Monday, November 28, 2016

When the government returns your husband

Written November 30th

My husband is home! After 13 days away he returned to us - amid shouts of "Daddy" from Avie as the taxi pulled up. After a long afternoon of Braxton Hicks and back pain, I was feeling tired and anxious. I asked Jamie (one of the girls who lives with us) to watch Avie so I could shower; fully prepared to get clean and have a good cry. As I headed upstairs my phone buzzed with a text from Paul; "Baby, I'm coming home!!" Never have I been so happy to get a text from Paul. I stuck with my plan of a shower and a good cry, but this way, it was tears of relief. Being Paul, he let all the other jurors get in taxi's first but he was home within an hour of that first text. 

Waiting for the taxi to arrive

The biggest question Paul and I keep getting asked, "would you do it again?" The answer is a resounding, "probably." For Paul, he values civic responsibility greatly. While it wouldn't be something he entered lightly, and he would weigh the cost on our family, he would most likely do it again. He grew in many ways and learned so much, especially about himself. He would also encourage others to go through this. This is part of the system that keeps us safe, that stands for justice. 

For me, I would say that while the timing sucked in many ways, this was also a time of growth for me, as well as for Paul. This time showed me yet again how my community will rise up to support and encourage me. I learned that I am far more capable than I give myself credit for. I got to watch the students in our home love and support me and Avie - emotionally and practically. I got to see God meet my emotional and practical needs. It made for a sweet time of reconnection with my husband. 

Lunch downtown with Paul the next day

It also was a time that made for some fun stories between us. Of passing clothes back and forth (what a treat to collect dirty laundry from a Sheriff), of the messages we could send back and forth between each others and the Sheriff's. On top of that, Paul had figured out early on that if he spent money at dinner (by buying a beer) it would alert my phone so I could see where he was and feel connected - I loved hearing that he was buying beer mostly just so I would see that. It was fun to hear about the meals they ate and how tired he was of eating out (he made me feel so loved by saying how much he missed my cooking). Of course, Paul can't talk about the deliberations at all. In Canada the jurors can only talk about that which is public record. Basically, the things they learned during the course of the trial that are public, he can discuss (like what the case was, etc) but nothing more. Paul is most definitely a rule follower, so he sticks to that religiously.

Avie and Paul reunited and so at peace together - my heart was so full in this moment.

One of the biggest things that happened during this time was the growth I got to see in my husband. There were some things about him that I have been praying for him for the last while - that he would understand certain things about himself. There are many things I love and respect about him that I was praying he'd be able to grasp about himself. During this time he learned many of these things about himself. I watched him thrive under the weight of the responsibility of the justice system, and the expectations there. He came back sobered and stretched, knowing himself and his strengths better. It has been a gift to see in him. I am so thankful for that. 

This was simultaneously one of the hardest experiences of my life, and one of the biggest blessings. We learned so much about ourselves individually and got to see our community support us both in different ways. I am glad we had this experience - I am proud of my husband for his service to the justice system here - and I am so so so happy to have him home.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Pretty Bathroom Organization

One thing that's been true abut me forever is that I keep pretty things clean, and I get overwhelmed in clutter. Before we moved my ensuite was fairly organized but not overly pretty. It was enough to keep me from getting overwhelmed but definitely didn't make my heart sing in any way. I was excited when we moved to our new place because the bathroom is way bigger and not only has a nice large vanity, but also a nice big cabinet to store stuff. I have been able to place some things out on the counter but leave most in the cabinet. The lack of clutter on the counter top has been great for my sanity - and for our marriage. Paul likes things tidy. Not pretty, just tidy. We had people who helped us unpack when we moved in, so the bathroom things were in the cabinet but they weren't organized and they definitely weren't pretty. This weekend Paul was away hunting so Saturday night once Avie (and her cousins, who were here for a sleepover) were asleep, I tackled the space!

First, I cleared it out. Then I wiped it down and organized all my items on the floor into types and PURGED. Once that was done it was time to start making things pretty.

I have tons of wrapping paper so I went and picked the girliest floral wrap with hints of gold (love). I measured and cut and then used double sided tape to stick the paper to the back of the wall. I loved how it immediately made the space feminine and special.

