Friday, December 30, 2005

Mr. Clean

Shelley congratulated me this morning. The house is clean. The entire house, all at one time. Usually, it's either upstairs or downstairs or specific sectors of both that are in such a state of affairs. Not since Kai arrived have we been sitting this pretty.

The carpets are vacuumed, furniture dusted, clothes washed and put away, ditto for the dishes, fresh liners for the oven elements, study is tidy (not quite organized, but navigable), floors swept and mopped, toys organized, light bulbs changed, garbage taken out ... we're ready for two more adults and two more children to join us for the next few days in keeping things pristine and immaculate.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Daddy's turn

Previously, I have mentioned that Shelley has been the parent of preference for Rei. Mommy was the only one who would hold her attention and affection while I was an afterthought.

The pendulum has swung the other way; lately she has been attached to me. An abundance of hugs, cuddles and requests for play time, books and stories sure makes it hard to break away to work. Although much of my writing happens at home, so it's very easy to get sidetracked. Not that I mind, these are the days that we'll all remember.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

10 Random Things about Me

Following moxywoman's lead, here are 10 Random Things about yours truly:
  1. Tests for malaria and parasites were negative
  2. First album purchased: Huey Lewis & the News - Hip to Be Square
  3. In four years of high school basketball, I netted a whopping 2 points (against Norwell District Secondary School, jump shot from the top of the key)
  4. Favourite Simpsons character: Milhouse Van Houten
  5. Despite a fear of heights, I enjoy spelunking. At least I think I do, my limited excursions have been enjoyable.
  6. Am prone to head injuries and ankle sprains (this is unrelated to the previous point)
  7. Literally bumped into Sarah McLachlan at Kingston's Brew Pub, 1994 (this point, too, is unrelated its predecessor)
  8. Prefer to golf by myself
  9. John Steinbeck's East of Eden was the first book to make me cry. It also fed my love of Hebrew scholarship.
  10. Card-carrying member of the Jebus Seminar ... if there were cards, or if we were organized enough to publish, or meet.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Family Feast

After church on Sunday, we tripped up to the farmstead for Christmas with my family. The kids commanded the bulk of the attention, as expected. In spite of tickle ambushes and over-sized stuffed animals (giraffe and penguin, both with belly buttons), Rei was in generally good spirits given the disruption to our schedule and the excess exposure to large groups of people. Her ongoing remark at Christmas Eve service was "Look at all the people!" It's true; I don't think she's seen the church that full before.

Kai, as usual, went with the flow, protesting when hungry and tired, but otherwise quite amenable to all the travel and commotion.

When shopping for me, alcohol, CDs and books, (not necessarily in that order) are a safe bet. To wit, my collections now include: a bottle of Glenlivet 12-year single malt scotch and a Californian Pinot Noir; CDs from The Arcade Fire, and The Violet Archers; and a book about alcohol, Konrad Ejbich's Pocket Guide to Ontario Wines, Wineries, Vineyards, & Vines.

Lunch today with great-grandma saw an overabundance of food and dessert, a couple episodes of spilled milk, and again, generally happy kids. For now it's home again, home again, for the next little while as we prepare for the arrival of the Parsons-Sheldrakes for the next holiday weekend.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

It is a Holy Day/Holiday

Oh yes, and merry Christmas to those celebrating the birth of Christ. Happy Hanukkah to those remembering the Maccabean victory over the Syrians. I'm not sure what the appropriate greeting is for the observance of Kwanzaa, but know my wishes are for the best.

And of course, the politically correct "Happy Holidays" to those merely cashing in on the commercial phenomenon of this time of year. Am I bitter? Don't get me started. But really, happy holidays.

A more uplifting family account of our Christmas will follow.

Slips and Spills

Restocking the fridge last night, as I emerged from our basement with an armful of beverages, a can of Coke dropped and began spurting and fizzing. The aftermath was a CSI-esque splatter pattern that speckled the floor (and the walls as we discovered this morning).

While mopping up and cleaning up the mess, a low blood-sugar event had me go to the fridge for a drink of juice. A tremor in my hand caused the glass to slip and while I did manage to catch the glass before it crashed, I did manage to spill its contents all over me. Hormonally upset to begin with, I slammed the glass on the counter in frustration whereupon Shelley sent me off to eat some junk food and calm down.

While heading upstairs to change my clothes, I heard a thud in the kitchen and I hurried in to find that Shelley had slipped on the still-wet floor. After getting into dry clothes, I slipped on a book that had been left on the stairs, making the last few steps a bit of an adventure.

Then, this morning during communion, while the cloth cover was being removed from the altar, the wine (grape juice) spilled. In slow-motion, we watched as the chalice tipped and tumbled, offering forth its symbolic bloodshed in a literal fashion. We still managed to commune; and really what kind of family gathering doesn't involve spillage of some sort?

It's been a half-day now without incident, here's hoping more stable times are ahead.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Gaze of Our Lives

Can't think of a witty caption; this pretty much speaks for itself.
xmas kids 05

Progress Report

With Christmas bearing down, the blog has taken a back seat. Preparations for the 24th and 25th have pretty much been completed. Our colds seem to have run their courses, we're in the merely sniffling aftermath.

Our Christmas cards were sent out this afternoon, so they'll actually be arriving during the season of Christmas (and not before). I'd like to say it's because we're so liturgically correct, but it's more due to a late-scheduled photo shoot of the kids.

While Shelley is away tonight at a high school reunion of sorts - a traditional gathering on Christmas Eve eve - I'm home with the kids and wrapped some presents tonight.

Kai is sleeping somewhat regularly now: asleep shortly after 7 p.m. and up at 6 a.m. He will squawk intermittently through the night but is able to settle himself. The other night Shelley had 6 consecutive hours of sleep and was a bit unsure of what to do with all that rest.

Rei has not ventured onto the potty since garnering herself one Rosebud chocolate and special sticker. She requests diapers and we're not prepared to press the issue. Here's hoping she decides for herself that big girl underwear is the way to go.

So that's where we are these days.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Practically ready

At the moment of this entry, Christmas Eve worship is a mere 2 days 20 hours 21 minutes 3 seconds from beginning. The surprising piece is that most of my preparation for it is done. The PowerPoint liturgy is assembled and ready to go. I just need to parcel out reading roles and turn my attention to Christmas morning.

Monday, December 19, 2005


While searching out images for Christmas Eve service's PowerPoint liturgy, I came across this evolutionary gem:

Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's all coming together

In my sermon this morning, I cited a famous quotation attributed to Goethe about chance and providence stemming from decisiveness. It seems that for whatever reason, I am in such a place where surprises and resources are flowing my way.

Shelley and I began watching Ararat on Wednesday or Thursday night but had to stop about 10 minutes in. Last night, while listening to the news on CBC Radio, a focus piece was presented on Armenia and aftereffects of the Genocide of 1915. We finished watching the movie tonight and found that it centred around that same horrific event.

Considering I also spoke about all the unknown stories of hostage-taking, terror attacks, human rights violations and abuses, during the Prayers of the People, it seems I am on a path supplemented by rushing resources and rising awareness. To what end? That, I'm not sure.

Coincidence? I preached about that as well... If I ever figure this out, I'll let you know.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

At the Maul

While bringing a couple guys into London for a youth worship service, I thought it would be nice to stop at a mall for some shopping beforehand. It was maybe not the smartest thing to do. The Saturday before the Christmas weekend at the biggest mall in London was predictably packed to the gills.

I'm glad I allocated extra time considering all that was required for procuring a parking spot, waiting for assistance in stores, standing in line to pay, and generally maneuvering through the crowd. I did complete most of the rest of my shopping - just a couple little bits left to take care of and the present pressure of the season, imposed by our consumerist culture, will give way to the spiritual pressure of crafting and presenting a meaningful religious remembrance of why we do all this anyway.

Friday, December 16, 2005


We ended up keeping Rei out of daycare today, her hoarse barking cough was not going away and the prospect of 2 hours of outdoor play at daycare would have not helped any. Undeterred, we, as a family, ventured into London to do some more shopping in the morning. As we coughed our way there, I mused that the phelgmy, percussive coughing in stereo from the back seat was a (welcome?) change from wailing.

