Friday, December 19, 2014

Something to do while waiting

I am trying to keep busy while waiting for this baby to come. Here's the latest project.

First step is to get a small elf to help you make the dough
Let house parts cool.
"Glue" together with very sticky icing.
Now the fun begins!

And don't forget to eat a lot of candy (Photo not included!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A little bit crazy

Now I understand. People here are a little bit crazy. Not crazy like scary and unpredictable but a good crazy. Crazy like going in the hot tub at 7 am on a snowy -12 degree morning. I totally understand. We know that this might be the nicest day we have in the long time. There is no wind, it is only -12 and the snow is light and beautiful. We also know that we might be stuck inside for the next 5 months so we do it now, while we can. 

The only trick is getting back out! Just so you know, your flip-flops can freeze to the concrete if you are not fast enough. 

Enjoy your morning, whatever the weather!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Produce of a little Garden

One of the things I was most excited about when we moved to the Prairies was having a garden. In BC we never had the space for a garden. I tried to grow a few things in pots and managed a herd bed in the back of our townhouse but nothing like a real garden that actually made food that would feed our family.

Plus, gardening is one of those things that is just in the air here. Like football, and friendliness. Maybe it is because so many people are connected to the farms here. Most people have a relative still on the farm, or grow up on the farm. And farming still makes the economy move here. They even have a farm report in the newspaper.

So this spring I got really excited about putting in at least a little garden. My amazing husband built two large raised beds and we got to work. We had a bit of a late start and neither of us had much experience but we had lots of helper. So in went the seeds and watering was done enthusiastically.

And then came harvest time. I was and still am in awe of what the earth has given back.

We have carrots a plenty and potatoes too. The beats got eaten up very quickly. My kids are much more likely to eat our veggies. They love that they planted, tended and picked them. 

The crab- apples were very plentiful and have been transformed into rows and rows of jelly. 

Even the tomatoes that never ripened have found a home with us. You would be surprised what you can do with unripe tomatoes. (That is for another post)

I think for the first time I understand why thanksgivings is where it is in the year. This year we had at least three things on our Thanksgiving table that came out of our backyard. And now I understand the idea of giving thanks for a harvest. As I sit here on our first snowy day, I know that my pantry is filled with food to last us through the winter. True my little garden did not make enough to feed us exclusively. I still have to go to the grocery store (Three time in as many days this week!) But for the first time on my live I see how food really works. With a little work on our part, the earth gives back so much. It never charged us a fee or asked any recompense. It is just a free gift. What a glorious thing. It almost feels heavenly!

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Bumpy Road

I have been thinking about this post for a long time. 26 weeks to be specific. At first I did not want to write it. I feel that, at first at least, this was private. Then I was too tired to do it. And then it just felt like I had left it too long and did not know how to start but here I am jumping in.

We are pregnant! Due at Christmas time.

I am very excited about this. Actually we all are. But it has been a very different pregnancy for us. Being pregnant after loosing a baby is not easy. At first I did not trust my body to carry this baby. I was worried a lot of the time. This is not normal for me. I am a very relaxed, carefree sort of gal. I don't stress a lot. But I was very stressed for the first half of this pregnancy. I put all my trust in tests. In pregnancies of the past I would turn down most tests, and for tests that I did do I did not worry about them much. But this time I asked for a early ultrasound just to see the baby. I was sure that it would help me feel more confident. And it did, for a few days. Then I was sure that hearing the heart beat would make things easier. But it was the same story. It helped a little bit for a few days and then I was back to worrying.

Peoples words of encouragement also did not help. It felt like they were complete platitudes. I know better now then to think that every thing will be fine. My innocence is gone. No longer can I say "Oh I am sure it will all be fine." Because I know that some times it is not.

But at the same time I almost when insane living every day thinking that this might be the day that I lose this baby too. So I prayed a lot, tried to change my thought patterns, and tried to remember the my emotions are like waves. They come and go but they don't need to take me away with them.

It has gotten a lot easier now that I am past the twenty week mark, as this was when we lost Hilary. It also helps that I can feel this baby moving like crazy. I still have moments of worry, but more and more I am starting to think about birthing this baby not just staying pregnant with him.

