Sunday, December 26, 2010

Moving Right Along

This coming Tuesday, little B and I will be 32 weeks along. We've been very blessed so far, and we pray that our good progress continues. While the past 5 years have brought my sister and her family some very challenging times with three premature births, through these experiences I am fortunate to be aware of the many blessings that I am experiencing throughout my pregnancy.

It seems to me that there are many things that one can complain about whilst pregnant - from the loss of sleep for the first few weeks in pregnancy, to morning sickness and extreme fatigue throughout the first trimester - aching backs and weight gain and loss of balance, more sleepless nights as the third trimester begins, baby acrobatics when trying to sleep, heart burn, sore feet, return of nausea & morning sickness, etc, etc, etc.... Almost all of these things are things that I could spend my days talking about. However, I take some issue with that approach. It's pretty commonly known that the above symptoms are common side effects of pregnancy, and yet, most women who have children have chosen to do so. Not only have we chosen to have this child, we've been blessed enough to conceive, and to carry this long so far.

I wish that I could get more sleep, but for now, that is not to be. I got my first stretch marks this past week, but as far as I'm concerned, while they may not be pretty, they are proof that this baby has not yet been born, and for that, I am extremely grateful. Yes, I weigh more now than I ever have before in my life, and I can't fit into the clothes that I think I look best in, and there are certainly more shapely women out there - yet again, this is something that I signed up for - do I have the right to complain about it? Certainly not. For the last 7 months, woman after woman has been telling me, after hearing my due date, and my vocalized wish to carry all the way to my due date, "Trust me - by the time you get to 35 weeks, you'll wish that that baby comes out right then." Except they repeat that same sentiment several different ways for about five minutes. I can't speak directly to that yet because I have never been 35 weeks pregnant, but as far as I can figure, several weeks of my personal discomfort is far better than months of sitting in the NICU as my baby fights to mature to full term on his own in a little plastic box.

8 weeks left to go - which means that we can expect that anytime within the next 6-10 weeks, D.V., we'll be welcoming little B into the world. Brian and I thank God for his faithfulness and his blessings thus far, and trust that he will continue to be with us in the rest of this journey... And by the way, I love feeling little B roll around. Even at night when I'm trying to fall asleep, or in the middle of the night when I wake up - I find nothing but reassurance that my little man is alive and kicking - it makes me smile. Life is good. We're enjoying our time left on our own, just the two of us, and we're looking forward (with a little bit of trepidation) to life with three of us, whatever that may look like.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Bach Elgar Choir at the Royal Botanical Gardens

This past weekend, Brian and the other members of the Bach Elgar Choir did some caroling at the RBG. They sang beautifully, and because I drove with Brian to hear the mini concert, I got to hear it again when they repeated it after about 20 minutes.

It was difficult to get a photo of Brian, as he tends to bob and weave to and fro when he sings. Doesn't he look good in a tux?
Santa made an appearance at the concert, as well. I caught him sneaking away during the second performance.

Santa also brought some of his reindeer-in-training along for the festivities. This little guy is 7 months old, and just lost his antlers a few weeks ago.

And here's the beautiful family. It was a lot easier to keep little B quiet at this year's caroling concert than it will be next year, I'm sure! ;)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

27.5 weeks

The baby books that I have in my house keep telling me that little b is now the weight of a cauliflower and the length of an english cucumber. However, at this particular point in time, this is about what little b looks like, and how big he is....

Little Isaac Aaron Renkema, little B's cousin, was born at just over 27 weeks this past May. While I find it more comforting to think about having a little baby like this inside me than an assorted selection of vegetables, it's a little crazy to think that he is a fully formed baby right now, just working on getting bigger and stronger!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cottagey Weekend

This past weekend, I headed out to a gorgeous cottage with some ladies from Redeemer (and three little ladies, aged 5, 5, and 6.75). The cottage belongs to one of the girls' parents, and if I was here I would move in for the weekend and refuse to move out again. The place has 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a livingroom the size of my entire living space at home, a gorgeous kitchen complete with a dishwasher, a hot tub, a deck worth more than my car, and an incredible view to boot.

