Tuesday, February 15


It's official!  I've finally got a new space with a snazzy personalized design (thanks to my amazing hubby!) and my very own domain name.

Come along with me at www.raesdaze.com

Sunday, February 13

Valentine's Reads

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.

I have great memories of Valentine's Days growing up.  

My dad always bought 3 bouquets; one for my mom, and one for my sister and I.
I always felt so special.
(You'd be hard-pressed to find a father who does a better job of affirming his daughters' value.)

And so, because I think that Valentine's is a bit over-blown when it comes to creating unrealistic romantic expectations that can actually produce more strain on a relationship than benefit it -
And 'cause I think that kids can ALWAYS benefit from hearing that they're loved in a special way -
And 'cause I was realizing just how many children's books we have on love - 
I thought I'd share with you some great books to tuck your kids into with on Valentine's Day.

I Love You Through and Through

A fun little read about all of the parts of a wee person his parents love.  Part of our nightly bedtime routine.


A fun, interactive book about kisses.  
(With a free song download, apparently - I'll have to look into that!)

I Love You, Little One

A heartwarming book about the way that parents express their love for their little ones.

Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways

This one is more about romantic love, exploring all of the different attitudes and attributes it can have.  
Very cute, and great illustrations.
(I'm taking it to work with me tomorrow with some goodies to put on the lunchroom table)

...and, no list would be complete without

Guess How Much I Love You

Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare try to find ways to describe how big their love is for one another.  Big Nutbrown Hare always seems to find a way to express his love just a little bit more...

Whatever else you do to celebrate this Valentine's Day,
 if you have kids, make sure they go to bed knowing you 
love them to the moon...

...and back


Friday, February 11

Some Marriage Thoughts

I've been thinking a lot about marriage lately.
It seems to be coming up in conversations with friends, and in blogs I've been reading.  
Funny, when life seems to synthesize things, how the same topic creeps into my consciousness from different and disconnected sources.
Funny, too, how much I've needed it right now.

I am blessed to be part of a pretty fantastic marriage.
There are times when we look at each other, and smile, and say
"I think we're pretty lucky...I don't think it comes this easy for most."

The problem is, those times have been happening less frequently.

In fact, I don't think either of us would say it's coming easy these days.

We said those words...
those words about better or worse, sickness and health, happiness and sorrow.

Does anyone really know what it will mean 
to hold 
through the worse, the sickness, the sorrow when they say those words?

How can we?

James has been sick a lot this winter.
Nothing serious, but a series of colds, ear infections, sniffles, exhaustion.
Nothing to worry about, but enough that he's just not been able to do a lot of the things that he usually does.
(and he usually does a LOT!)

And I've been convicted lately that I haven't done a good job of loving him.

I have loved what he can do for me.
And as that list has become shorter
so has my patience.

In talking with a friend about marriage, and choosing a partner, I was struck as she shared the advice of another, who said that regardless of all the little details and practicalities that could be considered in a partnership, what it really comes down to is:

This is the person that I love.

And because I love this person, and want to spend my life with this person, we'll work through those challenging areas in which our partnership might not be so ideal.
And that's what struck me.

I have not done a good job at loving James.
I have loved his suppers, and his diaper washing, and his parenting.
But when he hasn't felt up to delivering?
I've been downright frustrated and annoyed.

And so, as Valentines Day approaches
(not that I think we should hang our romances on one cold day in February)
I am going to try harder to adore that guy.
I am going to find ways to show and tell him that I love him, 
even if the dishes aren't done and I'm tired and frustrated.

'Cause this is the person that I chose.
 This is the person that I love.


For some more thoughts on marriage, check out
*Ann Voskamp, How to {make} Love 

Thursday, February 10

Love Songs for You

I am SO affected by music.
This morning, as I drove to work, I listened to some BEAUTIFUL music by Seth Primm
The money raised from the sale of his album Bringing Home Beautiful is going towards the adoption of a daughter from Africa.

I was especially moved this morning by the song "Come Home, Beautiful".  
So listen to that one, if no others.

Other songs on my heart today...


I hope you can spend some time basking in his great love for you today.

Tuesday, February 8

Honk if You're Happy

Hi friends.

Thanks to those of you who shared some kind words of encouragement in response to my thoughts on mediocrity.
I appreciate them (even though, as I spend more time reflecting, I value them too much).

See, the thing is...
I know that I am valuable and loved by God.
I just have this difficulty in remembering that it's HIS love that matters the most.
I like to hear it from other people a bit too much.

We're working on it, him and I.

Anyway, enough about that.
I wanted to share with you some happy thoughts that brought tears to my eyes on a day when they've been the wrong kind of teary, the sad kind, over the news of a friend's death.

