Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 in Review


Doesn't that number sit well with you? I LOVE even numbers! My friend, Bethany, teases me because she's an odd number person, but I'm even. I love that I was born on an all-even day: 10-18-66. I am not so fond of my anniversary date since it's all odd: 03-27-99. I just feel a bit off when numbers can't be divided evenly, but 2010 ... that's so nice and even! You'd think that it would have been a wonderful year.

The truth is, this has been one of the most difficult years of my life.

There was hope back in January that despite Fred's unemployment, we'd be turning corners and life would be easier. God did bless him with several months of work as the manager of a group of subcontractors and things went well job-wise for a while.

In the spring, I noticed that some of my MS-ish symptoms were popping up again - tingling on the right side of my body from the top of my head, down through my cheek, my right arm and on down to my ankles and toes. I had a scare when I was out walking one day and was afraid I might not even make it back home when my leg decided to go numb altogether on me. I was able to manage this just fine until the stress of events set me back over the edge in the summer.

Late spring, Fred's parents came back from Phoenix and his Tante Lene went back home to Germany. His mom had an undeniable cough that seemed to hang around even though she tried to hide it. After many doctor's appointments and tests and x-rays and the whole gamut of investigations, Mom Weinhardt was diagnosed with liver cancer in late summer. Mom was always the strong one, the one who pulled things back together again, the one who gave encouragement and love. This time she was the one who was hurting. As a family, we reeled in emotional pain as she dealt with her physical pain.

This all happened at the same time that Fred's subcontracting work was starting to ebb and my MS symptoms started showing up big time! Stress was working it's way into our lives.

School started. My baby began his Junior Kindergarten year and I was mourning the loss of my time with him when God decided it was time to mourn an even greater loss. Mom W. passed away in September, and although we knew it was coming, the shock of reality still hit us hard. Work slowed down to pretty much nothing for Fred and once again we were forced to crunch our finances even more. When you're down to the bare minimums, it's hard to find even more ways to economize, but God is creative. He found ways!

I started babysitting before and after school for several neighborhood children. The beauty of this is that about half of the kids are only at our house for about 10 minutes total per day, yet they still pay the full price. This has allowed our family to still have our own time together in the afternoons and evenings.

In October, when I was fully overwhelmed with the burdens of grief, lack of income and worry of the future, several of my dear friends surprised me for my birthday. I thought I was meeting only two of them for coffee one night and I walked in to a table full of my closest friends who showered me with blessings of encouragement (and socks)! Even though I told them this, I don't know if they'll ever fully understand how important all those words of kindness were to me.

November began the annual Cookie Kitchen business so baking began in earnest. So did the pressure from some of the residual ridiculousness of some legal issues that have been hanging around from the sale of our business two years ago. More pressure built as Fred had to spend hours in meetings, on the phone, typing e-mails and talking out the scenarios of this mess.

By the beginning of December, I was just in auto-pilot. I did what I had to do and did most of it without any emotion whatsoever except frustration at times from the overwhelming burdens. I was so very ready for a break, for some relief, for some hope.

Last week we were able to go to Ohio for our annual Schley Christmas celebrations and I got my Schley-fix! Being with my family always gets me back on track. We laugh. We joke. We have fun. We laugh some more. This year we also surprised Dad with an early 70th birthday party where we had CAKE and gave him a wii from all of us. What fun this past week was! I am feeling rejuvenated and revived. I'm feeling like there is light at the end of this long, long tunnel, despite the fact that there is still no constant income, nor any resolution for the legal mess that will be ongoing. Yet, I've been able to come up for air and I've gulped some deep breaths so now I can go on.

Despite the tough year, I can still say that God is good. He has been faithful. We have never been in want, even when we have wondered how we would make it. We have been blessed with so much that I can't complain. He has allowed us to go through these struggles because He knows that we need them, and that we will be able to comfort others with the comfort that we ourselves have received. God is good. He loves us and He will carry us through.

2011, even though I don't like that you are an odd number, I welcome you because I know that God will continue to be faithful as He has in the past. Despite the trials that you will bring, we will press on because we know that you will also bring joys and blessings.

Welcome, 2011. The Lord is opening the door and we'll walk right in with Him!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Purple Cauliflower

I found this purple cauliflower at the Farmer's Market and decided to try it. We LOVE cauliflower, so I didn't even have to think twice about buying it. I just had to decide on purple or orange.

I sliced it and sauted it with some sliced garlic, added a little salt to it and that's it! There were no leftovers, just people asking for more and more and more! This is our favorite way to eat cauliflower, no matter what color it is!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crazy Hat Day

Christopher's Crazy Hat
Timothy's Crazy Hat

Stephen's Crazy Hat
The Three Stooges & Their Hats

Crazy Hat Day at school sparked an afternoon of creativity in this house! The boys are finished and ready to go for school!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kindergarten Mom

Today I got to be Kindergarten Mom. I volunteered in Christopher's class this morning. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed being in a school classroom, but it didn't take me long to remember how thankful I was that I never taught kindergarten! Wow. What a lot of activity in that room today!

I got to work with the rhyming station - helping the kids match rhyming words with pictures. It was exciting to see the ones who got it, and frustrating to work with the ones that didn't have a clue what I was talking about. I know that all comes with time, and those kids will get it eventually, too.

One thing that really shocked me was what I saw during their first nutrition break. I was a bit curious to see what other kids had packed in their lunches because, naturally, I was comparing my kid to the others. I was shocked at how much junk food and convenience food was packed in these little kindies' lunchboxes! Snack packs of meat, cheese, crackers and a mini candy bar, yogurt tubes, Jell-O cups, Twinkie stuff (they're called something else here, but I don't remember because I never buy them), candy, candy and more candy. That's not to say that I don't ever give my kids a fun treat with some of this kind of stuff, but seriously! Some of these little kids had lunchboxes FULL of convenience foods! Not only is it not good for them nutritionally, but think about how expensive that can get, too!

I was also shocked at how much Christopher ate at his first nutrition break. They have two breaks during the day and the kids are supposed to eat half of their lunch during the morning break and half during the afternoon. Christopher ate almost everything during the first break and then asked me if I had anything else in my purse that I could put in his lunchbox for second break! Yikes! I think I'd better pack him a bit more next time. The only problem is that I'm running out of ideas of things to pack. We can't pack anything with any type of nuts, nor are we allowed to send egg-based egg sandwiches, egg salad, boiled eggs, etc. It's a school wide policy because of allergies.

Anyone have any suggestions of what to pack in a lunch box for hungry boys? We also have a very 'green' school. We use reusable , recycleable or compostable containers only, and we're asked to keep garbage to a bare minimum. I'd love to hear some suggestions of non-messy, economical and delicious ideas to send in the boys' lunches! Thanks!

After Christmas I get to be Kindergarten Mom and Grade 1 Mom! I'm looking forward to that. I already help out in Stephen's class, but it's mostly on a drop-in basis, or send-work-home-with-Stephen basis. I love being in the kids' school and appreciate the fact that I am getting to know the staff and students and vice versa. What a great way to be involved and to be a part of their lives and to let the staff get to know our family.

I'm also glad that I'm not a kindergarten teacher. Oh, the headaches I would have! On the flip side, I'd also be blessed with hundreds of special little gifts and drawings and tokens of affection. I guess maybe it wouldn't be that bad after all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

So Sweet!

