Friday, 6 January 2017

2016 in Review: The Year of Grief

Poor neglected blog! I lasted posted in May, saying it had been a hard year, and although we have had some very good things happen, overall it remained a year of mourning. Death, or the cold promise of it, seemed to touch so many of those we love:

Baby Matthew: Christmas 2015 I met up with my best friend and celebrated that she was pregnant with her second child. Then, several weeks later, we learned that her son was unlikely to survive past birth. We live on opposite sides of this vast country, so I spent a lot of time praying, crying, and pouring my prayers & hope & grief into the below since I couldn’t provide any of the more hands-on comforts that I’m more comfortable with:

Uncle Roy: At the end of January my mum told me that my uncle had just been diagnosed with cancer. Two weeks later he had passed away.

Auntie Ushie: In May I lost my beautiful Grandaunt Ushie. She is one of those family members who appear in my earliest memories and saying goodbye was like saying goodbye to part of my childhood and the security that comes with that network of extended family.

Aunt Diamonds: David’s Grandaunt passed away and that certainly made an impression. I had never met her, but she often was mentioned in family stories and we miss having the updates about her latest doings via the family grapevine.

Auntie Robin: Alzheimer’s continues its destruction of my sweet aunt’s body & mind. These days I almost never have an opportunity to see her, so reality as it comes in the form of pictures or updates from other family is always a sad shock. Every time I sing I think about the gift she gave me in training my voice. I am thankful for the years I got to know her as an adult, because we share so many similar interests in books & music, but at the same time I grieve for the slow loss of that relationship.

Gramma: Dementia and “old age” continue their work on my darling Gramma. Sometimes when I see her she is as funny & charming as she was a few years ago, but other times it is clear that she doesn’t really understand what’s going on. Mostly I hate how staged and forced-cheerful it feels visiting her in the care-home. We troop in, usually with donuts, and try to visit, but the visits are never very long and it just doesn’t have the same feel as it did when we’d visit her at home. Also, her home sold this year and it was sad seeing that piece of history (my Grandfather built it up into the structure it is today) leave the family even if that was the practical choice.

Baby Hannah: Shortly before Christmas we received urgent prayer requests for the newborn daughter of friends of ours, as she was being rushed to the NICU with serious problems. Although she is now back at home with her family, it seems that the long term diagnosis is probably not good (ie a degenerative problem) and so we continue to pray and to hope for a miracle.

This is hardly everyone, just the ones that I feel that I can maybe share with the world. It seemed to be a punch of fresh grief each month the past year. Yet, as I said, the year was not without its bright spots, especially on the home front. For the first time since we moved back to Canada I felt a bit of stability and routine in our home life and that is a great blessing. With all that was going on this year I felt it was time to really take care of my mental health and the short of it is that I’m feeling much better than I have in a very long time, perhaps in my whole life.

Now that the kids are both 3+ I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We can actually just hang out together, relaxing and having fun, or I can get things done around the house, and basically we are just able to enjoy being together as people rather than just as caregiver & infant dictator. It’s lovely! And it looks like after 2 years of half-assed trying Walter completed his potty training saga all on his own, so that’s been a nice change (it’s been mostly a week!). Plus we put Walter in speech therapy and that did an amazing job with both his clarity and his confidence. Meanwhile, Annie has taught me some strong lessons about learning to accept love, and those have been invaluable. The day I stopped hesitating and finally called her “my besty friend” in return to her usual clamourings brought a huge change in both of us and it’s absolutely delightful to have a mini-me following me everywhere and doing girl-stuff with me.

One day I may cover off the doings of the year, tho’ Instagram has done a much better job of capturing our Liturgical lifestyle and various doings. Mostly, 2016 was a year of cozy domestic doings woven in amongst loss & the inevitable growing up that accompanies it.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Breaking the Silence

I just finished reading Volume 1 of L.M. Montgomery’s personal journals. She wrote in journals up until her death and volume 1, which covers 1889 – 1910 has been a delightful trip into the thoughts and actions of one of my favourite authors. (As an aside, I have always loved that Montgomery, Alcott & I share the first two initials).