Friday, February 4


I've spent a lot of my life striving to be better, different, unique, excellent.

Some days I think I peaked in grade 8, when I won the citizenship, academic proficiency, and language arts awards at graduation.

I won a handful of music awards in high school, but, they kinda had to give me something, I was part of so many choirs and ensembles.

Then university, and the awards ceased.  There are a lot of spectacular over-achievers out there.  I had to become content with the As, knowing I'd done my best, but that other's bests were better.

And then I graduated, and got out of that system of constantly being measured, and realized that not much of it mattered.

But I still wanted to be special, and different, and respected, and valued for my unique awesomeness.
(which may or may not really exist)

And let's be honest, that's a big part of what this blogging thing is all about.  
It's all, "look at me in my genuineness and sincerity and see how I'm maybe just a little bit unique and cool."
Not that I try to be things I'm not, that's just it - it's just showing a peak at what really goes on, in my home, in my head, in my heart.  

And when it all comes down to it, sure feels good when people say they pay attention.
Feels even better when they like what they read - me.

And then, life gets the best of me, and I'm way too busy to blog anyway, even though it's one of the things I like most, and one of the things I'd most like to do and define myself by.
I dream about spending time designing a lovely site, and having faithful readers, and taking time to craft lovely words, and maybe even making a bit of money at it.

And it turns out I'm mediocre even at this.
Just like I am at that resolution thing.
And most things.

And the most important things.

I haven't prayed in eons.
I was trying to memorize scripture, but that fell by the wayside with this new busy schedule, around the same time mornings felt hard and that hop out of bed at 6am thing turned into a few extra snooze slaps followed by a mad dash out the door.

I feel like I have nothing to offer anyone - and I probably don't, seeing as I haven't allowed myself to be filled by the bounty that is offered by the only one who can fill me, the only one who's overflow can do anyone else any good.

And so, here I am.
Typing my selfish reflections to a wee audience.
Hoping for a bit of attention, some sort of response.

When really, I should be bringing them into the Light.
To the One who will always give me an audience.
To the One who will shape me and mold me into something beautiful.

For Him.

Not me.

And not you.

Monday, January 17

Feeling Resolute?

I guess you could say my New Year's resolution this year is to add one thing a week to my daily routines to inch me toward what an "ideal" day might look like.  So each week, I add one thing to my morning, and one thing to my evening.

So far, it's been:
Week 1 - established consistent wake up and bed times.
Week 2 - scripture first, floss

This is Week 3.  Week 3's resolution is "wipe up".  When I'm done in the bathroom in the morning, I'll return all my stuff to my drawer, grab a cloth or towel I used that morning, and give the counter a quick once-over.  Same at night.

But the thing that will take WAY more resolve this week?
the sleep training.

It's just not working.  And by it, I mean me.
I can't stick to it.
Mostly because I want to tell the sleep doula lady to take her plan and shove it.

So.  We decided tonight that I need to come up with the plan, and James will implement it,
but I need to be behind it.

The plan basically is no nursing at night, because when he wakes up, that's what he wants, so we need to break the association of
nursing = sleeping.
(I know lots of you have all kinds of opinions on that, but our family needs a solid night's sleep to function with our current commitments, and I'm pretty sure this is the only way we're gonna get it).

Instead of nursing, one of us (James) will pat his back and "shhhh" him, slowly removing the patting and just "shhhh"ing, then moving the "shhh"ing into the hall.

(I've been "shhhhhh"ing for an hour and half.  I'm currently on the floor outside his bedroom door "shhhhh"ing.  and I'm still in my work clothes.
and my house is a mess.
and the babysitter's coming here tomorrow.
and there are currently no lunches made for tomorrow.
and the diapers need to be washed.)

So, the resolution of the week is "wipe up."

But the real resolve is required to get through this week's sleep plan.
And release my grip on all that stuff that I can't change right now.

Sunday, January 16

Eating Humble Pie With my (open) Hands

It was so good to worship with God's people this morning.
I am so glad that I won't have to miss out on church because of work anymore.

You know that whole "open hands" thing I'm trying?
That whole not being a control-freak thing?
It's coming along, little by little.

James was leading worship this week. 
I usually have to have my nose right in there as he's picking songs,
sharing my two cents,
telling him why my way's better.
This time, I backed off, I stayed out of it.

But, after thinking awhile on the text for the week, I called downstairs:
"I don't know if you're all done, but I was thinking that this song might fit really well after the sermon.
Take it or leave it."
(Did you know I was capable of not being pushy!?  Me neither...)

He thought it was a good fit.  He replaced his choice with mine.  He liked it.

