Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I don't want to be an 'Eve'

    My title leaves me singing the song, 'I don't wanna be a sheep, Baa Baa Baa Baa.'  Anyone else know that one?  It's kind of fitting, but also irritating because now it's running through my head on repeat.

     I used to view Eve (the mate for Adam, mother of all, first woman etc) at a rather shallow level.  As in:
                 "Hey thanks for ruining life for the rest of us here.  If you can't do it right with a perfect husband, perfect body, perfect home, and a stress free life, how am I supposed to do it?"  And of course "Pregnancy is hard, labour is worse.  Periods are not awesome, cramps are not fun, and now I have to buy big boxes of sanitary items which just leads to embarrasing moments."

     I will elaborate on that last one.  It was truly an awkward moment.   I was in **stco and of course that is THE land of bulk.  All 4 of my not so little's were with me.  And it's hard because my oldest two are old enough to ignore certain items in my cart (bless them ), the other two are young enough to notice and then loudly, LOUDLY, ask, "Are those diapers???  Why are you buying diapers??"  And they both felt the need to repeat the question, because once is never enough.  There was a really nice older looking gentleman about two feet away and (shamefully) I thought, "Please be deaf."  My oldest was embarrassed for me and my daughter was smirking.  I know I should be past that phase of dreading those purchases, and nobody really cares....unless kids make a scene,

     Back on track.  Eve, she had it all and lost it all.  God redeemed, He had a plan, and He has made a way for me.  I am thankful, I am grateful, and I am still in the uncomfortable process of being refined.  Eve has left her mark on a far greater legacy than just the superficial area's of life.  I look back at her tempting Adam into sin with her.  I'm sure she must have made a beautiful picture.  Standing in a beautiful garden, in all her perfection, a body of beauty, seducing her husband to...eat fruit?  Yet it wasn't her physical form that did the damage, I believe it was her use of words.  Now the Bible doesn't tell us what she said, but do we really think that perfect Adam would just take without some form of encouragement?  Genesis 3:17 says "....because you have listened to the voice of your wife..."  We know she said SOMETHING, yet he knew the law..God had personally given it to him.  And yet his mate of a short short time was able to entice him to disobey knowing full well that it was wrong.

     It is important to note that Eve herself was first deceived because of the serpent's crafty use of speech, and she bought into it.  This legacy that Eve has handed down is not pretty because it shows that we (women) are easier to deceive than our male counterparts.  Adam blatantly disobeyed, but the serpent had to talk to Eve and play on her emotions and thinking skills in order to deceive her.  And there we have it...the beginning of thinking too much and over-analazying everything to death....literally to death!

     Maybe you are the rare woman who doesn't do this...then I don't know you.  Because the women in my circle think...all the time.  Ask your husband "What are you thinking about?"  What's the answer?  NOTHING.  Obviously not all the time, but they have the remarkable ability to simply sit and just 'Be.'  It's become a joke between Gord and I, so much so that I now ask the more important question, "Are you thinking?"  And then we can go from there.  I'm not say men don't think, but it's a given that woman never stop and it makes our men tired.

     The moments I most regret in my marriage are the times when I used words to get what I wanted.  I didn't yell, or hurl accusations, but I badgered and used words very cleverly.  It's shameful to even write it.  I'm forgiven, but it still makes me cringe to remember those times.

     As women God has gifted us with an ability to speak and to speak well.  I wish I always used it to encourage my family.  To speak truth to others, to share Salvation to those around me, instead of using it for my own agenda or personal vendetta.  Yet like everything, there seems to be an abuse of what should be a gift.  Our words hurt and wound others.  We carelessly use words like 'hate, forgiveness, grace..etc' not realizing or caring that we cause others to stumble around us.  Eve caused Adam to stumble.  He paid dearly for his blatant disobedience and his physical paradise became a harsh environment.  I believe that greater than the physical consequence was the conflict now between the man and the woman.  No longer was there perfect harmony but a battle of wills, and that usually involves words.

     I don't want to be an Eve.  I don't want to control or guide my husband, intentionally or unintentionally with my words.  And as much as my flesh desires to control the world I live in, I have to choose to fight my nature.

     Gord and I were in the vehicle and I was angry, hurt, (not at him) and voicing my frustrations.  When I finally just said "You know, right now I'm actually trying to get you upset so you will do what I want so don't listen to what I'm saying."  It was true and I knew it, I admitted it we laughed about it. He was calm and heard me out, but I also saw the truth of why I was venting and it was enough to calm me down.  I fight this nature of mine everyday.  I'm a wife and a mom.  I use words a lot.

       I have found that arguing is useless and a waste of energy.  Besides some things are just too hard too change, and I can prove it.  We've been together for 16 years and I cannot make him drink coffee or eat cilantro.  No amount of pleading or coercing has worked.  So maybe Eve should have tried the coffee tree.


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Hello September

     Apparently August flew past me and I never posted, not even once.  I'm not sure that anything grand happened, although everyone here is still alive, healthy, and wearing clean clothes..always a plus.  July was our month of crazy, August was calmer in that we stayed home on the week-ends, but VBS, swimming lessons, and one awesome day of chicken butchering (yes, awesome & chickens CAN be used together) made it a productive month.  And just like that September is upon us.

     The Homeschool order has been placed, schedules are in the process of being planned, and I am trying not to hyperventilate over a few things.

1. I have 4 in 'school' this year.
2. I have to teach Math to 4 kids..with a smile.
3. My schedule...it's time to start teaching guitar again.

     I have long realized that structure is my friend, and I do well in a setting that has expectations.  Over the past few years our lives haven't had much consistency and we survived, but I am longing to get back into a well-planned, organized form of chaos.  I don't want a solider-like home, just a plan.  My kids need it, and I am craving it.  Structure is something that comes with the territory of sending your child away to school.  Structure is expected in the work world, and this year, we will be working towards a much more planned week.  It will help that I no longer need to run to hardware stores every other day :)

     Seasons.  God realized that we need changes in our physical settings and voila, we have 4 seasons.  I don't despise any of them.  I love what each one brings.  Not just the eye candy they provide, but what they do for our soul.  Spring; a time of newness.  Green after months of white and cold.  New life everywhere from plants to animals.  Summer; longs days, gardens, living outside.  Fall; the mad dash to prepare for winter, harvest, a sense of accomplishment.  Winter; the forced slowing-down of life.  I love it.  Each season demands a different physical reaction.  I know many hate the thought of winter coming, but I never do.  I love that the physical home in which we live becomes a safe haven of warmth.  And maybe this winter I will finally be able to learn to quilt..and drink gallons of tea.

     I had to remind myself for the past 3 years that we were in a different season of life.  One filled with building and moving and all the side effects that come with it.  I often struggled with my attitude because it seemed as if so much was falling by the wayside.  One week would be completely different from the next and that was okay...or so I would tell myself.  Now with the thought of actually being able to truly plan, I find myself overwhelmed at what that means.  But growing pains are inevitable, just like the first frost of the season sends all the crazy drivers into the ditch.  September is our month most likely to be filled with a few 'accidents' in finding our groove.  It's okay.

     Last night I was with a group of friends celebrating a birthday and we were all discussing life.  Kids, marriage, homeschool, pressures...etc.  Each of us is in a season unique to our families, but we can learn and encourage each other.  Dessert helps.  We are all entering the new school season with a bit of trepidation, we're not alone.  And I am always thankful for the encouragement friends give.  No judgment, but an ear to listen and share ideas.  And while we were laughing and dining?  Our men had all decided to go quadding with the kids.  5 men, 10 quads, and 20 kids....from age 2-13. I couldn't believe that ALL the men went because of the age of some of the littles.   Gord said they only covered 6 kilometres, and I understand why.  Apparently distance is not a requirement for fun, and my crew said it was awesome.  If there was an award to be given for a 'hands-on dad' those men are well deserving!  With men like these, we shouldn't be too worried about changing seasons...and that makes me very, very thankful!





Friday, 31 July 2015

Silver Linings

     I have been absent as of late, probably because I have also been absent from home these past 5 weeks.  When your offspring start lamenting about leaving, you know it's been too much.  We are generally 'home' people.  We do like to travel, but as a rule we are home over the summer.  I suppose that has been due to the fact that we build, then move...etc etc.  This July has been an exceptionally busy time.  I would like to say that I have mastered the art of packing, leaving, and un-packing, but it still seems to be a nemesis of mine.  I am trying to do it nicely, as in patiently.  Trying...

     We have thoroughly enjoyed each trip though.  Boring is not a word that I would attach to our month.  Our week-ends have been filled with travelling, family, fellowship, friends, mild panic, berries, and way to much food.  Each trip has been different from the next in circumstance and location, but ALL have added to the memory bank.

     TRIP #1
     We met up with friends at Shaw's Point, around 2.5 hours from our home.  The weather wasn't great but our friends spoiled us terribly with boat rentals and fishing.  Our kids have been waiting to catch fish for years already and this time each and every child caught plenty of them!  I'm not sure what was more fun, watching the kids or watching the dad's try to keep up with them!  We came home exhausted, but it was worth it.

