Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Preparations



My little helper, Christopher, always HAS to help when I start the baking! This is HIS section of the counter with HIS rolling pin and HIS dough and HIS cookie cutters and HIS cookie sheet! When he starts trying to take over MY side of things, I conveniently put him on washing duty and he's equally as content.

Of course we had extra help as we were making chipa with Ruth and Anita for Anita's class project. I'm not sure why the girls are so happy and the boys have such sour looks on their faces, but we ALL had fun that night! And the chipa was fabulous as always!! (Maybe I'll make some more today, come to think of it. We need something to warm up this kitchen anyway and I DON'T want to make another cookie for a long, long time!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mr. Creative


This is Timothy. Timothy is also known as Mr. Creative or Mr. Mess, depending on what he is making at the moment. Here he is being a scuba diver. Please notice his flippers. What a kid, I tell you! He is constantly making new games, cards, costumes, and messes. I just love him!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Sunday School Christmas Program

Well, it's over. The Sunday School Christmas program is over for this year. I'm happy and sad at the same time. This is my last year as the coordinator (I kind of hope) and even though it was extremely stressful this year, I will still miss being with all the children every Sunday, morning and evening. It's not like I won't ever see them again since I'm scheduled to teach again in two weeks, but it will only be with my 3rd and 4th graders instead of the 3 year olds up through the 12 year olds.

The highlights for me from this year's program:
* The tiny tots' poem, "Wise Men Travelled From Afar". It had hand motions and the kids really got into this little piece (Christopher LOVED it!! Ask him to do it for you, and he'll readily oblige!).
* The excitement in "Go Tell it on the Mountain" from the Tiny Tots and the Primary Choirs (ages 3-8 combined).
* The amazing handbell choir that accompanied the Junior Choir on several pieces. The sounds just resonated throughout the sanctuary and brought tears to my eyes.
* Simon's solo. THIS was my ultimate highlight. "The Lord Never Closes His Eyes." This young man beat the odds last night as he had a major headache and was so worked up before the program that he couldn't even walk in with his choir, but sat in the foyer on a chair sobbing because he wanted to sing so badly, but couldn't. I was distracted by other details, so once he went into the restroom to calm down, I moved on to the next "issue". Before I knew what was happening, I looked up and saw Simon standing in front of the microphone at the front of the church and singing with such a beautiful voice, a piece that had me truly in tears standing in the back of the sanctuary. That young man blew me away with his voice and the words of his song, and with the emotion that he put into it despite his overwhelming nervousness. Well done, Simon! God was honored by your gift last night!
* The cooperation of the directors of the choirs, the pianists, the handbell choir, the guitarist, the helpers, etc, etc, etc. It could not have been done without the help of everyone.

Still, I'm thankful that it's over now. One less stress that I have to deal with here. The Lord's name was lifted high last night and many parents, grandparents, neighbors and other family members watched and listened as their children told them the story of the birth of Jesus, some hearing it for the first time. And that was the point of the whole evening.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Silence

I thought I'd better touch base here and explain the silence of the past two weeks before you all start to worry. You should all know by now that when there is silence on this end, it just means that things are busy ... or else there are computer problems. This time it was a little of both. My sweet, computer-driven husband installed some type of anti-virus on this old laptop that would cause everything to snag and hang and eventually crash. It has become quite frustrating, so we finally just took it off. Now it's just old-age that is slowing things down. Old-age of the computer, that is! I'm still a spring chicken, you know!

Things HAVE been busy around here, too. The Cookie Kitchen is in operation just about every day. I'm so thankful that we have orders to fill, that I don't want to complain, but seriously, I think it was much, much easier to do this volume of cookies when the boys were younger and didn't care what I was doing in the kitchen! Now they want to help EVERY time they hear my mixer going or the trays banging on the counters. Christopher runs in to see what I'm doing, and in that time, Timothy has already run to wash his hands, pull up his stool and is yanking a Home Depot apron over his head. They want to help sooo badly, but I lose time, cookie dough and patience when they want to help. I was in a hurry the other day to get some shortbread cutouts made and they insisted on having some dough for themselves. I gave it to them, but I was constantly barking at them to quit coughing, sneezing and spitting at the counter! I finally threatened them that if they kept it up, I'd make them roll their cookies out on the floor! One look at the expressions on their faces and I realized I had made an inappropriate threat! I took that one back awfully quick! When they help me, they have their own dough, their own rolling pins, their own cookie cutters, their own trays and their own half of the island. They love their responsibilities so much that I can't take it away from them, but I usually have to end up doing a second batch to make up for the loss after they are in bed. THAT is why I have no time to blog!

I was hoping to get some pictures downloaded, too, to show you what I was up to last weekend, but being technically ignorant, I don't have those downloaded yet. I was at the Christkindel Market downtown Kitchener, working in the Belgian Waffle Wagon! What a load of fun! I think I have lost all feeling in my fingers and toes as a result of the cold (our booth was outside), but it was great! I was exhausted and behind in all my work around here, but as always, God provides for us in the best ways! I made more money in those two and a half days than I have made in ages! AND I got to get out of the house and work with adults!! Despite the cold and the exhaustion, it really was loads of fun and if I have the opportunity to do it again, I will jump at the chance!

So that's some of the silence explained. The rest has to deal with the issues we're still having with the business and the bank. It's far from over. The stress is still great and the waters are getting murkier (is that a word?), but I pray for wisdom for Fred ALL THE TIME! He's got some tough decisions to make and he needs the Lord's wisdom for sure! We don't know how this nightmare will end, but we do know that God loves us and has proven Himself faithful over and over again! He's dealt with much bigger issues than this in the past, so this is nothing for Him!

I'll try to be a little more conscious about posting, but I can't promise anything. Until Christmas, those cookies are taking priority! Can you smell them? I have about 95 of Ingrid's Jam Prints waiting for me to deal with them. I'd better go!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Need to be Thankful

Today was not the easiest day to be thankful for me. More junk has shown up regarding Micro-Aid and what should have been a done deal almost two years ago now. Phone calls in the afternoon caused my stomach to churn and my eyes to leak, but I'm thankful that even during this time, God is giving me reasons for thankfulness!

* The boys have NO clue what is going on in the "big" world. They are so trusting of their father, that he will provide for them, that he will fix everything, that they are safe with him. I am thankful that my Father can do all that and more! (If only I didn't understand all the "big" world stuff, though!)
* The support group that we have that is bringing this situation to the Lord in prayer. At the moments that I feel so overwhelmed with it all, a peace will come over me and I KNOW someone just prayed again!
* That all of tomorrow's responsibilities out of the house for Fred and for me are all taking place around the same time and in the same part of town. This sure helps for a one-vehicle household because carpooling tomorrow will be perfect!
* Some of our after school babysitting kids are going to be leaving this week until after Christmas. Ok, I'm just a bit thankful for that because we need a break from them sometimes, but I was wondering how we were going to supplement that income, as it is my grocery money. Well, God provided with another occassional child whose father needs a babysitter for the exact time that the other children will be gone! That's reason for thanks around here!
* For my dishwasher ... enough said, right? Whew! It's a blessing every day!
* For God's mercies that are new every morning. May He grant us many new mercies tomorrow!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday's Thanks

