Thursday, March 20, 2014

Number 11 - Pet Peeves

11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.

1. People being extraordinarily cheerful first thing in the morning...and expecting me to talk, be chipper, look alive...

2. Related to #1 yet completely different...people waking me up and then being grumpy in the morning. If you're going to be up early, and wake me up early, at least be happy/neutral so I don't have to deal directly with you until I've fully woken up. You can probably imagine who those people usually are in my life. :P

3.  People not replying to emails quickly.  Now, I understand that some people are not online checking emails/messages more than once or twice a then I don't expect an answer before the next day. I also understand that some people are busy and can't reply right away, even if they see my message (it happens to the best of us). But I know that other people are online every hour or two (thank you, fb) so how is there time to check the news feed but not time to send a little response?  I guess it's just me growing up in the age of everything being instant, but it bugs me when people take their time replying, even though I can see that they saw my message already (6 hours ago!). 

4. Grammar mistakes. Many of us are wholly dedicated to one language, let's see if we can master it, shall we? Or at least make an effort? In particular, the use of lend/borrow gets me EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.  If you're reading this, please take note of the following:

If I am receiving the item, I am borrowing it.
If I am letting someone use something that is mine, I am lending it. 
If someone is taking something that is mine to use for a while, they are borrowing it.
If someone else is letting me use something that is theirs, they are lending it.

end rant.

5. People who chew with their mouth open bug me to no end.  Or rather, their habit of chewing with their mouth open is what bugs me.  The people themselves are often quite nice.

6. When people ask me for recipes.  Most of the time it's ok because I just got the recipe off Pinterest or whatever.  But there are a few things that I've been making for years and every time I serve them, I get compliments.  I'm not sure why it bugs me; why would I care?  I guess I just want to be the person who makes those things. If everyone had the recipe, would it still be special when I made it for them?

7. Whiny kids...mine or anyone else's.  This excludes tired or hungry kids.  I understand that (though it can also be annoying).  I'm talking about kids who whine because they know it will help them get their way.  Also, lippy kids.

8. Rude people.

9. People who complain about how people use their cell phones and then do the exact same thing.

10. When someone rides in my seat in our van and adjusts the seat.  Don't tough the controls, people.  I have them just how I like them. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Number 6: Hardest Thing

6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

The hardest thing I have ever experienced?  Well, I would have to say, hands down, infertility.  It's the thing that immediately jumps into my head when I read this question.  And yet it's weird because, when I actually think about it, I keep thinking to myself that there must be something harder that I've gone through.  So many people have had to go through incredibly tough things like losing a child or losing a parent or other family member (untimely death) or fighting debilitating illness.  But I think my wondering whether there was something harder is an indication of how it is being on the other side of infertility.  Memories get fuzzy.  You remember that it was hard without actually remembering the tears and anger and raw emotion of it.  But it was tough.  The hardest thing for me.

When you are in the throes of infertility, wondering what the rest of your life will look like, wondering if you will ever see your dreams come's the hardest thing.  It's hard to plan more than a month or two in advance because what if you're dealing with morning sickness right when you're trying to backpack through Europe?  Or what if you have a newborn right when you have a huge deadline?  You can't plan for the future.  What kind of house do you buy?  A cozy little one bedroom that would be perfect for a couple?  Or do you aim big and hope that one day the empty bedrooms will start filling up?  And those are just some of the logistical things.  What about the emotional roller coaster??  Trying to convince yourself that life could be ok with no kids when that's the only way you've ever pictured your life; the only thing you've ever dreamed of.  Spending every Sunday morning choking back tears because you want to be that mom in church with her pew full of snacks and toys...but it's just not happening. 

Our journey through infertility was a hard one for me.  I found that it affected a portion of 9 out of 10 days in one way or another.  It was a constant weight.  Will it happen one day or won't it?  What part of my cycle are we in right now?  What more could we be doing to improve our chances?  Will this be the month?  It's not happening, do I move on and try to find some other dream that might come close to making me feel fulfilled?  What if I start to pursue another career only to get pregnant after spending $40,000 on schooling?  So.many.questions.  So.many.emotions.  Those years that were spent trying to grow our family were tough, tough years.  In day to day life, now busy with two kids, I often forget what it was like.  I am losing my sensitivity to others who may be in that situation (and I hate that I am!).  It was the hardest thing I have had to go through because it felt like a constant ebb and flow of hope and loss.  Hope...then loss.  And hope.  And loss.  Again and again.  I questioned everything in those years.  And then I felt guilty for questioning.  And then I stressed.  And then I tried not to stress because apparently stress can make it harder to conceive.  But that just made me stress more!  There was no winning.

