Friday, December 21, 2007

Cookie Stats

The Cookie Kitchen is closed for the year. I'm all baked out. This week was a mad rush to do some last minute batches of pinwheels, spritz and shortbread, but we're done! We had a lot of fun doing this and are already making plans for next year's Christmas season. I must say that God blessed us more than I ever dreamed! I would have been happy with just 10 orders, and I never thought that those 10 orders would be baked, decorated and devoured by our first customer before we even got our flyers printed! What a wonderful Christmas gift God gave us this year! Here are some of our statistics:

We assembled 42 platters (only platters, not counting non-platter orders. There at least 150 of each cookie that was sold to people who wanted to put them on their own platters.)

We sold 394 of each of the five cookies.

We made 1,562 shortbread!

We made about 175 dozen cookies total, including the first few trial batches to perfect each recipe.

I went through 30 kg of flour, 45 lbs of butter for the shortbread alone (I haven't calculated how much for the other cookies as well), 15 kg of sugar and all the other miscellaneous ingredients. I didn't do the decorating, so I don't know how many pounds of powdered sugar we went through, but I do know it was a huge amount.

The good news is that there are enough leftovers that we can enjoy some with our own families this week, too!

We have several people who have asked us if we do this throughout the year and have put our numbers in their address books and on their calendars for next year to make sure they order on time! We also had several early customers who re-ordered more cookies because their original platters disappeared!

Thanks to those of you who prayed for us during this time, especially after a broken finger on my end and a chicken pox scare at Connie's. Somehow we managed and God really blessed us. We dedicated this little business to Him and He poured His blessings on us!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Timothy's Surprise

Maybe this isn't appropriate to post on here, but it cracked me up this morning and I'm going to share it anyway.

Timothy had a little flatulance issue this morning. He was running across the kitchen when it blew. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked around with such surprise! "Mommy! Did you hear that someping? Did that noise just come from me?! What happened?!" He kept turning around trying to see his behind to figure out what had just taken place behind him. It was so funny to watch him trying to figure out what had happened. I had a hard time keeping a straight face trying to explain it to him.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the surprised innocence of this experience will not last and before long, these occassions will be happening with purposed frequency and no more innocence. For now, I will enjoy the humor of the situation with my little boy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Options

Liz told me how to adjust my settings so that anonymous readers can post comments. You don't have to have an account with Blogger to leave me a message anymore. Feel free to comment now!

My typing is still laborious and messy. I have a new splint on my finger, but I am still not able to use it for typing. Therefore, everything takes longer since I have to keep backspacing to correct all my unintentional errors. Soon I'll be back into this and you'll hear more from me!!

Just to update those of you who have been asking, i think I'm finally on my last four batches of cookies for The Cookie Kitchen!! I can't believe how many cookies have been baked in this kitchen over the past month! When all is said and done, I'll let you know the total count of cookies that we made. I can't even estimate at this point. God has really blessed this "little" project more than we ever dreamed! We already have people telling us that they don't want us to change a single thing for next year as they expect to be buying cookies from us again! That's all up to the Lord!

I want to finish one last batch here tonight before I head for bed! Bye bye!

Timothy's Prayer

Here is Timothy's breakfast prayer this morning:

Thank you, God, for the flowers and clouds and elephants. Amen.

I love children's prayers!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

He's A Walker

Christopher must have heard us talking about Edson and he didn't want to be outdone by his younger cousin. Christopher is now a walker, too! He still drops to his knees if he needs to get somewhere fast, but he is enjoying the new skill of walking! Our little baby isn't a baby anymore. Watch out, Edson! Here he comes!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pray For Me!

Last night we visited an elderly friend and as we were leaving her apartment building, Fred and I exchanged quick plans for him to run to the store while I took the boys home for baths and bed. Fred helped w/the last carseat buckle and then took off in his van. I stepped out of the side of the van from getting Christopher settled, took one step and tripped over a drainspout that ran off the piller supporting the car port where we were loading up. I stumbled pretty badly, fell off the curb and landed in front of the running van ... my hand breaking the fall. I can still feel the crack as my hand hit the pavement. I jumped into the van, fumbled for my phone, tried to dial it without crying and just said, "Honey, come back quick! I just broke my hand!"

I'll spare you the rest of the details because it's too difficult to type with my hand all bandaged up. Basically, after sitting in the emergency room for only 4.5 hours (I feel blessed with such a short wait!), it was determined that only the fourth finger on my left hand is broken, but the rest is badly cut, scraped and bruised. Thank the Lord 1. that Fred could come back and help me so quickly, 2. that it isn't my right hand, 3. that I only had a short wait in the ER, 4. coming home from the hospital at 1:00am means less traffic on a terribly snowy, white-out-conditioned road, 5. my mother-in-law has offered to help me bake to keep up with our constant flow of cookie orders, 6. that it was only one little bone in one little finger.

Please pray for me as I have to wear this splint for three weeks! I keep forgetting that I can't do everything the same way. Diaper changing is not easy to do with one and a half hands. :) Please also thank the Lord that the fall was not worse!

I probably won't be blogging too much during this time. These paragraphs have taken way too long to type because I have to keep backspacing to correct them. I f you saw how I was rypinfing, you eouldf laugh ast me becuauce i csnt' see what ai'm doinf here! aathat's enoght for todsy! abye by!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas Cookies

If you haven't started your Christmas cookie baking yet, I have some suggestions for you. We're using both of these in our Cookie Kitchen platters and they are delicious! A bit of warning, first: the Choco-Caramel Delights are dangerous. They are very rich and a bit addictive. It's funny that when we were narrowing down our cookies for the platters, one unnamed male kept insisting that we remove these from our list. He felt the weren't "Christmas-y" enough. We decided to override his opinion because, hey! We knew we'd be selling these platters to WOMEN! Women love chocolate and MUST have chocolate! We kept them in, and it's a good thing! They have been raved about over and over again and have become a selling point for the variety platters we offer. The women love them! The men devour them. I know you will, too.

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Caramel filling:
14 unwrapped light caramels
3 Tbsp whipping cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)

Beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla in medium bowl until blended. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; blend into butter mixture. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.
Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
beat egg white slightly. Shape dough into 1-in balls. Dip each ball into egg white; roll in pecans to coat. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each ball. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set.
Meanwhile, prepare caramel filling. In small saucepan, combine caramels with whipping cream. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.
Remove cookies from oven; press center of each cookie again with thumb to make indentation. Immediately spoon about 1/2 tsp caramel filling in center of each cookie. Carefully remove from cookie sheets; cool on wire racks.
Microwave chocolate chips and shortening on high for 1 minute or until softened; stir. Allow to stand several minutes to finish melting; stir until smooth. Place wax paper under wire rack with cookies. Drizzle chocolate mixture over top of cookies.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
(No nutritional information available or necessary.)

Now, if you like cinnamon, you HAVE to try the Cinnamon Stars! For our Cookie Kitchen platters, we add a splash of liqueur to the recipe, but I personally love, love, love them without it so that the cinnamon flavor can shine! And I'm being 100% honest here, there is a major difference between using regular, store-bough cinnamon and Watkins' Cinnamon. Using regular cinnamon is good, but using the Watkins is phenomenal! The cinnamon flavor will blow you away!

Cinnamon Stars
Dough must rest 2 hours before baking - so start earlier in the day before you need them.

3 Egg whites
3 cups sifted icing sugar
3 cups ground, blanced almonds
2 Tbsp Watkins Cinnamon
Watkins Cooking Spray

Beat egg whites until stiff.
Beat in sifted powdered sugar.
At this point reserve 1/2 - 3/4 cup of this mixture Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Then add 3 cups ground blanched almonds and cinnamon.
Cover tightly and let rest at room temp. 2 hours.
Roll 1/2 of the dough at a time on a powdered sugar surface (using powdered sugar instead of flour) and roll 1/8" - 1/4" thick. Cut out with star cookie cutter. Top with meringue and place on sprayed cookie sheets. Bake at 425 for 2-3 minutes until meringue just barely starts to brown on edges. WATCH CAREFULLY!!! Unfortunately, you have to babysit them while they're in there because they brown very quickly. Remove to rack within a few minutes to cool.

PS Just to clarify ... it was NOT my husband who didn't want the chocolate cookies included. He's a chocoholic, too! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nativity Set

Before I was married, I had a nice collection of Nativity Sets that I would pull out every year at Christmas and put all over my apartment. I loved looking at them and I especially loved the ones that I picked up on my travels as they all portrayed the birth of Christ as they saw it in their own individual cultures. The one from Chile in a hollowed out gourd with cactus decorating the manger scene, the one from my sister in Paraguay that is made out of beautiful orange clay, the one from Mexico in a little white painted box with doors that open and close. Another sister gave me a beautiful stained glass scene that is very eye catching. I have many, but as I said in a previous post, most of my nice decorations are now put away for the future (if they have survived the curious hands that have found them!).