* I'm thankful that Roger and Amy, Daniel and Ryan made it to Ohio safely despite the long flights from Indonesia!
* For Timothy and Christopher's cheerful willingness to clean up the basement with me today
* For the boys' commendable behavior at the funeral home tonight as we went to give our support to my cousin Ron's wife, Tammy, whose father passed away as the result of cancer. The boys don't have a clue who he is, but they were so respectful and well-behaved tonight!
* For Connie who pulled together a beautiful, gigantic platter of cookies for an emergency customer tonight
* That I was able to get ALL the dirty laundry washed, dried, folded AND put away today! I think I did six loads and now they're DONE!
* For the many people that are praying for our stressful week (issues with the sale of our business that we thought were dealt with have NOT been, and now they have come to a head this week)
* Isaiah 23:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend Thanksgivings

* Miriam's delicious Whole Wheat Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chunk Scones recipe that she shared with me. Mmmmmmm!!!!
* Another successful Watkins event today
* My husband who is sooo good about taking the boys for me when I have responsibilities with Watkins
* My mother-in-law who loves when Fred brings the boys over when I'm doing those above mentioned events
* The surprise gift of a Pampered Chef stoneware from a friend who decided she just didn't know what to do with hers...heard I broke mine and passed hers along to me!
* For the ability to whip up a supper from leftovers in the refrigerator that the family loves (Thanks, Mom, for teaching by example!)
* For friends who have gone through something similar to what I am going through now and their willingness to share the good, the bad and the ugly...as well as encouragement and Godly wisdom
* For the piece of REAL mail that came in my mailbox this week!! Thank you, Lilly! It's up on my refrigerator in a place of honor!
* My crockpot which will soon be simmering tomorrow's pork stew for lunch

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday's Thanksgivings

* That our furnace is working well tonight
* For the friends I've reconnected with on Facebook
* For Christopher's laughter
* The look on Stephen's face when he gets a joke. I told him Grandpa's favorite of being able to knock down a wall. He didn't get it at first, and then his face just beamed with the comprehension of this joke. I love it!
* For my neighbor who invited me over for a wonderful cup of white tea from Steeped Tea today
* For Fred's stability throughout our ongoing storm
* For Christian lawyers
* Fresh, homemade popcorn with Watkins butter salt (all the flavor of REAL butter, but with NONE of the fat!)
* Christmas decorations tastefully displayed
* When my heart just bursts with song and I start belting it out (the boys would NOT put this down as a thanks ... especially Christopher who starts whining, "Stop, Mommy! Stop singing!" He just doesn't appreciate good singing, I guess.)
* My friend's relatively pain-free day!!!
* Praying with my husband

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm Way Behind

It's been a busy week. I'm way behind on posting my thanks, but that's ok because I've been telling God directly what I'm thankful for, even if I didn't write it on here!

* The absolutely beautiful weather that we had all last week!
* My dear friend who let two of the boys stay at her house ALL day on Friday so that I could finish getting ready for the open house (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!)
* For God's blessings on the open house, not just for Watkins and The Cookie Kitchen, but for the Pampered Chef and Steeped Tea representatives that also did very well that night
* For Connie and her ideas of improving The Cookie Kitchen this year, including a beautiful and professional flyer, delicious new cookie recipes, gorgeous packaging for the cookies we sold on Friday and for her meticulous bookkeeping. I couldn't do this without her!
* For Christopher's non-stop entertaining today at lunch. He had Elysha in stitches the entire meal! Especially his insistance that he MUST have bread with his lunch...since when?! He had us all roaring at his comments that just never ended.
* For the boys' behaviour (look how Canadian I'm becoming! :) in church tonight when they were standing in front of the congregation singing. They were so well behaved that I could hardly believe they were our boys! They made us so proud of them tonight that we went to McDonald's for a french fry treat afterward! I was thankful for that, too, because we had enough free coupons saved up from various places that we all got our own small fries for free!
* For the message this morning in church that encouraged us to be on guard for lukewarmness that can creep into our lives without us even realizing that there is a problem.
* For a free haircut, thanks to a friend's offer!
* For Cherry Rose Sencha tea that for some reason brings back special memories of Grandma ... probably the rose in there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Days' Worth of Thanksgiving

Oops. I'm getting behind! Here we go:

* For warmer days
* For a husband who loves to put the kids to bed
* That all the cookies I needed to bake for Friday's open house are DONE!
* Knowing God sees the big picture of life and that He knows our struggles
* For my dishwasher
* For Zehrs (grocery store) that sent me coupons for a free 500g brick of cheese, a box of spare ribs appetizers and a quart of fresh orange juice because I'm "a faithful customer" (??? Whatever! I'm accepting it, even though I'm certainly not loyal to Zehrs!)
* For people who are eager and excited to volunteer their time to work with the Sunday School Christmas program at church, and on top of that, they are competent and I don't have to hold their hand the whole time!
* For my bed, which is calling me

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday's Thanksgivings

* My wonderful Sunday School class! Those 3rd and 4th graders were sooo attentive today and we had a fantastic discussion about Moses' last words to the Children of Israel before he died. We started out talking about what WE would say to our children if we were fathers and knew that we would be dying soon. Most of the comments were very special and even tear-jerkers, except the second comment out of the blue by a little girl in the second row, "I would say, 'Don't look backwards when you drive.'" Hmmmm????
* Warm, warm, warm weather for November 8!
* The lady at McDonald's that gave us four extra Monopoly pieces tonight because I told her that my kids were hoping there would still be game pieces on a large fry treat.
* The smell of peppermint
* Watching Timothy diffuse a fight today by letting Christopher have the huge truck to play with instead of fighting him for it.
* The security of God's love. Even when our burdens cause us to wonder if God is really there and listening to us, we still KNOW that He is... and that He does love us...and that He does care. And we know that His security is a fact because even when we doubt, He reminds us again with circumstances, through His Word, with the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, through His children...
* Friends ... for my friends, my husband's friends, my children's friends ... just friends! You know who you are (ALL of you!!)!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Month of Thankfulness

November is the month of Thanksgiving for Americans. I was gently reminded this morning by my friend that we're almost a week into November now and she misses posts from our family about our thanks. To make up for that, let me give you a list today of MANY things that I am thankful for just now!

* SUNSHINE! Even on a cold day
* My husband who took the boys to a school carnival for the morning
* Music playing in the background (Fernando Ortega, not Wee Sing Sunday School songs)
* My 10 year old Kitchen Aid mixer that was a wedding gift and is humming right now as another batch of cookies is being churned out
* Long distance plans that allowed me to talk with my sister this morning until my phone battery ran out (It wasn't a long conversation. My phone battery gives me about 20 minutes these days. Haha!)
* God's provisions at the perfect moments
*A clean house - I don't have one, but I am thankful for them
* A sense of smell because those gingersnaps are smelling mighty marvelous
* Stephen's love for me. He asked me what prize I wanted from the carnival today because he wants to win me a prize. I told him that if they have chocolate, he can try to win me chocolate.
* Timothy's creativity and all the "books" he's been making me lately (Not thankful for the mess that results from scissors, glue, tape, staples and markers, but I love his drawings!)
* Christopher's infectious laugh and constant conversations with whoever might be listening - or not
* REAL mail that comes in the mailbox with a stamp on it, my name written in a familiar handwriting and a personal note inside the envelope. I haven't gotten one of those for a while, but that's why I'm thankful for them!
* Peace in the midst of a storm
* For my friend who is struggling with extreme difficulties at this time and feels free enough to call me and just cry and beg for prayers
* My thyme that has survived the frosts

Friday, October 30, 2009

Family Pictures

Remember Nancy? That wonderful woman that was with us in Paraguay? Well, a few weeks ago she took our family's picture to put in our new church directory. We spent some time with her on Thanksgiving morning (back at the beginning of October, remember?) where she used her gift and snapped shots of all of us. Unfortunately, it was a bit nippy that morning, both in regards to temperatures and with a few attitudes of a certain boy that didn't want his picture taken on a wall ... thus the red cheeks and noses in some pictures. Nancy is absolutely a joy to work with and she does really well with getting the kids to cooperate. We had fun, and we have these beautiful pictures to share with you!
I'll post more pictures later, but here are just a few to share with you for now. Aren't ALL my guys cute?!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Warming Up the Kitchen

Ingrid's Jam Prints

It's that time of year again! I'm warming up the kitchen baking up some trial batches of new cookies for the Cookie Kitchen! This is our third year in business and we've made a lot of improvements.