The weekend was filled with eating, lazing around, solving the world's problems (or maybe just Redeemer's), watching disney movies and chick flicks, sleeping, and eating some more.

It was really good to spend some time with these girls outside of Redeemer and get to know them on a different level.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Love

Little B(aby)vO, or "Little B" as he shall henceforth be called, has been impacting my life in two major ways in the last month.

1) Pregnancy Insomnia. This is not cool. I sleep comfortably. I'm not hungry at night, and I don't feel particularly anxious or worried about anything at the moment. However, almost every morning I wake up to see the clock say anything between 3:00 and 3:06 (yes, it is that precise). I don't wake up because I have to go to the bathroom. I just wake up. And stay awake. for anywhere from 2-4 hours. It's awesome. Sometimes, if I get too restless during the awake period, I will get up and go to the couch or to the mattress in Brian's office to rest and finally fall asleep again. At my midwife appointment yesterday, Karen recommended that I get up for 15 minutes and do something, be it reading, watching tv, taking a bath, etc, and then go back to bed. So, last night at 3:30, I got up, check fb, read an article in the December Canadian Living, and went back to bed. And stayed awake. Until my alarm went off. Amazing. I'm functioning better on this degree of lack of sleep than I thought I would, but it is getting a wee bit tiring. And don't any of you dare tell me that this is "preparing me for those sleepless nights with the baby" because I've heard that enough, and don't really want to hear it anymore, especially from people who have never had pregnancy insomnia, especially during the second trimester. :) Thanks for the helpful suggestion, though. I have to admit, I'm more than a bit jealous of those who are pregnant and who are not working, meaning that they are able to sleep in and take naps. Sigh.

2) Lower Back Pain when Walking, Sitting, and Moving in General. This has also been fun. It started about a month and a half ago, and it really is not that bad at this point - but it has been discouraging me from taking long walks with Izzy, or from using any of the machines in the gym to work out. This condition, however, I hope is fixable - I had my first visit with a Dundas Chiropractor last night by the name of Dr. Andrea Ferretti. She is a small, formidable woman, and she knows her stuff. I've never been to a chiropractor before, but I went to her on the recommendation of a few other friends who saw her for pregnancy-related back pain. She has a LOT of letters behind her name (D.C., F.I.C.P.A., B.Sc., plus a few not on her business card that were in her office), and has spent several years studying with an OB. She has students from the McMaster Midwifery program intern with her so that they can learn about the benefits of chiropractic care for pregnant women. All in all, she seems to be extremely well trained, is very good at communicating with her patients, and has a very interesting method of adjusting her patients. She has this table that stands in an upright position, and then the patient stands on the end of it. The table tilts down so that it's horizontal, and then she activates different parts of the table and they kind of jump up and down, jolting a particular area of the body. Anyhow, while I still have that pain my left hip / lower back when I walk, it's not as severe as it was yesterday. I have two more appointments next week to finish the adjustments, and then I'll go every few weeks after that until the baby is born to keep all of my bones where they should be and to "get things ready" for labour and delivery. I'm glad that I have benefits to cover the cost of this treatment, because I wouldn't have come otherwise - but I'm hoping that it's going to make a big difference! Having said that, I still really do love massage therapists - it's so calming and relaxing to go to one of those appointments. Not so much a chiropractic appointment. Oh well, you can't win them all.

A third way that Little B has been impacting my life is that he's starting to move around a lot more. Or at least, I can feel him sometimes now. Many people out there seem bound and determined to try and make me worried about how long it has taken me to feel the baby - "Is that normal?" "Shouldn't the baby be moving around a lot by this point?" "Don't people usually feel the baby move between 16 and 19 weeks?" "Aren't you worried?!" Fortunately, most people are neither doctors nor midwives, or even trained in any medical field at all. I have what is called an anterior placenta, which means that the placenta that I grew to protect the baby has grown on the front of me as opposed to the back. This is not a dangerous condition, either for myself or for the baby - but it does mean that there is an extra layer inbetween me and the baby in the front - so the baby's movements have to be pretty strong to get noticed through the extra barrier. My midwife says that his bum is up at the top of my stomach, but I have no idea how she can tell that because when I feel around and press down, I can't feel anything at all. I don't feel him consistently, but he was particularly active last night while I was laying in bed not sleeping.

