God to the Rescue!

IMG_2284For the Trading Post, Tobin had worked very hard at making some wood-burned designs on some round slices of wood. They were coffee coasters. He was really proud of them and so were we.

An hour before the Trading Post was to begin, he came to me glum-faced and discouraged, “Mom I didn’t paint them with shellac, I painted them with Varsol.”

And sure enough, the pretty little things now reeked of Varsol.

I felt like a dunce of a mother. Who lets their eight-year-old navigate the ‘dangerous stuff’ shelf in the garage, by himself? And now, because of my inattentiveness, he’d wrecked his main craft for the Trading Post!

I racked my brain trying to think of something else he could trade, to no avail. Our friends were coming and there was no time to make something else.

What a waste.

He settled with the dried apples and homemade fruit leather he’d made, still discouraged, but happy to see friends.

After the Trading Post, he told the story of his failed craft to his aunt, who told him that she’d been looking that very week for coasters for her new apartment, but hadn’t found any! A little serendipity unfolded, and she commissioned him to finish the coasters with shellac (hopefully hiding the smell) and actually paid him a nice sum for his labor.

It’s so exciting, as a mother, to see God attend to my children’s needs too; I know I can rest in the confidence that they are in His tender loving hands all the time, even when I fail.

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Some friends have wondered about things we traded. Here are some of the items:

-Homemade wooden music bead-counters, for keeping track of music practice.

-Cupcakes, specialty cookies, decorated cookies, granola, caramel corn, cinnamon bread

-Lovely sewed crayon holders, coffee holders and ornaments

-Household items, fabrics, toys, books

-Handmade jewlery, hand-painted dish ware, baby clothes

-Homemade soap, creams, lip balms

-Scented playdough

-Free range eggs

-Custom music CD’s

-Wildflower candles

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… for a Spring Trading Post I was thinking that including plant trades (seedlings, seeds, perennials) would be fun… For those who are musical it would also be fun to perform some live music, too!

Oh my, the ideas keep coming!

Squeaky Clean

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This is a bottle of cleaning spray. It was given to Ben as a christmas gift. He was thankful, but confused, until Sherrie (my sister) told him to look at the picture on the bottle.

There was Sherrie, dressed in a bathrobe, tenderly attending to a little child, like a doting mother hen in all her spick-and-span glory.

There sits my sister, lining Loblaws shelves, all clean and shiny.

No consumer would guess that as a little girl she was the one who never wanted to change her socks or brush her hair ;)

I’m proud of that hard-working girl (here’s her latest ad!).

Inside Our Abode

IMG_2265“Who stabbed the butter with a pencil?!” shouts Dorian into thin air as he prepares to do some baking.

No answer comes; another mystery for the ages.

“I wish I wasn’t human,” mutters Snowy, “Because then Tucker wouldn’t kick me.”

Another little bit of logic that just… isn’t.

Sometimes, I wish I had time to write down all the nonsense that goes on around here; the silly words, the animated conversations, the poetic and prophetic musings of little ones, the joking of the big ones, the searching questions and the insightful connections that occur day after day.

Today, I asked Sunny to please remove the glass of red water (?) sitting on her bedroom floor. She nodded shyly then confessed what she’d been doing with it, “My doll had a baby, and I had coloured the baby red with a marker, so it could be some blood on her when she was born. I had to give her a bath, that’s why the water was red.”

Okay.

The other night, Sunny was reclining on a specific couch and Dorian was wanting to sit there as he’d been sitting there earlier. I asked Dorian, “What do you think Jesus would do in this situation?” (I don’t ask this question often, but it seemed appropriate.)

He turned around and looked at Sunny, paused, and bellowed, “YOU BROOD OF VIPERS!!” To which we all fell over laughing, until we laughed some more when we realized Jesus never actually said those words at all.

We have a notebook that sits by our phone in the kitchen, that is there for the very purpose of writing down funny things that get said around here. We haven’t recorded much lately, but it has truly been a source of some of our best belly laughs as a family, as we’ve read over past things children have said.  It’s been a worthy investment.

I think it’s time to get it out again.

The Trading Post

tpI read about the idea in a book.

Why not host a ‘trading post’ ourselves, I thought?  (It’s like a cross between a community garage sale, craft show, and market, but using no money.  We would only barter, swap and exchange.)

