Monday, November 16, 2015

Mommy Magic

I love having a baby in the house. I love snuggling up with a warm little bundle. I love how they look at me like I am the most important, beautiful person in the world. And I love how I can fix any problem, a bump on the knee, a sleepy head, or even frustration over a not being able to eat electrical plugs. A cuddle and a nurse usually puts everything right.


I just wish that lasted forever. I wish that I could fix every things for all my kids for ever. But I can’t. For my big kids, I can no longer make everything right with a hug. I wish that I could reach in and take out the fear and anxiety in the heart of one of my beautiful babies. I wish I could help another see himself as I see him, an intelligent, fabulous, and interesting person. I wish I could help my little boy not take everything so deeply to heart. But I can’t.


As much as it hurts my heart, I know that taking the hurt and difficulties away from my kids would not serve them well. When I step back a little I see that it is the hard things that will make my children into strong adults. I know that if they never have to struggle, they will not know how strong they are. Or if they never hurt they will never see how beautiful forgiveness is. But it still hurt me to see them sad, frustrated or scared. Sometimes I think it hurts me more. They bounce back and move on but I am still grieving for them and their tender hearts. I want to fix it and make all the bad stuff disappear.


But my four-year-old said it best. After some now long forgotten sadness she was very distraught. I was trying to fix it, to explain why it was not that bad, why she should cheer up. She looked up at me with those big blue eyes and said “Mom, I don’t want you to make it better. I just want you to know that I am sad.”

Oh right. I am not the magician who can fix every things, but I still have a little magic left. I am that place that is safe even if the world gets to big. I am the listening ear that can just hear what they are feeling when their emotions getting more complex than ever before. And I can still have a hug, even though it will not fix everything. It still helps.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The inner four-year-old

I think that inside all of us is an inner four-year-old just waiting to get out. It is that part of us that wants to run with "super jets " down the hotel hallway. Or order waffles no matter which meal it is. It is the part of us that would love nothing better than to lay floating on our back in the swimming pool singing very loudly to our selves.

Some how between the time we were actually four and now we have learned that social norms do not include these things and so we don't wear our favourite pants, shorts, skirt and dress all at the same time. But I think I would have a lot more fun if I did.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Beauty on the Plaines


I find it very easy to be thankful when I walk in this beauty. 



Sunday, October 4, 2015

Food and abundance.


I have not been blogging a lot lately. Don’t worry there has not been a big crises or big news to announce. I have just been busy. Very busy dealing with food.

Yes food. It is harvest time on Cananda’s prairie. Between our backyard garden, the produce from our CSA and my very generous friend's acreage. I have been over run. I am canning, freezing, and backing up a storm. It has become my new obsession. This week I have put up 12 jars of pickles, and 14 jars of tomatoes. I have got the crab-apples juiced and ready to make into jelly. The zucchini is still coming so I am now shredding it and freezing it to use in the winter. I am just our of time and recipes. That was just this week.



I have been back to the store to buy more canning jars four times and I am out again!

Yes I love it, and yes I am very excited to have good, local, healthy food put away for my family this winter but I am getting tired. I feel like it has become my full time job. My kitchen is nuts and I am running out of room for all these jars!

I have caught myself complaining about it all. My feet hurt at the end of the day and I was crazy frustrated when I had to throw out a whole box of cucumbers that I could not process before they when bad. Seriously, I am complaining that I have too much food, a great deal of it free. Hold The Phone?! This is crazy. I want all this food, I love it. I even prayed for a bountiful harvest. And now I am complaining.

You know, I have felt this same feeling before. There have been times where I am overwhelmed by things, or people that I love, by the abundance of what I have been given. And is that is the way God works. He give so much it blows us over. And if I do accept what God has to give me I love it but it will without question change my life and challenge me in new ways. And sometimes His abundance is so big that I don’t feel like I can handle it. It is too much. I am too small. I can’t take it all. (That is too much zucchini!)

But if I do say yes, I let His gifts come even if I can’t figure out what to do with it all, I am always better off. I have what I need in the “winter” moments.