Little B is only a week and a half younger now than his cousin Isaac was when he was born in May, and I think about that pretty much every day. I'm not worried that he will come so early (I do have my doubts of going to full term, though) but it is incredible to think of what he looks like already - by 27 weeks, Isaac was a perfect, incredibly tiny little baby - everything was there!!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Out with the Old...

For a long time now, Brian and I have known that if and when we had a baby we'd have to trade one of our two-door cars for a four-door family-suitable car. So, this summer when my car began to literally fall apart, we decided that it wasn't really worth the money that we'd have to put into it to fix it. It has been a great car to have around for the past four years, but the Safety on the car both when David brought it into Canada and when we bought it from David was given somewhat generously... In order to safety it to sell to someone else, we'd have to have daytime running lights installed and car seat anchors, among other things... Anyhow, as the car sits in Neil's (our trusty mechanic) parking lot right now, the passenger window a) does not open and b) does not have a crank to open it, even if it did open. The driver's window opens, but in order to put it back up, one hand has to pull the window up while the other cranks it up, or it won't stay in the window tracks. The parking break light, both interior and exterior, stays on regardless of whether it is actually on or not. Something in the body of the car broke at some point and the car rattles consistently. The best thing is that the car only has one working brake left - and it's the rear right.
Anyhow, needless to say, by this point I'm not so sad to say goodbye to the car. When we got our new one last week, Brian drove the Accent to Neil's place and couldn't believe that I had been driving the car like that . He was scared just driving it to Neil's place, which validated my concerns of the last few weeks.... I stopped by Neil's place yesterday to clean out the car, and Neil's huge dog Chaos really wanted to play with Izzy. Izzy wasn't having any of it, but Chaos didn't give up too easily...
And here's the new car. It's a little strange driving an automatic after having a standard for so long, and it's a lot strange to drive a car that's so long and wide. However, it's wonderful to have so much room in the back of the car without having to fold down the seats.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kids Today

This is our buddy JP. It's his 2nd birthday today (Happy birthday, little man!), but that's not what this post is about. In his hand, JP holds an iPhone 4. On the couch in front of him is an iPad. This two year old is the King of Multi-Tasking. While playing a game on the iPhone, he's watching a video (that he loaded himself) through the Netflix app on the iPad. The only thing that this tech-saavy toddler lacks is a facebook account in which he can brag to all of his buddies about his awesome toys.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Belated Birthdays

Both Reuben and Eli (pictured above at ages 6 and 1) have celebrated birthdays in the past month and a bit - turning 8 and 3. Wow! I have an 8 year old nephew now! This aunt is not very good at mailing birthday cards or remembering to call, but she does love all of her many, many nephews and special niece, and wishes that they lived a little bit closer!

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Back 40

It seems as though Redeemer's campus has been under construction for forever. The new (entirely renovated old) Student Services Office and the Business Office are almost completed - but now, the push is on to get the soccer dome built at the back of campus before January so that we don't lose the government funding. The archeological dig that was happening for the past few years at the back finally wrapped up, and the big machines have moved in. I'm fairly sure that when I started school at Redeemer 9 years ago, this was all farm land.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Little B(aby)vO

Yesterday, we got to see little Baby vanOosten moving around - though, not so much moving around as sleeping and kicking my bladder. We also found out that the little one is a little man. I guess we're just following the trend of our friends (and family) of eldest child being a boy?

Monday, September 27, 2010

What I did Last Week

This past week was a very busy one at work - I did about 13 hours of overtime - half of which was to sell books at Mr Samuel T Martin's book signings. Some evidence that I was indeed there:

Professor Emeritus and Author Hugh Cook shares a review of Sam's newly published book (above).
Sam answers questions from the crowd (bel0w).

