The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Forward Facing

I'm not a fan of making New Year's resolutions. Maybe it's because it often feels like we break more than we make. Or, we sometimes set ourselves up for failure...putting so much pressure on those three words, we attempt the near impossible. Set our sights too high and fall short, in our opinion.

I do, however, love goals. I don't often share them for fear of falling short but when I do verbalize them, I force myself to carry through (...hence a full marathon...hence a "this may end us" adoption succeeding...etc). And so, while the ironic (planned?!) word "goals" may seem like a silly cop-out to you, I'm posting this and the word "goal" sits better than "resolution" to me. Plus, "resolution" makes me feel in many ways, like I've failed and must re-attempt certain things. I don't regret anything in my life and don't feel a "redo" is necessary. So, for my peace of mind and the sake of an argument...they are "goals" people...and they are being concocted on the cusp of a new year.

And so, while looking back at the most up and down year, which is ending as possibly "up" as we could have imagined, I want to enjoy every moment - all the while, never losing sight of new goals, desires for self-improvement, and seeking to find maybe just a wee bit more joy in each day.

I want to run again. Yes, the runner...ah hem...falling behind. It's been a busy fall. Isn't that everyone's excuse though? Seriously though, it's been nuts. And, in the same breathe I apparently haven't prioritized all my time. (Of which there isn't that much to play around with!) Babies (sorry, a baby)and cross-Rockies moves will do this to a girl. But it's been three months (has it really already been three months?!) and we have settled into routine so I now need to find my own rhythm and routine during the non-kiddie-waking hours. More diligence is needed for sure. Here and there I've found time - made the time?! - but it needs to be consistent. Perhaps an hour less sleep wouldn't actually kill me.

I want to say "yes" more. Pause during whatever important (and likely not as important) task I am doing and reply "yes" to whatever my little people are asking...a game, help with a word search, a story, yes even a whimper to be picked up at the end of the day or in the throws of making supper. "Yes" should predominate.

I will raise my voice less.

I want to clean my house at night more - you know, the end of the day tidy that is often just too much at the end of the day - so when we get up in the morning and come downstairs, everything is in it's place. Well, nearly everything. I'm human after all.

I'd like to eat less sugar. We don't eat much but it's of no use to our bodies and serves no purpose in our lives.

I'd will dress a little nicer. Not for me. For those who have to look at me, I will choose a sweater over a hoodie some days. I will chose the dark wash jeans instead of the acid wash pair (way to branch out, eh?!). I will leave my hair down (literally and perhaps figuratively speaking) more often. I will give just a minute more to my appearance than I do now. Not because I'm vain but because we often feel better when we look better. And that makes us healthier and when we're healthier we are happier and when we are happier we are better friends and I want to be a better friend. (Wow. That got intense.) And, while these little people have no dress code I don't like my four year old asking if we are going somewhere on the days I haphazardly chose a sweater over my Lulu attire.

I want to be more purposeful in what I do. Less Facebook (stupid Facebook) and more constructive use of my time (hence the running thing). More time spent on learning, feeding my heart, soul, and brain. Educating me on my passions. I want to help others more through this. I've started and can't wait to see fruition.

I have to do something for our daughter's country, orphanage, cause (the cause of the orphan that is), and/or family who raised her before we were passed the privilege. To not do this would be nothing short of disrespectful and ungrateful. And the ache of removing her from her first never ceases.

As I face the year ahead I want to feed my Holy Discontent...and somehow, I'd like to fumble around in the dark less (in search of said Discontent) and be silent while perhaps waiting for it to make it's way to me. We often lose sight of such phenomena don't we? In search of that which fuels the fire, we busy ourselves. Over-involvement. Here there and of course, everywhere. In hopes of finding that one extraordinary thing which calls our name quietly at first and then more intensely as time passes, and which quenches the desire to make a difference in our world, family, life, liturgy.

So there.

Facing forward I am so very grateful for our year.

And looking ahead, with anticipation, I know there are Great Plans.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's My Birthday. I Have Wrinkles.

Today's my birthday.

I don't share that for a bunch of well wishes (feel free...but that's not the point).

I don't share it so I get a bunch of "oh, you poor girl - so close to Christmas".

I looked the other day in the mirror...or maybe it was a photo...whatever.

What I saw: Wrinkles.

(Yep, with a capital "W".)

What?! Uh huh. True story. Crow's feet, are they called? Yes, mainly crows feet.