We're big into sneezing these days as well. Rei, after a particularly moving and effective sneeze, (the power of which seemed to take her aback) re-emphasized with the word, "Achoo!" Just in case we didn't hear her the first time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I returned home from office hours at the church this morning to hear Shelley greet me with the words, "Welcome to Puke-a-palooza". Rei has been under the weather these past couple days; yesterday she didn't eat much of anything, this morning she ate even less. Apparently, it made little difference...

She's been much more chipper since and her appetite has returned, somewhat. Chances are good that she'll be recovered enough for daycare tomorrow. Shelley, Kai and I have another shopping excursion planned.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

You're Hired

History repeats itself. Shelley has got herself a new job while on maternity leave.

She is now the Early Literacy Specialist for the Ontario Early Years Centre for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, a fabulous job that would make use of her training and education.

She goes back to work early, on February 6. The plan is for me to go on parental leave until June, the prospect of which is greatly appealing and frightening.

It's nice that for once, our life decisions will be based on her career. Wheee!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Training Day

To celebrate Kai's 6-month birthday yesterday we initiated him to the wonderful world of sleep training.

He wailed intermittently for a long stretch of night, but never did eclipse the magic 10-minute threshold. Trying to ease our guilty consciences and justify our horrid neglect, we tossed and turned.

Add in our ongoing efforts to potty-train Rei and the colds we've been fighting off, I have to say our sense of timing is ludicrously poor.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Breakfast of Champions

The most important meal of today was provided by Honey Nut Cheerios and rice cereal. It was Kai's first taste of food.
We're hoping the surreal glow in his eyes is not a result of his diversifying palate.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Colour Bingo

Her visit to Santa's lap ended before it began, but Rei did spend the rest of the morning informing us how red, yellow and blue can make orange, green and purple.

Breakfast with Santa

I'm not a big Santa fan. Neither is Rei; she likes the idea of Santa, but actually meeting him (or his representative) proves problematic. At the Early Years Centre's breakfast this morning, I lined up with all the other obedient parents and plopped my child into a strange man's lap:
santa kai
Kai was more interested in the beard than anything else.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Chronicles of Sarnia

A smooth start to the day was not to be. The plan was take Rei to daycare, fill up on gas, wash the car, Christmas shopping in Sarnia, featuring lunch at Harvey's to scratch that fast-food itch I've had since Sept. 25.

Instead I shovelled out the driveway, eventually installed the new car seat for Kai (as he is too big for the infant car seat) and got to daycare almost an hour late. We gassed up as planned, with an unforeseen conversation about winter outer wear with a stranger who liked my jacket and thought I'd be snowboarding, futilely washed the car -- we were not even a block down the road before it was dirtied again.

Into Sarnia, where we loaded up a couple carts at Toys-R-Us and Wal*mart. Yes, we patronized the profit-grubbing megastore), but it's hard these days to argue with the convenience and prices. (No Harvey's, but I did get a Mozzaburger at A&W). Our return home was delayed while I got some windshield washer fluid.

From there it was clear sailing. Supper was an all-out endeavour: garlic mashed potatoes and grilled NY strip steak with Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon, finished with some creme brule cheesecake and swiss chocolate almond coffee.

This chronicle of our day didn't see that much of Sarnia, but the title was just too inviting to pass up.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Every Toddler Has a Price

No, we're not selling any of our kids. In our efforts to raise a critically-thinking, well-adjusted, self-confident, potty-trained citizen, we've resorted to bribes. After having peaked with a poop last week, Rei hasn't been very inclined to go on her potty despite the allure of books, a flashlight and stickers (as incentives, not as aids).

Now, a tempting tray of chocolate rosebuds awaits the successful completion of a potty visit. As well as the satisfaction of wearing big kid underwear. Who wouldn't want to go potty?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Another Year

Is it December 6th again? And still the violence perpetuated against women, on this national day of remembrance and action, continues. I fear that things have not changed much since this day last year. If anything, the memory is fading and urgency is waning.

Long before "Nine-uh-leven" became commonspeak, December 6th has been etched into my consciousness. I'll admit the actual day Marc Lepine shot and killed 14 women at a Montreal university, I was more worried about Driver's Ed and getting my licence. Montreal seemed so far away from rural southwestern Ontario. Since then, as I've allowed my imagination to wonder about the human stories that were interrupted, going so far as to imagine myself at L'École Polytechnique that evening, I regard this time as an epiphany, a call to accountability, for equality and for justice.

In the mounting hustle and frenzy of holiday preparation, I take a moment to remember...

Where am I?

Last night I had difficulty accessing the blogs I read and write. Today, I can read other blogs, but not my own. Apparently I can still create posts. Not sure what the issue is, if it's this particular machine or some bug in the blogosphere.

The worst part is I can't read your witty comments. (Unless I can get to them through Haloscan... I'll try that now). See you soon, I hope.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Another Ring around the Tree

The Christmas tree is up to Rei's delight. Lights were lit, ornaments were hung, babies kicked their legs and children jumped.

As I thought back to last year and the tree decorating, how much Rei's grown in the year past, I sighed that she had become my big girl. To which she immediately responded with a hug and the words: "my big daddy."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Checking it out, yo

A lot of my online time has lately been spent at The Icon-o-Clash reliving the pop-culture of my youth. Set up as a Final Four format of head-to-head debate and argument, cereal endorsers and anime heroes battle it out for supreme significance.

Waste-o time, indeed. As Jeffy would urge: "check it out, yo".

Friday, December 02, 2005

Big Time

This afternoon Rei celebrated the move to a big bed (using the box spring with the mattress), complete with a big pillow.

Speaking of big-ness, Kai weighs 18 lbs 14 oz at 5½ months. His sister was 19 lbs at a year.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


The closing date for Shelley's childhood home was yesterday, but the finances were not quite in place for the buyers. Today things were sorted out and we had a mini-celebration at Shauna's apartment. There was a surreal sense of farewell as her parents venture up to the cottage tomorrow before heading to Arizona, Texas, and Florida for the winter.

Shelley and the kids said good-bye to the homestead earlier this week and it's hard to imagine Grandma and Papa (or is it Poppa? I haven't figured that out yet) so far away. It was one of those steady assurances we had, that they'd be close by. Of course they will be near at hand in thought and spirit, if not physically, we know that much. It'll take a bit of adjustment on all our parts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Let the Record Show

Shelley would like to state that she, too, is without sleep. Should you be thinking that she has been blissfully slumbering while I paced the night away, I assure you that is not the case. Her responses to Kai's cries are more timely and effective than mine; she is nursing him, I am not.

Just because she doesn't go online bemoaning her deprivation, doesn't mean it's not there. Not that you would be thinking any of this anyway; she's just been rolling her eyes at my logged efforts.

It's a TV morning

Shelley's away this morning at an appointment, leaving me with solo with the kids. I've been awake, off and on, since 3:30 this morning, with Kai needing attention at 4:00, 5:10, 5:50 (I think those were the times, it's all a blur).

He's napping now; Rei and I have been watching TV pretty much all morning. A steady stream of Blue's Clues, Doodlebops, Little Bear, and Dora the Explorer has kept us out of trouble; hopefully, with little damage to her attention span.

Kai's waking up now. And on Dora, Swiper is trying to engage in some swiping. I'll undertake more involved and interactive parenting when I wake up a little more myself.

Monday, November 28, 2005

2 for 2

We marked a momentous occasion today with the addition of two stickers to Rei's potty page. Two stickers for "number two", her first poo in the potty (she's going to love knowing this information is on the internet when she's old enough to be embarrassed about it).

She was the star of Church School this afternoon, eliciting peals of laughter and constant giggles from the 6- and 8-year olds with her 2½-year old behaviours and observations. All in all, a lot of attention directed her way today.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A thousand words?

The failings of self-portrait photography:
So much for my Camera Club credentials.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


After a session of snow-shovelling, we got a little creationist.

When I asked about her snowbuddy, Rei corrected me: "It's a snowGRRL!"

Friday, November 25, 2005

Fast-forward 29 days

It was a morning of last-minute Christmas shopping as we prepare for a Baker Christmas tomorrow. I also picked up some beer for the festivities (where the elderly man in line behind me complimented me on my Moosehead purchase) and selected Bibles for the confirmands on Sunday. All this on "Buy Nothing Day" no less.