Here's a picture of one of our new additions this year. This recipe came from our friend, Ingrid, who makes the cutest little cookies every year for our families. When we asked her permission to borrow her recipe for the Cookie Kitchen, she kept saying how honored she would be if we would use her recipe. And here we were feeling all honored that she was excited to let us have it! Ingrid usually rolls hers in crushed walnuts, but because we already have a cookie that is rolled in nuts, we decided to keep these plain. Wow! Are they melt-in-your-mouth delicious! These are Stephen's favorites and he just goes crazy when he sees me trying another batch.

I asked Ingrid what type of jam she used in her cookies and she suggested apricot, sour cherry or rosehip jam. I hadn't thought of rosehip jam for ages! Well, since my sisters and I worked for Angela, anyway. That would have been about 25 years ago. The story of Angela is too long to get into just now, but let's just say that Angela, who was in her 80's and 90's when we worked for her after school, introduced us to many new things. One of those things was rosehip jam. If you've never tried it before, I highly suggest you go to some specialty foods store (or you might have them in your mega grocery stores in the US) and buy a little jar of it. You will be hooked! It's got a smooth, tarty-sweetness and I just can't get enough of it. Mmmmmm!

We're also adding some gluten-free cookies this year. These are not for those who suffer from Celiac disease, but for those people who have a gluten intolerance. Our kitchens are not gluten-free, so we cannot claim that our cookies are either. We have had many requests for gluten-free cookies that actually taste good, and we have found some! I've let some of my gluten-free friends taste test some of our experiments and they have been given rave reviews so we're excited to add these cookies to our list this year as well.

Pray that this year's endeavors will be better than last year for us. Unfortunately, last year the enconomy tanked just as the season started and no one wanted to buy cookies. We did ok, but definitely not as well as we had hoped. We need our "cookie money" to help us get through some rough times here and we're praying that this year people will be willing to splurge again on homemade Christmas cookies. We love baking these and using our creativity this way, and even if no one buys them, our families are thrilled with the abundance of cookies at this time of year!

Here's to another year of The Cookie Kitchen!

Friday, October 23, 2009

YAAAYYY! I'm Back!

Well, I truly apologize for disappearing here for awhile. I have NO idea what happened, but I could NOT get into Blogger no matter how much I tried! Unfortunately, that came exactly the day that I tried to post the WINNER of the chicken soup giveaway! So, let me catch up here.

The winner of the Watkins Chicken Soup and Gravy Base is ... LILLY!! Congratulations, Lilly! As cold as it is up here right now, I'm sure you'll be looking forward to a nice, hot cup of chicken soup yourself! Thanks to all the rest of you who participated in the giveaway. I do wish that more of you silent readers would have participated because I was so excited to share my birthday with you, but oh well. Maybe another time??

Good news for all of you who participated but didn't win. Here in Canada, the chicken soup (as well as all the other soups) are on sale in November for $1.00 off. I'm assuming that the US site will also reflect a savings for the month of November, but I can't guarantee that at this point. Sorry.

Oh, and by the way, for those of you that didn't know, my birthday was October 18 and that's the day that I tried to get on here to tell you all that Lilly had won.

Now that I have access to Blogger again, I'll try to catch up on things. It's good to be back on here with you all! Once again, congratulations, Lilly! Your soup base will be delivered shortly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blogging Problems

Sorry for no posts lately, but I'm having trouble posting anything to Blogger just now. I don't even know if this is going to go through, but rather than spend more time typing all kinds of stories out for you, just to have them hanging in cyberspace until I finally close it all down, I think I'll just leave it at this for now. This way you know that I am at least TRYING to post some pictures, some stories, and whatever.

Until Blogger is working again for me, it may look like I'm not here ... but I am, really! Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Info on the Chicken Base

Since some of you have been asking, I thought I should let you know how you can get some of this chicken soup base if you don't win my birthday present this week (Hint hint - only a few more days to go!). Watkins' soup bases are $8.99US for the beef, chicken, cream, mushroom and onion varieties. They will make up to 50 servings per can (some a little less), and they can just be stored in your pantry as opposed to the refrigerator. In Canada, the beef and chicken bases are $10.49 each and the cream, mushroom and onion bases are $10.99.

You can order them online at www.watkinsonline.com/mjweinhardt or click on the link on my blog here to start browsing. Because I'm in Canada, the catalog defaults to the Canadian version, so if you're from the US, just click on US Catalog at the top. Local folks, you can always give me a call if you want to combine orders to save on shipping. Non-local folks, you can get a bunch of friends together to combine orders to get free shipping if you order over $150.

On a side note here, the mushroom soup is absolutely fantastic!!!! It's soo much better than that goopy canned stuff, especially if you've got a craving for some quick and delicious cream of mushroom soup! There are real, dehydrated mushrooms in it that look, feel and taste like real mushrooms and not rubbery little cubes. It makes a quick and easy mushroom gravy, too. Mmm. Mmmmm! Good!

So remember, just a few more days to tell me about your favorite birthday present! I've been enjoying your stories and memories. Thanks for sharing!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Watkins Chicken Soup and Gravy Base

Well, you still have some time left to tell your favorite birthday present story on my post below! It's not my birthday yet! I thought that maybe while we're waiting for the day of the drawing, I would give you a little taste (Hahaha!) of the soup base so that you can anticipate your gift!

Watkins chicken soup (as well as the beef and cream soup bases) are gluten-free. They are also low in sodium with only 430mg per 1.5 teaspoon serving as opposed to over 700mg in many other soup bases. Watkins has no added MSG in any of their products, including the soups, so no need to worry about those nasty headaches and other symptoms that appear after consuming MSG! To top it all off, there are only 15 calories and ZERO grams of fat per 1.5 tsp serving (1 cup prepared)! We're heading into the cold season and a cup of instant Watkins Chicken Soup on those chilly days is fabulous!

Here are a few suggestions on how to use your chicken soup base (other than that cup of steamy broth):
  • Add a tablespoon of the soup base to your rice when cooking

  • Sprinkle soup base on a roasting chicken in the crock pot. Add a little Watkins Seasoning Salt, some Watkins Poultry Seasoning and a bit of sage and let it cook on low for several hours.

  • Use the soup base in place of any recipe that calls for chicken bouillon, chicken broth, or chicken flavoring.

