Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

The twins I prayed for

The twins I prayed for

I kept myself awake last night coming up with a list of the craziest things about me. Sometimes we just need to embrace our unique side. 😉

Yes, I really do have six kids. And, no, I don’t have running water. Part of me has always loved simplicity. For most of my life I’ve been convinced that I was born in the wrong century (until I had a good think about what it would be like to have a tooth pulled without anaesthetic). We catch water off the roof and store it in tanks under the house. Once a week, we use a small pump to fill up a barrel that we dip out of for dishes and bathing. We heat the water on the woodstove during the winter and on the propane stove in the summer. But I’m ready for a well and running water now. This summer . . . please.

I love giving birth. This is my favourite thing to do. I’d rather give birth than go to Europe or to a U2 concert. I don’t just love the baby-after-the-birth part. I love the birthing part. I love being woken in the night by contractions or my water breaking and the feeling of wonder and excitement. I love the building contractions that force me to withdraw from the world and focus within. I love meeting my babies for the first time. I’m proud of the fact that I caught my first and last babies with my own hands. Best thing ever.

I wrote a book in a month. There’s actually an event—NaNoWriMo—for the thousands of people around the world who are crazy enough to give up sleep and their favourite TV shows to write an entire novel in a month. So if you notice me wandering around with dark circles under my eyes, talking to myself, and it happens to be November—then you know why. 🙂

I wanted 20 kids. For real, and I’ve never even seen the “19 kids and counting” show. I wanted to birth 10 and adopt 10, but my husband didn’t want to have any kids, so we compromised and had 6. Notice that I compromised more.

I brainwashed myself to enjoy summer and winter. I grew up on the west coast where it snowed once or twice in a winter and the white stuff was gone by lunch time. And then we moved north. Our first winter we had close to four feet of snow. Turns out we’d bought our house in the “snow belt.” I hated winter and we were stuck with six months of it. But at some point I made the decision to embrace it. I went for walks every day and tried to see the beauty of winter. It worked! I actually started enjoying the winters. I decided to try my whole “I love the seasons” thing on summers, since I hated the heat of summer too. I’d go sit in a chair in the sun, close my eyes and say, “I love the heat. It feels so good.” No kidding—it also worked! It’s the spring I have trouble with now. I’m not sure if I’m going to try the whole brainwashing thing again. I don’t think, “I love mud and mosquitoes is going to work.” I might just keep one season to hate. 😉

I prayed for twins and got them. No, twins don’t run in the family. I just got it in my head that I wanted twins, so I prayed for them. Soon after that I got pregnant. We were in a little church at that time—maybe 100 people—and a girl stood up and announced she was having twins. I was ticked. Obviously, there wouldn’t be two women pregnant with twins at the same time in that little church. I was ridiculously convinced that she was having the twins that I prayed for. When my midwife told me I was measuring big, I brushed it off. “Nope, Amanda’s having my twins.” I didn’t even want an ultrasound. At 24 weeks, I was feeling my belly in the night, and I felt two heads! For real—I self-diagnosed twins. They came 10 weeks later.

If you’re shaking your head and thinking, “What a nut,” then I accomplished my purpose for the day. Have a great weekend!

❤ Rachel


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Photo credit: ITWeb Tech

Photo credit: ITWeb Tech


“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?”  ~Dr. Seuss


I’d never read this little poem by Dr. Seuss until I went searching for a quote on the preciousness of time. It’s fun and fanciful—in typical Seuss style—but there’s an element of truth too. How often I’ve dropped into bed at the end of a busy day and wondered at how quickly it flew by and if I’d made the most of it.

These moments that I’m most acutely aware of the finiteness of time make me realize that I must decide what’s important in my life and choose to commit the time and resources needed to excel in that area. If I don’t make a choice, then busyness takes over and nothing gets done properly.

Being awesome in the things that are important is better than being mediocre in everything. At least I think so.

I want to be an awesome mom and wife. I want to do an awesome job of teaching my children and engaging them in learning. I want to write awesome books. I haven’t attained awesomeness in any of these areas, but these are my goals, and they’re there to aim at.

But you can’t shoot for awesomeness in everything. I’m not awesome at housekeeping. Or gardening. Or cooking. And I’m okay with that. They’re not on my awesome list. I’m going for acceptable, fine, and okay. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for being sanitary and feeding my kids healthy foods, but we live with stacks of books on every flat surface, and I don’t do gourmet.

Everyone is going to have different priorities, and that’s the way it should be! But in a world where there are innumerable things that we could be doing with our time from cooking to cleaning, reading to playing peek-a-boo with the baby, texting to tweeting, watching tv to pet sitting, online courses to knitting socks. And on and on. We all need to choose how we spend the hours we’re given.

As a homeschooling mom of six kids, I’ve learned there are many things that I have to say no to. Not because they’re not valuable or worthwhile, but because there isn’t time to do it all. Because in a few things—I’m aiming for awesome.