But now I have a new set of worries. I find it hard to know what to say when asked which number this baby is. How do I answer that? Is this baby 5 or 6? So far I usually say 5, especially to nice old ladies at the grocery store who I will never see again. But other times, if I know the person, or we have the time to have a bigger conversation tell them my story. When I do this good usually comes of it. I have heard lots of other peoples stories of loss, their own, their sister, mother, friend. People have asked me how to talk to their loved one, what kind of resources are out there or just been comforted to know that they are not alone. I am glad to be that for them. There are so many untold stories of babies never forgotten but held in secret and I love helping others to open up.

And so I ask for your prayers. Prayers for a save delivery and a healthy baby. Prayers for less worry and more trust. Prayers for all families expecting again after loss. That they will walk this bumpy road knowing they are not alone.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to throw a Minion Party on the Cheap

Step One: Have an amazing husband who is willing to run the party.

Step One and a Half: Pour husband a Scotch before the gaggle of 9 year old girls show up. (I forgot this step but will never forget again.)

Step two: Start the girls off with "Anti -Gravity Serum Training" on the trampoline.

Step Three: Then on to "Minion Rush". (Died yellow Egg and spoon race combined with an obstacle course)

Step Four: Then "Three Lagged Minion" (Three Legged Race)

Step Five: Off to "Bobbing for Bapples".
And to make it really fun have some melted caramel standing by. Super easy to make caramel apples. And who does not love that! See the results.

Step Six: Balloon Battle with Easy to make Minions.

Step Seven: "Freeze-Ray Dance".

Step Eight: Add a Cake. (I wimped out and bough this but a crafty person could do this on their own)

Step Nine: Presents, And Good byes. Pour more Scotch, Drink it in the middle of the mess and have a well deserved rest.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Strengh though the generations

One of the greatest things about living here is building deeper connections to Ryan's family. This spring and summer we were blessed to host Ryan's grandparents several times. At 83 and 82 years old they still live in their own home in a small town about two hours away. On occasion they need to come into the city for various appointments. In someways this can be stressful. For one thing I need to keep the house clean. As you know this is not easy for me.

Having them stay also means that a lot of my attention is focused on them instead of on the kids. But these small hardships can never out weight
the vast blessing of having them. This was made clear to me in two beautiful ways recently.

Grandpa has been cleaning out his office and found a collection of pennies dating back to the 1910's. Unsure what to do with it, he brought it to us thinking if we did not want to keep it at least we could sell them. Our oldest was enthralled. So, for hours Grandpa and Great-grandson sat with piles of coins and a magnifying glass. They talked and listened, shared stories and organized the coins. My son now has a coin collection but more than that he has a deepening relationship with a man that has lived through the depression, WW2, who started teaching in a one room school house, and who has stayed active and generous through a retirement that has lasted longer than his teaching career.

During another visit, Great-grandma and Great-grandpa and our littlest sat finishing lunch. I was cleaning up, and putting away the left overs. Just like every three year old, she wanted to help so I gave her a small piece of crumpled plastic wrap to wrap up her half eaten cookie. She sat patiently straightening out the plastic wrap while Grandpa looked on. I thought nothing of it but later that week Grandma told me over the phone that Grandpa was inspired. Apparently, before their visit, every time the plastic wrap got stuck together Grandpa gave up, threw it out and got a new piece. But now, he says "If your great-granddaughter can do it, then so can I"

I have often thought how much we have to learn from these amazing people. How to grow a garden to feed you for the whole winter, how to knit, sew and make cool things out of wood. How to be married for 62 years, how to stay strong and committed through the loss of children, professional insecurity, and failing health. But I am learning that we have a lot to give to them too. The energy of youth, the simple joy of a child's smile. On their last visit, Grandma said that we here a force of healing for her. And I see it. I see how sitting and reading to the kids, seeing them run around with laughter, and sharing their stories to eager ears gives life to these venerable people.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School

Well today was the first real day of school. It was nice to be returning to the same school. Of course, there was some new things, new class rooms, new teachers, but at least we know the drill now. I even get the indoor/outdoor shoe thing. If you are not from the prairies you might also find this confusing, but as soon as EVERYONE comes into the school they take off their shoes. Yes everyone, even the staff and parents. But after seeing first hand the mud, dirt, and slush that comes inside, I totally get this now.

It was of course totally crazy in the school today. 450 parents helping 450 students find their classroom, each with four bags of school supplies. But it was nice to see a few familiar friendly faces, have a few chats and a play on the playground after dropping off the big kids. All in all a very nice morning.