Either way, they're there. And, barring needles, injections, and a large bill following, they're not going anywhere. In fact, I'm quit certain they are here to multiply. And I have to say, I actually take comfort in them. (That's not a request for more or an anticipated peek into the future, rather it's the truth of the matter.)

I like them because each one tells a story, each one holds a moment in the history of my life. Each one depicts an emotion - which means there have been many. And they've been real. Mainly, I love them because when I smile they are exaggerated. Which means, hopefully, I smile a lot.

Not enough. I know I don't smile and giggle and deep-in-my-gut-laugh, enough. But it happens. From time to time and that's so very good and healthy and in that I take great comfort.

It's comforting because over the last several years there have been many (!) moments of fear, stress, and uncertainty and well, some days not so much joy. But if we - if I - only get one shot at know, this phenomenon we call Life...then I want to make the wrinkles. I want proof that there's been joy and that each year is to be celebrated and each moment lived like it won't be experienced again. Because truthfully, it won't right?

So here's to 32. (What?! You have wrinkles at 32?! I know, right!)

May it be a fantastic year.

May more wrinkles form - be formed!

May joy multiply.

May purpose - my purpose - be continually found and lived.

May there be more deep-in-my-gut-laughing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Coming Back

The other day while gingerbreading with our little people, a (new, sweet!) friend briefly recounted a conversation she had with my sister a couple weeks back at, The Birthday Party. The line of thought was regarding my sister's year long running journey and how a person re-enters her "old life" after such a life changing expedition as that.

How does one come back to what was normal before such an epic sojourn?


Currently feeling stuck somewhere in no man's land, I find myself empathetic to that conundrum. To an outside observer, life has not changed all that significantly, save the addition of one more little person to round us out and nearly even the gender scales.

Yet to us, to me every.thing.has.changed.

And, nothing will satisfy if not

Going about daily tasks and routines, I find myself wanting more. The thought, concern, fear (!) of consuming without giving back, living without deep gratitude in the form of's hard to swallow. Doing anything without meaning, seems, well, kinda' pointless. This season perhaps brings out the ache a little more when the consumerism with which we are often surrounded is sickening.

The thought of living a "normal" life doesn't sit well. Because, how can we return to our "old normal" when we aren't? The blessing of following our ache, our Holy's indescribable and beautiful and incomparable and addictive when we see it through.

We aren't normal because we've endured and experienced and rejoiced in the unthinkable. And what we have seen...well, because of it we are responsible to do greater, better, inordinate things.

And so I am stuck in this place of profound gratitude and unfathomable joy, yet all the while wanting more. Content? Yes, the feeling of contentment and happiness and satisfaction pervade, though there is a fear within me that perhaps I will not push myself and strive to stretch my faith. That I will miss that Still Small Voice telling me to press on for greater things, telling me to seek harder, to look deeper, to live more silently, and to hear the Voice guiding.

Maybe that's what it is. The faith muscles were stretched to the brink of collapsing but they grew and took on more and now, well, they haven't been pressing as much as was necessary many months ago. And the fear of weakening is enough to constantly keep my guard up and there is an incessant wonder of "what next". Not "what next" because there's a void but "what next" because if the journey that brought us here was so incredible then we must give back, we must rejoice, we must give thanks, we must continue to stretch the faith muscles. We must have a "what's next" in our future...somewhere.

Proof that we are made for so much's in our history now. It's evidenced on the pages of the book of this little family and we cannot let that slip away.

Yet through this, I am constantly reminding myself that our painful, faith building, exhausting part of the journey is a mere eleven weeks behind us. Living in the now and enjoying each second is such a fleeting part of the journey. Not missing a second of what we strived for, for years. That is so very important.

So, with eyes fixed upward we continue...content.

But, with eyes fixed upward we continue...seeking only that which is Great and offers more and builds those muscles.

I can't figure I'll find much satisfaction otherwise.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Makings

I love this time of year for the excuse to make and create and bake for others. Getting a little more creative, taking extra time and care. It's a joy. Little hands often make it a messy joy but the lesson is there to be learned and the gifts are in need of being shared.

I wonder often, this year, in this somewhat cookie cutter land we now call home, if a sideways look we will receive. A certain bread winner in this family has already earned the title of tree hugger at work which is in itself something to chuckle at. And I, well it's frequent I receive a sideways look when others find out not only is our child adorning cloth diapers but she's wiped with terry cloth also. (No, I'm not a freak.) We're country kids trying to make our way in the city style of life here. And, most of the time we're doing okay. And even more of the time, we're loving it.