I also took a trip with Avie to Bellingham. We hit up the Postal Center, Costco, Trader Joes AND the kids' consignment store. But my heart was really captivated by our TJ Maxx stop. I was looking for pretty and useful containers. I had great success. I found a perfect dish to hold my pendants (that I string onto necklaces, depending on what I want to wear), a lovely marble dish (I loved the idea of the strength of marble, against the floral background) and a great little jewelry box (that I won't use to store valuable jewelry, since I don't have any, but I will hide random crap in it!).  I'd also bought a gorgeous Antler stand to hang things on a few months ago when I started dreaming about this space. Then I looked around the house for other things that I had - the cake stand I used in the last bathroom, a tiered stand that I used in my last kitchen but doesn't have a home here, a fun turquoise box I'd bought for our women's retreat, and a plastic container that I'd been using in Avie's room but no longer needed there.

After I had things generally corralled and in place, it was time to make storage for my necklaces. I had a 24 pack of command strip hangers that I'd grabbed at Costco a while back and a plan was set! I spaced out 9 hangers on both sides and then slowly hung my necklaces by type. Eventually, I found two big wide necklaces that I realized would look best hung on the back wall. I knew I couldn't hang much there because it would be held up by the paper, rather than the actual wall, but I figured I could get away with just two. I reinforced the back of it with more double sided tape (paper to wall) and then placed them. I loved the way it looked!

And there you have it. It's pretty. It's organized. And I've gone into the bathroom to look at it approximately 1000 times in the past days. Also, it took me a month to "edit" these terrible photos. I can happily report that this system has stayed in place perfectly, continued to bring me great joy and looks better in person.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Dressing Bump #2, Weeks 33-36

Lately my body has been more sore than usual, so getting dressed is an interesting mix of fun and tiring. I still find that I feel better overall if I look pulled together, but days of sweatpants and comfy clothes are also very appealing! I've also been working more from home, trying to get ahead on my work so that I can take a month off when baby comes - those days I'm looking for an outfit that is comfy and just the right temperature (not too hot, or too cold) but also pulled together enough that I don't feel like I'm lazing around the house. If I wear sloppy clothes then I don't feel like working, so I need to be a bit pulled together. AND in all of this I was away on a girls trip to Victoria with some lovely women (and my also super preggo sister) so I wanted to look nice while I was away.

Comparing bumps


Lunch with Nana and Auntie Lesley

Fan Tan Alley with Lydia and Dina

Last pregnancy, at this time, Avie's room was totally ready, I was done work for the year AND I had a pretty chill schedule. This time I'm working hard to get ahead on work, I'm still pulling the room together (though if baby came tomorrow, we'd basically be able to make it work - Avie's floor bed doesn't need to be ready until new baby is a couple months old) and I'm spending my days looking after a toddler / doing more with Paul on jury duty and trying to keep up with life. I need to remember to make more time to slow down.

1. Ripped black skinnies, maternity T + jean jacket. Easy. 2. Wrap dress, non maternity. 3. Slouchy sweater (that I only like when I'm pregnant, from the Latest Scoop). 4. Favorite maroon skinnies, ankle boots that still fit, plain white T, and denim shirt. 5. Black skinnies, grey T and button up with vest. 6. Skinnies, rain boots, Jessica Simpson maternity top and cacoon cardi.
1. Slouchy sweater with skinnies and boots. 2 / 3. Stripes, skinnies and pendant necklace. 4. Comfy skinny sweats and a black t. 5. Black T and skinnies with pendant necklace. 

Work is an interesting thing - I never thought I'd be someone that chose to work during what could have been maternity leave. In Canada, we are so lucky to have a year off of work - paid (at 55% of your wage, roughly). I have paid in to this system my whole working life and always intended to take full advantage of it. Then I started a job that was basically my dream job. I work as the Operations Manager for my church and I love it. I over see the finances, and manage all the administration. I also get to prioritize relationships with people that I love - and work closely with a group of people who already had my heart. [I've written about my love affair with the church here] On top of that it would be a lot of work to train someone to do my job when I'm barely just learning to understand it all. This is a new position created with me in mind, so it's tricky to think of handing it off for a time - and thankfully I don't really have to. Paul will be taking 3 months of Paternity leave (his company tops up the government contribution, giving him 85% of his wage) to take over house and baby/kid stuff so that I can focus on feeding the newborn, sleeping and working. He'll be on Avie duty, house duty and other new baby duty once she's fed. We'll both get some naps in and keep everything ticking along. It's also amazing the timing of this baby - mid to late December would have already been slow times for work so it's easy to step out basically totally for those two weeks, and I'm working on prepping everything now for early January so that I can be pretty low key in my involvement for that time period also. Extra work now, for a sweet payoff then. I should be able to make a whole month of time for new baby. I'm really curious to see how this all plays out for us but so far it seems like it's going to work well. I'm thankful for such a supportive husband who is totally into this - especially since he really values my job. It's the first job I've ever had that has been a perfect fit. It is a job that thrills my heart and plays to my strengths and gives me victory in my day to day life. I love it. What a feeling! I'll let you know how this whole things plays out though - it's definitely going to be different than our day to day right now. We've never both been home for an extended time.

