Tuesday 30 November 2010

How He Loves

I haven't adored a song this much in...maybe ever. If you'll pardon the cliché, it's so beautiful it hurts.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so.

Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way that...

He loves us
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

Well, I thought about You the day Steven died,
And You met me between my breaking.
I know that I still love You, God, despite the agony.
...They want to tell me You're cruel,
But if Stephen could sing, he'd say it's not true, cause...

Cause He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

Monday 29 November 2010


Mind swirling with a growing list of Things I Must Do, filling our Advent season, our Christmas celebrations, I can't sleep. I want traditions, memories, a Christ-filled season, and suddenly I realize that it has all been superficial. Have I stopped for even one moment to acknowledge His presence here, to welcome Him into our preparations and celebrations?

My heart beats, be still...be still...be still...

He is God.

Do I declare that? Does my life speak to His great mercies, His unfailing love? Does it bring Him glory?

I will, must, declare it. He is God. He is Good. He is merciful. He loves you.

Do I declare all that He has saved me from? By grace alone has He saved me. I am not good. Oh, I am not good. I daren't confess the depths of my sin but to God alone, but know that it is true. I am saved only through faith in Christ, Who has covered my sin, my shame, with His sacrifice, His love, His blood.

Do I declare all that He has done in my life? Those dark years, those low points, I don't speak of them often but why not? Why do I not declare, loudly, He carried me through that! He did. He held me and He carried me and how easy it is to forget, to want to forget, to move on, leave it all in the past. The idea of going back to that place leaves me breathless with terror, but how can I bring hope to others if I do not declare, He brought me through, I am here, alive, safe, filled with joy and peace, on the other side!

Do I declare His good and perfect gifts? His everlasting joy, His peace that passes all understanding. The gift of His Holy Spirit, indwelling - Comforter, Advocate, Guide, Spirit of Truth. The gift of His Son...and that is what this season is all about. Who it is all about.

I am backwards, all backwards, planning and preparing and determined that we will prepare for Him, celebrate Him, but first, first...I must enter in. I must bow down, acknowledge Him amidst all of my plans, quiet my busy spirit and enter in. He is already here. He has always been here. I have been so busy forcing, wrestling, trying to bring Him down into this season, am I doing enough?, will our preparations and celebrations be about Him? but no. He is already here, and I have only to walk quietly into this season and allow Him to prepare me. I cannot force this. My wrestling, my worry, has all been for naught.

He is here. He has come! And he will come again in glory!

Praise be to God!

He is here.


God is with us.

Saturday 27 November 2010

Weekend Reading

Friday 26 November 2010

One Christmas card

I shared a link to (in)courage's Christmas card drive in my Weekend Reading a couple weeks ago. The Christmas card drive ends on Monday, so with only the weekend remaining in which to create that card, I wanted to mention it again.

"I got asked the same question over and over again in a language I couldn’t understand by faces I could read as easily as those of my own two sons, 'Do you know my sponsor? Will you ask them to write to me?'

Sponsor or no sponsor, turns out what every kid really wants is a letter. A letter to tell them they are special and loved and beautiful and necessary and that they matter much, much more than their circumstances may tell them. When you’ve stood in a corrugated iron shack that houses a family of five who barely escaped a mud slide and watched them pull an envelope of letters that stretch back for years out from under the mattress pad you know you’re in the presence of something special."

For only a couple dollars and a few minutes of your time, you can encourage an unsponsored child with a Christmas card, letting them know that Jesus loves them and there are people out there praying for them.

This could be the most important and meaningful Christmas card you send this year.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Snow day

We began our day with plans to go somewhere - anywhere - but quickly changed our minds after looking out the window this morning.

It's not much snow for a northern Manitoba girl, but on the lower west coast of Canada it looks pretty much surreal. And while I'm confident in my snow-driving abilities, I'm not so confident in the same of the locals, nor did I think a mere handful of snow plows and an abundance of steep hills were a great combination for driving.

So in we stayed.

We read books in front of a warm fire, practiced some French, sang songs, and watched the snow falling thick outside. We drank hot chocolate with candy cane stir sticks. And while the boys were occupied with general mess and chaos, I finally finished the older one's months-old request: a baby carrier for his babies.

I first promised this carrier during a walk this summer, when I glanced over to discover that the boy was casually walking down the street with his "baby" (a beanbag animal of some sort) hanging out of his pants. He thought his underwear was a pretty clever baby carrier; I suggested that perhaps it wasn't the most appropriate way to carry his baby while in public. And so he asked me to sew him a baby carrier for his babies, just like I had for his baby brother.

I use a variety of carriers with my babies. With my first, I preferred the versatility and support of a good sturdy wrap. With my second, I find myself most often reaching for my mei tai, choosing speed over the wrap's extra support.  I do still love my wrap, though, especially if I'll be wearing him for long stretches of time.  The baby just had a nice nap on my back in the wrap while at a playdate last week.

Because the boy sees the mei tai used most frequently, that was the style he requested. Months of procrastination later, it is done.

He loves it. The first "baby" he grabbed to put in it was, of all things, a stuffed bat.

 Second was his most favoured "baby", a small beanbag puppy.  He wore the puppy in it all evening, only reluctantly taking it off to eat dinner.


When it was time to clean up toys after dinner, he asked if I'd put his beanbag bear in the baby carrier first.  Once his bear was snuggled in place, he said, "This is great!  Now I can clean with my bear!"

This kid's gonna make an awesome daddy someday.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Ouch

Alternately titled: When You Launch Yourself Head First Off Your Brother's Bed, Try Not to Land on a Stack of Board Books (their corners are sharper than they look!)

Tuesday 23 November 2010

You win, TSA

For years, my husband has said he will not travel to the United States.

Too dangerous, he says.

They're not that bad, I counter.

Well, I've been forced to admit that he was right. (Ow. My pride.)

It was bad enough when we suddenly couldn't cross the border without a full passport or enhanced drivers licence. But fine, whatever, we'll stay here and support our own economy. I prefer to support local business anyway. I had plans to get my passport should I ever convince my obviously over-reacting husband to fly anywhere in the States.

But now?

Passport or not, we'll stick to more local vacations or other countries. I would rather not be molested through an "enhanced pat-down" nor seen naked via an advanced imaging technology (AIT) screening just to board a plane in that country. Nor will I teach my children not to allow themselves to be touched, only to turn around and let a stranger grope them in the name of "safety".

