Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Why follow the Church calendar for a year?

For two reasons.
1) As a learning project for my own spiritual journey. I grew up in the Lutheran Church, which is very calendar-oriented, but as I grew older and attended more modern evangelistic churches, the annual recognition of things such as Pentecost and Annunciation was not part of the weekly service. I want to go back and re-learn about these events that are so important to the Christian faith, meditate on them, and work them into my daily life. For a year. At which point I will re-evaluate and decide which traditions we want to continue, what things we'd like to add or do away with.

2) As a framework for orienting our family-of-three life towards God. We're newly parents, with a little girl, and a promise to God to raise her in the faith. We're also very, very slowly settling into our new home in a new town. So this combination of new family, new home and new location present a great opportunity to learn new to us but actually incredibly old Christian practices and think about implementing new traditions in our family.

On a related note, as a stay-at-home-mum/Type A overachiever, it's important to me to set goals and feel like I accomplish something every day (or I go crazy). So the idea of daily thinking about and putting into practice something that will (hopefully) teach me something, strengthen my faith, and shape our family for the better sounds good to me!

So, dear readers, you hold me accountable.
To a year, beginning this past Sunday with the commencement of Advent.
Of paying attention to the annual rhythm of the Church Calendar.
Of meditating on the role of God's promise and plan-carried-out in our daily yearly lives.
Of building family traditions.
Of exploring and learning, questioning and believing.
And most of all,
Of carving out time for God, not just on Sunday mornings or prayer-before-meals, but in the minutiae of daily life. To build our every activity upon the wonderful mystical story of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let it begin.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here already?

It's the first Sunday in Advent already.

I like Advent. I have, beginning in my early years in the Lutheran Church, when each Sunday meant  lighting another candle in the wreath, a candle of a different colour, that symbolized another part of the Christmas story.
I love the anticipation of the coming of Christmas
I love the mystical quality of the story foretold long, long before Mary and Joseph were even born.
I love the quiet trust and courage of the young Mary.
I love the Holy magicalness of it all... the unborn John and Jesus meeting; the shepherds' star-gazing experience.

I love the many symbolic aspects of Advent. What each candle represents; what the colours represent; all aspects giving us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of Christmas--not just for one day but for a whole month. And longer, if you include Epiphany, which I do.

Thus begins my year of following the Church Calendar. I will be posting more of an explanation for the reasoning behind spending a year meditating on and abiding by the Church year soon.
But in the meantime, may this first Sunday in Advent find you anticipating the season ahead, and may you find time today to reflect anew on the birth of Christ.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Cold

Sunny and frosty Alberta winter
 Self portrait amidst the fence posts.
Still cold out, but today was wonderfully sunny. E and I headed out this afternoon again for a brisk walk in the beautiful light. E enjoyed looking around at the crisp whiteness (that is, before she fell asleep) and she didn't protest the scarf as much as I expected. But we're definitely still in the market for a heavier (down-filled?) snowsuit for her.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Leaning Towards Advent

Hello Winter!

It. Is. Cold. Which means E and I need to get very creative if we want to head out for our daily walk. For instance, by the time we had all our layers on today, we had (over top of our normal clothes) toquesmittsscarfsnowsuitextrasocksinsulatedcoverallsfleecejacketDaddy'shoody. And all in a unique combination that allows me to fit E in her front carrier under my overalls and a coat. The outcome was that we got outside for 3/4 of an hour in the -20 (-4 for my American readers) whiteness. It was beautiful. And I'm sure we looked hilarious in our get-up.

Less than a week away from the beginning of Advent.
And the beginning of my attempt to blog for a year straight through the Church Calendar year.
I'll have lots more thoughts on this in future posts.

But, my forty or so mostly silent readers, I will ask you this for now:
When I say "Church calendar year" what days come to mind for you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Traveling with Baby

Thought we'd post about our experience traveling by air with a 6 month old baby, for anyone looking for information on the topic. We asked for and received a lot of really helpful advice before we went.

For background: we had two flights each direction. The first was a four hour flight across the country, the second a shorter flight, but crossing the border into the States. Our holiday was ten days long and we explored beautiful Cape Cod and Boston both by car and on foot.