I got to meet my new niece, Elyssa, today! She is soooo addictingly sweet! I'm sure that Henry and Jo will agree with this, but this little baby is almost perfect! The whole time I was there she was just looking around as quiet as could be ... until Mommy tried to changer her diaper, that is. She wasn't so thrilled about that, but after that disruption was over and she was back in Mommy's arms, she was calm and quiet again.
Methinks girls have different temperments than boys right from the beginning. None of my guys were this calm and peaceful at five days old! Holding that little sweetpea ALMOST made me wish that we would have had a girl, but then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and remembered why I'm glad that we don't. I'm not a girl's mommy. I'm really not. I don't know how to do hair or clothes or shoes or decorating or shopping or any of those other feminine things that 'girls' do. I scrape by looking presentable in all those areas, but I just don't have the knack nor the desire to deal with things like that. Ok, so I can cook well enough, and I can bake. I can take care of kids. I can snuggle with my husband. But that's about it for the stereotypical girl stuff, I think.
Before each of the boys were born, I had experienced quite a bit of panic at the thought of one of them being a girl! What if the baby would have been a girl and then grown into one of those types that was all lacey and frilly and loved perfumes and princesses and parties?! What if I would have had to learn to French braid hair or tie bows on poofy dresses?! Would I have to go into the girls departments to look for ruffle-y socks and tights with patterns that matched dresses with flowers on them?! I guess I probably could have learned all that, but I do believe that God knew that I could handle boys much easier.
OHHHH and another thing! Last weekend my friend (who is a mom to five girls) and I were helping out with a friend's daughter's wedding. We were peeking into the future when our own children might marry. My poor friend is going to have to plan FIVE weddings!!!! I will get to attend three. Whew!
And what about that adolescent time when girls' hormones start to act up and emotions begin to run rampant?! Oh my goodness! I can hardly handle my own crazy hormones at times! How in the world would I be able to deal with a bunch of girls that are just being introduced to theirs?! I'm sooo thankful for my boys! God sure knew that I could handle boys and not girls. I think it takes special women to be mothers of girls and I am so grateful for all of you...because that way I didn't have to be one of them. God has given you a very special gift and I admire that in you.
Now, that all being said .... I can hardly wait to get back over to Jo's this week to go see that little princess and hold her and squeeze her and kiss her and love her ... and then give her back to her rightful mommy who will help her grow up to be a beautiful woman inside and out! Welcome to the world, Elyssa Margaret! I've fallen in love with you already!
(I'm not sure why this is not breaking up into paragraphs. I've tried to fix it several times and it just isn't cooperating. Sorry about that!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birthday Winner!

Yeah!!! We have a birthday winner! Ohio_Momto3boys, congratulations! You may pick either the Cinna Cream Sprinkles or a bottle of Watkins Original Barbeque Sauce as your prize. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

I apologize for the delay in the announcement of the winner, but that's because I had a beautiful surprise party last night that threw me for a loop and kept me up late so I never had time to post yesterday.

Congratulations Ohio_Mom! You can contact me privately to let me know which prize you would enjoy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Time for a Birthday Present

Well, it's October again! That means that it's time for another Watkins birthday present for one of my readers. This year I'm going to give my winner a choice of gifts. It's fun to win prizes, but sometimes it's even more fun to win when you get to choose your own prize - kind of like how the boys feel when they go to the dentist and they get to pick out their own toy from the Big Prize Tooth bin.

This year's winner will get to choose either a jar of the amazing Cinna Cream Sprinkles or a bottle of our delicious Original Barbeque Sauce. It'll be a tough decision, unless you already know if you are a 'sweet' or a 'savory' person.

The simple looking Cinna Cream Sprinkles will quickly become one of those cold-morning treats that you'll start sprinkling on your toast, your bagel, in your coffee, maybe even into the palm of your hand so that you can tickle your tongue! I like to refer to this as a glorified cinnamon sugar blend. Your first taste will tell you that you are enjoying cinnamon, sugar AND a beautiful hint of vanilla! My customers that are already in love with this purchase several bottles at a time because it's only available at this time of year as part of the Seasonal Favorites line. Timothy loves to sprinkle this on his popcorn and begs for it every time!

For those of you who are savory people, you will want to choose this bottle of Watkins Original Barbeque Sauce. It has a tangy and sweet taste with a tiny bite that causes you to keep the bottle open on the table because you always need 'just a little bit more' for whatever you are eating! We love putting it on chicken, hamburgers, meatballs, barbequed pork (put a pork roast in your crock pot and chug a big glug of this sauce on top!), dipping in fries or chicken nuggets, fish, roast name it, we use it! You won't regret choosing this gift if you win!

Now, here's the deal. In Canada, if you win a prize, you have to "earn" your prize. Many companies like to give skill testing questions like "The following timed skill testing equation must be answered without any aid: 4 x 3 + 12 - 6 + 244 x 321 - 23 x 468 + 2943 = Ok. That's exaggerating a bit, but I can't stand math to begin with so I am a bit saddened by the fact that in order for me to win a prize I have to answer a MATH question! Why don't they ever ask us to name the author of a book or ask us where to find a certain scripture or to identify a flower or something like that?! No. It has to be math! Well, since I'm in charge of my own contest, I'm going to choose to ask my contest participants to use their story telling and writing skills to tell me about one of the most memorable gifts they ever GAVE to someone! Tell me about a unique gift giving experience, the most meaningful gift you gave, the funniest gift, the most memorable setting of your gift-giving, etc.

This contest is open to anyone in Canada or the US, or family members in Paraguay or Indonesia. You can enter by commenting on this post or by sending me a private message at mjweinhardt at yahoo dot ca. This contest will be open until my birthday, Monday, October 18, at 7:30pm at which time my children will choose a winner.

Thanks for telling me your stories and helping me to celebrate my birthday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Margaret Weinhardt
1928 - 2010

I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of rightousness, which the Lord the rightous judge,
shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
2 Tim. 4: 7,8

Margaret grew up in a loving family in the German village of Neu Pasua in the former Yugoslavia. The youngest of three sisters, Margaret spent her childhood assisting her godly parents, Friedrich and Eva Schwald, at home, in their fields and nearby vineyards. They instilled many lasting values in her life. When the war came to their homeland, the family eventually had to flee to Austria. On the way, when Margaret was only 16, her mother died of complications from surgery. Though the war years were difficult, seeds of faith were growing in her heart. A few years later, her father and sisters settled near Neuheutten, Germany. There she made two life-long commitments: first she committed her life to Jesus, her Savior. She was then baptized along with Daniel Weinhardt with whom she would make her second commitment of marriage, and was married in October 1952.

In 1956, the loving couple moved with their first three children to Canada. They built a new life together, working hard as the Lord blessed them, and the family grew from five to eight in the Kitchener area. By 1968, needing more room, Margaret and Daniel built a new home in Cambridge that became their homestead for the next 48 years. Margaret served her Savior with an open heart and home where many visitors and family were blessed by her gracious hospitality. In later years, she and Daniel were blessed to enjoy winter months in the Arizona sun.

Her strong faith and confidence in God allowed her to have complete peace throughout her illness. Early Saturday morning, September 18th, she passed away peacefully in her sleep and was carried by the angels to receive her eternal reward. Her warm smile and tender heart will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Mom & Dad's beautiful backyard

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Prov. 3:5,6

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

School Boys

September 7 was the first day of school for Stephen and Timothy.

September 14 was Christopher's first day.

Looks like he's adjusted quite well already! He told me yesterday that all he did was "play and play and play and play, oh and I read a book at my table with the lights off. That's it."
Now that we've celebrated the first day(s) of school, we're celebrating birthdays today for Timothy and Christopher! It's been quite a busy time around here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Little Businessmen

Can you believe that they actually made $5.00 that hot and sultry day? Of course, their first sale wasn't until 6:30 PM, but hey! They made a sale! (Thank you dear neighbor who happened to see them and stopped by specifically for those two zucchini!)
Now Timothy wants to sell rocks. Either that, or his homemade board games. Maybe I'll let him do that so that they can leave this house and I won't be the bad guy for making them disappear. Anyone need some rocks or a board game or two or three or ....