     TRIP #2

     The Church we attend holds an annual 'Church In The Park' event at a beautiful campground 40 minutes away.  We decided to camp that week-end which made Sunday morning much more relaxed. To make it even better, a sister and her family came and camped with us from Thursday to Sunday.  We could hardly believe how easy camping has become (once you are packed) with our families.  The kids are all old enough to bike around and take the younger ones to the park...what a treat!  The trip did start out a little stressful.  Just as we were getting ready to pull off our yard, my overactive nose smelled an odd smell.  Like burning electrical stuff, important stuff.  Within seconds smoke was billowing into the truck cab and the kids and I bailed out while Gord unhooked everything and pulled the truck away from the buildings...in case the truck caught fire.  Not re-assuring.  In the end, it was something relatively minor.  One speed on our AC went, but thankfully we have 4 speeds left :)

     TRIP #3

     This was a such a beautiful trip, although un-planned as most funerals are.  We were privileged to attend the Homegoing of a dear man whom I have known for years.  The emphasis was on Hope and Salvation and it was beautifully presented.  His family honoured him well and we were blessed to be a part of it.  I have always viewed their family as an extension of my own, and was disappointed to learn that we weren't related.  But it never mattered, they felt like 'Home' to me and Gord was finally able to meet most of them, which is almost funny because they are his relatives.  I have long tried to explain my sentiment for the family to Gord, and after we left for home, I asked him "Do you know what I mean now, why they feel like family?"  He got it.  Some people are gifted that way.  It's wonderful when your family and extended family gives you that strong connection, and it's an added wonder when you get it from from others simply because of our ties in Christ.

     TRIP #4

      And then things got stressful.  I had a hard time prepping for my family's camping trip, mainly because we were headed in the same direction that we had the following week, except this was only 7.5 hours one  way.  We weren't able to leave until after Gord finished work so we knew it would be a long night.  Also, we were going to be 'roughing' it with my family in a tent.  It's been years since we used a tent, but I was adamant that we would not freeze.  One thing made it easier, because of the distance and the fact that we couldn't take our trailer, my mom volunteered to take care of all the meals.  Oh yes, we gladly accepted!
     We were on schedule to pull in at midnight and were only 30 minutes from the camp when we lost all the oil in our van.  Thankfully we were able to pull over just as we were coming into Vanderhoof, but there we stood, stranded on the side of the road at 11:30pm.  An officer drove by and called a tow truck for us, which was painful because we only needed to tow it to a dealership which was in our sights...$$$.  My brother-in-law hadn't reached the camp yet so he turned around and picked us and all our camping gear up.  We arrived at 12:30 and I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't in a chipper mood and my attitude was less than stellar.  Here we have the silver linings.    (a) The week-end before when we were passing through, we left our tent, and mattresses with my parents and my sisters were kind enough to set everything up for us.  (b) We WERE thankful that we didn't break down in the Pine Pass which would have been hours from our destination, and no cell service.  (c) My sister, in an attempt to lighten my mood, told me that now I could go pick the treasured Huckleberries!!  It worked.
      Gord had to get a ride home with my sister while I stayed in Prince George waiting for my vehicle to be repaired.    Thankfully it was covered under a recall notice and we will be reimbursed for the towing bill.
     I was also humbled by the willingness of people to help.  From a brother towing it to a T***** dealership an hour away, to a friend lending us a dolly to help the process along.  At one point I had 3 men, all former truckers, looking at my vehicle and assessing everything.  Between the three of them there was close to 100 years experience...that helps.
     The icing on the cake was the extra time spent with my family and the fact that my mom took me huckleberry picking.  What a treat, what a thrill!  I would have loved to go again, but I needed to get home by Wednesday so that we could prepare to leave again on Friday.  And that is where I find myself now.  The loading and packing is finished, and I find myself with a few spare minutes to write out this months happenings.
     The details of TRIP #5 are yet to be determined, but I am sincerely hoping that nothing will go wrong with our vehicle this time.  TRIP #4 had other challenges for some of my family.  One sister reached camp with a flat tire, and when I arrived at my parents home, it was to a basement partially under water from a busted water line in the washroom.  Thankfully the damage was minimal.

     Of course nothing is without it's lighter moments.  My son, one who should be old enough to know better, learned the importance of 'Never Cry Wolf' when we were picking berries.  He is constantly trying to trick me, but this time he did...and I was not impressed.  Huckleberries grow well at a higher elevation so we were picking on a mountain side, deep in bear territory.  Every now and then I would have to rest my achy back, and would scan the hillside for signs of animals..well aware of the fact that we could run into bears.  At one point, my child  (love him) yelled "BEAR!"  Pretty sure I shot up like a rocket with fear on my face, to which he responded "Kidding."  I will not elaborate on the conversation that took place, but in a nutshell, it was made very clear that one does not yell 'bear' in bear country unless there actually is one.

     And just like that we are ready to hit the road.....hopefully I will have nothing but good things to report on Monday :)


Monday, 15 June 2015

Proof we took a holiday

     We took a vote, it was unanimous...Kelowna has been a win/win for our family.  It was more than we had hoped for.  Booking an 'unknown to us' resort online could have been dangerous for us.  We don't tend to have the best of luck with hotels and it's not because we stay in dives.   From fire alarms to loud/cussing/obnoxious neighbours, we've had it all so we tend to be a bit nervous.

     It was a pleasant surprise to drive to the resort and see what awaited us.  We had a cute little cottage, completely furnished and within a short walk to one of the swimming pools.  Everything was well-maintained and clean...I really love clean!  We had the smallest of the houses, but it was more than adequate for our family.  I was relieved, Gord was impressed, and the kids....well, they really liked the awful hotel we stayed in a few years ago so their opinion doesn't carry too much weight.

     The kids took to the water like fish.  I think the most rewarding part of the trip was to see one of my boys overcome his fear of water.  He was in swimming lessons, but couldn't even bring himself to dunk his head under the water.  Today he jumps in, floats on his belly, can swim short distances, and basically just stays under the water.  It was awesome to see him change over the span of a week.  Our daily routine was breakfast, swim, lunch, swim, super...etc.   Get the picture?  The pools were heated, but that didn't really matter to the kids.  They jumped in the lake too, whereas Gord and I tended to slowly enter...very slowly.  The kids were so played out by the end of the day that they crashed and slept and slept some more.  Mission accomplished!

     I am so glad we had to change our holiday plans.  This has truly been a holiday for everyone.  Cooking has been simple and quick,  and I forget how clean a place can stay when there's no dirt or mud to track in.  Nothing had been scheduled.  We simply woke up and planned the day.  Yes, it has been relaxing and refreshing.  I'm sorry it's over so soon, but good memories were made.

     A few simple highlights include :

  1. Swimming in the lake
  2. Swimming in the pool
  3. Visiting Kangaroo Creek Farm and holding baby Walabies
  4. Touring the historic O'Keefe Ranch
  5. Meeting up with a long lost cousin and his family...beautiful people with a super cute home
     I could probably go on and on, but eventually that would bore you and me, so I will leave you with a montage of unprofessional photos, but you'll get the picture...hehehe...no pun intended.

The 'Cottage'

We spent a lot of time on this deck

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Almost Gone

     It has been more than 10 years since Gord has taken 2 weeks holiday...in a row.  Our holiday time is scarce, rare, and precious.  Last summer his 1 week off went to helping frame the house.  Thankfully we can now use his holiday time for real holidays :)  He was determined to take his full two weeks off and I wasn't about to change his mind.

     We had great plans and intentions to pack our trailer and drive/camp our way around southern Alberta.  Beautiful campgrounds, The Calgary Zoo, and Calaway Park were calling our name.  The kids would have a blast, and we could feel slightly backwoods-y camping.  Camping with a warm bed, hot shower, and flushing toilet.  'Glamping' is the technical term they tell me.

     One week before our scheduled departure we realized it was NOT going to work so we had to come up with a back-up plan.  We are not 'spur of the moment' people...not even a bit.  But we really had no choice but to re-think and plan everything.  And somehow the conversation went like this, "Hey, lets go to Kelowna!"

     That's it.  One sentence and I was off to google every possibility I could think of.  Somehow or other I came across a resort close to Kelowna that sounded marvellous.  By the next day I had booked a 7 day stay and was virtually bouncing off the walls with excitement.  7 days by a beautiful lake and mountains, what's not to love?

     The morning of our departure went smoothly.  Everything was packed, kids were clean, and I was still bouncing off walls.  Or I was until 15 minutes down the road and Gord started talking about what he thought were small side effects of a minor surgery he had done a few days prior to leaving.   Somewhere between hearing about shortness of breath, tight chest, and achy arms/legs I had awful visions of our nightmarish trip 6 years ago...y'know the time I locked him in a cargo trailer and dropped him off at a hospital.  Being stranded by the side of the road with a sick man and van full of kids was not really what I had pictured for a fabulous family vacation.

