Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy 40th, Karen!

Today is my sister Karen's 40th birthday! This now means that three of us siblings are in our 40's (how does that make you feel, Dad and Mom?) Karen will be celebrating in a warm way today, as she lives in Asuncion, Paraguay with her family.
Karen is just 16 months younger than I am. I celebrated my 40th birthday one month after Christopher was born and I wasn't really into celebrating in a big way at that time. So, I decided that I am going to celebrate with Karen today! If you've ever read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages book, you would know that while I am a Words of Affirmation person, Karen is a Quality Time girl! Actually, I think in reality that Karen has a bit of all the five types of people: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts (it's more like she GIVES gifts!), Acts of Service and Physical Touch. I see her mostly as Quality Time, so that is my gift that I'm going to give her right now by spending some quality time giving her words of affirmation! That way we both get to celebrate!

It's hard to spend quality time with a sister who lives continents away from you, but Skype and Skype Chat do wonders for bridging that gap! It also helps to have had so many of my friends go to visit her in the past few years and they always come back telling me stories about Karen and the great times they spent together with her. Her Acts of Service traits are ALWAYS mentioned and it always makes me feel special to be on the receiving end of her Gift Giving as well (like the cheese, tapioca flour and guava jam that came back a few weeks ago!! LOVE IT! :)

Whenever someone comes back from visiting Karen, the phrase I hear most often is, "Karen is an amazing woman!" It is almost always followed by, "She's an amazing cook!" I hear that one mostly from the guys that come back, and that's understandable since she's usually cooking for her own family of guys! Karen IS amazing, though. She is one of those people that, after spending time with her, you walk away feeling encouraged and upbeat and determined to be a renewed child of God.

Karen is a mixture of Mary and Martha. While she is always busy doing things (housing guests, cooking for crowds of people, teaching at school, etc, etc, etc), she makes sure that being Mary is her priority by spending quality time with the Lord. She makes sure that THAT relationship is always in balance, and then the rest of her life falls into place as well.

Karen is fun! I remember when Brandon and Gaby were little, Karen would be dancing around the house making up songs to sing to them and just having FUN with her boys! I always wanted to be that type of mom, too, and thanks to her example, I do those same things with my boys. Every time that I am with her, I can count on having a blast. I love it.

Karen is an encourager. Whenever I'm struggling with something, or even when I'm not, Karen takes the positive side of things and helps me to course-correct. She does what Mom always drilled into us when we were young, to think Philippians 4:8. She thinks on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. She not only thinks on those things, she lives those things!

If you want to know a modern time Proverbs 31 woman, spend some time getting to know Karen. Karen knows how to keep her relationship with the Lord a priority. She knows how to care for her family. She extends her helping hand to her brothers and sisters in Christ as well as her neighbors and those who God puts in her path. She is frugal and resourceful. Her husband is known in the gates and he sits with the elders of the land. She doesn't eat the bread of idleness, but is always busy stretching out her hand to the poor. "She is not afraid of snow for her household" but not because they are clothed in scarlet. It's more because the chances of seeing snow in Paraguay are very slim, especially at this time of year! Her children will rise up and call her blessed some day, if they don't already do so by their actions, and her husband does praise her! She is not vain, but full of beauty! You can see that her own works in the Lord praise her.

Karen is a remarkable woman .... and today she turns 40!

Happy Birthday, Karen!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's Me, It's Me Oh Lord!

Today was another rough day for me. I think I'm being attacked spiritually and I'm caving in to lies that I shouldn't be believing. This afternoon this song came on and it seemed as if I was the one who wrote it! Yes, my mother and my father and my sister(s) and my brother also stand in the need of prayer as we all do, but today it just seemed like I couldn't pray for anyone else, not even myself, and that's why I stand in the need of prayer.