Shelley's work had a Christmas party tonight; her parents watched the kids for us. Shelley wondered when the next time we'd be able to be out for an evening alone would be. Thus, we were ripe for some irony, (speaking of which, peak at Al's Icon-o-clash of the ironic icons!)

After spending sufficient time with co-workers and Board members, we ducked out with another couple for some Carcasonne: Hunters and Gatherers at their house. Unfortunately, our game was interrupted by a phone call informing us that Kai was awake and inconsolable. We did have an enjoyable evening and I was able to get a head start on Sunday worship prep.

In spite of my dismay and disdain for Christmas celebrations before Advent even begins, I did have a Merry Christmas Eve.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

She likes words too

The exponential growth of Rei's vocabulary has abated somewhat, but she still manages to surprise us with an adept grasp of abstract concetps, a quaint turn of phase or a particular word. Examples include her bold assertion as she went upstairs: "I'M SHY!"; or, her correct identification of a "stethoscope". Which are all reminders that we need to watch what we say around her. Next thing you know she'll be making claims of apostolic succession within an eschatological hermeneutic.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy B-urs-day

I'm sitting down to a glass of 2002 Kendall-Jackson Sauvignon Blanc, Grand Reserve, in honour of Ursula's birthday. It's rather endearing how excited she gets about it. We managed a brief chat today but BrettspielWelt wasn't loading for Pip and our Carcassonne game on the PC was cut short by family returning home.

My love gift from Apple appeared on the front porch today. It's Urs's birthday but I get the gifts (the wine was courtesy of her too). Sweet.

In keeping with our one-year tradition, a birthday haiku:

Irish Urs loves life
Computer, travel savvy
Gains a superjob

Incidentally, this day also marks the one-year birthday of this blog. 352 posts later and I haven't run out of things to say.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Apple Love

Now that the rush has slowed up a bit and my work is relatively caught up; I called Apple, was helpfully guided through to Customer Relations where I presented my case for some compensation. Again, the turning point came when I was asked what I had in mind.

Heeding Ursula's advice, I had done my research and readily suggested Symantec Norton AntiVirus 10.0 and Personal Firewall 3.1 for Macintosh software. (Yes, I'm having unprotected computations; yes, I know how dangerous that is). I figured $11 for each day without Pip was more than reasonable. Failing that, I had a list of other applications and carrying cases ready.

They agreed to my proposal and I can expect to unwrap my gesture of goodwill from Apple in 7-10 days. I didn't push for courier delivery, figuring I already got more than I anticipated.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wi-fi Forest

In between visiting with the family and the actual funeral service, I stopped at the bank, filled the car with gas, went through the car wash, and popped into "Char-Bar" for a cup of coffee and some wi-fi Internet access. Now this is what I wanted Pip to be doing for me.

So often I talk about how in times of grief and mourning, it's maddening how the rest of the world keeps going on about its business. 'Tis true, and I'm guilty as charged.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

New tactics

These past couple of evenings, we've had Kai active and alert in the late evening hoping to build up some longer sleep time in the night; or at least postpone his 4:30 a.m. wake up to a more reasonable hour.

Last night had him sleep for 5 hours, getting up for the first time at 3:00. If I hadn't been up most of the night working on the Sunday service, I would have quite enjoyed that.

Friday, November 18, 2005


These days are making up for all those I-only-work-one-day-a-week jokes. It's been a long week; I'm off to bed. Until it's time to be up with Kai again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Power up, Pip

With a new display and logic board, a fully functional Pip is back on my lap and ready to compute. Despite the fact preparations for the church's fall supper were underway, I made a quick trip into London to pick up the iBook. I hadn't been able to use it since the 5th of November; and with a memorial service or two, Presbytery meeting, confirmation class and breakfast-bake sale this week, it was conceivable that I might have had to wait until next week before I could retrieve it.

The traffic lights overwhelming worked in my favour and I was back within a very reasonable time. Still, considering it had been only a week before this new computer quit on me, I'll be calling Apple and seeing what kind of love they'll give me in compensation for my hardship. Time to channel the spirit of Ursula once more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


After having backed off considerably from our hardline no-retreat-once-underwear-wearing-has-begun, our patience was rewarded and celebrated tonight.
potty 1
You will notice the first sticker on Reiko's bathroom chart. It was a big deal; we all rejoiced. She enjoyed the attention.

White Noise

We're in the midst of an experiment in white noise that's supposed to help calm babies and squeeze an extra hour of sleep out of them. So says Harvey Karp, M.D., baby soother extraordinaire. One of Shelley's friends lent us a DVD that shows how to trigger the baby calming reflex by attempting to recreate the conditions in utero (tight swaddling, steady jiggling and white noise).

The radio presets are tuned to static and while it saves us having to making loud shhhsss-ing sounds, Kai has not slept any longer. At least it's not Britney or Lindsay or Hilary or Jessica or Christina that we have to tune out.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Saucer Central

It took a couple days to post this, but Rei's celebrating her brother's 5-month birthday.
different directions
He's otherwise occupied.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Quahog: the new Springfield

It's pretty much official. The Family Guy has been consistently outperformed The Simpsons with wit, irreverance and relevance; tonight, the Griffins won the chuckle war.

Tonight's "Simpsons" episode with Bart becoming a Momma's boy did not elicit any giggles from me. I noted with disdain the recycled joke of dialing "9-1-" in anticipation of another "1" being needed to summon police, fire and ambulance services.

During "Family Guy", Stewie's stint at college garnered a few snickers. The clincher was the ongoing salute to The A-Team that brought me great mirth and joy.

I have so many great memories of Springfield and its citizens, it will always hold a special place in my heart. However, as life does move on, so must we. And I will look to the eastern land of Rhode Island for contemporary youth/pop culture references for worship ideas and illustrations. Ever thankful for the salvation given me by Jeebus, I go forth into a new world.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I blame the CBC

One of the justifications for ready Internet access is all the biblical scholarship, worship ideas, and sermon seedlings available at my fingertips. Another is the variety and breadth of work avoidance and procrastination that keeps me from finalizing my work for tomorrow.

My current indulgence is Jian Ghomeshi's latest offering in The National Playlist (where The Weakerthans appear with "Aside" and Arcade Fire reigns supreme). I'm contemplating submitting an entry for my latest crush, Stars' "Elevator Love Song". Pop-py, earnest and melodic, it always leaves me wistful and yearning.

It hasn't all be waste-o. I have uncovered important and valuable information, the greatest mystery is solved: what does CBC Radio's Promo Girl look like?

Friday, November 11, 2005

We all scream for ice cream

Apparently, while I was away in Arnprior, Rei kept telling Shelley that I would have ice cream when I got back. Last night as she licked at her cone after a successful supper of chicken fingers, fries and peas, she offered me some of her ice cream.

I politely declined, partly because I'm rather neutral to ice cream in the first place, and mostly because I wanted her to have full enjoyment of her treat. Rei got rather quiet, looked at her cone dismayed and crestfallen. I quickly recanted my refusal and shared her dessert; she delighted in the sharing, instructing me to lick, not bite. It seemed she'd waited a long time for me to return and have this moment.

So I had some ice cream, but more importantly, I had yet another lesson about receiving gifts with grace.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Moment of Silence

Things were quiet and reflective in this part of the blogosphere. Jeffy shared news that the 17-month old son of some friends died earlier this week. To think of parents Huss and Sarah facing the void left by Malik made the trivial, bloggable, news about the number of crosswords I did on the train home or my opinions on the abyssmal start to the Raptors' season insignificant to say the least.

The past couple days I've soaked up time with Shelley and the kids, trying to capture these moments in my memory and sending my thoughts and spiritual energy to Sarah and Huss. I can't, and don't want to, imagine how I'd be in a similar situation.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Lighter Load

After a brief, but giggle-filled, reconnection with Molly, Stephen and Emma, it's off to the train station today for another cross-province odyssey.

For some reason, my bag is not as crammed full as when I left home. I can't think of anything I'm missing (apart from soap and its plastic travel container, left in the bathroom of room 232 of Arnprior's Quality Inn). If anything, there's more in the suitcase: a currently unusable laptop.

I'm not sure if I've packed more efficiently; my many Tetris forays into space management have always served me well. Regardless, a lighter load is always an apt and appreciated metaphor for carrying baggage and burdens. Soon enough I'll see my family again and all will be as it should!