So, I put out the invitation before I’d really thought about how it would all work.

Then we worked and worked and worked to create some goods that might be worth trading.

Then our family gathered on the Thursday night before the event and discussed how we would determine the value of and apply points to each product.  Ben and I were seeing through completely different lenses… if I thought something was worth about two points (50 cents), he saw that same thing for about 10 points.  These opposing opinions went on item after item.  If it wasn’t so ridiculous it would have been hilarious (there was definitely some laughter involved), but I was beginning to get discouraged.

Could this concept work if Ben and I couldn’t even agree on the value for these items, these things the children and I had been working on for weeks?  How then, could we expect the children and their friends and our friends to be able to work together to come to reasonable agreements?  I was rapidly getting discouraged.

Besides, I didn’t even know if we had enough or too many people to make this thing work.

Maybe this was just a stupid idea.  I went to bed a little… uh… grumpy, let’s say.

Why do all these crazy ideas fly into my head?  It’s not as if it’s easy to pull off big stuff like this!  Our house had been turned upside down the week before, as the kids baked and crafted their hearts out.  And now I was wondering if the whole thing would be an embarrassing flop.

{The best part is, I have friends who are willing to experiment and try stuff too, even at the expense of their own sanity!}

Fast forward to trading day:

Slowly friends arrived, laden with boxes and bags and baskets full of treasures.  The items were carefully laid on the tables and there was a quiet buzz in the big room.  There were twinkle lights, and cider and snacks and music and ever so much joy all mixed together.

Once the tables were set, we gathered as a group, got refreshed on the process and purpose (to engage relationally and generously over our exchanges) and went stall to stall as each person introduced themselves and their wares.

Then we dove in!

…And it worked!  It was so very much fun.  The children and adults were actively engaged in the process and went back and forth making deals, working out fair agreements and walking back to growing stashes of delightful goodies to return home with.

Once everyone had gone, the children asked me multiple times if we could do this again?  We stayed up late sharing lots of stories of how the exchanges went down and there was much laughter over some of the more ridiculous barters.  We had such a great time.

I mused for a while over why this felt more special than just a ‘market’ scenario, where people bring their wallets and exchange money for goods.

In the trading post everyone brought an offering (which took effort!) and the children were then free to go about their business and make exchanges freely with anyone they wished (without any/much adult intervention).  With no money, they came home with some lovely items, a ton of fresh baked food, some re-purposed house wares, and gifts for their siblings… they felt like kings!  They were not constrained by my opinions, or limited by what was in their wallet… they had their own things to exchange and could move forth accordingly.

The trading post was so full of cheerful goodwill and warmth.  Thank you to the dear friends who joined us, and thank you for those who planned to come but were unable to make it.  You give me the courage to try new things.

Needless to say, we’ve already got a Spring Trading Post on our minds!

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Read Julie’s lovely review of our time – I totally agree with her analysis!

Salon Selectives

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Poppy loves running her fingers through her hair.  In the morning, the oatmeal that is all over her hands gets glopped right on the crown of her head; at dinner, it’s pasta sauce, or usually something equally as gooey.

Oh, yes, we’ve done all that nice Montessori teaching-her-how-to-use-cutlery-from-a-young-age stuff.  Regardless of her ability to use a spoon and fork, still an inordinate amount of food ends up on her hands, thus her head!

One of her favourite things to do when we sing as a family at the table is to rest her hands on top of her head; the food on her hands is always included in this gesture.

It would be convenient if we just had a drain in the floor beside the table and could just hose her down; alas, this is not the case.  Sometimes, this means that the oatmeal remains in little not-so-dainty chunks a little longer than I’d like to admit.

She Sleeps

IMG_1973How I love a sleeping newborn.

My first child was not a good sleeper.  It was totally my fault.  I read an author whose method I followed and it totally messed up my first few months of parenting.

I think I threw that book in the garbage!

Now… 13 years and eight babies later, we’re set.  We have our routine.

Baby sleeps with Momma for the first few months.  Snuggled in bed between a cozy mom and dad, nursing all the night long.  It helps me sleep and she snoozes like a champ.  Cotton, however, wiggles a lot and I often wake to find her nuzzled right into my armpit!

But, my favourite, is holding her like a little, trusting jellybean, tenderly curled over my shoulder.  This is her little perch, where she sighs and sings into my ear as I go about the day.