Booking the flight: B phoned to book our tickets because you can't book infant flights online. Even though it's technically "free" for babies under two, it costs twelve dollars so that they have a "ticket" of their own...apparently so Homeland Security can keep track of who is coming into the country. The Air Canada agent very kindly booked us seats so that if there was a possibility of having a section of three seats, we would have the two outside seats and potentially an empty one between us for her to lay and wiggle on while we were in the air. This ended up working only for our one flight across Canada, but let me tell you, it was so worth it to be able to lay E out. She could move around freely and play with her toys and it gave us a break from holding her as well.

Pedestrian-style: We have our own style of packing and moving when traveling--we don't like rolling luggage. Because we tend to do a lot of walking when we travel, we like to utilize our big big hiking backpacks instead, so that we're always able to get places on foot easily. Consequently, we decided that for our ten day trip, we'd pack one big backpack, one smaller one, and one diaper bag. Then, when we were all loaded up, I would carry E in a sling. So picture B with a big backpack on his back, a smaller one on his front, and me with the diaper bag on my back and a little girl on my front. This worked surprisingly well, though it was a lot of weight on our shoulders.

Security and customs: we were worried about how this would go since we'd have a potentially grumpy little person who might also be carrying scissors or fingernail clippers in her pockets that we'd have to answer for (you never know ;) ). But everyone was incredibly patient with us as we made our way through--including the security people and the customs and Homeland Security people as we crossed the border. It helped that E smiled at and made friends with everyone. :D

Airplane specifics: It was worth getting on the plane during the early boarding call. Because we had a baby and not an active toddler who might have benefited from getting on last, we took the opportunity to get on first. That allowed us to get on and find our seats, pull out toys/receiving blanket/changing paraphernalia and have it all organized and ready for quick access.
The attendants wanted me to hold E in an upright position as we took off and landed, but I found the best way to keep her calm and enable her to adjust to the air pressure changes was to breastfeed as much as possible. It ended up working really well--she'd settle down and feed and would fall asleep and not even notice that we'd left the ground. I'm pretty comfortable with nursing in public, and I think this helped E to be really comfortable and relaxed too.We also encouraged her to chew on her toys lots so that her jaw worked. We are non-soother non-bottle parents, which determined how we handled this situation.
Traveling Accessories: we chose not to bring a stroller or car seat, because they were added weight and we were trying to streamline. However, from watching others, I know that the airport staff are very accommodating for these. However, we chose instead to carry E everywhere in a sling or in our trusty Beco carrier instead, so that we weren't trying to maneuver a stroller. This flexibility came in especially handy for exploring old churches with narrow steep stairs and for keeping E dry when it was pouring rain (she could tuck away under our coats or umbrella and share our body heat).
We rented a car seat from the car rental place rather than bring our own, again so that we didn't have that extra item to haul around.
Further on the sling, our first flight was very early in the morning and our little girl likes to sleep in. So upon our arrival at the airport at four in the morning, I tucked E down hammock-style in the sling and she fell sound asleep, warm and secure against me. She could have been screaming mad to be up and surrounded by strangers, but she was not.

Extra items: a friend advised me to bring 1) a heavier blanket and 2) toys E had not seen before. These both turned out to be helpful things indeed. The blanket came in handy during the time after security and before we boarded, and during layovers, because we could lay E out on it and she could freely play and wiggle and we didn't worry about germs and dirt on the floor. The new (to E) toys were a great distraction for E when she was getting bored or tired, because she'd never seen them before.
Also, we dressed E in soft waistband-less clothing for the flight (ie a sleeper) so that there was nothing constricting and annoying her. This also made it easy to strip her down for diaper changes, and to delayer her when the plane suddenly got really warm.

I was pretty worried about how it was going to go, traveling internationally, over eight hours and two planes and surrounded by strangers and totally new circumstances, but E took it completely all in stride. She was a joy to travel with and we'd have it no other way. So, I hope this information can help someone else!

As Time Moves On

Yesterday B and I were musing about all that has transpired over the past year.
How a year ago I was graduating with a Master's Degree.
And just starting to tell people that I was pregnant.

 I thought these photos gave a good comparison.
Granted, the first photo was taken closer to January, but nevertheless, my striped belly represents one of the major changes that have taken place in our lives over the past year.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yoghurt is Good for the Complexion

Now that I'm old,
I like to feed myself.
Just hand me a loaded spoon,
and I know what to do with it.
It's very important to season one's face
and table
in addition to actually consuming said food.
Just so you know.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Moments of Beauty

I try to get out for a walk every day,
to soak up the dwindling sunlight,
get some fresh air and exercise,
escape the dusty clutter of the basement,
and appreciate the beauty that is an Albertan fall.