   A few minutes of discussion led us to the conclusion that it was probably nothing, but we didn't want to risk travelling if we weren't certain.  So off to the city hospital.  We walked in, looked at the line and promptly walked back out and called a small hospital 1 hour directly opposite of the direction we had just travelled.  Needless to say our kids were slightly confused and rather concerned that our holiday plans were in for another change.

     A small town hospital really is the way to go.  Generally they don't have a lot going on and they are friendlier and more willing to listen to all the questions I usually have.  Within minutes of walking in Gord was hooked up to machines and they were running tests.  I was relieved that they ruled out a heart condition but a blood test tested 'mildly positive' for blood clots.  That ruling was enough to earn him an ambulance ride back to the city for a more in-depth test.  Again, small-town hospitals take time to...say..give your kids an ambulance tour before their dad gets carted off ;)

     With Gord gone for a few hours, the kids and I headed home to re-group and plan the rest of the day.  They were bordering on disappointment and worry.  The older two vividly remember our last bad experience and tried hard to understand.  I felt for them; torn between two valid feelings.  But they did me proud and controlled their disappointment.

     Hours later Gord was free to go.  Why the initial tests were positive we don't know, BUT I believe that all our family's and friend's prayers had a great deal to do with the changed diagnosis.  It was with relief and thankfulness that I could let everyone know that all was well.  As for our trip?  Well, we got off to a late start but we ended up going to the little cabin we had previously booked.  The cabin wasn't quite what I had hoped it would be.  But it was clean and came with an amazing view of mountains, trees, and free range turkeys.  After a bit of morning exploring we were back on the road..passing landmarks that I hadn't seen since Taylor was a baby.

     I've forgotten how diverse the beauty of BC is.  From rough jagged mountains to rounder tree-covered sloops.  And I was thrilled when I spotted the beautiful Cedar trees.  The trip went so smoothly, and there were repeated comments made about how thankful we all were to be heading in the right direction...with Gord in the vehicle.  No trailer this time ;)



Monday, 11 May 2015

Awkward Moment #3

     I would like to think that I have a lot of common sense.  I believe I am practical and a 'no nonsense' kind of girl.  I pay attention to my surroundings and notice details, the little things.  I can tell you if something is crooked to 1/8th of an inch...and this drives Gord and I BOTH crazy.  So that's why I am still embarrassed/annoyed at my ridiculous guffaw on the week-end.

     Every year Sexsmith has a town garage sale, and I love getting up early and browsing through everyone's treasure/junk.  I usually go by myself, but this year I took the older 3 with and inevitably we came home with a few steals.  I found 3 lovely cast iron pans for $4...I can't not (double negative I know) buy them!!  I know someone will want them, so I always pick them up for friends.

     This is not Gord's thing, at all.  We have a deal though, I'm always on the lookout for things he's talked about purchasing.  It usually works out well and every now and then he reaps the rewards of my scavenger hunts.  My hopes were high when I went to an older home that had a large 8hp tiller out front.  I knew Gord had been on the lookout for one and this was in good shape and considerably larger than the 5hp tiller we had looked at before.

     Not seeing a price on the machine I found the owner.  "How much for the tiller?"  His reply? "Um, that's a snowblower."  At that point my head whipped around to take a 'closer' look.  Sure enough, right on top, was the snow chute.....well done Susie.  To the man's credit, he did an excellent job on maintaining his composure, and I had nothing intelligent to say after the fact.  Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and walk away...which I did with 2 cast iron pans ;)

     To add to my shame, I saw at least half a dozen more 'tillers' that day....and you can bet that I looked them over VERY well!

     Have a great Monday :)

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Ugly Dust

     God often uses the simplest things to reveal my ugliness to me.  I may as well call it ugly, because that's what it is.  Sin is always ugly when you get to the root of it.  As for the use of simple things?  He knows my head doesn't do well with the complicated.

     One month ago we were getting ready to do the move.  I had been dreading it.  I know it sounds ridiculous, (we were moving 50 feet away) but this move wore me out.  Usually I am organized and every single box is labelled on two sides.  This time there was no packing involved.  We simply used 6 empty containers, loaded them up, carried them across the muddy (ick ick ick) yard, and put everything away in the house.  It made it simpler in the long run....it was just A LOT of work.  Thankfully Gord rigged up a sidewalk of sorts because both of our moving days included rain.

     Almost everything that we moved needed to be wiped down.  I knew the dust was bad...but I was still horrified at the layers of it everywhere.   I finally realized that I needed some help, and yet my stubborn, mennonite mentality kicked in.  I have a hard time asking for help...and an even harder time admitting that I need it.  But I didn't have much choice.  Family was coming from out of town to help us move and, ready or not (dust and all) they were going to move things that were disgustingly dirty.  Oh my pride.  Some people could care less, but I care...very much.

     Two ladies kindly took rags and water, and proceeded to wipe down every single jar full of food...and I can a lot.  They wiped the filthy shelves, and my inner self was filled with shame that they would see my lack of cleanliness.  I cringed when I gave them a new chore to tackle, knowing very well what they would find when they started cleaning.  I tried so very hard not to apologize for the state of the shop...and failed.  I really did these woman a dis-service.  My actions said that they judge the value of our friendship, based on  how well I manage my home.   Yet, I know these ladies love me for who I am....not for what I can do.  I was, and always have been, far too concerned as to how people perceive me.  I do not like to fail, and I was taught not to.  I always had the impression as a child, that appearances DO matter.  Unfortunately I have carried that viewpoint with me into adulthood.

     This isn't the first time I've been aware of this.  I'm starting to think I should be given a sign to wear with a capital 'L', like they do in BC for the student drivers.  Contrary to what my friends and I said, the 'L' stands for 'Learner'......not 'Loser.'   Although those days when I'm in a battle, I usually feel like a loser.   And so comes the vital part.  Separating truth from fiction.  I AM learning and I will not lose a battle that God has already won for me.  I've come along way from where I used to be...a 'people pleaser' by nature.  But every now and then God continues to refine that area, and every time I cringe at the intrusion.  The sad truth is that if I crave the approval of man more than the approval of God, then I have  a serious problem with Idolatry.   And since Misery loves company, I am greatly relieved that I am not alone in this camp.

     It is easy to place my identity in everything, EXCEPT Christ.  And yet, that is the only thing that should truly define me as a being.   I am a Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, and a Friend, BUT one day I will stand before Christ.  It will not matter if I was not a sister on earth, or if I wasn't a mother.  What WILL matter is whether or not I am HIS Child.

     The titles I hold now are a blessing.  God requires that I be a good steward of them.  They help me grow in my relationship to God, but they should not define me.  Think about it.  In Heaven I will not be a mother...not even a wife.  My earthly flesh struggles with this concept, but (and I am paraphrasing  Kara Tippets) all the relationships here on earth (especially marriage) are a crumb compared to what we will have when we reach Eternity.

     When I truly look at who I am in Christ, everything else should fall away.  "In Christ Alone" should be my daily prayer.  Thank God that He uses simple ways to bring me back.  He used dust this time, it could be envy or fear next time.  Regardless of His methods, He will always reach me in a way I can understand....and He's pretty creative :)

Monday, 27 April 2015

House update

     My family has transitioned so well into the new house.  I have always found that it takes awhile after a move for everyone to settle in.  Not in this case!  The youngest have taken to their new room in the basement and erased all the doubts that I had.  I had been envisioning a month or two of them being unsure about it.  We have had none of that.  In fact everyone is sleeping better :)

      I, on the hand, have really been struggling with all the added space, the large kitchen, the closets, not to mention the spacious, finished basement.  I hardly know what to do with myself with the lack of dust or the view out of all the windows.   (long awkward silent pause)  I hope you are all awake enough to sense the scarcasm?  Sunday mornings are no longer rushed and harried as everyone is getting ready.  I am able to finish a hot beverage for once, and enjoy it!  What a luxury to sit in my kitchen and look out to see the birds, not just hear them.

The face of a content woman with a hot cup of tea at her side

     Some people have asked me if I miss the shop.  Nope.  Not at all.  I am very thankful for the home it was and it was a good experience for everyone.  But Gord and I are beyond thankful that our 7 year project is at an end.  Well, mine is.  I have a list about a mile long for him to finish yet.  I am very ready to move into a new rhythm and routine, especially with school.  It feels surreal that we are at the end, although I am fairly certain that feeling will wear off when we sign papers at the bank....