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Peaceful Turmoil

Peaceful turmoil? Is there such a thing? If there is, this is what we're going through right now. Fred's mom hasn't been feeling well since they came back from their winter stay in Phoenix. She has been through test after test, scan after scan, doctor visit after doctor visit. She's been brave and she's been strong, but now we know the source of the conflict and the peaceful turmoil is beginning. It's pretty certain that Mom W. has liver cancer.

While we all hoped and prayed that it would be something much more simple than this, it seems that God has placed her on this path and we are all walking with her. We know that Mom is holding the hand of her Saviour, and that gives us the peacefullness - that, and the many, many prayers that are being offered for all of us. We can rest in the peace that all is well with Mom's soul and whatever happens from here will not be something that we have to endure alone. However, because we are human and we are suffering because she is suffering, there is turmoil. It's not easy to watch someone you love endure such pain. It's not comfortable to think of what the near future may hold. It's not easy to make difficult decisions when your emotions are so closely tied to the situation. This causes the turmoil as well.

During this turbulant time in our lives, please pray for our family, for all of us. Pray for Mom as she endures the pain and soaks up all this precious time with her loved ones, that she will say what she needs to say, bless those she wants to bless, enjoy her family to the fullest and rest in peace during the long and painful days and nights. Pray for Dad as he watches Mom, unable to help her. Pray for his comfort and his heart. Pray for each of the children, their spouses and their children. We have a wedding coming up and babies to be born in the next few months, and it's hard to balance the joy of these events with the sadness of wondering if Mom will be here to enjoy them with us.

It is a time of peaceful turmoil that is a time of trusting in the Lord like never before. He IS our peace and He wants us to cast our burdens on Him, because He cares for us. Thank you for lifting our whole family up to the Lord in prayer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Are We Home Yet?

Our family LOVES to travel and to be on the go, but I think we've hit our travel threshold for awhile. Usually the constant question is "Are we there yet?" but lately it's turned into "Are we home yet?"

In the middle of July we left for our annual church camp in Harrisonburg, Virginia, but before we even got there, we started our adventure. We headed down to the middle of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg to be exact, to meet up with my cousin Tim who is assistant manager at the coolest store ever: Bass Pro Shops! We spent a LOT of time wandering around the store while Tim showed us the neat things in every nook and cranny of that place. From there we headed to Maryland to meet Robin, a fellow Watkins associate. Robin, her husband and two lovely girls live on a cattle and sheep farm. We spent our way-too-short visit with them on one of the hottest weekends ever!

Finally we headed down to the Eastern Mennonite University that our church rents out every year for one week in July for our church "camp". It's really not a camp. It's more like a conference because of the air conditioned facilities and all the amenities of a university campus, but it's always been called "camp" since waaaayyyy back, Webster Springs, WV was a real "camp". Anyway, we had a wonderful week at Camp, despite the 98F/38C temperatures. The boys enjoyed it, too, and you could tell because I ran out of Band-Aids in the first three hours that we were there. They got a lot of playing accomplished in those first few hours!

After Camp we headed to Grandpa and Grandma's in Ohio and spent the evening with Uncle Roger, Aunt Amy, Daniel and Ryan as well. Five boy cousins cooped up in a house while a major wind and rain storm beat down outside = lots of noise and activity in an otherwise quiet home of the grandparents.

Finally, we were on our way home to Canada for a few days while we washed clothes, mowed the lawn and repacked for our next adventure! Several months ago, Fred came across a fantastic deal from a golf resort up north - with the condition that we listen to their time share presentation. No problem for us! Since we've never really taken a family vacation like this and since we are not easily swayed by those kinds of tactics, we headed up to the "We Saw The Beach" (Wasaga Beach) area for a mini vacation. That was a LOT of fun! We spent our time swimming in all the pools, going to the beach, splash pads, recreation centers at the resort and touring around the local ski resort/tourist areas. On our way home from there, we stopped by Uncle Henry and Auntie Jo's cottage since it was so close. We enjoyed a BBQ supper with them, but didn't get to go for a boat ride or for a swim in the lake since it rained. Oh well. Time for home anyway!

Today is a holiday here in Canada. These Canadians love their holidays! We had plans to maybe go to Storybook Garden in London or down to Niagara Falls. Those plans scaled back to just going to Riverside Park's splashpad, but even that took a back seat to just being at home!! I'm the only one who left the house today and that was to go grocery shopping. We are HOME and are going to stay put ..... for awhile anyway.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conquering the Weeds

Yesterday I was pulling weeds in the garden and the thought went through my mind that if I just gave this garden a few more years, I could finally get all these weeds under control and I'd have a beautiful, weed-free garden! I had some amazing visions of this picture-perfect garden that I would have ... but those visions only lasted milliseconds because my mind immediately started searching the memory banks for gardens that had been tended for years. Naturally, I thought of Grandpa's garden and compared mine to his, hoping that I would recall visions of weed-free rows of vegetation.

But that's not what I saw in my mind as I yanked out yet another clump of weeds. I saw pictures of Grandpa, slightly bent with his hoe gently chopping the ground around each precious pepper plant. He'd stop, tip his hat to wipe his forehead, look around a bit, and then bend back down and continue tending to that garden. Even after some 70 years of tending that same garden, he STILL had to deal with weeds!

Stephen has been interested a lot lately in Jesus' parable of the sower who sowed seeds on different types of soil. (Matthew 13) In this parable, some seeds fell among the thorns and were choked out. Jesus said that the seed - God's Word - can fall among the thorns, or the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, and the Word of God is choked out and the seed doesn't grow.

Because we've been talking about this often as a family, I had to think about these weeds that I was pulling out of the garden. Sure, I had the hopes that if I could just pull ALL the weeds out of the garden over the next year or two I could have a perfect garden, but in reality, those weeds will never be totally conquered in my garden. Look at Grandpa's! If I could have truly observed Grandpa's spiritual garden, I bet he was still pulling weeds in his 94th year! Grandpa didn't have a weed-free garden after all those years, but he sure knew how to deal with them! He was in that garden every day on a regular basis taking care of the weeds that were a threat to his precious plants. He didn't just let them go and have a defeatist attitude about the fact that there would always be weeds and he'd never be able to get rid of all of them! He worked at it consciously! The Apostle Paul said that he "died daily" - it was a routine thing for him to work on his "weeds" in his life!

Ok, I'm writing this late at night, so some of my analogies may not be perfect, but I do believe that God wanted to teach me a lesson in my weedy garden this week. I want a beautiful garden. I want a productive garden. I don't want to have to work hard at it. God is showing me, though, that in order to have a beautiful and productive garden, I DO have to work at it! I need to consciously tend and care for the garden of my life and make sure that the seed of God's Word falls on GOOD ground and that if there are weeds there, I need to deal with them - and I will need to deal with them on an ongoing basis, but it needn't be a struggle all the time. If I care for my garden daily, taking care of a little weed here or there it will not overwhelm me. I can routinely care for my garden to keep the weeds at bay that will choke out the good seed.

I'm encouraged! Working in a garden in the heat of the day is not always pleasant, but if I deal with these weeds first thing in the morning, every day, I can start my day with a clean plot and nothing there to choke out the Good Word of God! Yes. Starting the work of pulling out those weeds of distraction in the cool of the morning with the Lord can make my garden beautiful every day!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How We Are Keeping Cool

It's HOT ... in case you haven't heard. In fact, it's downright miserable if you're not used to it, and we're not yet. Here's how we're handling this heatwave.