Monday, November 07, 2005


Life with Pip has come to unforeseen halt. The screen is overly dark and dim, tech support was unable to reconfigure the backlight with its magic key combinations. Which means the trouble is with the hardware, so I'll have to take the laptop in for repair.

The Arnprior Assembly has concluded; I'm spending a night in Orleans with friends Molly, Stephen and daughter Emma and am using their connection to do a bit of back-blogging while they conduct their Monday night work. We'll reconvene for the latest developments in Scofield's quest for justice in Prison Break.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sitting down for what I believe in

This afternoon, after a moving testimony and plea from a First Nation survivor of United Church-run residential schools, an eager ministry student leapt up to respond with a "prayer". A component of his offering was that, if we were enraged enough, compassionate enough, and faithful enough, we would stand in solidarity with our "aboriginal brothers and sisters".

Lord knows I am in solidarity with them. Yet I had to stay seated, even as a multitude rose en masse. I could not allow myself to be guilted into a show of solidarity that was merely a show or be coerced into action. I did not want to be a prop to someone else's convictions. Let me express my beliefs in my way.

And, at the very least, I sat to remain in solidarity with those who could not physically stand, despite the repeated urgings we do so. With Stan McKay, First Nations former moderator beside me, I awkwardly sat on my can. I don't know how many noticed, but I felt many eyes on me.

Afterwards, some expressed their embarrassment that they stood and wished they had done like I had. It wasn't easy; but the right thing rarely is.

Middle Earth

With my morning routine greatly simplified these days, I've tried to take advantage of the time to go running. Today I found myself on a beautiful wooded trail that reminded me of the paths at Burry Heights in Newfoundland.

Ignoring the hum and noises of the adjacent Honeywell Nylene plant that filled the air with a smell of melted plastic, all other signs of modern civilization fell away. I was able to evoke a personal sense of how I imagine Middle Earth, of hobbit living, cool air, the crunch of twigs and leaves. I channelled Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli chasing after the orcs who've kidnapped Merry and Pippin. Yes, I'm a geek.

Running steadily through the trees, with purpose and ease, I felt I could go forever. It's rare when I hit my stride like that, and its memory will prompt me to keep at it. Endorphin rush, anyone?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Oh crap...

I didn't have many expectations coming into the Arnprior Assembly. Shelley asked what I hoped for from this time. I simply wished, "I hope it doesn't suck."

Saturday morning, I feared things were about to take a turn for the worse when the beginnings of a "Bitch and Brag" session emerged. Whenever clergy gather, there is always the possibility of sharing how bad one's situation is through complaint and lamentation, or how wonderful one's ministry is through personal virtue and innovation.

Whenever I hear the words "in MY church", I try not to roll my eyes too obviously and hunker down. Today, this thread of conversation dissipated soon enough and I could breathe again.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I skipped out of evening program tonight. It was a Moderators' Reception that featured activities and socializing with the general public and members of the hosting congregation. Not that I'm not grateful for the gracious hospitality of Arnprior and Grace-St. Andrews United; it's that meeting 106 people in an ethos of intentional dialogue, conversation and listening has taken a lot of energy out of an introvert like me. Yes, I can play the extrovert, and play it well, but it wears me out.

So to model self-care, I've opted out of the reception, the glad-handing and small-talking. Camped out in my hotel room with the basketball game on, Pip on my lap, an order of chicken wings and other junk foods assembled on the bed, I'm content to flake out and be fresh for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The back end of town

Riding the train as much as I have lately, I've noticed the truth in being "on the wrong side of the tracks". When highway driving, you see the better facade of businesses, the attractive store front and the inviting tidiness. From the train windows, you see the junk heap and scrap pile in the back, the rusting and unused equipment, broken or discarded materials, and all the graffiti.

While travelling to Arnprior for a United Church consultation about the future ministry of the church in the coming years, I found some other delegates in line at Union Station and we agreed to save each other seats. I resisted the temptation to anti-socialize with Pip or my NY Times crosswords (I'm a few days behind on my daily calendar puzzles because of Sudoku and the laptop) and chatted amiably with these others; those 5 hours just flew by.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Big Comfy Couch

It's been a while since we've seen the kids:
Kai Rei farm couch
Cute as ever, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I got home this afternoon to find Rei wearing her new underwear. The toilet training has begun; because, once she's started on underwear, there's no going back to diapers except for overnight. The bathroom has been outfitted with a reward sticker chart and all that's needed now is some poops and pees into the potty.

As expected, our paper towels and cleaners were busy this afternoon. Between 4:00 and 5:00, there were 3 puddles on the floor and no clean underwear left (the Lion Kings were being washed). Of course, Rei decides she's ready to try this bathroom behaviour on the eve of my departure for 6 days in Arnprior to vision and dialogue about ministry in the church.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Oh yeah, it's Hallowe'en...

While we undertook our usual night time routine of rotating duty for baths and bedtime, the rest of the world tricked and treated. While Rei would be very cute and adorable in her as-yet-unworn pumpkin costume, her sensitivity to new situations (walking up to strange houses in the dark while wearing a gourd suit, being such a scenario) precluded any candy-seeking excursions this year.

As Shelley mourns, "the pumpkins are still in the patch". Chances are Rei might still fit into her pumpkin costume next year. Not so for Kai; we predict he'll be a Happy Bee.

Here's hoping they'll be more gracious than the masked pre-teens that came to the door tonight asked "Only one?" as I offered the bowl of mini-chocolate bars. I agreeably replied, "Yes". As they turned to leave, there was a sarcastic, "Thank you, sir." Punks.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Momentous Occasions

The acquisition of the laptop wasn't the only grand event in our family circle this week. For as long as I've know him, Shelley's dad has talked about retiring. And now he has; with the latest contract buyouts between Ford and the CAW, he is on permanent vacation.

Although he was put quickly to work again, as we all helped Shelley's sister move into her new apartment this afternoon. There were some epic struggles with a peaked-back couch and doorways, some anecdotal mishaps with the U-Haul trailer, and box-filled rooms by the time we were through.

In other important news this weekend, Reiko got some underwear (Winnie the Pooh & Lion King; Dora was too $$) for when she wants to try using her potty. Here's hoping the longer we wait until she's ready, the shorter the actual training itself will be.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

*Crunch* Pip

That sound is the sweet upstart of a little Apple laptop beginning its computing life with me. Please join me in welcoming "Pip", a hardy 12.1" G4, to my lap. Reminiscent of a stalwart hobbit, it's small but will get the job done.

I called a couple stores in London seeing what package might be put together to attract my business. (Because if I wanted to pay retail, I'd order online; and I wanted to support a local small business: these were the lines I fed to the sales folks). Understanding that the markup on Macs is so low that dealers cannot negotiate prices, I held out for throw-ins or add-ons.

Following Urs's advice regarding negotiating consumer relations ("know what you want") I managed to convince Randy to give me a wireless, Bluetooth Mac Mouse instead of the 50%-off an iBook protective sleeve/case he initially offered. Mind you I had to pay cash, giving up a tantalizing 94 AirMiles, but I had my deal.

The snag at the counter came in the form of a daily withdrawal limit on my bank card. So I motored over to the nearest TD Canada Trust, personally withdrew many hundreds of dollars, placed into a plain brown envelope and hustled back to the store. It reminded me of a time 10 years ago when I used a few different accounts to pay for an engagement ring.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Grandparent Tour

A gorgeous fall day, perfect for a drive. We hit the road to see my "adoptive" grandparents in the stonetown of St Marys. We briefly saw them during Rumiko's wedding, but they left soon after the service so they didn't get a good visit with the kids. It's taken us a while, but we finally got over there for some quality time.

Seeing as we were in the area, we popped into see my folks at the farm. We had lunch, Rei impressed her grandparents by informing them that "Sometimes monkeys eat bananas". Mom headed into work and we headed home shortly after.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Great Pumpkin

The highlight of Reiko's day was buying a pumpkin from a roadside stand. In the falling rain, she warily selected the one closest to her, dropped her $3 into the jar and cheerily told us all the way home, "I bought a pumpkin!"