Thank you for your prayers for us ... for me.
Not my mother, not my father, but it's me oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer
Not my brother, not my sister, but it's me oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer
It's me (it's me) it's me, oh Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer
It's me (it's me) it's me, oh Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Quiet, Yet Eventful

I know I haven't been on here much this past week. I apologize to those of you who check often to see what's going on with us. Things have been fairly quiet, yet eventful around here (what an oxymoron), so there really hasn't been anything to share that would hold the interest of the readers. As a family, I feel lately as if we're all standing on a log in the middle of a big lake and all of us are trying our hardest to keep our balance so that we don't tumble in. We've got constant movement going on, but we're not really getting anywhere or doing anything productive except keeping ourselves afloat.

It's been an emotionally rough week for us as well. We've been very concerned about Werner the past two weeks and now that he's home and regaining his strength, that emotional stress is slowly being relieved. My husband is going through an extremely difficult time at work right now and that is taking it's toll on all of us. There is so much uncertainty and time pressures and workload issues that are just piling up. I am finding myself running back to the Lord on a constant basis asking for yet another reassurance that He is in control of all of this. We believe that the current course of events is His plan for us, but I do feel like Abraham sometimes when he was asked to go to the mountain with his only son to sacrifice him. Abraham had to keep reassuring his son that God would provide the sacrifice in time. God is asking us to take steps of faith that are terribly difficult to comprehend in our human minds and I need to believe that He will provide!

We've also had vehicle issues the last two weeks that culminated over the weekend with us realizing that our van has major transmission issues. It was towed out of our garage to Werner's Auto on Monday, the same day that Fred took his van in because it needed a new axle. As a result, except for Stephen going to school three days this week, the boys and I have not left this house! While I'm happy to stay at home in this cold and snowy weather, it sure would be nice to restock on some groceries, go pick up my mail, or go visit someone!

I could go on, but it does little good to complain! I have so many things to be thankful for! Grandma helped me realize early on that no matter how bad things are in life, there is always someone worse off so we have a lot to be thankful for! I would ask, though, that after you are finished reading this, you would pray for our family; for my husband and myself in particular. The load of this life seems overwhelming just now. Thank you!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another Timothy Quote

Timothy and Stephen were playing kings, princes, knights, etc. It was decided that Timothy would be the King of the Castle. After lunch I reminded Timothy to take his plate to the sink and he responded with such shock:

"What?! Kings of the Castle don't take their plates to the sink!"

I threatened to remove his title from him, but didn't need to do that in the end. His plate is now in the sink and his title is restored.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Werner Is Home!

The Weinhardt family wants to thank all of you who have been praying for my brother-in-law, Werner, the past few weeks and while he was in the hospital. We give thanks to God today that he has returned home after a difficult week and a half after his surgery. There were some issues early on with his inability to keep food down, but after an urgent prayer request to have GOD heal his body and resolve all issues, Werner had several tests done that showed no problems and from that day on he has been able to eat with no issues! Thank the Lord for His touch on Werner's life! We love him and have been so burdened for him while he was in the hospital. Please continue to pray that he will regain his strength and that God will be glorified in this whole trial of his.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

Today's quote is from Timothy:

"I have to go! I'll be back in a flash light!"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All It Takes Is 10 Seconds or Less

As a mother of three little boys, I should already know that all it takes is 10 seconds or less for a disaster to take place. But I guess I forgot. Or maybe I thought my boys were beyond that childishness (at 4, 3 and 1?!?!). Whatever happened during my brain lapse this morning doesn't matter. The point is that all it takes is 10 seconds or less for disaster to strike!

Today is garbage day and my dear husband took everything out to the curb, but missed one bag. Since I knew that was the bag that had the remains of the burned pan in it, I wanted it out for sure! I decided to quickly run out to the curb, drop off the bag, and I'd be back before the boys even realized I was gone. At the bottom of the driveway, I heard the boys screaming inside the house and made a mental note to myself that screaming CAN be heard from the street! Before I could get back into the house (remember, this is all in less than 10 seconds!), Stephen was outside on the porch screaming, "Moooommmmmyyyyy!!!! Come see what happened!"

