Monday, 24 November 2014

Why I love Winter

     I love the winter months, I really do.  As a child I loved seeing the fresh snow fall and not surprising, I still do.  I grimace inwardly when people gripe about the season or the latest snowfall.  I view all that white fluff as a blessing.  And if you are still reading, below is my list of reasons why :)

  1. Snow is fresh and clean.  It also covers the abundant layers of mud that Alberta is know for.  When the snow covers Grande Prairie and the lights are shining, it makes even our oil-field city look beautiful.  I love the coming of spring and seeing the new life everywhere, but I dread what all the melting snow reveals.   I am always reminded how my ugly sins are washed white as snow through the Salvation I have in Christ.
  2. Snow is a blessing in my world because everything slows down.  We live in such a high-energy, always moving, never resting world.  When spring finally arrives we are all anxious and restless to be outside working and prepping our gardens and backyards.  Summer is full of holidays, camping trips, weeding, early mornings and late nights.  The goal is to soak up every ray of sunshine with friends and when the sun goes down, we sit around fires.  Fall brings with it a sense of panic that all the outside work must be done.  Farmers work crazy hours bringing in their crops, leaves are raked, vehicles are prepped, and some women slave away for hours and hours over their canning and cleaning out their gardens.  I've also heard about women that meticulously do Spring AND Fall cleaning...I should attach myself to women like's a dream.  FINALLY, the snow falls, and all the eager/reckless drivers are revealed.  That first skiff of slick snow deflates egos that need a little adjusting.  I'm always very quick to point out to my kids that you will rarely see a small car or mini-van in the ditch.  It's always the jacked-up trucks that are for it, it's true.  With the snow everyone gets the opportunity to adjust their driving speed as well as their 'Life Speed,'  Sometimes we only do it when forced.  Sure the snow needs to be shovelled, but other than that the outside work is limited, except to the people with farm animals.  I do feel for you when I sit by my fire with a cup tea, or for the trucker who drives in awful weather.  But for the majority of people, we slow down.  It's a blessing in disguise for families.
  3. My kids prefer the cooler weather, strange but true.  This last summer was HOT and our kids get a little sluggish.  But their bodies are already a secondary source of heat in our home as all of them are little heaters.
  4. I get to use my wood stove.  I feel sorry for people that don't own one.  Yes I know that not everybody craves it, but you should :)  It never fails that the stove draws people to it when they come in from the cold, even those that would never put one in their home.  Currently I'm trying to talk a few people into installing one...I don't know why I care, but I do.  Plus, it's a great back-up when the power goes out.  (and it's a great daily chore for my little boys)  If I could sell them out of my home I would...but it's a bulky item to stock :)
  5. God made it.....enough said.

     I miss the snow from Terrace though.  It was wet and heavy, but awesome to play in.  We also had days when we could get 4 feet of snow in 24 hours.  We had a large driveway because we lived in a subdivision out of town, but my parents never had a snowblower or a bobcat.  They did have 5 kids though who learned how to wield a shovel.  Trust me Alberta people, the stuff that falls here is fluff and takes little effort to clean up.  I heard a rumour that one fellow blew the snow off his driveway with a leaf blower.  In Terrace the snow is so heavy that we could only take a scoop full and run it down a path we had made.  We had made snow ramps all along our driveway that we had to take speed at just so we could deposit the snow on our front yard.  After a particular heavy snowfall, and shovelling 3 feet off our front deck, the snow on the front yard reached the railing of the deck on the second story.  We had snow and we loved it, even though we did the clean-up.

     The first few winters I lived in La Crete, Gord was always gone during the week.  So if the snow fell I went and cleaned it up, as soon as the snowplow came by.  And after I would be done I would notice all the others had a bobcat come by to clean up the snow ridge the plow had left.  I always wondered how all these people had connections to that bobcat.  It took a few years to realize that the bobcat came by for EVERYONE, but mine was already cleaned up.....the one time that being punctual did not work in my favour.  In Terrace, there was no bobcat...ever.  We could have a 3-4 foot dump of snow, no bobcat.  The plow would come by, and we lived on a corner, so all the snow from the corner would be dumped across our driveway.  Very rarely did the driver lift his blade.  The ridge that he left was often worse than shovelling the entire driveway because there were massive ice chucks involved.  I remember that one time the ridge was about three feet deep, four feet high, and about 15 feet long...I know because I was trying to burn it into my memory.  It was overwhelming, but we got it done....and probably wearing rubber boots because we never had adequate footwear.  My parents weren't being cheap, but often the weather was above 0...and we survived with all our toes.