But if my fear takes over it is ok.  Unlike my cucumbers God’s gifts don’t go bad. And if I can’t say yes today, He will offer it again.

Friday, September 25, 2015

CSA

Starting in March we have tried something new. We joined a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). Basically this means that we have our own farmer. Every month we pay Farmer Keith a certain amount and we get a share of what his farm produces. As a farmer he can count on receiving a wage regardless of the weather, crop failure, bugs ect. As a consumer I know where my food comes from. I know that my money is supporting a local family. And I get a crazy amount of food for a great deal.


Honestly I don’t know why this is not the normal way people get their food. Instead of going to the grocery store I get to go meet Keith on pick up day. I get to chat with the other members, get my food without the neon lights, the stuffy mall and the “Men’s Health” cover models staring at me in the line up.


Yes, I still have to go to the store sometimes because Keith does not have dairy cow nor does he grow pineapples. But I still think it is much better way to get our food.


Augustine’s first food was food that Keith grew. (They both thought that was great.) I now know how to cook Kohlrabi. (Last year I did not even know what that was.) I am beginning to understand how connected we really are to the earth. (We go only a few peas this year because the field flooded because we got too much rain in August.) We are eating healthier and for less money.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Mary!

Today is the feast day of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is a long winded way of saying it is Mary's birthday.

I try (and usually fail) to celebrate feast days and other notable liturgical times in our house. I think they are great times to teach the kids about different aspects of their faith, it connects us with the wider world church and it is a great excuse to eat cake!

So today we made Marry a birthday cake. But as any good mother she would like a healthier version (and I still have way too much zucchini) so she is getting a Chocolate Zucchini Cake.


Here is my recipe

2 cups pealed and sheared zuchinni (a little more if you are desperate to get rid of zucchini)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 teaspoon vanilla

mix all that together in a bowl

then in another bowl mix:

2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons backing soda
and 1/3 cups cocoa powder.

Add the wet to the dry and mix it all up. I add a handful or two of chocolate chips because I love chocolate.

Bake for about 25 to 30 mins at 350. 

This cake is so good that even my most picky, vegetable hating kid eats it. 


So happy birthday Mary. And happy feast day to you!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Day of School

We survived the summer.  Three camping trips, one working vacation and a family visit behind us. New teachers and new shoes ahead of us.
Now I think I will do something fun and relaxing today. Like reorganization my pantry.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Last days of summer

One of the great things about being married to a teacher is summer holidays. We have had lots of easy mornings with time for tea and books. But soon it will be back to school.  So we need to get as much in the next few days as we can.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to Have the (almost) Perfect Camping Trip

With our tent-trailer in tow we set out to have the perfect camping trip. And we (almost) succeeded. Here is how we did it.

Step 1: Pick an awesome family to go with you. This is the most important step. Ideally this family will remember to bring all the things you forgot. Like sand toys, after-bite and forks. Of course you might remember a few things they forgot. Like beer.

Step 2: Pick the perfect campsite. Most people would think that months of research and booking well in advance is the way to do this. Our technique is to wait until a few weeks before you want to leave and then pick the only site left in the province that has two spots available. But we still got the best spot ever.

Step 3: Get good weather. It is best to time your camping trip for right after the worst fire season in history. This is handy because you can still have a camp-fire but there are almost no bugs.



Step 4: Spend most of the day at the beach: Best activities are swimming, boating, sandcastle building and laying in the sun.



A few things to avoid. Titre-totter accidents that involve nine stitches! Or one camper getting a violent stomach flu. But if you insist, make sure your camping buddies include two seasoned nurses and a clinic twenty minutes away. 


These are what summer memories are made of. 


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Love Rebel

Spelling and writing have always intimated me. When at the end of grade two I could not read or write both my teacher and my parents knew something was a miss.  But it was not until grade five that I was officially diagnosed with dyslexia.  

Because of the loving support and hard work of my parents and some of my teachers I had a pretty successful school experience. But even in university writing was still very scary for me. I always had my long sufering sister read over my essays many times before handing them in. And later my cute, funny and smart boyfriend  (now husband, still cute, funny and smart) had to be my editor. 