And then, as we listened to the pastor speak this morning, he steered his sermon right into the song that James had initially picked, which I saw no connection to the day before.

I texted James (he wasn't sitting with me)
"You were right on with "Nothing But the Blood"
And he was.

And he changed it back.

And it was spot on.

That guy of mine is so good.  

For some reason, I doubt his perception.  Way too often.

And he patiently listens to my criticisms.
And patiently doesn't criticize in return.

- - - - - - - - - -

There were a lot of good reminders for me in what was sung and spoken this morning.
Our pastor preached from Luke 18:9-14, about the not seeking to make ourselves worthy by our actions, about not considering ourselves better than those around us.

A life-long battle 
for me, the good girl, 
me who's so good at comparing myself, 
me who's so quick to point out "I was right!"

What a good reminder, especially as I start a new job, that
it's not about whether or not I do it better than the person before me.
It's not about showing how well I can do things.

Can I share with you some of the phrases that I jotted down in my daybook as I listened?

"Every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:14

There is more to life than being right in our own eyes.

We do good out of gratitude for God's mercy, 
not because we will find merit.

Although I will never be worthy, I am far from worthless. 
Jesus saw fit to purchase my righteousness with his blood.

lean hard on God's mercy.

Saturday, January 15

Sunrise of Your Smile

These beautiful words came out of my ipod this morning and spoke directly to me and where I'm at right now.

"Reject the wordly lie that says,
That life lies always up ahead,
Let power go before control 
becomes a crust around your soul,
Escape the hunger to posess,
And soul-diminishing sucess,
This world is full of narrow lives,
I pray by grace your smile survives."
- Sunrise of Your Smile, Michael Card

I could ponder and meditate those words for a long time.
Those phrases need to be my prayers, as I start a new job, and try to maintain work-life balance.
So glad for the reminder.

If you'd like to hear this beautiful song, you can listen to Michael Card perform it live here:

Friday, January 14

A Day's Delights

Today was one of those days that just couldn't have been much better.
One of those wonderful, ordinary, lovely days in which nothing extra special happens, but is full of all kinds of things that are so very special.
Today was a long time coming, the first day I've had off after working 10 in a row.

And it was good.  
Kind of like God said it would be when he mandated rest.
That God.  So wise.

The Saint of a husband of mine let me sleep in.
Around 9:00, two smiling faces accompanied a giant cup of coffee into my bedroom.
And we all crawled in, and snuggled, and sang "head and shoulders knees and toes", and tickled, and giggled, and the coffee got cold, and I couldn't have been happier.
(Haydon touched his own head for the first time today as we sang - I was so excited to see him making that connection!)

Then I and the boy went for a walk down Ottawa Street.
And I love Ottawa Street.
(as my husband said the other day - I wish there were more "love" words in the English language, 'cause when I see that written down, it looks silly putting love next to a street when 
I love God 
and I love my son 
and I love good books
...but you get the idea)

We strolled, and we browsed, and we chatted with shop-owners and artists, and I bought clothes, and my boy got to play, and then we walked home in the sunshine 'cause I missed the bus by about 30 seconds, and figured I might as well spend the next half hour getting some exercise in the sunshine rather than standing in the cold at a bus stop.
As we walked, we sang, 'cause that's just what I do.
And we danced, 'cause I tend to do that too.
And I'm sure I looked ridiculous singing and dancing my way down Cannon Street with a stroller.
And I'm sure I couldn't care less.

Haydon was tired.
He wanted to sleep so badly.
And I wanted him to stay awake and have lunch before his nap so badly.
So I kept tickling him, and singing louder, and involving the stroller in my dance.
And he kept giggling, and squirming, and yawning...
And somehow managed to sleep and laugh at the same time, twitching and smiling as I played with his ear lobes or poked his belly.

After lunch, that St. James got home.
And we waited for the poor little boy to put himself to sleep (sometimes he does so well, other times it seems to take forever - today he managed to poo just after I put him down, prolonging the whole thing even more by throwing a bum change into the mix).
Then that Saintly guy and I had a nap of our own.
Mmmmm.  Naps are so good.
And I tip-toed out before either of those great guys woke up, and I snuck into the bath and enjoyed a few minutes of peace and quiet and hot water before I trudged downstairs with a load of dirty diapers.

My mama got me a gift card for my birthday, and I asked St. James if he minded if I ran to the store for a bit to buy some clothes I needed (I use that word liberally.  we don't really know need).
And of course, he said yes.
And of course, when I walked in the door two hours later, dinner was ready.
Chicken parmagiana.
And he kissed me, and put on his coat, and went to work and didn't even get to eat it with us.
(He'll be fed at work - he can pick off the restaurant's menu.  It's not as bad as I made it sound)
but it sure is as good as I made it sound.  
Haydon loved it - he ate a whole chicken breast!

