Friday, May 31, 2019

The Annual "Before" And "After" Yard Work Post

Before I start this post I want to say thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. I had a job interview on Monday for a position I was quite excited about. It would have meant working from 8:30 - 4:30, Monday through Thursday in an office so it would have been a big change for our family. (I currently work ten to fifteen hours per work from home.) I found out a few days ago that I wasn't offered the position. I am sad but trying to look on the bright side. Thank you again for your support. Now on to cheerier (at least to me!) subjects.

This spring has been very rainy in our neck of the woods. So on any day that promises even the least amount of sun, and we have the time, we have been outside working on our yard. I'm so excited about how awesome our yard looks right now. It's not the neglected mess it's been some years. I'm hoping we can stay on top of it all summer. Ha!
Our behind the house bed, before. We needed to edge the bed, weed it, trim the rose bush, and plant some annuals.
I was trying not to go too crazy on annuals this year but once the weeds were cleared out, this bed had some empty spaces. But see how cleaned up it looks!
After Rachel and I made another trip to the garden centre, it looked a lot less empty. Those tall green things in the middle are daffodils so they will disappear soon.
As I said above, I was trying to keep my annual buying to a minimum. So the first go around, I only bought 48 plants. (One year I bought 102 and one year I bought 144, so keeping it to 48 was great! Ha!)
A few years ago, my mom and dad helped me totally revamp this space and it's become one of my favourite spots in our yard. (To look at, that is!)
I love planting all the pots for this area of the yard. But again, I decided it looked too empty.
So when Rachel and I picked up the additional plants, I created a few more planters and I think it looks much better now :)
When we moved into this house, there was a big hedge in our backyard. We eventually took it down -- you can read about those adventures here (this was when we thought we could do it ourselves. Ha!). After we hired professionals to remove the rest of it, we replanted the hedge. Okay, I replanted the hedge which you can read about here.
Anyways, a couple of the cedars had died, and one was sick, so Dave and the kids weeded and Dave trimmed the sick cedar. And I weeded around the tree and planted Sweet William. I'm only a little ticked that the rabbits have bitten off about 75% of those flowers. Grrrrr.
And then last week, Rachel and I also picked up two new cedars. Soon we will have a fuller grown, complete hedge. I hope...
The bed right by the clothesline is always the easiest to deal with because it just requires weeding and edging to look 1000% better.
Since it only takes me about half an hour to do, it gives me a huge sense of accomplishment! It also looks better when there's laundry hanging on the line in front of it. Ha!
I was able to get the front bed done too. I forgot to take a complete "before" picture, but the whole bed needed weeding (as evidenced on the right side above).
Last year, Janice gave me a couple of zinnias and I plunked them into this bed and loved them. They thrived and were so showy and pretty. So this year I bought a few smaller ones. I can't wait until they get big and covered with blooms.
Our friend also gave us a new sign. This sign was produced a few years ago, and given the current climate, I think it's still appropriate to be welcoming to everyone, no matter what.
One thing which has made the yard work feel much easier, and go a lot faster, is that the kids are really helpful, especially Rachel. When all four of us go out and work for two hours, we get seven hours of work done. (I subtracted an hour for Sam's complaining and delaying! Ha!). It's amazing!
This is just a random picture of Rachel and I after we had biked to our local garden centre with twenty more plants. For those keeping track, that's only 68 plants this year which might be a record for the lowest number of plants I've ever bought. And no, I'm not counting the 24 pansies I bought for our window boxes in April. Ha!
Our garage bed has always been my nemesis. I've been thrilled with it maybe once (or twice) in the almost six years that we've lived here. So last Sunday, I woke up determined to tackle it. It took two hours but...
... I am thrilled with the end results. Yay!!! Now if only I can stay on top of it this summer. We shall see...
And if the garage bed has been my nemesis, the back corner is Dave's. Again, he was able to work on it for a couple of hours and now...'s maybe one-third to one-half done. Womp womp. This is how it always goes but Dave was really happy with his progress. As was I!
The last bed is the one at the front of our house where we never go. Seriously, I only see this bed when I mow the front lawn. Woot. I've never been particularly happy with it but last year I found a new vision for it.
It's weeded, the hydrangeas are trimmed back, and seven impatiens are filling the empty space. Now I can basically ignore it all summer. Yay!

So if anyone stuck around until the end, I'm now done. I love doing all this yard work every year and sitting and enjoying the fruits of our labours. Working on our yard gives me so much energy and makes me so happy!

