RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Blogger Template From:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Cheer

As the low - and once again COLD - winter sun streams through my windows this morning I cannot believe that 2010 is drawing to a close in a mere 14 hours. 

It is as 'they' say, the older one gets the faster time moves along.  As I allow my mind to scan over the many memories of 2010 I am realizing that the majority of them are good ones.  I feel fortunate and joyful and anticipate 2011 for it's many possibilities.

I'm not going to bore you with a list of sure-to-fail resolutions.  I've done that many times and it's kind of depressing.  

I do have a goal, however.  My goal is to appreciate and enjoy each day the best I can.  I want to attempt to not wish the time away any faster than it already is moving but at the same time to not to mourn it's passing either. (i.e. my kids growing up way too quickly)  I have a fantastic life and, although I hesitate to even type these words for fear of jinxing it, one never really knows what's around the bend - good or bad.

Here's to a happy and blessed 2011 for us all!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Highlights

I love my family.
I feel blessed by the great relationships we all have.
My grandmother, sister and brother-in-law, my parents and us.
Not a huge family but we had a good time together.  Our kids didn't drive us too batty with their noise and we all managed to enjoy ourselves and keep the peace.  We're not prone to fighting or anything but as all families are, we certainly have our moments.

Plenty of gifts.
Generosity was apparent.
Sierra was the most spoiled.  She was also the most excited and into Christmas. A big doll house with accessories, a Play Doh cake making kit, paints, markers, car with track set, bath toys, doll toys.  I'm not sure who is happier - me or Sierra.  She actually really needed some new stuff to do so she wouldn't drive me as crazy!

Oh the food! 
Copious amounts of food.
Chinese food Christmas Eve.  Brunch Christmas morning.  Turkey dinner Christmas Day.  Hamburgers for lunch and then lasagna for supper yesterday.  Those are just the meals.  I'll not mention the trays of cookies, candies, chips, and other nibblies.  It was delicious.

Stuff is everywhere.
I'm starting to get twitchy because I like order and neatness.
All those new presents are great but now they need a place to go.  They currently inhabit the floor and it's an obstacle course around here.  Do I feel like dealing with it?  No.  It's at this point every year that I feel ready to let Christmas go.  As much as I love the season and all the decorations I'm ready to have my house back.

It was a great Christmas filled with great memories and it'll be here again before we know it!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One More Door!!!

Last year was the first year we bought Sierra a chocolate advent calendar.  At age 2 1/2 all she cared about was getting chocolate every day, she didn't have too much of a concept of time and what the end result was.  This year is a completely different story now that she is 3 1/2.   Every morning, immediately after she inhales her toast, she opens her "chocolate door".  She is super excited about Christmas and is totally into it and "gets" it.  
Decorating the tree was a magical event that she enthusiastically assisted us with.  Sierra also enjoyed buying presents with us and helping wrap them filled an entire morning (they are well taped!)  She even "wrote" on the tags herself.   In fact, wrapping gifts has been such an intriguing concept to her that she wrapped up one of her puzzles and is constantly folding up and taping her drawings to put under the tree to be opened on Christmas!  We are asked daily if she can put out cookies and milk for Santa, too.
We have also been teaching her the story of the birth of Jesus to add the 'reason' element of Christmas.  My parents gave our kids the Little People nativity set and she plays with it daily.  We have even acted out the Christmas story.
All of her delight in the season has added a new dimension to our own Christmas excitement.  Trevor and I have found the anticipation of a child is totally catching and we, too, are filled with new eagerness about celebrating Christmas this year.
I wish everyone a happy and blessed Christmas!
Only "One more door" to go!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Being Mennonite - The Faith

Faith is a complex topic.
By definition it is the belief in God and/or the doctrines and teachings of a religion. One’s faith, whatever that may mean, or the choice to not believe in anything is intensely personal. While I firmly believe what I do I recognize that each person is unique and there are many opinions and beliefs in the world. Naturally I would love everyone to believe what I do because it brings me great joy and peace, but I respect the reality of human contrarieties. Faith is hard to discuss without the risk of sounding “preachy“. Preachy is not my intent so please try to read this solely as a source of information if that is all you wish to take out of this. I’ve grown up with this so if anything I’ve written is confusing please ask because what may be commonplace to me is likely to be foreign to someone else.