And then he played while I tidied.
And we headed upstairs, and got ready for bed, and I blew raspberries on his chubby little tummy as we put on his pjs.
And read our stories.
And nursed, and prayed.
And hugged, and kissed.
And tucked in.

And now, I sit, after doing those tasks that seem mundane, but mean that we're alive - laundry, dishes.
In the background, Crosby, Stills &Nash sing "Our house, is a very very very fine house!" over the hum of the dishwasher.
To one side is a beautiful vase of bright orange and red Gerber daisies - a birthday gift from my mom-in-law,
on the other a sleeping, sighing dog.

My heart is so full.
I am so blessed.  

Wednesday, January 12

Happy Birthday to Meeeeee

It's my birthday today!

It's also the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, a country that is still devastated a year later. 

Wanna give me a birthday present?

Why don't you make a donation to assist the people of Haiti in the struggles they are currently enduring.

Here's a link to Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders).  They are on the forefront of treating the Cholera outbreak that is currently ravaging Haiti.

On behalf of those who cannot ask, thank you.

Tuesday, January 11

Resolutions, week 2

Holy Guacamole has it been a busy week.

I did a pretty good job of meeting my time goals regarding going to bed and getting up on time.  Not so much last night, but as my dear husband pointed out, when you don’t get off work until 9, it’s tricky to get home and be in bed by 10.

Starting this week, it should get a whole lot easier.


I got a new job!


That doesn’t involve working weekends!

I am SO glad and so relieved.  This will be so good for our family.

I’ll be working for the same agency, but in an administrative role rather than front line as I was before.  It’s a bit of a commute, but it is Monday-Friday, 8:30-4, weekends off, and that will be such a nice change.  My past schedule was a 4-week rotation including weekends and evenings, and it was getting tricky to figure out when we’d need a sitter, and just challenging to maintain consistency for Haydon.  This will be a whooooole lot better.

So, last week’s resolutions were to get up and go to bed on time.  This week I’m adding the next step (or previous step, in terms of bed time).

In the morning, the alarm is set for 6.  After the 6am news, the first thing I’m doing is heading downstairs with my Bible to spend some time in the word and pray over my day.  That’s this week’s resolution – spending time in scripture and in prayer before anything else.

The bedtime resolution is to floss.  Ok, not just floss, but to actually do all of those little self-care items that I often overlook, like flossing, and putting on eye cream, and all of those things that apparently will make a difference in 20 years.  And are just good for me.  That means heading to the bathroom by 9:45 so that I actually have time to do what I need to do in time to be in bed by 10.

So.  There ya have it:

Last week – get up/go to bed on time
This week – spend time in scripture first, floss

I hope you have a good week!

Monday, January 3


It's a new year, the calendar tells me.
Do you make New Year's resolutions?

I haven't really made any huge goals, but I consistently am looking for ways to tidy up our lives and stay on top of things, and so I'm working on a little plan to try and make sure that the important things happen.

The plan is to write out all of the things that should happen in a day, jot down a rough schedule of what a day that includes all of those things looks like.
And then, because that would likely make me overwhelmed and just want to crawl into bed because I'm not close to actually accomplishing those things, I'll pick two to implement each day, one for the morning, one for the evening.  

Each week, I'll try to remember to tell you what it is I'm working into my day.

This week it's timing.  I'm going to work on getting up at a regular time (even if the dear boy is still sleeping, which will be my biggest challenge), and going to bed at a regular time.  I think I'll aim for a 6:00 wake up, and to be in bed by 10 (like, head on pillow, not heading toward the bathroom to start my night time routine).

Once I have my wake up and bedtimes down, I'll work on filling in the things that need to happen in between!

That Sleep Thing

I had kinda made a decision that I wasn't going to keep returning to the subject of sleep, 'cause everyone had probably heard me complain enough.
That said, we recently started some sleep training and I've had a couple people ask me about it, and rather than repeatedly answering intermittent questions here and there on facebook, I figured I'd get it all out once and for all for those who want to know.  The rest of you, stop reading, I guess.

As has been established, my dear boy has never been a huge fan of sleeping.  At one, we were still bouncing him to sleep for naps and bedtime, and he was waking up anywhere from twice to five times a night, his longest stretches of sleep maxing out around 4 hours (he did sleep through the night once...and occasionally he would sleep 6 hours, but those were pretty rare occasions).