Monday, September 20, 2010

From the Redeemer Chaplain:

Redeemer student Amber Applegate left "her earthly tent" at 10 pm Saturday to be with the Lord. We're deeply grieved that such a beautiful, young life has ended so soon, while also thankful that her suffering was not prolonged. She is now with the One who declared "I am the resurrection and the life."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Last winter, a young Redeemer woman was diagnosed with leukemia. After a successful bone marrow transplant from her sister, she seemed to be on the mend as the cancer started to go into remission. Earlier this summer, it was back with a vengeance and she spent much of her time in an induced coma to allow her body to use all of its strength to fight back. This week, her condition has deteriorated to the point where her family made the difficult decision to take her off of her respirator yesterday afternoon. They say that no news is good news, and as of yet we have not received another update from our university chaplain. Please keep this young woman and her family in your prayers, as well as her former dormmates who are going about the business of keeping up with their day to day school work in the midst of this.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Another Renkema Miracle Child

A few weeks ago, we all gathered in Orono to celebrate the baptism of my tiny newest little nephew, Isaac Aaron Renkema. It was a particularly joyful event to attend because of the circumstances of his birth - 13 weeks premature. Yesterday, little Isaac turned 4 months, and is a healthy and beautiful child. We're so pleased to have him as part of the family!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Suggestions for Book Clubs

I'm cleaning up the livingroom right now and came across a handout from a CLEAR event at Redeemer on Bookclubs. I don't want to lose this list, but neither do I want to keep this paper around. So, here's the list, for you as much as for me.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Small Island by Andrea Levy
The Factory Voice by Jeanette Lynes
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrow
October by Richard B Wright
Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout
Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
A Reading Diary: A Year of Favourite Books by Alberto Manguel
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Suite Francais by Irene Nemerovsky
Unfinished Desires by Gail Goodwin
The White Tiger by A. Adiga
The Emmigrants by W.G. Sebald
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Peace Like a River by Lief Enger
The Day the Falls Stood Still by C.M. Buchanan
Little Bee by Richard Cleave
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
The Tontine by T. Costain
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Outlander by Gil Adamson
Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
City of Thieves by David Benioff
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Power of One by Bryce Courtney
Run by Ann Pachett
Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner
Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Secret Life of Bees by Susan Monk
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
North and South
by Elizabeth Gaskell
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koeslter
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Say You Are One Of Them by Uwem Akpan
Home and Gilead by Marilyn Robinson
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow
Going Home - Jesus and Buddha as Brothers by Thich Nhat Hanh
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre
Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life by Trevor Cole
No Great Mischief by Alistair Macleod
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Consequences by Penelope Lively
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
White Banners by Lloyd C. Douglas
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Good to a Fault by Makina Endicott
Born Twice by Giuseppe Pontiggia

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August, die she must: The autumn winds blow chilly and cold

I have been loving the weather this week. This morning when I got up, it was a cool, crisp 12 degrees outside, and all the windows were open. Sigh. In the heat of the summer, I am so very thankful for air conditioning, but once the cooler weather comes I love to have the chance to open wide all of the windows and let the fresh air blow through the house.

I have some (four) butternut squashes in the garden which are almost ready to be picked, seasoned, roasted, and prepared for soup. I'm very excited at the prospect of serving soup made from my own home-grown veggies! If I can find a place that sells kale seeds, I shall plant some kale in my garden so that we can eat boerenkale all winter with garden-fresh kale. Mmmm.