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In My Head

Photo credit: Sophie Jevea

Photo credit: Sophie Jevea

Last Friday night, as I wiped flecks of mascara off my cheeks, I wondered if life in my head was funnier, and more exciting than in most people’s heads. Does everyone find it exciting to imagine the plane they’re in plummeting to the ocean far below? Or is it just me?

Kevin and I were on a mini vacation to Victoria to celebrate our anniversary. We had flown on two planes that day. I usually ignore the safety card in the seat pocket in front of me, but that day I decided to humour the WestJet flight attendant by following along.

“Look at this,” I said to Kevin. “If you need to evacuate the plane on land, you just open the emergency door. But if you’re on the water, you slide this thingy down, so the water doesn’t come into the plane.” We were flying over the ocean at that point, and Kevin didn’t look amused. “And the seat cushions are buoyant, so you put your arms through the elastic underneath and you’ll float when you jump out of the plane.”

That flight was the most turbulent I’d been on. The sudden drops thrilled me (and made me a little sick). I spent the entire flight imagining what a crash over the ocean would be like—lights flashing as the plane started to plummet and oxygen masks dropping.

I have a real hero complex, so I imagined calming people down and instructing them to brace themselves. After impact, I would help people to remove the cushions off their seats and help evacuate the plane. (The flight attendants who have been trained in emergency procedure were not involved in my fantasy.)

I’m embarrassed to write that I even imagined blogging about the near death experience . . . the frigid water . . . the white-capped waves.

Our plane landed in Victoria without incident.

We checked into our hotel and freshened up a little before heading off to my sister’s for dinner. I almost never wear makeup, but I applied some foundation (there was still a hint of my black eye from two weeks earlier), a little lipstick, and mascara. After all—I was in the city. 😉

My sister made an amazing dinner complete with beef roast, Yorkshire puddings with gravy, and cheesecake. The effort she’d gone to blew me away since I knew how busy she was with her six-month-old son.

After dinner, I noticed something white flapping under her arm—a tag. “Your sweater’s inside out,” I said with a smile. She laughed and started to slip it off her shoulder . . . which revealed a puddle of baby spit up. She shot me a look of horror, and then we both started howling with laughter. Tears came to my eyes as I held my stomach and rocked back and forth. (I tried to reign it in when I felt the snort laugh coming on. No, not the snort laugh!)

As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I remembered my own baby-in-the-house years where I barely had time to brush my hair and smelled like baby spit up for months at a time. Oh, it felt so good to laugh with my little sister.

Back in the hotel, I groaned when I looked in the mirror. I must have been grinding my fists in my eyes while I was laughing and crying, because I had two black eyes from the smeared mascara.

“Do you think life in my head is more interesting than reality?” I asked Kevin.

It was his turn to laugh. “Definitely.” 🙂


With my beautiful sister

With my beautiful sister

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Measuring Progress

Photo credit: Jeremy PetersonI’ve been organizing my house (feel free to gasp in amazement), and I found an old writing journal of mine. I think I was about 11 when I started it. There’s a table of contents, several poems I’d written, and some story ideas. In it I recorded the founding of “The Young Writers Club.” A club that I started with a friend that contained exactly two members. We had big dreams!

I cringed as I flipped through the journal and read silly prepubescent poems. They had none of the angst that would fill my poetry as a teen—and none of the depth either. I tossed the journal into a pile of papers to be burned, fearful that someone might discover it and read my early attempts at writing.scan0001

But something held me back as I held the little exercise book over the flickering flames. I realized that this book represents the spark of my dream to become an author. I saved the journal.

I don’t recommend keeping everything. I’m trying to get over that habit now, but sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of a marker to look back on and see the progress we’ve made—whether it’s running, knitting, drawing, or patience with our children.

What skill or craft have you put a lot of effort into? Have you kept any early samples of your work?

Have a wonderful weekend!

❤ Rachel


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Phot credit: Blue Sky

Photo credit: Blue Sky

I bet some of you are trying to figure out what type of freak accident would injure both my face and my tailbone. If you know me well, you won’t be surprised to learn it was actually two separate accidents. {sigh}

A couple weeks ago, I flew to Victoria to visit my sister and my adorable nephew. The night before my flight, I stayed with some friends. We played cards until midnight, and it was 1:00 before I fell asleep. I had to be up again soon after 4:00 to catch my flight.

I used the airport washroom before going through security. I think that sleep deprivation is partly to blame for me walking straight into the edge of the bathroom stall door. The blow was enough for me to stagger back.

I came out of the washroom laughing at my stupidity and clutching wet paper towel to my cheek. Miriam (also sleep deprived after I kept her up late and had her drive me to the airport at 4:30 in the morning) shook her head and sent me off after a good hug.

I mostly forgot my encounter with the washroom door, but two days later my sister got a puzzled expression while talking to me and leaned close. “You’ve got a black eye.”