Her enthusiasm does not translate to the pumpkin costumes we have for her and Kai. Chances are unlikely of having a Matching Pumpkins concert at the manse this year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


After dropping Shelley and the kids off at their respective destinations this morning, I drove back under a thickly cloud-shaded sky. Amid the pouring rain came some tiny white flakes, bouncing off the windshield hard and fast. The first sighting of snow this season came at the corners of Arkona Road and Union Street; more to come later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Picking Apples

Harvest season is drawing to a close in the Little Apple that is Arkona and I'm going shopping.

It has been my personal practice to put all the honoraria I receive for funerals and weddings into an RRSP. Checking my balance, there's a fair chunk that has yet to be invested ... so the purchase of a 12.1" iBook is in the offing. It's not so much a switch as a supplement; the PC desktop will have to handle the bulk of our gaming, and much of my PowerPoint backgrounds come from PC-based software.

I figure its portability will allow me to work more from the church office rather than the manse study, so has to help me define my work-life balance better -- different physical spaces for different frames of mind, plus moving some clutter out of the house (and just finding a new place for it in the church). Bare basics and no frills should help it be more of a work machine than a plaything. Yeah, right.

I'll pay back my RRSP over the next few months instead of making interest-added payments to Apple or our line-of-credit. Because retirement isn't that far off: only 33 more Easters to go!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Turning over a new leaf

Not for the last time, I'm sure, I present to you Rake-O.
rake, oh
Yes, she is saying, "Cheeeeeeeeeese!" How did you know?

Hi, Chair

It took a while for Shelley and I to assemble, but it all came together. A chair fit for a king, or a king-sized baby, at least.
Kai high chair
Here we see His Excellency, dazedly surveying his minions.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sitting on the Fence

I'm not sure who to cheer for in the World Series. On one hand, there are the Houston Astros, of which, and for reasons unknown, my brother Keizo has been a long-suffering diehard fan. In fraternal support I could root for them; and something about Biggio and Bagwell winning it all has appeal to me in a sporting era of free agency and hired guns.

On the other hand, there are the Chicago White Sox who have been plagued by the spectre of the 1919 Black Sox who threw the World Series (spawning two wonderful baseball movies - I once based a class project in high school on "Eight Men Out"). More than the thought of expunging that stain from history, and releasing one Chicago team from a baseball curse, is the appeal of second baseman Tadahito Iguchi. If baseball's America's favourite pastime, why are the Japanese so good at it?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Packing up and Catching up

I guess it's official: winter is on its way. Today I packed away the air conditioner, the hammock stand, my golf clubs, and cleared room in the garage for the car. I've conceded the passage of warm summer weather and the seasonal permanence of cooler weather. Although the barbeque is still primed and ready for further action until the snow flies.

As I settled back into work life and got reacquainted with my calendar, I see that I missed my Mom's birthday (yes, I am a negligent son). Sorry; belated birthday wishes - isn't it Japanese bad luck to celebrate a birthday in advance? So observing the occasion after the fact must be good luck ... right?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

"Check ya later..."

Despite the fact that the lovely and accommodating Hotel Parsons-Sheldrake is awash with wireless connectivity and Internet possibilities, I did not take advantage or pay due diligence to my blogs this past week. A series of days beginning at 4 a.m., some downright embarrassing and uninspiring worship services, and a household of 4 energetic children, the oldest of which is 3 years old, left me with too much to blog about and too little energy to do so.

After a mildly uneventful journey home today, we're back in Arkona, not doing much of anything. Although I know an accelerated worship preparation process is in the offing. I also know a piecemeal recap of the our time in Kingston, with our friends, during my conference will occur in the next little while.

Stay tuned. Or not. I'll be here regardless.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I ♥ Kingston

Church this morning turned out well by all accounts. The meeting after was civil and productive.

The 6½-hour car ride was generally good. It could have been a lot worse, there was only one or two episodes of backseat wailing, in stereo.

We arrived in Kingston, under a gorgeous full moon. Apparently, our hyping of our visit had its desired effect on Rei. As we were stopped at a light, she commented, "I like Kingston". By the time we had picked up some Treatsa Pizzas for our gracious hosts, she was declaring, "I love Kingston!"

Here's hoping she loves all the restaurants that we'll be re-visiting in the next few days.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


As for Saturday nights, this one seems a bit busier than usual. Apart from the ordinary finishing of sermon, liturgy, children's time, there was planning for an after-church discussion of when we worship, time-wise, and negotiating such change between two different congregations. I think I've put more thought and planning into that meeting than my sermon this week...

Also, we head for Kingston tomorrow for a few days as I visit my alma mater for a conference. So there was some packing and preparing for a road trip with two young children. We'll see the Parsons-Sheldrakes and Rachel soon enough and Rei can show them her new tricks: today she whistled for the first time; she learned the word "palm" as related to our hands; and made a song request for her ocean song (which I made up especially for her - "My Reiko lies over the ocean ...").

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Final Round?

With the weather being so lovely today, I took it upon myself to get out for a quick round of 9 holes. (And they were quick, I was back home within 90 minutes - two different pairs waved me through).

The sunny afternoon and the turning leaves provided a gorgeous fall backdrop to a decent game (shooting 60, my best this season), notwithstanding all my mulligans. I conquered my nemesis, Arkona Fairways' hole 9, with a drive that landed within 8 feet of the fairway and not anywhere near the green for hole 1, which is my usual.

This may have been it for the season; until next time, hole 4, until next time.

Identity: confirmed

Our 2½-year-old is a very self-aware individual. An episode of sensitive tempers arose in the play room as I wondered aloud if anyone wanted to play with Mr. Potato Head. She forcefully stated that she wanted to play with said toy.

I asked (and I tease because I love) if she was Miss Independent; she replied, again with much force, "No. I'm Reiko!" Shelley had to turn away so as not to laugh in our daughter's face.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Double duty

The past couple nights, Kai has woken up crying, soaked, requiring new diapers, sleepers, blankets.

This evening after one of his brief dozes, as I tried to re-settle him for a longer slumber, I felt his diaper and noted with alarm that it felt quite large and full. Wanting to avoid a wardrobe change, I was determined to get him into new gear post haste. As he wailed, I scrambled to collect new diaper, wipes, and zinc cream.

I quickly unwrapped his blanket burrito and opened up the velcro stubs to find underneath the surprising (to me) dry diaper was another dry diaper. It was then that I remembered earlier today Shelley wondering about doubling up his nighttime diaper to prevent any leaks. Sweet dreams are made of these...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So it begins

I arrived home this afternoon from a workshop on screening procedures for volunteers within the United Church to great excitement. Rei was jumping and bouncing around, eager to show me her new, uhm, "toy". I followed her to the bathroom where she proudly showed me her potty. She sat on it, still clothed, demonstrating her technique and pointed into the potty where the poop and pee would be.

On a totally unrelated note, I cast a few thoughts towards Winnipeg today as the CCS Learning Circle begins. While I miss the companionship of the group and the opportunities for learning and the damningly intentional mode of existence, I am quite happy to have completed my spin through the cycle. And so I send them my happy thoughts: Suckers ... er, I mean "draw the circle wide" sisters and brothers!

4 months

Sibling bliss, what a way to celebrate 4 months of Kai!
4 month kai & rei
(and Happy Birthday Uncle Keizo!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Urs, Circles, Presents

Our Ursul-tastic week of good company, gaming and chillaxing concluded as we dropped Ursula off at the train station. We'll continue to live her Sex in the City life vicariously through her blog as she chums with Maya Angelou (potentially) and jetsets around Europe (indefinitely). And we'll manage to get together for some Carcasonne online.

After the train station, we circled around to King-Wah, an Asian food store, for ramen noodles, no-rinse short-grain rice and Pocky cookie sticks. Then I returned some books to the UWO libraries as Shelley circled around campus with the kids. Then onto her folks for Thanksgiving, Round 3: turkey casserole.

As they clean house for the permanent move to the cottage, we took home a set of dishes to replace our chipped and cracked wedding-presented ones. We also brought home our Christmas present microwave and promptly proceeded to make some popcorn. (I had initially typed "poopcorn" - what a slip that is!)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thanksgiving and Retail

Turkey: round two was replaced by pork chops at my parents' farm. It was a pleasant family gathering, despite the absence of our working mom and gas-less brother. Urs got to talk hockey some more and Rei delighted in the attention - once she warmed up to everyone.