I walked in the front door to see the entire NEW box of Corn Flakes SPRAYED across the entire entry way and kitchen floor. I stood there in disbelief, all kinds of thoughts racing in my brain:
  • How did this happen?!
  • Figures! Stephen has to be out the door in two minutes and he doesn't have any of his snow apparatus on yet.
  • Great! Christopher has his little push toy going nuts over these crunchy flakes!
  • And now he's doing a little dance over the piles because it must feel good or sound fun or whatever!
  • How am I going to clean this all up AND get Stephen dressed and out the door before the bus comes?!

I finally got the truth out of Stephen as to what really happened. He wanted a bowl of Corn Flakes before he left for school so he grabbed the box and came looking for me to ask permission. The last person to use the box (Uh, no names here. The author needs to save a little face.) didn't close the top all the way and Stephen was swinging the box when it opened up and spewed it's contents everywhere.

I'm thankful that I remembered that these little hearts are very impressionable and it WAS an accident and I WAS the one that could have prevented it in the first place. Instead of blowing up at them, I just started laughing and asked, "Can you imagine if it would have been a huge bowl of Corn Flakes with milk already in it?!" Stephen stared at me in disbelief for a brief moment, not sure if he should laugh with me or not. Pretty soon we were all laughing and trying to sweep it up before Christopher could pulverize all the flakes on the floor.

Here's another lesson for me today, I see. Instead of sending my son off to school feeling guilt and anger and frustration for making a mess that got Mommy mad, I sent him off laughing and in a happy mood. Was I really happy about the mess? Absolutely not! But really, it was only dry Corn Flakes! Thanks for that gentle spirit I prayed for this morning, Lord! Did I handle it ok? Because I really don't want to have these teaching moments all day long just to make sure I keep that gentle spirit in check!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Out of Feelings

The other night Stephen was annoying Timothy right before bed to the point where he needed a little disciplining, after which I climbed into bed with him to snuggle and talk through what just happened. We had another one of those moments where Stephen was soooo serious and I was trying sooooo hard not to crack up in his face.

I was laying there just holding his hand, ready to give the matronly lecture about torturing little brothers by swinging their stuffed monkeys by the tail when Stephen looked me straight in the eye and said so woefully, "Mommy, I only have two feelings left!"
"Only two left? And how many did you start with?"
"I had 1000 of them!"
"When did your feelings start?"
"Since the day I was born! But now I only have two left because you took them all away!"
"What happens when all of your feelings are gone?"
Snicker from Mommy.
Glare from Stephen.
"I don't know, but don't take them away because I might die."

Today I told him he had to finish his homework before he played on the computer and he plopped himself down on the floor with a wail and shouted, "NOW all my feelings are gone!" The good news is that he did not die when he ran out of feelings AND he told me that he could get some feelings back if I gave him a hug for 1000 hours. We hugged for quite some time, not 1000 hours, but I think he has his feelings back.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thank You, Lord!

I'm not exactly sure how to title this entry, so I am just going to give thanks to God for His protecting hand!! I need to give Him all the thanks and glory here today! He is definitely worthy!

Fred's 80-year-old aunt gave me a tip when we were first married that I have used just about every week for the past nine years. You see, on Sundays, we rush off to church in the morning and then have to rush back home to eat lunch only to rush off again for the afternoon services. Because we enjoy having guests over, we usually have a house full of people and I have to pretty much seat and serve so that we keep on schedule. Now that we have little kids, we need to rush home to feed them before they either fall asleep on us or before they rip everyone's nerves raw with their whining and crying because they are so hungry and tired.

So, back to Tante's Tip. She told me that she gets everything ready the night before and then Sunday morning, she'll stick the chicken or the roast or whatever in the oven. Then her wonderful tip is to boil her potatoes or other vegetables on the stove just until boiling, shut it off, cover it and leave for church. When she gets home, all she has to do is pull the meat out, heat up the potatoes/vegetables and serve the food! What a great idea! I have been doing this ever since. I usually do a roast in the crockpot since we have a gas stove/oven and I don't feel comfortable leaving the house with that turned on, but we love cooked carrots and I usually have a huge pot of that boiled and ready to just be reheated when we get home.