* Boys get to camp out in the basement at night
* Jump in a friend's pool (ahhhh!)
* Turn on the octopus sprinkler
* Give the boys the "job" of watering the garden
* Strawberry Smoothies
* Invite over friends w/no air conditioning for an evening of fun
* Enjoy Chapmans Canada Flag ice cream - vanilla on the outside, red Canada maple leaf on the inside. Slice the box of ice cream for a beautiful Canada flag!
* Dissect an owl pellet to find the skeletal remains of a rodent with the intention of reconstructing the thing. (ICK!!! NOT my first choice of something to do, but it sure kept the kids occupied for a long, LONG time on a hot and muggy day!)
* Have everyone crash on the living room floor with the ceiling fan whirring away while Mommy reads chapter books to everyone

Yep. We're managing in this heat; suffering a bit when the BBQ is also blasting extreme temperatures in your face, but thankful that we don't have to heat up the kitchen every night, too! As Grandma always said, "This, too, shall pass."

What are you doing to keep cool this week?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Princesses

I was a bit nervous, a bit apprehensive, but very much full of anticipation last Sunday evening. My friend Lydia and I went through the instructions again out loud: Park in the lot to the right. Go to the gate at the main entrance. DO NOT RING THE BELL ... we will see you. Proceed to security to begin the clearance procedure. We stood outside the tall gate, capped with rolls of barbed wire, looking in at the buildings that sat in front of us. We had no idea what was in store for us, but we believed we were ready because we had covered ourselves in prayer long before this moment.

The security guard was quite friendly. He took our two forms of ID after he had carefully pulled on his white gloves and got his scanning machines ready. He handed us a key to our locker so that we could put in all of our stuff, valuable or not, while we were in the interior of the building. He handed Lydia a security button to attach to her belt, just in case there was an emergency. He explained that if the red button were pushed, no alarms would sound, but help would arrive within seconds and we'd be surrounded by people who would be there to cover us. Then we were told to go sit in the cafeteria and wait for Rosemary.

Several months ago, Lydia had asked me if I would be interested in being her partner in the women's prison ministry at the Grand Valley Institution for Women. I was interested immediately, and as soon as I gave her my answer, we started the process of getting a background police check, etc, and then we waited for our official invitation to attend Worship With Rosemary - the Sunday night chapel service for the inmates.

What happened that night is not easy to explain. I tried to soak it all in, but the experience was so overwhelming that most of the time I just sat in awe of what was going on around me. The room was already busy 15 minutes prior to the start of the service and more women kept coming in. We were told that it was a smaller group than usual, probably because of the hot, sticky weather and the rain that eventually came pouring down outside. Still, there were about 40 women in attendance, I would guess.

We began with some worship songs and then Rosemary, the prison chaplain, asked a question: Who is God to you? Wow. The answers those women gave immediately caused me to reconsider who they were, where they had been and who they were becoming! We sang some more. Rosemary asked more questions. More answers blew me away. I didn't hear the story behind all of the women in that room, but I was told that some of them had come from The Max (maximum security), some from isolation and some for much shorter and less severe sentences. One amazing woman, Ruth, is in there for life. She had killed her husband. She has gone through so much since that time - painful confession and repentance and memories. Now she is a Princess of the King of Kings and is being used as an encouragment and tower of strength for her fellow inmates. During the course of the evening, there were tears as one woman shared her story for the first time ever of being sexually abused. Another woman had to leave the room as she was weeping over the condition of her past. Yet another confessed her anger toward God because He had allowed her 17 year old brother to be killed. One woman acknowledged that her (sexual) violator was caught in a cycle of abuse from three generations past, and when she found that out, she could finally forgive him. She still had to serve her sentence for her sins, but she could forgive the one who started her on this path.

I could go on and on about the stories that we were told, but it was one of those times when you really had to be there to understand the depth of the healing that took place and the power of the Holy Spirit that was working that night. Lydia shared her testimony with the women, sharing her struggles as a teenager with bulimia and how she finally found victory over this when she realized that she was a princess in God's eyes - totally loved by Him! Her encouragement to the women was so evident as all eyes were riveted on her and no one moved the entire time she was speaking. My job (this time) was to cover Lydia in prayer as she shared what God had placed on her heart, so I didn't really have a part in the evening physically. Rosemary emphasized over and over again that more importantly to the women was the ministery of presence rather than the ministry of speaking.

Ministry of presence. Lydia and I have since talked about this often. Ministry of presence. Those women were more blessed by the fact that we had come in from outside the gates to just SIT with them, talk and laugh and cry with them, share a bowl of ice cream with them, talk about our families with them than if we had been preachers of a thousand sermons in that room! Even if we had not said a word (and we didn't speak very much at all, actually), our presence in the room with the women was more important than anything.

Lydia and I can not stop thinking and dreaming about our experience with those amazing women in the prison. THEY know what it's like to rely on God! THEY have come from the depths to the heights. THEY are true princesses, despite the fact that they are living out their sentences in a high security prison. THEY taught me more lessons Sunday night than I could have learned anywhere else.

Pray for those women in the prison. They all have families that they are not with. They have regrets and guilt and sorrow that are unfamiliar to most of us. They have fears about leaving the prison and making it on their own again. Pray that the faith that they have found in the Lord will prepare them and carry them through the rough days inside and outside of the prison gates. Pray that they will be strong enough to reach out to others that they can relate to. Pray that they will believe that they are Princesses because they are Daughters of the King!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And the Giveaway Winner Is ....


Thank you everyone for participating in this giveaway, and thank you especially for all the wonderful suggestions for summer activities! Some of these we already do as a family and some of them are new to us. I look forward to using this bank of ideas for those days when the boys complain that they are bored. I knew I could count on you to come up with some unique ideas and I was not disappointed!

Pauser, congratulations on winning! See me this weekend for your lovely Lavender Hand & Cuticle Salve tin from Watkins!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Father's Day Spice

Fred got the most amazing Father's Day gift from Timothy that their class at school made this year. It's so amazing that I think I've used it more than the father around here! Of course, Timothy makes sure I ask Daddy for permission before I use it each time. This gift is a little jar of spice mix called "Father's Day Spice" and it came with the recipe that I want to share with you. Naturally, you'll be using Watkins spices to get a superior flavor!

Father's Day Spice
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Try it. You'll be hooked and won't want to buy another commercial spice again!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"It's Almost Summer" Giveaway

It's almost summer here in our neck of the woods and that means that the kids will be done with school and our holidays will begin! Having three very active little boys here who like to get up early and stay up late and run non-stop between those two times can be very exhausting for any mom, let alone a 43 year old woman who would love to sleep in during summer vacation! Since I can't sleep in and I can't take afternoon naps (what are those things again?!) and I probably won't be able to just curl up with a book whenever I want (not that that has happened much in the past few years anyway), I need to find other ways to relax, even if it is only momentary. How do I do that? With lavender!!

This is where my giveaway comes in. I have a 2.1oz tin of Watkins Lavender Hand & Cuticle Salve to give away to one of my readers. This lovely salve smells soooo delicious and just one whiff of it can start the relaxing that is needed on these action-packed summer days! I love to put this salve on at night, not just on my hands and cuticles, but I also put it on those rough spots on my feet because I love to go barefoot in this warm weather.
How can you win this natural Lavender Hand & Cuticle Salve from Watkins? Simply leave me a comment with an activity that you do/did with your children in the summer that they loved, or an idea for adding some responsibilities to their daily routines that are FUN, but in reality, they are actually helping around the house! Am I fishing for ideas????? YOU BET! You may comment up to three times for three separate entries into the draw (I need LOTS of ideas!!).

Anyone in Canada, the US or Paraguay can enter to win.

Contest will close at 4:00PM Daylight Savings Time on June 29 - my kids' last official day of school and the moment they will be home for the summer.