Really? Safety? Does anyone honestly believe such security theater will keep them safe?

Is there anything that country won't allow in the name "safety"?

To "ensure your safety", the American government permits:

  • mothers to be effectively sexually assaulted
    "I stood there, an American citizen, a mom traveling with a baby with special needs formula, sexually assaulted by a government official. I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking."
  • rape survivors to be left in tears after being pat down
    "He started at one leg and then ran his hand up to my crotch. He cupped and patted my crotch with his palm. Other flyers were watching this happen to me. At that point I closed my eyes and started praying to the Goddess for strength. He also cupped and then squeezed my breasts. That wasn’t the worst part. He touched my face, he touched my hair, stroking me. That’s when I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped. There’s no way I can fly again. I can’t do it."
  • a woman to be handcuffed to a chair for asking questions
    "The TSA chose Meg McLain for special screening. They wanted her to go through the new porno-scanners. When she opted out, TSA agents raised an enormous ruckus. When she asked some question about what they planned to do to her, they flipped out. TSA agents yelled at her, handcuffed her to a chair, ripped up her ticket, called in 12 local Miami cops and finally escorted her out of the airport. Listen to her story as she told it on radio show Free Talk Live last night."
  • cancer survivors to have their prosthesis removed
    "Bossi was asked to show her prosthetic breast, sticking her hand down her own shirt and removing the prosthesis from her bra.

    A T.S.A. representative says agents aren't supposed to remove any prosthetics, but are allowed to ask to see and touch any passenger's prosthetic."
  • a bladder cancer survivor to be left covered in his own urine
    "'One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.'

    The security officer finished the pat-down, tested the gloves for any trace of explosives and then, Sawyer said, 'He told me I could go. They never apologized. They never offered to help. They acted like they hadn’t seen what happened.'
  • young children to be subject to enhanced pat-downs
    "...the boy went through a metal detector and didn't set it off but was selected for a pat down. The boy was shy so the TSA couldn't complete the full pat on the young boy. The father tried several times to just hold the boys arms out for the TSA agent but i guess it didn't end up being enough for the guy. I was about 30 ft away so i couldn't hear their conversation if there was any. The enraged father pulled his son shirt off and gave it to the TSA agent to search..."
  • a three year old girl to be patted down while screaming "don't touch me!"
    "Why was Mandy searched in the first place? She started crying when she was asked to put her teddy bear through the X-ray machine. This made it difficult for her to walk calmly through the metal detector and she set the machine off twice, which meant she must be hand-searched.
  • a heavily armed soldier to have his nail clippers confiscated
    Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I'm allowed to take it on.
  • the TSA to deliberately make the enhanced pat-downs humiliating and intrusive in order to coerce passengers to use the ATI scanners, effectively punishing those who opt-out of the scanners
    "I asked him if he was looking forward to conducting the full-on pat-downs. 'Nobody's going to do it,' he said, 'once they find out that we're going to do...We're trying to get everyone into the machine.'"
  • the TSA to detain those who refuse to undergo screening
    "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport.

    That person will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines up to $11,000 and possible arrest."
  • the TSA to lie about what the images look like and whether these images can be saved or transmitted

...all for the illusion of safety.

Many are concerned about the exposure to radiation. I appreciated this quote from a physics professor:

Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, did his own calculations and found the exposure to be about one-fiftieth to one-hundredth the amount of a standard chest X-ray. He calculated the risk of getting cancer from a single scan at about 1 in 30 million, "which puts it somewhat less than being killed by being struck by lightning in any one year," he told me.

While the risk of getting a fatal cancer from the screening is minuscule, it's about equal to the probability that an airplane will get blown up by a terrorist, he added. "So my view is there is not a case to be made for deploying them to prevent such a low probability event."

Airports have other options, including opting out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners. Not everyone is willing to stand for this. Many travelers are choosing to "opt out" of ATI scans tomorrow, designated National Opt Out Day. Asserting that the new policies are unconstitutional, a man was able to avoid both the AIT scanning and the enhanced pat-down when returning the the US this weekend.

But then, of course, there's always the chance the TSA will threaten you with a civil suit and a $10,000 fine if you attempt to leave the airport rather than submit to either procedure, as they did to John Tyner.

I enjoyed this summary of the issue:
"The ultimate idiocy is the full-body screening of the pilot. The pilot doesn't need a bomb or box cutter to bring down a plane. All he has to do is drive it into the water, like the EgyptAir pilot who crashed his plane off Nantucket while intoning "I rely on God," killing all on board.

But we must not bring that up. We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety - 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling - when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches."

America, land of the...free?

I'll stay right here in Canada, thanks.

Monday 22 November 2010

Simple joys

Our weekend was filled with those lovely simple joys that make the everyday extraordinary.

Snow - here! - demanded a slow and peaceful walk through our favourite forest trail. The trail was beautiful and the weather was perfect. Not so cold that we were uncomfortable, but cool and crisp enough that we arrived back home with pink cheeks, eager to warm up with a mug of hot chocolate and a bowl of butternut squash soup.

I've never liked winter, especially growing up somewhere where "winter" meant feet of snow and temperatures as low as fifty below zero (Celsius). Here, though...here, I could get used to winter, I think.

I've finally learned to love fall, with its delicious spiciness, its warm pumpkin treats, its beautiful colours. I hold hard to summer, hating to let it slip away, but letting go means I can embrace all of this autumn glory.

Winter is more of a challenge. My hope is that this will be the year I discover the joy in it. Warm drinks, cozy blankets, hot fires, the joy of the holiday season - there's no shortness of things to love about this time of year. So why is it so hard?

Perhaps more days like yesterday, lovely long walks followed by nice hot drinks, will give me a nudge in the right direction.

Speaking of hot drinks, we ended our date on Saturday with a delicious peppermint mocha for me and hot chocolate for him. I can't even remember the last time we went on a date, just the two of us. I think it was shortly before this little bundle of now-eleven-month-old joy was born. It was time, and I'm glad we went. We took in a movie, sipped our hot drinks while walking through a bookstore, and came home to two perfectly content little boys and one much-appreciated babysitter.

Oh, and we got to talk - uninterrupted! And talk we did. Parenting, politics, religion, entertainment, the works, with no crying baby or three year old I-just-want-to-be-included-in-the-conversation interjections. We put the kiddos to bed and continued to talk late into the evening.