I am so thankful that those years are behind me.  And yet I hope that I will always hold onto what they taught me.  About just how hard it is to stare the loss of the motherhood dream in the face...month after month.  About how I need to be sensitive to others who may be going through infertility. About who God is and how he is the same now and before those years and throughout it all.  His faithfulness didn't waver.  And if we'd never had kids, He would still be good...and righteous.  And there would still have been a plan for my life if I'd never become a mom, even if I couldn't for the life of me understand why I longed for motherhood so badly, only to have it dangled in front of me then yanked back.

Infertility is the hardest thing I've gone through.  And I know it probably doesn't make sense to anyone who hasn't gone through some form of infertility or pregnancy loss.  But it is such a hard road to walk.  So if you know anyone who is on that journey, or who you think might be...please, please go easy on them.  Please walk alongside them and support them.  Allow them to share their doubts.  Allow them to cry or rage or do whatever they need to do.  And please be sensitive.  Err on the side of sensitivity.  And pray.  Pray for their faith.  Pray for their dreams.  Pray for hope and perseverance.  Pray.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Number 5: Happy

5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?

In no particular order:

1. My husband and kids...especially when we're laughing and playing together.

2. Warmer weather.  I have this obsession with shoveling melting snow when the weather warms up a bit.  It's like, "Ok, Snow, you've had the upper hand for the past 6 it's MY turn to dominate.  Get out of my path, snow/ice/slush! Move, move, move!"

3. That my best friend just had an adorable baby boy yesterday after wondering if they ever could/would.  How amazingly amazing is that? I just want to pick up and move to their town so I can see him all the time!  Except that I love where I live and never want to move (see number 19 HERE).

4. A clean, organized house.  Oh wait...that would make me happy. If it were true. Unfortunately I have at least 3 more days of painting ahead of me before our house will be put back together again.  So on that note, I guess the real #4 happy thing would be WHITE TRIM AND DOORS!

5. Gathering eggs.  We have been gathering eggs at a neighbour's place this week while they are out of town.  Donning my rubber boots every day and walking up to the barn while holding Levi's excited little hand and an egg pail in the just feels right.  Stinks like nobody's business...but that's the price you pay for a dozen fresh brown eggs on your counter every afternoon. :)

Number 3: Parents

3. Describe your relationship with your parents.

Tough question.  Now, how do I answer this knowing my parents will read it??? :P Just kidding.  I wouldn't answer the question any differently, even if I knew they wouldn't read it.  Or would I?  Hmm... ;)

I'd say I've always had a lot of respect for my parents.  I've always known that they have my best interests in mind and trust that what they are doing is best.  That, in itself, is a huge thing for a daughter to be able to say (and I sure hope my kids will be able to say the same thing of Nathan and myself!).  Because of this respect, I didn't fight with my parents growing up.  I didn't always agree with some of their decisions but it was never a matter of raising voices or standing up to them (that I remember, correct me if I'm wrong, Mom and Dad!).  I've always felt that Mom and Dad had respect for me, and I, in return, had respect for them.  I always felt that they respected my decisions, which encouraged me to try to make the best decisions possible because I never felt like I needed to prove anything.  I knew that I was making decisions for myself because Mom and Dad would go along with whatever I chose - though at some point if I started being dumb, I'm sure they would certainly have stepped in!  For instance, when I was 19, I was at the supper table with my parents (and siblings, most likely) and randomly said, "Nathan and I are talking about getting married in spring" and they didn't even bat an eye.  If that doesn't prove trust and respect, I don't know what does.  If I felt that my parents would have put up a huge fight when I announced that, I might have been more prone to make a rash decision about getting married so young, just to prove that I could win the fight.  But, knowing that my parents would trust that I knew what I was doing and support me, I made the decision carefully and, frankly, the way you should make the decision to marry someone.  Completely for yourself.  There were many smaller decisions throughout high school that were made the same way (didn't smoke, drink, do drugs).  If I'd felt that my parents would argue about everything I did, I might have acted out a bit more, just to prove that I can do what I want without really thinking about what was good for me.  Does any of this make sense???  I'm not exactly sure how to describe it.