I often find myself dissatisfied when reading biographies of my favourite celebrities. Their lives are, I suppose, too human, and contain that level of sorrow or poor morals or what-have-you. It always leaves me feeling a bit let down, to see the flaws in the lives of those I admire, or at least whose art I admire (for often after finishing a biography I no longer admire the person). Reading Montgomery’s journals, however, has had the opposite effect. She had horrible struggles with depression but somehow hearing it in her own words, walking that path with her rather than having it throw at me by a biographer, has made quite a difference and only increased my admiration for her, rather than leaving me with the let down feeling that someone who brought so much joy to the world through her writings could suffer so terribly (need I say I was *not* a fan of the biography I read of her?). It also gave me a good insight to the intensity of “Emily’s Quest”.

Reading her journals at this point in time has been like finding a kindred spirit, particularly when I saw the infrequency of her writing as she took on more adult responsibilities into her thirties. They’ve been a good kick in the pants to get back onto blogging, and journaling, for even my favourite author wrote infrequently but steadily!

In usual form I’m sure I’ll go back in the following months and finish writing up all the things I’ve missed. I’ve also got a ten-mile-long list of embroidery projects, a giant backlog of gifts for babies and weddings and what-have-you. To all my friends who read this – I’M SORRY! But I keep trusting that a personalised gift is worth the wait, even if your babies are toddlers by the time I’m done.

In regards to the every day... I absolutely love my job and I’m so thankful I took a risk last March and applied for it. I’m constantly being challenged, which is an environment I thrive in, and I find the work really engaging. David’s been working very steadily on projects all year which means we’re living in a crazy cycle where one of us is always working while the other one is watching the kids/running the house, which is incredibly exhausting, but I am so proud of the work he’s doing. It always takes so long from when he finishes a project to when it gets published but in fun news a book he wrote a chapter for last year has finally come out in print and our copy should be arriving shortly.

On a larger scale, however, 2016 has been a sad year for us. This is, I think, one of the reasons I’ve not been writing as much. Since January we’ve either had family members pass away OR had close friends/family undergo personal tragedies and loss ever month and this has been emotionally exhausting. 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Home for the Holidays

The Fourth Sunday of Advent, that wonderful point in time where we're deeply into Christmas/Not Yet Christmas territory. As a kid this was always my favourite Sunday of Advent -- Christmas was *so close*, less than a week away, and school was out and I was home and everything was just geared towards the fun of the holidays.

I usually like to decorate the tree on Gaudete Sunday, but this year that certainly wasn't happening. So we moved it to a weekday, planned an easy dinner, and then let loose with the Christmas decorating! It was so much fun! We don't have much space and with David working from home it's too much for him to try to keep an eye on the kids AND write AND ensure that the Christmas tree doesn't tip over so I opted for a tiny tree this year. I think it was 1.5' tall. But, as we were away for half of Christmas, it didn't make sense to stress ourselves out with a tree that we wouldn't be around to enjoy. And one year if, God willing, we have more space our little Charlie Brown tree can be upgraded to a centerpiece or mantel decoration. Plus the kids didn't care and enjoyed being able to hang ornaments on a tree they could actually reach the top of.

Bobble Head Shakespeare approves. 

My friend's brother made the sign. All proceeds from the sale of his holiday signs were donated to help a family with the adoption of a child from a European orphanage. 

I put up the window clings after the kids went to bed. They were so surprised and happy when they woke up!
This year we had the opportunity to head to Victoria for David's birthday & Christmas (they fall in the same week). Our whole week preceding this Sunday was one of major preparation, because traveling with young children never seems to be easy no matter what. This time around was one of our best travel experiences with them and still felt like running a marathon (my FitBit tells me that I hit 5000 steps by 1pm which is pretty impressive when you consider that it all came from packing/readying the house to leave). We managed to get all the dishes washed and lots of other little cleaning tasks done before leaving. I give myself immense credit for this because I said we should leave on Saturday instead of Friday which meant we could have a much more leisurely (haha) time of getting out the door.

We almost had an emergency when my brother's roommate forgot to leave the keys to the car that was supposed to take us to the ferry. Fortunately my cousin Tara stepped up in a major way and lent us her [super amazing awesome family friendly] van. I was so happy because it is my favourite vehicle (seriously so easy to get the kids in and out and holds loads of luggage) and it saved on a lot of stress and toddler fights on the way to the ferry.

We also had another almost emergency because PHYSICS and I are doomed to be enemies. In the haste of packing up the bottom drawer of our bathroom cabinet did not shut all the way, and one of the kids helpfully slammed the bathroom door shut which caused the drawer to slide out all the way (I think?) which, in our tiny bathroom, meant that the door was completely blocked by the drawer and couldn't be opened. Thankfully, armed with a butter knife and ten million prayers, I managed to slide the drawer back into place after several frantic minutes and we were all good, although my nerves didn't recover until much later!