It was perfect.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Friday 19 November 2010


My baby is eleven months old today. Just one more month until his first birthday.

Where did this past year go? So much has happened. The birth, the holidays, the move, the settling in. It doesn't feel like eleven months have gone by since that whirlwind time in our lives.

And this baby boy of mine! Oh my. All of the sudden, almost overnight, he's hardly a baby at all. Instead he is standing right on the verge of toddlerhood, just waiting to take that first uncertain step over the threshold.

He's a cuddly little sweetheart (with his mama, anyway). He plays peek-a-boo, hiding his eyes behind his fists and ducking his head while grinning. He loves to imitate silly sounds, like blowing raspberries, patting his mouth as he says "ahhhh", or making car noises. He can say "hi" and "bye" while waving, and this sweet little boy says "mama" and "dada" too. It makes me melt every time.

Oh boy, is this one a climber! Fast, too. I think we'll have an interesting time as he gets bigger and more physically able. The general consensus from those who know him is that he won't so much start walking as go straight to running - mostly to chase after his older brother, I'm sure.

I just love this age as their personalities start to shine through. It is so fascinating to watch as they develop self-awareness, becoming their own little person with preferences and desires. And isn't that the whole purpose of parenting, to guide these little ones as they discover who they are, who God created them to be? Loving not an image of who we want them to be, but rather loving the reality of the unique person they are.

I am so blessed to know this little sweetheart, and so privileged to be charged with guiding him towards maturity.

I love you, darling.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Holiday music

With Christmas approaching, I am already (much to my husband's chagrin) pulling out the Christmas music, my favourite part of the holiday.

I really need some recommendations, though! I only have a small number of Christmas CDs, and only a couple that I really enjoy. I have the hardest time finding good Christmas albums.

I cannot stand when artists take traditional Christmas songs, change the rhythm a bit, and think they've somehow improved it. You haven't. You've wrecked it. Thanks a lot.

Nor do I like Christmas albums where the traditional tunes are left alone, but sung about three octaves higher than the average person would sing. It grates after about, oh, five minutes.

I have these exact same problems with finding hymn compilations that I like. Leave the rhythm alone, come down a few octaves, and just sing the hymns! They are beautiful as they are.

So - help! Do you have a favourite Christmas album (preference on avoiding Santa-related tunes)? What about hymns - any favourite albums there?

As for my favourites? Dawn of Grace by Sixpence None the Richer and Christmas by Alabama are two that I have listened to over and over and over again. Both of them are beautiful Christmas albums.

Now I'd just like a bit more variety!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Brothers

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Conversations with a three year old

We still get the what's, where's, and why's, but now the questions are more complicated, the conversations more complex.

Nothing forces you to look deeper at your faith and your beliefs than having a three year old press you for answers to his many difficult questions. How to explain the abstract to a child who thinks only in concrete terms? How to know what to say when - too much? not enough? How can I know? The finer points of my beliefs have been deeply refined in the process as I have had to put them into terms a three year old could perhaps begin to understand, an unexpected blessing in the midst of such an important yet difficult time of questioning.

In typical three-year-old style, he processes things over weeks, even months. There are recurring themes to our conversations. Sometimes he will leave a subject alone for a few weeks, but when he brings it up again it's clear he's done a lot of thinking about it in the meantime. Death is one such current theme. Why do people die? When? Do cars die? What happens? Round and round we go, trying to be both matter-of-fact and sensitive, seeking to avoid pat answers or fallacies on the one hand and anxiety on the other.

He's still very possessive of his baby "bruzzer". The baby belongs to him. Recently, in a less-than-stellar parenting moment, I scooped the crying baby up and grumpily asked him what was wrong. As I walked away, the boy followed me, arms crossed, giving the occasional huff or growl. I asked him what was wrong with him now, and he told me, "you were being MAD to my bruzzer!" Can't stay annoyed with either of them after being told off like that! I hope he always stands up for his brother that way.

"Why does Daddy love Luke?"
"Daddy loves Luke because Luke is his son, his baby, and he thinks Luke is wonderful and special and he loves him very much."
"Luke is not Daddy's. Luke is Mommy's."
"Luke is Mommy's and Daddy's."
"No, Luke is mine!"
"Oh, he's yours, is he? Well then, you can get up to take care of him when he wakes up in the middle of the night, and I will keep sleeping."
"No, you get up and feed Luke when he wakes up, and I will 'nuggle him while he sleeps".
"Oh, alright."

* * * * *

"I'm gonna eat him up! Num num num num num!"
"Nooooooooooo! Don't eat my bruzzer!!!!!!!"

I so love learning more about the way he views things. Sometimes his perceptions are surprisingly wise. Of course, there is plenty of room for more light-hearted moments:

“What are we having for supper tonight?”
“We’re having pork fried rice.”
“Ahh, I don’t like that stuff, no that’s yucky.”
“Okay. What about rice with meat in it. Would that be good?”
“Yeah, that would be good, rice with meat in it, let’s have that.”
“Okay, we’ll have that instead.”

Lately, he's very big on apologizing for things. I see myself in him this way, as I've always been one to apologize too much - I'm sorry for the inconvenience, I'm sorry I didn't do it perfectly, I'm sorry you're upset. I'm only learning now, slowly, to let go of some of that misplaced responsibility. It's a fine line between being aware of how my actions affect others and not taking responsibility for their feelings and reactions. It's an even more difficult balance to pass on to a concrete child, not forcing them to accept responsibility for the feelings of everyone around them, and yet desiring them to be compassionate and empathetic individuals at the same time.

“Oof, you’re heavy!”
“I’m sorry I’m heavy. I used to be smaller...”

His two most common queries lately are "tell me about when I was born" and "tell me what are we going to do tomorrow?" I do so enjoy cuddling with him and telling him about the events leading up to his birth, the excitement, the anticipation, the joy. After he hears about his birth, he asks me to tell him again about the night his brother was born. He'll then ask for the story of anyone else that comes to mind, but those are the only two stories I have to tell. One evening I had him phone his Oma so she could tell him about his daddy's birth, and hopefully he will soon have the opportunity to do the same with his Grandma.

Asking about our plans for the following day is his favourite bedtime stalling bonding topic. I curl up in his toddler-sized bed and tell him what we'll be doing. Sometimes we have no particular plans in place, so he'll tell me his own plans instead.