Contestants may enter more than three activity suggestions (PLEASE), but a maximum of three entries will be valid for the draw. For those of you who lurk and don't want to comment publicly, you may e-mail your suggestions to me privately, knowing that I may refer to some of them on future blog posts.

Good luck! You may start sending your ideas NOW!! Ummm, I mean, you may enter the contest at any time. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I'm missing Angela today. I made salmon patties and it made me think of her. She would have been proud of me, I think.

Some of you have heard my Angela stories before, but for those of you who haven't, I'll share a bit about this 90-something woman who had a great impact on me as a teenage girl and beyond. Liz, Karen and I were introduced to Angela by my mom who used to take her Meals-on-Wheels. Angela was in her 80's at the time, lived on her own and was able to see only with her periferal vision so she would ask Mom to thread some needles for her every so often when Mom would drop off her meals. She mentioned one day that she wished she knew of a girl that could come help her. Mom told her that she knew of three girls. Guess who?!

We started going to Angela's house once a week for an hour to thread needles, read her mail, and maybe make a bowl of Jell-O. We got paid .50 for that hour - but it was usually with a beautiful fifty-cent coin, so it was worth it! That was about all we could handle as 11-12-13 year olds. That one hour a week gradually turned into several hours and several days and even though we groaned about going, we didn't believe Mom anymore when she would keep telling us that Angela was going to die soon and then we wouldn't have to go anymore. Year after year passed, and Angela was as alive as ever! Our responsibilities changed, though. We would still thread needles and read mail, but we also cooked and cleaned and learned about all the saints in the Catholic church and how to make corn silk tea and (poisonous) poke berry jam and tuna patties. We made rum biscuits and honey cookies and tapioca pudding. We cleaned toilets, cut toenails and filed teeth (well, one of us did that!). We accidentally dumped holy water, unintentionally wiped Latin blessings off the front door and haphazardly fixed broken rosaries. We patched cotton stockings for the 87th time, rolled hair balls to put back on Angela's head and made our own envelopes to mail recycled Christmas cards. We painted black leather shoes outdoor-house-paint green, along with a matching black leather purse and a fabric belt from a cotton frock (one can't go to church without wearing something summery and bright, now, can they?). I drew the line at painting the bottoms of her cooking pots with that same flat, pukey-green house paint, though!

Ah yes. Angela was a character, that's for sure! She had a way of lying on her porch glider and belching so loudly that it would scare the daylights out of you! She memorized her grocery list alphabetically and then called it in to the Supermarket downtown Doylestown for delivery. The only problem with that was that she didn't always remember what she had tried to write on her list, so we'd be sitting next to her shouting the next item to her so that she could hear, and then repeat it to Dave, the Supermarket man. By the time Angela told him the item, I'm sure he had heard us shout it about 3 or 4 times already.

I continued to work for Angela through my high school years and on into college. Mom still promised me that Angela would die soon and I wouldn't have to go. I still didn't believe her. I continued past college graduation and several years more until at the age of 97, Angela's family finally convinced her (or not) to give up her independence and moved her into a nursing home. I continued to visit her until I moved to Phoenix, about 12 years after I met her. Angela did pass away at the age of 99 after I had moved away, and I would never have believed this ten years prior, but I missed her. I still do. I would love to sit down and talk with her again and listen to her stories and humor her by recycling the strings from potato bags, saving the plastic sleeves that soda crackers are packaged in and collecting dandelion leaves for her tea.

So many Angela Stories have impacted my life. There are way too many to tell here, and honestly, they are much more entertaining to hear in person. Sometime you can ask me in person about the time she wanted me to make her a brasier that she could adjust with her fingers that had no feeling from the knuckles down.

Some day I may be an old lady with stories to tell, odd ways of doing things and curious behaviors that make no sense to teenagers, but if I am an old lady some day, I want to be like Angela. I'll try not to belch when other people are around and I'll make sure that I get some dentures instead of relying on my three good teeth. I will wash my hair more than once every two months and I will refrigerate my leftovers instead of storing them on top of the fridge. I may call my "girl" Toots, just to be like Angela. And if I am still making my own tuna or salmon patties, by golly, you can be sure I'll be frying them in PURE LARD, because at that age, it really won't matter any more! Making those salmon patties the other day brought back special memories of my years with Angela, but patties fried in cooking spray just didn't taste like hers!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Weekend in a Nutshell

Last weekend was our holiday - Victoria Day - or better known around these parts as the May 2-4 Weekend. You cannot say May 24 Weekend, you must distinguish between the two digits - 2 and 4. It was the May 2-4 Weekend.

Our family had a wonderful time in Syracuse, New York at the wedding of Lucas and Melissa. It's kind of weird going to the weddings of my friends' kids when we're still dealing with three-year-old issues, but I guess this just means that I get to observe and learn from my friends as they go through the process of letting their children go.

We stayed at a hotel near the church that had a pool. THIS was the highlight of the weekend - if you ask my kids. Christopher is STILL talking about "the cold pool" and "the warm pool" and "is that the building with the swimming pool right there?" He just loved being in that pool! I must admit that it was fun, but after 90 minutes in an indoor, over-chlorinated pool, a mom really wants to just move on already! This little mini-vacation was a great memory maker for the kids.

My memory-maker of the weekend wasn't all that fun, though. At the end of the reception when we were gathering our ducks to go home, we couldn't find Stephen. We looked and looked and asked all the kids if they had seen him and went all around the perimiter of the church looking for him. We started to get a little concerned because the boys (ALL the boys and some of the girls at the reception) had been playing in the woods behind the church and there was a lot of scruffy underbrush there. No one had seen Stephen recently, but almost everyone commented that he was in the woods in the "fort" that they had built. A large group of adults started plowing into the underbrush hollering Stephen's name, as well as Austin's, who was also MIA and seemed to have been with Stephen. We hollered and yelled and tripped and ran and (I) tried not to cry because my son was nowhere to be seen! After gaining nothing but scratches and a huge blister on my foot (since I was still in heels running through this brush), I came back out to the clearing in time to see Austin's mom holding Stephen's hand saying, "I think you'd better tell your mom where you've been. She's awfully worried about you."

There he was, standing so clean and cool (while the rest of us were sweating like the outside of an ice cold glass of lemonade on a hot and muggy day) and totally oblivious to the panic that was going on around him. Where was he? Well, he was just in one of the Sunday School rooms with Austin, playing the piano! WHAT?! No wonder we couldn't find him! I NEVER would have thought to look for him inside the church and certainly NOT in a room with a piano! He was writing music notes on the whiteboard and Austin would play that note on the piano. They were quite content in there, enjoying their activity and the coolness of the building. Sigh. Always an adventure with that boy!

And speaking of adventures with him, that wasn't the last. On our way home from Syracuse Sunday night, we stopped at Fred's brother, Dan's, for a campfire and fireworks. The kids were given sparklers and they were having fun waving them around and enjoying the experience. We were, too, until I heard a piercing scream coming from Stephen ... somewhere close to the creek. Sure enough, he was so intent on watching his sparkler and dancing all around with it that he didn't realize he was so close to the muddy bank of the creek and OOPS! Down he went! The poor, overtired guy freaked out because he had mud everywhere and wanted us to strip him down and throw his clothes in the fire. Being overtired can make you quite irrational. Since Mom and Dad Weinhardt live right next door, we just went over there, put him in the shower and pulled some clothes out of the suitcases that were in the van. What a day!

Now we're back in our routines and looking forward to another weekend full of adventures with our cousins, Daniel and Ryan!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Husband, the Servant Who Honors

Servanthood that honors, honors others with more servanthood.