Do you thrive on yard work? Do you have a blog post showing your yard? Let me know!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

#tbt: Beyond Binaries

image from here

In early April, I attended this event. I want to be clear, this event was hosted at our church but it was not put on by our church. It was the impetus of an amazing youth in our church who I have had the privilege of knowing since birth.

A little background: Back home in youth group, I knew one of my peers had an older brother who I met a time or two. Fast forward to my third year of university (in another province) and this older brother and a friend of mine met through our university residence. They started dating and got married. And had three kids.

This family and I have always had a special relationship. They were a part of a community of twelve of us who owned, and lived, in a house together for a few years. I watched their older two kids while their youngest child was being born. And I have been cheering them on through the various stages of their lives, as they have done for me. We are now all currently in a church small group together and it's been yet another wonderful way to connect with them.

Their middle child, Thea, now identifies as non-binary (identifying as neither male or female) and through a program called Peace Innovators, a scholarship and mentoring program, they came up with the idea for this day.

More and more churches are choosing to publicly say: God welcomes all. That all forms of gender expression and sexual orientation are holy and included in the love of Christ.
Many churches desire to be a safe place for the Queer community, but what does that really mean? How do we create a truly affirming church?

This description is taken from the event's website.

Because of our connection through small group, Thea's mom asked for volunteers to help out in the kitchen. I spent the morning and the evening before the event, and the morning of, helping out. Dave couldn't attend the actual event, so he and the kids also helped out the evening before. I was so proud of Sam and Rachel because they rolled a significant portion of the cutlery into napkins, and placed them in these baskets, for the lunch.
The day of the event, I had said I would help out in the kitchen during the worship. In retrospect, I am sad to have missed the worship and was glad I was setting things up in the fellowship hall (which is adjacent to our sanctuary) so I could sing along with the hymns. One of the hymns, sung to the tune of "All Things Bright and Beautiful" had the chorus:

Quirky, queer and wonderful,
Distinct, unique and odd
All of our humanity
Reveals the face of God.
--Adam Tice
from here (the link to the original site wasn't working for me)

I couldn't sing the chorus without tearing up.

After the worship service, Thea gave the keynote address, outlining different ways that gender can be defined. I have known Thea since before they were born. Up until their younger sibling was born, they were the youngest baby I had ever held (eight hours old!). Thea is graduating Grade 12 next month. Grade 12! I was so proud of Thea and their composure in speaking to over one hundred people and teaching us. After Thea spoke, there was a panel discussion on how LGBTQ+ people have felt at church.

I believe the church should be a welcoming place period. It made me so sad to hear stories of how the panelists had felt rejected by the church because of something intrinsic to who they are. No one should ever have to experience that. Ever.

In the afternoon there were a number of different workshops participants could attend. I went to one about Queering Worship (how to intentionally think about, and address, the gender roles which are inherent in our worship services) and another one on little things churches could do to be welcoming, especially for transgendered people. The workshops were really interesting and I wish I had been able to attend all of them.

I don't know if I'm doing a good job of relaying how important this event was, both to me personally but also to the wider church. I think everyone should have the opportunity (be compelled to?) attend an event like this. To hear about how the church is hurting people today and how it could turn that around. To love people where they are at. After all, isn't that what we're all asking for from the church?

If you want to read some coverage about this event from our denomination's national publication you can read more about it here and here.

I want to be clear about two things: 1) I asked Thea's permission to write about this event and their involvement. 2) Again, although our church was the host for this event, the event was completely orchestrated by Thea and a couple of organizations supporting them.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

What's Up Wednesday: May 2019

Once again, it's time for What's Up Wednesday.
image from here

What we're eating this week... We're still eating our Country of the Week food and on Sunday we made Rwandan pancakes. They were delicious and we highly recommend them. You can find the recipe we used here.

Also, on Sunday, I bought cherries and Sam and I have been eating a lot of them. Yum!

What I'm reminiscing about... I've been thinking about our trip to Vienna when Sam was fourteen months old, which happened in May 2010. We traveled with our best friends (and some other people) and it was really fun! You can read all about it (from Dave's perspective) here. Since that is our "Vienna" tag with all the posts in reverse order, if you're really interested, the first post is here.
Okay, now I just want to go back, both to Vienna and to when Sam was a baby!

What I'm loving... I'm loving that both kids have learned to bike and now we can bike to school or to other places. Like on Sunday, when Rachel and I biked to the closest garden centre.
We no longer need our Chariot for kids but it's handy for transporting things.