"Tell me about what are we going to do tomorrow!"
"Actually, I have no plans tomorrow at all! What would you like to do?"
"My plan is to go to the play place."
"That sounds like a good plan to me."
"Yeah, and we can get bananas while we're there." (The play place and the produce market are at the same mall, so lately when he wants to go to the play place, he tells me we need bananas. Love the way that kid thinks!)
"Sure, sounds great."
"And I will just play for a short time, a short short time. Just two minutes. Just two."
"Well, we don't have anything else to do, I think we can play for longer than two minutes."
"No. Two minutes is good. Okay? Just two."

Sometimes his questions are hard to answer. Sometimes his observations are thought-provoking. Sometimes his perceptions are unique. He is sometimes sweet, sometimes stubborn.

And sometimes he simply leaves us roaring in laughter.

Daddy: "Dear God, thank you for this food and please bless it to our bodies. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Mommy: "Amen."
The boy: *BELCH* "Amen."

Monday 15 November 2010

Meal Planning

Ah, Monday. My quiet day, my thoughtful day, my day of preparation for the week ahead.

I start the morning with a slow wander through Scripture, usually a chapter from Proverbs and a few chapters from whichever Book I am reading at the time (John, currently). I would love for this to be a daily habit, but my flesh is weak, my nature distracted, even though I know that the mornings that start off this way always lead to the calmest days. Today, though, whatever the rest of the week holds, this day at least will begin as it should.

Sometime around noon, I sit down with two pads of paper: my weekly tear-away calendar where I write down our appointments and meal plans, and my grocery list, already started and ready to round out with anything we need for the week's meals.

After reviewing our plans for the week and browsing the kitchen to see what we have on hand, I start allocating meals.

Where to begin

Busy nights call for easy meals - spaghetti, usually, using spaghetti sauce from my perpetual supply in our freezer (replenished whenever I happen to have spare ground beef and a few extra minutes), or a chicken pot pie if I have some frozen spare filling from the last time I made a batch.

Evenings where plans are uncertain are typically assigned fish, as I can defrost, prepare, bake, and have it on the table in less than hour. If it turns out we won't be eating at home that night, no harm done, the fish just stays in the freezer.

If it's only the timing of the meal that is up in the air, I often pull out my crock pot, knowing that I can have a delicious stew or chili waiting for us whenever we're ready to eat.

Wide open days are opportunities for either high-prep meals or new recipes that I want to try. Ribs, tacos with homemade shells, or a vegetarian stew over cous cous are popular picks for those days, along with a scan of my bookmarks to see what new recipes I've come across recently.

A typical day gets a typical recipe. Burgers (salmon or beef), stir fry, baked chicken, or apple pork chops along with a side dish are some typical dishes here.

Leftovers are also taken into account in the weekly meal plan. If I'm roasting a whole chicken, for example, I will turn the leftovers into chicken pot pie filling the following day. A chicken pot pie lasts us two meals, and I usually get enough filling for three pies. I make one pie and divide the remainder of the filling into freezer bags for another week.

Recipe organization

To keep from getting in a rut, I have all of my tried-and-true recipes organized in Microsoft OneNote. I keep the file open in front of me as I make my weekly meal plan. I ignored OneNote for the longest time, never imagining I would love it the way I do now. It is ridiculously easy to use, lets me keep everything in one place, and satisfies my obsessive need to organize things to the nth degree. Whenever I try a new recipe and find it good enough to make again, I add it to my OneNote recipe file.

My OneNote is set up with a "Recipes" notebook and a "Personal" notebook. Each notebook is further divided into sections (Recipes: beef, pork, chicken, desserts, etc), and each section is then divided into pages (Beef: beef stew, shepherd's pie, pot roast, etc). For example, here is my Recipe notebook opened to the Chicken section (with a bonus chicken pot pie recipe if you can read the small print!):

Meal planning benefits

Meal planning has made such a big difference in our grocery spending. I am able to buy everything I needed for the week, which means less impulse buys when running out for "just one thing". There is also less waste, as I am only buying things that I will be using for a particular meal. Grocery shopping is immeasurably easier now that I'm not eyeballing the groceries in the cart and mentally putting them together into meals, hoping they'll fit into whatever the upcoming days have in store for us.

Breakfast and lunch

I only plan for dinners each week. I keep a list of balanced breakfast and lunch ideas on our fridge to keep these meals simple. When we run out of a staple, like cheese, pitas, or tortillas, I just add it to the grocery list hanging on the fridge.

  • yogurt with berries

  • bagel and fruit or applesauce

  • oatmeal with berries

  • apple slices with cheese or peanut butter

  • cereal or granola

  • pancakes or waffles

  • bagel with avocado and cucumbers

  • pita with hummus

  • veggies with hummus

  • quesadilla with guacamole

  • soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

  • fruit salad

  • green smoothie

  • eggs

Just look at that deliciously bright quesadilla, waiting to be topped with cheese!

Often we'll have either a "stick lunch" or a "cube lunch" (the boy's terms), which is basically just a bunch of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and pitas sliced into sticks or cubes, with hummus for dipping.

What does a typical breakfast or lunch look like for you?

An alternative method

One method of meal planning that I don't currently use but could make things less overwhelming if you're just starting to meal plan is to assign a particular "type" of food to each day. For example, Monday is chicken, Tuesday is beef, Wednesday is fish, Thursday is vegetarian, and so on. Or Monday is Mexican, Tuesday is Asian, Wednesday is pasta, and so on. Then each week it's just a matter of assigning something from each day's category and making sure all of the ingredients are either on hand or on the grocery list.

On the menu

As I sat down to make my meal plan this week, I started with a scan of the fridge (any leftovers or wilting food to take into account?) and a review of our week. Monday is typically grocery shopping day, so I keep those meals pretty basic. My father-in-law is visiting on Wednesday, so I needed something that met his dietary requirements and would make enough for all of us. Thursday will be a busy day with a playdate plus the baby we take care of part time, so I wanted something low-prep. On Saturday we will be going on our first date in about a year (!!!), so I needed something easy for the babysitter. With those plans in mind, this is our dinner menu for the week:

  • Monday: tacos

  • Tuesday: spaghetti (using leftover ground beef from tacos)

  • Wednesday: maple salmon with rice and carrots

  • Thursday: chicken pot pie

  • Friday: leftover chicken pot pie

  • Saturday: pizza

  • Sunday: citrus glazed chicken with rice and broccoli

For more meal plans, check out Meal Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Happy meal planning!