I set a date with one of my former coworkers to go out for lunch next week, and while booking it on my calendar I realized that we're heading into September already!! I realized that the students would be back in the halls soon, but I didn't grasp the fact that it was approaching so quickly! September brings a few fun things: going to see a play (The Tempest) in Stratford with Amanda VO and her friend, going camping with the other members of the no-baby club (hey, we still technically fit into that category!), heading out to Sarnia for the first time since May, attending two book launches (one at Redeemer, one in Toronto) for my dear friend Sam Martin's new book, This Ramshackle Tabernacle, and celebrating our fourth anniversary.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Barn Raising

This past weekend, Brian finally got to get a start on building his new shed. The old shed that came with the house was in good shape, but about three times too small for everything that we wanted to / needed to store in it. So, with the guidance, leadership, skills, and tools of our friend the master framer, Steve, and the assistance of good friend Marty, our shed went from looking like this: looking like this: (don't worry. This isn't the finished product. But it is the result of about 35 hours of labour!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bragging Rights

My dear friend Annie Ling has spent the last few years studying photography at a very prestigious school in New York City. This week, Annie is one of 13 20-something New York Photographers featured in the New York Times Magazine. Click here to be directed to the article. I am pleased to say that we currently have two original works by Annie Ling hanging on our walls at home, one shot taken in Venice and one in London. Below are two of the pieces found on Annie's website:

Images copywright Annie Ling 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Guest Post by Brian

And Baby Makes Three

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm please to report that Jennifer & I are expecting a new little vanOosten sometime around February 2011. Jenn's had a bit of a rough go (nausea and exhaustion being the new normal) during the now-finished first trimester; we're optimistic that things will go better for her in the remaining 28 weeks. Please keep her in your prayers.

While I've received a lot of encouraging words from friends I respect, I'm still quite thoroughly terrified about the transitions that await us. I do hereby acknowledge my mixed Frisian genetic makeup and remind the world that change is usually bad. To be fair I know that the little bugger is going to interfere with my blissfully selfish lifestyle, and that makes me squirm. On the plus side, each of my experiences of giving up self to make room for another has been a net-positive transition, in the longer term.

So! Watch as I buckle my proverbial seatbelt and brace myself for a wild ride. I'm anxious, but I'm trying to be faithfully optimistic, always forgetting and remembering that I'm not really holding the steering wheel, and that the Driver knows what He's doing.

Stay tuned for updates!

Friday, August 06, 2010

I'm sitting on my front porch right now and the temperature is a delicious 16 degrees. It's going to get warmer than this, but for now, I'm enjoying the autumn-like chill in the air and relishing the non-a/c air. And I'm also procrastinating. I have a dentist appointment in 40 minutes that I have to leave for in 20 minutes, and I'm sitting on the front porch in my pyjamas, eating my breakfast.

Sigh. Time to get ready.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I've been a delinquent blogger this past month, yet again. I now have my computer back, so that's no excuse, but I have been working full time (no summer holidays here!) and then painting and moving when I haven't been working.... so, within a week, once all of our moving is finished, I'll post some before and after photos of what we've been doing with our new upstairs apartment this month. In the meantime, here's a photo to show you how much Izzy enjoys living upstairs with the windows. This morning, she was watching a squirrel running around in the yard and up and down the tree. It was a very exciting morning for her. And yes, that's our couch that she's standing on.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garden, 2010 version

My garden has been very busy growing these days. These are some photos that I took a few days ago, and already they're out of date! This year, instead of Scarlett Runner beans, I'm growing bush beans, and instead of eggplant, Okra. I'm also growing butternut squash, which, together with the zucchini, is quickly taking over half of the garden! I love coming home after work every day and walking through the garden to see what has changed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Victoria Day at Webster's Falls

Brian wasn't feeling too well on the long weekend, so when we got to the park he had a bite to eat and then spent the rest of the afternoon passed out on a blanket.

Mark and Amanda brought their dags along. The excitement and crowds were almost too much for Jazzy. Hazel, on the otherhand, followed Brian's cue and spent most of the time napping in the shade.

Others in attendance included the Postmas, the Harsevoorts, the Joustra, the Hayman, the Kuiper, the Glasbergens and the VanDoorens.

This devilishly handsome boy is Caleb, son of Kenny and Bun. Love that tooth!

And, of course, Katelyn (Glasbergen) the Beauty. What a smile!