     Gord has been finishing up odd and ends, like my island.  The end panels and toe kicks are on, and it's much nicer to look at instead of water lines and wiring.  I had a blonde moment though.  Gord had to remove the dishwasher to finish the job, and as he did I started wiping down the sides.  To my disgust it looked like the finish was starting to come off.  I wasn't too thrilled since we bought it only 2 years ago.  I looked a little closer, and then asked Gord "Um, is this a protective coating?"  To which Gord responded by pulling on the 'worn edge.'  For over 2 years I have left the film on.  I had noticed in the shop that it wasn't wiping down nicely, and I'm a little 'picky' about things like that.   So on the plus side, I have a 'brand new looking' dishwasher.  But the OCD in me is wondering what else has been covered in film for years ;)  Happy Monday


Friday, 24 April 2015

Good for a giggle

    Yesterday the kids and I went to town and somewhere along the way we got to chatting about Father's Day.  For as long as I can remember Gord has loved chimes...the big ones.  The loud ones.  I have wanted to buy him one for a long time, but have just not gotten around to it.  And maybe it's better that we didn't put one outside the shop, seeing as how sound always creeped through the walls and shop doors.  I heard everything.  Quads driving, kids yelling, cats fighting, and our dog dragging bones across the shop doors (that was particularly aggravating.)  I had forgotten how well insulated a house should be.  It's pretty awesome, except when you are trying to holler at your offspring.

     Well, seeing as how we live in a 'Big People' house now, I will be on the look-out for chimes.  They make amazing (and expensive) ones.  I saw one that only had the notes of Amazing Grace...and if I can track it down I would love it just as much as Gord.  The following conversation took place with my teen...my TEENAGER people.  First let me say that I am still processing where the last 13 went.  I may lose a lot of things, but this takes the cake.  And second...I'm still laughing over the fact that my teen made this hilarious comment.  It just proves that (a) he's a boy (b) he's a teen.

"Guys, what is something that dad has wanted for a long time?  It belongs outside and makes noise."

Taylor, shouting exuberantly "Firecrackers!!!!!"

     I wish I could have taken a picture of my reaction.  Firecrackers??  Really?  For a brief moment I thought maybe they actually had no idea.  Until my 8 year old piped up "Windchimes!"

     And the 8 year old wins.  Well done son.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Beautiful BC

     Oh BC, how I missed thee.  I miss my mountains and winding roads.  I miss the Cedar trees and luscious ferns.  I even miss the temperamental weather and how it can change from heavy snow to rain to a beautiful sunny day.  But mostly, I miss the people.

     Gord and I headed down to Smithers, BC, over Easter.  It was a quick, long week-end trip, but it was still worth the 9 hour drive.  Smithers is 2 hours shy of where I grew up, but it's getting close to home.  I have a good friend who lives there, and it was wonderful to drive the familiar road again.

     It amazes me that some friendships are never adversely affected by time or distance apart.  In fact, it has just made our visits more lovely and I always deal with a bizarre case of 'home sickness' when I go home.  It's a little strange considering we've never spent a great deal of time together.  We have always lived in different towns, but she is simply one of those people that feels like 'home.'  We have grown up and married far apart from each other.  We had our babies, started Home schooling and kept in touch with the occasional lengthy phone call.  I'm thankful for the simplicity of our friendship.  I am also thankful for a link to 'My' past.  She is one of the few people in my life who knew me before Gord.  Oddly enough, she and Gord are 2nd cousins who had never met until I introduced them....it really is a small world.

     It had been almost 2 years since our last trip down that way, but I believe her family has made an impression on mine.  Our kids have hit it off, especially Chloe (it's rare for her to be with 4 girls.)  Don't be fooled though.  These girls can hunt, trap, milk a cow, make cheese, bake, and cook.  Their momma has taught them well!  By the time we left Chloe was collecting tadpoles and sitting on cows.

       I love making memories like this.  Some of my best memories as a child are rooted in seeing distant cousins once a year.  Those cousins became some of my best friends as a child, and 25 years later I can still recall the good times and laughter we had.  From crabapple fights on a trampoline to raiding my aunts garden at night.  Cheap thrills....and great memories.

     One of my favourite moments over the week-end involved Wyatt and my sweet little Miss Amy.  I call her 'mine', but Gord was pretty taken with her too.  When Wyatt first met her, I started calling her 'Miss Amy.'  I don't know why, but it stuck.  Every time we talked about them at home, she was always referred to as 'Miss Amy.'  She's a tiny little spitfire who has almost 2 years on Wyatt, but if you were comparing by size then you could never tell.  The first morning we were there I was up with Wyatt, but not everyone was moving about yet.  He looked a little lost and I asked him if he wanted to see if Nathan was awake, but no, he was waiting for 'that girl'  and off he went.   Not to long after Miss Amy appeared and they took off downstairs where there was screaming and giggling.  Later her mom came to me and mentioned she had seen Wyatt loitering around her bedroom door (Amy was in her room)  And if you've ever seen Wyatt want something but be to shy to ask, then you know he just walks around looking sweetly pathetic.  (also, when he knows you REALLY well, he will ask for anything!)    She asked if he needed the bathroom but no.  His response?  "I'm just waiting for Miss Amy."  GOODNESS ME...sweetness overload!  They were a pair, and even if their memory of it fades, mine will not.

     Gord's memories may not be as sweet.  Chloe talked him into bringing a mason jar filled with tadpole eggs back home.  They are sitting in my beautiful kitchen, and oddly enough, they seem to be thriving.  And me?  I had a good 9 hours with Gord trapped in a vehicle to discuss the possibility/likelyhood of getting a milk cow.  He didn't say no.....so there might be a chance!  I'll keep you posted ;)

Monday, 30 March 2015

Blessings and Birthdays

     So much is happening around here that it's getting hard to keep track of everything, but as I'm taking a breather for a few minutes I want to share some of the blessings we've received as of late.  Late last week our house went into high gear and in the space of about 3 days our countertops, lights, and plumbing fixtures were ALL installed.  This also gave us very little reason to not start with the moving.  I have to say, I was procrastinating a wee bit.  The thought was almost too much for my head to handle.  But thanks to friends and family we moved a lot over on Saturday.  It didn't just get moved though, furniture was placed, books were arranged beautifully on bookshelves, DVD's were organized, my cold storage is organized with all my jars (filled and empty), and my kitchen is well under way!  It caught me off guard...it really did.  Ladies who were not scared of my dusty mess.  They simply tackled what overwhelmed me..oh they blessed me!!!

     I have sister-in-laws that went above and beyond anything I could have asked for.  From supplying the workers with delicious soup, buns, donuts and cookies, to another watching children and feeding us all a feast in the evening.  I almost cried from sheer relief.  It is humbling to be given such thought.    It's easier  to do the giving....oh my pride gets me in so much trouble.  No one commented on my mess, or my dust (the shop is crazy for that).  No one judged me for my lack of organization, instead they were such a source of encouragement and helped me more than they realize.  Blessed indeed!

     We have one more move to do, but we delayed it by a few days so that I could get the rooms in the shop cleaned out of clothing and bedding.  Also laundry,  a mountain of it!  The blankets that created a false sense of privacy need to be rid of a layer of dust.  Thankfully everything will be ready to go by tomorrow, so after two years of shop life, we enter yet another phase.  Change is coming, and we are all ready.  The kids have excitedly carried all their belonging into the house and organized their rooms, another blessing.  From organizing their books to hanging clothes, they've got it covered!

     Mixed in with moving, we have had birthdays.  Yesterday Taylor turned 13, and Gord will celebrate a birthday on our final move-in date...I think it's appropriate :) Last week Taylor already decided that he was moving into his room...so he did.  Out of all our kids, he is the most excited for the house.  There is no denying that he is ready for more independence and I am proud and nostalgic at the same time.  We gave him a camping cot for his birthday, and he set it up in his room for 'company.'  Somehow Wyatt got it into his head that he wanted to sleep in the house as well, so last night he stayed on the cot in Taylor's room.  There was much discussion about this among the kids.  One child in particular was questioning the wisdom of it, but Wyatt had a ready response for everything.

      "Won't you be scared Wyatt?"  - Nathan
      "Nope, Taylor is here....and he has a pellet gun." - Wyatt

      "A pellet gun won't stop a bear" - Nathan
      "Oh, he has a machete" - Wyatt

     Taylor has been such a blessing this past month.  He has been my right-hand man when Gord isn't here.  He is maturing in so many ways and I am painfully aware that the early formative years are long gone.  Two years ago he had his 2 best friends move away at the same time.  It was hard on him, yet Gord and I called it a blessing in disguise.  Taylor has become far closer to his dad since then, and has discovered that he has a mutual love for quadding and camping.  I couldn't be happier to see my boy work side by side with his father...learning a Godly work ethic and a commitment to always finish a project.  He is still enough of a kid though to enjoy a box of Lego, and that makes me smile :)

     Taylor, in some ways, was my hardest toddler.  Yet every victory with him has been sweet.  I often wish I could repeat my parenting with him, yet I realize God doesn't require that of me...rather that I make the most of my time with him now.  He is on his way to becoming a responsible young man.  But more than that, I pray that his heart continues to seek Christ.  His sensitivity to my hard days has made me cry more than once.  Just the other day he took a sibling aside and 'encouraged' them to have a better attitude when it came to helping.  I felt so ashamed when I heard this...mostly because my failings are not his responsibility.  Yes, children refine their mothers...and each one has a special way of doing so.