  • Adding a spoonful of the soup base while boiling pasta gives a delightful flavor

To top off all these wondeful facts suggestions, my friend and I sat down one day to figure out just how much money we save when we use one of these cans of soup. Anita figured out that one can of Watkins Chicken Soup Base equals 15 one liter tetra boxes of chicken broth. Around here they are around $2.50 for one of those 1 liter boxes, so that means that you can save $37.50 by using one can of Watkins Chicken Soup Base! That's a significant savings! Now, I know most of you probably don't use those boxes of ready made chicken broth, but you have to admit that having that available is quite handy. Well, think of this: your recipe calls for one cup of chicken broth. You open one of those boxes, use one cup and then you have the rest of the box that you have to figure out something that will use the rest of it before the two week time that you are supposed to use it expires. Well, you forget about it and a few weeks (months?) later you find that opened box shoved in the back of the refrigerator and it doesn't smell so great anymore. You take it out and pitch it! Money down the drain! Watkins soup bases don't need to be refrigerated and you can always make ONLY the amount that you need for your recipe!

There you have it! If you don't win the birthday present of the soup mix, you can still get a can of it for yourself. This stuff is great and I always make sure I have some in stock because either I'm using it, or someone is calling me to replace their empty one! That's it for my Watkins spiel. Now you can just sit back and wait to see if you win! Good luck!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Birthday Present

My birthday is coming up, and along with birthdays, there are usually presents. I told you about winning the lavender wand on my Aunt Heidi's blog last week and I'm anticipating receiving it close to my birthday, so I'm going to get at least one present this year! Well, I'll probably also get a slew of handmade Monopoly games because that's the latest craze around here, and I'm hoping for a few hours alone with Fred, and maybe an hour or so over a cup of coffee with a friend, so I'm good for presents for my birthday this year.

But I was thinking that maybe this year, instead of having my gift expectations skewed as I highly doubt I will be getting a Wii Fit system which would be BEYOND wonderful as a gift since it's sooooo extremely unlikely to happen, I want to shift the focus on me GIVING a gift as opposed to RECEIVING one.

My inspiration for this was winning the lavender wand from Aunt Heidi on her Steps on the Journey blog. I was so thrilled to find out that I was the winner and I know that people love winning things. Sooooo..... I'm going to offer my own little birthday present giveaway here!

Here's the deal: you readers (including the lurkers) have until my birthday to either comment on my blog here (Anonymous comments count, but I'll have to know who you are if you want to win!) or send me a private e-mail at mjweinhardt at yahoo dot ca. If you know when my birthday actually is, you have an advantage of knowing how long you have to procrastinate in order to qualify for this gift. If you don't know when it is, then comment now. Hahaha. In your comment, you need to tell me about the best birthday present you ever received!

On my birthday, my family will randomly choose the name of one of you who participates. The winner will receive a 10 oz can of Watkins Chicken Soup and Gravy Base. This link is from the Canadian catalog, but if you are from the US, just click on the US Catalog tab at the top of the Watkins page. http://www.watkinsonline.com/productdetail.cfm?Product=21176&gCatalogLocale=CAN&ECredit=375794
The can that you receive will look slightly different than this, but the product is the same.
Feel free to let your friends who may also know me in on this giveaway. Just direct them to my blog and remind them to comment! This contest is open to everyone worldwide, but if you happen to live outside of North America, I can't promise you when you will receive it. If you live in Indonesia or Paraguay, you may need to come visit in order to pick it up (Hint, hint, dear siblings!), but we'll deal with that if you are the winner.

Good luck to all of you! I'm looking forward to hearing your stories of your favorite birthday presents!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Our Little Composer

Please sit back and enjoy this original piece by Timothy. One never knows what this little boy will come up with next. He is quite the artist in all aspects and we love and appreciate him! Unfortunately, I accidentally cut off the first line of his song, but you can still hear the farm-y twang in his voice as he sings the rest. In case you can't hear the words, the lyrics are posted below. Enjoy!

video

Down By the Farm

Down by the farm, down by the farm, everybody likes the farm!

Down by the farm, down by the farm, everybody likes the farm (meh meh meh)!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday to My Boys!

I just realized that I never posted any birthday pictures of Timothy and Christopher's birthdays! Maybe that's because my cake this year was the most pathetic cake I've made in a long time. And that's simply because it was Timothy's request! When I asked him what he wanted this year for his cake, he said, "I want a grown-up cake, you know, the kind that's round with frosting all over it and candles on top." So I made him a grown-up birthday cake with some Cars candy on top from Grandma and candles for Timothy and candles for Christopher.

Here are some of the cakes that Stephen tried to convince his brothers to ask for, after seeing them at the Wayne County Fair. I'm glad that Timothy stuck to his decision because there's no way I could make these cakes. (The favorite was the Monopoly board since the boys are soooo into Monopoly at this time!)

Here is the only picture we have of the boys' cake this year. It was a busy day on their birthday with Timothy's first day of Kindergarten and the Open House at school, and I just didn't think that this cake was really too worthy of lots of pictures. Notice the lower left hand side of the cake is sliding off? I'm telling you, it was a pathetic cake this year. I felt badly about it, but the boys were thrilled! (Also, the coloring is poor on the video. Our kitchen wall is NOT pink! And the junk you see in the background is just a figment of your imagination. It's not really there. They just don't make video cameras like they used to. Haha!)

So Happy Third Birthday to Christopher and Happy Fifth Birthday to Timothy!

video

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What A Great Day!

I don't want to spend much time on here tonight, but I just HAVE to recap my great day!

1. Customer Appreciation Day at my chiropractor's! I got a free adjustment for a neck that hasn't been able to turn for weeks!

2. Her massage therapist was also there giving out free mini-massages! Woohoo!! Got a free massage, too!

3. I was HOPING that I could also say that I won a draw for a free massage, but they never contacted me today, so I guess I didn't win. But that's ok because ...

4. I won the draw for a lavender wand from my Aunt Heidi's blog today!! I can't wait to receive it because I have developed a real love for lavender.

5. I spent a day in a barn with the Lord! A Christian woman who lost her husband several years ago has turned her barn into a place of retreat for those who need to spend time with the Lord for healing. I had the privilege of going there today and didn't even realize until I turned into the driveway and saw the name on the mailbox that it was my optometrist who is a friend of the Weinhardt family! Because my "invitation" to spend the day there was through a third person, I didn't realize that it was her place until then! What a wonderful day!

6. I spent several hours praying and reading the scripture today and a lot of spiritual healing took place. When I left, I felt a peace that I haven't had for a long time. I was able to have uninterrupted time to cry out to God about some wounds that I had allowed to fester and asked Him to clean them out and bind them up. I'm ready to move on. I'm worn out from all my crying today, but as any woman knows, crying always seems to help! The vials of tears that God collected from me today are many, and they have gone from bitter tears of anguish to sweet tears of thankfulness.

7. I met up with the rest of the family at our local community center where they had a little kids' fun fair today and had free hamburgers, popcorn and cotton candy for supper.

8. The boys and I just finished a game that they borrowed from the library. Christopher won and that's a good thing since he's overtired and winning made him happy again.

9. Tomorrow is Sunday and I'm looking forward to a day of worship at church. I'm teaching Sunday School again and I love my class (despite those that try to chit chat the entire time).

10. Once the kids are in bed tonight, I get to spend time with my husband who I've missed the past few nights. He's been at his dad's helping him out while Mom is in Germany visiting her sister. It seems like I haven't seen Fred for days, although we have been together taking care of kids and an elderly father.