Yesterday was no exception. I did what I always do. The frozen roast had been slow cooking since the time I went to bed the night before. The salad was ready to go. The carrots were cut and waiting to boil, so I turned them on "power high" to bring them to a boil faster. And then I got distracted. The boys needed their shoes and coats on. I went to brush my teeth. I threw a few extra things into the diaper bag and we left for church.

We stayed a little later than usual after morning services for some reason, so we were getting home about a half hour later as well. I was the first one in the door and I practically threw Christopher down, dropped all our bags and started yelling for Fred to get in here quick because I smelled smoke!! Everyone came running in, including our friend Dean, to figure out where the smoke was coming from. As soon as I walked in the kitchen and saw my pot on the stove, I remembered what I had forgotten to do before church. I HAD LEFT THE CARROTS BOILING ON POWER HIGH FOR THREE HOURS ON OUR GAS STOVE!!!!

All I can say now is that I thank God He was here in our home protecting it while we were gone! Those white blobs you see in the picture are the coals of carrots. We could have roasted marshmallows to perfection over those things! The pot was originally two-thirds full of carrots and water and this is all that remained. After it all cooled down, I picked it up to throw it away and the bottom of the pot fell right off!
Thinking about it afterward, we figure that the contents of the pot probably flared up, burst into flames and started smoking. The smoke detector was probably going for hours, but no one was around to do anything about it. The house reeks with smoke and it just figures that it was the coldest and windiest day of the year and we couldn't really open the doors and windows for too long. We have guests coming again tonight and I'm not sure how I'm going to explain the stench in here!
BUT ....
Our house is still standing and no one is hurt! God is so good. This is why I give Him all the thanks and honor due His name today and every day! If it were not for His protection, we would most likely be homeless today and I would not be writing this blog. Praise Him with me!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I have to confess that in my past I've prided myself in the fact that my kids have not been attached to any type of blankie or stuffed animal or binky or anything else. When Stephen was an infant, I tried to do the baby thing and offer him a pacifier. He reluctantly took it until about four months and then totally refused to touch it after that. I offered him Grandma's special blanket, but he just didn't want to cuddle with it ... ever. (Sorry, Mom. I tried!) I knew how one of my nephews was extremely attached to a certain stuffed bunny, and the trauma my sister had to deal with when it was lost or washed or misplaced or lost it's tag or whatever, was quite an occassion. For that reason, I tried to rotate Stephen's stuffed animals so that there was no attachment to any certain one. Success for child #1! No attachments!

Timothy, Mr. Colic, would not even TOUCH a pacifier, even though we desperately tried to shove it in his mouth from the time he was a few days old! My sister-in-law was constantly trying to cuddle his face with blankets of all textures, but that only made him scream worse. We tried blankets, animals, toys, cloth diapers (another nephew's "blankie"), etc, etc. NOTHING!!! We wanted him to have something sooo badly so that we could have some reprieve from his screaming. That kid wanted nothing, and no one. Success for child #2! No attachments (although we WANTED him to have one)!

Christopher is Mr. Cuddly, though. He will snuggle up with anything soft. He doesn't need a certain animal or blanket or object. He just loves to snuggle and hug. We love it! He does get all excited when he sees his Beanie Baby moose "Twacks", but he'll hug and carry around any animal that is available, and yet he has no problem going to sleep without anything. Success for child #3! No real attachments!

Last night, my pride was dissolved when we had a little issue going to bed. Stephen's Froggy Webkinz was missing!! Now, since he received Froggy for Christmas and Timothy received Cheeky Monkey for his birthday from Laurel, those animals have definitely gotten dragged around. They go just about everywhere with the boys, even into the bathroom where they perch on the counter facing the boys on the toilet! I try to discourage that one, but they seem to think it's important that their animals are with them at all times.

