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We were chatting with friends yesterday who are expecting this summer and they asked us what has changed the most since Bubby arrived. It is a good question. There have been a lot of changes. The typical ones: not sleeping through the night, becoming a pro diaper changer (even in the dark), building muscle as you carry an increasingly heavy kid. But I think the biggest change in us is that we have far more fun than we used to. Not that all these things are fun or that we never had fun before this change, but more that we’re finding joy in many more places as we see the world differently because of our Bubby. I mean, with a smile like this how can we not?

This adventure has been one of the harder things we have done but as we work together as a team and just let it be what it is we are having more fun, laughing more (maybe that’s just because we’re tired and things are funnier when you’re tired) and enjoying the many little blessings in life.

I just thought I’d throw that out there. I feel immensely blessed and have found a level of contentment that I’ve never before experienced. Perhaps that is the way it works, as you give of yourself and sacrifice, what you have been given grows in value and you understand better how you have been blessed.

How have you been blessed today? I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for.

Since last summer a lot has happened and, though I can’t see all the things that have been growing and changing in my own heart, I know there have been all sorts of things germinating and taking root. A quick re-cap of the last twelve months includes:

  • moving out of our apartment into the basement of some great friends while looking for a house
  • finally finding and getting the perfect house after 5 bids and losses on other houses we thought perfect at the time (thank God he let us get the one we have)
  • renovating the whole entire house before we moved in; this meant painting every surface that holds paint, ripping out the nasty carpet and refinishing the hardwood underneath, knocking a hole in the wall between the kitchen and living/dining room, and so many other small projects that it took us a month of work before we could even move in. Big thanks to the many people who helped us out with this, especially my parents who basically lived here for a few weeks and provided lots of moral support in addition to the many hours of labour they also contributed
  • we’ve been given amazing neighbours on both sides of our home who also both have boys within a year of Bubby so there are built in friends for our whole family. The moms and boys have been getting together once a week to visit and let the boys play or we have been going for long walks together. It has been such a gift for me. Our neighbours also watch out for us, which is really nice to know that I have someone to go to if there is a problem when B’s at work, from coming to light the pilot light in the furnace when B was gone to scaring off someone rifling through my car at 3 am we are looked after
  • in October we welcomed a baby boy into our family, making us the perfect-for-right-now family of three and turning the whole world on it’s head. There are so many things added to life now that our little Bubby is around, things we never thought important before take on new importance and other things fade into a past life
  • since I don’t work and B works for the government who tops up parental leave, he was able to take six months off to be with us and get to know our son, saving us the difficult adjustment of doing shift work with a brand new baby we were just getting to know
  • Christmas and Easter fall in there somewhere, don’t they? Our family headed out to visit B’s family for a special Christmas with the whole extended family around. I was apprehensive of travelling with an almost three month old and being in a different space for a while but B’s family welcomed us and made us feel as comfortable as possible next to being at home and it was great to share  our little Bubby with B’s grandma
  • B’s grandma was sick, hence everyone coming home for Christmas, and passed away a few months ago. We would have all liked to be there but B went out for a few days to be with his family as a representative for all of us and out little Bubby and I spend our first few days just the two of us. We survived, that’s all I’ll say about that, and we were glad B was able to have lots of time with his family
  • we’ve found a great church in our neighbourhood that we enjoy a lot and is within easy biking or walking distance. We have been enjoying meeting and getting to know the people in this church, and it’s a Mennonite church (if you know anything about me you will know I am passionately theologically an Anabaptist and have grown up in a Mennonite church so this is going back to my roots) and they sing from Hymn books! in four part harmony! It makes me smile and I want Bubby to grow up to know how to sing in parts from a Hymn book.
  • on top of all that, in the past few weeks, we decided to move the whole house around so that we’ve been working on making the new rooms comfortable and free of clutter so we can spend a few weeks in a put together house before B goes back to work

So there you have it. Consider yourself caught up. Now we’re half done rearranging the house and have spent many happy times dreaming of our next project; trying to decide which ones are most important and which ones would be the first ones that need to get finished. Should we replace windows, a practically wise choice, or put in a two piece bathroom upstairs where our bedrooms now are, a choice of convenience (especially with a baby in cloth diapers) or do we spray foam the basement or or or…

We’re also planning on selling both our cars and paring down to a one larger car family to save some money (for all our house dreams) and have room for all of Bubby’s stuff when we travel, so if you know anyone who would be interested in a 2008 Mazda 3 in great condition or a 1992 Honda Accord in great condition for her age let them know and let us know.

So there you have it. We’ve been busy and growing and learning and adjusting and rejoicing and exploring and celebrating and mourning and praying and planning and moving and sharing and so much more. What have you been up to?

It is a curious thing, the ways of time. One moment time is moving at a comfortable pace; you’re comfortable in your skin and in your schedule and life is in balance, the next second time has escaped stealing any peace that it had previously promised leaving us confused and stressed, wondering where it went. On and on this cycle continues, from Monday to Sunday, from weekend to weekend, just like clockwork. This is real life in an age governed by time. This is what my life used to look like, somewhat stressful but comfortably predictable all the same. Now this has changed.