This morning when Stephen was getting dressed, he mentioned that as soon as he was done, he wanted to go back down and play with the, the, the, "Mommy, what's it called again?" I told him that some people call it a Manger Scene, some call it a creche, most people call it a Nativity Set. Stephen got all excited and said, "Oh! I like that one the best because I LOVE doing crafts!" I didn't quite get it at first, but then he repeated himself and I realized that he heard me say, "An activity Set." He loves crafts, so therefore, his favorite word for this group of people, animals, barn and Jesus is An Activity Set! Not wanting to laugh at him, I buried my face in the towel and had a good chuckle to myself.

I just love watching the boys play with these wooden toy sets that we have. Hearing them tell the story of the birth of Jesus from their perspectives is so precious. If you have little children, I hope you are taking the time to really listen to them tell their stories. I also wish that my kids would allow me to videotape them telling these stories so we can watch them when they're older. Unfortunately, they can hear the little beep of the camera from miles away and come running over to see what's on the video... which is NOTHING because the subject matter has just disappeared to stand beside me! Maybe these little scenes will be burned into my memory so that I can recall them without gadget-related aid in the future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quiet Around Here?

Yes, things have been quiet on the Blogger front, but only because they've been anything but that on the Weinhardt front! Last week was a challenge with Christopher's burned hand, Mom and Dad's wonderful, but short, visit, my Watkins Open House and a million other things that all happen in a "normal" day. Let me catch you up with our lives.

First of all, thank the Lord, Christopher's hand is pretty much healed!! I wish you could have seen it. It was a nasty, nasty burn! We tried to put Petro Carbo on it and keep it wrapped up the first day and a half, but he sure didn't like that. He eventually ripped my hard gauze-wrapping work off of his hand and that was that! Today you can see only two little spots, but you wouldn't even know that they were burns. Thank you, Lord!!

Mom and Dad blessed us with a wonderful visit last week when they were here for their Thanksgiving vacation. We had a great time! The boys loved listening to stories, playing with them, showing off for them, etc. Mom and I spent just about all day on Saturday baking cookies for the Cookie Kitchen. It was a lot of work, but when was the last time I baked Christmas cookies with my mom?! It's been TOO long! We got all our cookies baked and even had time to visit while we were doing it. What a great day!

Last Friday I held a Watkins Open House. We had a nice turn out, although I had hoped for a few more people to come. I met my goals for this month which makes me happy. It was so nice to have Mom here helping me get things prepared. Prior to their arrival, I was fighting with Christopher. Every time I'd set something up, he'd come by and tear it down. It was a losing battle until Grandma and Grandpa showed up! It was a long and tiring night, but I'm thankful for the nice time that we had.

The Cookie Kitchen is taking off! We have had so many orders come in this week that it's caused us to scramble and whip up a few more batches of cookies! We're trying to stay ahead because we've been getting calls from people who are wanting platters the next day and we want to accommodate them as well. Surprisingly, the boys are not sick of these cookies yet! They still hover around to see if there are any broken ones that they can sample. Somehow Timothy can always find at least one that isn't up to par and needs to be removed "so we don't sell it by accident."

So, as you can see, only the blog entries have been quiet. Our house and our lives have not! We are enjoying the beginning of the Christmas season by listening to our Christmas music and putting up some decorations. My decorations have changed over the years. Now I only put out things that are out of the reach of children. I've had to say goodby to some of my favorite decorations the past few years and already this year because of curious little hands. Last night when we were going through my boxes of things, Stephen was just a real Mexican jumping bean watching as I pulled out different items. He even said at one point, "This is the best Christmas Eve ever!" We've been talking about how exciting it is for us to celebrate Jesus' birthday for so long before Christmas Day. Stephen said, too, that we're going to have to explain Christmas to Christopher because he was too little to learn about it last year. I'm going to make sure the boys have lots of opportunities to explain Christmas to their little brother! It's so cute to watch them at this age. I love it.

Ok. That paragraph was a real diversion. I got caught up in the Christmas spirit myself there. We want to do our best to keep Christmas simple enough that the real purpose and meaning behind this holiday is emphasized. The boys have been playing with the little wooden nativity sets and are such a joy to listen to while they tell their stories to each other. "Mary is looking out the window to make sure that there is nothing out there to scare the baby Jesus." "I want to put the kings close to the staple (not a misspelling) so that they can see over the shepherds." "If I put Jesus on top of the roof, then everyone will be able to find Him!"

This house is definitely not quiet. I love it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Analogy

This afternoon we experienced another analogy between God and His children and us as parents with ours.
Christopher is certainly giving us a run for our money, let me tell you! Life was calm this afternoon, until he slipped while playing with his dump truck and tried to balance himself with the glass panel of the gas fireplace that had been on all day! I heard the truck hit the flange at the bottom of the fireplace and then after a brief pause, I heard his ear piercing screams! I ran over as fast as I could, only to see him throw both of his hands up to his face and just scream and scream!
I finally pulled his hands away and saw, thankfully, that only the entire palm of his left hand was bright red. That's bad enough, but I feared both hands, or even his face, would have been burned. I plunged his hand into cold water and started praying. Thankfully, he seemed to like that cold water and had fun playing, but as soon as I would pull it out, the screaming would start again.
When Fred came home, the agony that he showed on his face watching Christopher screaming in pain touched my heart. This is what God must look like when He sees His children screaming in pain. He wants to heal us and take away the hurt, but we keep pulling our injured selves away from Him and try to protect ourselves. If only we could see that God wants to HELP and our pulling away only delays relief! Fred did just what I imagine God longs to do for us. He scooped up Christopher, held him tenderly and close and sang and spoke gently to him. He dropped everything he was doing to hold his injured child and comfort him. Whenever Christopher would scream again, Fred would wince in pain with him and hold him even tighter. Can you picture God doing that for us?! It was so amazing watching this and the analogy for me of a father and his child was so clear tonight.

Lord, help me remember to always come to you when I'm in pain. Remind me that You are there to help me and relieve me from my pain. Comfort me when it seems there is no comfort available. Hold me close like I saw Fred holding Christopher tonight, and reassure me that I'm safe in your arms. And please heal little Christopher's hand quickly!! He can't even crawl with it in so much pain! Thank you for protecting the rest of his body from injury. We put ourselves and our children in Your hands again and again.


Today is only Wednesday and Thanksgiving is really tomorrow, but up here in Canada it doesn't seem to matter. Not many people are thinking "Thanksgiving" this week. We are already done celebrating the official holiday as ours was back at the beginning of October. I've been here for nine Thanksgivings already and each year it catches me off guard and Thanksgiving Day is over and done with before I know it! By the time the end of November comes around, I'm ready to start thinking turkey dinner, Thursday and Friday off, cold weather, maybe a little nuts-o shopping adventure on Black Friday, you know... THANKSGIVING! Of course, by the time I'm thinking all this, everyone else around here has already moved on to Christmas and no one seems to care that we're missing out on a holiday.

My friend, Miriam, and her family were here last weekend and she brought me the most wonderful gift from Syracuse, NY! A nineteen pound turkey! You might think that's an odd gift to bring from the States to Canada, but it was a thrill for me! In Canada, even at Thanksgiving, you can get a turkey on sale for $1.69/lb., but Miriam got this one for $.29/lb! We're going to have turkey for many, many meals! I can't wait! I roasted it yesterday and we shared a little mini-Thanksgiving with Fred's parents last night. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, the works! It was delicious!

I don't know why a turkey meal automatically clicks us into a Thanksgiving mentality, but it does. I guess it's years of conditioning, eating that bird on the day we set aside to specifically express our thanks. Last night was one of those nights that it did it again. As we were sitting around the table, my thoughts were jumping back to how many things I am thankful for. I can't list all the reasons here, but I'll share some. I'm thankful that both my parents and Fred's parents are still here and in good health compared to some of my friends' parents. Fred's dad is definitely slowing down, and that's sad to see, but we enjoyed our evening with him last night, talking about the Ortsi (farm) where he grew up in Yugoslavia. I'm thankful for the children of our parents. My husband is my best friend and I am so thankful for his committment to God first, and then to his family. My siblings are also my dearest friends and our relationships are extremely important to me. I'm thankful for the next generation: our children. Stephen, Timothy and Christopher bring us more joy and contentment than I ever knew possible. (They bring us more frustration and pain, too, but I'll take those if I can still have the rest!) I'm thankful that God cares so much about us and that He is 100% aware of whatever we may be faced with on a daily basis. I'm thankful for creative ideas, for people who encourage, for sunny days, for internet connections that aren't flaky, for the ability to smell cinnamon. The list goes on and on.

I know many of my known and unknown readers will be with their families and friends tomorrow for a Thanksgiving meal. I will be celebrating with you, even if it's only in my heart (and with some leftover turkey!). When I hear stories of the struggles that other people are going through, I cannot help but be thankful for God's blessings. Grandma always told me that no matter how bad off she was, there was always someone worse, and that's why she always answered "Thankful" when we asked how she was doing. So true! I'm thankful today, tomorrow, always!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Our First Official Order!

My friend and I decided that this year for Christmas we were going to try something new. We sat down and brainstormed and came up with an idea to give us stay-at-home moms a little purpose outside of our four walls as well as hopefully bring in a little bit of extra cash to help out with our family finances if we could. We poured over our cookie recipes, looked at old Christmas magazines and searched the internet to look for recipes that sounded like delicious Christmas cookies to us. We, along with our husbands, did some number crunching, went over marketing strategies and worked on flyer layouts and eventually came up with The Cookie Kitchen. We've been baking and testing (of course!) and modifying and asking opinions and we now have six delicious cookies that are featured in our Christmas platters. Listen to these descriptions and tell me that they don't sound mouthwatering to you!