And we are all hopeful for a great second year!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fiddle the Summer Away

We just got back from the most amazing week. We were at the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party, a traditional music camp for the whole family.

I did not know how this would all shake out when I registered us back in March. At that time it was only going to be me taking any instruction and the rest were just "roadies" But the our oldest girl started fiddle lessons this summer and so I signed her up for the camp about a month ago.

So we pack up the van, and drive the 6 hours to the camp that is in a beautiful provincial park on a gorgeous lake.

As soon as we get there, which is the night before the first day of camp, our oldest son says that he really wants to take lessons too. I so wanted to say yes to him but he plays the piano and because the camp has to rent pianos they can't take any late registration for that instrument. With a hug and a "maybe next year" we go to explore the camp grounds. 
We find the mess hall, bathrooms and basketball courts and then we find the out door pool. In the pool we also find the camp director, having a last relax before the chaos descends. In our brief conversation it comes out that he wants to take lessons but did not register. "Well, wouldn't you know," says the camp director, "we have just had a cancellation and we now have an extra piano." I am adding this on to my list of little miracles because no one else at this camp got as much out of it as our eldest.
Don't get me wrong the rest of us got a lot out of it too. Our days included unknowingly having coffee with Juno award winning artists, talking classes with some of the best fiddlers in the country, swimming in the pool (with frogs)
taking crazy fun step-dancing workshops, playing at the beach, 



eating LOTS of amazing food, playing with new friends, making forts in the woods and listening to instructor's concerts, dancing, jamming around camp fires. 

We all lost a lot of sleep and the accommodations were not luxurious, so this is what we all looked like in the morning!

But it was a small price to pay for all that we got. And the greatest gift of the whole week, more then improving my playing, and getting to play for one of the dances was seeing my kids thrive, learn, laugh and find joy in music. 

We are already planing next year's trip!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Happy Anniversary

So it has been one year (basically). Like most anniversaries I am a day late but I didn't forget I was just busy. (I wish that excuse would work on my husband!)

We arrived in Saskatchewan a year ago. I said it would take me a year to really know what it was like here. Well it is awesome here.

But I have learned a few things in the last 365 days.

1: Don't leave pop cans in the garage at temperatures lower then -20. They explode. Really!
2: People ware watermelons on their heads. Yes, they really do. It is a football thing, but still people, you don't think that is a little weird.
3: Football is king. If you don't watch the Riders play they take away your health card. It is that important.
4: Mosquitoes are not pets. They are demons sent to torment us until we say bad words in front of our kids.
5: Don't worry if you forget to put out your recycling, your neighbour will do it for you. They are really that nice here.
6: The weather can kill you. So respect it. And don't worry everyone, looks just as dorky in a parka but they are warm.
7: Again the weather can kill you. So bring sun screen, bug spay, a hat, sunglasses, and water every where you go. If you can, stay close to an air conditioner. They are a gift from heaven.
8: Even from far away, the people you love will still love you and you them. Praise God for phones, face book and email.

Here's looking forward to another great year on the prairie.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Three days in Mosquito Jaw

We just got back from three days in Mosquito Jaw, oh sorry, Moose Jaw. Despite the bugs, we had a lot of fun. Well I had fun, most of the time. We did not plan on Moose Jaw as our holiday destination, as I am sure many do not. But Ryan had a work thing to do there and they payed for us all to go down. I am not inclined to say no to a free vacation no matter where it is, so off we went.
Now it is only about a two and a half hour drive but somehow I forgot some road trip basics, like bring snacks and travel at nap time. So we started the vacation with hungry, bored and tired children.

Things started to get a lot more fun when we arrived. We went straight to the museum, where we learned about the history of transportation. And began our training as steam train engineers.

  Really the trip went as you would imagine a trip with four kids would go. We had a lot of laughs and fun. Played in the hotel pool, eat a lot of french fires, and found as many interesting tourist things to do that we could. But we had a few bumps in the road. Like realizing that one of the kids only packed PJs, socks and a swim suit. Yes that is it, no other cloths! Then mom getting lost THREE times trying to find the Walmart to fix the first problem. Walmart is Walmart every where and it was as frustrating an experience as I should have expected. But we did eventually find all we needed plus a few things we did not.

