Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Wackiness

Winter is officially here. Of course, here in Canada, winter weather is expected much before the end of December. I heard someone say that Canada does indeed have four seasons; they are 1) Almost Winter, 2) Winter, 3) Still Winter, and 4) Construction. (hee, hee, hee….still makes me laugh!) However, after many years in northern climates, I have come to the conclusion that my body is just not made for this kind of weather. I have several quirks that I have noticed in relation to the colder weather.

First, my fingers and toes go into revolt when the cold comes. I have increasing episodes of numbness and constricted circulation, especially in my fingers, during the winter months. Though this can easily happen during prolonged outdoor activities, it has often occurred indoors, too. I’ve read about Raynaud’s Syndrome online, but I don’t actually have a doctor’s diagnosis…just a pretty strong motivation to buy good boots and mittens, to layer up, and to stay as warm as possible!

Second, my sleep is definitely affected by temperature. Mike and I purchased our wonderful California King sized bed a couple of years ago when we moved to Quebec. We love it and the great nights of sleep it offers! We also love piling on the blankets when the weather turns cool. Right now, our bed sports our polar fleece sheets (a must for winter sleeping!), a thin fuzzy blanket, a down comforter, a bedspread, and a quilt with flannel backing. Still, curled up in bed under all those cozy covers, I often cannot fall asleep until I perform one warmth-saving activity. I actually must tuck my pajama pants bottoms into my socks so there’s no draft on my legs—or else sleep eludes me!

Finally, I have noticed that my weight seems to change with the weather. I am not actually sure if this is weather-related. It could be that the cold makes me shiver a lot. It could be conditioning from being raised in a family in which wrestling demanded certain food changes as the sport’s season commenced. It could be that I am busy with holiday preparations and just tend to eat less this time of year. But I’ve noticed for several years now that I tend to shed a few pounds just as winter begins to bring its chill—usually bringing my lowest weigh-ins of the year. (This phenomenon does provide a delightful freedom to indulge in all kinds of special Christmas treats!)

The kids are well aware of my aversion to the cold. It came up in conversation recently. Andrew vehemently declared, “Mom does not like winter because she does not like the cold.” Ethan followed up with this: “What Mom likes about winter is skating and Jesus’ birthday.” “And making really big snow angels!” said Abby.

Indeed, I won’t escape winter. And I might as well find some things in it that I do enjoy.
And I’ll definitely be keeping my wool socks, insulated underwear, ski mittens, and -40° boots. Oh, and I do love a good quilt wrapping near a fireplace, too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Les Livres du Lundi

This week, I have read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. For me, personally, I found this book to provide glimpses of insight into another culture, another perspective, but also a lot of slow storytelling. It was a hard book for me to try to get through...especially in the snipet style of reading that I often end up using. Still, I would recommend this book for someone who is looking for another way of seeing an unfamiliar part of the world. It is the story of one man's unexpected quest to build schools in remote villages of Pakistan.

As for the kids, Jadon's Pick of the Week is Curious George: The Donut Delivery. Jadon has a fondness for the curious little monkey, and he loves when we can find an unread book at the library. When I asked him about why this was his favorite this week, he said, "I liked it because he didn't know what a dozen meant. He thought it meant only one donut. He found out that there's a lot of donuts because of zeros!"

Other favorites from our library bag this week included the following reads:
Magic Paintbrush by Robin Muller
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Williams
The Bookstore Burglar by Barbara Maitland (which Abby read aloud herself!)
Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star by Petr Horacek

Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lesson from the Laundry

There is certainly a lot to do this time of year. Christmas can be busy.

But I have been challenged this year to not only get things done, but also to cultivate awareness of my being in the midst of the scurrying. To be purposeful not only in writing lists and getting to events and completing tasks but also in checking attitudes and creating atmosphere and being well.

The effect of this resonated with me today as I did the laundry.

You see, laundry is a big task at our house. I mean, at least, that there is a lot of it. And it is one of those things that just has to get done regularly. Day in and day out, baskets of wash are sent down to the basement, dirty and stinky and crumpled, only to rise again clean and fresh.

Only, lately, the process hadn’t been happening so smoothly. Our 14-year-old dryer was not cooperating. It wasn’t that it didn’t get hot enough. It wasn’t that it refused to tumble. In those ways, the dryer seemed to function just fine. But, somehow, Mr. Dryer had developed an appetite for clothes. A tiny bit of underwear here. A little nibble of T-shirt there. An attempted swallowing of the drawstring from a pair of pajamas. I began to fear opening the dryer door. What might be trapped, scorched, between the drum and its casing? What favored piece of clothing might now bear the scars of laundering?

We started hunting for a replacement. Despite the complication of a small-sized basement door, we were able to locate a used Kenmore dryer in great condition. With assistance from Grampsie and Nanny, their pick-up truck and handiness with the screwdrivers, the replacement dryer made its way to our home and down through the narrow basement stairs. And it works. It dries our clothes without adding any holes or brown markings to remember the process by.

As I approach the dryer, I no longer sense anxiety, only thankfulness. Suddenly, I am grateful. I am joy-filled, even. This chore has been transformed because I have come to be something new. I still have to do lots of laundry, but it feels completely different.

So, I’m contemplating how my Advent might be different if I took the time to notice how I do all the things I do. At one point today, I checked in with myself—How am I right now?—and I realized that I was being hurried. That wasn’t my intention. And when I stopped to think about it, there wasn’t a really good reason for me to be that way at all. I decided then and there that I would be at peace instead. Then I continued about my day with a whole new approach, still doing but feeling completely different through it.

May I carry this lesson from the laundry basket through Advent this year!

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Thought

"The intensity and strain that many of us bring to Christmas must suggest to some onlookers that, on the whole, Christians do not seem to have gotten the point of it. Probably few of us have the faith or the nerve to tamper with hallowed Christmas traditions on a large scale, or with our other holiday celebrations. But a small experiment might prove interesting. What if, instead of doing something, we were to be something special? Be a womb. Be a dwelling for God. Be surprised." --Loretta Ross-Gotta

Monday, December 5, 2011

Les Livres du Lundi

Jadon’s Pick of the Week is Dewey’s Christmas at the Library by Vicki Myron. Jadon says, “I like Dewey since she’s funny. I like the picture’s since they’re cool. My favorite part is when she surrounds the Christmas tree with yarn.”

We had several other honourable selections from the library this week. Swamp Angel (Anne Isaacs) is a fabulous tall tale that entertains children and adults alike with the outlandish exploits of a Tennessee maiden named Angelica and an enormous bear named Thundering Tarnation.

The Widow’s Broom (Chris Van Allsburg) delighted our older children with its lively storytelling and, of course, the secret twist at the end.

Owly and Wormy, Friends All Aflutter (Andy Runton) is a spectacular wordless (at least almost wordless) book. The children all really enjoyed figuring out what was happening in all the pictures in order to “tell” the story themselves! The pictures really are fabulous, and the predictable yet sweetly-conveyed plot makes most anyone smile.

Finally, we have really been digging into the “Benjamin” series by Paulette Bourgeois—the French variation of a Tapper favorite: the Franklin the turtle series. These are great for expanding our French vocabularies!