There you have it, my friends! A recap of my great day! How was yours?

Friday, September 25, 2009

God's Great Sense of Humor in Answering Prayers

God answered a prayer for something that some may think a silly thing to pray about, but for me it was HUGE! You see, I lost a crinoline this week. A crinoline is the slip that a bride wears under her wedding dress to make it poof out. I had a crinoline, and this week it was not there when I went to look for it!

My friend's daughter is getting married on October 24 (Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!) and her seamstress told her to check with me to see if she could borrow my crinoline. I've had it for the past 10.5 years and have let many of the brides at church borrow it, and the seamstress knows that, so Kathy asked me if they could borrow it for Shelly's wedding. "Sure!" I told her, and we planned a fun little coffee date out of the exchange of the crinoline.

Monday morning I went to pull it out of the top of the boys' closet, where it has always been, and it was gone! GONE! I'm not sure how one can lose a crinoline, but mine was GONE! Fred and I searched every nook and cranny of this house, including inside suitcases, boxes, under beds, behind computers ... I even looked under every bathroom sink (not knowing why I would have ever shoved it under there). Nothing. Nada. Nope. Nowhere.

I contacted the last several brides and asked if I might have let one of them borrow it and I forgot. Nu'uh. I called the mother of the last bride that I know had it, just in case, but we both relived the moment that she handed it back to me in the parking lot at church two years ago. I knew she didn't have it.

After much, MUCH prayer and tears, begging God to remind me where I may have put that crinoline, I wrote an e-mail to another friend of mine and asked her to help me pick my brain and figure out where in the world that thing could be! Little did I know that while this e-mail was floating around in cyperspace and being read and answered by her, Kathy, Shelly and I were out looking at cheap and junky crinolines that might have to do. I even dug through racks of used clothing at Value Village and Goodwill because I had promised Shelly a crinoline and by golly, I was going to give her one! But no one had anything.

I came home, still all worked up about this whole thing and sat down to an e-mail from my help-me-pick-my-brain friend, Corina. She said, "I think we have a bag in the closet downstairs that has a crinoline in it, and I think it's yours!" WHAT?! God, did you just answer my prayer?! On a whim I wrote to Corina asking her to help me think, and lo and behold, SHE IS THE ONE WHO HAS IT?! She's been married longer than I had that crinoline in the first place, and her daughters are nowhere near marrying age, so why did she have my crinoline in her closet?! Oh yeah!!! She had borrowed it for our couples group at church last year, but for some reason, that evening was cancelled, the wedding dress and crinoline went into the closet and we all forgot about it...until yesterday!

I know some of you are reading this saying so what?! Why this whole post on a missing crinoline? Well you know what? If it's a small thing to you, that's ok, because to me, this was monumental! You don't know the agony I went through this week looking for that thing (Ask Fred. He can vouch for my agony. And the boys who heard all week, "Where in the WORLD can that thing be?!") I confessed to God that I thought it might be a silly thing to ask Him to tell me where that crinoline was, but He cared! He cared so much that He let me write that e-mail out of the blue to Corina, and He cared so much that He let her and her girls remember that I had let them borrow it! God loves me! And He loves to answer my prayers in funny ways! I'm sure He's done this to you before, too, hasn't He? Well, go ahead and give Him the praise for it, because He deserves it! Thank You, God, for finding that crinoline for me! Now Shelly and her mom can breathe a little easier, too! You would have been a beautiful bride even without that thing, Shelly, but I'm so glad that you can now wear it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Volunteering

Today I got to volunteer in Stephen's French Immersion classroom. Wow. I wish I could be a fly on that wall every single day! I learned more French today than I've ever learned in my life! As I was sitting at the back table stapling little French books, I had to think about Liliana in Paraguay. While Nancy and I were teaching English to the first graders, Liliana was sitting in the back marking her students' work and trying to be inconspicuous while she repeated all the words we taught the kids! That's what I was doing today! I almost shouted out loud when I knew the word for "mouth" before any of the kids did!

I also found it interesting to watch Stephen in action at school among his peers. He was so much more gentle and calm than he is at home, and responsible, too! As the Capitan of his group, he had to get and put away all their supplies, make sure the desks were straightened, etc. He did so good... AND WITHOUT BEING TOLD A MILLION TIMES! I felt like I was watching a stranger. I did notice, though, that I heard his name mentioned a lot by Madame because during their circle time he liked to pester those near him. THAT was not a surprise to me!

Being back in the classroom today ALMOST made me want to run home and see what I would need to do to get my certification up to date here in Canada. ALMOST, I said. While I would love to be back in the classroom again, first grade is way too young for me, so that was a deterrent today. Plus, I went home with a pounding headache and was reminded that having three little children constantly asking me questions and hovering in my personal space was enough just now, let alone twenty of them! They had just come in from recess, and boy, could you smell! I mean, boy could you tell!

Yeah. I miss teaching. No question about that, but I believe that God wants me here at home for my kids at this time and He's letting me have the joy of volunteering in my kids' classrooms where I can still participate, but not be 100% responsible. I had a great day at school today and would love to go back!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

First Day(s) of School

Stephen started school on September 8. He was quite excited to be moving on up because he was going to be in first grade after all! He was looking forward to going to the big kid playground at school and being able to go every single day instead of only Tuesdays and Thursdays, like Timothy. That excitement lasted about one day! By the beginning of the next week, the excuses started: "Mommy, whenever I think, I don't feel very good. I can't go to school today."
I can tell that this is going to be a rough year for us in the mornings. Our bus driver not only likes to be prompt, but she likes to be EARLY!!! The first day we made it with only a minute to spare. Several other mornings so far we've made it just in time as well. I hope this isn't going to be a pattern.Two days later, Timothy had his first day of Senior Kindergarten. He was a pro at getting ready in the mornings and was up and dressed for his "very busy day" (as he prayed the night before) long before anyone else was stirring! It's nice to still have him home on Mondays and Wednesdays because he and Christopher keep each other company and play very well together. I can tell they miss Stephen because they have their bored moments, too, but life sure picks up again as soon as that bus comes in the afternoons!This year Timothy doesn't look as tiny as he did last year when he got on that big yellow bus! I think, though, that I got more choked up over Stephen this year than I did the past few years! He's my firstborn and even though he is definitely the live wire around here, I was sure that I would miss him because he would be gone every day! And I do. But I also appreciate the decline in sibling rivalry for a few hours a day as well!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The (Short) Life of a Goldfish

Saturday, September 12, 2009 we went to the Wayne County Fair in Wooster, Ohio.

Daddy let Stephen play a ping pong toss game (this is Timothy in the picture, but Stephen played first). Why?! I have NO idea, because the prize was a goldfish! "Don't worry!" Daddy said. "He'll never get a ball in one of those bowls!"

Well, he did! He got that little ping pong ball in a bowl and he won a goldfish!

How in the world are we supposed to take a goldfish back to Canada with us, without it dying first?! How about a plastic water bottle? Ok, fine, but really, HOW do we get it back to Canada without it dying first?! (By the way, we did NOT have a passport for little SeaGirl, nor did we claim her at the border. Since she was only worth $1.00/7 balls in the game, we figured we didn't need to claim her ... besides, we seriously thought she'd be gone by then!)

The plastic water bottle worked and SeaGirl came to live with us for five days until I found her lying on her side at the bottom of the fishbowl.