So.  It was time to do something, 'cause we were becoming pretty cranky, disfunctional people.  Haydon, somehow, was perfectly functional and downright happy-go-lucky all day long, which completely baffles me, but, apparently he doesn't need as much sleep as I do.

I got EVERY possible book out of the library or from friends.  From Ferber to Weisbluth to Sheedy-Kurcinka to Pantly to Douglas, we've read it (and a couple others, I just can't remember their names right now).  We tried some things.  Didn't have much success.  Finally, my parents offered to pay for us to have a consultation with a sleep doula.

So, for too much money, we filled out a questionnaire about what our daily routines are, whether or not Haydon has any health issues, what we do to get him to sleep, how long he sleeps, etc etc.  The next day, we had a phone conversation with the sleep doula, she asked some more questions to clarify and expand on what we had stated in the questionnaire, and came up with the following:

- at 1, he should be able to sleep through the night without nursing
- he needs to be put in his bed awake
-he needs to learn to use "his own tools" to put himself back to sleep at night

The method she suggested to accomplish this is to stick with a consistent bedtime routine, put Haydon in his crib awake, tell him it's time to sleep and that we'll come and get him in the morning.  Then, we offer verbal support from somewhere where he can't see us - so, for us, just outside his bedroom door.  On the first night you talk consistently as long as he's crying, reassuring him, telling him he's safe and that it's time to sleep.  The second night you don't talk, but you shush as long as he's crying.  The third night, you shush intermittantly.

The first night James did it on his own, 'cause we were both worried that I wouldn't be able to handle it.  I slept at my parents, while he tackled the night.  Haydon fell asleep after about an hour.  He didn't wake up again until 2:30ish (which is huge - he usually wakes up at least twice before we go to bed at night, and again once or twice before 2:30).  It took him another hour to fall asleep at that point.  He woke up again at 6.  James (based on the sleep doula's advice) decided to stick it out because our goal wake up time is 7.  He cried for 50 minutes, slept for 10, then started the day.

The second night I put Haydon to bed and did the shushing.  He went to sleep after about 25 minutes.  He woke up around 11:30, and fell asleep after 15 minutes, and then again 2:30ish, and was up an hour that time.  He woke up just before 7.

Night 3...ugh.  Bedtime went well.  He fell asleep after 15 minutes, but was up consistently from 12:45-3:30.  That was long and painful and harrowing.  We got him out once to change his bum, gave him a good long hug, and put him back in.  Shortly after that (which was a good 2 hours in), James went in and laid on his bedroom floor, but didn't look at or talk to him.  He fell asleep about 10 minutes after that, woke up 7ish.

Last night.  Oy vey.  Again - huge bedtime success.  He didn't want to be put down, and was pretty clingly as I approached his crib, but he laid down, let me cover him up, didn't stand up as I left, and was totally out within one minute.  He slept 'til 12:30, but was then up for 2 hours.  The frustrating thing is, at first, he put himself back to sleep right away, and then 5 minutes later he was up again, and couldn't calm himself.  James went in and patted his back for awhile.   I eventually changed his bum, gave him a hug and put him back, thinking we could try a repeat of the night before, but he was screaming (not just fussing as he had other nights).  I gave in and nursed him.  He didn't fall asleep nursing, and we put him back down awake, and he fell asleep shortly after that.  Still semi-successful, I'd say, 'cause he did the falling asleep on his own.

I'm not sure where to go from here.  I've started putting him down awake for naps, and he isn't crying.  He plays in his crib and talks to himself, calling out occasionally.  He just took an hour to fall asleep, but I think that's progress.  I'm so happy that he's falling asleep on his own, but not sure what to do about the night -wakings.  I'm ok with nursing once or twice in the night, but not sure if he'll return to waking up more frequently if he expects that I'll nurse him, and not really sure I can explain to him "I'll do this once, but then that's it 'til morning."

The frustrating thing is that the sleep doula says that most children at this age have a hard time with the initial put-down, but not with night-wakings.  I'm not really comfortable just leaving him to cry and cry, and she says "He's just being feisty.  We know he can do it because he does it at bedtime."  I don't really like turning not sleeping into bad behavior at this time, because I'm not sure that he's able to rationalize it in those terms, and I know I certainly like having someone to cuddle with at night, so why shouldn't he?

So that's where we're at.  I think it's better than where we were a week ago, but I'm not sure that it will be any better a week from now, and James and I can't really handle being up for such long stretches in the night while trying to work and do school.  If you're a pray-er, please pray with us that Haydon figures out how to put himself back to sleep at night, and pray that we would have wisdom in knowing how to respond in the night in a way that won't cause us to return to a multiple wakings, but wouldn't leave us up for hours either.

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