When I Get Married….

“When I get married it will be to a guy who does all the work,” Athena

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6yr old Athena dreaming of her wedding day

recently announced. “I’ll just sleep all day long. I’ll never leave my bed. He’ll have to bring me food. And I’ll have kids so they can unload the dishwasher.”

Clearing her dishes after meals and unloading the clean dishes from the dishwasher are a few of the chores Athena must do. Evidentally, she doesn’t really enjoy the tasks.

Raine quickly reminded her that the kids would be babies for a while. “They won’t even be able to do it until they’re like 4.”

“That’s fine,” Athena replied. “My husband will do it until then. He’ll do everything – the cooking, cleaning, all the stuff. And I’ll do nothing.”

My comments did not cause her to amend this dream. Considering Athena is a bundle of energy and hates being alone even for a few minutes, I seriously doubt she’ll live in this ridiculous manner. So, parents, there’s really no need to worry if she does, eventually, catch your son’s eye. I have at least another 15 years to get her ready for a proper relationship. Really, there’s no need to worry yet.

 

Missional Living

I grew up in the church. It was, and is, an important part of my life.

Athena at church

Athena at church

In children’s classes, I heard about missionaries going to far away places. I learned there were abandoned children languishing in places I’d never been. I wanted to help. I wanted to go. I really wanted to be a missionary serving countless children.

Mothering is in my DNA. It’s the most natural instinct for me. I knew I could do it. And that’s what my heart set sights on. That’s where I expected to find children I would adopt.

Although my dad was in and adopted out of the child welfare system in Canada, I had no knowledge of it. That’s not something that came up in lectures at school or lessons at church. No one, in my vast community, had anything to do with that system.

It didn’t come to my attention until I was in my late teens. Discussing it with friends and family I was met with a great deal of resistance. Me going across the world to work in an orphanage was seen as noble. Me wanting to foster and adopt here in Canada was labeled as selfish. “There are lots of good Christian couples doing that.” The problem became the fact that I was single.

So I waited for that to change. When neither that nor my desire to parent vulnerable/abandoned children changed, I made a choice to step into missional living.

Eventually most of my family and friends came around. But it’s still a hard sell. The government graciously pays me to foster. Since I care for special/high needs kids I receive a bit more than average. The provincial government has come to recognize the challenge of adopting wounded children. They now offer a subsidy to adoptive parents. That enables me to remain at home working on connecting with my daughters and helping them to heal.

I’m very grateful for the financial support that makes my everyday life possible. I do my best to steward that responsibly. And add to it by making tutus, selling tea, doing some catering, making freezer meals for friends, editing manuscripts for fellow writers, and anything else that I can manage.

My children want for nothing and, hopefully, my efforts will instill in them a proper work ethic. Overall, we manage fairly well. But now I’m faced with the necessity of buying a new vehicle. Our careful budget doesn’t leave much room for that.

The daily struggles I share with you here aren’t glorious. Much of my mission is not. Some days it’s nothing more than meals and dishes in the midst of lots of anguish. The progress I make is slow and, at first glance, insignificant. Like my foster child not fully melting down over an unavoidable everyday task that usually undoes her. The fact that she argued, stomped her feet, and then eventually did what was required is huge progress in her own journey.

Parenting in this context is vastly more difficult than I ever

Athena at a princess party at the book store

Athena at a princess party at the book store

imagined. I don’t always do it perfectly or even well all the time. But I’m doing it. And that matters.

It’s not countless children I reach, but a small number who I walk with on a daily basis. Rarely is it picture perfect. But it’s an opportunity I can’t leave to lots of other couples. It’s one I am compelled to complete in my present state.

And, at the moment, it’s something I need your help with. We’re in need of a newer van to get us to things like church and princess parties and doctor’s appointments and what not. I appreciate the time you take to read my ramblings. And would appreciate your help as I forge on in this wonderfully unusual calling.

It’s not as exciting as heading overseas, but I can’t help believing that what I do matters. The lives I minister to matter. And I know you feel the same. Thank you for journeying with me.