Other highlights included the littlest one peeing her pants at the Burring Owl Interpretive Centre, being eaten alive at the park by bugs, explaining organized crime and the mob to the kids before the Al Capone tour, missed naps, and late nights. 

Don't get me wrong, we really did have fun but travailing with kids is an extreme sport and like all extreme sports most of the world think it looks scary and the people involved are nuts.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Married to Super Mensch

Many years ago a Jewish friend of mine described my husband as a mensch. I had never hear this tern before but my lovely man is truly the personification of the word. It is a Yiddish word for "a person of integrity and honour". And this last week I think he stepped it up to super-mensch.

For the last few months I have been very tried and not at all my usual fun loving self. Consequently the house work that I am an never really on top of has literally got on top of me. There have been many days were no one has clean underpants nor can I find a clean blow of the morning cereal. Has my mensch complained, pouted, or made me to feel bad about the situation? No, he has done double duty and cooked dinner many nights after working all day, asked really nicely if there is anything that I could use his help with in the house and done almost all the shopping, focusing on foods that I love.

All this alone should have pushed him into super-mensch qualifications. But just as I was starting to come back to myself I got two bad colds back to back. And not a little runny noise kind but the kind where your head feels like it will fall off and you can't breath or sleep or do anything but moan and grumble. And what does this amazing man do? He puts more time into the house and kids. Takes his first week of summer holidays and cooks me food, lets me nap AND build the kids a play house/swing set! They are out there right now having a blast.

So when he woke up this morning with a swore throat and a head ache I sent him back to bed, took the kids to church and then out to Timmy's for breakfast. OK that does not at all compare to what he has done in the last few weeks and months but hey, for a normal weak and selfish person I had to start somewhere.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm Back

For many reasons I have been away from my blog. To tell you the truth I have had lots to say, so much that all the ideas have got stuck all jumbled up together. So instead of trying to get it all stored and tell you everything that has been on my mind for that last two months I am starting again.

Happy summer! This is my house today. By 7 am we were already deep into crafts and fights. Oh what a summer it will be! But just so you don't think that it is always my boys who are the crazy one:

So wish me luck because I am launching into two months of chaos punctuated by "I'm bored " 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our six year old insisted that we buy lemons the other day. I thought it was a strange request but considering he was not begging for candy I was happy to comply.  Early the next morning before school he set about his project. After asking for a few tools he set about making his lemons into lemonade.  His sisters were his enthusiastic assistances. Yes they make a mess but they also make amazing lemonade.
More then that they worked together to make something wonderful just because he wanted to. How often do I have a great idea that never gets of the ground because it might not work.  Or even more often gets half started and then left in the pile of "do later". (Right now there is a half pair of socks to knit, a quilt to make,  a raised planter with no soil.)
I have alot to learn from this amazing boy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Skeleton in the closet

I finally did it.  I washed, dried and put away the winter coats. My local friends say I'm save. That summer is basically here. But I am having a hard time trusting.  This is a little silly as it has been plus 20 or more every day this week, the apple trees are in bloom and Ryan had already mowed the lawn three times. It is so hot now in the afternoon that I have turned the air conditioner on. But still I am just not sure this is here to stay. I never knew I had trust issues.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spring time on the Prairies

Spring is a crazy time here. It takes a very long time to get here, but when it is here it comes with a vengeance. I think it needs to prove that it is really as strong as winter. It does this by speeding thing up beyond any thing I have ever seen. I am not joking. This weekend I went to look at the trees in the back yard to see if we had any leaf buds. I saw some small little green buds of hope. In the afternoon I was outside again with the kids and did a double take on the same trees. The buds had grown at least 3 mm. In three hours!
As my father-in-law said if you want to see spring time on the Prairie you better bring a lawn chair because if you go back inside you will miss it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

New life in the rafters

I love spring.  What an amazing season.  Right now there are tulips coming up in my flower bed. I find this amazing  I planted them in October right before the snow fell. They have been buried in frozen dirt and snow for months.  And now they are peecking out about to show their beauty to the world.
And in my backyard I have robins bluiding a nest under my deck. These birds that have been gone for so long that I sort of forgot that they ever came up here.  Now they are planning on starting a family in my yard.
Spring is an easy time to have hope, to have faith and trust in new beginnings.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

There and back again

We just got back from an epic journey to Vancouver island.  Ok, we did not meet any dragons or trolls, but the journey was long (just me and the four kids flew alone. Ryan came on his own for only one week)
We had many adventures.  And lots of great times with the cousins!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hope in the Birdsong

Today it is easy to believe in the Resurrection, in new life and rebirth. This morning was frosty but clear. As the sun climbed the sky warmth came again. Frost and snow are transformed into glistening water. The grass is shaking off its coat of white. And the chickadees are singing the glory of God. 

