Dear Jesus, please send us a car

Monday, July 24, 2006

Over the last few years, I've been thoroughly impressed, and, well, humbled by the Lord's interest in our cars.

After we moved back from Chicago, we needed a vehicle. Not so necessary in the big city, where everything was walk-accessable or L train-able. We were moving back to Ontario with no place to live, no jobs and no car to get to our no-jobs.
Rather jokingly, I would say that I really only had two requirements: that it be red and it be standard. I love driving stick.
We moved back in the late May of 1999. I was offered a job pretty much immediately and James started his new job shortly into July. At the same time, my uncle decided he wanted to sell his meticulously cared for Honda Accord Wagon and gave us first dibs.
It was red.
It was standard.
They gave us a real deal.
It was a 1991 and had somewhere in the 200's in km. We drove it everywhere, including out west when my brother graduated from Briercrest and twice back to Chicago. Then when James started working in London, it did that 1hour+ commute twice daily. That was 5 years ago. It got a break when we moved to Brantford, as now I needed a car for Jairus' appointments and various other reasons, so we got James a little wee car to buzz off to London with. He missed driving the wagon, but now it was mine! That car brought Jairus home from the hospital and various other firsts in our family.
When I got pregnant with Verity, I started realizing that the wagon wasn't going to fit the bill anymore. Three carseats would not fit in the back seat and while the age of the wagon (meaning, no air bags) meant I could drive with the three kids, putting the infant carrier in the front seat, we couldn't go anywhere as a family. That is, unless I squeezed my little self into the 11 inch space between Jairus and Honour's carseat. Since we had no money, and didn't want to go into debt to get a mini-van, we decided that would have to do.
I guess the Lord had other plans though, because shortly after Verity was born, Jamie's little bug died dead. We decided we would have to go into debt and started looking for the cheapest mini-van ever created. On a whim, I looked on to see if any of my dream vans--Honda Odyssey's might be listed. Wouldn't you know, there were 3 within our very low price range. We went to Toronto to check them out and ended up buying the wagon a big brother.
A 1995 Odyssey. The first year they made them. Red.
I was thrilled. And Jamie got the wagon back. That was last summer.

So now the wagon has just under 600,000km on it and my uncle is impressed every time he sees it that it's still going.
Until yesterday.
Well, even yesterday it was still running. Cousin Dan the mechanic came over to check it over, 'cause we were hearing a some concerning squeaks and shudders. He delivered the bad news that he thinks it would be unwise to put any more money into it. The stuff that needs to be done to it right now would vastly outweigh the value of the car. And since we're typically people that put off car repairs, when I say need, I really mean need. So we started thinking last night that perhaps it's time to move on and put the wagon out to pasture. Or find some mechanic who might love on her a few years more. These wagons are somewhat rare (Honda doesn't make them anymore) and we often hear of people buying up even the really old ones. There wasn't a dreadful rush, but we figured we'd be taking care of it all this week.
Until this morning when the clutch died. James barely made it to work. How he's getting home still remains a mystery.

How we will get another car for him remains a mystery too. Remember, we just moved. That translates into, 'the bank just gave us a heap of money'. Don't know if they'll give us more, and then there's our underlying aversion to debt. Why does it seem impossible to live without it? We were getting so close.

So, if anyone knows of a trusty car for sale, can you give me shout?

Preferably red. Standard. A Honda?

Even I know when I'm asking too much.

Can we say...backhanded?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

So how many of you Canadian (or is it just Ontario-an?)'s knew that because of the new universal child benefit, we'd now be getting less from the old Child Care Tax Benefit?

I don't recall that included in all the triumphal trumpeting about the new benefit.

You just knew they'd justify taking money away from us, since we're getting a break here. But it's only when your kid is younger than 6. Once they turn six, you'll start getting it back. Because you'll lose the other benefit.

Don't give those parents too big a break! They might start getting lazy and actually trust the government!


The Venetian Fiasco

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I thought I'd post a few thoughts (ok, a big long pathetic story) about my painting woes. Perhaps it'll encourage any other poor saps out there in the middle of the same thing (or planning to get into it).