Friday 12 November 2010

The Hows of Discipline

It has been a long time since I posted my thoughts on punishment and praise. I have been meaning, for at least as long, to also post an entry on the more practical aspect - the hows.

It is a question I often receive in response to the idea of not using behaviour modification: "All of those whys are great, and I agree with them, but what about the practicalities, the specifics, the hows??" I get that. I really do. It's all well and good to delve into the myriad of reasons for avoiding punishment and praise...but then what? What can be done instead?

There is no easy answer to that. Each child, each parent, each family, each situation - they're all different. There is no formula, no prescription, no step-by-step manual, no guarantees. That is where so many of the big parenting "experts" fail - "if you just follow our method, and only our method, we guarantee you'll end up with well-behaved children."

Now, that assumes that "well-behaved" is the be all and end all of successful parenting...but I'll try to stay on track. We're dealing with the "hows" today.

I can only share tools that we have found useful in our family. They may not work for you. You may have tools that you have found particularly effective - please share them in the comments! The more tools we have, the better we can parent in a positive, proactive, and connective manner. The less we have, the more we find ourselves merely reacting to the situations our children inevitably throw our way.

First, the whole mindset for many of us needs to be completely shifted. Many, many times I hear parents looking for alternatives to punishment. "Well, if I can't punish, what can I do to deter her from doing that again?" "If the natural or logical consequence isn't unpleasant enough, how is it going to discourage that behaviour from recurring?"

We're not looking for punishment "replacements". We're not looking for consequences to teach them not to do that again. We're turning the whole thing around. We are teaching, guiding, discipling. It's hard to step out of that behaviour modification mindset. It is so ingrained in our society. Punish wrongdoing, praise good deeds, and behaviours will be appropriately modified as a result - that sort of external focus is what we want to leave behind. Instead, we want to teach our children. Not "teach them a lesson" - but actually teach them what to do.

Second, this way isn't easier. It doesn't provide any easy answers, either. It is easy to use external motivation to direct a child's external actions. We're looking deeper here. We're looking for heart-level connection, for internal motivation, for true obedience above outward compliance. It will involve patience, active parenting, and proactive measures. And it will require as its source a strong parent-child relationship based on mutual love, trust, and respect.

With those two things in mind, let's move on to the hows. These are some tools that have been working for us - not an exhaustive list by any means, but a reasonably good covering of the main ones.

Connect with your Child

None of this can be accomplished without the foundation of a strong, mutually-trusting relationship between parent and child. This relationship begins to develop from birth, as the mother responds to her child's cries and nurtures the bond between them.

Some of the things we do to strengthen that connection right from birth include gentle birth choices, nursing on demand, babywearing, and co-sleeping. As they get older, we connect through one-on-one times, special "just the two of us" outings, lots of reading, a constant flow of conversation, and physical touch (snuggles, hugs, wrestling, and games of chase). Physical touch remains important throughout the years - even a simple hand on a teen's shoulder can reinforce the parent-child connection. Talking, too, remains a priority, and listening even more so. Finally, we also work to avoid those things which would undermine our connection and relationship with our children - things like physical or punitive discipline, power struggles, and shaming. I'd love for you to share some of your methods of connection, too.

With that relationship securely in place, the child will look to the parent for cues on appropriate behaviour. The parent can model this behaviour from the beginning. Model "please", "thank you", and other such manners. Model non-violent conflict resolution. Model healthy boundaries. Model good decision making in all areas of life (time resolution, nutrition, etc), and narrate that process out loud for the child to overhear.

Be Engaged and Consistent

You can't parent from the couch (or the computer chair). Responding appropriately to a situation will often require that I get up and actively intervene. This is particularly important with young children. They need to know that my words mean something. What I say is not optional.

To make this happen, there are three things to keep in mind:
  • Stay calm. You are the adult. You are in control of your feelings and reactions. Do not give that power to your children by allowing their behaviour to influence your own feelings.
  • Speak at a normal volume. Yelling suggests to children that they don't need to pay attention to your words unless and until you yell.
  • Give the instruction once, repeat it with an offer of help, and then get up to help the child follow through if they haven't already. A long string of warnings, threats, badgerings, and pleadings tells a child that they don't need to listen to you the first time. Don't say something if you are unable or unprepared to back it up with action.
Consistency is key. Words must be consistently followed up with action.

Now, that isn't to say that I expect my children to jump the second I say so. Sometimes a child is in the middle of something and will request a few moments to finish up before putting it away. It is not permissive to respect that request when possible. This is where I find five minute warnings to be useful in helping a child prepare for an upcoming transition. If it is time to leave a fun activity, the opportunity to say good-bye provides a feeling of closure.

But the overall idea is one of consistently ensuring that my words are taken seriously. One calm instruction followed by one repeat with an offer of help followed by getting up to assist the child in carrying the instruction out. This is particularly important with very young children, as it will prevent the need for such "hands on" parenting when they are older. Once they know I mean what I say, they know.

(You can read more about this concept at Get Off Your Butt Parenting.)

Be Proactive

After consistency, prevention is the biggest thing I can do to ensure my child is able to function at his best. Adequate nutrition and sleep help to set a child up for success throughout the day. The extremes of boredom on one end and over-stimulation on the other are avoided whenever possible. Our ideal is to provide access to a wide variety of activities coupled with as much outdoor time as possible, while avoiding the trap of cramming too many structured activities, events, or errands into one day.

Along those lines, it is important to look to the root of the problem when difficulties arise. Is he hungry? Tired? Lonely? I will solve those issues first (snack, rest, focused attention), and discuss the behaviour itself at a later time when we're both feeling calm. Those calm times are ideal moments to equip our children with the tools they need to handle those feelings in more tumultuous times.

Be Silly

Playful parenting is a great way to coax a resistant child into cooperation. It often breaks the tension and allows the parent to reconnect with the child. It keeps the environment fun, light-hearted and silly. Play can be used to help a child work through their feelings. It can also be a great stress reliever and a reminder not to take things too seriously.

I recall a time, for example, when my frustrated toddler huffed at me. I could have lectured him about manners. I could have sent him to his room to rest until he was feeling more cheerful. If I believed in using violence in parenting, I could have spanked his bottom. Or...I could have huffed back at him. So I did. And he huffed back at me. And I huffed back at him. Soon we were huffing back and forth through a fit of giggles, and both of us were able to cheerfully carry on with our day.