This afternoon I have a moment here to write because my husband, the servant, has blessed me with a beautiful act of service this afternoon! His servant responsibilities started last night. He went to his parents to help get his dad ready for bed and then spent the night so that he could help him get up this morning, too. Dad W. has really slowed down in the past few years and it's getting more and more difficult for Mom to care for him physically. Fred was serving/honoring his parents last night with his care for his dad. All the siblings are pitching in, but last night was Fred's opportunity to be there.

He got home late morning and then surprised the boys (and me) by telling them that he was going to take them to the Playland at McDonald's for lunch so that I could have a few hours to myself today. I'm all teary-eyed as I'm writing this because I am touched by the servant-heart that I saw in Fred again today. He knows it's been a rough week on me, and even though he hasn't been home himself for almost a whole day now, he chose to honor me by giving me some quiet time without the activity of the boys here.

I've been able to do a million things this afternoon, it seems. I've mended a puppy who's been losing stuffing for months. Poor Timothy has been asking me almost daily for several weeks if I would fix him. I finally honored him and fixed his puppy ... I even sewed his ear back on that was held in place with a safety pin. I am baking Fred's favorite bread, because it will honor him. I cleaned up the boys' blocks that used to be a garage on the living room floor, because I want to honor them.

Sigh. I must cut this short because I just heard the garage door open and the house will no longer be quiet, but I just want to reiterate the statement at the top of this blog. I can see today that servanthood that honors will honor others with more servanthood. It's a beautiful cycle to be a part of.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Crazy Story

Once there was a blank piece of paper with nothing on it. Timothy didn't draw anything. He went to the bathroom to get toothpaste. Then he had to wash his hands. He left his eyeballs alone.

He gave himself a kiss because he was very strong. He watched TV while he was riding his bike. He hit a tree and then ate a popsicle. He scurried off in a wink to his neighbor's to find a dog.

The End

This is the story that Timothy and Christopher wrote today on a whiteboard that Grandma gave us. The two of them were messing around so badly today and fighting about every little thing. I was out of ideas of what to do about them anymore, so I grabbed the little whiteboard and just started writing a story about Timothy (the loudest whiner at the time). After that story, I asked Timothy to give me a sentence and with his smart alecky voice he recited "Once there was a blank piece of paper with nothing on it!" HA! He thought it would discourage me from writing a story, but nooooooo! I was desperate, remember? So I asked Christopher for the next sentence. Then they both started laughing and getting goofy and this is the story they came up with. They had so much fun that they wanted to write the next one and share this with you, too. Now they are quietly illustrating their stories and I'm going to finish this and get off of here and get some stuff done while they're quiet for a change!

Once upon a time, Meat was crazy. He jumped on his bed and cried La La La La La. Then he got hurt on his bed and decided to paint a picture. He went to the kitchen and ate a clown. It tasted funny. He wrote a message to his mom.

He went to the garage and saw a funny bear. It was jumping everywhere! He saw his mommy coming into the garage. He gave his mom $20.00. She was happy and went and bought a new harmonica. As soon as she played it, the bear ran away.

The End

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Toy Lending Library

Our local library branch has a wonderful toy lending library. We can check out a toy for a week at a time and have a lot of fun with it. At the end of the week, we count all the pieces, put them in the bag and take it back. The boys love it because they can get Rush Hour (our favorite!), Hi Ho Cherry-O, Pegs in the Park, Little People Pirate Ships, etc.
Here's the latest favorite that kept the boys busy for days! The barbeque!

Aren't they cute together?!

(And yes, Christopher is grilling a donut.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Those Watercolor Ponies (and other pieces of art)

Fred took the boys on Saturday morning so that I could have some time to clean up from the weekly tornado that blows through this house. He loves doing it. The boys love doing it. And I love when they do it, too! So while they were gone, I was cleaning up Timothy's scraps and muttering the whole time about how he just doesn't see the mess he makes when he's creating something new.

I was also listening to some of my "retro" music (read: Christian contemporary from the 80's) while I was cleaning. I was struck with a deep conviction as I was scraping Timothy's plasticine from the carpet under his chair at the table. He had been busy making a multi-media picture of outer space and parts of the Earth and Mars had fallen on the floor and went undetected in his excitement of creating this masterpiece. So as I was scraping bits and pieces out of the rug, Wayne Watson's song, "Watercolored Ponies" came on and my complaining screeched to a stop. If you've never heard this song and you have little children that drive you nuts sometimes, listen to the link and read the lyrics below. This song always brought tears to my eyes even before I had children, but now that I have my own, it's even more touching to me.

Watercolor Ponies

by Wayne Watson

There are watercolor ponies
On my refrigerater door
And the shape of something
I don't really recognize
Drawn by careful little fingers
And put proudly on display
A reminder to us all
Of how time flies

Seems an endless mound of laundry
And a stairway laced with toys
Gives a blow by blow
Reminder of the war
That we fight for their well-being
For their greater understanding
To impart a holy reverance
For the Lord

But, baby, what will we do
When it comes back to me an you?
They look a little less
Like little boys every day
Oh, the pleasure of watching
The children growing
Is mixed with a bitter cup
Of knowing the watercolour ponies
Will one day ride away

And the vision can get so narrow
As you view through your tiny world
And little victories can go by
With no applause
But in the greater evaluation
As they fly from your nest of love
May they mount up with wings
As eagles for His cause

But, baby, what will we do
When it comes back to me an you?
They look a little less
Like little boys every day
Oh, the pleasure of watching
The children growing
Is mixed with a bitter cup
Of knowing the watercolour ponies
Will one day ride away

Yes, there are pictures galore around here and an endless mound of laundry, but Fred and I have been chosen by God to fight a war for these children. We're in the heat of the battle right now, but soon ... very, very soon ... our part of the war will be less physical and even more spiritual. One day those water colored ponies will ride away and we'll be left with memories of their childhood and no pictures, sticky handprints, muddy shoes, or a million pieces of Lego to complain about. (Remind me of this next week when I've forgotten about this song and am once again frustrated to no end about the mess that I'm cleaning up after them!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

When I Was A Kid...

When I was a kid, I was expected to do my own homework, finish my own projects and be responsible for my own schoolwork on every account. I guess things have changed. Tonight I was browsing looking for some good deals and I stumbled upon the following ad:

You hate writing essays. You can't stand finishing Seven chapters of math equations. You dread writing that 10 page book report.

That's where I come in.
-- I'll write your essay
-- Finish your seven chapters
-- And write that 10-page book report

For 10$ an assignment, I'll get you an A no matter where you live.
- I know what it's like to be in highschool and not have the time or patience to sit down and get to work. All I need is a copy of the project/assignment outline, your name, the requirements, and any other useful information I need.

Contact me at this email -

Is this unbelievable or what?! This guy is actually offering to do homework for high school kids so that they don't have to do it themselves! I just can't believe this. He probably thinks he's being super-innovative by placing an ad like this, but come on! I don't know who Stewie is, but I don't think I gotta luv him!

And that's my rant for tonight.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MS Read-A-Thon

Our school is participating in the MS Read-A-Thon for the next month. Generally, I don't push participation in our fundraisers at this point because the boys are young and we're bombarded with fundraiser after fundraiser while we're struggling to keep our heads above water ourselves. We contribute to many causes through our church and other organizations, so I don't tend to push the school-based ones. However, I will encourage the boys to participate in this one for two reasons: a.) Multiple Sclerosis touches me personally and b.) the boys love reading!