So I question whether these gifts will be received with gratitude for time taken to caringly create, or if they'll be received with a question mark like-look of 'why wouldn't you simply buy something'. Either way, they are wrapped and ready to go. And, there's one certain four year old - in the throws of it all - who cannot wait to pass around the love.

{peppermint bark...a second batch nearly necessary, no thanks to the nibbling along the way}

{a new granola this year...equally as delicious as it's partnered gift above}

{several of these skirts made it out the door and what a joy to see her wearing them...finally}

{what a privilege to sew more of these sweet things than i ever imagined...aren't they lovely?}

Of course this year is super crazy extra special for many families, ours included. Yesterday, we were gifted with another piece of Makeda's puzzle which makes the journey more full, more complete, more heart wrenching - the reminder of the reason for her (most) adoptions brought to the very forefront.

Yet, another piece to her. Her life. Her beginnings. A gift more weighted than we could describe. And for that, we are oh so very grateful. And I ache to go back. A feeling suppressed often...daily...prevailed yesterday. More raw than in recent weeks, we hugged her a little tighter and held her a little closer and looked a little deeper into those dark brown eyes of hers while putting her to bed. The people, friends, kindred spirits met along this's inexplicably divine, I will admit. Not to be dramatic.

And so, this year we celebrate with many edibles and enjoyables comprising our gifts. Wee ones will open a little more, we make sure of that. We'll celebrate the true reason for the joy of this season. We'll rejoice in five...As Five. We'll be grateful for that which we have, all that we have. We'll look ahead with great anticipation - knowing the year behind was full of mountains and great challenge and reward, and praying the next will be as such. Well, perhaps slightly less so.

We will continue to be. As Five.

With joy and gratitude in our midst and shrieks of delight, we will continue to be, as five.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Race

I've been thinking a lot recently (while elbow deep in gingerbread dough, mostly) about the one thing I truly feel this race...our human race...seems to view in a parallel fashion. It always hits me this time of year, but this year more so than in the past. Perhaps it feels closer to home due to much recent change in personal circumstances...the past several months have been ridden with change for this family and we've been forced to grow and stretch in ways never anticipated. All for good. For lots and lots of good and growth...but challenging and paradigm shifting and eye opening nevertheless.

From different cultures, creeds or religions, backgrounds, philosophies, world views, circumstances, joys. Regardless of age, gender, or colour of collar we wear to work. Whether in the sticks or cookie-cutter-ville.

We all, I believe - or rather, feel I have observed - maintain one paralleled worldview.

And, it is that of equality or rather, justice of (and for) our race...our species. Provision. Supercilious of our motivation, there seems to be a trend, passion, ache, desire to provide for those who cannot do so for themselves. This is obviously apparent in the journey of adoption and becomes more apparent of course in the months leading up to Christmas which, tragically for many is of course a season of frivolous greed. Of course whenever we see a natural disaster, instinct takes over and we see this desire to provide and seek justice prevail as well.

And I just think it's really...well...interesting. We are able to put aside our differences...different try and provide and seek survival on behalf of those unable.

Motivation different. From a giant, long spectrum. Yet goals and desires meet. Many working together for the better good. For our kind.

I know this is true because if I had a dollar for every person (regardless of their beliefs, background, or whereabouts) who put this up on Facebook, I'd be one rich Mama.

Wouldn't it just be surreal if we could assimilate perspective and cooperate on more than this solitary reality? I wonder somedays how that would look. How would the world change. How the human race become, well, better. I think I will always wonder that.

And I wonder what it is that we all must innately possess, that makes us so intrinsically and acutely aware of the realities that are becoming the norm. And I wonder how we all know it's so bad and so wrong and so desperate. And I wonder how we all long to do something, anything for this one cause - this one calamity - regardless of pretty much anything else. And I wonder what it is I can do, to make the ache of feeling helpless go away. When faced with such a Goliath, don't you wonder what effective means you can offer? The options are endless, really.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Lull

Excuse the quiet. I actually do have some more intense topics to share but they mean time and that, I just don't have in abundance at this moment.

The lull is due largely to vomit, laryngitis (energy decrease due to said illness), that fun snow, Christmas makings - can't wait to work on more as soon as any sort of time presents itself - this could be in the form of the wee hours of the morning, Daddy heading slightly west for a few days and a desire, therefore, to pack our schedule more than usual. (Which by the way, I love. Busyness = Happiness.)