Emergencies aside, I feel that this is the first trip we've taken as a family, to the Island, where I can look at David and say "we've got this. We're adulting". We have a system down for the ferry -- a spot where we like to sit and where the kids are easy to manage, a plan for how best to feed the family while traveling and trying to not buy too much food on the ferry, and a method for keeping the kids entertained and relatively quiet. It's a flexible plan, depending on the time of day we're traveling, the weather, and the length of the boat ride, but the main pieces are relatively consistent. Arrive early. Secure a spot with ample room so that Walter doesn't feel crowded. If leaving from home, pack some tasty food (like a bbq chicken, baguette, and fruit) buy drinks from the grocery store in advance, but plan to pick up a few supplements (like cheese, yogurt, and ice/water) from the ferry cafeteria because taking a kid through the lineup is a great way to kill 20+ minutes and keep the children separate and occupied. Do separate bathroom trips with the kids because that usually kills 30+ minutes and they need to stretch their legs. Find little chores for them to do, liking carrying trash to the trash can, because it helps them feel like part of the experience (and... kills time!). Colouring is great and we learned on this trip that crayon easily wipes off of the ferry walls (because baby wipes are AWESOME for removing crayon).

Traveling on a Saturday, and arriving in the afternoon, meant that I could have a leisurely time unpacking in Victoria. David's parents are very generous hosts and his mum always has the room done up to perfection for our arrival. We were given "the suite" to stay in on this trip, which gave us plenty of space and privacy (so useful for toddlers and their nap/bedtime schedules). I had the time to get us organised and settled in which goes a long way to helping the kids settle in to strange beds and different sleeping arrangements.

Our Fourth Sunday of Advent was lovely. We were back at Mass after a two week absence. That alone was so nice. We were able to go to Mass with extended family, something which rarely happens, and that also was nice. And we know enough people at Star of the Sea that going there is like a mini reunion. After our giant parish in Vancouver, where it seems like no one notices when we're coming or going, it's nice to feel like part of a community again. Star of the Sea also has an awesome choir, which makes me happy, and it just happens to be a military parish on the naval base, which makes my boat-loving-pirate-obsessed little son very happy. He dubbed it "Pirate Mass" and was quite eager to go.

We never got to the Advent wreath and we never said our Advent prayers but the kids were so happy to be with their Grandparents that I don't think they noticed.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Third Sunday of Advent (in which I seem to suck at all the things)

By the  end of the Third Sunday of Advent we were totally failing at Mass-going this season. It is not quite as bad as last winter, I think, but between the downpours (and no car!), the growth-spurt tantrums (I'm guessing it's a thing?), and the never-ending lack of sleep it seems that we're meeting an epic fail despite the number of Mass times available to us in this metropolis. So that's a disappointment but it's also life with two toddlers.

As for the novena, totally sucking at that also. But in good news, I've managed to get the Advent candles lit on Sunday each week so that's quite an improvement over previous years. Small steps, my friends, small steps.

All that said, last Tuesday (December 8th) was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Holy Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee). In most places it's a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, meaning that they're supposed to treat it as importantly as a Sunday and get to Mass. In Canada things are very lax so there's no obligation. But I try not to let that stop me, especially now that I've discovered a 7:15 Mass at the Cathedral downtown. I can get there and back to my work shuttle on one bus ticket and it doesn't even make me late for work. So off I went to enjoy a peaceful and quiet Mass. Of course nothing seems to come easy lately so my fancy new umbrella with its auto-open-auto-close feature broke and wouldn't close, no matter how much button pushing, force, or cursing was directed to it. And it was downpouring. To say I was in a bit of a fluster would be putting it mildly. But it didn't matter, because there was something soul-deeply-calming about being in a candle-dim church, listening to the sounds of the rain and the voices praying, feeling like I was being held close in Mary's heart. It's totally worth the 6am wakeup time to go.

In order to try and give a nod to the feast day at home, I went for a white-themed meal (to symbolize purity). We had a thai chicken-coconut soup, garlic bread, and lemon snow bars. It was a lot of fun.

I spent the rest of the week trying to gear up in order to survive the weekend. Walter has his Ukrainian dance class every Saturday at 9:30am in downtown Vancouver, which means that we leave the house at 8:30am, which means that IF no children wake up early I get to sleep in by about 10 minutes compared to my normal wake-up time. And this week was even more hectic, because I was taking Annie along with us AND it was dress rehearsal day AND all the adults were corralled to help set up the hall for Sunday's recital. But I survived and thanks to the magic of crayons the children behaved during the setup and Annie even made friends with a baby at the class.