The Mennonites church I grew up in has something called the “Confession of Faith” which is the framework of our essential beliefs. I’ve referred to that for this post but I haven’t included it all and have added my own points.

* We believe in God, that there is only one God, and that He is Creator of all things. We believe God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a concept also known as the Trinity.

* We believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God. “He is the Savior of the world, who has redeemed us of sin and reconciled us to God by his death on a cross.” Oh how do I explain this one? Hmmm let’s see. We believe that people are born as sinners (this is not meant to be an insult, I totally put myself in this category). Sin is anything from a little white lie to murdering another person; a moral or legal violation. Basically, pre-Jesus, God required man to make regular animal sacrifices where blood was shed in order to be reconciled of their sins. Then along came Jesus who was crucified on a cross as the ultimate sacrifice, thus eliminating the need for animal offerings once and for all. All people have to do now to be in God’s favour is to believe that Jesus died for us and ask Him to reside in our hearts. This is what becoming a Christian, or “saved“ or “born again“ means.

*We believe in the Holy Spirit, an invisible omnipresent form of God. (present everywhere simultaneously). I realize this is a rather bizarre concept when I really think about it! If I pray or “talk to God” I believe that He is beside me listening. Bizarre or not I find it an incredible comfort.

* We believe in the Holy Bible and that it is God inspired and the ultimate authority of our faith.

*We avoid the swearing of oaths. For example, if someone is a witness in court we will not put up our right hand and “swear” to tell the truth… we will say that we “affirm.”

* “We believe that peace is the will of God. God created the world in peace, and God's peace is most fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who is our peace and the peace of the whole world.” If you’ve ever read from the Old Testament of the Bible the barbarism and war is very apparent. Then comes Christ who was not violent or ever fought but at the same time was not in any way a pushover. He managed to accomplish everything peacefully. “We follow Christ in the way of peace, doing justice, bringing reconciliation, and practicing nonresistance, even in the face of violence and warfare.”

* We believe that the Lord's Supper or Communion (the bread and wine ceremony) is symbolic of Christ‘s body and blood. We do this as a sign of remembrance of his sacrificial death on the cross.

* We believe in baptism of Christians with water and that it is a sign of their freedom from sin. It is viewed as a person’s choice and not a method of being saved.

*We believe in heaven and hell. When a person’s earthly body dies their soul goes to either of the two places. Heaven being eternal life with God and hell being eternal separation from God. Although we believe the Bible reads that only Christians go to heaven we fully realize that the meaning and judgment of that is completely up to God.

*I’m not sure of the official stance of this one but I but I believe in angels and demons and Satan.

That is the gist of it.
The majority of Christian faiths will essentially agree with most of these points. It's the finer points such as how to conduct a church service, type of music and instruments used, baptism types, various lifestyle aspects, and so on that have resulted in the many different kinds of churches both within the Mennonite faith and beyond. That is why Trevor and I can still embrace our Mennonite background while attending another type of church - because the meat of the faith is still the same. I'll go into this a little more in the next post where I talk about the cultural aspects of being Mennonite and some of my personal thoughts on the church.

Again, don't hesitate to ask questions. Please email if you're more comfortable with that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Week in Review...and it's only Thursday!

* On Monday it became apparent that Trevor has a strange and violent allergy to the bag of dried mangoes we recently purchased. Oddly, it is the second bag of this kind and the first did not affect him??? I have fine but am scared to eat too many. I checked online but all I could remotely find as a possibility to his ailment is the sulfites used in the drying process. Hmmm.

*Two days ago Trevor did something to his shoulder and was in horrific pain last night until a warm bath relaxed the muscles and put it back in place.

*I did something to my neck a week ago and still feeling it.

*I am super duper close to being done my Christmas shopping and had plans of completing it this afternoon but....