Yes, apparently when there is one less adult on the scene I feel the need to up the anti and pack our days. It's fun. Tiring. Yet, distracting. Plus, when it involves a lot of gingerbreading (yes it requires a tense at this time of year), what's not to love.

{several of these wee ones have made their way through my machine recently...}

That is all part of tomorrow's fun. Today is cleaning and baking and rolling and cutting in preparation.

Oh and tests. They do take up a lot of time, those tests. There's lots of studying taking place in these parts - and if you think I'm talking about anyone other than one small first grader, you're wrong.

Monday, December 5, 2011


#1 Read to his siblings - The Paper Bag Princess - all by himself.

#2 Hammed it up. Wouldn't expect anything less.

#3 Splashed her little heart out. Shrieked with delight at the novelty of sharing the tub with her siblings and at the knowledge that in the past 8 weeks she has gained 1.3 kg and grown 4 cm in length.

{today's trick: learning to blow kisses...
she still misses her mouth from time to time but rome wasn't built in a day}

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Hair. Oh, That Thick, Beautiful, Curly, Knotted (!) Hair.

You can't necessarily tell from the photos but Miss Makeda has the most incredible, tightly spun (that part you can discern from photos), course, looooooooong ringlets.

They are beautiful.

And they can be a lot of work...if I don't keep on top of it all.

Especially in a dry dry climate such as the one in which we now live.

Have I mentioned how much I love it here? In this new climate...ah hem...province? The sun shines, the snow falls, then the sun shines again. It's cold but different cold. Not bone chilling. I was out in a sweater today with a scarf around my neck (in the snow at zero degrees). And, while many around me looked my way as though I...well...forgot my coat before leaving the house, truthfully I didn't. (And I wasn't planning on standing out in it for hours on end, either.) It's just a dry cold. And yes, there's a crack on my thumb as proof that the weather is horrifically dry. I've been fighting it going on three weeks now and after many attempts with different crazy wonderful moisturizing products and such, I've now resorted to what finally seems to be working: Lansinoh.

Yeah, eat your heart out.

Ben suggested I go to Lee Valley and get some cow utter type cream that apparently wood workers often use due to dry skin as a result of the job. So, I put on my thinking cap, (and also wanted to do anything to avoid going to Lee Valley - just not my kind of gig) and thought I'd wander downstairs, grab a tube left over from four years ago (also recently used to Lanolize some wool longies knit by a fantastically talented friend). Not only would I save time and money, the salvation of my sanity would also be in the mix. (I'm still navigating my way around the big big city, preferring to stay within the limits of our big city.)

You get the point: it's crazy dry here.

I digress.

I've always loved hair. Long hair, braids, creative styles, care, you name it and I've been fascinated...and able to successfully create and complete a lot of it on myself. But let's be honest, African hair is a whole other ball game. I read up a little, prior to and throughout, well, everything we've just journeyed through.

The theme which pervaded all the reading materials: moisturize. Keep it lubed. Don't wash too often. Saturate daily with quality product. Be kind.

And so always once, often two or three times daily Miss Makeda enjoys (ah hem? endures?) a hair routine.

Because of all the craziness in our life...which I don't see changing any time soon...I went with a company I knew I could count on. This mother has experience Ethiopian hair first hand, she's in Canada, and...well...she's a Mama. That's a fantastically deadly wonderful combo. I sought some "Whoa, there's a lot of choice what you would you recommend" advise from a couple of adoptive mamas...and here's what this Mama is loving right now.

Patty Cake Conditioner is fantastic during her bath and after applying it, I usually brush through those curls using my Tangle Teaser before rinsing. (This is when we see how long her hair really is...inches people! No kidding.)

I am loving Itsy Bitsy Spirals Baby Curl Moisturizer. It's easy to dribble on and seems to really get soaked well into her hair. It looks like oil but there's no real residue such as that which oil would leave. Her curls take on a shine which lasts until nearly nap time (at the end of which we often reapply).

However, often in the mornings as she sports her bed sheet lint I will spritz a bunch of this Curly Q Moisturizer/Detangler in order to avoid tears as I run my fingers through the fuzz. The sheen her hair takes on is to be envied! (Note: I do have a sleep cap but don't think she'd keep it on or appreciate the reason behind it so will wait until she's a little older.)