     One of the only things Gord and I argued about when we were first married was winter clothing....I wasn't really for it.  In Terrace we never plugged our vehicles in, didn't carry blankets, or the right clothing when we travelled...and we were fine.  BUT I was also incredibly ignorant of the brutal temperatures in Alberta.  I remember being disgusted that I was made to go buy $70 boots when I first moved.  AND whenever we took a road trip, ALL the winter clothing came with no matter how much room it took up.  I finally played the good wife and gave up the fight.  Although I still laugh inwardly when my kids run outside without a jacket on when it is -10 because they are only going to feed the dog...Gord is horrified.     I haven't noticed that they've been sick because of it, but I do know that when they do get cold, the jackets and gloves go on without a word of complaining.   Sometimes it's better that way than trying to convince them they need it.

     Winter, it has much to offer, if we are willing to give up what we want.  Hidden blessings are everywhere.  It's a time to slow down, pour over books, have friends over so the kids play in the snow together, go sledding and enjoy the scenery on a frosty morning.  Sure it has it's downside, but in the end God made it...and everyday He makes is good.  The kids have caught me in frustrated moments, and asked "Bad day?"  I have been convicted in my answer, and now I have to honestly reply that the day is good, but my reaction  was awful.  To remember the truth is so important.

snow and all ;)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Oops..sorry kids

     I am greatly relieved that I am not alone in my bad parenting moments.  I'm not proud of them, especially the one's that grieve my heart.  After a rough day at home and the silence has finally come, I have time to sit and contemplate where I went wrong.  I am thankful for those moments but I am beyond grateful for the merciful God I serve and the forgiving children I am blessed to call my own.  I know from talking with other mom's that my experience is, sadly, normal.  But I am encouraged when my friends share their mistakes and triumphs.  We challenge each other to keep going, and we laugh about things that, in retrospect, are funnier than when they originally happened.  Like my friend whose children wanted to make a the house...on the rug...with multiple water bottles.  Actually, she's the kind of mom that probably laughed right away..cause she's good that way.  I learn from my calm friends, and I want to be able to laugh in the 'not-so-serious' mistakes that my kids make.  I also pray that one day they will laugh about mine.  But let's be clear, not all mistakes are equal.

     Speaking of mistakes and laughter, I thought I would share our 'Parent Fail' from a few years ago.  We went to Calaway Park in Calgary as part of our summer holiday.  It's a great outdoor amusement park with plenty of rides for little kids which was wonderful because we had a 2,5, & 6 year old that didn't take chances and only wanted to ride the baby rides (totally understandable since one of them was still a toddler).  9 year old Taylor was a little more adventurous, or so we thought.  Well, this park also had a number of 'Family Friendly' rides which all of us, including 2 year old Wyatt, could ride.  "Awesome," we thought, and naively got on the first one that we saw.  Wyatt clearly passed the limit line, so we confidently got on the ride.

 Mistake #1, we didn't see this ride in action.
 Mistake #2, 5 year old Nathan sat with 9 year old Taylor
 Mistake #3, I hate rides and went anyway

    Well, a few seconds into the ride I knew that we had made a bad bad decision.  This ride shot up and down while turning around like mad.  There was no safety buckle, just a bar pulled down that you could with all your strength.  I was instantly thankful that Wyatt was with Gord, but terrified that Nathan was with Taylor.  Nathan, my non-risk taking, safety co-ordinator, put your seatbelt on, don't speed, and don't try anything new boy, was sitting in a ride which I NEVER would have gone on had I seen what the thing did!  Rides make me sick, as in run behind the bushes and vomit sick.  Anyway, I had put this sweet child on a ride that would undoubtedly terrify him.  Chloe wasn't doing great either, but she got as close to me as she could and we prayed...with our eyes closed.  And they stayed closed even after we were done praying.   I was just hoping that my boys were holding onto the bar as tightly as I could...I was sure one of them was going to go flying out.  I was also mad that they would say this ride was fit for a toddler...and maybe it was, but we are not THOSE people.  The ride finally came to an end and we staggered off.  Gord and I were horrified at what we had put the kids through.  All 4 of them were deathly pale, crying, and did not feel good at all.  Nathan was a wreck and I tried to comfort him, "Oh Nathan I'm so sorry, but you were so brave!"  To which he truthfully responded,"No I wasn't!!"  Well, we got them settled down, and bought a bag of overpriced popcorn to calm their jittery stomachs.  After a bit they were willing to try another ride, like one for babies...literally.