My brothers have been taking second jobs to fill their time and bank accounts: Daisuke at
HomeSense, discount decor and furnishings; and Keizo at Best Buy, electronics and gadgets. My sister had already worked at Banana Republic. One of the motivating factors for their ventures into retail is the employee discount. Maybe they're onto something ... does the LCBO give employee discounts? Perhaps I'll look into SportChek, or HMV, or Chapters/Indigo, seeing as I only "work one morning a week".

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Happy, Merry, Thanks-Christ-giving-mas

We had our first, and last, Thanksgiving-Christmas supper hybrid at Shelley's childhood home.Her folks have sold the house and will be trailering through the States come Christmas time. They hosted Thanksgiving supper and added the family Christmas with the cousins.

The pedometer I got for Shelley's dad was on sale so I had a bit of money left to spend on him; can't go wrong with a pound of assorted licorice candies. In return, I received a wooden carving of a smiling Buddha and a puzzle book of the latest UK-Japanese craze, Sudoku.

Round one of the turkey tour: completed.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Games Galore

Even though we're sitting in the same room and a perfectly operational board game of Carcasonne is in our possession, Urs and I are seated at our respective computers playing online. It saves us having to keep score, draw tiles, speak to each other; you get the picture.

This, after many days and games of Carcasonne and a night of Blackjack. It reminds me of a saying, something about a good thing and too much ...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hola amigo!

The church phone rang this morning and I, as always, answer it with a professional, "Hello, Kenji speaking". Those who know me would proceed with the conversation; those who don't - telemarketers, people wanting my services for marriage or baptism - ask for the minister. It gives me a quick gauge on the situation.

To my great delight, the answer on the line was a cheery, "Hola!" meaning it could only be one household: the irrepressible Bellsworths of Orleans. "Hola" became our standard greeting after our time together in Nicaragua (you might try to trick me, but I'd catch on pretty quick that you weren't Molly or Stephen). We whiled away the morning catching up on each others' news. As is so often the case, the months slip by, despite best intentions, and we lose track of our friends.

I proudly told stories of Rei and Kai, Molly told stories of her daughter, Emma. We compared
Hi-5 stories and expressed relief that our kids weren't the only ones obsessing about that wonderfully diverse quintet. Our conversation has evolved from talking about reality TV (Survivor 11, Amazing Race 8, etc.) to sharing our dislike for Hi-5 Jenn's new look for season 2 or our appreciation for Curtis' haircut.

It's always so good to reconnect with friends (and rule over them in the medieval French city of Carcassonne, right Urs?).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Woke Up this Morning...

I fell out of bed this morning, literally: body slamming into the floor. Our mid-night efforts to help Kai sleep have led to an experimentation in the "family bed" experience. This particular night I was on my side, resting on the edge of the mattress so as to allow for the flailing arms of our baby. Apparently, I tipped too far the wrong way gave myself a rude awakening. Such things didn't happen at the convent...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hoefer Hoedown

Urs arrived today for an extended Arkona stay before her European vacation. While here, as well as some waste-o and wine, there will be much gaming (includeing golf maybe) and crime dramas watched. She'll see her Puppet Jesus at work, be indoctrinated in the ways of Hi-5, and might meet Sue at the post office who sends on the tapes of the various incarnations of "Law & Order" and "CSI" to the Vancouver area. Throw in a couple of family Thanksgivings and it'll be a gay old time.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sibling Rivalry?

This morning at breakfast (maybe lunch, it was a meal anyway) Rei tells me: "Kaede is my best friend."
Unprompted and unexpected it was nice to hear; don't know when, if ever, I'll hear that again.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Boxcar Kenji

The plan for yesterday was: board train at 14h30, meet Shelley and the pajama-clad kids at the station in London at 19h16, back home by 20h00.

The actual play-by-play is too long and involved to blog about in a thorough fashion, but arriving home at 10h00 this morning could be an indicator of all the commotion.

The train was running late as it was (possibly missing my connection) until we were stopped in Oshawa, told of an hour delay due to an incident further along. Well-supported rumours and conjectures said it was a suicide attempt, although I have yet to see/hear anything official to confirm or debunk that news.

After an abrupt departure from the Oshawa station, we pulled alongside the train in question and those passengers loaded onto our already-full carriage. More waiting and the eventual arrival at Union Station, Toronto, two hours after my connecting train to London. Winding our way to the "Special Services" desk, we learned another train, leaving in 5 minutes, would be taking us to our destinations.

Hurriedly, we sprang to the back of the doubled-looped line and waited for the 5 minutes that stretched into 40. Apparently others in line got free Harvey's, courtesy of Via Rail. I did not.

The second leg was mostly uneventful. Two good deeds: asking a McGill TA if he's really in the best mood to be marking students' essays; and, helping an elderly couple relocate their heavy bags to the proper car (which they had managed to miss by 4 doors upon embarking).

Just minutes from London, we stopped again for a long time. No reason was given; I dozed off. Finally off the train and into the station, after long last, I see Shelley and Kai. They'd been waiting an hour-and-a-half. That didn't stop them from smiling at my arrival.

Too late to go home, we spent the night at Shelley's parents' where Rei was soundly sleeping. We got home this morning, I pulled together a wedding service for this afternoon. I should be wrapping up my sermon for tomorrow about now. Home sweet home.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Wednesday Night, II

Following the evening lecture, we ventured into Kingston's night in search of live Maritime and folk music. Having heard that Shores of Newfoundland's Wednesday gig had migrated to "The Merchant" from "Tir Nan Og", we set forth and delighted in our good fortune to hear our news was accurate.

I was surprised and further delighted to see Chris, husband of a classmate of mine, strumming, and squeezing guitars and accordians, respectively. I cast about in a search for his wife, Heather, and to her surprise and delight, appeared at her side. How serendipitous, they had just moved back into the Kingston area that very day. Will the Circle be unbroken indeed!

No Such Thing as a Stupid Question

Wednesday Night

After Sr. Helen's touching stories of men and women abused by the justice system, I was struck by the contrast with ex-con, home decorating maven, Martha Stewart and her re-release onto the TV airwaves. Braving the public microphone to ask her opinion on this, I overheard behind me, "That's
so off-topic, she's talking about murders."

Bristling, I resisted the urge to confront my critics with a triumphant "HA!" when Sr. Helen remarked that violence doesn't have to involve bloodshed. Corporate deceit cheating thousands of innocents of their savings, betraying their trust, is an act of violence.

For the record, my copy of Dead Man Walking is signed "Kenji - Embody the change you seek". Sure she's quoting Ghandi, but that works too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Little Buddha

The drawing feature of this course was the keynote speaker, Sister Helen Prejean whose ministry with death row inmates and advocacy against the death penalty in the States was told through the novel/movie Dead Man Walking.

When the group was asked for a volunteer to thank her, I waited a quick second, not wanting to appear too eager, and to allow others a chance to step in. My hand went up and the task was shared between myself and another.

After an engaging and inspiring session, I proceeded to officially thank Sr. Helen when she interrupted me with a comment about my "little Buddha face". We'll see if she autographs her book that way to me.

The Past Couple Days

Breakfast at The Sleepless Goat, courtesy of Ursula who then dropped me off at the Spirituality Centre/Convent.

The usual community building exercises occurred and then I broke ranks from the group and met Michelle for supper. Lamb Dhansak at Darbar, courtesy of a gift certificate from Jeffy. Sweet, with a hot undertone.

I went for a run in the morning, the first time in about 3 months. Who did I met on the road, running at me from the other direction? A systematic theology professor of mine from Queen's! (I had seen another prof of mine on the train on Sunday - small world of ours)

Some sessions on conflict and blessings, boundaries and self-care filled out the content portion of the day.

The evening featured musical entertainment by Roger James, bringing me back to Wellington pub days as Maritime songs about shipwrecks filled the bodhran-percussed air.

Shelley, her mom and the kids are at the cottage and are managing okay.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

All Aboard / En voiture!

I'm going to a week-long conference in Kingston. It's been a long time since I've been on public transit. Trapped in a fully-booked train for 5+ hours with no chance for fresh air was an extreme introduction. It turned out that the train I was to connect with in Toronto was the train I was already on, so I didn't get a chance to step off and out to stretch and breathe.