What we've been up to... All the yard work. A more extensive post is coming soon but I'm so excited about the "before" and "after" pictures of our yard! I'm also excited that Rachel (and to a lesser extent, Sam) have been really helpful with the yard work as well.
left: our clothesline bed before; right: our clothesline bed after

What I'm dreading... Once again, thankfully, this is a hard question for me to answer this month. I'm not really dreading much of anything right now. Life is full with soccer and baseball and all that entails. But I'm not particularly dreading anything. Yay!

What I'm working on... All the yard work. See "What we've been up to" above. It's been such a rainy, slow start to spring, that every nice (read: not raining) day, we're outside, attacking another portion of the yard. I will try to do a full yard "before" and "after" blog post on Friday, but we'll see if I get it done :) "It" being "the post" not "the yard work"!

What I'm excited about... My parents are coming to visit on Friday for a few days. I'll write more about that below but I'm excited to see them.

What I'm watching/reading... Although we're not true basketball fans, we are Canadian, so lately we've been watching a lot of Raptors basketball! They made it to the NBA Championship Series on Saturday night so we'll be watching a lot of basketball, hopefully cheering them on to victory, over these next few weeks.
Raptors 3' x 5' 'We The North' Flag 
image from here

I'm back on my World War II kick and I'm currently devouring Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood that Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson. I may have to review it on the blog because I am finding it fascinating. And then I took a break from it on Saturday to read The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal, the fourth book in the Maggie Hope series. Which, by the way, is also about World War II. Ha!
Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (Maggie Hope Mystery, #4)
image from here * image from here

What I'm listening to... Dave and I went to see the musical Come From Away for my birthday. It was AMAZING! If you have the chance to see it, GO! I want to go again. Anyways, we bought the soundtrack and I've been listening to it 24/7. I can't listen to the song "Prayer" without crying or the song "Heave Away" without singing really loudly.
image from here

What I'm wearing... Dirt! Ha! It's everywhere! I really hope you aren't reading my blog hoping to figure out the latest fashion trends :)
This is from May 2010 when we landscaped the back yard at our rental house. These hands belong to Sam (who was crawling around), my dad, Dave, and me. Lately Dave's hands, and my knees, have been sporting this look! I used this picture because a) I love it and b) I didn't have a recent one of me wearing dirt :)

What I'm doing this weekend... Well, I raved about Come From Away on the phone to my parents and they decided to come see it -- and us! So we're hanging out with my parents this weekend! Whooo hooo!!!

What I'm looking forward to next month... Rachel turns 8, Dave and I will celebrate 11 years of marriage at the end of June, and school ends at the end of the month. And since the pool opened last weekend, we'll probably have a few nights at the pool. Whooo hooo!!!

What else is new... While a lot of people reading this likely have kids who are, or are close to, finished school for the year, we still have twenty days of school left, after today. Yes, we will still be in school for the next What's Up Wednesday in June :( Reading blogs of people who live in The States makes me want to be DONE already. So for those of you who are already in summer vacation mode, enjoy some extra summer for us :) 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Daily Photo: May 21 - 27, 2019

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers yesterday. I really will try and keep you posted as soon as I know more.

May 21, 2019 -- After being closed for four weeks, the children's department at our library was once again OPEN!!! Whooo hoooo!!!

May 22, 2019 -- Between rain and the Science Fair, Sam hadn't yet made it to a ball game this season. However, he made it to this one and made his pitching debut. I'm no expert, but I think he did AMAZING!!! He got to pitch for two innings and struck out two batters. (This is the first year where the kids pitch so everyone is new to it.)

May 23, 2019 -- I love Spring with a passion and all the trees bursting into bloom make me sooooo happy. Sadly, in the past couple of years, I seem to have developed allergies so these same trees blooming also give me extremely itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezes. Boo.

May 24, 2019 -- I realized I hadn't taken a picture so I grabbed a quick photo of my flower pots against the fence. And on Sunday, I added a couple of more pots because I decided it was looking a little bare. Ha!

May 25, 2019 -- You already know we love baseball around here but I know of few Canadians who aren't cheering for the Toronto Raptors these days. The last 7.3 seconds of the game took about seven minutes to actually play, but at the end, the Toronto Raptors were headed to the NBA finals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 26, 2019 -- We made Rwandan pancakes for our Country of the Week meal this day. They were delicious!!!

May 27, 2019 -- And this is what our back yard looked like yesterday. I know you can't really tell in this picture but we've done a ton of yard work back here over the past two weekends and it looks amazing, if I say so myself :)