I am still a horrible speller. My kids know to not ask me for help with spelling. Math, science, sure. Ideas on what to write, sure. But don't ask me how to spell anything. I'm not kidding - I am often stumped by grade three spelling words. 

So starting this blog a few years ago was a bit intimidating. The voice of some of my less-than-supportive teachers, and my inner critic are very loud and sometimes shout down great ideas. But they might not be able to shout so loud any more, as I am about to be published.

Yes, that is right, the dyslexic girl who failed grade two is now a published author. 


"Love Rebel", is a anthology of Catholic mom bloggers, available on Amazon and direct from me in Saskatoon. Anna Eastland has copies in Vancouver. 

Thank you to all of you for supporting me, for reading my blog, leaving comments and always encouraging me to keep writing. There is no way I could have done this with out you guys. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Four year old logic

Four-year-olds have a special view of the world. 

This summer we have been playing alot of cards. It is a dying art and lots of fun, most of the time.

But today, during a game of Old Maid, tears and screaming was the result.  Little Miss four-year-old was refusing to accept the queen when it came to her.  Big seven year-old brother was very upset by this cheating. 

When we asked Little Miss about it, she said, "I am the special princess, and princesses don't lose!"

Oh my, I have a job to do, or she may be awfully shocked at life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

In Praise of mess

As many of you know I don't like to clean. I find it tiring and frustrating. 
But I have always felt bad about having a messy house.  I have felt that somehow I was less virtuous or less deserving then other people because of my mess.

 This became more obvious when we moved. I had this beautiful big house of my dreams but I could not keep it picture perfect.  I remember thinking "it is not fair that I have this house when neater more organized people are living in apartments"

But you know what?  Lately I have started to question these thoughts.  Don't get me wrong, I still think there is a lot of good in cleanliness and organization. But I might have some virtues in my mess.

Two different friends on two different occasions have commented that they could learn from my relaxed ways. And these are amazing successful woman and loving mothers who, truth be told, I am a little intimated by. They always seem to have it all together.  But I kind of see what they might be getting at.

Yes my house is a mess and I am frequently found chopping vegetables with my cutting board balanced on top of three dirty plates of various sizes. But I also let my kids walk barefoot in the mud because it feels good. We spend our evenings playing  cards as a family in a messy kitchen . And I would way rather dig in the garden with our four year old then do laundry. 

Ok, this means that my kids always wear miss matched socks but I does not bother me. To be honest I think it looks kind of cool. My kids are often seen around town with breakfast still smeared on their face. 
But on the other hand my kids are not afraid to play and get messy. They make amazing creations in the back yard or their rooms. And my oldest just make milk shakes for his siblings in the new blender all by his self. (He asked permission, but was not worried about making a mess and neither was I)

Lots of times I am frustrated this my messy ways but I can see that sometimes the mess is part of a fun-loving, creative, relaxed family. Maybe I have a gift under all this laundry. A gift of remembering what is really important and not getting upset by the small stuff.

So next time we are all out on the town and I notice that one of us is still in their P.J.'s and another has two different shoes on I will remember that creative energy has its price.

Monday, July 6, 2015

First Fruits

After a week away I came home to a gift in the garden. But if the zucchini plants keeps this up my kids may not be so thankful to be eating zucchini at every meal!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Echoes of snow.

On a bright sunny summers morning it is good to remember what my world looked this only a few short months ago.




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How does your garden grow?

It has been a dry, hot month. This has meant that I have been out watering in the early morning,  usually with a cup of tea in hand. I love those moments. Standing in my bare feet,  pj's still on, listening to the birds sing their morning prayers.  Under that big sky that is often already heating up the earth I feel God in the simple existence of the earth. The biggest miracle I know is that any of this is here.

Friday, June 5, 2015

DIY Lady

Ok this might be bragging or boastful but look what I made!

I mean the baby carrier. Yes, I also made the baby but I can't take total credit for him.

I have been using a ring sling for the last few months with this little guy, but now that he is not so little my back was getting pretty sore. I could not find my old mei-tai carrier. (I think it got lost in the move). So crazy lady I am, instead of buying a new one, I make one.