All the talk about Harvey's made by the couple (he's in a band and lives with mom, she's in first-year at Queen's) I was sitting with had made me hungry. We pulled into Union Station late and it didn't look like the burger run would be made. I resigned myself to the prospect of overpaying for train food. Happily, the fourth person of our seating arrangement (a Catholic, Master's student at Queen's in neuroscience) pulls out an extra sandwich for me.

I pulled into Kingston a half-hour late to be greeted by Michelle, Ursula and Jeffy. Plans were made to see Michelle tomorrow, a tour down Princess Street to see what's changed and what has not, and settling into Jeffy and Cheryl's. A game of Settlers with Urs and Jeffy saw me use my wood and sheep ports to attain victory.

Now to bed, with some guilt about the prospect of uninterrupted sleep.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

On a Roll

Everybuddy's on a roll today:

Kai rolled over for the first time unassisted, from tummy to back.

Rei forward-rolled over on her beachball in a precursor to somersaulting.

I had some good rolls on the golf course at the local church camp's charity tournament. I didn't expect me being the one who carried our 4-some through the best ball scramble.

And Shelley had cabbage rolls for supper.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Cut the Mullet

First trip to the stylist today and I feel like channelling Wesley Willis:
Rock over Forest, rock on Arkona. Milk, it does a body good.

Baby Nazgûl

We've moved Kai out of our room into his own for sleeping at night now. We hoped that without our rustling and recomforting noises, he'd sleep sounder. And we would avoid hearing every little sigh and sound that didn't require our attention.

Last night his cries took on a different, agitating quality. Recognizing my inexpertise I would say the pitch of his voice was distressed, the tone more desperate. As much as I like words, they don't really convey the sound of his new, keening cry. I liken it to that of The Lord of the Rings' Nazgûl.

That's the latest phase we're hoping he'll grow out of soon.

This morning on the radio, Michael Stipe serenaded us with "Nightswimming, deserves a quiet night..." Yeah, REM-sleep would be good too.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Weighing in at 16 lbs. 3 oz., he's not going to take any guff from anyone.
Assuming, of course, that he doesn't tip over.

Catching Up

It's been a busy week workwise. As I'm leaving next week for a course in Kingston, all the preparation has had me on the go: church meetings (administrative and marriage preparation) amd their follow-up, wedding rehearsal, and working on 3 sermons at the same time. And the local church camp has their golf tournament this weekend.

House-wise we're getting Kai's bedroom set up and the new guest room too for Urs' imminent arrival. It's full steam ahead.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Portrait of a Baby

Look at me look at you.
kai 3 month
Three months flew by.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Own Wheels

After 160,000 km and 60 payments, we now own our car. Our Ford Focus has been in the streets of New York, the wilds of Sault Ste. Marie and most parts in between.

Less pristine with some dings and nicks, and less roomy with two carseats crammed in the back, it has served us well. Even the recall notices and dead battery haven't soured us on our purchase (what a ringing endorsement!). It may not be much, but it is ours.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Line Dance

It isn't all doom and gloom these days. We do have our moments.
Look at Me

Night Rider

This morning, I rummaged through the laundry hamper for some pants before loading Kai into the car for a moonlit drive. He wasn't frantic, but he wasn't settling down with me and his weight has become a bit much to bear for extended jaunts through the house. So we drove into the night.

Lessons I learned at 2:30 a.m.: the car should be backed into the driveway for quick nocturnal getaways, because fogged windshields could lead to mishaps; Mac's Milk, Tim Horton's and the car wash are the only businesses open 24 hours in Forest; and, 2:30 is too early for freshly baked Timbits, but it is a good time to drive at a fuel-efficient 80 km/h.

A half-hour in the car finally coaxed a yawn out of him and he was finally asleep when we got back home. Except he woke up a half-hour later for a feed, and an hour after that, screaming. We guessed it was gas pain, but who knows for certain.

Our plans for today have been put on hold.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Plays Well with Others

For Kai's baptism, we invited our families to our place afterwards for a little visit. Everyone was impressed with how well the cousins played together, Christopher, Rei and Samantha were turned loose in the play room and nary an argument occurred.

Previous play dates have been comemorated by a steady refrain of "MINE! MINE! NO!" so it was heartening to see peaceable interaction and cooperation.

Best Laid Plans

Yesterday was a day of cleaning and tidying. The church next door had a work bee where some inside and outside jobs were done in the morning. The afternoon had some household and lawn jobs to do (including taking the laundry to the laundromat because the dryer is on the fritz again).

My plan for the evening, when Shelley went to a barbeque with friends from work, was to do some more tidying up, watch Rabbit-Proof Fence while having some Australian shiraz, and relaxing in general.

Instead I paced the floors with an unsoothed son, sequestering myself in the laundry room so that his wails wouldn't wake his sister. I didn't want to call Shelley and have her come home early, figuring as soon as I did that, he'd settle and she'll arrive to calm and quiet. As the night wore on, I then figured she'd be home soon enough anyway so I might as well tough it out until she got here...

Then I had some Java errors with Blogger, losing my post for the church blog and not even getting around to this one. I didn't even get to read the paper.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Crack of Dawn

I woke up at 5:10 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. My body's gotten used to being up at that time to walk around with Kai, but he was sound asleep. So I lay there thinking about church stuff, computer stuff, and had some children's songs running through my head.

At least when Kai did start to fret and fuss an hour later, I was still pretty foggy-headed but it didn't take as much to get awake and ready to go.

This would have been a good day for naps but I had a morning and afternoon filled with church meetings. I'm sure Jesus delights in all the levels of bureaucracy the church has constructed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Photo, Shoot!

This morning, we travelled to Zehr's in Sarnia for Kai's first studio photos. The idea was to have a set with him and another with Rei, a couplet of happy kidlets. Apprehensive about this new place we entered, Rei was reluctant to pose happily.

So our package is of him alone. But even that was not without issue, Kai managed to scratch his face during the night. (Just like his sister would before picture days and social gatherings). Not that we're hung up on looks, we would feel less guilty about our parenting were their scratches not preserved in portrait.

And also like his sister, the first pose was the one we used of the 11 shots taken.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Work Hard, Play Hard

We welcomed Rei home today after her special sleepover time with her aunt and grandparents. In her absence, we did manage to clean out some clutter (little-used books, CDs, trinkets and knick-knacks), clear Kai's room of our stuff, and moved around some large furniture items. We've rearranged the office so that it can double as a guest room. It's a tight fit; functional but rife with poor feng shui.

Amid all that, I managed to get away for 18 holes of golf. I shot 112; I know, don't quit my day job. I love fall golfing: the leaves starting to turn, the crispness and clean smell of the air (although it was hot and muggy this time), the water hazards are drying up so more lost balls can be recovered, the summer rush dying down so I could swing in private.

I'm feeling pretty huge and sore right now from all that exertion.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Quarter-year Kai

Has it been 3 months already?
3 month Kai
Happy and healthy, we can't complain. Although some more sleep would be nice.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Lion Sleeps (over) Tonight

Shelley's folks have taken Rei for a sleep over, so Kai gets a chance to experience the only child phenomenon. While we hope to get some things done, we do miss our daughter terribly. I've taken to making her usual comments so things sound as busy and amusing here.

In the meantime, I'll look at pictures. Such as this special pose that I call "Ode to Pizza Hut"; she calls it "Lion" because she often growls at the same time.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Train, train, choo-choo train ...

After a morning of yardwork, an interment service in the afternoon and a church potluck/planning meeting/discussion session in the evening, I relaxed to an award-winning cinematic diversion called "The Station Agent" borrowed from the library. Finn inherits a depot in Newfoundland (New Jersey), makes it his home, and makes some friends. The dynamic between a couple of introverts and an exuberant extrovert reminded me of Winnipeg days for some reason.

I booked my train tickets for my course in Kingston. The plan is to meet up with Michelle for the Toronto-Kingston leg as she commutes to some classes at QTC.
I had looked into First Class for the Kingston-Toronto return with Urs but the cost was prohibitive. Unless we could drink $200 of complimentary drinks, the money could be used better elsewhere.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

You Turn

Driving home from Wyoming/Sarnia, I realized that I missed my exit. I zoomed right by and didn't even catch on to my miscue until I was driving under Arkona Road a few kilometres later. Wait a sec ... I'm supposed to be on that road!