On days like this it is easy to hope, easy to laugh, easy to trust that there are good things coming. And I think that if we can see love and joy in a little bird then we have already found the good things.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why my kids do chores

I am a strong believer in chores. Yes, there is a selfish component in that. As I have mentioned before, I hate cleaning and I really could use all the help I can get.

But really that's not it. For the most part, having the kids do chores is more work for me, not less. For one thing I have to get them to do them. I also have to get all the stuff out for them, help them along the way and "inspect" to make sure it is done. Plus, I have to put up with it done their way and not mine.

So really if a clean house with no effort from me is my goal I am way better off hiring a cleaning team and depriving my children of all luxuries and some basic needs to pay for it. There would be less whining.

The real reason I have my kids to chores is that it is good for them.

First off, it teaches them that we are a team. This is OUR house, not my house with them as guests. We all live here and we all have to take care of it together. I hope that this lesson will carry over to the idea that we are also a team in other ways. We all have to take care of each other. We are family for life and if your brother or sister needs help, a hug, a laugh or anything else you will be there to offer it.

It teaches responsibility. They have a job to do and if they don't do it it will not get done. I am trying a new system where on top of regular every day chores (like making their bed and clearing and setting the table) they each have one chore that is theirs and only theirs. They can do this chore when they want, and how they want as long as it is done by Sunday afternoon. I still need to remind (read nag) them a bit and help some of them a lot but I hope that they are seeing how their work matters. Our family is counting on them and they are making a real impact.

I also want my kids to know how to do this things. I want them to know how to clean their house, how to cook, how to take care of them selves. If my kids were leaving school not learning how to read, write or do math I would have some choice words to say to their teachers. So why is it OK that my kids grow up in my home and not learn cooking, cleaning and house maintenance. We are starting small. Our oldest cooks dinner (with lots of back up support) once a week. They now all know how to clean a toilet, load and start a dishwasher and vacuum. Don't worry, I am not asking them the re-roof the house or sending the two year old out the mow the lawn.

I want my kids to value working. Having a job is a good thing. So is working hard even if you don't like it.  I try to make chore time as fun as possible. We put on fun music to grove to, I try to have a fun thing to do after we are done, but even if they don't like to clean the toilet (and who does really) if it is their job it has to get done. Working hard and a job well done is its own reward. (OK this is a bit of  a long stretch and I am still working on this concept my self but at least we are learning together.)
I know that these are big goals for a toilet brush to take on but someone has to do it. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ding Dong! The thesis is done!

I have been telling everyone I know for the whole week: my thesis for my MA in Religious Education is complete and submitted for grading!




I push the finer limits of tacky self-promotion with an eye toward ensuring adequate celebration. It would just be like me to shrug off this milestone and fail to honour the work and support involved in its passing.

Consider: I started my first graduate course at St. Mark's College in 1999. That's 15 frickin' years!

Now, there's been a lot of non-study gaps in there: I only really began my GDRE (graduate degree in religious education) in 2003, I finished it in 2008 or 9 or something, then started up again in Spring 2012. I haven't taken a course since Jan 2013 and the thesis has been interrupted by a few important life experiences in the past year and a bit.

But, still... it is the achievement of my furthest academic goal that I have imagined thus far. It is the end of any coursework at the post-secondary level and the beginning of potentially instructing at the college level. It is seeing a big project through, and one that has been at the heart of my career as a religious educator.

It represents the huge support that first of all Monique gave me when on stupid occasion I was taking two courses, coaching two teams and representing teachers in the local association when Avila was a newborn. And the support of the college, in all its various staffings that I've seen through the last 15 years.

And it presents me with a What next? What now? experience that I am eager to get rolling on - what's my new project? Where will the work on my thesis lead? Let's discover!

Above all, there's lightness and space in my heart and spirit and mind which has been holding this project for so long. It's just pretty cool.