I love to do faux finishing. I love painting and doing cool effects. I've even done it at a few other people houses and sometimes I even get paid. I think I do a pretty good job. I decided a while back to try out this Venetian plaster that all the decorating shows rave about. I went to Home Depot and got an instruction card that Behr paints puts out. I chose a colour (Tuscan Sun) and bought a can. I asked some questions while I was there--like did I need to do a base coat the same colour? No, they said. Cool.

So after my delayed painting start, due to all the sickness in my little family, I tackled the plastering. The home depot girl said to get a good quality steel trowel/scraper so I did that. I start troweling it on just like I've seen Doug on Trading Spaces. Seemed easy. Liked what I was seeing.

I chose to do the long wall that goes from the front of my house--the living room, through to the dining room. I figured out that the wall is 192 square feet. The can of Venetian plaster said it would cover 150 square feet with 2 coats. Dang. I'd hafta get another can. But, I estimated, I wouldn't need the whole second can. I scouted around to see if there were any other small walls that would look good in Venetian plaster.

To my dismay, however, it took the WHOLE can to do ONE coat. Ok, I thought, I guess I put it on too heavy. Didn't think that would be a problem. The instructions said to put it on and leave gaps, to be filled in with the second coat.

So I go out and buy my second can and start in on the second coat, filling in all the gaps. Again, it took the WHOLE can to the the second coat. Little annoying. Now there was none left for accent plastering somewhere.

To my further dismay, the next morning when I arrived (as this was the week before we actually moved in), I could STILL see thin patches where the previous wall colour showed through. Not dramatically. But I could totally see it. There was no way I could leave it like that--my eye would seek out those patches (and they were all over) every time I walked into the room.

I went back to home depot and waited an hour to talk to the guy who'd helped with the second can of plaster. I was also starting to get concerned that the finished walls would not be conducive to washing down, as my chillen's were already getting splatters on the yet-finished Tuscan Sun. He assured me that it would be washable once I'd done the final step--sanding and 'burnishing', or rubbing the walls with my scraper. Still, I bought a can of special top coat, but I think I'll be taking it back. He could not, however, explain why the product wasn't covering as it indicated it would. I told him how I had done coat one with gaps and coat two, filling in those gaps. He said he just does two thin coats, insinuating that that was my problem. Still, it didn't seem to make sense--I should have done two thin coats instead of two heavy coats and then I wouldn't have bare patches??? He told me to call Behr.

So I did. I have to admit, they are very friendly and helpful over there in Behrland, wherever that might be. The lady there told me to go by a third gallon and send in my receipt--they would reimburse me. Cool.

Everynight, we hustle as soon as the kids go down, to get a few more jobs completed. Last night James got the end panel on the kitchen cupboards, so now I don't have to look at the innards of the dishwasher. He also got some of the filler trim and the kickplates in, so things are really starting to look finished in the kitchen. It's real nice.

And me, I decided that after 2.5 weeks, I needed to get back to finishing this wall. The instructions said that coat one was to dry for 4 hours and coat 2 for 24 and then the sanding/burnishing step needed to be done within 7 days.

I didn't think there'd be any problem, since, I was now doing coat three and after 24 hours, I'd do the sanding/burnishing step on that coat and all would be peachy.

Hmmmm. Not so peachy.

I start doing the coat and suddenly I notice teeny-tiny little bubbles popping up all over the section I've just done. Large sigh.

So I get on the phone and call the Behr people again. (Their tech people are open really late--very sensitive to those of us doing all our painting after kiddies go to bed). He tells me that, oh dear, I should have done this third coat much sooner. Like, 2.4 weeks sooner. There's talc in the plaster, see, and after it dries, that comes to the surface. The talc causes the bubbles. So now, I need to sand down the wall and remove that top layer where the talc is, and then I can do my third coat.


Of course, I didn't have a proper sanding block so I made due with some other tool that I had to tape the sandpaper on. I think I ended up retaping about a dozen times over the course of 192 square feet. And at 11pm last night, I wasn't about to get the whole wall sanded, so that meant I had to finish this morning, and get the new coat of plaster on, since I'd already done a 3X3 foot patch in the one corner--bubbly as it was. In case you've missed it, in previous posts, I've made it clear that painting walls and three preschoolers is a BAD combination.