Later that afternoon my brother came over to help make Christmas shortbread. He is much less edgy with the kids than I am when it comes to making stuff so it's always nice to have him around for kid participation time. It ended up being a tonne of fun! We made our batch of cookies, got them all suitably decorated, and I don't think that I yelled once. It probably helped that John brought a case of cola with him because man oh man was I running on sugary caffeine all weekend.

Then came Sunday. Not just any Sunday, but Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for "rejoice!" and it's the day that we light the pink advent candle and the day in my house that we start hitting the Christmas festivities with the same hardcore zeal as the rest of our culture. Usually it's the day I put up the tree and really start indulging in my favourite Christmas albums. As a nod to all things seasonally liturgical, Annie & I wear pink and we all try to get in a very joyful mood. This year? Mostly epic fail.

The toddlers would! not! stop! screaming! So we changed our plans of going to a morning Mass at the Cathedral and opted to stay at home until Dance Recital time and then go to one of the three evening Masses we could easily do on our way home. And then a certain Sir threw an hour-long fit when his cruel parents tried to dress him before leaving the house. And then the sprinkling of rain turned into a downpour that ended as soon as we reached the stage in our journey that no longer required being exposed to the rain. And my poor sick husband got soaked to the bone, and is subsequently much sicker now, and the toddlers would! not! stop! screaming!

We did make it through the Dance Recital with a minimum of upset. I count it as a success that I got Walter into his costume, sans hat (he was supposed to be a magical mushroom from Baba Yaga's forest), because he was mostly adamant that he'd wear it "tomorrow". The recital itself was great fun, because Ukrainians are AWESOME. From the minute the music started the hall was full of stamping feet and clapping hands and good, positive energy. After the recital there was a sa potluck, carol singing, and a visit from Grandfather Frost (who had a present for each child).

The journey home was less successful, as the crying ramped up again (thank you, Baby Annie) and we ended up missing Mass again because of the screaming and crying and general inability of Certain Small Humans to cope with social situations. The children mostly misbehaved until bedtime, the Advent candle didn't get lit until well after they were tucked away, I didn't find the third Sunday of Advent prayer, and it was not the joyful Sunday I'd been hoping for. So I ranted and raved and added to the general misery of the household. And then I ordered Chinese food and put my feet up and remembered that tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Second Sunday of Advent

It’s the second Sunday of Advent and I’m working hard at trying to fight the Christmas rush, while realising that I’m not just imagining the pressure. Somehow we’ve ended up with an incredibly busy two weeks, after which point we’ll be leaving Vancouver (yay!) to head to the Island and David’s parents for Christmas. Do you have any idea how happy I am that I don’t have to work this Christmas? Do you know how hard it is to work on Christmas when it is not only one of the biggest holidays of the year but also one of the holiest days of the year for your religion? It was a double whammy of suckitude. Don’t get me wrong – the work that I do is important and I felt some solidarity with other professionals who provide “essential services” and have to work on the holidays because evils in this world don’t recognise holidays, but it was hard.

I digress.

The first thing on my radar for this past week was something that I hope will become a new and awesome Porter Family Advent Tradition. November 30th was the Feast of St Andrew and there is a beautiful Christmas novena attached to his feast day. Technically a novena is a 9 days prayer, whereas this Christmas Novena is supposed to be said 15 times a day between now and Christmas, but it’s a relatively simple way to change our daily prayers to reflect the season. In the Perfect World we would be rocking this Novena. In actual fact, I don’t have it memorised which makes it a lot harder to say 15 times a day. Work’s been crazy busy as the holiday season is the busiest time of year so even my plans of saying the prayer at my desk have been scuppered because I’m running around so much. But I’m saying it at least once a day, most of the time with the children, and that’s a good start. It really is a beautiful prayer:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

The next thing on my radar is the Feast of St Nikolas. St Nikolas, better known as Santa Claus, is a pretty hardcore 4th century saint who happens to be the patron saint of children and who, in popular traditions around the world, secretly gives gifts to them on his feast day (often leaving them in their shoes). Coming from an anti-Santa household, this has been a good way to reintroduce the tradition into my own family. I’m pro-Santa, by the way, but I like celebrating this feast as a way of introducing my children to the historical Santa. And this year it is awesome, because his feast day falls on a day which just happens to be the day we had already planned to go to Metrotown to get our pictures with Santa. I'm so pleased with this that I might just make it our normal Santa-photo day, assuming work schedules can jive with Santa schedules in the coming years.