As an adult, I still have huge respect for my parents, but the relationship has shifted.  It's more of a friendship than a parent-child relationship.  I am close enough to my mom and dad that I go to them for advice - like when we were thinking about buying the acreage - and I trust what they say.  I'd say that my parents are easy to be around and we have a casual, loving relationship.  We see each other about every month or two (they are 3.5 hours away) but pick up right where we leave off every time.  

It has been interesting to see my parents in the grandparent role now that we have kids.  I'd say now, more than ever, I have an appreciation for how they parented my brother, sister, and I.  And to see them step back from the parenting role and lean into's wonderful.  I don't mind leaving my kids with my parents one bit because I know that they will respect the decisions Nathan and I have made about how we want to parent and they'll have fun with the kids without breaking all the rules and "spoiling" the kids too badly while we're away.  They've struck a good balance :)  

Overall, I'd say mutual respect is a theme in our relationship, as well as my never having questioned their love and intentions.  I trust them fully and appreciate everything they have done, and still do, for me.  I love you, Mom and Dad!  I'd say our relationship is a good one!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Number 21: Superpower

21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?

I've never been one for superpowers/super heroes.  But if there was such a superpower as not needing sleep, that would be the one I'd pick.  Though I'd still be able to sleep if I wanted to - I imagine it would eventually get boring to be awake all the time!  What would I do with it first?  Probably something lame like spend all night cleaning and organizing my house while nobody else was awake to undo it as I worked.  Yeah...I wasn't meant to be a super hero. :P 

Number 19: If I could live anywhere...

19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

This one will be short.  If I could live anywhere, I would live right where I'm living.  On an acreage.  Perfect distance to town.  No traffic down our road.  It's pretty near perfect. would be a LITTLE more perfect if it didn't have such hard water.  But we have a reverse osmosis system which means we don't have to haul our excellent-tasting drinking water and we have a great well full of water which means we don't have to haul ANY water. 

Why?  Well, I love living here because we have privacy.  It's not every day that we see vehicles going by.  I love living here because it's beautiful!  We have a treed yard.  We're surrounded by pastures.  We're about a mile (maybe less?) from a gorgeous lake which we drive by every time we go to town.  I love living here because we are remote enough to not see any lights at night within at least half a mile of our yard, yet are only a 13 minute drive from town.  I love living here because we have freedom to do what we want with the yard, without any neighbours watching or talking over the fence.  I loved my neighbours in town, but it's nice to just be able to go out and not think about who might see me feeding the animals in my pajamas every morning.  I love living here because the kids will grow up outside.  They will grow up with siblings and animals as their playmates.  I love living here because we can take a few more steps to being self-sufficient through having a garden, chickens, sheep, etc.  I've always dreamed of living on an acreage and I'm so happy that we were able to buy one that is close to a wonderful small town where we see ourselves long-term. 

If I could live anywhere, I would live right here.

Number 10: Embarrassing Moment

10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.

Ok...embarrassing moment.  Which one to choose?  I'm going to stay away from the ones typically found in Seventeen magazine (though I have one or two of those...what girl doesn't??).  Umm.  Ok.  I've got one.

When I was in high school, I spent a couple years liking this one guy.  Long story short, we eventually dated, I was heartbroken when he dumped me...but we stayed friends.  Mostly.  It was always a little awkward but hey...we were in the same friendship circle so we were still friends. We put the dating behind us and had some truly good times after that.

Fast forward a few years.  I'm married.  He's married.  We're at a mutual friends' wedding.  As I'm leaving the ceremony, I pass him talking with another mutual friend and it is only polite to stop and say hi to the guys.  We chat for a few minutes but as I turn to leave, I totally throw out the wrong name.  THE WRONG NAME!  I liked him for YEARS.  We DATED.  We were really good friends.  And I totally called him the wrong name.  I couldn't get away fast enough.  Ugh.  It doesn't help that I called him his brother's name.  Yikes.  How do these things happen??  Ok, now I'm embarrassed all over again...shoot.  Moving on...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Number 1: Random Facts

1.  List 20 random facts about yourself.

1. I am 4'10"...short by most people's standards and often the recipient of inappropriate comments regarding my height.  The place I lived where I received the most comments/jokes about my height (besides elementary school)?  Southern Manitoba.  