Avie as a lady bug and me as Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball

 My cute girl

Smiles at breaky!

While Jenna and I were in Victoria, our husbands took our kids to the Oregon Coast. This made for some amazing photos. See proof below:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

When the government steals your husband, and other thoughts on Jury Duty

Currently, Paul is on Day 10 of sequestered Jury Deliberations. Since mid/end of September he's been serving on a Jury - they thought it would be a 6 week trial (turned out to be 8) before deliberations. What I'd never heard mentioned before (or during the selection process, when they asked if there was any reason you couldn't serve on a jury) was that during deliberations Jury's in BC are sequestered - meaning they stay in a hotel downtown with no contact with the outside world until a decision is made. In theory, this doesn't sound terrible. Their meals are covered and it keeps them from being distracted. They are in deliberations from 9am until 10pm each night, aside from when they eat, so they are working hard. The reality is far from ideal though, at least from the 'left behind' spouses perspective.

10 days (and 1 hour) ago I dropped Paul off at the Courthouse downtown. He kissed me on the cheek and was gone. Starting that night, sometime between 8:30pm and 11pm, I get a daily phone call from the Sheriff who reads me a handwritten note from Paul. After two days I finally realized I should ask if I could send a note back (since no one had offered to take a message) and they said I could. It has to be brief and vague (so as not to distract him). It's hella awkward dictating a message to Paul through a sheriff. I sometimes get a call in the morning or afternoon with another message from Paul - but that is less certain. That is the full extent of my 'contact' with Paul. Considering we are in love and actually like each other and normally see each other each night, as well as talk throughout the day, this is a huge shocker to the system.

Here's where I am currently emotionally: I am 37.3 weeks pregnant. My due date just over 2 weeks away - I am having Braxton Hicks contractions regularly and am dealing with pregnancy insomnia and general end of pregnancy tiredness. I am working 35ish hours a week (rather than my normal 17-25) so that I can get ahead before baby comes, so I can enjoy a month without having to think about work too much. We have 4 students that live with us (dinners, lunches, shopping, cleaning, etc). I have a 19 month old. And now, the government has taken away my husband - so there are all of his chores to add to the plate (garbage, recycling, baby help, dishes, cleaning, etc) - as well as keeping his work and volunteer places up to date on his unavailability (and stepping in where we hadn't expected - ie he's leading a men's retreat for 35 men this coming weekend, we don't know if he'll be out and in the meantime I've needed to step in and do the final registration stuff, and liaise with the camp on his behalf so nothing is missed). Lack of communication aside, this is made worse by the fact that there is no assurance of when this might end. Of course - because it's a jury deliberation - no one knows.

I know they would let him out if I go into labour, but we weren't exactly going to be spending this time just sitting here waiting for baby. We still had a bed to make for the nursery, and things to try to get ahead on (which I've had to give up on) - and other last minute things to do before baby, that now I'm trying to do on my own. Currently, I'm about to go visit Pauls grandpa (when I should be working) to drop off lumber (that I had to spend time buying when I should have been working), to get him to complete the bed project that Paul would have completed. This adds to my already very full plate. I'm thankful that family can step in, but it would be better if they didn't have to!

Continued at 10:30pm. 

This morning I dropped more clothes off for Paul. This is the third time I've gone in with clothes for him. This time they were very specific, no leaving notes for him or adding anything to the bag he didn't specifically request through sheriff message - no contact, no love. So hard. I haven't spoken to or seen or hugged my husband in 10 days and I can't even send him a little love. I was in the same building as him and I couldn't see him. Normally getting to go there feels like connection - like I'm closer to him but today it was just hard. As I walked over to Tim Hortons (steeped tea usually cheers me up no matter what) I could hardly stop myself crying - I ordered and tried to remain composed. But I'm hella pregnant and I miss my husband and I don't know when I'll see him again and he's somewhere within a block of me and I can't see him. It's infuriating. I called a girlfriend in South Africa and she managed to cheer me up by being lovely but I'm just so done with this.