When I picked Makeda up in Ethiopia she was the only baby in the infant room with hair enough (or hair at all!) to braid/corn row, pony tail, or style in any which way. And I took heart in the fact that the nannies cared enough for these children - this child - that amidst all the diaper changing, sheet stripping, feeding, bottling (yes, I just gave that a tense), comforting, stimulating, and I'm sure a million other things, they made styling Makeda's hair a priority. I'm sure part of it for them was a treat. One nannie in particular mothered our child. And I recall the day after I had taken Makeda with me for good, we returned and I took her for a nap in the infant room. I handed her over but the tables had turned. I was now officially the mother. Twenty-four hours earlier this had not so much seemed the case. I was now the mother and so the nannie (through translation) who spoiled our daughter with touch and attention while doing her hair - and who undoubtedly took pride in it - now asked my permission. "May I braid her hair?". I was thrown a bit. Yet, for respect of the system I was also of course grateful.

I want to make Makeda's hair, (skin!) and quality of product a priority as did the nannies and orphanage in which she lived for so very many months. I am currently loving the 'baby afro' basic, quick, simple style which is constantly receiving complements. I know, however, as time goes on I will want to attempt new (time consuming!) styles.

And so, for now I will purchase quality materials with which to care for her outsides as we continue to seek to do our best to care for her insides...her loss, her attaching, her heritage, culture, personality and the like.

After Christmas, once the "to make, sew, knit, and create" list is accomplished, wrapped, and gifted, I will attempt this fantastically looking Hair Elixir.

I truly can't wait!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I hesitate to write on this.

It's huge.


There's no one right way.

I'm barely going to touch the tip of the iceberg and it will all be very subjective.

But I've had several conversations about attachment recently. Some sprung upon me and others I've initiated. As, it's not something you can truly understand from a personal level until you are living it.

We are living it.

Attachment with an adopted child.

While we had three and a half years to read up on it - and likely could have read nearly every book written on it had we really paced ourselves, I will honestly admit that the motivation was strong at the start and at the end. It waned in the middle...and while I could blame the adoption game, the question of "will it ever happen", the frustration of the wait...I will truthfully say there was a small part of me who, while wanting to be book smart and savvy, also wanted to allow instinct to take over. My degree is (somewhat) in this area and I allowed knowledge gained over those years penetrate from somewhere back in the library of years past, permeate during the months between the referral and the pick-up.

For us, age played a huge role. Makeda was young. She was young at referral, when we met her prior to court, and she was still young, (mercifully) when she came home. (HOME. I am still in disbelief as I write those words...yes, even after two months together. Honest and complete disbelief, gratitude, and gratefulness.)

I digress.

Our referral age request was always based on two main things: the age of our biological children and the age at which attachment is most easily formed. Perhaps this is selfish. Perhaps we should have been more open to a wide spectrum of age, special needs, and other possibilities. But for us, for our family, this was right. And doing what's right for one's entire family is at the crux of it all, isn't it? This doesn't mean the journey (to and after completion of the adoption) will be easy..."right" is defined differently and specifically within the parameters of each family and each parent's threshold, isn't it?!

Instinct for us - for me - meant one thing which I had continually read in regards to the bonding and attachment process. Closeness. Touch. Contact. General habits and routines such as being the only ones to feed, change, and put her to bed were in the repetoir, of course.

For me, it was eye contact above all else. It was that first meeting when we weren't allowed to hold or even touch her physically. Intentionally and for long periods, we would lock eyes. Our gaze not straying from each other. I tried to read her and allowed her to do the same - inasmuch as a 7 month baby could. The following day, the same thing: eyes locked.

When she was brought to me in September, as much as I possibly could I allowed her to stare into my eyes again. I truly believe we formed a bond then.

Children know much. They glean and sense more than we could ever give them credit for, I believe. And I think in those first few moments at each meeting we were able to exchange some sort of foundational relationship and attachment.

I'm not saying this is true for everyone. I'm not saying this is what we should all do. Older children (toddlers included) are a whole other ballgame and while it is as important to take cues from them, research and reading is as important as ever.

I wonder some days, if I'm just oblivious and we have made zero headway or if it has simply gone more smoothly than we ever could have anticipated. After several conversations recently, both with friends and professionals, it would seem the latter is true.

Never give up or cease continuing to build that bond.

Never underestimate the foundational importance of eye contact.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh! The Party

Blessed by many.

The little people wore their Ethiopian best.

The Birthday Cake - another masterpiece by the most talented of cake makers! We are so thankful we've both moved within driving distance of each other over the past year. Such a gift.

Her first experience with cake, and sugar, and sweets since coming home.

And, while she doesn't have much of a sweet tooth...she definitely enjoyed her nibbles and playing with her cake.

It was a very long afternoon. The best kind. This house was full. Surrounded by friends, new and old - and even an orphanage roommate reunion, it was a true celebration.