So now I sit, looking at my third coat. I'd better not find any bare patches when this dries. Still have to do the sanding/burnishing phase--tomorrow night after the kids go to bed. Verity already left her mark on this wall earlier (ooh, see that over there? That's her little hip, and that that there is the side of her head--for posterity you know)

It's gonna look great, I'm sure of that, but man, what a headache. So to anyone out there considering Venetian plaster anytime soon, allow me to give you some sage advice:

Pick a really small wall.

My life as a blunder

Monday, July 17, 2006

Do you ever feel like you're just doing everything wrong?

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not depressed or morose. I'm not in a 'poor me' funk or any such thing. I don't think.

I'm really asking. Could I have it all wrong?

I got a call this morning from a lady in the city department that takes care of subsidy for pre-school. It seems that the rumours I'd been hearing about Hamilton are true. They don't pay for pre-school for special needs kids after 5 years of age, I guess 'cause they should be in school. We talked for a while and I think we're now applying for some kind of aid, but it was an interesting talk. I was trying my best not to be the mom who's special needs kid is more special than anyone else's special needs kid. I really hate to be thought of that way. But I digress.

It just became apparent that not putting Jairus into school this fall is...abnormal. And the fact that I plan to homeschool is even more abnormal--according to their system and the types of situations they usually address. The whole thing is just so confusing. If he was going into kindergarten, there would be an EA for him. And of course, we wouldn't pay a thing. So she kept...mentioning that. Not pressure, really. Just...mentioning. I just want him to do one more year of preschool, while I do a little homeschooling on his off days. He needs to be around the kids, but I don't think I can jump into the homeschooling world in a big enough way by September to get him around enough kids the same way. And he's still at a pre-school level with so much of his functioning--it really is the best place for him. Pre-school kids generally don't treat him badly. Kindergarten would be a different story, I'm convinced.

And so I doubt, and question myself. Am I doing the right thing?

Honour is not herself. It concerns me. It's been two weeks now since we've moved and she's displaying a few weird physical symptoms and some emotional ones too. My mom suggested I get her blood tested. Her colour's off. She's got dark circles under her eyes. Perhaps she's anemic. Not enough vitamins. Well, of course, I think, it's not like we eat enough fruits and vegetables around here. I should get her on a multi-vitamin. I should, I should, I should.
And the crazy worries start up. I heard a Focus broadcast a number of weeks ago about families dealing with kids with cancer. Those symptoms are often weird. Do I really want to get her blood tested? What if they find something really wrong? Of course, what are the chances? Miniscule, I'm sure. But our family's already experienced the odds once. PRS is one in 10,000.

So for lunch, I made pancakes. I put some of Jairus' special organic rice protein into the mix and grated up a peach in there too. Now if I only had used whole wheat flour, I'd have covered all the bases.

I was reading some blogs and took in some photos of Pernells new house. He's the pastor of a good friend of mine, who just happened to have moved the same day we did. They've got three kids too, but a little older.
Beautiful house, some shots look like a decorating magazine. How did they get their house to look like that in two short weeks? And they've already had a big housewarming party. I don't even have one room totally completed. Maybe they didn't do any repainting and stuff. Maybe.

Or maybe I'm doing something wrong. (Like sitting here blogging when I could be putting my house together?)

And as I sit, Verity is screaming in her crib. I don't really go for the cry-it-out method--somewhat philosophically opposed to it. And yet, I put her in there, and I'm ignoring her. She's tired. It's time for her nap. And unfortunately, we've gotten into a nurse to sleep habit lately that I just don't want to prolong. And so I'm letting her scream. And feeling bad about it. It's not like she's a wee babe anymore. She's nearly 14 months old. This WON'T hurt her.

I think I've got strep again. Or never got rid of it. So back to Brantford I go this afternoon because a)I like my family doc there and b) I doubt if I can find a new one here anyway. I'll ask him about testing Honour's blood.

Maybe he'll just say no.