The Vacation Comes to a Crashing Halt

Just after writing my last post and setting it up to be published this morning, everything unravelled.

Foster child J came undone because Athena shouted, “Wait for me!” as J and Raine ran out the door heading to kids church.

“Don’t you dare speak to me like that!” J thundered. A 90minute tantrum followed. Finally I got her calmed down and thought all would be well.

It was until bedtime snack rolled around. J wanted sour cream and onion chips. Raine & Athena requested dill pickle chips (it’s vacation time so there’s some treats to be had). J pushed in and grabbed Athena’s bowl.

I said, “That’s not yours.” My explanation as to why was drowned out by J screaming in a soul shattering manner. She doesn’t like dill pickle chips. I wanted to give her something she wanted – sour cream and onion. But I couldn’t. She was acting as though I’d committed an unpardonable act in telling her the bowl of dill pickle chips weren’t hers. I offered that bowl. I offered a bowl of sour cream and onion. J would have none of it.

She began kicking the frail walls of the aged cottage. That’s when I started packing up to leave. J screamed at me continually while I gathered our things and got everyone into the car.

Our vacation was cut short by two days. We left suddenly and without warning – not the way I usually parent my highly anxious children.

There werefireworks exploding around us as we drove (in celebration of Canada Day). Once we hit the road, J calmed right down. She wanted to be back in the familiar setting of our home.

Unfortunately it likely won’t be waterside cafes and picturesque fields that stick with the kids. Those are the things I’ll put in their memory books. But our hasty departure and missing a few days of camp will likely be what lingers. But I do have the pictures to prove that I tried to offer up a typical family experience. And for a few days we truly did have some fun.

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I’d Rather Create

Christmas came and went. It was nice and enjoyable. The kids got many lovely gifts from family & friends.

Even with my attempts at a simple meal, there were lots of preparations to be made. I had a small breakfasts out when my parents arrived to watch the kids open their gifts. Later we had a light lunch then went to visit friends. And were back home for the regular 7pm bedtime. It was relatively low key and fairly peaceful.

But still I was worn out. As a mom hosting Christmas, the holidays are028 anything but a holiday. Instead of cleaning up, Boxing Day found me fulfilling a long standing tradition of my own – doing jigsaw puzzles while watching movies. Using my new tea set, received from a dear friend, the day was one of quiet indulgence.

Creating, even if it’s a small puzzle, has always been a driving force in my life. As a child I learned to embroider and sew. One summer, while watching Pride and Prejudice (the nearly 6hr A&E version) and drinking tea, my friends and I taught ourselves to knit and crochet. It wasn’t a typical teen activity but we were happy.

011Now my time is vastly limited. These days my creating is generally limited to food and blogs. But I do still attempt other things – like making matching pajamas for Raine, Athena, and all their cousins. This years I made the pants and just bought the shirts adding a little applique.

Realizing how little time I have to sew and knit, the vast stash of supplies in my basement are completely useless. Maybe one day….. I’ve thought for a very long time. With that thought I find myself buying a few more meters of fabric and several balls of yarn.

One day isn’t going to be any time soon. So it’s time to part with some supplies – especially embroidery since I’ll likely never again have enough time for that. Knowing other creative types, I’m know I’m not the only one with excess supplies and equipment.

That brought about the idea of doing a sale where we could all let go of our extra items – passing them on to other like minded individuals.

February 28th will be the first Create Sale. I’m so excited about everything planned – including workshops for kids, teens, and adults. Raine and Athena have been very much a part of the planning process – helping me decide on a location (Vineland, ON) and workshops. They’re as excited as I am and are hoping to make it to every workshop.

If you’re in the area, we still have tables available for you to sell your extra craft/creative supplies and equipment. There are also some spots left in workshops. The Boxing Day sale of 40% off workshops continues until the end of December 27th (enter BOXINGDAY40).

I may not be able to spend hours knitting any more, but with my daughters and a few friends I can manage to pull together an event to help others find the means to create in their own lives.

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