     Happy 13th Birthday Taylor Pete!  You are so quick to forgive, and easy to laugh.  I love your tender heart, and excited personality.  I am blessed indeed to be your mom!


Monday, 23 March 2015

Chloe Lynn

One of my all-time favourite pictures
     This morning my girl turned 10!  I remember the day I could say my age with all my fingers.  To quote Chloe "It's a once in a lifetime experience."  Although she was referring to a spider we flushed down the toilet.  This girl has a quick, dry wit...I've often said she resembles my sister Mitch more than me.  Yet we are blessed to call her 'ours.'

     The morning she was born I hadn't really expected to have a girl, but she was a lovely surprise.  Born with a good amount of hair, long eyelashes, beautiful puckered lips, and the strangest ears we had ever seen (the tops of her ears were completely flat).  It reminded me of Spock off of Star Trek..not really encouraging.  But within a few days they curled in nicely and I was relieved :)  I know that sounds vain, but I could give you an earful (HAHA) about all the teasing I went through with my large 'Schlamp' ears.

    If there is such a thing as a perfect baby, then that would have been Chloe.  She slept, she ate, she burped, and didn't cry.  She was a dream to have, and made moving so much easier.  We packed and moved to Grande Prairie when she was a mere 9 days old.  For the first three months we were somewhat homeless and stayed with family.  When I was feeling overwhelmed with our new life, I would simply hold her and remember what was most important.  She made the transition to 2 children so simple...it also made having a third child 16 months later a reality!

My Grandma Schlamp.  The only picture I have of our children with a Great-GrandParent...it's rather special
    In my world of boys she brings a delightfully feminine touch to our home.  She loves pretty things, knick knacks, cats, and babies.  She is becoming my partner in crime when we go shopping ;)  I am encouraged by the young lady she is becoming, yet still love the fact that she is playing playmobile with her brothers right now.  

2 weeks old 
My favourite by far, despite my hair and attire!
10 years makes a difference
    Chloe woke early this morning and nearly gave me a heart attack.  I was standing in our very dark kitchen (can't turn on a light or the whole shop lights up like a christmas tree) and I just sensed that someone was behind me so I turned around and there she was...smirking.  I about hit the roof because I hadn't heard a thing.  It's rather fitting because she used to do this as a toddler.  I would open my eyes to a little girl with nasty bedhead standing right by my face.  Obviously time doesn't change everything!

     Gord and I have a tradition of giving our kids their presents first thing in the morning before Gord leaves for work.  We love it and so do the kids as it gives them a chance to enjoy a private moment with us.  She has her birthday supper picked out..Somma Borcht (a sausage, potato, and dill soup).  We are holding off on a  party until we are in the house.  I'm glad because I don't think I would do well with planning anything right now, and I really want to be able to make it a special day for her.

     Since there will be no party today I cannot leave you with a picture of her and her cake.  BUT I will leave you with a photo of an innocent, sweet Chloe celebrating her 1st birthday.  It still makes me smile :)

Thursday, 19 March 2015

God controls the crazy

     In keeping with the name of this blog, today was a day of 'crazy.'  I know I have been using that word a lot lately, but it most accurately describes my life these days.  Today I was given a beautiful reminder of how much God controls my crazy.

     This past month I have stayed pretty close to home, except for heading out for church on Sunday morning.  Any trip to the city has been for house purposes.  I haven't shopped groceries in 3 weeks...and my cupboards are starting to resemble those of Old Mother Hubbard.  Well, today was an exception.  I had to do a town run (25 minutes away) before my kids awake...how thankful I am for my almost teenager who can stay at home with them!  I made it home as they were finishing breakfast.  I hurriedly gave them a few instructions and then rushed to the house to stain a piece of nosing for our stairs.  I left it to dry and went back to the shop.

     I had a few hours before I needed to take Chloe to her piano lesson so in that time devotions, laundry, and chores took place...while I kept running to the house to work on the nosing in between drying times.  After a slapped together lunch of KD for the kids, I hurried them out the door so we could be on time for Chloe's lesson, 10 minutes away.

     The lesson being over I drove the kids back home and managed to stay home for all of 1 hour until I had to leave AGAIN to go BACK to the city (25 minutes)!!  People,  I don't go away this much in 1 week, never mind 1 day.  Of course by the time I got home I was thankful all the running around was done, and I said as much to Gord.  He was patiently waiting for me to come home so he could take the van to the shop to prep and clean it for our trip to Edmonton tomorrow.  (While he was waiting he folded the mountain of laundry and washed my dishes...I was pretty thrilled!)

     30 minutes after he had left, he called me and the conversation went along these lines..."I don't know how we haven't gotten into an accident with our tires!  There is a massive gash all around the tire..it's amazing it didn't blow.  I have NEVER seen a tire in this bad of shape!"

     Aaaannnnd, I knew I needed to make another trip.  Thankfully Gord has a rather impressive stash of tires and rims...it's a long story, though I won't be making fun of them for a while.  I was able to find the right ones and load them onto the truck for the drive to his workplace.  He showed me the tire...it's a miracle that it hadn't blown yet!!  Thinking back, Gord had commented that the van was vibrating but we thought it was due to the Alberta mud that makes it's appearance every year about this time.  That's the reason Gord took the van to the shop, to wash out the rims.  Had he not done that we would very likely have been stranded on our trip.  I had also heard a strange humming sound on my last trip from town...so it's very safe to say that God had His hand on my van.

     My day was crazy from the moment I got up, but God was still controlling every event.  He does that every day, but usually I'm too blind to see His touch.  Instead I am more likely to be irritated at the little delays, like hitting all the red lights.  Yet maybe those pesky lights keep me from getting into an accident.

     God Is in control of all things at all time.  I do not need to acknowledge this for it to be so...it simply IS.  However MY soul is much more at peace when I recognize that He IS in my chaos...in fact the 'crazy' drives me to Him.  I see my need for Him on the hard days much more than on the days that feel like a holiday.

     I never would have thought that God would use a tire to show me His goodness!!  In what way is He revealing Himself to you?  Look for it in the little things...or check your tires ;)




Thursday, 12 March 2015

Patience...and this has nothing to do with the house

     A few weeks ago I was reminded of just how patient our Heavenly Father is with me, with His people.  My view of God the Father was always a harsh one.  I always felt that He was waiting for me to fall, to make a mistake so that He could then punish me sufficiently.  Without meaning to I was very much living a 'Works Salvation' theology.  If I did enough, prayed enough, read enough, then I would be acceptable.  I obeyed out of fear of the consequences, but not necessarily out of love.  It's been hard for me to get past this thinking, and some days I still struggle.

     Over the past 15 years God has been beyond patient with me in my walk.  Little by little He has gently shown me areas of life that I need to let go of.  Sometimes He has been more bold, but always it has started with a tender nudge...not lighting and thunder.   How much more joy (not to be confused with happiness) would I have if I learned to listen right away?  And yet, He lets me choose...and I suffer for it.  He wants me to choose obedience because I love Him.  A Holy Fear should be there as well, but most of all LOVE.  The greatest commandment is to Love Him with my whole heart

     God led us to a small, rural church about 4 years ago.  I have heard messages on love and grace before, but either I wasn't ready for them, OR I have just not seen it done so gently and full of love.  I believe God knew that we needed gentleness...and God is using this local body to teach and grow us. I can honestly say that this is the first church that we have chosen to attend without the pull of family, friends, or familiarity.  It has been so good for us.  To examine for ourselves what we believe and why we believe it.  To allow old ideas to be challenged; not for the sake of abandoning them (although sometimes we have to) but so that we don't hold on to thoughts for traditions' sake.

     Back to a few weeks ago, the topic was 'Worship.'  The example given was of David and the Ark of the Covenant...from II Samuel.  The Ark was misplaced for a time and David, full of enthusiasm for God, wanted to restore it to it's rightful place.  His motives were good and his joy was contagious for the people went out with music and singing.  BUT, there was a problem.  David, in his zeal, did NOT do his homework.  If he had, he would not have made the mistake of putting the Ark on a cart...yes it was a new cart, but this is not how God said it was to be carried.

     The Ark was to be carried by the Levites, with poles.  Yet if you read the story, God did not strike the people down as soon as the people made a mistake... He let them continue.  That is until someone made the dreaded error of reaching out to steady the Ark when the oxen stumbled.  This is the part that I have always struggled with.  Yes, it was wrong to touch the Ark, but he did it for a good reason...right?  Why would God punish a man for keeping something so important from falling and being damaged?

     David and the Israelites neglected to follow the specific instructions that God had given them.  They didn't intend to sin, but they still sinned and eventually that bore a grave consequence.  David, full of fear, was not willing to take the Ark any further.  The Ark was put into the safekeeping of a man, who was in turn, greatly blessed by the presence of the Ark.   David became aware of the blessing upon the man, and that was all the encouragement he needed to realize that the Ark needed to come back Jerusalem.  So again, there was singing and dancing.  However this time they did things properly...and the Ark was carried on poles.  Every six steps, David sacrificed to The Lord...out of joy  ...and maybe relief that everyone was still alive!