Last night when the sheriff called, I asked him how Paul seemed. He said that Paul seemed to be in good spirits. Pregnancy insomnia kept me up and then I started to think darker thoughts - that Paul was glad to be away, that Paul didn't miss's amazing how stupid our brains can be. I know that this isn't true. I know Paul loves me and misses me (and Avie). He may be able to put that missing aside to focus on what he's doing but that won't change that he does miss us. Tonight I met with some girlfriends for our small group - we shared about life and relationships and how we were doing with God. I shared some of these lies I was believing and knew that by confessing the lies they would lose power, and would force me to turn to God for truth. Then I got the daily call from the Sheriff. Thankfully, tonight Paul said that he loved and missed us, and he specifically took a moment to pass on to me that he's so thankful to have a loving and supportive wife, and that he loves me tons. I felt loved and covered by God, and thankful that Paul took a moment to say that.

Now, I wanted to send a message back to him. I'm allowed to say some things and not allowed to say others. One of the weirdest parts of all this is that there are no guidelines or information given to the families of the jurors on what we can or can not do. Not even an email or a pamphlet. So I start to send a message back and the sheriff says, "no, you can't say that". Um ok. She says, you can just tell him that you're fine and you love him. So, what is the point? She could just give him the same message from me every day, if that's all I'm allowed to say. Besides, I'm obviously not going to tell Paul the truth - that I feel like I'm going insane in this process. That I cry multiple times a day. That I miss him so badly I want to scream. (I get it, these are over emotions, but keep in mind, I'm super pregnant). Even if they would pass on that message (which they wouldn't for fear it would distract him), I wouldn't ask them to, because I too care about not distracting him. I care about him and want him to feel like he can focus on what he is doing, and not worry about me at home. So I will keep passing on the message that "everyone at home is great, we're all sleeping well, people are supportive and loving, and not to worry about us, that we love him and are proud of him". Because, really, what else would I say? Those things are mostly true too - we are sleeping decently, Avie is being sweet and amazing for a toddler, our friends and family and church are being amazingly loving and supportive and it's true, we do love him and are so proud of him. It's just not the whole picture.

I'm amazed at this situation. Most people I talk to have no idea this is how deliberations work in Canada - I sure didn't. Most people are now even more turned off by the idea of serving on a jury. This leads me to wonder at the system; do they really have such a large pool of jurors that they aren't concerned that in moments like this they are creating large groups of people who will now try to get out of jury duty in the future? Many of our friends or family liked the idea of jury duty until our experience and now most of them say if they are ever summoned they will try to be excused. So the question remains; do they actually have such an excess of jurors that they can afford to be vague and no give information, and set up a system that most people would try to avoid? Because it's not just about me and Paul - it's our social sphere. Then it's the other 11 jurors, their families and their social spheres. That is a wide influence of people who are caught in this situation and who are most likely struggling with the reality of it.

There is a silver lining though, to the lack of information. They didn't tell me I couldn't blog about it, because they didn't tell me anything. So win. Here I am - venting it out. It helps to write. It relieves some of the pressure.

And I'll tell you some more silver linings, because I should. Our friends and family have stepped up to help us in amazing ways - people are so supportive and loving and kind. People have helped and brought food and looked after Avie and cared for me. Tonight I was tidying the house since it had gotten a bit crazy over the last few days and while I was doing that one of my students came home, saw the huge mess in the kitchen, told me not to help her, and then cleaned it all herself. So amazing. Tonight I will go to bed with a fully tidy house. My room is also clean,  and our fridge is full of food.

Our friends, church, and family have been calling, texting, emailing with constant messages of love and support, and have been praying for Paul as well as me and Avie. I have been in constant contact with members of my family and Paul's family - this is something that has drawn me deeper in relationships and has allowed me opportunities to look at the reality of my own needs and be honest about them. I have felt well loved in that place.