* Cinnamon Stars *

Chewy almond and cinnamon stars with a hint of liqueur, elegantly topped with a light and crispy meringue

* Chocolate Caramel Delights *

Soft, decadent chocolate cookies rolled in crushed pecans with a soft caramel center

* Soft Gingersnaps *

Soft and chewy witha a delightful taste of Christmas spices, including Watkins Purest Ground Cinnamon and Watkins Double Strength Vanilla

* Peppermint Pinwheels *

Thin and chewy peppermint delights, pleasing both to the eye and palette

* Christmas Spritz *

Delicate chocolate spritz dipped on one side in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy

* Grandma's Shortbread *

Rich and buttery shortbread cut-outs decorated with handcrafted detail

Don't those sound GREAT?! They are. Trust me. Trust our families. We've tried them all to make sure that they would be hits on a Christmas cookie platter.

So this past week, my friend and I put on our walking shoes and hit the neighborhood with our flyers. We figured that there have to be some people out there that want to serve Christmas cookies this year, but just don't have the time or talent to make them. That's where we wanted to step in and help. We got our first order before plans were even finalized by a friend who teaches piano and has a recital at the beginning of December. She said that she could either buy a couple hundred cookies from the grocery store, or she could buy them from us! She decided to buy "real" ones from us!

But our first OFFICIAL order came in tonight! We included my email address and phone number on our flyers that were distributed around our neighborhood and tonight we got our first real order from the flyers for three platters of cookies! And to top it off, this person said that she hopes we don't mind, but she took the flyer to work because no one there has time to bake either! We're so excited! We have about twelve platters ordered as of right now, with promises of more to come in the next few weeks.

You are wondering how two moms with little kids can pull something like this off, right? We were wondering, too, but we've really committed this in prayer and we believe that God will help us to accomplish this. We both feel the need to have a goal beyond the day to day activities of taking care of our families, to have a sense of accomplishment, and to assure ourselves that we really still do have brains and can manage a little business. Keeping this project in constant prayer has allowed us to do a ton of homework on pricing out our cookies, figuring out our costs, deciding the most appropriate wording for the flyer, organizing a distribution plan and even start ahead on some of the orders that are needed in two weeks! We have not been stressed out by this. We are not feeling overwhelmed. We ARE feeling a bond growing between us as we work on our cookies together. We ARE thanking the Lord for the idea, the initiative, our husbands' backing, our ability to work so well together, our children who love when we break the cookies or make a batch a little too dark, for the perfect walking weather the only day we had available to walk around the neighborhood, etc. I honestly believe that this project was an inspiration from the Lord because He knows the needs of the two of us and has been blessing us so far. Don't worry. Our families have not been neglected in any way (except when we tell them they can't have the batch of cookies that just came out of the oven!), and have actually been our biggest cheerleaders from the beginning.

Who knows where this will all take us, but for now, we're thrilled that we have an official order from someone we don't even know and we're enjoying the excitement of working together on these cookies to help out others and ourselves! Anyone need a platter for their Christmas get togethers?? Just let us know!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A New Favorite!

I've discovered a new Watkins favorite today! I ran out of my Ultra Dawn Oxi dishsoap that I have been using for ages (I LOVE Dawn because it cuts the grease!), so I pulled out my new bottle of J.R. Watkins Natural Home Care Lavender Liquid Dish Soap. Oh my goodness! I'm in love! First of all the scent is sooooo pleasant that I kept looking around the kitchen to try to find things to wash so that I could keep smelling that lavender and rosemary scent! Seriously! The funny thing is, after I used it, I was reading the back of the bottle and it says, "This natural earth-friendly formula rinses away leaving your dishes sparkling and spotless. The sweet soothing smell of lavender will make you want to clean all day long!" I have to admit, it's true! You've got to smell it. I normally gag at the descriptions that marketing specialists put on packaging to try to convince the consumers that their product is unique and the best. This time I just laughed because I really did want to keep cleaning just because of the smell!

And another great thing is that it really does cut through the grease just like my good ole Dawn! It had to be put to the test today because I had to clean up after frying bacon. Amazing! It didn't leave any greasy smears or anything! I was a bit skeptical, and a bit disappointed, when I realized I had to use the new stuff on that grease. I wished I had saved a little bit of my trusty Dawn in case the Watkins soap didn't work. I didn't have to worry! It amazingly took the grease away and there's no slimy feeling like you get from the cheap no-name brands. If you are coming to my Open House next Friday night (23rd from 4-8pm), remember to smell the soap! I'll even leave some really dirty dishes in the sink so that you can try your hand at it yourself!

On a different note, I wanted to give you an update on our artists. Stephen has been working off the damage he did with the marker and Timothy has been punished enough by not being allowed to use his crayons all week. However, today Timothy saw Stephen's sheet that he drew on and he asked in such a shocked voice, "Mommy! Why did Stephen do that?!" I guess he didn't connect the fact that he also did something that he shouldn't have done by drawing on the wall! I tried not to laugh at him, but I couldn't help but smile. I'm so thankful that Fred and I were both able to laugh about this right away. Every time I go in our room, I look at that wall and just stand there in amazement. Then I shake my head with a smile on my face and move on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Budding Artist

These pictures are not clear, but they are enough to give you an idea of what our budding little artist, Timothy, was up to during naptime yesterday. It was his turn to take his nap in Daddy and Mommy's bed and he was soooo quiet yesterday! After an hour or so, I peeked in on him, expecting to see him lying there, peacefully sleeping. Instead, he was just lying there staring at me. I asked him if he was done resting (as I didn't want him to fall asleep too late or we'd be in trouble come bedtime) and he replied that he was. He bounced out of bed and tore off out of the room as fast as he could. I thought it was because he was anxious to get back to the Candyland game that was deserted prior to naptime.

When Fred and I stumbled into bed in the semi-dark room last night, I thought I saw something on the wall above our bed. I DID see something! I saw a three-year-old's masterpiece taking up the entire wall behind our king-sized bed! He had drawn roads and cars and sunshines and smile-faces and a bunch of things that were unidentifiable at 11:00 at night.

PAUSE!!!! Deep and very painful pause here while I regain my composure. Breathe, Martha! Count to ten! No, wait. On second thought you'd better count to one thousand.


Ok. Here's the rest of the story. I just now went up to check on Stephen during naptime today because it was so comfortingly quiet up there. I am shocked by what I found. I just don't even know how to react, thus the above paragraph encouraging me to pause, breathe and count until I am more than sure I am calm.

I found Stephen standing by his bed with a green, permanant marker (that he found by Daddy's desk, he confessed). He had written every letter he knew how to write in his new library book "The Snowman" by Raymond Briggs. The one with no words, remember? He thought every book needed words, so he added his own. As I was swallowing the shock of him writing in his library book in green permanant marker, I noticed the sheets on his bed. He now has a palm-sized green drawing on his sheet. Wait. I take that back. It's not even HIS sheet! We were expecting company for this past weekend's church dedication service so I had put our BEST sheets on his bed because it doubles as our guest bed. So, my fury is starting to mount when I march him out of his room (Timothy was sleeping in there already and I didn't want to wake him with my reprimands, calm as they may have been, ha ha!) and back into ours when I about lost my lunch at the sight I saw in THERE! Stephen had taken that same green marker and TRACED Timothy's entire masterpiece PLUS added his own touches. He also drew a border around the entire thing which stretches as high as a four-year-old's arm can reach while standing on the bed. My eyes glanced to our bed and saw that same green "spot" decorating our sheet! His once red teddy bear is now an ugly brown because red and green make brown on that type of material.

I think that's enough description for now. I'm not even sure what else I'll find when I go back up later. This was all I could take for now. He found the marker in Christopher's room/the office, and I haven't even looked in there yet. There could be green marker absolutely everywhere upstairs. I just can't bear to check it out at the moment.

Those of you that are parents of children older than four that have gone through something similar in your own homes, how did you deal with this?! You can't tell me that your kids never destroyed anything, because if you do, I won't believe you. No matter how much you think you're going to raise your children to be respectful and not destroy property, each child has free will and curiosity and has probably done something to shock you at some point. I just don't know how to handle this right now. How did you all handle this?! Feel free to email me personally, too. I want to balance out the consequences here and just don't even know where to start! I tried getting Timothy to clean the wall this morning, but crayon on flat paint doesn't really come off that well. I had him wearing a glove and using a Mr. Clean eraser, but that didn't do much. I made him keep scrubbing away anyway, just to show him how hard it was going to be to clean and make him responsible for his actions. Now that it's been traced over by Stephen and that marker, though, I just don't know how to handle this. Any tried and true wisdom out there?! Help!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Miscellaneous Amusement

I just put Stephen and Timothy to bed. I decided to stay up there and snuggle with them a little bit and just tell stories and laugh, etc. Well, things started to get a little weird so I told them that they must be overtired and need some good sleep because of all their odd comments. I'll share a few with you.