I threw my head back and laughed. Of course I had a black eye. I’d seen it on movies, women with a black eye from abuse claiming they’d walked into a door. It was ridiculous. How can you get a black eye from walking into a door? Couldn’t they come up with a better excuse? And now I was going home to tell my husband I’d gotten a black eye from walking into a door. Oh, the irony.

Kevin was as shocked as I thought he’d be. “I walked into the washroom door at the airport,” I explained. His eyebrows shot up in disbelief. “Miriam was there.” But he still seemed skeptical. I flopped onto the couch laughing. “Do you really think I’m making it up?”

Kevin suppressed a smile. “No, I think you really could walk into a door and get a black eye.”

Hmmm. I guess that’s only fair. My whole life has been fraught with stupid accidents from breaking both arms as a child to falling down the stairs twice in the first months we moved into our house.

I thought I’d gotten more sensible since then. I stopped breaking all the dishes in the house and worked on focusing on the task at hand instead of constantly daydreaming.

But another accident less than a week after getting my black eye showed me that that whole focusing thing needs more work.

I was headed to the outhouse after dinner (just take a moment here to be grateful for your indoor plumbing), and I was probably daydreaming about some book I want to write someday. I slipped off the porch, went soaring over the three steps, and landed with a thud on my backside.

Maybe I’m exaggerating about the whole broken tailbone thing. I don’t know. But that was Sunday night, and I haven’t sat down since then without pain. It’s actually less funny than the black eye, because it hurts a lot more.

I’m sure I’ll be sitting without a grimace in a couple weeks, but I don’t want to just forget about my carelessness. I’m hoping that at 35 I’m capable of learning from my mistakes and using a little more caution—and not just when it comes to dark porches and airport washrooms. 😉

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Joel and William

Joel and William

It’s hard to believe my youngest will be turning four in two months—he’s growing up so fast. In the midst of the busyness of raising children, it’s difficult to imagine a time when there aren’t little ones about, but now I find it’s just around the corner.

It’s been my goal for these sixteen years of childrearing to treasure the time with my children. I’ve often failed in this. There have been seasons when my focus has been elsewhere. But God has been faithful to remind me that the time is short with my children, and to draw my heart back to delighting in the simple joys of mothering.

During this time of raising children, I’ve experienced more pain and more joy than I ever thought possible—and if I had the choice I’d do it all over again.

This is life—raw and uncontained—where I’ve discovered the depths of love in a thousand acts of devotion, from a droopy sunflower handed to me from a chubby fist to heart-shaped cards found hidden in my suitcase while away from home.

Were the sleepless nights worth it? Yes! Or the horrifyingly embarrassing moments when my children have vomited in restaurants or knocked over shopping carts? Yes—worth it even then.

Tonight we went out for Chinese food and several times my three-year-old, Joel, had us all laughing. At one point he belted out, “I need champagne!” (He meant chow mein.) After our meal he was handed his very first fortune cookie. Everyone was reading their fortunes when one of my sons asked Joel where his fortune paper was. “I guess I eated it,” was Joel’s solemn reply. I’m afraid I laughed long and hard at his deep sigh. (His big sister soon made it all better by giving him her fortune.)

I’ll miss having a three-year-old around! It’s always at this point—when my youngest is two or three—that I start begging my husband for another baby. But I promised I wouldn’t ask him again, and I am content with my six wild and wonderful children…but I’ll still miss having a little one to make me laugh.

I’m enjoying every stage—teaching my six-year-old to read, being startled when my eleven-year-olds jump out of dark closets to make me scream, watching my thirteen-year-old blossom in her first part-time job, learning chemistry along with my fifteen-year-old—but I’ll never have another one, two or three-year-old again.

And so here I am—making a recommitment to…cherish the moment.


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Staying Sane in the North


Photo credit: Griszka Niewiadomski

I really didn’t feel like going outside today. The kids were busy making a snow fort, and I was only chapters away from the end of a good book. So tempting to grab a cup of tea and my book and soak up that rare quiet time.

But . . . we musn’t forget the importance of sanity. So I threw on my coat and a pair of gloves and headed out into the snowy outdoors.

Yes, going outside every day during the winter helps to keep me sane and happy. And it’s wise to stay sane and happy while homeschooling six children . . . and when your husband is home for the winter.

We’re just on the other side of the winter solstice, and praise God, the days are starting to lengthen again. But the sun doesn’t wake until 8:30 a.m. and it’s already dark again by 4:30 in the afternoon. With days so short, I need to bask in the sun while it shines.

I need the light and the fresh air and the exercise to push away the fogginess that tends to settle over my heart and brain during these long and cold northern winters.

When my friends share that they’re struggling to cope, I always ask if they’re getting fresh air and exercise. I sound like a parrot that only learned one phrase. I’m annoyingly persistent in asking this—because it’s that important.

I did get to my book after the kids were in bed for the night. I enjoyed two cups of tea, and the ending of the book was as satisfying as I’d hoped. I feel happy and healthy, and I know that’s in part because I made myself get outside for a good walk today.

Stay sane this winter!

❤ Rachel

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