So one exit later, and a dozen kilometres out of my way, I got home a little late, a little embarrassed, but safe and sound.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Keith from the Kootenays

Moxywoman put me onto Shelagh Rogers' blog about the CBC Lockout and her caravan coverage of it. I noticed a recent entry about a stop and speech in Trail. Recognizing the name of the place and the billet, I wondered if my classmate Keith (who should be plowing through readings for school) made himself known in anyway. It's not like Keith to be actively interested and involved with a labour dispute!

So I looked at the Trail slideshow in search of Waldo and was rewarded a pic of a stalwart defender of public justice and equality gazing into the future with determined cynicism. Further along I see that I missed an entry about her stay in Castlegar complete with an entire slideshow and podcast. How lucky to have the gracious presence of Shelagh amidst the splendour of the Kootenays (wherever that is)!

Mini-break ... down

Overloaded, I had little breakdown last night. It seemed each child I tended to ended up wailing and crying. Tired of Rei rejecting me, of losing the battle of wills to a two-year old, trying to fit 40 hours of ministry in with the rigours of attentive parenting, etc., etc. It was a low point.

So I went to sleep early ... and had dreams of being in high school needing to pass Grade 11 math to graduate, except I hadn't attended a single class and it was May. Today's been better.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Labourless Sunday and Movable Feasts

It's Sunday, but not just any Sunday. The local church camp has its anniversary service during Labour Day weekend and we close our churches to attend, and support, its ministry. That meant no anti-social, pre-occupied, grumping from me. I got to spend time with the kids, did some laundry, vacuummed the downstairs carpet, and sit with my family for worship.

Mom has to work Thanksgiving weekend, so we tried to do our family Thanksgiving now with sweet corn and barbeque. Shelley's folks will be away, trailering in the southern States, for Christmas so we'll be observing that holiday next month during Thanksgiving. If this trend continues, we'll have Victoria Day during Valentine's.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Life's Beachin'

Rei enjoys the sand at the beach. It's what she likes best. The water, she could just as easily do without. So just out of the parking lot, as soon as we hit sand, Rei set up camp and for a while, we thought this was as close as we would get to the beach:near beach

But eventually we worked our way down to the landing and encouraged (chased) by the appearance of a dog to rest at the same elevation as the lake.Rei Ipperwash

Her brother was taking it all in, not really caring where we were.
Kai Ipperwash
The last time we had a family outing to this section of beach, Shelley had a baby the next morning. I guarantee this will not be the case this time.


Yesterday's plan was: Rei to daycare, groceries/errands, McDonald's lunch, home to clean, Shelley to chiropractor and pick up Rei.

Instead, we called our just-updated Ford Roadside Assistance when the car didn't start. I gave directions to the McDonald's parking lot (we did get that far at least) and mentioned the dealership McDonnell Ford was a couple blocks down the street. I wondered if I would have been further ahead calling the dealership than some phone-jockey in Montreal, but wasn't sure if our coverage would then be valid.

As we approached the later reaches of the estimated time of rescue, I get a call from the local operator wondering where we were. The driver went directly to the dealership (yeah, try finding a Ford Focus in that lot is like finding hay in a haystack) , because McDonnell and McDonald's sound an awful lot alike. (Why we would need a tow when we were at the dealership is beyond us ...)

A jump start and we were down the street to McDonnell's where the car battery was replaced. (Interestingly, thankfully, Kai slept peacefully through the car trouble). A few hours behind schedule left us with a quick scurry through the grocery store, an acclerated drive to the chiropractor and a happy reunion with an oblivious Rei.

And our day was complete. Except for the cleaning. That'll have to wait for another time.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Couching Tigers

In case you've forgotten what we look like.
And behind the camera, Shelley is as lovely as ever.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ma Baker to the Rescue

Not even an hour after posting yesterday's sleepless blog entry, Shelley's mom calls and offers to come over and help out.

Last night went a little better than the night before: slept until 1:00, up at 3:00-3:30, slept, up at 4:00-4:30, spent some "quality" one-on-one time with an alert and active Kai, contemplated driving him around again, he drifted off to sleep just before 6:00, up again at 7:00, Shelley got him back to sleep again until 8ish.

Shelley's mom arrives before 9 so I can tend to office hours and some work, she does some laundry and dishes, cleans & sanitizes our dish rack (how embarrassing), and pays attention to Rei. Thanks Mom!

Kai (who weighed 15 lbs. today) has be asleep for about 3 hours, this looks promising. Now, if I can shake my headache we'll be set.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Driven to Desperation

The past few days Kai has been sleeping like a baby: waking himself up after 30 minutes, alternating between cooing and cranking (requiring us to hold him, walk with him, or offer a finger to suck), finally drifting off again before waking himself up after 30 minutes. In a 24-hour period, he'll sleep 3 consecutive hours, the rest of the day and night is off and on.

So our adventures today began at 1:00 a.m. with a mid-night feeding. Then he just wouldn't/couldn't go back to sleep. Shelley and I snuck in half-hour naps while the other tended to his fussing. I was up for the day at 5:30, he was frantically miserable so I resorted to bundling him up and taking for a ride in the car. As loathe as I am to emit greenhouse gases (some may argue this point) and use gas that's $1.03+ per litre, this morning I was open to anything.

We drove to Forest where I stopped for a coffee and some Timbits for the family. I took a long and winding road home; we were in the car for the better part of an hour. Kai was awake the whole time. At least he was quiet, calm and content.

Today has been more of the same: half-hour dozes with attentive doses of parent care in between. This better be a phase because I'm not sure how much longer we ... can ... keep ... up ... Zzzzz.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Every since I was a school boy, I would get sick in the last week of August. Something about the changing season, or the impending school year, seems to trigger an immune response. Usually it was bronchitis. This morning it was sore throat, stuffy nose and headache. Good thing I was shaking everyone's hand on Sunday morning...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Homestar Runner Re-mix

My regular patrol of NMC often bears much (musical?) fruit during sermon writing evenings, but this noontime find of a remixed theme song reminded me of how long it's been since I'd visited my leggy friend, Homestar Runner. To my delight, I noted 2 new toons and a Strong Bad email. Ev'rybuddy! Ev'rybuddy!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Looking East

Over the past couple of days, Shelley and I have been talking about my holiday time next year. We're thinking about St. John's, Newfoundland. It's been 7 years since our time there and it would be nice to reconnect with some folks.

I'm already thinking ahead to Gordon's fish & chips, Quidi Vidi micro-brewed beer, 0.5% and 1.5% milk, delicacies such as flipper pie and scrunchions. Shelley's been busy online pricing flights, car rentals and accommodations; she thinks she should have been a travel agent.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

High-rise Shorts

Getting Rei up from her "quiet time" this afternoon, we were treated to this sight:
tummy shorts
She's proudly telling me her shorts are on her tummy!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Can I Cut in?

After a close-fought game of Carcassone online at BSW with Jeffy and Urs, we contemplated one more. Urs left to make a phone call and suddenly a person named "Wristshot" joined him/herself to our game, and then asked if it was OK. I'm not clear on online chat/game room etiquette but it seemed a bit rude ...

Jeffy and I made a pact on the sidelines that we'd help each other out as best we could (without making it too obvious to Wristy) and it appeared we were going to be in trouble. The interloper managed to garner beneficial tiles at beneficial times, leaving us worried.

One of Wristy's cities was expanding in the north, with no discernible means for either of us to ingratiate ourselves within its bounds. So being a bit miffed to begin with, and with a streak of cutthroat bastardo developed through many games with Jeffy, I did my best to sabotage that city by placing a tile that would make its completion near impossible.

That was my nasty play of the game and my reward was a end-tile cloister that won the game for me. "You know how it is with nuns ..."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Diaper sighs

Kai is climbing the Huggies ladder, fitting comfortably into size 2 diapers. Our friend Paula gave us a pack of size 4s left over from her kid to use when Kai is big enough. We accidentally opened them today to use for Rei (she's a Huggies 5). Intrigued by the colourful animal design, she wore one of the too-small diapers. Thankfully, no size 5 poops occurred.

Such are the blogs of parents: stories of diapers, poops, and near misses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Matter of Interpretation

The other day, Rei had one of her many trips and tumbles. She came crying to me for a cuddle and comfort. Wondering if it was a stubbed toe, bumped head or scratched knee, I asked her where she hurt herself. She pointed and answered: "In the kitchen."