Today, my supervisor is not at work, meaning that I will be spending my "lunch break" in the store behind the counter. So, I brought along my camera and camera cord so that I could do a few "non-work" things today, too., to break up the day a little bit.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm still alive and kicking, but I am currently without my own computer - it is living with my sister as she spends a lot of time at the hospital with her youngest. And I can't really lunch in my office at work anymore, since I don't have a door that closes. So, if you'd like to see photos of what's going on right now, etc., you'd best be patient. Thanks! :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If You Happen to be in St John's Tonight...

Why not head out to the Launch party of Samuel T. Martin's first novel? I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be - unfortunately, no one gave me a free plane ticket to get out there, so it's a little out of the question for the moment.

We at the Redeemer Campus Bookstore are eagerly awaiting the shipment of This Ramshackle Tabernacle - it should be arriving sometime this week - hopefully in the next few days! If you'd like to purchase a copy, let me know, and I'll set one aside for you when they come in.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday!

To a brand new five-year-old: Happy Birthday! Since even 5 year olds don't get to stay up until 11:30pm, I know that you've already go to bed for the day, but I hope that you had a very wonderful day! Love from Uncle Brian & Auntie Jenn

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Yesterday was my last day of work in the Registrar's Office. It's been four years and three months since I started working there. I started work on February 13th as a "Registration and Admissions Advisor." I worked 60% for Richard on the Registrar side of the office, and 40% for Dory on the Admissions side of the office. On my last day, I can't even tell you what my full title is - Academic Advisor, Off Campus Program and Transfer Credit Officer? Through my time in the position, I spent several weeks travelling around Eastern Ontario, and I went to Kentucky, Baltimore, California, and Texas for the first time. I attended some very lame conferences (NACAAP, for Admissions) and Linda and I discovered NACADA - The National Academic Advising Association, which was not lame at all and really fueled a lot of the change of focus in the Registrar's office when it came to advising. They have excellent sessions in their conferences.

I've never really blogged about work, because, well, it's work, and let's be honest, all of my "good" stories to blog were personal for the students whom the stories were about. Blogging is not really worth losing a job for. But in the process of not blogging about work, I've never shared anything about any of the wonderful people I work with - the kind and generous friends that I now have!

My (now former) boss, the man of the office (seriously, we have no other men in the office), is, all things considered, a great boss and a good friend. Yes, he's a little busy these days as he sits on a million and one committees and does the job of at least two senior administrators and is almost half way through his PhD (er, or is it only 1/4 of the way?), but what dedication he has to each of those activities! He also makes the absolute best carrot cake in the world (alright, perhaps he's tied with Irene Martin, who made the best ever carrot cake wedding cake for us!) - though he still hasn't held up his end of a baking exchange deal that we had a few months ago.... ;) While he gave me more work and responsibility than I knew what to do with, he also pushed me quite far and I now know that I am an extremely capable worker who can handle an awful lot.

His right-hand-woman is someone who intimidated me quite a lot when we began working together, which was 6 months after I began working in the office. She had been on mat leave, and when she came back to the office we were strangers to each other, and both felt out of place. We definitely did not love each other. The NACADA that we convinced Richard to let us go to in Baltimore was absolutely what gave us that bonding time that we needed. What a strong and beautiful and hilarious and upright woman she is! She is the encourager of the office, and strives to recognize all of the hard work and sacrifices that people in the office do and make. She was my confidant in the office, and I will dearly miss the regular chats that we had. Sure, we'll still work in the same building, but it will definitely not be the same. I take great pleasure from reading her blog, which is listed along the side here. Her stories of her young ladies often make me cry from laughter. Friend, I am so glad that we're friends!

Two years ago in August we hired a new Advisor. This was a partial mat-leave, partial new position, and I got to go through the interview process from the inside. I sat on the interview committee and, quite seriously, was probably more nervous than the interviewees! I was so glad when Richard chose the advisor that he did - she is so fabulous. I'm sad that I didn't get to know her better during my time in the office - she's going on Mat leave in just a few weeks and will have her hands full! What a sweet, kind, and generous woman - with a very subtle firm streak that we both share - "tough love" is what we've called it. :)

Our support staff ladies have just been fantastic over the past four years and change. In the receptionist position, I've seen three extremely different, extremely wonderful people come through; the first of whom I'll be working quite near to starting on Tuesday, the second of whom I still share a deep and joyous friendship with, and the third who is still there right now and is extremely passionate about ... I'm not exactly sure what, but there is passion there, and it often comes out through her work.