Yesterday, Daddy explained the realities of life and death and funerals and the process of what happens when you flush a toilet. Thankfully it wasn't too traumatic for anyone and after the whoosh of the toilet, the little fireman ran off to put out fires, the architect returned to perfecting his Lego ship (notice it in the lower righthand corner?) and the little bouncer bounded off to find a leftover balloon to bat around. Whew! We survived our first pet.
Good-by SeaGirl! We enjoyed you while you were with us!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why I Have Not Been Blogging

So, you want to know why I haven't been blogging? Well me, too! I really have no excuse except that silly one that I keep using: I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DOWNLOAD MY PICTURES! (Fred has this intricate way of downloading on his laptop and then putting it on a drive to some day/some how get it onto my computer. However, after it's on my computer, I can only access it from this ONE computer, but then I want to blog from another computer (yes, we have more than one in this house ... Are you surprised?), but I can't because the pictures are not on the hard drive, but on some pin drive somewhere, blah, blah, blah. Whine, whine, whine. Sorry.

The other reason is because things have been moving pretty quickly around here the past few weeks. School started (pictures are somewhere on some computer or other apparatus that I don't have access to!), the Wayne County Fair happened, Timothy and Christopher had birthdays on Tuesday, Meet the Teacher Night occurred, and canning tomatoes took place. My trusty little computer here is slowing down, after all, it IS getting old. Because it's getting so slow, sometimes I think it's not worth the time to get on here and try to post anything because two paragraphs can take me 45 minutes to write and post! Fred cleaned it up for me last night (Isn't he sweet?!), but my excuse is now that I still don't have current pictures to post.

So just to update a bit here, Stephen is in his second week of Grade 1, French Immersion at school. He's really loving it. He comes home and tells us the newest words that he learned. Even I know that some of them are incorrect in the way that he's pronouncing them, but hey! For a kid that can't read French, he's doing great! He even wanted to watch a cartoon in French today because, "I am learning lots of French, so I'll probably understand it before you do." After about five minutes he was ready to turn it off. Soon! Soon, he'll be watching it and understanding it!

Timothy, sweetheart that he is at five years old now, told me that for this year's birthday cake he wanted "a grown-up kind. You know, Mommy, one that's just a circle with frosting and candles. That's all." But then we went to the Wayne County Fair and he and Stephen fell in love with the Best of Show cake ... MONOPOLY! Daddy took a picture of it because that's the closest we'll ever get to having a Monopoly cake! Timothy ALMOST changed his mind and wanted the round watermelon one with the ants on it, but he ended up getting excited about a plain, round one with chocolate frosting and some Cars candy from Grandma. Whew! That was easy!

Christopher is now three and has decided that he will indeed start Sunday School on Sunday, as long as he can play with cars. I'm really hoping they have cars in their Sunday School room because I'm going to be teaching the Grades 3/4 class and I won't be able to deal with an upset three year old because there are no cars in his Sunday School class! Maybe I'll let him put one of his own in his pocket to play with AFTERWARD!

We're thankful that God has been providing us with some part-time work, contracts and one-time jobs. Some days it's easier to trust than others, but God has been good! He also provided me with a super-easy before and after school babysitting job for some kids from Turkey. The second grade girl is also in French Immersion, so she and Stephen have really hit it off. The boy is in Timothy's class... but he doesn't speak ANY English! This will be a very interesting year for sure!

There you have it! When I get the pictures downloaded to where I want them and can use them, I'll post them. Until then, use your imagination!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Water Fun!

Summer is almost over. I'd better post these pictures of our water fun this year before it gets too cold to look at these! (Notice Stephen's cast here? We had to tape a plastic bag around it because we found out the hard way that it wasn't waterproof, only water resistant. There IS a difference!)


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Baseball Team

The other day the boys and I were outside in the backyard playing baseball. As we were getting ready to play, Stephen yelled, "I'm the batter!" Timothy yelled, "I'm the pitcher!" And Christopher yelled, "I'm the Narrator!"

Two bigger boys and one mommy fell to the ground in laughter as the little three-year-old Narrator looked at us in confusion. The start of our game was delayed as he joined us on the ground laughing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zucchini

Zucchini! It's about the only thing besides the weeds that are growing in abundance in our garden anymore. The spinach did GREAT at the beginning of summer and the green tomatoes will eventually turn red, but that silly rabbit got most of the carrots, beets, peas, beans and even the raspberries. The cucumbers never showed their faces, but the canteloupe just may survive and provide us with about three melons. I had Timothy digging for "treasure" the other night when I needed a few potatoes for supper, but we'll see how well those did in a few weeks yet.

But back to the zucchini ... we've been blessed. We've had it on the grill. We've had it breaded and baked. We've had it raw on our sandwiches. We've had it cubed and sauted in scrambled eggs. We've had it added to soups, casseroles and spaghetti sauces. Beyond a doubt, though, our favorite this year has been Zucchini Bread! I shared some with a friend the other day and she called this morning asking me for the recipe and I stuttered a bit because I wasn't sure what to tell her. See, I'm one of those people who likes to substitute and change recipes when I'm in the kitchen. Not sure where that gene came from, but all of us Schley kids have it. I finally did give her what I THINK was the recipe that I used on that particular bread and I'm going to record it here so that I can come back here and try to duplicate it again some day. I was using four (yes, four) different recipes and tried to combine them to get the "perfect" zucchini bread and I did it!! I just wish I could remember exactly what I did. (NOTE: She called me this afternoon and said that the following recipe turned out fabulous, so this must have been the correct combinations of ingredients that I used before!)

ZUCCHINI BREAD
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. Watkins Double Strength Vanilla (or 2 tsp. other vanilla)
2 c. zucchini, grated
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Watkins cinnamon
1 c. chopped walnuts
large dump of chocolate chips
Mix eggs, oil, sugar and zucchini together. Add rest of ingredients and pour into two loaf pans (I greased mine just in case.) Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stephen and the Tooth Fairy

Stephen lost his second tooth today. He was quite thrilled about this fact and even came in to wake me up bright and early this morning to show me that he pulled it out himself this morning in bed! He put it in a baggie and put it under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy tonight.

Now, Stephen knows quite well that there really is no Tooth Fairy, but we play along with the whole idea just for fun. This evening Fred and I were asking him what he thought the Tooth Fairy did with all the teeth it collects. He said that the Tooth Fairy puts them all in his (the TF is male in his eyes) mouth, of course!

I just got back from Stephen's room where I was going to trade his baggied little tooth for a coin, but found out that I don't need to leave him any money after all! You see, along with his tiny tooth, he had also placed his own golden coin under his pillow in case the Tooth Fairy forgot, I guess. He kindly left "him" 50 Guarani!

(Tonight's conversion shows that this is worth 0.0104US or 0.0111CAD.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ahhh... I Can Breathe Again

VBS is over. The final program was tonight and it was wonderful! The kids did a fantastic job singing their songs for us tonight and it was a great reminder of why we put so much work into a week like this past one.