2. I have one amazing husband and two beautiful and wonderful children.

3. I used to ski or snowboard every winter.

4. I played soccer in high school and Bible college and, while I never felt I was much good at it, I got the impression that I was a bit of a threat to the other team.  If nothing else, at least I was fast and fearless :P

5. My first "real" job was working at a scrapbooking store in my hometown while I was in high school.

6. When it comes to money, I am a saver.

7. It drives me crazy when my house is messy, but with two kids and a husband, I've learned to let go and not let it bother me so much. It drives me equally crazy to feel like I'm cleaning 24/7 with nothing to show for it because it gets undone as fast as I clean. Some days letting go works...other days I feel like I'm going crazy constantly tripping over things and it's only a matter of time before I go on a cleaning rampage and see how much I can get done in the next 30 minutes.  The real test is when people come over.  I desperately want my house to be clean before anyone else enters but I've also been letting go of this one.  What you see is what you get, people.

8. I learned to crochet from my mom when I was in elementary school...probably 5-6 years old.

9. I have an older sister and a younger brother.

10. I lived in the same town from kindergarten to grade 12 (but no longer than that).  I still consider that my hometown.  It's nice to have a place that's so familiar and where I recognize so many faces, even after having been gone for the last 10 years.

11. I love walking, especially when the weather is beautiful and I have some nature to look at along the way.

12. I took piano lessons from grade 4 until grade 12, always with my aunt who was the best teacher ever.  I got my grade 8 and taught some young girls for a few years when we lived in Manitoba.

13. The best job I ever had was at a lumber yard in Altona, MB.  I worked with friends, had a LOT of freedom in my hours and in the work I did, and it was actually work I enjoyed.  I needed to be organized and there was a fair amount of problem solving involved.  It suited me perfectly.  

14. The worst job I ever had was at a book printing company.  I was an accounts payable assistant and receptionist.  It was full of people telling me what to do and how to do my job.  There were constantly people looking over my shoulder (either literally or by monitoring my computer usage or double checking my work).  I had zero say in anything and got all the jobs that nobody else wanted to do.  I felt like a monkey who was paid to just get the job done and not use her mind.  That is not me.

15. I feel stifled when people put me in a box and think they have me all figured out.

16. I love houseplants.  I used to not be able to keep anything alive, even ivies and ferns.  Now I'm doing much better with them, though my Christmas cactus is looking a little sad these days...

17. I spend most of my time wearing socks and slippers (or socks and shoes outside).  I don't love sandals.  Maybe it's because I hate having dirty feet.  Or maybe because I spent a few years as a child in a country where there were these bugs called "peekays" (sp?) that would bury themselves into your feet between your toes if you went barefoot.

18. I like to make things with my hands...but I'm not great at getting things perfect like the corners matched on a quilt top.  That's why crocheting is great for me!  I can take things apart over and over again until they're right and haven't lost anything but time.

19. Sweet or salty?  Sweet.  Though if you mix sweet and salty in things like kettle corn and salted taffy...THAT is amazing!

20. I am NOT a morning person.  I admit, if I am woken earlier than I should be (pre-8am) and have to deal with something like, oh I don't know...grumpy kids? I have zero patience.  Zero.  Nathan can attest to this.  If you want to see mean and grumpy Niki, wake me up early, be super cheerful and expect things from me.  Like smiles and conversation.  Not going to happen.  When people ask me first thing in the morning how I slept, I usually respond with, "I don't know, I'm not awake yet." I've gotten better since having kids but boy...some mornings are TOUGH around here! :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Number 4: 16 year old self

4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year old self, if you could.