The last one in the office, the woman who puts in the frustrating hours creating schedules for classes, and for exams, and then recreating those schedules again and again (among doing other things), she is one tough cookie. She was also off (on medical leave) when I started in the office, and didn't join us until I was about 5 months (or more) in. She has done every position in our office except for Registrar, and she knows her stuff. What attention to detail! To every last single solitary detail! (Um, it could be frustrating at times. But so good to have someone in the office like that!) She was harder to get close to, but she has a very large, very soft heart, and has a lot of wisdom to share.

These are the people I've worked with for the past four years and three months. I'll miss them, and I'll miss my job, too. I'm excited about what lies ahead, and so thankful for everyone who's helped me gain the strength, knowledge, and confidence to get there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my one and only niece! What a great month this is for birthdays, and what a beautiful girl to share my birthday month with! Happy birthday, Nadine Isabella!

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Things

This coming Friday marks not only the beginning of the May Long Weekend, but the end of my job as Academic Advisor & Off Campus Program Coordinator in the Registrar's Office at Redeemer. This is, just so you know, a choice. On Tuesday, May 25th, I will take up my post as Assistant Bookstore Manager in the Redeemer University College bookstore. I'm very excited about this new opportunity - the bookstore ladies are really amazing people, and it will definitely be a shift in work for me, from administration to retail. It's also a slight shift up in pay, which I certainly won't complain about! Anyhow, you can be sure that I'll start plugging books that you should be buying from the Redeemer Bookstore. :)

Also new this summer is the lease that we just signed with our new downstairs tenants! As of July 1st, Brian and I will take possession over the whole house for the better part of the month. I'll be redecorating some of the upstairs (the Maple Leafs bedroom is definitely going to go - sorry, David!), and Brian will be refinishing some of the floors and installing carpets in the bedrooms. I like the hardwood better, but let's face it - we don't want to be listening to our tenants' movies when we go to bed at night, and I certainly don't want to impose a curfew on them. So, carpeting, here we come! By July 24th, we'll be entirely moved upstairs and the new tenants will be making themselves at home downstairs.

This weekend we just got new neighbours - Val & Keith moved out last Thursday - they were the longest-standing residents on Cranbrook Dr, and watched the comers and goers like hawks. I'm kind of glad that they're not around to criticize my house anymore. New neighbours are Dave (owner) and his mom - Connie? Carrie? They drink Bud, they ride dirt bikes, and they work at the Ford Plant - so, fairly typical Hamiltonians. But, they also gave us a future invitation to come over to swim in their pool - which is a big step up from Val & Keith! ;) We really want to make a positive connection with the new neighbours, and feel that we have a better chance of doing that with Dave and his mom than with the previous owners. The neighbours on the other side of our cinderblock wall, however, continue to party (Friday night it was until 3am...gah) and hot-house their back shed.

My new nephew is holding his own right now - if you'd like more detailed updates, please visit Marya & Eric's blog listed in the left-most right hand column on this blog -----> They're "The Renkema Report". There are some beautiful new photos of Isaac and his daddy!

Izzy has a new hair cut, and is looking rather ridiculous. Mom thinks that Izzy needs to be clothed right now because she looks too naked. I took Izzy along with me to the Speelman Rez (home of the new twins!) yesterday afternoon to drop off some freezer dinners that I made for them, and while I was there I got a LOT of love from a certain toddler. He was sitting in his high chair when I pulled into the drive way and apparently alerted everyone that I was there by waving and squealing. It is so precious to see that little man toddling towards me with his arms wide open, preparing to hug me (of his own free volition).....and then dropping his arms as he reaches me to shrug his shoulders and say, "Zzy?" and run away to go find the dog. ;) He did come back to me, though, to give me the hug that he had denied me of only minutes earlier.