     While I took the younger 3 on the baby rides, Gord took Taylor on a ride that he thought was wasn't, and the same thing happened all over again...sheesh.  At least this time it was only with Taylor, and although he was scared, he felt pretty safe with his dad.  He may have even enjoyed it a little (false hope) so I don't think we scarred him for life.

     Nathan is another story.  I wonder if we changed him in those moments.  How many innocent mistakes have we made that affect him for life?  Is this why he was terrified on our first few quadding trips this year?  Maybe not, but I'm sure that feeling of panic that he had on that ride stayed with him far longer than we thought it would.  We do train reactions into our children whether we mean to or not.  But when we sense a fear we have to react with wisdom and patience.  This became apparent on our quadding trips.  "Isn't this too steep? Why are you in high gear, you should be in low. Are you in 4 wheel drive to go through the mud?"  I finally made him go with his dad.  Each time we went out he did better, and we didn't harp on his concerns, just showed him that everything was okay. We are so glad we pushed him beyond what he was comfortable with because by the end of the season he was having so much fun.  It's so rewarding to see a child have victory in an area they have struggled with.  He is still Mister Cautious when it comes to amusement parks though :) Baby steps right?


     I do believe he has long forgiven us and we love this boy so much!  His name means 'Gift of God' and he truly is.  He is sensitive to people's needs and watches out for those around him.  He's the boy that will remember to take his sweater AND all his siblings sweaters out of the vehicle.  He is generous to a fault.  Need money?  He will gladly give you what he has, as well as any treats he has stashed away.  He's like the Pied Piper with little boys; they seem to follow him and fight over who gets to sit beside him.  The best part is that he doesn't seem to notice.  He's not the 'Life of the Party', he won't cause a scene, and he tends to blend into the background which makes it easy for us to overlook him.   Nathan Lee what a gift you are to this family...even on Sunday morning when the fight is on about which Sunday shirt to wear.  Did you know that almost identical shirts feel different because their colours are different??  Try explaining that to a frantic mom on a Sunday morning :)  He's a treasure to be sure, and if he'll have us, we'd like to keep him a good long while yet!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Bright ideas...

     I have been looking at lights for months already...and I'm just about done.  The problem is that as my thoughts keep evolving my choices are changing.  I am now officially tired of looking for lights and will just have to order so I can be done with it all.  If I can figure out how to load all the pictures up then I would love to have some input from you all.  Such important decisions...HA!!  Not really, but I can use all the input that you have.  And I know that I do have friends with opinions ;)

Savoy House KP-99-9
Dining Room

Hinkley Lighting 3254

Island Pendants

    Our dining room has a lot of windows.  The walls will be white pine boards running horizontally from floor to ceiling.   The floor is a weathered grey/brown vinyl plank.  It will be light enough to hide all our footprints and the breakfast crumbs.  I am NOT a decorator but if I copy what I like on Houzz then I should be ok...right?  I also happen to have a thing for all things shiny, and I love these pendants...I think they are over priced, but it might be one thing that I am willing to spend a few more dollars on.

Trans Globe Lighting 69903
Stairwell light

Progress Lighting P2992

Bathroom vanity 

Eurofase Lighting 12240

Above the tub :)

     We decided to go with 1 bathroom on the main floor...I know I know, terrible for resale.  But maybe I don't plan on moving ;)  Anyway, it's also connected to our bedroom so we technically have an on-suite.  We made the bathroom plenty big, and it's a 4 piece.  We have a large glass shower with 2 shower heads (a splurge that I will greatly enjoy) and a freestanding tub.  The chandelier is going above the tub, which is right under a large window.  The room is supposed to be white and sparkly.  And it will be white.  Two of the walls are white wood...I think I am in denial as to how much work this will all be yet!  And for those of you still in shock that we don't have our very own bathroom here are the very specific reasons as to how we came to this decision.
  1. After living with 1 bathroom for almost 2 years, having 2 will be a luxury
  2. All our kids are moving downstairs and they have their very own lavatory complete with two vanities.  Plus the vanities are separate from where the tub and loo will be, so it will be oh so functional.
  3. Our guests will be able to use the 'good' bathroom and hopefully enjoy the tub or large shower. We are putting in a separate vanity area complete with light and mirror in the spare room so once spiffied up in the washroom they can finish primping in the comfort of the spare room.
  4. Choosing 1 bathroom over 2 gave us more room to work with to make the 1 that we have spacious, and hopefully beautiful.
  5. And the main reason, I am now obligated to keep it tidy since everyone will see it.  Nothing like a little pressure to keep me on top of things!