About twelve years ago, I was sitting at work and my eye seemed a bit blurry so I rubbed it and kept working. Over the next hour, it kept getting worse and worse and I was frustrated with myself because I thought I smeared my contact more and more each time I rubbed my eye. I even went out at my lunch break to buy some contact lens cleaner to deal with it properly, but it didn't help. Within an hour after trying to clean my lens, I was starting to get quite concerned. My eye was no longer blurred, but I had lost sight in the bottom half of my eye. I called the eye doctor immediately, left work, and by the time I got to the doctor's office, the vision in my right eye was completely gone. The doctor examined me, asked a ton of questions, and scheduled me for an immediate MRI. I really had no idea what was going on at that time, but in between the my visit with the optometrist and my MRI, I spoke with my brother-in-law, Joe, who very calmly asked, "Did he say anything about MS?"

Whoa!!!! MS?! As in Multiple Sclerosis?! Uh, no! That was not mentioned ... until the MRI results came back. I was told that I had Optic Neuritis - inflammation on the optic nerve. It was NOT MS, but this is one of the early signs of MS. I was put on prednisone and was monitored closely for any other MS related symptoms, but while living in Phoenix, was never officially diagnosed.

Fast forward a few years to the year I married Fred and moved to Canada. That first summer that I was here, the blindness returned, but this time in my other eye! I started a whole new battery of tests with my optometrist here: eye exams, in depth questions, field of vision screenings, MRIs, blood tests, nerve tests, appointments with neurologist, opto-neurologists, etc, etc. For the past eleven years here in Canada I have had appointment after appointment trying to pinpoint exactly what is going on with my body. I've had vision issues, physical instability, vertigo, numbness and pain in my hands and feet, tingling in my face and scalp, confused thoughts and slow speech. I sometimes can't tell where my feet are while I'm moving and I have fallen down stairs (breaking my tailbone once!), tripped while walking many times, struggle with depth perception, etc. When I am over-heated, over-tired or over-stressed, my vision starts to fade and my body coordination starts to slip. I was out for a power walk once and while I was still far from home, I lost control of my leg to a point. I got scared because it felt like my brain wasn't telling my leg what to do and I had to literally push my leg forward with my hand so that I could keep walking home!

It can be quite scary at times (like when holding a baby and panicking at the top of the stairs because you don't know if you can make it down in one piece or not), but God has been faithful even in this trial! I have NOT been diagnosed with MS. The specialists don't want to label me because the symptoms are not severe, nor do they seem to be progressing rapidly, so they want to spare me the complications of having an official diagnosis. I do appreciate this because there really is nothing that can be done at this point. It is just something that I have learned to live with and have to make lifestyle adjustments to manage day to day activities. The symptoms come and go and have never been so debilitating that everything grinds to a halt. They're just annoyances at this point. For me, life goes on, but say MS, and my ears are perked up!

As for the boys, Stephen especially is really into this Read-A-Thon. The students were given a pledge sheet that has an hourglass picture on it with 20 minute increments that can be colored in as they read. K-3 students who read at least 400 minutes get to have their name put in a draw for a year's subscription to Chirp magazine. Stephen LOVES Chirp, so he is determined to hit that 400 minutes! He has until April 21 to do this, but it's only day 2.5 and he's already up to 160 minutes! He has been setting the timer for 20 minutes and then dives on the couch with his book! The timer goes off, he colors in his next space, resets the timer and gets lost in his book again. This morning he told me that he's disappointed that he reads so much in that 20 minutes because his book gets finished too fast.

Well, there you go. This is why I'm happy to support this year's MS Read-A-Thon at school. The money that is raised not only goes to the MS Society, but some will go to our school AND the bonus of my kids reading is all worth it. Happy Reading, Brigadoon students!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Food Fun

Guess who is behind these fun, food creations.

You guessed right ...


Daylight Savings Time and March Break

We're at the end of March Break here. Boy, am I glad that it was this week, following the disorienting removal of an hour of time from our lives! Last Sunday really messed us (ME) up and I'm so glad that Monday was Day 1 of our March Break from school! The boys actually slept past 8:00! I'm not sure when that has happened before.

We have had a busy week. I'm so thankful that the weather was BEAUTIFUL!!! We had warm (16C) days and sunshine just about every single day! Perfect week for March Break!

We spent time with our friends Paul and Barb and had a Wii-fest with them one day. We met some friends at the Huron Nature Trails and checked out the beaver dam, the still frozen pond and the mud. We hiked Topper Woods Trail in our neighborhood with some friends from the neighborhood and then played at the park where Stephen finally mastered the monkey bars!

We did a lot of playing outside, hiking, playground playing, etc. We were busy just about every day and it was fun! Come Monday morning, we're finally back into routines and schedules, and I can't wait for that. We had a wonderful week together, but our family does much better when there is structure to our days! Here are some highlights of our week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Becoming A Reader

Stephen is becoming quite a reader! I can't believe how much his reading skills have taken off this past year and how much interest he has in books. Well, I guess I can believe it, because he comes from a family of readers! I was just telling him the other day that I have memories of going to the Doylestown Public Library in the summer and bringing home BAGS full of books that were probably supposed to last us a few weeks, and we'd have them done in a few days. I love the series books, you know like Ramona the Pest and The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. I just couldn't get enough of those books!

Today Stephen brought home The Littles Adventures. Usually after school he is begging me to play on the computer or is asking me what he can do. Not today! He came home, had his snack, told me about Mrs. Groulx's (pronounced Grew) jokes and then headed straight for the couch with his new book from the library. All the kids (mine, and the ones we babysit after school) kept coming in and asking him why he didn't want to play with them downstairs, but he was too busy.

I love that he loves to read, but I'm also finding that many books at his level are geared toward girls. I'm open to hearing some suggestions for books that are appropriate for boys at 1st, 2nd or even 3rd grade level. I'm not really into series like "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", but something that has more substance. Any suggestions out there?

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Today two crazy moms took their kids out in the cold and blowing snow for wonderful day of sledding! We wanted to help celebrate Connie's birthday, so we jumped at the chance to go sledding with our friends when she suggested it.
The little bump of the hill in the background looks pretty tame...until you get to the top! Here's the group ready to go: Maddie (in front), Timothy (please note that this is the only picture in which he is smiling), Christopher, Braden, Caitlin and Stephen. Oh yeah, and I'm in the back, too.

Caitlin, Stephen, Braden and Timothy ready to head down the hill!

Christopher and I hit one of the huge bumps and were tossed off. No injuries!If you look closely, you can see the tears on Timothy's face. For some reason he had a very difficult day here and spent most of his time laying halfway down the hill with his face in the snow wailing. Eventually all the sledders just made two paths around him and just ignored the crying kid on the way down. Each mother would stop and try to convince him to come up, but no one was successful. That made me feel a little better ... knowing that it wasn't just me.

Christopher and Maddie enjoying their hot chocolate and cookies after our adventure on the hill.

Stephen and Braden

The whole group having our tailgate party at the end of a very tiring morning! Christopher took a three hour nap and STILL went to bed without an argument tonight! What a great day!
Happy Birthday, Aunt Connie! Thanks for inviting us to your sledding party today!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Perfect Healthy Potato Chip

Yaaaaaay! I finally have a healthy recipe that I love! I am a salty-greasy-crunchy kind of girl and would prefer a bag of chips over a batch of cookies any day! The only problem is that when you try to find the "perfect" chip out there, they are so high in calories and fat content that you can only enjoy one before you've hit your limit for the day. Either that, or you find a "healthy" one that tastes like homemade paper.

Well, my dear Aunt Heidi posted a recipe on her blog this week for some homemade potato chips that I have now made several times and I LOVE them! They satisfy my need for crunch and salt, but eliminate the grease. You can visit her blog for the tutorial of how to make them, but basically, just thinly slice a cleaned potato, toss it with a bit of oil and microwave it in a single layer on parchment paper for four minutes. Stand and watch the microwave while it cooks. Why? Because ... who knows why. You just do it! You can't help it. Then lightly salt it when it is done. Exercize a bit of patience so that they can cool off a bit, and then enjoy!