Sigh. Here's where I realized we have NOT had success with this attachment thing! Stephen couldn't find Froggy last night. We tore the house apart looking for that silly little green and yellow frog! We looked in the front load washing machine, where Christopher puts everything these days. We looked in the waste baskets thinking maybe someone played a joke and forgot. The boys were even looking in the refrigerator! We could not find Froggy! Stephen was eventually convinced that he could go to bed and if we found Froggy before WE went to bed, we had promised to take him in to Stephen. He woke up twice overnight, coming in to ask me if I had found him yet because he noticed Froggy was still missing.

I didn't know what to do. In the morning we still couldn't find him, so I even asked my friend who had been here yesterday if she could ask her kids where they remembered seeing him last. We tried to get Christopher to confess where he'd dragged that little guy and dropped him. Christopher just said, "Bah!!" and ran off.

The boys were going to go to the library this morning with Fred and before they left, Stephen decided to do one last search in the basement. Within moments, he came hollering up the stairs waving Froggy by the foot! He'd found him! What joy!! When asked where he found him, he hesitated to tell me. He had been climbing on some shelves where he wasn't supposed to be and it looked like Froggy dropped between the shelf and the little play house next to it. The only way it could have gotten behind there was if Stephen had been climbing on that shelf, and he was afraid to admit it!

So, my pride is crushed. My children ARE attached to stuffed animals after all. The good news is that we made it to three and four years of age before that attachment started! The other good news is that they learned a huge lesson yesterday and today and the new rule is that Froggy and Cheeky Monkey are only allowed in the living room and the bedrooms from now on so that they don't get lost again. I can handle that. We welcome back Froggy! Even I missed him last night, for my own reasons.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Another Snow Day

We have another snow day here today. Last week we had two and today is another one. I think we may be at five or six already for the year. I'm not sure because I didn't think to count. I figured Canadians are quite capable of handling snow and there wouldn't be snow days as often. What I've found out, though, is that the school closures work much differently here than what I'm used to.

Let me explain. Today school is not closed, but Stephen doesn't have to go because the buses are cancelled. School is open for those not dependent on buses. This means that walkers, or those who get rides other than school buses, still have to go. The teachers have to come up with something to keep those 10 kids per class busy. I guess city schools are a bit different because they would have more children walking, but our school is out more in the country and I would say about one half to two thirds of the kids are bussed. So, Stephen is at home today, but poor Mrs. Wilson had to plow through the mess to keep her 10 walkers occupied for a half day kindergarten class.

The snow has stopped for now. We have about five inches on the ground at the moment. It's supposed to keep snowing this afternoon and dump another 15-30 centimeters/5-10 inches by tonight. We're very thankful for our semi-retired neighbor who LOVES to use his snowblower and just can't seem to stop at his driveway. What a sweet man! This morning we not only got a snowblowed driveway from Ivan, but also a HUGE rainbow trout that he caught and cleaned for us! I have to confess that I've never touched a fish not purchased from a store that was already cleaned and fileted, so I'm not sure what to do with this one! It's still wrapped up and he told me that it's head has been removed and it's gutted and deboned, but now what?! Anyone have any easy and tasty recipes for rainbow trout that even an amateur fish cook could make?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Birthday Celebrations

This is an old picture, but it's Oma and Opa with Christopher last spring.

This weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law's 80th birthday. It was a very busy weekend with lots of activity, but it was a special one, too. There was family in town from as far away as Ottawa and Salt Lake City. We had a party for her on Saturday where she was the one that got to make out her guest list and then a special lunch on Sunday for her children and grandchildren and all their families. My mother-in-law is a very special woman, having gone through many struggles in her young life in Yugoslavia and then moving from Germany to a new country to start over again with her husband and four little children. Now, many years later, her eleven children and grandchildren are rising up and calling her Blessed. She is an amazing woman! Happy Birthday, Mom!