Progress Lighting P2989

Lights over the kids built-in desks....I LOVE THEM!!

   Really those are all the interesting ones.  I am still at a loss as to what we will put in our bedroom.  I cannot seem to find something I love, but maybe it doesn't really matter.  Who knew there would be so much to choose from?  All I know is once I finally decide, I will be relieved.....and then second guess every single light I bought ;)


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Back to reality

     We took a trip up north this past weekend; to the place where my husband was born and raised.  5 whole days off....he hasn't had that since last Christmas.  Well, he did take a week off this summer and worked on the house the entire time.  This trip was needed for both of us and for multiple reasons.  I had 5 glorious days off from kitchen duties.  I washed a few dishes and wiped a few tables...that's it!  It was a holiday for me.  I also drank three times as much coffee as I normally do.  I'm not even going to try to calculate how many cups I consumed.  The goal of the trip was simply to visit family, and we accomplished that :)  Late evening visits turned into early morning talks.   I hardly saw our kids as they disappeared to play with cousins.  Memories were made, babies were held (WOW there is a brand new batch of babies to cuddle), foosball was played (I can still take my son) and some burdens became a little lighter.   I wish I had taken a picture of the newest family member, #102.  There are now 4 generations of Knelsen men.  The first great grandson to carry on the Knelsen name was born a few weeks ago and all the men were together on Sunday.  And it was wonderful to see so much family at one time, what a blessing!  We arrived home tired but ready to work.

     We also came home to freezing cold temperatures.  We heard it was almost -30 and that would explain why our house (the one in progress) had water frozen on and dripping off the ceiling poly....sigh.  We did have heat going, as was recommended.  We had the floor heat going, and maybe that's why...we should have turned on the furnace.  So all the condensation is giving us a bit of a headache.  We have drywall in the house ready to be installed, but for now it is sitting on the flooring and leaning against walls.  We are hoping any water damage is minimal.  I tried to get the moisture off the ceiling with a broom and arms are achy this morning.  But with the furnace turned way up and fans going it seems to be drying out.  I believe by tonight we will have a dehumidifier in the house as well.  Oh joy.  I'm sure all will be fine...but we are hoping we can have everything cleaned up before the boarders come.  THIS part I do not enjoy about building...the unexpected.  Such a small thing to fuss over, but God is patient in letting me learn to trust in even small ways.

     The next few weeks will be busy ones, or at least my version of busy.  I have three of my nephews coming to stay with us for about a week...should be interesting, crazy, and fun.  I am already thinking of what to ask them about their mother :) I have never had these boys stay with me before, but I'm not too worried.  I do hope the weather is kind though...something about sending 7 kids out to play sounds wonderful.

     And on a completely random note, I fell and slipped about two weeks ago and have been paying for it ever since.  I now know what it feels like to pull my groin.  I feel like a hockey player minus the salary.  Goodness that has hurt.  I cannot remember ever feeling such intense pain before.  I've heard that it can take awhile to heal, and I agree.  One wrong move and I poor kids.  I can get around now pretty normal and stairs are getting easier.  I did have to laugh though.  My Nathan is our safety inspector/coordinator around here.  He is Mister Cautious and we love him for it.  A few days after my fall I needed to go to a friends house and drop something off.  Gord didn't think I should attempt to go out yet, but I assured him that I would be fine.   All went well as I hobbled up to the doorstep, and then my foot slipped on some ice and my leg gave way again.   Ouch!  I also knew that I had to tell Gord myself the first chance I got or Nathan would make an innocent comment about the whole thing.  Sure enough as Gord and I went outside to look at the house Nathan pipes up "Make sure you don't slip again like you did before!"  Every time I flinch or grimace he notices and asks if I'm okay...he's an intuitive boy.  I also realize that he internalizes most feelings and I am becoming more aware of how I talk with him.  For example, he is most likely thinking about the condensation in the house because he heard Gord and I worry about it.  I have to make an extra effort with Nathan to reassure him that all will be well.  It's an excellent way for God to teach me to guard the words that come out of my mouth.