Today there were hundreds of Canada geese on the lake...
Some of them swimming, others awkwardly walking atop the bits of ice sheet.
The cacaphony of geese chatter was friendly and comforting.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Last stop

We couldn't come all this way and not go to Harvard. So the last place we visited before going home was Cambridge Massachusetts,  home of Harvard University.

It's a beautiful campus, full of Roman columns, brick buildings and wrought-iron archways. We wish we'd had time to go on a guided tour to hear more, but we were there only long enough to wander around by ourselves and admire, before heading back to the hotel, who had graciously stored our luggage for a couple of hours, and then catch the train out to the airport to head home.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Life in the City

Boston is a beautiful city.
The view out our hotel window

As country/small town hooligans
from a land where white people history goes back only two hundred years or so,
we absolutely enjoyed
the busy streets of brick and cobblestone
with buildings and graveyards from as many as three hundred years ago
and people with Bostonian accents who were so willing to admire our baby and give us advice and directions
("I have a cousin who used to live up in Toronto...")

Walking on cobblestone
Today we walked the majority of what is called Boston's Freedom Trail.
The walk took us past a number of Boston's most famous landmarks,
relating to the settlement of Massachusetts,
the Revolutionary War with Britain,
the American Civil War,
the Abolition movement,
the immigration of English, Irish, Italian, and other peoples to the city.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background
The Paul Revere Mall
The crypt beneath the Old North Church
A anti-homophobia march

It was a wonderful day exploring.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Just Ducky: Boston in the Rain

Today was a soggy day. A day for the ducks indeed.
There is a famous children's book set in the Boston Common called Make Way For Ducklings.
I've not read it, but we're going to buy it at some point, so I'll report back.

 At any rate, we've driven back to Boston, dropped off the car, found our hotel and went for a very very soggy walk in the Boston Common. Upon which walk we came across several ducks, bronzed and real.

And then E and B had a chat about the pros and cons of flowered pyjamas.

Carrying on with the Wandering

Onward we go, even without our beloved camera. It may sound petty, but you have to understand how much photography is a part of our daily lives.

A whirlwind explanation of our Martha's Vineyard day.
The Vineyard: where Harrison Ford tries to win over Sabrina; where whaling ship captains used to live; where rich people have second homes.

We spent the day on foot and on public transit. We took the ferry across; walked through Vineyard Haven; took a bus to Edgartown and wandered through town and across the beach; and then back again.

We shopped in two bookstores, ate clams, mussels and lobster, explained why we weren't voting, and, of course, broke our camera.
More cheerily, today was fun and slower-paced. After purchasing a small cheap[ish] camera,
we did a little shopping in Falmouth, 
had a picnic lunch on a top-secret-locally-known-only[except us] harbour location 
(how we found out about it is a wonderful story which I'll tell you all about, some other time)

and went for a long walk in the deep leaf-carpeted forest of Beebe Woods.

It was a day on foot outside and of hand-holding and baby-loving.
The best kind of day there is.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The No Good Awful Camera Day

It started out with a left-open zipper, out of which fell two 8 gig SD cards.
But these we recovered, after tracing our steps backwards.

And then, while photographing a particularly beautiful lighthouse,
we discovered both batteries were dead.
But we walked to a public library and charged the battery for a few minutes while browsing through some books.

But then, while getting off the bus, we dropped the camera directly onto pavement, causing a huge dent in the body and a shutter problem that we think is not fixable.
In other words, we are now without our beautiful and steadfast Canon SLR, and if you know B, you know just how serious a loss this is.
And we're just not sure what the best course of action is, at this point.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Up the Cape

Today we took a long drive up the long finger of the Cape Cod peninsula. It was a beautiful drive with lots to see but we all got very tired of driving (E especially) by the end. 
First we went here:
(the Hot Chocolate Sparrow, where the hot chocolate had the perfect sugar/cocoa/milk ratio)
And then we checked out a lighthouse but it was locked up for the winter.

Then we drove up and up the peninsula and went for a walk along the beach. 
It was very chilly, so we moved on again.

Then we found a tall, tall tower and climbed to the top.
 116 steps up.
 At which point, it was definitely time for lunch, at least for little E!

And then all the way home.