1. You're not going to marry him.
2. Don't ever let yourself drop the habit of daily devotions with's WAY harder to recreate a habit once you're an adult.
3. Don't be afraid to like the things you like, even if your friends don't.
4. Don't be afraid to dislike the things you dislike, even if your friends like them.
5. You WILL have a husband and kids...don't rush the time before they happen.
6. Learn Spanish while you have the time/brain power.
7. Play more piano in church before you're in a bigger, more intimidating church.
8. Thank your parents more for everything they do.
9. Spend more time with your grandparents and take more pictures of/with them...they won't be around forever.
10. Be who God created you to be NOW...don't think that it will get easier to be your true self as you get older.  It doesn't.

Number 2: Fears

2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.

Let's start big...fears.  I'd like to think that I don't have a huge number of fears.  But here goes...

1. Fear of being somewhere new and not having any idea where to go or what's going on.  How did it become a fear?  When I was in grade 4 or 5, I went to school one morning and, as per usual, I must have been a few minutes late getting there.  I walked into my classroom like I did every morning and there was nobody there.  And there was nobody in the next classroom or, really, in the entire school.  It was all empty.  I had no idea what was going on or where everyone was.  I biked home as fast as I could in tears because I was so scared.  My mom made some phone calls and found out that the school (or at the very least the rest of my grade - 3 classes worth of students) had gone to the local plywood mill for a tour.  My mom drove me there, I met the rest of my class and the day continued on.  But I guess that moment of "where is everyone?  what's going on?" really stuck with me because any time I'm going into a situation where I might not know how to find the person I'm looking for or not know where I'm supposed to go, I panic a little inside.  I've gotten a lot better at improvising and not letting it get to me but every once in a while I still have that moment of fear when I'm in a situation and don't know where to go.

2. Losing my family.  I don't know where this fear came from.  Maybe it was my first (and only) boyfriend breakup in high school that came completely out of the blue.  Maybe it's just natural for everyone who has a family to fear losing them.  Maybe it is the incredible struggle we had to ever have kids (not saying that people who don't experience infertility don't fear losing their families...just that it brought up a bunch of theological questions for me and thus, my huge fear of losing my family).  Whatever it was, I am terrified that one day I'll lose my husband or one of my kids.

3. Mice.  Maybe this is more of a *shudder* type reaction than a fear reaction but either way it is STRONG!  I've never liked mice but my real "fear" of mice came when I was 18.  I'd moved out of the house (kinda) and was back at my parents' place for the summer between years of Bible school.  I was in my old bedroom but my bed had been sold because my parents were preparing for a move and knew I likely wouldn't need my twin bed anymore.  Thus, I was on a mattress on the floor.  Fine.  Enter: mouse coming through a hole in the wall 12 inches from my head.  While I'm sleeping on the floor.  I can see it faintly through the soft glow of my clock radio and it's coming closer and closer to my bed ON THE FLOOR.  I didn't know if I should move and try to get away - what if it freaks out and runs toward me instead of back into the wall??  Should I stay still and hope that it doesn't touch me?  I couldn't think of a good solution so I just lay there praying that it wouldn't take a flying leap onto my pillow (they can do that, you know).  Eventually I probably just threw something at it or turned on the light and it went back to it's home.  I remember trying to stuff a sock into the hole but that it managed to push the sock aside and come through one more time.  After that, I really jammed the sock in the hole good and spent the next few hours just laying there, not blinking and watching the hole.  I've hated mice with a passion ever since.  And feared their jump-attacks incredibly.

Getting to know...myself.

I'm always game for any self-insight activities...getting to know myself better.  Why I like what I like or feel the way I feel.  I wonder the same things about other people and my mind is always working to figure people out but since I can't just ask people questions about themselves any old time, I thought I would start with myself :)  I came across a list of questions on a blog and figured I'd steal them and do my own version of the question answering thing.  I'm also running out of things to blog about so if this is a total bust, I may very well just be done with blogging altogether!  We shall see...  Anyway, I plan to go through this list and just write.  About myself.  Some days I might answer one question.  Other days I might write a couple blog posts, depending on how motivated I'm feeling.  I'll then link those posts back to this one so you can easily see my answers to the questions without having to jump around my blog looking for them.  Here goes!

1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year old self, if you could.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
7. What is your dream job, and why?
8. What are 5 passions you have?
9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.
11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
28. What is your love language?
29. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.