A three week visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house resulted in another perfect example of playful parenting. As was to be expected, the boy was getting a bit grumpy by the end of the visit - a different environment, a different routine, different food, lots of people, and so on. I was sitting at the table with him one evening trying to hold on to my last shred of patience as I dealt with him heading towards a meltdown. Noticing this, his grandpa stepped in to help.

"Do I have to bring out my grumpy monster? This is my grumpy monster (holds up his hand) and he eats grumpies! Yum yum yum yum yum!"

The boy dissolved into a fit of giggles as his grandpa used his "grumpy monster" to eat/tickle him. It was a wonderful example of my dad using playful (grand)parenting to circumvent what would almost surely have been a complete meltdown in another minute or two.

Avoid Power Struggles

There are situations that warrant explanation and situations where brevity is in everyone's best interest. As always, it is important to know your child. Typically, I will give my child a brief reason for my requests. This allows a child to develop an understanding of why he should make that decision, rather than an unhelpful "because I said so". My goal is to teach my child how to think, not merely what to think.

However, there are many times when engaging with a child will unnecessarily escalate the situation, times when he is simply tired, grumpy, and not at all in a place to accept any explanation. At those times, my responses will be very brief and matter-of-fact. There's no need to dwell on the situation or attempt to convince the child through long explanations. I will not engage in a back and forth yes!-no!-yes!-no! power struggle with a child, nor will I enforce my instructions with yelling or hitting. Doing so will only undermine my authority as a parent. Remaining calm and to-the-point, I will simply answer and move on. "No, you may not keep your light on. Here is your nightlight. Which CD do you want to listen to?"

Redirection comes into play here as well, particularly with older babies and toddlers. "You may not play with that. Here is this for you to play with." I do not dwell or engage, I simply state my instruction and move on, redirecting the child to an appropriate activity.

When the situation warrants it, I will reflect my child's feelings back to him and, if needed, offer help in expressing those feelings in a healthy, appropriate, and acceptable manner.

Seek Solutions

Sometimes wrongdoings will be done. When that happens, we look for solutions, not punishments. Children grow in maturity and responsibility when they are given the opportunity to fix their mistakes. Punishment actually takes this opportunity away from them.

How this plays out in our home varies depending on the situation. It typically involves making restitution to the wronged party. I will assist him in brainstorming what this restitution may look like, but the bulk of the responsibility (and, of course, increasingly so as he gets older) rests on his shoulders. "You hurt the baby. What can you do to help him feel better?"

There must also be an acceptance of the fact that children are by their very nature not yet mature. They will require repetition in order to form healthy habits. "Try again" is a very common phrase in our home, as a reminder that what they just said was unacceptable and an opportunity for them to restate things in a more appropriate manner.


Because dangerous situations are often singled out as the situation in which punitive measures are justified or warranted, I wanted to touch on this area separately.

I do not want to spank my child for running into traffic, only to later have him run in the opposite direction from my call, fearing another spank. It is my responsibility to keep my child safe, not his.

I have found that a sharp surprised tone conveys enough "this is absolutely serious" that my child will at least hesitate, allowing me to intervene. I reserve that tone only for situations in which safety is a concern - ovens, fire, traffic, and the like. I do not believe that violence towards children is ever warranted or acceptable.

Final Thoughts

Discipline is the continuous process of coming alongside the child to teach and guide them into maturity. The idea always is to teach, not punish. This cannot happen in the absence of a healthy, attached relationship between parent and child. With that relationship in place and moments of reconnection continually sought out, we must then be engaged, consistent, and proactive in our parenting. When an issue arises, discipline will show the child what they have done wrong, give them ownership of the problem, give them options for solving the problem, and make use of natural or logical consequences rather than punishment.

Some days we may allow life to get the better of us, snapping at our children or scolding them unnecessarily. This is where it is important that they see humility modeled for them as we come to them and admit we were wrong, sincerely apologize, and ask their forgiveness.

Above all, we must recognise and honour the unique nature of each child, guiding them towards maturity with love and grace.

Additional Resources:
Gentle Discipline for Babies
Gentle Discipline for Toddlers
Attachment Parenting Series

What has been working for you? What situations are you struggling with at the moment? Let's brainstorm positive solutions together!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Tuesday 9 November 2010

The days are long

The baby beside me cries, protesting another nap.

Head throbs. Eyes fill. Patience falters.

Why are they so needy? I feel like I have nothing left to give today. It's never enough. I've read endless stories. I've built playdough cars. I've cooked and fed and cleaned. I've changed diapers, wiped bottoms. I've nursed and nursed and nursed.

Soon their father will be home, hungry, wanting supper before heading to work for the evening, leaving me alone again to care and clean and put them to bed. Then more cleaning, and then surely one of them will wake, needing my comfort, and perhaps when they are once again asleep I will finally finally finally have a moment to sit down and just be still.

Be still.

The baby stops crying, considers sleep. The door opens and I cringe, try to silently shoo the lonely boy out, mouthing I'll be right there.

But no, "I have something for you, Mommy." He holds it towards me and how can I refuse? I nod him in. He rushes over and hands me the gift, a blue pipecleaner he's made into a flower for me, his mama, the one who has today snapped at him more times than she wants to admit. No! Hurry! Faster! Stop! My precious boy, I'm so sorry.

I smile my thanks and assure him again that I will be there soon, there to meet more needs, to give more of myself.

The phone rings and I know he'll bring it to me, he always does, and sure enough the ringing soon fills the room and the baby cries again and I've missed the call anyway and my head pounds harder.

I think of all the times I've dreamed of going to another country to cuddle and care for lonely babies, babies who have no mother and father. But the cries nudge me, you have babies here, and they too need my love and touch and care. I am doing the Father's work. I am caring for these children, these ones here in my home, these ones I have been given, these two boys of mine and the sweet third who joins us during our long days.

I recall what older, wiser mothers have told me: The days are long, but the years are short. I know I will see the truth in it one day, looking back. Some days are just like this. Tonight we'll snuggle, pick out the best moments of the day and offer them up to God as thanks.

And tomorrow we'll try again.

Monday 8 November 2010

Capitalizing on breastfeeding moms

Similac has a new kid on the block here in Canada: Similac Mom, a nutritional beverage for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

What a brilliant marketing scheme.