     I find it amazing that God would let them get as far as they did.  He didn't punish them when they loaded the Ark onto the cart, or when they started on their journey.  The consequence came down the road...and at first glance it seems harsh.  If David had inquired of the Lord first, a death would have been avoided.  His eagerness was his downfall in this case...and another paid the price for it.

     How often have I, in my impatience, made a decision without bringing it to the Lord first?  Bringing all my thoughts, concerns, fears...is part of daily worship.  Worship is so much more than lifting hands and singing a song.  It's more than prayer and Bible reading.  Worship is giving my body, soul, and mind over to the Lord all the time..not just in a quiet moment or Sunday morning.

     I fail.  Everyday.  I fail to worship God as He deserves to be worshipped.  And He is patient with me.  There are times I cross that boundary and I 'touch the Ark.'  He corrects me and if I am sensible I will respond quickly.  And though I will face a consequence for my foolishness, He STILL wants me.

     There are also times when I truly believe that I am serving Christ, yet I am deceived by my own sinful nature.  It's not hard to twist scripture to give an interpretation that I like better than the one you give me.  Yet God is faithful and if I truly desire Him then He will ALWAYS reveal the sin in my heart to me.  It may take time, but it will happen.  When it does, He is there with forgiveness I do not deserve.

     As Christians it is important not to take over the role of the Holy Spirit to those struggling, but who aren't yet aware of their sin.  God can and does use people to reveal sin, so please don't misunderstand.  I am talking of extending grace to someone who is ignorant, not willfully committing a sin.  I have been far too quick to form an opinion as soon as I see someone stumble.  Shame on me. God is patient with me, and I am thankful....should I not follow His example?

     I wish I could adequately describe the light bulb moment I had while sitting in church when the pastor was speaking on this topic.

    The patience our Lord has for us is unbelievable.  How else could David be called 'A man after God's own heart?'  David longed to serve God, but he made some awful choices.  There is hope for me.  I will fail...that is inevitable.  Thank God my salvation is not dependant on MY behaviour, but rather on the amazing gift given to me.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Today I....

     Today I was a mean teacher and a bossy mom (they two don't always go together but today they were the dream team).

     Today I finally figured out how to use the new math curriculum that I have had sitting in storage for longer than I want to admit.  It's computer based and I am hoping it's a hit with the kids.  They sat willingly, for fun today, so I think we are off to a good start.

     Today I tackled my mounds of laundry AND my bedding.  It's never a good sign when the 5 year old walks into the laundry room and gasps because it's "a disaster."  But at the end of the day the best perk is crawling into a clean bed ;)

     Today I managed to get the kids through a full day of school...it's rare since I never know exactly what will be on the schedule.

     Today I was able to sit and read to my kiddos...so good.

     Today I ordered my children outside..multiple times.  As a result the winter boots are sopping wet because we have had amazing weather lately!  The snow is melting and the water is running.  It's worth the wet boots.  Plastic bag inserts here we come!

    Today I played a referee at least a dozen times.  I think a new crisis management system is in order...mine's broken.

      Today I was a shoulder for one overwhelmed child...this project is getting in the way of sleep and a much needed schedule.

     Today I started cleaning the basement of the house.  Baseboards need to be wiped, windows cleaned, and floors washed.  Only 2 rooms are done, but it's a start and a positive happening.  Nail hole filling will commence tomorrow.

     Today I was humbled by the maturity I saw in my oldest when he saw me struggling with conflict and emotions.  To know that he was willing to help wherever he could was indeed a blessing.

     Today I learned the art of pulling out a badly stuck bobcat.  In the process, and it's a long story, I may have smelled mildly of sewage...gag.  Of all the places to get stuck, our septic field system is really the worst spot.

     Tomorrow I.....will do laundry again!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Best Medicine #2

     Having just turned 37 I feel that I should be, at least on some level, mature.  By nature I am not the pensive, contemplating kind of person that is usually seen as wise.  I am learning....I think.  My 30's have definitely challenged my happy-go-lucky attitude, and I'm not the perky optimist that I used to be.  Building, babies, sub-dividing (weird I know), churches, and family have all gone through some rough patches which have left me slower to speak, quicker to think.  It's a good thing.

     I used to be the person that went to bed at 1am and hopped out of bed at 7am...wide awake, sparky, and according to a sister...irritating.  For a few years I was a house cleaner for a small business that my dad bought.  It was a decent first time job, and I got to work with two of my sisters off and on.  My younger sister Kari and I were always close.  We shared a room, a bed, and a job so we spent a lot of time together.  From perfume fights (ugh) to jumping in glacier run-off in march, we made memories...and no matter how angry we were at each other, we always said 'I love you' before going to bed.  Sisters...they come right after my husband and children.

     Maria was the quiet, studious, stinkin' smart, piano-blessed, sister.  The one that put you to shame in piano practice...the one that aced her tests, and for a short season she and I worked together.  Oh My!!  How I bugged her...kind of on purpose.  Maria was not a chatty morning person, I, on the other hand, talked too much (I pray that has tempered somewhat).  It  occurred to Mitch (in this house she is only know as 'Mitch')  that if we were going to work together, there had to be a boundary put in place.  She decide that 'boundary' would involve silence...complete silence for an entire hour after I picked her up.  Her golden hour started at 8am and ended promptly at 9am....I would watch the clock and try to have something ridiculous to say at precisely 9...immature I know.  I do remember her laughing about it then, I know I sure did, and even now I smile.  Memories and sisters go hand in hand.

     Where is all this going?  Well, in a nutshell,  I know I have aged and matured, but a part of me still wants to laugh and be the eternal optimist.  My sisters were the first people in my life who put up with me...that has transferred to my children...poor dears.  Because I still love to pull a prank or hide behind a corner just to see them laugh.  I have 1 boy that falls to the floor upon surprising him...and 1 boy that is incredibly easy to prank.

     Last night the carpet started going in the house, and of course the underlay went in first.  I was surprised when I took a look at it, bright red, fit for royalty all the way down the stairs.  Anyway, at some point Taylor wandered into the house, and in a split second of inspiration I told him to look at the rug on our stairs. (the back story is that Taylor is disgusted with my colour choices in the house..it's too light and white)  Well, you should have heard the excitement coming from that child.  He thought it was "AWESOME" and "Finally, some colour in here!!"  Then he saw the unfinished edges and nails,  did a 180 turnabout,  and bolted from the house.  And his 'wise' mother burst into fits of laughter. (I'm 37 people, not 87)  Obviously I am going to need to put colour in his room somewhere.

     A merry heart is good medicine, and laughter is good for the soul.  In the daily grind of life, it's easier to frown instead of smile.  But when I do reach 87, I want laugh lines on my face.  I want my children to remember their mom smiling and laughing with them...not complaining about all the things that didn't go well.  Now if I only I could figure out how to make this apply to our Math lessons ;)



Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Snippets of the last week

     We are in the last stretch of our house project and with that comes chaos.  Trying to get everything done in the house and the shop is proving to be impossible, so the picking and choosing of chores has begun.  Laundry and food are essentials so that gets to stay (yay!!), but dusting?  Vacuuming corners?  Those days are gone.  My cupboards  have needed to be cleaned for the past few months, and my appliances are multi-layered with fingerprints.  Besides, I know that in a week or two I get to clean the new house from top to bottom, and I'm conserving my cleaning attitude for that time :)

     Much has been accomplished in the last few weeks, and the next few weeks should be just as rewarding, so listed below are snippets of house stuff and our life....in no particular order