Ok. MOST of the kids did a fantastic job. For some reason, MY kid (who shall remain nameless) decided to be a complete GOOF up there in front of everyone! I'm still not sure what he was doing, or what he was thinking, but there is no reason a six-year-old kid (see, I'm not saying names) should be sticking out his tongue and sitting down on the stairs and rolling his eyes and laughing at nothing in front of the congregation during a program. I'm into creative correction at the moment, so when he came and smashed in between Auntie Jo and myself after his choir was done, I told him that since he acted like a two-year-old in front of everyone, I'd have to treat him like a two-year-old when it came time for our snacks in the back room. Daddy made him sit at a table while DADDY chose the snacks for Ste ... I mean, our son, to eat. He wasn't happy about that, but hey. He doesn't need to make a fool out of himself for nothing up there! I am hoping he got the point.

Yesterday was our VBS picnic. Blech!!! The activities and the fellowship were great, but the temperatures were sheer torture! Nancy and I were kidding that we felt like we were back in Paraguay! I was dripping from every pore in my body! Stephen, poor kid, was sweating soooo badly that his hair was just plastered to his head. I'm thankful that he at least had his cast off now (yeah!!!) and he wouldn't be sweating in that thing. It smelled bad enough all ready and it sure didn't need more stench because of a sweaty arm. Those kids had the time of their lives playing games, climbing on the playground, kicking the soccer ball and swinging at the pinata, but wow! Was it ever HOT and muggy!

Our busy VBS week is over, but now we move on to the next busyness. BEANS! I'm picking beans tomorrow morning and am hoping to get quite a bit done for the winter. Once the beans are done, I'm hoping to be able to pick our peas that ended up coming up despite being nibbled down to the stem by a hefty rabbit when they first came up.

And of course, since school is only a few weeks away, we have to get LOTS of play time in, so we've got a lot planned for the next few weeks as well. Life is always full, isn't it? Thank you, God, for giving us full lives that remind us of YOU!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This Week

We have VBS this week. Can you say, "Busy, busy, busy!"? You are right! We're out the door early and cramming our mornings FULL. Since Fred and I are sharing our one vehicle this week, I have to try to do everything I can on the way to or from VBS so that I can get my errands done before I have to rush home so that he can leave. From here on out, we've still got packed days ... including FRIDAY when Stephen finally gets his cast off!! He's thrilled because that means at Saturday's VBS picnic, he'll be able to swing at the pinata with both arms.

Since I don't have lots of time here today, how about just one funny leftover from Camp? Our boys have been enjoying some StoryKeepers DVDs lately. These are stories of a baker who lives during the time of Nero and is The StoryKeeper who tells people the stories of Jesus. They are always trying to keep the Christians away from Nero's soldiers who want to throw them to the lions. The boys have been watching these same DVDs over and over so much, that they are now role playing and quoting the stories verbatim.

So, one evening at Camp just after supper when there is a bit of free time for everyone on their way to the sanctuary, Timothy, in his own little world, decided to do a little StoryKeepers role playing. For those of you familiar with Eastern Camp, he climbed the amphitheater stairs in front of Campus Center and stood there with his arms wide open, and shouted at the top of his lungs. This would have been fine, except that this time he was playing Nero and I heard him shouting to all the passersby, "WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS?! BRING OUT THE CHRISTIANS AND THROW THEM TO THE LIONS!" He repeated this over and over again as loudly as he could. I tried to get his attention, but he was too far up on the stairs and, like I said, he was in his own little world so he didn't realize that I was trying to get him to stop shouting such a violent command! I'm not sure if anyone paid any attention to him or not, but Fred and I stood there just laughing hysterically at our little actor. I mean, of all places to be asking where all the Christians were! Hopefully our church camp was FULL of Christians ... and there was no threat of any lions anywhere.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Niagara Falls

Here are some of our pictures of our side trip to Niagara Falls after Camp in July. It was a beautiful day while we were there and about 15 minutes after we left, it poured and poured! Thankfully, we had a wonderful time there.

This area is so commercialized and pales so much compared to the pictures that Laurel took when she was in Paraguay. They are posted on Karen's blog (at the left). We love Niagara Falls despite it's high population of tourists and get the same thrill every time we stop and soak in God's wonderful creation!

It's rare that you would go to Niagara Falls and NOT see a rainbow ... excpet on a rainy day. I'm thankful ours was perfectly sunny!

The Maid of the Mist! Have you ever taken that tour? It's an amazing experience. We didn't do it this time, but some day when the boys are older, I am sure we'd all enjoy it again!
If you ever want to see Niagara Falls in person, please let me know! We'd be happy to have you come visit US and then we'll take you on a personal tour around The Falls! Seriously! Take me up on this, ok?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Few Miscellaneous Funnies

Christopher at Camp on our way to the Tiny Tot Choir practice: I am NOT going to choir! Little boys don't go to choir! (This little boy went to choir after all.)

Stephen when he heard that he had four weeks of cast-wearing ahead of him: The good thing is that we'll be at Camp the first week! That will make my time a lot shorter!

Timothy getting ready for his yard sale in the kitchen today: Mommy, I'm going to put $100 on my hearts that I'm cutting out. (Honey, I don't know that anyone will buy those hearts for $100.) Why won't people buy my hearts? (Because they are cut out of a piece of scrap paper, maybe? --- I did NOT say that to him! I just told him that today wasn't a good day for a yard sale because it's a Tuesday and most yard sales are on Saturdays. He and Stephen got to work cutting out more shapes for a Saturday yard sale now! Anyone want to buy a little 3 inch paper heart for $100??)

Mommy to Daddy when he got home this evening: Seriously! The boys were GREAT all day long, until you walked in the door! What did you do to make them so goofy tonight?! They're all yours now!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Arm


The first night Stephen had his cast, it was quite a novelty. Everyone had to touch it, examine it, even sniff it (not sure why). He chose his favorite color, RED!

My nephew, David, is also sporting a cast this summer, but he is getting his off tomorrow! The two cousins stopped to pose for a picture when David's family was over on Tuesday night. These two guys had quite a bit to talk about as they exchanged injury stories, hospital stories and cast stories. They've got a special bond now, those two.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We're Still Here!

Don't worry everyone! We're still here ... I just haven't gotten to blog for ages as you can see. I don't really have time to do major posts right now either, but I WILL bring you a bit up to date on things.

I realize that I left a lot of you hanging about Stephen and his arm. My apologies. Things just went way too fast there that week and then we had to leave for Ohio and then Virginia the next day. Stephen's arm is most likely fractured. The x-rays still didn't show anything, but when the doctor at the Fracture Clinic looked at it on Friday, a week after it happened, he said that Stephen showed every indication that it was a greenstick fracture. He decided to treat it as a fracture and put a cast on it to make sure that it does heal properly. Stephen chose a nice, solid red color for his cast because his favorite color is red. He didn't really want it on before going to Camp because he was afraid that everyone would be asking him what happened. And that's exactly what happened. In retrospect, I should have had a shirt made for him that said, "I JUMPED OFF THE EDGE OF THE SLIDE" and let him wear it every day. Poor kid didn't even want to look at anyone who asked what happened after about the 100th time. There were about 841 people there this year and a LOT of people had to stop, ask what happened, and then share their own story. Stephen didn't really care. I did, though, so I listened to all the stories people wanted to share! Hahaha

Camp, in a nutshell, was wonderful! This was our first year without a stroller and I really enjoyed the age of the kids this year. Christopher was supposed to be in the 3 year old class this year, but he decided to hang on Mommy instead. That was fine, except for the day that I had to do a forum and he decided to stick with me. My sister-in-law was a sweetheart and sat with him in the front row while I was doing my presentation and then took him outside when he got bored. I'm so thankful she was there, otherwise, he would have been sitting on my lap!! Still, it was a great year. When you go to Camp with children, you must go with NO expectations of anything and then you end up having such a blessed week! This is what I did again this year and can you believe, it was the first year in seven that I didn't have the mid-week meltdown because I was the one who was stressed?! I loved it!