Timothy: I won Candyland tonight because everyone else was a slow poke, but I was a fast poke.
Stephen: Mommy, if we had hands on the sides of our hands, we'd have fourteen fingers. (Don't ask. Remember, it's late for them!)

Timothy: I can count to three! One, three, four, five, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three. See! I can count to three backwards!

Stephen: All night long apples fall from trees.

Timothy: Mommy, do I have all my numbers on my hands?

Stephen: In the morning, no one will wake me up because I'm going to sleep until my clock says 9! (This comes from the boy who has a hard time sleeping past 7:00!)

Timothy: Kissafah only says "Bah!" Someone needs to teach him real words!

It's way past bedtime for these little guys! I couldn't even keep up with their conversations anymore! Goodnight everyone! Oh, and by the way, they don't sleep in this Thomas bed. They were just trying it out one day.

Another Tooth!!

Finally, Christopher has another tooth! He's been living with just his two front lower teeth since July with NO signs of anything else to come! Last night when I was finger-brushing his two teeth, I flipped to his top gum and lo and behold, there's a tooth starting to poke out! Now he won't look like a semi-toothless "Angela" (that comment was for those of you who remember the woman Liz, Karen and I used to work for). He'll finally look like a real 14 month old ... well, not quite yet, since all the other kids I've seen around his age already have a mouthful of teeth.

No worries. By next summer he'll really be able to chow down on his cobs of corn!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

First Snow Fall

I wanted to post about the excitement the boys had this afternoon when they saw the first snow fall of the year. I wanted to portray the thrill of the change of seasons that they were showing. I wanted to use words that made my readers appreciate the joy of youth that comes from experiencing that first snow. I wanted to leave a feeling of anticipation of the season to come.

Instead, I will say nothing.
Instead, I will use a well-worn cliche' that says a picture is worth a thousand words.
Instead, I will ask you to click on the link to the left that says "Liz".
Instead, I will promise you that the pictures there will make you smile!

Some other day I'm sure I will write about the joy of the boys' experiences in the snow, but for now, Taylor and Laurel have captured that excitement for the rest of us! Thanks, you guys!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Miscellaneous Thoughts on Humility

This morning, Fred and I were so pleased that for the first time since the boys were born, the time change adjustment went smoothly in our favor! We were out late last night at a church function in Hamilton and the boys got to bed quite a bit later than normal, but we were anticipating them waking up at their normal body clock time of 7:00am, which would now be 6:00am. We were thrilled when they ALL slept until about 7:30am ... the NEW time! We felt we were handed a very special gift from God this morning!

My lesson in humilty came about 20 minutes later, though. Here I was basking in the joy of having the boys sleep so long and adjust so well to this new time change and God wanted me to know that it was nothing of OUR doing, but all in His hands! I needed to be rid of a bit of pride this morning, I guess, because as I said, 20 minutes later, I was wishing that they WOULD have gotten up at 6:00am!! Christopher woke up with a leaky diaper, so I got a bath ready for him, plunked him in and then let Stephen join him, just for a little bit of fun. I sat back to watch the two of them play and was just loving watching Christopher sitting there smiling away at me. Uh ... Christopher sitting there smiling?! Christopher doesn't just sit in the bathtub! He's usually slipping and splashing all over the place! I leaned over to do a little interaction with him to see what was going on and just about threw up! He wasn't smiling at me! He had been taking care of a bowel movement right there in the tub! By the time I realized what had happened, the pieces were starting to break apart and get the water quite murky. I yelled at Stephen to get out quick and tried to grab Christopher before he reached for any more little "floaties" to play with! At this point, I was really getting grossed out! Between Fred and myself, we managed to get the two boys out of the tub, got the major remaining chunks out of there, got the boys rinsed off under the shower and then dressed. I then spent the rest of my leisurely (?!?!?!) Sunday morning disinfecting the tub and all the toys, including the one Sesame Street tug boat that we just happened to borrow from the library yesterday! What a mess! So all my pride in having the boys sleep in and adjust to the new time was solidly put back in place as I cleaned up that disgusting bathtub this morning! Believe it or not, though, we were still ready for church with about fifteen minutes to spare!

After this morning's services at church, I was once again reminded that I am nothing without God. We were in the babyroom getting the boys packed up to go home for lunch. I had just changed Christopher's diaper and sat back to finish my conversation with my friend. Christopher flipped from his back over to his stomach and was getting ready to crawl away when another older girl standing right behind him lost her balance and landed directly on his back, smashing his entire body into the floor. Of course, I'm watching this all happen in slow motion and I can't even make a move to stop the action from completing. Christopher just lay there on the floor motionless for what seemed minutes, but was only mere seconds and then he started to scream in obvious pain! I instinctively dropped to my knees beside him and scooped him up into my arms, to which he responded with an even greater scream and a rigid, and then limp body. He didn't seem to want to focus and was just screaming with a wide open mouth. The whole thing was so fast, yet so disturbing, that everyone rushed over to see if he was ok. I, of course, was losing composure and was just begging everyone, "Pray! Please pray now!" I didn't know if he had cracked his back or snapped his neck or what! I was crying so hard I couldn't even squeak out what happened when Fred came running into the room. Thank the Lord for my friend, Caroline, who was there and saw the whole thing and could speak for me.

We did our best to check Christopher out, once he calmed down a bit, and came to the conclusion that he must have just gotten the wind knocked out of him pretty good. Fred tried to get him to stand up to see if he was ok, but he just screamed at that, probably more because of the fact that Fred put him down than anything. I watched him all the way home to make sure he didn't start convulsing or anything because he seemed strangely quiet and unmoving to me. Thank God, once we got home and he saw his little push toy, he scrambled out of Fred's arms and started racing around the kitchen! God had to show me in another scary way today that He is in control of my children! He's got it all under control and I need to keep trusting him! I really don't like these scary lessons when it involves my children, but for some reason, God is wanting me to learn something from them anyway! Christopher is quite back to normal, and while he'll never remember what happened this morning, I will always have that vivid memory, and the promise that God is still with us!

On a lighter note, I have to share some more Stephen funnies with you. Last night in bed he asked me why his skeleton hurt. When I asked him where, he said, "You know, the part that protects my heart?" I guess he learned a new vocabulary word because of all the Halloween stuff that he's noticed this year.

Then at lunch time today we were talking about when Grandpa and Grandma might come back up for a visit and I told the boys that I would call them today to see if they'd like to come up next weekend. Without looking up from his meal, Stephen so certainly replied, "I think they'd be delighted to come." That comment sure cracked us up! Since when have we ever used the phrase that they would be "delighted" to come?! He must have picked it up from somewhere.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


This morning I heard the boys playing so well in the living room. They each had their trains and were "chooching" (as Stephen puts it) around the lines on the rug. All of a sudden I started to hear some undertones of complaining. The griping got louder and louder until I heard Stephen announce so emphatically at Timothy, "If you don't move your train then I am NOT going to be your friend anymore!" To which Timothy replied in a voice just as loud and emphatic, " I don't care because I'm not going to be your friend first!" I chose to let this moment go uninterrupted by Mom because, honestly, I was trying not to laugh! I figured they could work this one out on their own.

Unfortunately, they didn't work it out on their own, so I ended up going over to find out what the problem really was. Timothy had just sat down with a thump on the floor and said, "I'm not going to talk to him now." I took that as a teachable moment and told them that Timothy was choosing the right action because Grandma always told us that it takes two to fight. If Timothy was not going to fight back, then there really was no one for Stephen to fight with because it would be silly for Stephen to try to fight with himself. This cracked Stephen up and within seconds they were both laughing and "chooching" on their way again.

I know that we were like this as kids, too. I just don't remember it all. One minute these guys are the best of friends; holding hands, telling each other that they love them, encouraging each other, and then within mere seconds, I see arms flinging out with a whack or hair being pulled or a tower being knocked down on purpose. I try not to get frustrated with the fact that one successful occassion does not mean that sibling problems are solved for a lifetime, but I AM encouraged when I hear more of the positive comments and peaceful playing going on. Maybe we ARE doing something right as parents after all!

The boys did end on a good note this morning when we were waiting for Stephen's bus. It was cold, so Stephen asked Timothy if he could come hug him to keep him warm. And Timothy just asked me how much longer until Stephen comes home from school. They DO still love each other! Hurray!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I promised you some words about the Double Strength Vanilla that Watkins has, and I will keep my word. I also promise you, though, that this will not become a Watkins blog! Although I'm becoming fascinated by what I'm learning about this company and it's products, there is more to my life than this!

I've been baking the past few days and I have been using my new bottle of Watkins Double Strength Vanilla. Wow! What a difference in 1.) smell 2.) viscosity (thickness of the liquid) and 3.) overall results! When you first open the bottle you are immediately impacted by the strong scent of vanilla. It's so REAL! Then I started to pour it in the measuring spoon (using only half of what the recipe called for) and it was so thick ... not runny, brown water like I'm used to with the no-name brand I usually use. The cookies also taste wonderful! I never thought that buying the quality stuff would make that much of a difference, but I do love it!