But you know, I was questioning something else this weekend. More like assessing. My younger sister Emma and her friend were asking me about this movie that was being showed at camp call Left Behind III. Emma wanted to know what the story was all about. In the process of explaining it, other definitions of the christian faith came into the conversation, and I tried to be sensitive to her friend who has a little church background, but that would be all.
And so later, I was thinking over what I said and wondered what there is about God and Jesus and Christianity to attract a 12 year old girl. So I asked myself. Why am I a follower of Jesus?
And here's why:
>No matter what happens here on earth, my eternity is covered. If Jairus never speaks, if Honour has some terrible illness, if Verity hates me for letting her scream in her crib, I will still see Jesus when I die and spend eternity with him. And there, Jairus will talk. Honour will be fine and Verity will forget all about her crib.
>Following Jesus will not guarantee me a problem-free life, but what it does guarantee is Someone to walk through those problems with me. Lending me his strength and assuring me that no matter what, he loves me. I'm not alone.
>And yes, as my sister was asking, I could do whatever I wanted with my life and then just ask for forgiveness, or accept Jesus' gift of eternity on my deathbed--if I was that fortunate to have a deathbed, or foreknowledge of my demise. However, why would I want to miss out on the blessings that God does award down here? I've learned that all those 'rules' we're asked to live by are only extensions of natural law and breaking them has natural consequences. While I'll never say that the all rotten things we're handed in life are consequences of breaking God's laws, some of them are. And some of the blessings we experience are the natural consequences of following those laws.

Have I said the word 'consequences' enough?

I really didn't mean to sermonize. But I did hear a pretty good one yesterday. The kind that makes you look deep in your heart and discern if you're doing it right....or all wrong.

I won't say all wrong. But there's always room for improvement. And that's inspiring.

Settling in

Friday, July 14, 2006


So things are starting to normalize. It's quite a relief. There's relatively few boxes around--as long as I don't go to the basement or my husbands office. Still lots to be done, but I guess this is going to take longer than I thought.

When we last moved, Jairus was only 14 months old and sat passively in his high chair looking at books while being tube fed (45 minutes a shot), and slept twice a day for 4-5 hours total. All this means that I had plenty of hands-free time to get unpacked and walls painted. That's been the hardest part--I can unpack a box here and there while the kids are doing whatever, but I can't set up all the painting stuff and furthermore, actually paint without someone keeping an eye on them. They come into the room and touch the wet walls, or stand at the doorway where I've shoved a bookshelf to keep them out, and cry and call out and can't figure out why mommy won't let them in.
But still, I'm encouraged. James got the last of the kitchen cupboard handles on last night, so now I'm not breaking or bending back my nails trying to get handle-less doors open. We put in new cupboards from Ikea (Fagerland style) and new counter, neither of which I've/we've ever done before, and I think it looks great. The girls room is painted and curtained and I'm really pleased with it. Princess purple (lilac, really) with matching princess curtains. I think they like it too. It was either Dora or Cinderella. Jairus' room is next, though I'm not painting. Got some cute Disney 'Cars' fabric yesterday to make his curtains. He's not seen the movie, but has seen previews, so he recognized the material at the store yesterday.
And tonight we'll head up to Fair Havens to see my mom and dad and the kids. Mom's up there in the trailer for a few weeks while workmen tear their house apart, putting on some additions. I always look forward to going up, if just for a few days.

SO, sorry not a terribly interesting post, but it's what we're up to.

Come see us! Really, things are quite settled down now.

Move, Shmove

Sunday, July 2, 2006

I can only do a quick update because I'm without internet for a few days. I'm at my mom and dad's using their computer. Today is 'take a break from the new house' day.

We are now officially moved. But not without a fairly stressful set of events that started over a week ago.

See, after we sold our house (and did pretty good), we were excited at the possibility of doing some nice upgrades at the new house. After talking with our banker lady, we came up with a figure that we'd have to spend. It was a nice figure. More than I've ever had to spend in one shot my whole life.
So we made plans. Lots of exciting plans. I was careful though, not to overextend ourselves with these plans. Realizing that the number we were given was just an estimate, I took off about 15% and planned with that in mind.
We were also careful not to go out and actually spend all that before we had it. The ol' counting your chickens thing, you know. We comitted ourselves to about 1/3 of that total amount in buying a new couch and loveseat (the sale was only for one weekend!), and the new Ikea kitchen cupboards (had to order them before the closing so we could install them before the move, right? Makes sense...). And paint. Needed to get that, to paint walls before the furniture came in, too.
So then, imagine our shock, anger and disappointment when, the night before we were going to go buy the hardwood floor (also to get it installed before the move) our lawyer tells us that the amount we're getting is, oh, approximately half of what we expected.