We stopped by Syracuse, NY on our way home last week to break up our trip a bit. We stayed with our friends Scott and Miriam and their two girls (the boys were in Ohio doing the after-camp thing, complete with a day at Cedar Point on Monday...remember that?! It's still going on with the next generation!) We headed home on Sunday afternoon and then stopped at Niagara Falls for a quick visit as well. Niagara Falls pales in comparison to Karen's pictures of Iguazu Falls in Paraguay, but hey. This is what we have here, so we enjoy them and appreciate God's beauty here!

I'll update more later. Lots of little things happened in the past few weeks, but this is where we've been in a nutshell. And all of you lurkers that identified yourselves to me at Camp last week, I'm glad to know you're out there! Feel free to comment so that I know you're still around.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stephen Update

Not much to update on as we still don't really know what's going on with his arm. We ended up in the Emergency Room on Sunday morning (and were in and out within 90 minutes total!!! Unheard of, but thankful for!) because his arm was swelling quite a bit. The doctor made a splint for him and told him to keep it on his arm and keep it as immobile as possible. Uh, did he not see that he was working on a six year old boy?!?! The one that I caught climbing on top of a Little Tikes Crazy Coupe car to reach the top of the play set so that he could go down the slide head first this morning! I guess using the ladder that was next to the car was too convenient and conventional and he needed to try something with a little more of a challenge.

Anyway, he was sent home with instructions to keep his arm immobilized and to keep the appointment with the Fracture Clinic at the hospital that we thought was going to be today. Only ... no. It's not today! It's scheduled for 11:15 Friday morning - exactly one week (about to the minute) of when he fell.

From what I've been hearing, kids bones heal fast and there's really not much you can do for them anyway, except to keep them immobile. "They" told me that the swelling will go down and the specialists will still be able to tell on Friday whether or not there is a hairline fracture, or if it's just been badly sprained or bruised. Today his biggest complaint was that it was "itching worse that a thousand mosquito bites!" Those of you that know what Stephen's mosquito bites look like know that it HAS to be quite torturous inside that splint!

Please do pray for him this week, though. We were hoping to leave for our vacation to Camp (Ha! That's an oxymoron! Vacation=Camp?!) a little bit early, but it looks like that won't happen now. We're praying that everything will go smoothly on Friday at his appointment so that we can leave with a free conscience. We ARE travelling out of the country, you know. Who knows what we could run into in that foreign land if something should go wrong! Ha ha.

In the meantime, Stephen's been enjoying banging his hard splint on things, using it as an excuse for not being able to help me vacuum, or get this one: he couldn't flush the toilet because it hurt too bad! Snort! I'm not that dumb of a mom! I taught him very patiently how to reach his other arm over there to push that little lever down! That excuse is no longer valid.

And there you have it: the NON-update on Stephen's arm.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer?

Whoever it was that coined the phrase "Lazy Days of Summer" must not have had a LIFE!! School has been out here for exactly 13 days and today is the first time that I had any "lazy" time. My lazy time was about three hours in length, all while sitting in the Urgent Care Clinic, wondering if Stephen had indeed broken his arm.

This morning, just before lunch, the boys were playing out in the yard with the sprinkler. Stephen didn't want to get sprayed at one point, so he ran up the slide. Timothy turned the sprinkler on the slide just as Stephen was jumping off the side. He slipped and landed on his elbow.

Unfortunately, three hours at the clinic didn't solve anything. The x-rays show that there are no fractures of any sort, no torn ligaments and nothing else visible. There is now a possibility that it could be broken cartilage in his elbow. We have an appointment on Monday at the bone clinic at the hospital.

I can tell that something is indeed wrong because he just wants to lie around and not do anything. He even threw up a few times and refused to eat his favorite alphabet soup and Canada Day ice cream (Chapman's Maple Leaf white ice cream with a red maple leaf in the middle). He's resting comfortably on the couch watching Story Keepers right now. Poor guy. What a time for something like this to happen to him.

Please pray for Stephen while we wait to go to the bone clinic on Monday. He was very brave today as everyone poked and prodded him and moved his arm all over the place, but I know he's still in pain. I think he's now going to be forced to have a few lazy days of summer until his arm starts to heal!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our Mini Vacation

Last week Esther and Wolfgang invited us up to their condo in Collingwood for a few days of summer fun! We had a fabulous time on our little mini-getaway. The weather was beautiful, but WINDY like you wouldn't believe! Stephen loved shaking out his towel at the beach, much to our dismay. The sand was so dry and the wind would blow it everywhere! We even had to wash our clothes several times to get all the sand out of them!

The wind made the temperatures pretty cool, but the sun sure was strong ... ask Fred. He forgot to put on sunblock when he was flying the kite! OUCH!
We're still not sure who enjoyed the sand more ... Timothy or Uncle Wolfgang! Timothy loved to roll in the sand (and couldn't figure out why his bum was hurting so badly later when we were driving back to the condo). Wolfgang was busy making a fortress and constructing roads with Christopher.
Christopher loved the beach, especially when he got up the nerve to go into the water and jump the waves with me, but I think his favorite time this past week was when he stood by the edge of the water and threw one stone into the waves after another. We had a hard time pulling him away from this spot! As Auntie Esther said, I'd better enjoy these days when the boys can be entertained and thrilled by the simple acts of throwing stones into the water. Those days will go by fast and then they'll be wanting to do parasailing with Uncle Wolfgang!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Up In Flames

This is our neighbor's house. It was hit by lightning this afternoon. It had been raining off and on all afternoon with periods of lightning and thunder. We didn't think much about it, except for the fact that Megan and Anna were here for a playdate and they were quite disappointed that they couldn't go outside.

About 3:00, Megan, Timothy, Christopher and I were doing a craft in the kitchen when we heard a loud CRACK! My first thought was that it sounded like something must have gotten hit by lightning, but I peeked my head out the deck door, didn't see anything and let the thought go. About ten minutes later, we started hearing sirens and saw a few fire trucks zoom past. They sounded close, but still, after another peek out the door, I still didn't see anything so I went back to the craft table.

Curiosity got the best of me, and since Fred was upstairs, I ran out the front door to see what was going on because cars were now starting to stop in front of the house. This is what I saw.
The sad thing is, or maybe it's a good thing, the family was not home at the time. A dog was rescued, but a cat got spooked, ran to the basement and died in the fire. The house is destroyed, as you can see.

This has been a sobering afternoon for me because it is only because of God's protection and His decision that our house was spared. This random lightning strike was too close for comfort. Tonight there is a family whose lives have been turned upside down because of an act of God. They have no home to go back to. They have lost pretty much everything, if not from fire and water damage, then from smoke damage. The road is still blockaded tonight and they are not permitted back into their house.

I still remember the shock of finding out that my aunt and uncle's home had burned to the ground when I was a teenager. It took weeks and months for reality to hit me, and I wasn't even directly affected by it. I can only imagine what this family is going to deal with in the next little while. Please pray for them with us, would you please? Those of you who have been through this before know how to pray more specifically, but I know that any prayers for them will help them to deal with this tragedy in their lives. Thank you.