She ended the day tired, content, beautifully peaceful, so...well...her.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Today. 2011. A Babe - One. We Celebrate.

It's hard to believe that an entire year has passed since I posted this.

Having no clue we'd be...well, here. Five. In Alberta. Celebrating. Praising. Rejoicing. Holding. Kissing. Loving. Giving great thanks.

In light of that post, moreover of that day, I can't help but say, "thank you God that we did".

Painfully at times, we felt staying the course was our only option. Painfully.

And to think of the gift we would have missed, had we veered. Taken another path. Eased the anguish and ceased the tears in the name of less raw emotion. Forgetting, ignoring that "The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." (Buechner)

We would have missed this all.

Because, though it seems in some ways that she's always been here - because you know, she is such a perfect fit for us - I know that not long ago we ached. And as I've said before, not unlike the pain of childbirth the memory of that pain will never be forgotten (how could is a part of the journey), it has faded to some of the rearmost parts of our memory. Intentionally sometimes. It has been forced there by pure grace, joy, one little ethiopian girl.

There have been many milestones we've missed in the still short life of our sweet, beautiful, comical, facial expression-filled, growly, cuddly, content, smiley baby girl. And that too, the acceptance and knowledge that adoption is not a journey whose specific path we necessarily chose, has been part of our experience.

Her kicking in the womb, her birth (!!!), her first cries and smiles and giggles and coos. The first time she placed her thumb in her mouth in need of self-soothing (oh! that thumb). The first time she rolled over (many friends saw this before us). Her first immunizations. Her first cough and cold and I wonder what other illnesses. We missed it all.

But not today.

Today we celebrate with the joy, a milestone together.

We celebrate a little girl turning one.

Though it's not just that, is it. We celebrate being family. Five. We delight in this day not only for it's importance but as one piece continuing to form the story of miracles. Togetherness. Joy. We celebrate the anguish and excruciating moments which led us to this moment of fruition, revelry, and absolute awe.

Happy Birthday Sweet Beautiful Merciful Makeda.

{Today we celebrate...tomorrow we party!}

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fresh (Air) Perspective

Yesterday was not one of those days a person wishes to repeat, or even re-live in their mind. It just wasn't a stellar day in the history of this little family. Everyone went to bed a little (!) frazzled and out of sorts. Some of us woke up with frustration hang-over from the unfavourable ending to the previous day.

But we're normal. It will happen again. (Hopefully no time soon.)

We have great days. We have bad days. And in between these extremes lies the spectrum of life (with children).

Going to bed feeling undone and spent is one thing. Waking up feeling similar isn't okay with me.

And while it wasn't on the top of my to-do list, the sun was shining, the thermometer was reading a wee bit above zero and the paths were calling our names. (This may not seem warm, yet this morning's read was 31.5 degrees above that of Saturday morning!)

We bundled up.

One hopped on his bike.

One was nuzzled cozy in her stroller.

The other, a leash strapped around his furry neck.

And I...I took up the rear with camera in hand.

It was a "choose your own adventure" kind of morning. The paths around these parts are fantastic and have been cleared and plowed more than the sidewalks. One small four year old in the lead - his kamikaze style bike riding leaves this Mama wanting to loose her last meal at times - we've taken to looking away when he really gets his speed up. The rest of us followed.

This way and that, we followed the paths (and a few sidewalks) on our mini adventure.

And the mindset at the end of it was well worth the time spent together. Outside. In the fresh air. And sun.

I consciously took deep breaths as we walked along. Allowing the fresh, cool (not frigid!) air to reach deep down into the crevices of my lungs. And I'm sure it helped.

We get caught up sometimes, don't we? In the busyness of life. What we should be doing instead, sometimes, of what we want to be doing. We forget, in the throws of homework and soccer and play dates and appointments, that these moments...the walks, the adventure, the deep breathing...these phenomena keep us healthy and sane and patient and content.

My encouragement is to take, if only a few minutes, to stop. Whatever has to get done - put it aside if only briefly. Don't forget about the value of the outside, fresh air, deep breathing, talking together with your wee one(s). Slowing down. Push a kid, walk alongside one, go to the end of the street alone if it's dark and into the night and the day has slipped away, but do take those deep fresh breaths.

We can so easily slip into the drone of the day. We can fall into a sea of gray if we allow ourselves. When the moment presents itself - or you have worked to seek it out - jump...ah hem, walk.

Today has been much better.

We all have a much better perspective.