  • Gord's nephew finished his course and his stay with us....that homeschooled young man finished at the top of his class (encouragement for this mother to continue)
  • our vinyl floor is installed...and it looks even better upstairs in the sunlight :)
  • carpet is coming in tomorrow in our bedroom and the family room downstairs so a major cleaning of the house is happening tonight (also why my shop is neglected)
  • I am almost done painting and re-painting our plank walls.  4 COATS of paint...at least..on those walls.  Worth every drop.
  • the trim will be finished this week...which is great because moving trim around from room to room is getting old
  • my 5 year old is becoming quite the cowboy...I watched him try to teach a 4 year old the concept of a pistol duel...It looked like something out of a Don Knotts and Tim Conway movie
  • yes, our boys play with guns....we have rules ;)
  • I spent an entire day in town, as in 9:00am to 9:00pm....did you know that was possible?  I didn't even have time to get to the mall as the hardware stores were calling my name.  
  • our shower is tiled and it looks lovely...the hardware has yet to be installed, but it's ordered and on it's way
  • pretty sure my 12 year old is my height now
  • I fell off a chair.  Correction, the chair that I was standing on while painting cracked and sent me flying across my newly installed floor...with a container of paint in my hand.  Paint went flying, I went sprawling.   Thankfully the injuries are minor...and with a lot of scrubbing the paint came off.  Not my most graceful moment ever.
  • a Bible passage that I had been wrestling with became clear as day to me....I should really post about that next.  I love when a passage I have read over and over suddenly takes hold and has a meaning for me.  
  • a bit of stress has eased in my life with a phone call.  I know that sounds cryptic, but a situation that I have been struggling with has turned a good corner.
  • one of my boys has taken to wearing a badly buttoned dress shirt and pistol at all times
  • I have started putting together my cabinets...the base cabinets are done, and I hope to finish the uppers this week as well.  
  • I am trying not to dwell on the 1million nail holes that need to be filled...anybody interested in coming for coffee??
  • I have talked my sister Mitch into coming over on friday to help me keep my sanity, although they are in the middle of extensive renovations so it might be a lost cause....bahahaha
     Well, that gives you a picture of life around here lately.  One thing I didn't mention is what a great network of friends God has placed in my life.  Whether it's for encouragement, or an unexpected pail of brownies, God is sustaining me.  Some of you know that the house has only been part of the chaos, but rarely does anyone have only one source of frustration.  Relationships are so important; possibly why the enemy works  hard to destroy them.  Not all our ties with people are pleasant, but God is still to be glorified in our handling of each situation.  I long for Godly ties with people....relationships built on Christ.  Often I have found that my pride has gotten in the way, or sometimes it's a simple case of misinterpretation.  Whatever the case, if the goal is Christ, and if my hope is in Him, then I can trust that He will direct MY footsteps in the way I should go.   I really have to stop waiting for God to start leading everyone else on their path!  Have you done that too?  "If she would just get her act together, then things would be good."

     Ah, yes.  Too often I don't want to be the person who makes the effort to seek those who wound me.  I want them to recognize the hurt they have caused on their own.  Why?  Pride, that's all..just pride.  It's hard for me to admit when I have been wounded, yet biblically it's the right thing to do.  Often we hurt others without any knowledge of the pain we caused...we are an ignorant people.  However, if we are truly seeking Christ, shouldn't we want to know if we have given offence?  And shouldn't the correct response be to ask forgiveness even if it was not our intention to wound?  God knows our heart but others do not, and that is the problem.  God meant for us to be able to clearly communicate our hurts and needs....pride keeps us from doing so.  Correction, pride keeps ME from doing so.

    I pray your week is blessed and full of joy.  Whatever situation, crisis, child-training, house-keeping, baby feeding moment you find yourself in, know that HE does sustain you.  Our hope is in Him, not the moments we find ourselves in.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

'Shopped' out

     Well, the day has finally come  when I have to agree with all the people that questioned our sanity when we told them we were going to live in our shop.  It's been over two years since we've called this place home....I feel that alone is worth a meaningless badge.  Granted I did have a dishwasher, and a laundry/mechanical/cold/storage room, HOWEVER, do you know what it's like to have ZERO closets?  Unending dust? No doors to hide the messes behind?  Oh, and my favourite, privacy.  How I miss thee...

     Last week was a hard one and I was needing a bit of privacy.  I had myself a good cry/talk session with God, but I had to go over to the house for the space I needed to do it.  I was painting and crying...therapeutic actually.  Anyway, I was thankful for the moment away to think and get the needed tears out.  And in the end my heart was lighter, and my walls whiter.

     White.  White almost everything, that's my new thing.  I might be going overboard but I can always repaint.  Although my 12 year old is borderline disgusted with my colour (or lack of) choices. I mentioned also painting my table, and Taylor was almost excited, until he realized I meant white.  He's never been one to shy away from voicing his opinion....that's bound to get him in trouble ;)  He makes me smile daily.  He used to make me cry, back when I was an inexperienced, tense, first time mom.  Now I am learning to appreciate his sense of humour even if it often comes at the wrong moments.  We were eating supper and I happened to see a Blue Jay out of our tiny window and I mentioned to Gord how excited I was to be able to look out everywhere in the house.  (lots of windows) I also talked about a bird feeder which caught Taylor's attention.

        "Hey Mom, when we move in the house, don't put the screens back in the windows."

     I caught on right away, and shot down his plan of attack on the birds.  We then had to discuss being an ethical hunter.  Hunting.  That's all that's on his mind these days, and I am relieved that we seem to be past the obsessive Lego stage.  I love seeing my boys running around outside exploring and hunting.  Although I caught my 5 year old carving on the front deck...the knife was dull, but he managed to whittle a branch down to almost nothing.  Oh he was proud!  As long as we have band-aids and rules we should be okay.

     We are in the last stages of our House Project, and we are all tired.  Tired of late nights, tired of decisions, tired of unscheduled days, and tired of this shop-turned-storage unit.  My kitchen cupboards are slowly being moved into the house.  You would think that extra space would help, and it will, however moving the boxes into the house creates a whole new pile of work.  Between mornings of laying flooring and evening of putting together kitchen cabinets, the shop work is falling far far behind.  Having 1 washroom makes cleaning simple enough, but with 6 people in and out daily it's hard to keep up.  And food...living out of town is so inconvenient at times.  There is no take-out coming home on the days when cooking is the last thing on my mind.  But so far everyone is still alive... obviously it's not too bad.

     I  am looking forward to moving into the house.  I have enjoyed the shop life, but I am anxious to finish this 7 year project.  I am thankful that we have had a cozy home these last two years, but honestly, I am ready for elbow room, another bathroom, a basement, and closets!  I am ready to have a full size kitchen again, and windows that show all the dust and fingerprints.  Oh yes, I am ready...too bad the house isn't ;)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Best Medicine #1

     I've had to control my giggles this morning with one boy.  He's been very frustrated while doing his schoolwork.  And usually that's no laughing matter for me.  My goal is to encourage..gently.  However I just couldn't help myself when I saw his dilemma.  He is slowly getting a handle on reading, but today he was sitting in great frustration.  I asked him why...thinking he was having trouble with words.  No, he read them fine...perfectly.  His problem was figuring out how to answer each question.  They weren't difficult questions, but did require that he check 'YES' or 'NO.'  He was  taking them a bit too seriously.  He's a deep thinker ;)

     Can you slap a big bug? - "Well, what if its REALLY  big?"  I am serious when I say he was deep in thought over this, and it bugged (HA!!) him that he couldn't answer quickly because he was thinking so hard.

     Can you skip up a hill? - "What if it's a REALLY steep hill?" Again, he was almost in tears...and I couldn't help but smile.   How do you explain to a child that this question is simple?  No hidden agenda questioning your physical ability.  It's not a trick question.  But I am positive that he was wondering if he had EVER skipped UP a hill...maybe down..but that's different right??  He is my boy with an eye for the specific and particular.  He is my boy that feels colours on his skin.  He is unique...and he is mine!

      Thankfully, my smile made him smile and he got through all of his questions.  Although he was quick to point out that the fox in one picture DID NOT look like a fox but like a cat, so answering a question about the fox proved to be a challenge.   I believe this trait will serve him well in life..we need deep thinkers.

     I do not claim to be a deep thinker, but I do understand the crying-over-nothing part.  Just last week I'm sure I burst into tears when I found out our trim for the house needed to be modified.  Yesterday I was ready to throw a fit because I had difficulty getting to my freezer in the back of the shop due to all the boxes of lights, cabinets etc that sit in the path.  Ah yes...the short fuse is inheritable.  So while I smile at the little frustrations of my son, you would think I could learn to laugh at the irritants in my life.  Laughter can go a long way.   I am trying...and often failing.   Yet I claim the wise words of Anne Shirley, "Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it...yet."


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Lessons In Irony

     I had a minor revelation last week.  Ever since I met Gord, his world has slowly become mine.  I started taking an interest in his interests/wants/needs.  I suppose it's a good thing...but lately it has  becoming increasingly disturbing.  I find myself going to town and purchasing things that have NEVER been on my shopping list.  Why??  For him.  I'd say he's got me good.   Gord will casually mention something he's thinking about, and without realizing it I've tucked that little bit of info into my already full brain.  Weeks or months might go by and then, VOILA...I find what he's been looking for.

      It all started shortly after we made the move from 'Up North' to 'Not so Far North.'  Gord had been wanting land to build a house.  Of course, from previous posts, you all know that I was not really on board with that.  'Terrified' would be a better description.  Yet I was the one who actively started searching for land.  I still remember the day I found it and Gord's excitement over the find.  Not long after we bought it.  My fault.  Fast forward 8 years and we are still dealing with the effects of 'my find.'  God has a wonderful sense of humour :)

      Prime example, Gord had been wanting a bigger T.V for years already.   I was adamantly against having anything too big in our shop.  First of all, where would we put it??  We have very limited space and I did not want such a worldly looking contraption in my living room.  It was always understood that it would happen in the new house....sort of a 'buy it yourself' housewarming gift.  So a funny thing happened when I went to town after Christmas.  After 2 weeks of not being in a grocery store, I was needing to go in the worst way.  Plus I had to pick up the paint for the house....lots of it.  Seeing as how it would be a big day and I needed all the space possible, I went alone.  After buying groceries I went to the paint store, which was conveniently located close to Costco.  As they were preparing my order,  I decided to go 'browse.'  Long story short, I came home with a massive grocery haul, massive pails of paint.....and (oh the shame) a massive T.V.  I doubt I will ever live this one down....it's sitting in my living room ;)  Oh, and it's completely possible to fit this all into a mini-van!