* My van had a flat tire. The CAA (AAA for my American friends) guy came and changed it to the spare (apparently the fact that it was in the garage didn't matter, it's still part of the service) but it's snowing and the combination is not good for highway driving. Grrr!

*Absolutely nothing is going as planned this week and it is driving me batty! I don't even think I had super high expectations.

*My daughter decided to give herself a haircut. I screamed in horror when I saw her hacking away at her locks with scissors which promptly made her cry because she was rather pleased with herself at her work. Fortunately her bangs suffered the worst and the damage can be somewhat hidden with a strategic hair combing.

* My floor is so disgusting. I have plans to go over it with a grinder this evening.

* Sawyer is officially crawling. EVERYWHERE. He is also officially getting into EVERYTHING. Catfood is especially appealing for some reason. He actually put a piece in his mouth and made the most hilariously awful face. This new-found ability also greatly irritates his sister because he is into her things and bugging her. Ah, the sibling rivalry is beginning.

How is your week going?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I love Christmas and Christmas decorating. Nearly everything is a favourite but here are a few that stand out:

I just think this is a pretty ornament (it has "hope" on it in case you can't make it out). I have another one that has "Faith" on the snowflake.

My mom tried to get us kids a collector ornament every year that had some significant representation of that year of our life. The metronome with the mouse signifies my involvement in anything music related and the car was given to me the year I got my driver's license.

This is an actual hollowed out egg with a nativity scene in it. Trevor won this at church when he was a kid for memorizing a whole bunch of Bible verses.

Around eleven yeas ago a collector hockey-player-ornament series was started. One player a year, a notable player such as Wayne Gretzky, was released for five years and then they stopped. Trevor has all five and every year they are proudly and prominently hung on our tree.

We bought this nativity scene first year we were married.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Shadow

I don't know if I've been invaded by Oscar-the-Grouch or if it's a nasty case of PMS or if she's worse than usual but Sierra is making me want to sit in a corner, wrap my arms around myself and rock while wailing.
She is everywhere I am!!!
Sierra puts the bread in my toaster for me in the morning, wants to select my clothes, my earrings, my necklace, and my watch. I go to do my makeup and hair and she has to sit on the counter and also do makeup. She also wants to brush my teeth for me. I had a bath this afternoon to try and get away from her for a short while and loose myself in a book (this often works) and she had to come in with me. I go to use the bathroom and she follows me and hands me toilet paper. I change Sawyer's diapers and she's right in there with that task too! I try to cook, bake, clean - ANYTHING -and there she is.
Lately, absolutely everything (except - do you want chocolate) is immediately answered with a "no" or some other alternative. I stand my ground and she disputes me more. (for the record, we usually win) We are convinced that she will be a hostage negotiator or hostage take when she grows up because of her stellar arguing.
Most of the time I try and suppress the squirmy feelings that come with being constantly shadowed and smothered and bantered with me, telling myself in a few short years I'll wish for this time back.
"Cherish these times, Carla."
Not today.

(I actually just firmly refused to play with her, told her I was going to have some coffee and type on my computer. Amazingly enough she is amusing herself, quietly.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Being Mennonite - The Groups

I started researching this over a week ago and was somewhat amazed at the number different groups that call themselves "Mennonite"! I am one and have studied their history in church and in school and I thought I knew quite a bit. I was a little surprised at the amount of diversity under one name, there happens to be over twenty different groupings.
Since I didn't want to write a book I grouped them into major categories and did my best to provide accurate descriptions. I recognize that within these groups are sub groups and not all believe and live the exactly the same. If you have questions please don't hesitate to ask.

1.Old Order Mennonites: They formed as a rebellion to modern radical changes and chose to maintain an extremely conservative style of living. Technology is not viewed as evil but their concern lies in how it might affect the nature of their communities. "Community is important to a Mennonite, and a technology or practice is rejected if it will adversely affect it." (Wikipedia) They live in colonies, often don't have electricity and drive horse and buggy as opposed to automobiles. There is a huge emphasis on plainness, especially in appearance, hence their "old-fashioned", non-showy attire. They school their children separately and refuse involvement in politics and other "sins of the world". Church is based on a set of standards, not an individual experience.