    I am thankful to be home safe and sound.  I am thankful that I have a cozy stove to sit by as I write.  I am thankful for the beautiful sunshine that warms my heart, even if it's freezing outside.  I am thankful that even though my home feels so chaotic and full, God assures me that peace is available.  That's good enough for me today.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


     I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend.  Above all, I am a Christian, therefore my foundation is set in Christ.  I build upon Him, the Rock.  I want His ways to be mays...His thoughts to be my thoughts.  It is impossible then to hold to a different worldview other than the one found in Scripture.

     God has given His children biblical guidelines in this life.  They keep me safe from my own selfish wants, and also from the unnecessary evils of the world.  I really don't mind His 'Rules' as they are commonly known.  Lets face it, we all need rules and guidelines.  If we didn't have them none of us would have made it past childhood.  Simple things like "Don't run into the road" were drummed into our heads at an early age to protect us.  We put dangerous chemicals beyond a child's reach JUST IN CASE they get a foolish notion to see what it tastes like.  We all have rules, and we need them.  The difference is how we view the rule.  I tend to view rules as there for my well being but some people see them as a hindrance; keeping them from doing what they would like.  Although not all rules are equal...some really are unnecessary :)   The downside for people like me is that it is extremely easy to lean towards legalism.  Likewise the other side has a tendency to fly off into left field.  Both are dangerous places to be.

     The last few weeks a news story has been on my mind a lot.  A young women with terminal brain cancer made the decision to end her life, her way.  I feel for her family and friends, and also for the young women.  I read all the articles, watched the interviews and as an outsider with limited knowledge on what is really involved, I tried to see her as most of the world did.  In other words, if I put my Christian worldview aside, then I understood her decision better.  From the secular viewpoint, it makes sense really.  Why should she suffer when a painless way out is the other choice?  She was surrounded by her family, they were there when she died.  It makes everything sound peaceful.  'Death With Dignity' is what assisted suicide is called now.  Suicide has such an awful, pathetic history.   'Death With Dignity' sounds courageous and noble.  Honestly, I believe that this was a strong, kind, loving woman.  I believe that SHE  believed that her choice was the best one because  quality of life should be a deciding factor in her worldview.  And as much as I admire her for all the good she did to others, the difference comes down to our world views.

     My worldview leads me to hate abortion because God is the Giver Of Life.  My worldview is responsible for my view on marriage as well...its forever, regardless of the faults committed.  And of course, because my worldview is based on The Bible, I cannot support suicide or 'Death With Dignity.'  I am not heartless as the world would assume.  I would not send hate mail, or be cruel to those who do support those decisions.  I would pray for them because they really believe such a deception.  In all her interviews, I saw a lack of hope.  She never spoke of life after death, or if she believed in it, at least not to my knowledge.  But when I saw how people spoke of her and how she lived it made me so very sad because many kind, good, caring people will reject what God has made available to all.  Ironically,  many "worst of the worst" will see their need for Christ and admit their sins, turning to Him.  Christians are to have a 'narrow' viewpoint because we don't look at all the other options the world offers.  But when it comes to accepting repentant murderers, liars, thieves, abusers, etc, we are to be incredibly 'inclusive'.  No one is beyond help, or redemption.  How amazing is that hope!!

     I know that many people reached out to this young lady in hopes that she would see the truth.  I know she was given opportunity to change her mind.  In the end, it's just sad.  To die believing with all your heart that what you chose was right.   The belief systems in our countries are growing worse everyday.  Life is no longer precious, unless it's on your terms.  We are playing God by aborting babies and ending our lives.  There is but one God, and it's not anyone on this earth.  Yet what can we expect from a society that no longer has God as their foundation?  I need to stop being surprised at what goes on in this world.  Without God we have no hope so we do all that WE can to make things better...and in the end it counts for nothing.  What a waste.

     I wish the story had ended differently for her.  But I am thankful that the media gave it so much attention.  Yes 'Death With Dignity' now has a beautiful young woman as their poster child and many will be swayed.  BUT, I hope that the Christians in this world are more aware than ever that we must stand against the deceptions that the secular world view promotes as beautiful.  I do not expect the world to understand, but I pray that Christians stand united against this movement that seems to be gaining ground.