I tweaked my procedure just a bit because I wanted to see what I could do with this and was quite pleased with the results. I sliced my potato uniformly thin, put it on the parchment paper and microwaved on high for about 5 minutes (mine didn't crisp up right away for some reason). When they came out, I sprayed them with my Watkins Cooking Spray and then sprinkled Watkins Seasoning Salt on top. Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM!! For the past few days, I've had only potato chips for lunch. One red skinned home grown potato (thanks to Chris and Jenny) gave me a nice handful of chips and I figured it was about the same as having a baked potato for lunch, but with much less fat and a ton more crunch! Mmmmm mmm!

If you're a salty-greasy-crunchy person like me, try these! They're fabulous! I want to keep experimenting with some other seasonings like the Fiesta Dip Mix or maybe the Blazin' Cajun Dip Mix. They are awfully good with just plain old sea salt as well!

Try it and let me know what you think! You'll fall in love, too.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dear Little Baby

I wrote the following letter eight years ago to our first little baby. Even though many things in our lives have changed since that time, I still read this letter every year and I pray for all women who have ever had a similar experience. I am feeling convicted to post this here on my blog this year, even though it is a very personal and intimate letter that I wrote to my unborn child.

II Corinthians 1:3-5 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." I believe that God allowed us to go through this experience so that we could be comforted by God, and now we can comfort others with that same comfort that we received. If you are suffering in a difficult situation in your life, believe that God will comfort you, and most likely it is so that you are also able to comfort others with that same comfort that you receive. He makes no mistakes.

Dear Little Baby,
Today is the day that the doctor said you would be born. February 19, 2002. I watched him as he calculated the day on his little cardboard wheel, but I already knew what he would say. I was so excited when I found out that you were actually growing inside of me, that I looked at all kinds of information on the internet. I wanted to learn everything I could about you and I already knew that you would be due on February 19. That date was burned into my heart! That would be the day that I would finally meet you!

Today is the day you were to be born. We kept the knowledge of you a secret for almost three months. We wanted to be sure that everything was fine with your development before we told anyone about you. We had heard so many stories of other babies just like you who, for reasons that only God knows, weren’t able to live very long and we saw the pain in their parents’ eyes. We prayed that you would be healthy and that God would protect your little growing body so that we wouldn’t have to know that same pain. We had a little secret going – you, your dad and me. We counted the days before we could finally tell the rest of the world that you were on your way here!

Today is the day that we told your grandparents you would be born. We made cards for them telling them to look forward to February 19 because you would be here today. They were so excited! We asked them to wait one more week before they told anyone because we wanted to be sure that you were ok. We told your aunts and uncles and cousins, too, and they wanted to hear all about you. Uncle Henry was excited because his birthday is tomorrow. He was hoping that you would be born one day late so you could share his birthday. Aunt Karen and Opa were hoping you would be born on the 27th, on their birthdays. Auntie Claudia, Oma, and Uncle Bob were hoping you’d be early and come close to one of their birthdays. I didn’t really mind what day you would be born, as long as you were safe in my arms! February 19. That’s the day that I was waiting for.

Today is the day that I marked my calendar with little hearts and smiley faces. I didn’t know your name, so I couldn’t write that down, but I was going to do it as soon as I knew. We had baby name books. We looked up name lists on the Internet. We talked about what names we liked if you would be a boy or if you would be a girl. There was no rush to choose a name for you because we still had six months to get ready for the big day! We wanted to make sure that we picked the perfect name for you because you would have it for the rest of your life.

Today is the day that we were going to have everything in place for your arrival. There would be a room all of your own. There would be clothes ready to put on your beautiful little body. There would be a rocking chair ready to hold us as we held you. There would be toys given to you as gifts waiting for the day that you would be old enough to play with them. There would be car seats purchased and a crib assembled and tiny bottles of gentle bath supplies just for you. There would be bibs and bottles and blankets ready to wrap around your precious body to keep you warm. Everything would have been in place waiting for you to come today.

Today is the day that now breaks my heart. You are not coming today. You won’t be coming tomorrow either. Or ever. Today, February 19, 2002, is now permanently scarred into my heart. One week after we finally shared the special news with your grandparents, and only the day after we told some of your cousins, our dreams of the future with you came to a crumbling end. We changed our plans to leave on vacation that day, August 3, because I knew that something just wasn’t right. We prayed with all our might that God would protect you. We asked our family and our friends to pray, even though some of them didn’t even know what they were praying about. I finally cried out to God that He would pry my hands off of my hopes and dreams to see you and to hold you and to be your mommy and that He would take you from me, if He knew that He could take better care of you than I. God heard my prayer, because He chose to take you from my body before I could even see you or hold you or be your mommy. And I am grateful to Him for doing what was best for all of us.

Today is the day that I will remember you. I will remember the first hint of your conception. I will remember the days that I was so terribly sick because you were growing inside of my body. I will remember the excitement of dreaming about you and sharing the news about you with the people we love. I will remember my fears of losing you and I will remember each horrid detail of that coming to pass. But I will also remember the arms of my Father holding me as I cried for you. I will remember the overwhelming peace that He placed in my heart as He took you from my body. I will remember that His ways are higher than ours and that His love is perfect.

Today is the day that you are at Home. Not here with us, but with your Father. And I know that today you are safe and are loved by the One who is greater than any father or mother here could ever be. I will always remember today. Sometimes with overwhelming sadness, and other times with immense peace. I loved you, my child, for the short time that we lived together, and I will always remember you on February 19 because …

Today is the day that you were to be born.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

There is never a dull moment in this house! And if there is...that's when I need to worry!

You know, I've repeated Mom and Grandma's (and probably every other adult in this world) advice to the boys many, many times: Don't run with scissors in your hands! The problem is, I don't think that I've ever actually told the boys not to run with a newly sharpened pencil in their hands either.

This afternoon, Timothy was running through the kitchen to the front hall where he was going to write a note of some sort for their game. Unfortunately, he rounded the corner from the living room and his socks slipped on the floor (maybe because I had washed it for a change?!) and he came crashing down. I watched it all happen in slow motion, and then was horrified when I realized that he had been holding his newly sharpened pencil in his hand! We caught each other's eyes and I ran over to him as he started to scream. The pencil had gone right into his face! It caught him just between his cheek and his chin, a bit below his mouth. He didn't want to let me look at it for awhile, but when he finally took his hand away, I was thankful to see that it looked like just a puncture wound. The pencil tip was still on his pencil, and there was red blood coming from the tiny hole where it had stabbed him.

I convinced him to let me wipe it first with an antibacterial wipe and then put some polysporin on it to kill anything that might have gotten in there when it hit him. I can't see any pieces of the lead, so I'm praying that it is not as bad as it could have been. This was all happening moments before the little girl we babysit was to go home and a business associate of Fred's was supposed to arrive for supper.

Tonight he went to bed with some Petro Carbo ointment and a band aid on his face. He was so proud of that thing that he asked if he could wear it to school, too. The poor boy doesn't go back to school until next Tuesday, but he's bound and determined to keep that band aid (that "looks just like my own skin, Mommy") on his face until he can show his friends at school.

I don't know why I ever thought that I would enjoy being a nurse when I was younger. I can't stand things like this. I have no idea if I did the right thing, or if I should have done something more, or what I should look for tomorrow morning. My stomach churns thinking about that pencil puncturing his skin and sinking deep into the tissues in his face. Blech! That's why I'm praying hard tonight that if there is any graphite residue in that hole, that God would make sure that it squirms its way out so that I don't have to deal with it tomorrow. I'm also praying that there will be no infection and that it will heal quickly. It's ONLY a teeny tiny little hole, but I still don't like stuff like this.

I wonder what adventure tomorrow will bring ....