Our very somber Santa photo. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one smiling. Both kids were on the verge of meltdowns so we were pulled into the picture and I guess paying donating for only one picture made us persona non grata because they hustled us in and out of there very quickly (unlike last year when we requested 2 photos and ended up with 4). 
I do like to keep the feast simple, so the kids are getting a chocolate Santa, a book, and their Christmas-Mass outfits. The adults will also get chocolate and will make merry once the children are in bed by toasting St Nikolas with a round of "Bishop's Helper" (spiced wine).

Walter's face! This was taken at the precise moment he learned that he couldn't open his present until we'd taken a photo AND he'd have to sit next to his sister. She's being wary because...punches. 

They're actually happy here, but Emily just plain refuses to smile for the camera.
This Sunday also happened to be the dedication of our cousin “Baby Avelynn”, so we trekked over to East Vancouver for the pre-dedication party. My cousins are fantastic hosts and the beer & appies kept coming, including a lovely sausage, cheese, & pickle platter that Tara had on hand as a nod to all things Ukrainian Canadian. It was wonderful to meet Paul's side of the family and to meet my cousins' closest friends.

If I am being cheeky I will tell you that a baby dedication is an Anabaptist response to infant Baptism, although that is not really accurate because there are too many theological differences to draw a true parallel. Suffice to say it is an opportunity for parents and their church community to dedicate their baby to God and to dedicate themselves to helping to raise the child in their faith. My brother and I were both dedicated when we were babies. As an aside, I remember my brother’s dedication being A Big Deal. My dad’s parents came all the way from Abbotsford (and I’m pretty sure that my GroƟmutter must have been ill with leukemia at the time) and I seem to remember mum being very excited over his blue velvet(?) romper and wandering around the house all misty-eyed and excited. My attitude was one of indifference and boredom...although in my defense I was only 6.5. Anyway, at the time it was impressed upon my brain that this is one of the Things We Do and then of course I converted to Catholicism and it became one of the Things We Don’t Do because we baptize our babies which, of course, as an Anabaptist was one of the Things We Definitely Don’t Do so the whole “what to do with my new baby and my religion” question really becomes quite a complex one for me.

All decked out for my Dedication in the family gown made by one of my aunts. 
That was this week’s busyness. So now we come to this week’s rest, a time to say the Advent prayer and to remind myself that with all the busy preparations for our Christmas celebrations there is time to rest, pray, and draw from the well of peace.

Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.
He is the Savior of us all.
O Lord,
let your blessing come upon us as we light the first and second (purple) candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise of salvation.
May He come quickly and not delay.
We ask this in His holy name. Amen.

Monday, 30 November 2015

First Sunday of Advent

Advent, the four beautiful weeks before Christmas where we prepare our hearts and homes to receive the Incarnation. A time to ponder sinfulness, salvation, and to start us on the road that leads to Easter. Also, a time when everyone around us goes completely Christmas-mad!

For the Porters, the first Sunday of Advent means:

1) David can finally play Christmas music (and watch Christmas movies) without reproach. In the Ideal World it would only be Advent Music, but I can extend my decrees only so far and we have so many great Christmas records that it would be a shame to only listen to them between December 25th - January 7th. 

2) Sunday desserts suddenly become part of the Christmas baking program. Working mum's gotta save time wherever they can, right? So instead of the usual pies, puddings, cakes etc, it's going to be squares, cookies, and candies for the next few weeks. Today we're kicking it off with peppermint bark. I can pretty much guarantee that the Man of the Place will hate it but as it simply involves stirring crushed candy canes into melted chocolate it seems achievable and like something that toddlers can help with. 

3) We will build our Advent Wreath. This family tradition started in Ely, which means this is our third year doing it. People who live in tiny apartments with no storage cannot accumulate an excess of liturgical decorations. Do you know how much space a wreath takes up and how awkward it is to store? Do you know how hard it is to find one that is both beautiful and affordable? 

This morning, on our way home from Mass, the children and I foraged for some winter evergreens to build our wreath. I was hoping for holly & ivy, but instead we managed to find some red berries of dubious origin, one lone adolescent evergreen, and a few hedges of greenery that looked like it might last until the new year. I may have cursed cities under my breath during the whole excursion, particularly as I have it on good authority that rats are nesting in some of those green hedges. I miss the beautiful fenland walks for Ely or the forested country where I grew up, where to harvest Christmas greenery meant a walk to the sideyard and the holly bush growing there and the ivy twining its way up the mighty trunks of the towering evergreens. City dweller by choice I am not.