Tomorrow dawns Day 11 - I'm spending the morning with my Mom, Avie and Xiao (my Dad is in Jamaica) so Xiao is joining me to help with Mom. Then we'll head off to the doctors for my weekly check in (Xiao will get to hear the heartbeat with me). I'll probably drive past the courthouse more times than necessary, even though it's not exactly on the way, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Paul somehow. I will miss Paul and I will be fine. Both will be true. And now - it's time for bed. Sleep heals many frustrations - and restores my heart.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

From 1 to 2: Planning the kids room

In our last home I got to create a Nursery that I loved dearly for Avelynn. It fit my dreams and realities. I dreamed about it, friends and family helped me pull it together, and then Avie lived in it. And it was perfect. I wrote about my plans and the execution of them; here, here and here.

Then we moved. And technically, the perfect nursery came with us - but I haven't had the heart to put it all back together. I was overwhelmed to put back up her pouf feature without my besties (who had since moved to South Africa and France) or the gallery wall without the family that had helped put it together. Putting it together was one of the best decorating experiences I've ever had - honestly, I loved it. Packing up her room was super hard for me - which was a bit of a surprise. I mean, it shouldn't be that big of a deal, right? It's just a room. But somehow it was. And now I keep stalling. We've been here since May 31st, and it's the end of October now. 

But what's true about me is that I keep a room cleanest when it's organized and pretty. I find parenting easier when everything has a home, a place. AND I have a newborn coming in less than 2 months. It is time to conquer my fears or laziness or whatever it is and just start. Avie was away with her Grandpa and Grandma (Paul's side) so we could enjoy a parenting seminar and some time together - we had a few hours to spare so we started on the room! We brought up the newborn clothes and sorted them into drawers, and organized Avie's clothes. Now one side of the dresser is all Avie, and the other side is all baby girl #2 (such a personalized name, right?); Size 3 and 4 diapers on the left, newborn diapers on the right (how will we have a baby that small?? Those things are tiny). The room is pretty and organized now - all I need to do is decide what to do with the poufs (I have some ideas), put up the gallery wall (I loved having it and can probably do it with some help) and complete my closet dreaming (which I'll tell you about). 

Avie is in slightly bigger room now (with an ensuite!) and a deep closet. Currently, Avie sleeps in the crib (on the lowest level). We only have the one bedroom, and so the two kids will be sharing a room. To start, Baby #2 will be in our room in a bassinet for the first couple months, then she'll move into the kids room. Around that point, we'll move Avie out of the crib onto a floor bed, and move Baby #2 into the crib. AND Avie's floor bed will be made in the closet! Basically, I have seen some images for floor beds and teepee's, as well as kid pillows and twinkle lights - and I was hooked. 

First, I read about the benefits of floor beds

Second, I started looking at pictures of floor beds, tents, and bed filled with kids pillows. There were lots. Here are a few highlights:

Sweet floor bed with house frame! and mini doll bed! And stars on the walls!

Clara's Bedroom - Sweet & Simple Bed Canopy

Floor bed with tenting and pillows! The trifecta.

This final picture is my biggest dreaming point. It just makes me happy. The only problem is that there isn't the space in the girls room to put another bed, floor or otherwise. We already have a spare bed there for when Gram comes to stay. So we needed to look at alternatives. The closet seemed like an ideal spot. Deep and cozy. We were originally going to put a crib in there for Baby #2 but realized we could make a sweet spot for Avie instead. Here's where my dreams take off. 

We will be making a short (6 inch?) platform to put her bed on so it's slightly raised (that way we can fit a few things under it, like some books for Avie. Then we will be laying out a foam bed, topped with a fitted sheet and fun pillow, with draped material (and probably some fun garland) hanging from the upper shelf. There will be poufs and some twinkle lights. 

This is where we are so far with her closet - the platform isn't made, but the foam is to size and the crib sheet fits. Avie likes to crawl in and lay down - that's a good sign! #shehasnoidea #shejustlikessmallspaces

Finally, some of my excitement is back - I think once it really starts coming together my excitement will kick into high gear - the vision just needs to start being reality, and I suspect I will flip out. So I'm starting with her closet, as I assume that will get me pumped enough on the room to move to the Gallery wall. We've already got the foam cut for the bed, and a fitted sheet for it - it's sitting in the space and I can feel the flickers of excitement in my heart. Now, writing about it, I am again feeling that joy. I'll keep you updated on the progress! My goal is to have this done by mid November - a month before my due date (same timeline as Avie's room was ready before her due date!). 


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