The gentle cooing of a newborn is my favourite music.

 

Today

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Work and mess and opera music are filling the days.  Tucker has been listening to Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and singing it non-stop.  It makes our home feel very… sophisticated ;)

Dorian had a stretch where he was making a bunch of “mini-weapons” out of toothpicks and clothespins, etc.  They were pretty neat; he loves this book on the topic.

Duke was working on a mini-engine kit he was given by his grandparents – lots of fun.

And everyone decorated the tree!  It was total mayhem, but the homemade hot chocolate made by Dorian made it all worth it.

Cotton remains at her post, drinking her milk with very few breaks, hence my own inability to get anything done.  Oh well, I just stare at her, my favorite job ever!

And that’s all for today.

Trading Post

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There’s still a bit of space!  If you’re local, we’d love to have you join us on Saturday, December 13, 2014 @ 3-5 p.m. @ our place!

Join us on this experimental launch of an old-time tradition!

This is a barter/trade/swap only event – no money!

Ideas of What to Swap: Hand-made Gifts, Ornaments, Jewelry, Home Baking, Jams, Preserves, Homemade soaps, bath bombs, etc., Food from your Homestead, Handmade Art, Other Gently-Used Items You Are Ready to Move On!

How It Works:

-The trick is to find a trade that pleases both parties.  It is also a fun opportunity for kids (and adults!) who don’t have money to swap their goods.

-To make trading easier, please have your goods marked with their point value ($0.25 = 1 point) i.e. $4 free range eggs would have a point value of 16 points

-This is a relational form of exchanging… having equivalent points does not force a trade!  Please explain this to participating children!

-Points are just a guideline; vendors are welcome to be flexible

-Please bring items with a value of $20 (80 points) or less

-Set up your space at 3 p.m.  There will be a brief vendor show and tell at 3:30 p.m.  Trading occurs between 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Other Notes:

Children are welcome to participate if they have goods to barter.  Unfortunately, we cannot host non-participating children indoors, due to space restrictions!  If you wish to bring the rest of the family, non-participating kids are welcome to play outdoors with their Dads.  (Road hockey, toboggan relays, snow-sculptures, etc.)

Please bring a (nut free) snack to share!  

Kingdom Come

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There is a kingdom that is not of this world.

It is invisible to the eye.  It is a force that does not operate by the rules of our culture, and is not weighed down by the limits of time.  What the world claims is up, is actually down in this kingdom, and what the earth applauds, offends this radical realm.

This place is the place of abundant life, of ultimate goodness and freedom, and perfect love, yet remains hidden away from a mocking world.

King

The king of this place was born in a dirty barn to a poor girl, and later killed: nailed to a tree by the religious people of his time.  They did not recognize him as the savior of mankind, because he came bundled in the humility of this “upside-down” realm.

His love offended the world, and yet he was un-offended by the mockery of those he came to save.  He rebuked their religious mindsets, their unbelief and their pride, yet, he was not afraid of them, because his eyes could see that just beyond the thin space between heaven and earth was an empire more majestic, more perfect, and more magnificent than human minds can conceive, established securely in the heart of God.

Home

This kingdom is worth living and dying for; it’s the eternal home for all who call upon the name of this king.  And for all who are ready to shuffle off this mortal tent in exchange for a better reward one day, this kingdom is also for here, for now.  Eternity melts into time and we are given promises and power to change the world here and now, casting about the seeds of faith, hope and love everywhere we go.

Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  (Matthew 13:44)

The kingdom of heaven is not obvious, it is hidden.  It takes deliberate effort to uncover; it takes the courage of a leap of faith to possess it; it takes following the narrow road, the often lonely, misunderstood paths of righteousness, to get there.

The Kingdom of God will not be discovered by reading Christian bestsellers, or working out some sort of religious routine of devotions or church attendance, or by being better than the other guy by some moral measurement.  The kingdom of God will be discovered when we hunger and thirst for it, when we dig for it and abandon whatever else is required to possess it.

Blessed

 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  (Matthew 5:6)

If we hunger, God promises that we will be satisfied; though we may wait long, we rest in His promise to fill us.

The kingdom of heaven is for me – the weary, the weak, the broken, the sinner, the failure – in this kingdom I am called a child of God.  What kind of place is this?

I’m just beginning to taste it…