Today I was browsing some Watkins stuff and I came across a newsletter that gave some interesting facts about vanilla. Get this: if you add a few drops of vanilla to your oil before you fry foods, it will take away the odors! Saturate a cotton ball with vanilla and put it in your refrigerator to freshen it. Put a few drops of vanilla in your vacuum cleaner bag or filter and your house will smell like vanilla. Vanilla rubbed on your hands will take away the fish smell after handling fish. Who would've thought of these?!

Anyway, I've fallen in love with this vanilla. The scent alone is what draws me to it. Mmmmm! Fred has been trying to teach me for years that sometimes you just have to buy QUALITY and not just the cheap stuff. This vanilla is one of those quality items that I'm going to be paying for now instead of the cheap stuff. It's amazing!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Discover Watkins With Me!

Well, I did something this past week that I never dreamed of doing before. I became an Independent Watkins Associate! What's that, you ask? Check out my website! I even have my own website!

The J.R. Watkins company of quality products was established in 1868 as a company that provided natural, botanical-based products focused mostly on medicinal means like salves and ointments and creams, but it has expanded from there over the years to also provide products for gourmet foods (spices, mixes, extracts), home care (chemical-free cleaners, soaps, detergents), apothecary items (Do you like that word? It's items such as liniments, salves, cough medicines, tonics.), health care items (shea butters, lip balm, hand salves, shampoos, etc). There are so many products that Watkins provides, and the interesting thing is that they are definitely quality products many of which have survived since the company first started providing them in the mid-1800's!

I am just beginning to discover all the products that are available and since most of you are my family and close friends (with a few lurkers who haven't made themselves known yet! :), I hope you don't mind if I share some of my discoveries with you as I go. If you are already familiar with Watkins products, please post comments about the ones you use and love! I would love to hear from you! Watch for future posts that tell you about my discoveries!

Please browse my Watkins website and tell me what you think. Poke around. Ask questions. Of course feel free to become a customer. :) The exciting thing for me is that even though I live in Canada, I am still able to help my US friends and family by providing a US catalog on the website. Just make sure you click on US or CANADA Catalog to get the correct one for your country.

Along with reading all my information about Watkins, I would also like to ask you to pray for me as I start this endeavor. I simply want to be able to help out with our family's finances while still being here for my kids. I'm not trying to get rich on this, but I do want to be able to take some of the financial stress off of Fred and still manage our home at the same time. Please pray for me! Thanks!

I'll tell you about the Double Strength Vanilla that I've come to love in the next post! Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Tonight our family enjoyed an evening out. We were invited to our friends' house who also have three boys. Their children are much older than ours, but we could relate to each other. It was such an enjoyable evening sharing in their good, old-fashioned love and hospitality. There were no pretenses. No shows. No impressions trying to be made. There were no apologies for a wet dog who ran through the kitchen or the fact that the chicken ended up a bit spicier than was intended. There were no apologies that our hostess doesn't like to bake; just the simple fact stated that she doesn't like to do it, so we ate a jello salad that her mother-in-law had made and the boys had part of a KitKat bar (which they loved better than a baked dessert anyway!). We really enjoyed ourselves tonight!

It seems that the scriptural encouragement to practice hospitality is overlooked so often these days. Or maybe it's just that no one wants to invite over a family with three little boys, for fear of the noise or the mess they may make. I don't know. All I know is that tonight we felt blessed as a family as we visited with our friends. It wasn't about home or meal presentation, but about fellowship. We laughed together about our boys' antics. We cried together as we remembered our dear brother Larry Megyesi who passed away yesterday. We discussed our struggles with post partum depression and how we are changed women because of that. We talked about our prayers and our hopes for our children. We talked about touching other peoples' lives in real ways. We talked about dumb things we did as newlyweds. I feel so refreshed after our evening tonight.

While we do have guests over quite often, I was encouraged again tonight to practice hospitality and to do good, especially to the household of faith. A friend shared with me the other day that she is learning how to be hospitable from me. When I probed why in the world she would say that, she responded that it was because no matter when she calls or drops by, I always make her feel as if I'm thrilled to have her there. Well, that's easy, because I am! But she said that I don't make her feel as if I have to have everything perfect for her when she comes. She likes that she can come in and see toys all over the place and that she will see crumbs on my floor (I was embarrassed by that comment! :), or that I can pull the clothes out of my dryer and be folding them in front of her. Granted, I don't do this with all my guests, but I DO want people who come into our home to feel welcome and part of the family, as well as make them feel important.

That's what I felt tonight, and I'm more encouraged than ever to practice simple and sincere hospitality. I want to bless lives like I was blessed tonight! We really need to keep this practice of hospitality and blessing others alive and well. I'm thankful that my mom and grandma practiced this and taught us how to easily invite people over to our homes. I learned a lot from them! And it seems to be rubbing off on the boys too because every Sunday morning they will ask us who is coming for lunch that day. When Timothy helps me set the table every night, he sets an extra plate, just in case we have company, he says. Let's see ... who can we have over this week? I'm excited!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Few Funnies

I know I've told some of you these stories already, but you've asked me to repeat them on here, so I will. Those of you that have or had little kids can appreciate these types of comments that seem to come out of nowhere from these little people.

About a week ago, Stephen was snuggling in bed with me one morning and he was asking me about my glasses. I put them on his face and told him to see how blurry everything was. I told him that when I don't wear my glasses, that's how everything looks...all blurry. He seemed to accept that and just lay there next to me quietly. Then he said, "But Mommy, you don't wear these when you sleep. Does that mean that your dreams are blurry?"

Yesterday Stephen was telling me that his friend, Diego, speaks Spanish. He said to me, "Mommy, Diego's Spanish is his English."

Then there's Timothy's comments. Sometimes we still don't really understand what he's getting at. He said, "Today is Friday and it's long." When I asked why, he replied, "Because it has stripes on it." ???????????????????? I didn't question any further.

Christopher is a little easier to understand. When we talk to him, he just answers, "Aaaahhhh!" That's his response to everything. Last night we had another little scare with him! Timothy and I had gone out to the garage for JUST A SECOND and Stephen ran to the basement to grab some train tracks to bring back upstairs. From the garage I heard a bunch of things falling down the stairs and I was waiting to hear Stephen's cries of frustration, thinking it was his tracks that were falling down the stairs. Instead, I heard Christopher crying. I ran over to the stairs to see what happened and saw him at the bottom of the stairs with his head down and feet up. He was crying, but seemed to be ok. Fred asked Stephen if he saw what happened and he said, "He just went like this: bounce, bounce, bounce and then his head stopped him." Thank the Lord for guardian angels and resilient boys!

(Once again, I can't add pictures for some reason! I wanted to put on some current pictures of the boys, but I guess you'll just have to come visit in order to see them! Hint Hint!)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catching Up

I'm going to catch up with a few photos from Grandpa's funeral back in September. The first photo is of the grandsons that were present at the funeral. (Left to right: Phil P., Aden P., Tim T., Adriel N., Jonathan P., Richard P., Mark P., Ron T.) Grandpa had a love for hats. We rarely saw him without one. All the grandsons were able to choose one of Grandpa's hats to wear as his pallbearer and then to take with them as a momento of Grandpa's life. I was honored to be the one to take Roger's hat back to Mom and Dad's after the funeral. I believe that Roger has one of the most precious hats because it was definitely worn and well-loved.
The plaque was displayed on Grandpa's casket and is so appropriate in it's description of Grandpa. He was a tiller of the soil, not just in the physical sense, but also the spiritual. Grandpa would never be considered a lazy man. He was always working and tilling his soil, both in his own acres of gardens and in the lives of people he loved.
The location we had for his graveside service was so appropriate. It was right next to the cornfield at the edge of the cemetary. It was so "Grandpa". Wow. This is hard for me to type. I'm trying to type with tears in my eyes. I'm missing you, Gramp! Looking at these pictures that Fred downloaded last night has gotten my memories flowing like crazy. He also found a picture last night as he was browsing through our files of Grandpa and Grandma sitting at the kitchen table. If I can find it again, I will post that one as well. It was a beautifully, typical shot of the two of them in their kitchen.


Sorry for the silence. Life caught up with me and I had to get caught up with life!

Fred just downloaded some pictures that have been on the camera way too long. These photos are for my family, mostly, and anyone else who may have some memories of the back of Grandpa and Grandma's property. Fred took these when we were there for Grandpa's funeral. What a lot of fun we had running around that property! I'm sure Mom and her siblings had even more fun as kids ... or maybe these pictures just remind them of having to work in the garden. In my mind, I will still always envision these fields full of corn stalks!
Enjoy a few memories here parents, siblings, cousins and aunts/uncles.
I wonder what images are being burned into the memories of our kids?!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

41 Reasons

Today I am sharing 41 reasons why I am thankful. This is inspired by Liz's posts the last few days and because today I am 41. These are in no particular order because they are all important to me!

