, I may not believe that they accomplish much but I understand and support the idea of freedom of speech but when it comes to the few people who use such demonstrations as an excuse to destroy property, start fires and injure people I am disgusted. I have been watching the news for most of the afternoon in shock, not just at the violence but at the morons who have their children there. It would be scary for most of us, but to a child? What must they be thinking? What are they hearing? Who are these parents that they follow this violence with their camera's and strollers in tow? Now, don't get me wrong, the photographer in me is itching to be there, to capture this historic event on camera, to record it and the human interest stories that are unfolding as I write this... but would I risk my child to take those shots? Would I allow them to know even a moment of fear to satisfy my own curiosity? Without hesitation, NO!

Am I proud to say that I am from Toronto? Yes, we are a fantastic city, a peaceful city and our police force should be commended on their restraint during this event. I don't know if I could have shown the same calm retraint if I were in their shoes.

These people who are protesting big business, destroying stores like NIKE, Starbucks etc. are also smashing windows on the Mom & Pop shops... explain that one to me? I am confused?

Watching the news, seeing the images, you could almost believe it was a movie... the sad thing is it's not. It's home.

Housework sucks!

I feel in the mood to rant, maybe it's the steady flow of rain that has prevented me from getting out and enjoying a Saturday in July, maybe it's because I didn't get much sleep last night, or the fact that the kids have been grumpy this morning... I don't know, but it's you who are reading this that are going to get a good dose of rant from me today...

I want to rant about housework... I know there are people out there who will feel this with me so sit back, grab a coffee and take a break from the housework to read about mine! It is never ending! I hate it, I hate dishes, (no the dishwasher guy still hasn't brought the part that our dishwasher needs in order to work properly!), I hate sticking my hands in dirty soapy warm water and using a soggy dishtowel to scrub grub off a plate, or get coffee stains off the morning mugs. I drying them even more! I hate doing laundry, I hate folding, ironing and worse, I hate putting the neatly piled clothes away in the drawers, just so that I can pull them out again and put them back on, just to wash them, dry them, fold them, iron them and put them away again... it's like the annoying song that never ends! I hate toys that get pulled out just seconds after they are put away, I hate dirty diapers, mucky floors, stacks of books in the wrong place, I hate housework! I mean, truly, it's a passionate hatred!

What really gets me, is that I never used to care about a neat house! Until I got married to a neat freak I couldn't care less if there was piles of stuff around... it felt more like home if I had to take clothes straight from the dryer to wear in the morning...

Then I met Tim, my neat freak hubby whom I love... somehow he got to me! Where I used to not care I now care very much. Now I sit in a room that is messy and I cringe, now I want things in their proper place, I want the kitchn counters neat and wiped down, I want the clothes hanging up... but I just don't want to do it! I hate housework! Worse, I hate that I can't afford to pay someone to do it for me!

So, today, on this rainy Saturday, instead of napping, or sitting with a good book and listening to the rain coming down, I have to fold clothes, wash my never ending dish pile and vacume my floors...

I hate housework!

June 25, 2010

It's ok to say it sucks!

Today my heart goes out to a really special friend, she will know who she is when she reads this. Her daughter is about to undergo heart surgery in Poland, she is only 5 months old. How do I find the words to comfort a friend when I can't find them to comfort myself? Do I say 'Im sorry'? That will certainly make her feel worlds better than she does right now! I am sure that sending a long distance hug would work too... I mean seriously! What do you say to a new Mom who's heart is breaking over thier babies broken heart? I don't know and yet I am one of those Moms...

The only thing I can possibly think to say to her right now, is what I wanted to someone to say to me... 'This sucks!'. No platitudes, no false promises of hope or meaningless words like 'it'll be okay'. It isn't okay, it's not going to be okay and to tell me that just frustrates and annoys! Sit with me in the moment, allow me to run the gammet of my emotions, let me rage, let me vent, let me cry, let me even feel sorry for myself once and awhile! Then, after you have allowed for all of that, then you can say 'Im sorry'. Not for the life we created, not for the child who is ill, but for the pain they suffer, for the fear that we are feeling, for the grief that we feel.

So, for my friend... you are an Ocean away and though I can't sit with you physically, know that I am by your side mentally, praying you through this time, crying for you, angry with you, hoping with you and listening to you. Rant if you want, cry if you want, get angry if you want... because this does suck! No child should suffer heart surgery! No baby should be forced to suffer in this way... but also know this. She is loved, not only by you but by God himself who loves her far more than you do. He can comfort her in ways that we can't even imagine!