2.Holdeman (The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite): They branched off from the Mennonites in the mid 1800's under the leadership of a man named John Holdeman. They parted on disagreements over doctrine.
The families live a plain and simple lifestyle. They do not have TV, radios or CD players but do have telephones. Only plain and non-sporty vehicles are driven with all radio systems removed. Their dress is of similar uniform design with allowances of different patterns and fabric (women do no wear pants). For everyday, women wear a small black cap that is placed over a bun of hair on the back of the head. For church the women wear a veil that is placed over a good portion of their head, hangs down their back and ties under their chin. Courtship and dating are not practiced. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, divorce is not allowed. Modesty in clothing and material possessions are strongly encouraged. The men wear a beard and may or may not have a mustache. Photographs are prohibited. CGCM has parochial schools and they educate to the eighth grade, leaving the remaining years to vocational training. They do not have any musical instruments, instead they sing Acapella

Much of this is taken directly from

3. Conservative Mennonites: (there is a specific conference or group of churches, that call the themselves "Conservative Mennonites" but here I use the term generally)
Encompass a variety groups that aren't nearly as strict as Old Order or Holdeman Mennonites. Not a unified group, per se, there are many different churches that retain a core of traditional beliefs. The woman often wear plain, old-fashioned style dresses, small head coverings, have long hair and refrain from the use of makeup or wearing jewelery. The men can be seen wearing jeans and button down shirts. Far less strict on their view of technology they drive automobiles and use telephones. Some allow limited computer and internet and TV.

4. Modern/Progressive: In most forms of worship and practice they differ very little from other protestant congregations. Within themselves one will find a variety of worship styles. There may be hymns and/or contemporary choruses, choirs, readings and a variety of instruments. The ministers don't necessarily have to be "Mennonite" or from the Mennonite faith, although they do have to agree with their statement of faith (an outline of their faith). Peace and community are emphasized but they do no live in their own communities. Military service is not permitted. For the most part their faith is distinguished from other Mennonites by being one of emphasis rather than rule. The main elements of Menno Simons' doctrine are retained but in modern form. Outreach and help in the wider community both at home and abroad is very evident. There is no special dress or technology restrictions. The main two groups that I know of are the Mennonite Church Canada/USA - MC ( formerly General Conference Mennonites) and Mennonite Brethren-MB. The only discernible major difference between the two groups today (that I know of) is their form of baptism, MC's will only pour water on the person's head while MB's practice full immersion in a "tank".

I will get into the culture and then the faith, both as I know and live, next. Hopefully those posts won't take me as long!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mr. Flu

Mr. Flu ripped through our household like a Chinook wind this week. He began at 11 o'clock Saturday night when I heard a little voice saying "Mom-my" coming from Sierra's room. Of course I went to check on her only to be greeted by a vomit covered little girl who wasn't quite sure which way was up. Trevor and I cleaned everything up and a long night ensued. I stayed in her room with her, laying next to her on her bed so I could grab the garbage can at the first " I think I have to puke". I didn't sleep. The next day the barfing ceased and by evening she was herself again.
Sunday night: repeat with Sawyer. I slept on the couch with him on me so if he moved I could grab a bucket. His stomach eruptions quit by 3:30 so I had a little more sleep. Since then his back end has been spewing unpleasant contents. Poor guy. (Poor me for having to deal with it!) Other than that he's over it.
Mr. Flu blew over Trevor the next night - I woke up to an incredibly loud belch to which I asked
"Are you OK?
Well, at least I didn't have to stay up with this one.
Just when I thought I had avoided Mr. Flu, I became the last victim on Wednesday.
Mr. Flu has left the building and we are all more-or-less over it. The adults for sure. The kids are taking a little longer for their systems to right themselves. It's been a long week but I'm glad it only afflicted each of us for only one day.

On that note - I'm working on my next Mennonite installment but I haven't had the time I'd hoped for thanks to Mr. Flu. There's a bit of research involved because I wish to be as accurate as I can. It's coming soon!