     I am not the only one who makes the odd impulse buy though.  A few weeks ago I picked out the tile for our shower and Gord kindly went to go pick it up for me.  He purchased all the supplies and brought them home, as well as a little something extra.  On the back of his truck?  A quad!!!  Yeah its 20+ years old and only $700...but it's in great shape and has been well-used by our boys already.  As much as I would like to bug him about it...I can't.  I'm the one who found it online.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Birthday Thoughts

     This post my sound superficial to some of you.  If you have never moved away from family, you might not understand....that's okay.  When you move you leave behind family, friends, and traditions.   It took me a long time to understand why my birthday often left me sad.  I watched friends have family get togethers and celebrate each other.  I left that behind when I moved away from home, and though I loved my new life, I missed those times with my own family.  Roots are a blessing to have, but some of us will be transplanted to a new environment.  Everything is different for those who move.  You have to find a new support system.  This became painfully apparent when I had children.  There was no sister coming over to do laundry or mother coming to calm a fussy baby so I could sleep.  From having babies to having birthdays, my life changed.  It affected me more than I realized.   I often felt selfish for wanting to celebrate my birthday, and felt silly for talking to Gord about something so little...so I didn't.  Gord always remembered and would buy me something special, but I missed the getting together with people.  I was missing traditions.

      This past weekend we celebrated my birthday.  Another year starting, another year closer to the end of my 30's.  Guess what?  Age stopped being a factor for me once I turned 30.  30 was a hard one for me, and I kind of played a role in that.  I specifically remember Gord asking me what I wanted to do and if there was something I wanted.  I lied.  My birthday comes exactly one month after Christmas...just about the time you've paid all the December bills!  That year it was a little tight so I (trying to be mature and selfless) said "Oh we don't have to do anything."  Oh be careful what you wish for.  I obviously should have thought about my words a little more carefully.  I was thinking he would still do SOMETHING...but no, he followed my instructions perfectly.  I can't really blame him can I?  Anyway, long story short... I was wrong.  Wrong to expect him to go against my wishes and do something amazing.  Lesson learned!

     I laugh about this with my sisters...they all had a disappointing 30th birthday as well.  Misery loves company :)  I've come to find that many of my friends also cried on their big day.  What is it with us??  I expected Gord to read my mind instead of just telling  him what would be special to me.  I have found my 30's a time of practicing honesty and  (the famous political line) transparency.   As much as I would like Gord to figure everything out on his own, marriage doesn't work that way.  I had high expectations and was often disappointed.  It's humbling for me to go to him and tell him what I need or want, but it works.  Men seem to be able to do this early on in their life...women not so much.  We want them to anticipate our needs before we even realize we have one.  We make it hard for everyone.  I am hoping I have (mostly) overcome this fault and am reading to tackle another one.

     At one point Gord and I talked, again, about what I would like to do on my birthday.  Birthdays were a big deal when I was growing up, and mom always did something special.  It wasn't  expensive or grand, but we felt special.  As I grew older, contributing to someone's birthday was exciting as well.  I wanted to make my mom smile with a specially picked out, unpractical gift.  I finally shared with Gord how important it was to me...and over the last 7 years it's become important to him as well.    He also has 4 incredibly willing helpers who will always remind him that 'The Day' is coming closer and they 'Need' to go to town.  Now this may all sound shallow and selfish to you.  But for me there is a lesson in it that I want our children to learn.  They need to learn to 'Give' in many ways.  Their time, their money, their service..etc.  I want them to love giving..it's a blessing.  A simple way to teach this is with the passing of family birthdays.

     I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday this year.  My sister Maria started it off days before the actual event by planning a supper out with some lovely ladies.  Thai food, laughter,  and the odd grammar lesson filled the evening.  I have thanked God many times for placing these people in my life and am honoured to have their friendship.

     I loved that my kids were excited to celebrate my birthday.  They carefully chose a simple gift and were so proud to give it to me.  The kids also carried on their tradition of picking out a cake for me.   I was humbled when I saw their faces...excitement, anticipation, and much love.  Gord warned me before that he had not interfered at all this year in their gift selection.  I was thrilled to see how each child picked something they thought I would love....and they got it right!  The boys also realize that Homesense is the store to go to ;)

     The only thing that I asked to do was to go bowling with some friends.  That was my wish..and we did.  I will not comment on the fact that I aggravated my pulled muscle...again.  Nor will I boast about beating Gord.  I am after all, 37, and that would be terribly immature.

     I don't know how it works in your home, but here I am the one to plan these things for our family. Just like my mom,  I plan the birthdays, the holidays, and so many more events.  I realize how much my mother set the tone in our family for these special times, and I missed that when I moved away.  God has now given me a family and I get to do the same things.  I am able to start traditions that my children will, I hope, love.  I enjoy doing this so much, and as our children get older I can see that every year they look forward to our own simple traditions.  I am thankful for what my mom did for me, and I am also thankful that for a season in my life, I missed her planning for it made me realize that it's my job as well.

     I hope in this year and with your coming birthday, you are able to make time to celebrate with people you love.  It's not just to benefit you, but to let others bless you.  These times of celebration should not be overlooked; it's a reason to fellowship and show love.  It's not about the years...EVER.



Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Mug

     I have a thing for coffee mugs and pretty cups.  It could be that this came from my mother who would specifically request that if we brought her a cup of water, to bring it in a pretty cup.  It's strange for me to be able to remember the exact cup that was her favourite, since I have the worst memory of all  my siblings.  But (and I know I'm not supposed to start a sentence with a  conjunction!!)  I always chose  a tall, cut-crystal glass, with a thin rim.  To this day I will always chose a feminine cup, if given a choice.  I think it's become a joke among friends and family.  I can also usually tell who drinks coffee in the house.  If it's only the husband,  the cupboard is bound to be stocked with the classic 'Trucker Mug.'  It's big and bulky with  ne'er a thin rim to be found.  "Shapes don't taste" I tell my children, yet in my mind I whisper "But they still feel."  It's all about the feeling.  Honestly I could dive so much deeper into this un-important topic, but I fear you've had enough.  

     So, back to the story.  With this past Christmas season and the purchasing of gifts, I found myself always browsing the pretty mugs in stores.  They weren't expensive, and I could have easily bought myself a new one, but I was holding off.  The reason being I was fairly certain that one of my littles would by me one as a gift.  So instead, I purchased 3 beautiful, thin, elegant coffee/tea mug as presents for various people.  I did my share of drooling, and I'm sure Gord was getting tired of it.  I wrapped them in the bext way I could, in fact, they looked like something off of Pinterest.  Slightly pleased I was.  I was giving a gift that I desperately wanted to keep...but really didn't need.  Anyway, I knew that they would be fun to give away.  And they were!  I even had the faint hope of keeping one since it went into a gift exchange...but my niece kept taking it back...gone it was.

     Christmas morning came, and my kids were so excited to give me their hand-picked presents.  They really did a great job at picking what they thought I would like.  Of course when dealing with a child's mind one should always be prepared for the unexpected.  Like the cute little measuring cups my oldest son thought I could use in the kitchen.  He thought it all out and decided they would be helpful to me...and they are useful.  Although, I use them far differently than the general public since I don't drink.  I still don't have the heart to tell him that he bought me shot glasses!!  

     As expected I did receive my much anticipated cup.  This came from my overtly sensitive and thoughtful son, every momma should have one of these :)  He picked this out because he thought it was pretty and because he knew I would like the colour.  How much better can it get?  Now, if I were to be realistic, it would NOT be what I would pick.  In fact, it's a feminine trucker mug.  That being said, HE picked it out for ME so I will use it until it falls apart.  I love it because I love HIM.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to him, this was beauty.

     It's not ugly, just not how I would define pretty, at least not now.   It's big too...so big my two hands cannot cup around it.  I used to love the clunky look, and now I want elegant and refined?  How fickle and shallow I can be!  It has shown me that my perception of 'Beautiful' changes.  Thankfully My Father stays the same....and He gives me grace to change.   For now, here on this mortal earth, I will continue to confuse my loved one's....and I wonder why they think I'm difficult to shop for??

     This mug has now become my first choice for my coffee...especially if my boy is around.  He's watching me like a Hawk.  One morning I used a different cup and he was worried that I didn't like his gift.  It means so much to him that I use what he, so carefully,  bought me.  How blessed am I? A mother prone to fail him everyday in some way, yet he wants to please me?  The little things sometimes speak the most to people.  This cup is such a little thing, but this boy has a long memory and if I can show him my love by such a simple act, then I will.  So simple.

     By the way, my mother now will drink out of a plastic children's cup (shudder), and she no longer cares.  There is hope for me yet ;)