1. For my mom and dad, without whom there would be no me!
2. For Liz, Karen, Roger and Dianne. They have helped me become who I am today.
3. For Fred, my best friend!
4. Stephen
5. Timothy
6. Christopher
7. My Heavenly Father
8. Friends that I can have gut-laughs with
9. E-mail
10. Friends who made me a birthday cake today "because no one should have to make their own birthday cake!"
11. Hearing my boys sing Happy Birthday to me!
12. Autumn
13. Stick shift cars (I love that control!)
14. Music to listen to
15. Chocolate in any form
16. The ability to travel
17. The exhilarating feeling during a fast-paced walk in the fall
18. My grandparents' legacy
19. Good hair days
20. When the boys surprise me with their obedience and cooperation in public
21. Hand-me-downs
22. Memory verses that are recalled at just the right time
23. My garden
24. Watching a child's face when he is surprised
25. Hearing the news of a new baby's arrival
26. The Backspace key
27. Finding a great deal
28. Skype
29. Going to bed with the kitchen clean
30. Waking up to a clean kitchen
31. Coffee with just the right amount of cream and sugar
32. Coffee shared with a friend
33. Old photographs
34. Giving someone a hug when they really need it
35. Receiving a piece of REAL snail mail
36. Snuggling with my kids at bedtime
37. Taste of Home Magazine
38. Hearing compliments on my meals from my family
39. Surprise flowers
40. The blessing of making someone's day in some way
41. Quiet

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Found It!

If you haven't read my previous post from today, stop reading here and read "Unexplained Mystery" first. This won't make much sense until you read the other.


Well, I found the missing pan of broccoli! It was in the bathroom between the sink and the toilet. When I walked in and saw it there, I vaguely remembered Stephen saying that he had to go to the bathroom and that he was going to take the broccoli with him because he didn't want Timothy to eat it all. You are wondering how I could have missed this action, right? Well, Fred had come home late and we were already eating supper. When he walked in the door, I left the table to go heat up his food for him and it was when I was by the stove that Stephen took off with the pan in his hand. All I can say is that I'm thankful that I found it tonight. Yes, it may have been in the bathroom, but better there where we had a better chance of finding it than hidden in the basement or something! I'll keep a closer eye on my broccoli from now on!

Unexplained Mystery

Ok. So I know my kids do weird things at times, but I think we've hit another all-time high-ranking weird one. Someone seems to have stolen the pan of leftover broccoli from supper! Yes, you read that right. It's missing. Gone. I can't find it anywhere! WHY would a preschooler steal a pan of plain (not even salted) steamed broccoli?! I have looked everywhere for this pan tonight. It's not in the refrigerator (thought maybe someone was being helpful). It's not in the microwave, or the dishwasher or on the counter. I have even looked under the table, on all the chairs, in the playpen. I've checked the toy box, the pan cupboard and the stove. WHERE could that pan of broccoli be?!

I know what's going to happen. I'm going to start smelling it in a day or two and then I'll find it in some obscure place. But I still don't understand why someone would want to steal and hide a pan of plain, old broccoli!!!

I'll keep you posted on my searchings.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Thanks to Doctors!

Once again, I thank God for doctors who are competent, wise and patient, especially emergency room doctors! And all you nurses, thank you for your answers to endless questions, your reassuring character and your patience. Last night was Christopher's turn to help us appreciate you more!

Christopher woke up from his nap yesterday afternoon and went about his business playing as usual. About 4:30 I heard him crying and crying and my first reaction was to holler, "STEPHEN!!" Stephen answered, "What?! I'm not even close to him!" I came to investigate and there was nothing to see. Christopher was just sitting on the floor crying all alone. I picked him up and noticed that he was breathing funny, but I thought it was just because he was upset about something. Within minutes I noticed his breathing was getting worse and now he was feeling hot. Once again, I thought he was just upset and didn't think much about it. By 5:30, I had called Fred and asked him to get home right away because something was wrong, but I didn't know what.

My friend, Connie, has children with breathing issues; asthma, currently dealing with croup, etc. I figured she could give me a bit of advice on what she thought was happening. She could hear Christopher over the phone and told me not to take chances, but to call the doctor or take him to emergency. I decided to call Telehealth Ontario (public nurse service that screens calls to evaluate the severity of issues, helping to determine which route of health care to pursue) and as I was talking with the public nurse, she also heard Christopher in the background. At this point, he was getting to be very hot and starting to get listless. I was answering all her questions, "Is he blue?" No. "Is he having siezures?" No. "Is he vomitting?" No. "Martha, I want you to stay on the line because I am calling 911 and you need to give them your information. Do you hear me, Martha? Martha, don't cry, just answer their questions, ok?" (How did she know I was crying?!)

Sure enough, the fire truck arrived first with three firemen. Then the police showed up. Nice guy. He gave the boys sticker badges so that they could be sherrifs with him! Then the ambulance showed up with the two paramedics that quickly became our friends. Poor Fred. He had run in the door two minutes before everyone showed up and was holding Christopher. Since he was the one holding him, he was getting all the questions even though he had no real clue what had happened. When the paramedics pulled out the oxygen to put on Christopher's face, that's when I started to lose it! We had just been through this with Timothy last year after his surgery and I didn't want to see it repeated on Christopher!

We decided that he needed to go to Emergency so we buckled his carseat onto the stretcher and I climbed in beside him. Fred was going to wait at home until Henry got here, put the boys to bed and then come join me. Meanwhile, when I saw the crowded waiting room at the hospital, I called him and told him not to rush. The other moms sitting in the children's waiting area had been there for three hours already and no one seemed to be moving too fast! We finally got in to see the triage nurse and she took one look at Christopher, left to secure a bed for him, and came back to finish his paperwork. He was taken in immediately. He was now just lying limp in my arms moaning and gasping for air. Talk about scary! I was saying prayers of thanks for getting us through the crowd quickly, but then I realized that the reason why we were getting through so quickly was because he was so bad off!

Thank the Lord, though, by the time we got in to the bed to wait for the doctor, the Tylenol the triage nurse had given him had kicked in and he wasn't gasping for air anymore. His heart rate started to drop, his breathing stablized and his fever was starting to go down. He was checked and rechecked and checked again, and no one was able to figure out what really happened here. It seems that there was some type of viral infection that was causing this, but where was it? What was it? Whatever it was, it was gone within the two and a half hours we were in the room. I honestly believe that a miracle took place because there was such a quick recovery and no evidence of any virus or other issue. By the time we left last night Christopher was back to his normal self and was acting as if nothing ever happened!

We thank the Lord for everyone who prayed for us last night and for the staff at the hospital that so quickly and efficiently and patiently cared for Christopher. I hope nothing like this happens again any time soon! It's too draining on parents' emotions!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Simplistic Play and the Older Mom

Today Christopher and I had a great bonding moment. We engaged in simplistic play. We were sitting on the kitchen floor and he was attempting to roll a ball to me. He managed to move it the three inches over to me probably 15% of the time, but that didn't matter. We weren't playing to win or to improve skills. We were simply having fun! I wish I could attach a video clip here to let you hear his contagious laughter at the hilarity of a ball rolling across the floor! We were having the time of our lives, let me tell you!

Sometimes I can really feel the age factor (still 40 here for a few more days!) when I'm physically involved with the kids, and it can be draining at times. But in a way, I sometimes think that I've been blessed to be an older mom. Here's why I say that: I was able to earn a university degree, have a career, travel around the world, move out on my own (all the way from Ohio to Arizona), change careers, and do so many little things as a single person while most of my friends were marrying and starting their families. Now sure, if God would have allowed me to follow that typical pattern, I would have teenagers now myself and still would have been happy, but instead He allowed me to experience things in my life that I may not have otherwise. Now that I'm a wife and a mother, I have no real desire to pursue all those things because I've already experienced them. I am not feeling as if life is passing me by and I'm not getting to really "live" because I AM really living! I am totally devoted to caring for my family and nothing out there is calling me to come away from that devotion because I've already done them and this is where I have always wanted to be.

I feel that I am able to really enjoy my boys' childhoods because nothing else matters that much. I can drop everything and sit on the kitchen floor on a Sunday afternoon and roll a ball to a one-year-old for fifteen minutes and not bat an eye. I can walk away from the baskets of clothes that need to be folded and play a game of Chutes and Ladders (Snakes and Ladders here in Canada) with my four-year-old. I can go out on the deck on a sunny day and pretend that I'm the librarian checking out library books for my three-year-old at his library. I can sacrifice the desire to have perfect cutout cookies if it means that my boys are standing on their little stools next to me at the kitchen counter having the time of their lives "helping" me cut out cookies. I can put them all in the bathtub together and then sit on the stool in the bathroom and just watch them play for a half an hour and not feel the pressing need to hurry them through this activity so that I can move on to the mound of dishes downstairs in the kitchen. (Who wants to rush to wash dishes anyway?!)

Now, granted, I do have those moments like any other mother when I feel that I have more important things to do, but I've waited so long to experience these moments with my kids that I don't want to excuse them away! I want to savor these moments! Lately Stephen and Timothy have been asking me to stay and snuggle with them in bed at night before I go back downstairs. At first I did rush that activity because that was the time that I used to catch up from all my other dropped activities during the day. Then I realized that these moments were becoming very precious to all of us. I can find out a lot about what is going on in their minds as we lay there in the dark and tell stories and ask and answer questions. Sometimes I even find it hard to tear myself away so that they can get to sleep! My 40-year-old body sometimes starts to manifest itself as I find myself drifting off while the two of them are still jabbering away. It's not always good to lie down on the bed with them while we chat!