Brand Loyalty

Hook 'em early. Prey on a pregnant mother's fears, convince her that she needs your product to ensure both she and the growing child in her womb are receiving all the nutrition they need. And when that child is born? Well, do they have the formula for you! You cannot be trusted. Your body cannot be trusted. You need their products.

I found this quote for the Singapore equivalent to be rather telling:
"During my second pregnancy, I started drinking Similac Mum, the new maternal supplement by the maker of Similac Follow-On. It gave me the nutrients required for my baby's overall development during pregnancy and breastfeeding. What's more, it is low in fat, helping me to get back in shape faster.

When the time is right, I will surely give my new baby Similac Follow-On. So that he can be strong and healthy, like his big brother. Clearly, there is a special bond between me, my babies and Similac."

Expanded Target Market

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If you can't get the babies, go after the moms instead. They'll get your money one way or another. Can't convince a mother that she needs infant formula? Fine. After all, "breast is best", blah blah blah. But you must make sure that you are getting all the nutrition you need while you're breastfeeding, for your sake and the sake of your breastfed child. Enter Similac Mom, for all your complete-nutrition-while-breastfeeding needs! (Oh yes, and when you're done with that cute little breastfeeding stuff, we're right here with your baby and toddler formulas.)

But What's in It?

Their ingredient list isn't quite so reassuring:
Water, sugar (sucrose), sodium and calcium caseinate, corn maltodextrin, high oleic safflower oil, canola oil, soy protein isolate, corn oil, potassium citrate, sodium citrate, calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, natural and artificial flavour, magnesium chloride, salt (sodium chloride), soy lecithin, potassium phosphate, carrageenan, ascorbic acid, zinc sulphate, ferrous sulphate, niacinamide, dl-α-tocopheryl acetate, manganese sulphate, cupric sulphate, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A palmitate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine chloride hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid, potassium iodide, sodium molybdate, biotin, sodium selenate, chromium chloride, vitamin D3, cyanocobalamin.

With sugar second only to water, and all fats received in the form of oils (safflower, canola, and corn), any pregnant or nursing mother would do far better with a simple multivitamin in addition to daily meals. The one thing this supplement is lacking? Food.

This new product is being pushed towards women for whom a balanced diet may not be easy - pregnant women battling morning sickness and new mothers who are tired, busy and looking for convenience. In regards to the former, a prenatal vitamin in addition to whatever food you can manage to keep down will be more than enough to care for you and your unborn child. If you can't keep anything down, why would Similac's product be any different? As for the latter, a reasonably balanced diet can be achieved from real foods without a lot of time or effort, despite what Similac would like you to think. Nuts, cheese, apples, bananas, trail mix, and more can all be grabbed quickly and effortlessly to give you the nutrition you need during those early sleep-deprived and busy days.

Questionable Tactics

This is not Similac's first use of questionable tactics when it comes to dealing with breastfeeding mothers. Then again, perhaps Similac can't be faulted for looking out for their bottom line through the development of brand loyalty and expanded target markets. It is, after all, basic marketing. The savvy consumer, however, should be aware of these goals and make their purchasing decisions with them in mind. Similac is playing on our fears (adequate nutrition) and our weaknesses (convenience). Pretending that they have our best interests at heart is simply insulting.

Conscious Choices

Many mothers choose to breastfeed their infants out of a sincere desire to give their children the best they can. If formula is not an adequate substitute for your baby, why is an adult formula an acceptable alternative for you?

Other mothers are unable to breastfeed, and for them formula is a lifesaving alternative for their children. Others choose to use formula for their child for any number of reasons. I am not judging a mother's choice. Not being in her shoes, not knowing what journey she is on or what led her to where she is now, I will support her decision to feed her child in the manner she believes to be best for the two of them.

What I will not support is a corporation's attempts to convince pregnant and breastfeeding mothers that "complete nutrition" comes packaged in a convenient bottle. It undermines trust in one's body and the consumption of real food before the baby is even born. It makes the leap to formula use that one step easier, one step more normative - which is precisely what they're hoping for.

Regardless of our choices, we must remain conscious of our purchasing power. Eat real foods. Get to know your local farmer and support him or her rather than giving your money to a faceless formula company. And if you choose to purchase Similac Mom, do so because it truly was your choice and not because they told you you needed to.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Mister Independent

I walked into the kitchen yesterday morning to find that the boy was already contentedly eating his breakfast.

He had got the cereal down from the top of the fridge, poured it into a bowl, poured milk on it, put the milk away, and sat down with a spoon to eat. I was impressed!

(We'll ignore the fact that the bowl and spoon were dirty dishes that had been on the table from the previous night's bedtime snack of applesauce. He is, after all, only three.)

This boy is growing up too fast.

Saturday 6 November 2010

The Saturday Evening Blog Post

Elizabeth Esther collects the "best of" posts on the first Saturday of every month, an opportunity for bloggers to gather and share their favourite post from the previous month. I've submitted Teaching Myself my own Lessons, and it looks like there's quite a few other interesting posts to check out.

Elizabeth is one of my newest favourite blogs to read. Snarky, sweet and fun all at the same time, she blogs about (amongst other things) growing up in an abusive fundamentalist church and her subsequent return to Jesus and conversion to Catholicism. I appreciate the way her straight-forward words are tempered with a light-hearted kindness. If you're checking out the SEBP, take some time to browse through her blog as well.

Good night, all!

Word Pictures

I've been forgetting my camera more often than not lately.

Although there is always the expected twinge of disappointment when I first realize I've left it at home once again, I can't deny the feeling of being more fully present and engaged when I'm not constantly watching for that perfect photo to capture the moment.

And yet I don't want to forget those moments either...

So many trips to the park, where the boy's first request is always to be pushed on the tire swing, higher, faster! Pure joy as he swings and spins through the air. The baby's grins and giggles as he swings in the baby swing. The boy sharing his cars with the other kids in the sandbox, each of them trading back and forth, working out their disagreements amongst themselves. The baby alternating between crawling around and chomping on grass and sticks...

Apple picking with our other young home schooling friends, fall jackets and rosy cheeks that match the deliciously sweet apples. Watching him pull on an apple, nearly falling over when it finally lets go. Pockets full of small treasures, leaves and tiny berries found amongst the apple trees. Running down the rows, tripping and laughing with that full-out enthusiasm that we somehow seem to lose as we grow older...