Fortunately, we hadn't overdone anything. We hadn't bought more than what was coming in. Small blessing I suppose.
But all the rest of our plans.....out the window.

SO...I didn't want to pout and hang on to my disappointment, so I endeavoured to look on the bright side. We were still getting beautiful new furniture and beautiful new flooring (that my husband did a GREAT job installing with some help from family) and a beautiful new kitchen. So I might not have handles on the cupboards for a while...

Leading up the move week, Verity started acting weird. Thought she had an ear infection so off to the doctor....nope, my wee-est girl had tonsilitis. Great. How much more of that will I look foreward to?

Anyway, day of possession came. I was comitted to going to Wild waterworks with one of my little sisters, so off I went to leave my kids with my mom and spend the day screaming down the waterslides. Hard life, being a good big sister.
I am so naive. My whole life, I've been a tanner. I have dark hair, olive complexion, never had problems with the sun. Until a few years ago when, for some strange reason, I started to burn. Personally, I think the sun changed. (Gasp, it couldn't be me, could it?)
So, you guessed it, I did NOT put on sunscreen and by evening, I was positively crimson. This was such a bad burn that my forehead swelled up and I spent two excruciating nights unable to bear even the weight of myself on my sheets or my sheet on myself. And here I was supposed to be painting my new house. Indeed.
By Saturday morning we were dealing with Jairus. Up in the night, crying, inconsolable. When he came into our bedroom in the morning, he touched his ear and said 'OW' (one of his few words) so I sent James to the clinic. Ear infection for sure, actually, mostly passed with some damage done to the eardrum. Holy mother guilt. But he never indicated he was in pain until Saturday morning!
And overall, still dealing with a very sensitive Honour. Clingy, emotional, wanting me all the time, complaining that her stomach hurt.
Sunday night brought a fall for Jairus, hurting his ankle. He wouldn't walk on it and cried for a long time. We all checked it over though, and it seemed fine--no swelling or bruising. The next morning, he still wouldn't walk on it though so I called the doc--no room at the inn. Went to the clinic, waited for 3 hours. By the time we saw the doc, he was walking on it, though limping. Doc couldn't find anything wrong. Gave me a req for x-rays and said to come back on Wednesday if he was still limping.
And then there was me, with my sunburn and now a sore throat. I get those alot with sinus problems, but this seemed different. By Tuesday morning, I couldn't take it and left the kids with my sister and ran over to the same clinic. I figured if I got there right at opening, I'd get right in to see a doc.
I got there at 9:05 and I was number 20.


Strep throat. So now three of my five member family were on antibiotics. Three different kinds of antibiotics at that. And while I was at the doctor, I missed the internet guy so that's why I'm seriously wire-less for another four days. (Torturous scream)

Needless to say, I didn't get nearly as much painting done as I'd hoped. I started a Venetian plaster finish in the living room and annoyingly, it didn't cover nearly as much footage as it indicated it would. So back I went for a second can. Still bare spots. I called the company and if I buy another gallon, they'll reimburse me. Ok, I guess. Still blowing my paint budget. And the flooring budget. And the kitchen budget.

So then move day came. We had quite a few people lined up to help, but sadly, only about 1/3 could make it in the end. Little stressful. Some friends told me today at church that I should have called and asked for help. Yeah, I should have. But it's hard to ask for such large favours at the last minute and on the holiday weekend. It was a long hard day for those who came and I'm real grateful. (Thanks Matt, Corey and Jay, uncle Dave too)

So this was my quick update. Up to our ears in boxes. A little frustrated with searching through boxes for jammies. Wish my hubby had tomorrow off too, but he took most of last week off to get the kitchen installed. (Did GREAT at that too--thanks Paul for your help).

So, if you're not busy, come on over and help me unpack, eh? Maybe we'll paint a few walls while you're here...