I love being an older mom, but I do wonder sometimes what it would physically feel like if I were fifteen or twenty years younger like some of my other mom-friends. It sure would be easier to get up off of the kitchen floor after playing ball without feeling like my hips have fallen out of their sockets. It would be easier to lean over a bathtub to wash three little boys' heads while they are resisting the hair-washing. It would be easier to contort myself while I'm trying to help buckle or unbuckle three kids in carseats. It would be easier on the knees when crawling through blanket tunnels or looking under the couch for a lost game piece. It would be easier to carry dead weight four-year-old boys who are fast asleep all the way up to their beds. Physically, I would love to be twenty years younger doing all these things, but I sure am thankful for the way God worked things out in my life. I absolutely love the fact that I am an older mom who can completely and without guilt enjoy simplistic play with my boys!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Field Trip

It was quite obvious the past few days that I am a first time mother of a school aged child. I could hardly sleep last night I was so excited and this morning I was up bright and early with a spirit of anticipation about me. You see, today the kindergartners were going on their first field trip to Hergott's Cider Mill! The funny thing is that I wasn't even going with them! That didn't stop me from talking about it for weeks. If someone asked me about our schedule this week I found myself saying, "We're free every day but Friday! Oh wait. I guess Timothy and Christopher and I are available on Friday. It's Stephen that's busy." October 12 was going to be an exciting day for us this year, no matter what!

The last few nights our bedtime stories have been ones of Aunt Liz and me working at Rittman Orchard while we were in high school. I told the boys about us riding our bikes up that awful hill every morning to work. I described lugging those heavy ladders around and climbing up in the trees to pick the apples. I told them about the cleaning barn where the bins of apples were dumped into the washer and then sorted for us to bag and box. I told them about making cider in the big vats in the back of the store's building (Don't worry, Liz. I didn't give away all our secrets from that particular job!). I told them all kinds of fun things about an apple orchard because I thought I'd help get him excited about his first field trip at school!

This morning we prayed that Stephen would have fun today and that he would be obedient and be safe. He nodded emphatically at that one and after the prayer I asked him if he was excited to go and he told me NO! I was shocked! Here I thought I had been getting him all prepped for this exciting day and he didn't want to go! After questioning him, I finally found out why. He was afraid to climb the ladders to pick apples! Oops. I guess I got overly excited for him and forgot to tell him that children on field trips didn't climb the ladders to pick their apples! I assured him that he wouldn't have to climb any ladders or trees, but that he would see them and learn how they picked them and made cider. Whew! By the time the bus came, he was ready to go again.

My excitement didn't stop when he got on that bus. Remember, I'm a typical first time mom here. I thought about him all morning long! I imagined him getting to school and getting involved in the pre-field trip buzz that takes place in classrooms prior to leaving. I wondered if he had a blast on the bus with all the kids from his class and all the parent volunteers that were along. I pictured him at the orchard standing quietly while the cider pressing process was explained to him, but then I jerked back to reality and realized that he was probably supposed to be standing quietly. Instead, I'm sure he was kicking the mud and stomping on leaves and poking whatever happened to be close to him. He would be listening, no question about that, but he would be actively listening!

When he got home, I tried not to pelt him with questions right away. I let him tell us what he wanted to tell and then I dove right in and continued my first time mom antics. We got to hear about how he was allowed to try a spring apple and saw how they dumped the apples into the cider press. He told us that he was allowed to turn the handle to peel an apple and then pop the core out. "We weren't allowed to eat the core, though. That was garbage." He described the bus ride and who he sat with and how he got hot and sweaty in his warm coat. I'm telling you, I LOVE having a jabberbox as a first child!!

As I've been typing this, making fun a bit at the fact that I'm a typical first time mom, I've also come to the realization that I must need to get out more. I'm living my life through my junior kindergartner's adventures! Sigh. I am enjoying it, but yep. I think I need to get out more and experience some things for myself again. :) Tomorrow the Waterloo Waste Management Centre has free tours for the public. That sounds interesting. I think I'll go to that. And I'll take the kids with me, of course. I still love seeing the world through their eyes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


To all of you doctors and other health care professionals that work with children, my many thanks and appreciation to all of you! You do not have an easy job, yet at times I'm sure you really enjoy the innocence of childhood when you work with children!

Let me explain where all of this is coming from today. Stephen had an appointment with our pediatrician whom we have come to know and love. Dr. Rosner has been there for all three of the boys immediately after birth, when they went back in a week later for jaundice and several times since then for miscellaneous reasons. Today was one of those reasons and I'm convinced again that Dr. Rosner is wonderful! Not only did she solve the mystery of Stephen's problem, but she did such a thorough exam on him that she also identified another issue that is totally unrelated, but she feels should be dealt with now (specifically his toe-walking tendencies! :).

The thing that impressed me the most today was a comment that she made to Stephen that I wasn't expecting, maybe because I live such a sheltered life. One of the parts of her exam today included her checking Stephen's private parts. While she was examining him, she was telling him over and over very emphatically that under no circumstances was it ok for anyone besides his mom and dad and his doctor to touch him there. She made him repeat what she was telling him and then told him that if anyone besides his doctors touched him there, he needed to tell me immediately no matter what. I was very impressed how she got his attention and looked him right in the eye to make sure he understood her. I guess it caught me off guard because I would never even THINK that anyone would touch my little boy inappropriately. Up until now he has been pretty much in our care, or the care of other brothers and sisters in Christ that would never consider doing something so disgusting to a child. How sad that our world has become so ugly that we have to warn our innocent little children about something that they shouldn't even have to know about!

Once again, this incident at the doctor's today reminded me to pray so fervently for our boys, that they would retain their innocence and stay pure despite the world's wickedness. How I wish I could shelter them from all evil out there and keep them so pure and unspotted! I know that we cannot keep them from ALL evil, but I pray for wisdom every day to keep them as far away from it as possible.

Thank you, doctors and health care professionals, for your work and for your desire to protect our children! May God bless you for your persistence and patience in taking care of our children!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Happy Birthday, Liz!

Yesterday, October 3, was my sister Liz's birthday. I won't give away her age just in case she doesn't want you to know. That's not important anyway. What's important is that she is my sister and I love her. (I wish I could download a picture of her for you all to see the birthday girl, but I just haven't had much success with this program lately! Open her link to the left to see a great picture of her!)

Liz and I are exactly one year and fifteen days apart. When we were younger, I guess Mom found it easier to dress Liz, Karen and me alike and gave us all the same haircuts. This was easy on Mom, but hard on the general public. Because the three of us were so close in age, at times we even looked as if some of us might be twins or even triplets. We became known simply as "The Schley Girls." Most people didn't know our individual names. They just knew that we were one of the Schley girls. Even our family referred to us as "the girls." It was always "the girls and Roger." Now that we are older, we don't look alike at all and there are definitely differences between the three of us. The way that people can tell us apart now is by our last names and by the fact that we live in three different countries. They just need to ask us who we married and where we're living now and they know which one we are. You may laugh ... but it's true!

Since Liz was the oldest, she was usually first in everything. I wasn't always thrilled with that in my youth because I felt that she got the better end of the deal. As we matured and were able to actually discuss this sibling hierarchy, I came to discover that it wasn't always thought of as a privilege for her. I wish I would have known that at the time! It would have saved me a lot of worthless jealousy! Now as an adult, I am so thankful that Liz went first in a lot of things because she became a true role model for me. I value Liz's opinion on just about everything! She's the one that I call on when I need a sound opinion on a parenting issue, a godly woman's perspective or even just a decorating tip here and there! What would I do without her?!

I told Liz yesterday on her birthday that she is a beautiful woman inside and out and being a year older just adds to her beauty. I honestly mean that. Her heart's desire is to become as much like Jesus as she can and that just makes her beauty more obvious. What better role model can I have in a big sister?

Liz, I thank God that He put us in the same family and that you have had such an impact on my life. Not everyone can have such a special older sister, but I know that you are carrying out that role with so many women anyway. Thank you for touching my life in ways that you don't even know. I love you and I wish you a wonderful year full of God's blessings! Happy Birthday, Liz!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Stephen's Compliment

Stephen gave me a HUGE compliment today. While he was eating his snack and I was preparing supper, I told him that I was so glad that God put us both in the same family. He asked his usual question, "How come?" So I told him it was because I loved him so much and I thought he was such a smart boy and that I was proud of him for being such a good brother and friend, etc. He gave me such a sweet compliment then! He said, "Mommy, I love you so much that I could love you for 100 days and 100 weeks without stopping!" (Can you tell they've been talking about 100's in school this week?! :) Now, in the scope of a lifetime, that's not a lot of time, but coming from a four-and-a-half-year-old boy, that's an entire lifetime! I just pray that he'll remember that comment when he's a teenager and not so sure about wanting to love me all those days and weeks without stopping! In the meantime, I'm still glowing from his childlike compliment to his mommy!

We Are Amazing!