While the children slept I snatched a few minutes to clean away the toy-and-crumb clutter that seems to surround our coffee table. That way, when they woke up I was able to quickly settle them in to helping with the advent wreath making. My method is simple -- decide what size wreath we want and then cut out a circle of cardboard to that size. It can either be mounted (ie taped) onto a plate or put on a board or directly onto whatever surface we're using. In years past I've wrapped the circle in tinfoil or tissue to make it pretty, but this year Emily suggested that we just colour it in. It was a great idea!

Once the circle is decorated, I lay the base layer of the wreath. This year I formed the base layer with evergreen branches from a young tree, which meant that they were easy to bend. I just stick them on with some tape here or there. After the base layer is down, I weave on a top layer. I like to weave this one in and around the base layer, because it hides the tape and adds a fullness and some height to our wreath. Then I weave in our more decorative pieces, which usually include red berries and perhaps a different type of greenery.

and yes, as I pointed out to David although I might be in my jammies and a cardie I am still rocking 3 strands of pearls. 
The final stage is to add the candles. I misjudged the size this year so our Christ candle doesn't fit, but that's no big deal as it wouldn't be lit until Christmas anyway, at which point we won't be lighting the advent candles. So I will just remove them and maybe use our largest white candle as it should fill up a good portion of the wreath.

And that was that! We set it on the living room windowsill and David read a prayer for the First Sunday of Advent:

Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we pray thee and come; that, defended by Thee, we may deserve rescue from approaching dangers brought on by our sins, and being set free by Thee, obtain our salvation. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

I lit the candle and we all enjoyed the cheerful light until the children went to bed.

Love my ghost image in the background? I do not have time to edit photos! But what I am loving is how one of the beautiful wedding ornaments is centred behind our wreath. Our faith is the heart of our family and I'm loving this visual of it.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Here we Go Again

It's a new liturgical year and I'm back from yet another unplanned hiatus. Life with toddlers and working full time is a busy life. I'm hoping that maybe I can find the time to blog once a week, just like I'm hoping I can find the time to do my embroidery at least on the weekends and keep up with my emails and remember to apply for all various things I keep forgetting to apply for that the Government will send me now that I'm back in Canada and... well, you see where this is going. 

The thing is, over the past few years of difficulty and stress I've been wondering where my place in this new, harder, world is. In the dreams of a younger me by this point in time I am a stay at home mum in my own house and with several little kids running around. That's not reality for me right now and I don't want to sit around feeling sorry for myself, because I have faith and hope that right now I am where God needs me to be. 

It is often a very lonely place. Because I work full time and then watch the kids full time so that my husband can work (and vice versa) there is not a lot of opportunity to go out and do the things that one needs to do to meet the new people who become friends. And because we're Catholic and being Catholic is basically the sum of who we are and what we do throughout the year, it is always particularly lovely to connect with other people who are doing the same things. Then we seem less weird being the ones who are still celebrating Christmas a few days in January, because our friends are doing it too and in this hipster world it means we're basically the coolest of the cool with our crazy trend-breaking trends. 

In this ridiculously decadent, over-priced mega-city where we live I know that mine is not the only family renting, not owning, and renting a much smaller space than we would have in the ideal world. We may not even be the only family without a van, let alone a car. And I am certainly not one of those working mothers who are sometimes denigrated as selfishly working simply to buy unnecessary luxuries and vacations for my family. My life, and my home, is often messy and full of stress and half the time I think my landlords are secretly wondering if their tenants are complete and total insane slobs. But as my husband likes to remind me, we only get one life so we might as well make the best of it and have fun while we're going. 

So, here we go again. I'm going to try and blog more, because it's a good outlet for me and because these precious days of family life are flying by. There never seems to be enough time to do anything that I love, and I know that is the life of a mum with toddlers, but week by week I am slowly regaining minutes as the children get older and as life settles into a bit of a groove. 

I am going to try and blog more. I am going to try and share how a working mum with crazy toddlers can still live out the liturgical year, simply and easily. I have no idea if I will succeed, or if another surge of activity will tear me away from all my relaxation outlets for another six weeks. But hopefully, hopefully, I can begin to carve out a little space of hope & promise for myself.