My hope, my prayer, is that he comforts you as well, and that you feel his arms wrapped around you. My hope and prayer is that you have someone there who can allow you to cope in whatever way is neccesary for you, that someone is there to sit with you and listen.

June 24, 2010

Look up...

I am not sure those of you who read this have ever heard the term "dark night of the soul" or not, but it's a term I have often heard and even been through a few times in my life. It's a place where the night is long, the sky is dark and your soul is hurting. It's a place that you reach out for God, yearn for him, seek him, and sometimes, if you are looking, if you listen hard enough and long enough, you discover that he was there all along.

I have a friend travelling that road right now, he is fully entrenched in the night and can't seem to find his way out just yet. It has gotten me to thinking about my own time in that place, a time that while exceptionally painful was also so filled with love and joy that I would actually love to return.

I was in Austria, my fiance and I had broken up and I was left to really look deeply at myself and my relationships with others as well as myself and God. I had to go back in time and look at old hurts that needed to heal, I needed to ask for healing, I needed to accept healing. What a time! I just wanted to sleep, it was exhausting! I was so thoroughly entrenched that I couldn't do anything but spend time with God in conversation, sometimes yelling at him, sometimes just crying out to him and others, those wonderful moments when it dawned on me how much he loved me, all I could do was fully praise him. It was in this dark night that I really discovered JOY, not the happy happy joy joy, but true JOY. Where your heart is so in tune with your maker that nothing else matters, that you can be going through hell itself and still find a way to have hope in the midst of it. I found myself able to say two things for the first time in my life... 1) I love God, truly love him. 2) Bring it on, if this is what happens when pain comes, then I can take it, bring it on!

I remember one in particular, I was walking home and in the mountains in Austria that can be very difficult due to the darkness. You cannot see the path in front of you and the only way you can get home is to go with your gut and blind instinct (ahh, faith) or in my case purely by memory. I was looking at the ground, making sure I didn't trip on a root or stone (the walk took me from the castle down a mountain to the small town where I lived). At some point, for some reason that I am still not entirely sure of I decided to look up, what I saw took my breath away. Billions of tiny pinpricks of light, the night was black as black could be, but those stars were all the brighter for it!

Now, when in the midst of a dark night, I do my best to stop and look up because chances are there will be millions of bright shiny stars just waiting for me to view them!

June 23, 2010

Artist shoot

Today I had the pleasure of shooting a very talented 14 year old from Stoney Creek for both Christian Week and Alliance Life Canada. I was expecting the paintings to be good, Robert Bateman himself thinks so, but I was in no way prepared for the talent that I saw today. This kid is amazing! His art jumps off the canvas and you can almost believe that the tiger, leapard or swan is real... this is no ordinary artist!

Check out his website at: http://www.joshtiessen.com/

June 22, 2010

Loving them in the here and now...

I watched Kaleb make his way across the room last night for the first time, it wasn't quite a crawl yet, just a slow tummy shuffle that promises to turn into a full crawl in the next few days and part of me rejoiced with him. He's growing up so fast, he's developing on track and that makes me very happy after having so many troubles with Josh. Then there is a small part of me that sighs, this is the end of just putting him down somewhere and knowing that he is safe, now I will put him down and he will be moving on the most exciting thing in the room. Life is about to change and become even busier than it already is. Then of course is the part of me that is sad, my little baby boy is growing up. So many thoughts and feelings surround one little act of shuffling across the room.

When Josh walks by himself up the stairs without using a railing or falling and I jump up in excitement screaming and yelling about how proud I am of the "big boy", but my heart secretly longs for the quiet nights of rocking him to sleep.

How is it that as a Mom and I can want contradicting things for my children. I want them to grow into strong, Godly men but I want them to stay safe in my arms forever. When the time comes will I be ready for them to leave? I realize I have loads of time left for that, but look how fast time is flying! My boys will soon be throwing a football, skating down the ice with a stick chasing a puck, dating... (cringing as I write that one). When does my heart become ready to let go and let them grow? Or, maybe a better question is, when will I become strong enough, brave enough to just be happy for them, without the twinge of sadness that they are not my babies anymore?

I want Josh to stop throwing his food, but that comes at the cost of him being mature enough and old enough to know better, which means that I will miss after nap cuddles and bed time snuggles. I want Kaleb to crawl and walk but that means that he will no longer be content to be in my arms. How do I find contentment with the here and now and just rest in the joy that they are right now, as I write this, my baby boys who need all my love, all my support and all my wisdom? When will I just enjoy now, without fearing the changes that are inevitable and yet beautiful in their own way?

June 20, 2010

We bought our first home!