Sunday night I was sitting in the babyroom at church talking with a few other mothers while our kids were playing. After listening to stories about their daily activities, I was amazed. I told them that they would probably never hear this from their children, and they may not even hear it fully from their husbands, but they are amazing women! We all are! They laughed and almost brushed off that comment, but then they started to agree. We ARE amazing!

As mothers and wives we have so many things on the go all the time and we are quite amazing, if you think about it. We not only have to think for ourselves, but we have to think for everyone else in our families. We have to be responsible for feeding, for clothing, for reminding about bathroom breaks, for teaching, for modeling, for creating environment, etc, etc, etc. We are amazing! How can we do all this?! God sure gave us an incredible abilitiy to multitask and to think ahead and plan and everything else that we have to do as mothers.

I'm not trying to feed on pride here or anything, but there are times when I am quite pleased with what I've accomplished. When I've gone to the store and found a super deal and saved our family money. Or when I needed to be resourceful when unexpected guests dropped by and I hadn't been grocery shopping yet that week. I knew I didn't have much to serve, but God gave that inspiration to whip up something at the last minute that made it look like I was just waiting for someone to drop by. Or how about when I was able to trade something we didn't need with someone who had something we had been looking for and we didn't have to spend a cent! I love when I am totally overwhelmed with tasks and I can get right down to business and get so much accomplished in a short amount of time. What a sense of accomplishment!

To all my fellow-mothers out there: we are amazing! God has given us so much to work with and He is always there to get us through the next briar patch of life. I feel so special when I think about how He created me to be able to do all this. Now I just need to remember to keep going back to Him when I get overwhelmed and don't know what to do next. He'll point me in the right direction because He wants me to succeed. He thinks I'm amazing, too!

Moms, we ARE amazing! Don't let anyone or anything try to convince you otherwise. We are amazing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Grandpa's Hands

When Grandpa turned 90, Aunt Peg asked all of us to write something about his hands and she compiled them all and put them in a book. That may seem like a strange theme for a book honoring someone's 90th birthday, but if you really knew Grandpa, it wouldn't surprise you at all! Grandpa spoke with his hands. He loved with his hands. He prayed with his hands. He worked with his hands. His hands were hard and calloused and thick. You could tell that they had done their fair share and more of work. Looking at them for the first time, one would not likely describe them as tender or gentle, but that person probably had not seen Grandpa transplant a pepper plant or pat Corky's head. That person probably never experienced a deep conversation with Grandpa where he would put one hand on their back and use the other hand to generate gestures to emphasize his point. That person probably never watched him brush his toast crumbs into a miniature little pile on the table in front of his plate. (Did you ever notice that habit of his? He had such a method to it! He would scoop up all the crumbs into a pile, tap his hand on the table to shake it all off and then he'd start all over again. All the while he would be sucking on his toothpick making those little sucking noises to get everything out of his teeth! :)

Yesterday I looked up my contribution to Grandpa's Hands book and I would like to share it here. I'm sure many of you have your own memories of Grandpa's hands. These are a few of mine.

That big, hard finger that was caught in the corn shucker sure kept me quiet during church. I can still remember sitting in the old Barberton church next to you one Sunday night during singing. I was probably only about 3 or 4 years old. I don’t know what I was doing (most likely playing around or not sitting still), but all of a sudden I felt the WHACK! on my head! That disciplinary finger of yours made contact with the top of my head and I settled down immediately! I learned to have great respect for that finger of yours!

I have a memory of sitting at your kitchen table after finishing a meal and seeing you with your elbows propped on the table and your fingertips tapping each other as you were telling us stories. I don’t know why that memory has stayed so many years, but even now, you will sit the same way at the end of a meal as you enjoy visiting with whoever might happen to be there sharing your meal with you, or leaning on your hands looking out the window at your flowers and trees.

Your hands are always lifting your hat and brushing your forehead of the sweat of your labors. Your hands work long and hard, yet they also give you relief as you lift your hat and refresh your head. This is also a memory that will always remain with me.

Your hands have also felt pain. I remember when you cut your hand and saw something sticking out of the cut, so you took some scissors and cut that thing off! You found out very quickly that “that thing” was a nerve! Only you would try to “fix” your hand like that by yourself!

Your hands also taught me how to pull weeds around pepper plants, how to pick plums off of a tree, how to carefully pick up chestnut burrs and put them in a pile. Your hands taught me how to push dirt around a new plant, how to tenderly hold a heavy vine full of grapes, how to take a rock out of the garden and throw it with all your might into the trees. Your hands have shown me how to love the ground that God has given to us to enjoy gardening.

I see you put your hands on someone’s back as you lean close to them to listen or to speak with them. The human touch that you give when you counsel someone tells them that you are really listening and that you care enough about them to touch them with your solid hands.

Your hands are the ones that held mine as you lowered me into the baptismal in East Akron in June of 1983. The picture of your hands holding mine is as clear as day because that was such a monumental day in my life. Your hands are the ones that rested on my head that afternoon as you prayed for me, that I would be sealed with the Holy Spirit and that I would grow in the Lord. Your hands had a part in blessing me that day.

Grandpa, I’m sure that your hands have been clasped together many times praying for my mom, for my parents and for myself. Thank you for praying for your future generations and for using your hands to teach us so many things. May God continue to bless your hands because you use them for Him!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ups and Downs of Emotions

Today is a very bittersweet day for me. My emotions are so twisted around I just don't even know what to think anymore. Today was supposed to be a day of rejoicing and excitement as we would be experiencing our first day of worship in our new church building! We had talked about it for months and weeks and finally days! The boys have been praying and thanking Jesus for the workers who were building the church. We were talking each other through the day: where we would play in the babyroom during Bible Class, where the boys would be singing before Sunday School, where their new classes would be, where Daddy and Mommy and Christopher would be in the new sanctuary, etc. They even talked about where we would park the van and go to the bathroom! They were that excited! We ALL were!

But then this morning, I read an e-mail from Mom. "Hi all, Donna just called and said when she got there this AM that Grandpa had passed away.We're on our way now.Talk to you later.Love Mom" What?! Did I read that right?! Grandpa?! But Grandpa was a piller! Grandpa was constant! Grandpa was solid! Grandpa was always there as the support for our family. He was gone?! I was just getting ready to call Mom's cell phone when she called here and we just cried together. All of us knew that Grandpa would be lonely without Grandma, but I think that we all kind of hoped he could stay here a bit longer. After Fred let me cry on him this morning, we sat down with the boys who were watching this whole scene unfold. We talked about how much we'll miss Grandpa, but now he was with Jesus, right where he wanted to be! We assured the boys that our tears were also happy tears because we were excited for Grandpa, although we were sad to think we wouldn't be able to talk to him or see him anymore.

As I was sitting in our new and beautiful sanctuary this morning singing "Thank Ye The Lord", I let my emotions take over. Everyone else in that huge sanctuary was singing their thanks to the Lord for what He's given us in a new church building, but I had to think about how thankful I was that Grandpa now had his greatest desire fulfilled - to be in the presence of the Lord! We had talked about the construction of the new church and he talked to me about what it was like to build the church in Norton. We had a connection there. And now here I was sitting in our brand new church, and I couldn't even tell Grandpa what it was like. That's ok. I'm sure he's listening and even participating in an even greater congregation of those washed by the blood of the Lamb! His place of worship is even more beautiful and breathtaking than what we can imagine!

Someone asked me today what I would miss most about my grandpa. To all my siblings and cousins, this is for your benefit. :) I answered that I would miss his "finger." I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. Surely I couldn't have been the only one who experienced "the finger" on top of the head for misbehaving in church! Grandpa had a finger caught in a corn shucker when he was a child. He lost the tip of his finger and it eventually became a nice, hard disciplining tool when a misbehaving child needed a good thunk on the head. I haven't felt that thunk for probably 35 years, but trust me! When you got that finger on your head, it was a hard thing to forget!

Yes, I will miss Grandpa terribly. To whom will I be able to ask all my gardening questions?! With whom can I share my dismay at having to pay hard earned money for tasteless peppers or corn on the cob from a store when I know that Grandpa had had bounty to share with everyone? Who will share with us the stories of those whose lives he touched in simple, but real ways? Several people told me today that they will always remember him for his down-to-earth sermons and his ability to preach as if he were sitting next to them having a one-on-one conversation. Someone else also commented that Grandpa must have been very obedient in his childhood for God to bless him with such a long life. I don't know what he was like as a child, and I think he was probably selective in what he shared with us (ha ha), but yes. Giving his life to the Lord in his youth had blessed him with many years!

So my heart has gone up and down all day today. I'm sad that the familiarity of our old church building is now a thing of the past, but I'm thrilled that Grandpa's familiarity with this world is over! I'm so happy to be worshipping in a new church building, but I'm sad that my grandpa will no longer be here on earth. Wow. Emotions can really throw you for a loop, but that's why we need to rely on the facts! Grandpa is now worshipping in HIS new sanctuary! The one in front of the Lamb of God, Himself! You've got it better than us, Grandpa! Praise God in HIS sanctuary, Hallelujah, AMEN!

(Unfortunately, tonight I am not able to add any pictures to this entry for some reason. Please see my sister, Liz's entry for a beautiful picture of Grandpa!)