Where time used to be easily sectioned off into days and weeks, months and years, holidays, work days and weekends, I am now living in a timeless land. I live in a family with a rhythm of day shifts and night shifts, days off and 9-5s. Growing up I lived in a family with a life rhythm built around the days of the week. Of course we had school Monday to Friday but in addition to that, Mondays was laundry day, Saturdays was cleaning day, and Sunday was a day set apart from the mundane for visiting and playing, we mowed the lawn in summer and shovelled snow in winter. It was regular, it was comforting.

Needless to say, when I married B, I had no idea how shift work changed one’s perception of time and messed with those daily and weekly life rhythms, and even how it impacted one’s perception of holidays and weekends. From the first weekend I spent alone while B was at work till now we have been on a steep learning curve, trying to find ways of instituting some sort of regularity in the face of an excessively irregular schedule.

For the first eight months of our married life I was a part-time student, finishing off my MA, and worked part time, this meant I was gone three days a week. This meant that if B was working the weekend I would hardly see him at all and if he was working a rotation during the week I would see him even less, about five hours in five days. Add to that the fact that we were newlyweds and there was a lot of stress coming from working and my last semester of school, this was very difficult.

When I completed my degree and finished my work contract we decided that I would take the summer off to recuperate and focus on finding more effective ways of dealing with shift work. We also wanted to focus on building relationships with some of the great people we had been getting to know. When working the type of shift work that B works it is impossible for him to be involved in weekly activities that grow relationships through regular contact, and, since neither of us grew up in this city, we only had a few people we knew well enough to be comfortable letting them see the unpredictability of shift work.

And that is what it often feels like it is, unpredictable. With me at home it has allowed us to reach out more and be more involved in what is going on around us, and even to spend more time on our own relationship since I can get all the chores and food stuff done while B is at work so we have more time when he has a few days off, but at the same time it has removed any sense of regularity.

I have been reading a book about Sabbath (stay tuned for a review of it) and it has reminded me of how much I miss the rhythm that was established when I was growing up, when we took Sunday off. It makes me miss it and wonder how we can incorporate this idea into a schedule where B is working 13 hours many Sundays. So this is our new challenge: we have found ways of coping with the shift work so it doesn’t tire B out for days, now I want to work towards finding a way of instating a rhythm in our home, a rhythm that can be soothing, at the same time I want a rhythm that can be flexible so that when B has Monday to Friday off we are free to travel and explore and Sabbath on those days as well.

It has been just over a year since B headed back to work for that first rotation after our wedding and honeymoon. Consequently, it has also been a year since I became intimately aware of the impact this shift work can have on those around the shift worker, even if they are not the one working through the night. The issues that come when learning how to live together were amplified by the fact that B’s non-static shift schedule left little space for any type of routine to anchor us in normalcy.

B started his life as a shift worker a year and a half before we got married and was still trying to figure out how to minimize the impact of his irregular 24 hour schedule when I entered the picture. Though he had been working the same non-static shift schedule the whole time we dated it was still a big adjustment for us when we began to live together. Previously, he would disappear when he was working a rotation (a combination of two 13 hour days followed by two 13 hour night shifts) and then I would get to see him during his days off (usually 3-6 days). But now, as a married couple, I was there when he came home and missing him when he was a work for the night.

Though I had some experience with shift work, my father worked regular shifts for a few years when I was younger and I worked a summer or two of shift work, I still had no concept of how much I would be impacted by the schedule that B worked. This has been, by far, the big “issue” in our marriage as we learn how to interact with and care for each other in the life we have. Both of us have had to work very hard to learn the delicate dance of marriage within this context.

Since shift work is a part of the profession that B has chosen and loves we are learning how to live with it without letting it control our lives and dictate everything. Right now I have a huge wall calendar on our wall marked up with his schedule so that we can see when he works at a glance, see our schedule for August and September on the right. We have also worked out a routine for when he finishes night shifts so that he can recover more quickly and minimize the exhaustion that can come not getting enough sleep. In this way we are seeking to slowly build routine into our irregular schedule.

I never realized what a gift a regular schedule can be and how much comfort can be found in the simple routine act of having weekends off. Now as I learn to live within this new schedule I am learning how to find constants and create routine in what can sometimes be chaos. Do you have a regular schedule or do you work or live within an alternate schedule? How do you craft your life around your work or relationship?

Today I am captive to this:

It has been a long time since I have been this drawn to something besides the people around me but since I heard this song, this morning, it has filled my day. I can’t explain exactly why I’m drawn to it. Perhaps it is the simplicity, the way they layer instruments, the lyrics or something I can’t identify. All I know is I am drawn to it and it is nice to be pulled into something creative again.

This song has brought me a taste of past lives, times when I have poured myself into something, just to be there. It reminds me of how much I love music and has brought me back, even if for only a time, to my piano, recalling days when I would play for hours, as I have today. Time has melted as I have worked out this song, listening to it, figuring out the chords and notes played, writing down the lyrics, and transposing it all into a key that I can sing. It has been a lovely morning and, perhaps, this means music is coming back.

Maybe my music is coming back from wherever it went when it got buried under homework and reading, socializing and dating. Maybe it’s returning from wherever it went when it got lost in stress and housework, tears and summer road trips. It seems somewhat interesting that music would come back with winter and not with the intuitive new beginnings of spring but it seems that this is how it it is coming, as a gift, maybe it will keep me warm. Whatever it means, I am enjoying it a lot and looking forward to how it will grow again.

What is something that you have loved to do but haven’t been able to lately, perhaps because you don’t have time, because you have forgotten it or something like that?

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