A year ago Tim and I were talking about our future, where we wanted to live, what kind of home we wanted for our kids to grow up etc. We thought about all the options outside of Toronto, even outside of Canada but as we were thinking it through and praying it over we came to the realization that maybe we were actually meant to stay here in Toronto. What a novel idea eh?! The reality of Tims work and his passion for the people of Toronto, as well as our close proximity to Sick Kids for Joshua soon made it clear that this is where we should be. Then of course came the question of where to live. We wanted to have our own home, a place that we could work on and fix up and raise the boys in. We wanted to own something so that years from now, when it's time to leave Toronto or retire we have the financial ability to have a home. (We live in a rectory at the moment).

So, with all those decisions in front of us we began the long process of waiting... I hate waiting! It sucks! I figure God made me impatient, why does he keep trying to change me? Why didn't he just make me the way he wanted me when he started me? Anyway, that was last year... finally we decided in June to go ahead and begin the house hunt, with Tim off for three months of paternity we figured that this was the best time to do it. So, in our typical all in fashion, we found a house, fell in love, and bought it all in one week! We take possession on the 8th of July! WOOO HOOO!

Now, it's all about packing, sorting, selling, buying, working... lots of working! I can't wait to get in there and start ripping up the floors, sanding and staining the hardwood, painting and moving in!

June 18, 2010

My Dad

When we are children we are taught to reach for our dreams, to believe in ourselves and work to reach our goals. We are taught that we can do anything! Then, somewhere along the way we lose the enthusiasm and we begin to lose sight of the dreams that once kept our imaginations captive when we were still young enough to believe in fairy tales. Some of us settle, or some just let go of the dream altogether...

My Dad, he had a dream. He wanted to write a book, a published book with all the bonuses that that entails. Today, at the age that most consider retirement, my Dad was taken on by an agent. His book (Caliburn) is so great that the editor who read the manuscript and who is never overly enthusiastic repeatedly used the word "Wow" when talking with the agent about the book. I can't wait to see my Dad's work in print, I am so proud!

Life lesson: Never ever quit on your dreams, because they won't quit on you!

Congratulations Dad! I love you so much and I am so proud of you!

June 15, 2010

Road Tripping with two kids...

  At first, all is silent. You sit back and relax and anticipate the journey ahead of you and the fun that you will have while on your trip. You hear the kids chatting in the back seat, you can hear toys being rattled around and the happy gurgles that say all is well. The music is on, your phone is off, and road stretches out before you... ahhh bliss.

YEAH RIGHT! That is the first 5 minutes of any road trip with two kids... then the reality sets in. The CARS movie plays so many times that you swear if you hear another sarcastic comment from Lightning McQueen you might actually jump through the mini DVD player and yank his spark plugs. Then there is the never ending grumping from your youngest who keeps throwing his toys on the floor of the car and can't reach them. Your husband... who happens to have an amazing ability to listen to the kids but not be totally annoyed by it... is busy watching the road so it's on you.

Then there is the stops, you get the kids out to stretch their legs and their little faces beam up at you as if you were the judge who had granted them their pardon. They run, they play (or in the case of the youngest roll around for awhile). When the time comes to get them back in their seats they stare at you in total bewilderment, scarcley believing that you would actually betray them and put them back into thier cells. The cries start, and last about 10 minutes... then it's back to CARS and throwing toys. (and how many cookies and mum mums does one have to feed them before they have actually had enough??).

Now, the fun part... you stop for dinner. You get into the restraunt with a two year old who has been sitting all day and you are asking him to sit through another hour while you eat. Not likely! Up & Down he goes until you are convinced that every person in the restraunt thinks you are raising a monster! (By this time it's possible that even you are beginning to wonder...) The food arrives and appeases them for the full minute it takes for them to realize that they are full of the cookies and mum mums that they had in the car, so the meal is promptly thrown on the floor. By this time your cheeks are burning so bright you are tempted to call the manager and tell him not to bother wasting energy on lighting... go green and leave the lighting to my cheeks, it will even have a romantic red tint.

Your meal is thankfully over, it's time to move to the hotel stage... oh Lord what were we thinking?? It takes 7 nights to sort out who is going to sleep where and how to get the other one to sleep in a new crib, and your trip is only 8 days? The drive back is much the same as the ride there, and when you finally arrive home the kids are annoyed with you because you then need to spend the next few days cleaning, and doing laundry and not giving them the 100% attention that they grew accustomed to on the trip.

However, those 8 days that you weren't on the road for? Those days when you had nothing to do but play and show your kids a good time. Where you get to watch them interact with the world and discover new places and things... thos 8 days are priceless!