We have also been trying to catch up on the new season of LOST - we finally watched season five finale, and are three episodes into season 6. My mind is reeling from the craziness. 6 days until the Series Finale and 13 episodes to watch.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Days with Mothers

Last weekend, Brian and I were in Sarnia and got to spend some quality time with his Mom. This past weekend, my mom came up to visit us and hear us sing in the Farewell Dr Cooper choir concert, and we got to spend some quality time with her, as well. Between the two of us, Brian and I have two fantastic, wonderful, and beautiful mothers. Happy belated mother's day!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Welcome to the world, Isaac Aaron Renkema!

Brian and I stopped by St Joseph's again last night and missed Eric (again), but we did get to see Isaac this time. What a tiny little creature! So perfect and beautiful, though! Please continue to pray for him, as he's got a long road ahead of him! (ps - if you don't think he looks so small, take a look at the soother in front of him...)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

May 7, Birthday of three new babies!

Yesterday morning sure was a busy one - at 6:50am, my sister had a c-section and little Isaac Aaron Renkema was brought into this world at a mere 2lb 5oz. So tiny! I haven't had the chance to see him, yet, but we did stop in and visit with Marya, who looks like she's doing amazingly well. It's going to be another long haul for this family - they are no strangers to hospitals, that's for sure! Photos will be coming at the end of the weekend, hopefully!

At 8am, my dear friend Rachel went into the OR for her c-section, and shortly after welcomed Kaitlyn Joy and Kristina Joy Speelman into her life. Both great weights - Kaitlyn at 6lbs 15oz, and Kristina somewhere over the 5lb mark. They are little beauties, and although I didn't think that I'd be able to, I can already tell the difference between them. Turns out that even siblings don't look exactly the same when they're infants! (Unless they're a Renkema. Then it's almost impossible to tell them apart.)
Above: Me and Kaitlyn. She has a flatter nose.
Below: Brian and Kristina. She has a thinner head, and less hair.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

New Restaurant in Town

One of Brian's recent clients is Stonewall, a new restaurant in town. They had a "soft open" (construction wasn't quite finished, only half of the booths were open for seating) on Saturday night, so Brian and I headed out for a late dinner. They have a reall wood burning stone oven in the kitchen, meant for baking pizza - so I was told to order pizza. They had the regular kinds - pepperoni, sausage, red onion, etc., but they also had a "potato" pizza - the ingredients listed sour cream, bacon, broccoli and, of course, potatoes. Why not? I ordered it, and it was really quite fantastic! Who knew that baked potato in the form of pizza could be delicious?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Last night I got to babysit my little monkey (aka Joshua Speelman) for a few hours while his parents went out on one of their last dates before the twins arrive. JP spent a great deal of time chasing Izzy around and throwing Izzy's ball and screeching when she chased after it. Izzy may not believe in the friendship, but Josh is pretty convinced that they're best buds.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Today at Our House

Mark and Brian spent the better part of today spraying insulation in first Mark's attic and then our attic. It's the last step that needs to be complete before our closing home energy audit at the end of this coming week.

Give him a gun and he'd look like someone out of a creepy movie.

Up in the attic.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Easter Weekend

Because Brian was singing in the First CRC church choir on Good Friday and Easter Sunday this year, we got to stay at home until Sunday afternoon. It was a fantastic weekend with beautiful weather and lots of work getting done. Brian repainted the foundation wall and stained the fence, and our yard looks great. I spent Friday afternoon clearing all of the weeds from my garden and did some regular house cleaning on Saturday. It was so fantastic to have the time to get all of that done!

After church on Sunday afternoon, we headed straight to Belleville where we hand a delicious Easter Dinner with the family, minus Dave. Shortly after lunch, the Van Breda clan had to head home (I forgot to get my camera out before they left...oops!). That left just Brian, Mom, the Renkema fam and me. Liam experienced some respiratory distress on Sunday night and ended up in the hospital for the next two days, with at least one of his parents. That left just Brian, Mom, the boys, and me. We had a great time hula hooping, playing fetch with Izzy, and drawing on the driveway with chalk.