Picnics celebrating another year together, "not back to school", home learners gathering to enjoy days with our children and each other. Climbing trees, getting braver, trying to follow the older kids but just not quite ready. Hushed children gathered around a field mouse, watching him eat. The wide open ocean, the shore blanketed in sea shells. Walking in the tide pools, deeper and deeper until the water pours over the top of rubber boots, filling them, the squelching sound accompanying us as we say goodbye...

Curious faces pressed against the glass at the museum, questions pouring forth...

My boys with their Grandma and Great-Grandma, a rare visit with family far away. My mother's grin as she talks with her first grandson, holds her second one, me silently asking myself why I had been so anxious, so worried. Forgive me, Lord, my unjust judgement. Pent up energy bursting forth on the ferry back home, little boy running wild circles on the deck, wind nearly blowing him over...

Thanksgiving with their Oma, Opa, and aunties. Puppies chasing and nipping at boot-covered heals. A bonfire followed by a bath to wash the marshmallow out of a certain boy's blonde hair. His Opa pushing him on the swing, both of them gloriously happy and content in that moment. Endless books read on their Oma's lap...

Old friends reunited, walking ahead, hand-in-hand, stopping to fill pockets with red leaves and yellow flowers. Oh, to see excitement and beauty in everything, as they do...

Sweaty red faces, deliriously happy, racing around a gym packed full of all the best toys - balls, ride-on cars, trucks, trampolines, swings, ropes, mats, crawl tunnels, play houses, slides, toys, teeter-totters, and more. Preschoolers alternating between fits of selfishness and of generosity, claiming toys, giving them up, sharing, collaborating - always, always, growing and learning. The baby taking tentative steps towards independence, crawling away to explore, back for reassurance, then away again...

Slow walks through the forest, stopping to inspect slugs, choosing the best rocks to fill pockets with. Listening, watching, observing. Picking the last of the blackberries as we pass by. Leaving the trail to pick our way over tree roots, finding new paths and forging some of our own...

I pray these are the moments they carry with them into adulthood. I know I will cherish them always.

Friday 5 November 2010

More fun than a barrel of monkeys

Thank you to the very nice couple who posted their sandbox for sale on Craigslist. I can hear my boys laughing and squealing happily as they play in it together in the garage.

It will be lovely as the rain comes this winter for them to have a dry place to play. Their usual patch of dirt in the garden will soon be rather muddy and cold. And what fun would a whole winter be with no place to dig and drive and bury and build? No fun at all, that's what.

Sure, they'll be dirty as all get-out by the time they're ready to come in, but that's what the bathtub is for, right?

Other recent Craigslist finds include a vintage Fisher Price circus train and vintage Fisher Price main street, both with their relevant accessories (people, animals, vehicles). Those have been quietly tucked away for Christmas!

We had such a fun day today. We discovered a community drop-in activity for children in a nearby gymnasium. The gym was filled with balls, ride-on toys, trampolines, swings, ropes, mats, crawl tunnels, play houses, slides, toys, and teeter-totters. Wore my boys out! They both fell asleep in the car on the way home, so I enjoyed a lovely quiet hour sitting out there with my laptop and a peppermint mocha from Starbucks. Bliss, all of it.

Hope your day has been as wonderful as ours.

Thursday 4 November 2010


So. Say you plan a surprise date for your husband. Your first all-by-yourselves date in, like, a year. You line up a babysitter, you buy the tickets, you've got it all planned out. You're golden.

Don't tell the three year old.

Gosh. Writing it out makes it sound so ridiculously obvious.

I'm a dolt.

...In other news, we're going on a date in a couple weeks!

Wednesday 3 November 2010

When you come across...

...the baby playing with his older brother's paintbrush and paint water from this morning's activity...

...it's probably best to just laugh and grab the camera...

...and then wonder how toxic that paint was.

By the way, how is this boy almost a whole year old? Where did the last ten months go??

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Buckle toy

We spent our Thanksgiving last month with my wonderful in-laws. Every time we visit, I feel so blessed to have their example and their support in my life. They are an incredible family.

The less wonderful part, however, was the 11 hour drive to their house. With two kids. By myself.

Oh, the horror.

(Because the boys and I were going earlier and staying longer than their daddy, I drove them up by myself while he flew there and back. Lucky, lucky man.)

It wasn't all bad. I did take the opportunity to listen to some of my guilty pleasures in the absence of a protesting party. Cher...The Archies...Simple Plan...oh, I am so ashamed right now. Please don't think too poorly of me! And, of course, there was lots of Great Big Sea played - but that's no guilty pleasure. That's just awesome music.

Anyway. I needed a plan to keep the boy occupied during the 11 hour drive. Part of said plan involved the dollar store and some wrapping paper. The idea was to get one new "surprise" every hour of the trip.

Yeah. Tell that to the three year old.

What followed our departure was several hours of "can I open another one now??" Eventually I gave up and he went to town, opening all the remaining packages and then covering himself and his baby brother in stickers.

Meh. Whatever got us there with my sanity intact.

One of my pre-trip projects was a buckle toy for the boy. Buckles don't stay unclipped for long in our home, so I figured it was a sure thing for keeping him occupied.

The general idea came from a tutorial at Quirky Momma, though I pretty much just winged it. I was quite happy with how it turned out.

I added a button and loop so it could be rolled up and fastened when not in use.

More than two weeks later, I often find him clipping away on his new toy. I consider this project a success!

Monday 1 November 2010


I'm not a morning person. Not in the least. But I have two precious boys who make each morning just that slight bit more bearable.

The baby is an early riser (*yawn*). He kicks me out of bed early in the morning because otherwise he lays there happily babbling away and attempting to gouge out his older brother's eyes. This usually results in said older brother taking a few sleepy swings at the wee instigator while I quickly scoop him out of harm's way and leave big bro to snooze for a while longer.

The boy is a boy after my own heart - a night owl and late morning sleeper, just like his parents. One of my favourite moments of every day is when he finally stumbles sleepily from the bedroom to join his "bruzzer" and I. I've learned not to talk to him or even look at him when he comes out, lest I be met with a grumpy roar. I just open my arms and he crawls onto my lap. We snuggle in silence together for a few precious minutes. Finally, he'll say, "I'm hung-ga-ry, Mommy." And so our day together begins.

Thank you, God, for these sweet boys. Raise them up to be men who know, love, and follow You.