I think the prairie pioneering spirit is infecting me!

(If you want the instructions I followed check out www.grumblesandgrunts.com)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It goes so fast

When I had my first child I was so excited by every new milestone he reached. I wrote everything down in his baby book. I even had to add in new sections to the book so I could include everything I wanted to record. I was very proud that he was "advanced" as he smile a week before the books said he should. I was so anxious for him to role over, sit up, crawl. I was always ready for the next step.
Us with our first born

But now, as I hold my youngest boy all I can think is that he is growing too fast. Over this first five months of his life I have held him every chance I could get. I held him even when "the books" said I should put him down. But with 12 years of parenting under my belt I know that the days that I can hold him will be over very soon.

Don't get me wrong, I was very happy to see his smiles come "early" and I will be excited when he starts to crawl and at his first steps. But they will also be a little bitter sweet because I know that those first unsteady steps will be the first of many that will take him on his journey.

I already miss his newborness. I love that he is so alert, that he laughs and interacts with his siblings. It was pretty fun the first time he rolled over. But I miss his little rolled up fists, his sleepy grey newborn eyes and that he was small enough to hold all the time. Now he is too big. My back gets sore, plus he wants to wiggle and move.


As I was doing laundry, I found a sleeper that he has outgrown. I held it for awhile before I put it away in my "too small" box. This sleeper was one that I passed down to all my kids. I know that twelve years ago, when my first wore that sleeper, some nice lady told me to treasure every moment because they go so fast. It was not that I did not believe her, but it felt like he would be this small forever. Every day (and night) felt like a year. But now, I get it. It goes so fast.

I know that I can not stop time. Nor do I want to hold my kids back. I want them to grow up and become they great people they are meant to be. But I want hold then now, as they are today. Not push them too fast forward either. Because they are only going to be this size once. And if I forget to pay attention I might miss it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Prize

Look at what I found in my cereal box! Now that is a good prize.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chaos you win.

Do you ever have those days that are just too much for you? Where at the end of the day you are farther in the hole then you were in the morning?

Well yesterday got the better of me. With a toddler that has dropped her nap and a fussy, mild fever baby I felt like I could get nothing done. I was still in my PJ's at noon. I would try to put the baby down for a nap and do some laundry but by the time I got the load in the machine he was up crying. I would try to engage the little girl but the cranky "I'm not tired" monster had taken her place.


By the time the big kids got home I knew the day was a total loss. I was not going to get any work done. I gave up. And it was the best thing I did all day. I stoped trying to look after my things and I started to focus on my people. Yes, dinner was pretty lame but we eat and talked around a messy table, in a messy kitchen. I helped with homework on the floor of the living room because there was no other flat surface that was clean. I watched puppet shows put on by my troop of Thespians and you know I did not even see the mess in the room. 

I am pretty sure that my kids could careless that the counters were full of dishes. I don't think that there fondest memories of childhood will be their mother in a mad cleaning frenzy. I think that they will remember the laughter and time together. 

Maybe one day I will have time to clean my house. Maybe I will have a vacuumed floor and not just a vacuum on the floor. But I hope that I will not care because I will have people to care about and things to do. In other words, even when the days get the best of me, I would not change how I live. But I might try to remember what (who) is important in this messy life more often. 



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Look Out World

The first place I went alone after I had our first child was to buy a tent. And we had a great time camping in that tent. But after three kids and many trips to and from the prairies we needed an upgrade. 
So we bought an old hippy bus. That was lots of fun but westies have notoriously bad engines and ours was true to it kind. But we were very comfy while waiting for the engine to cool down!
Well, we are about to start the third chapter in our camping adventures.
And what could go wrong?

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Squishing Makes Us Stronger

I love to make bread. I have ever since I was in grade 11, when I read a recipe in the Canadian Living, and instead of studying for my finals I thought I would give it a try. It turned out to be that best and tastiest procrastination technique ever. Then and now, I like to make bread by hand, not with a bread machine or mixer, but with my hands all wet and gooey.
The other day I was making bread with my daughter. We were kneading out the dough in the bowl and my daughter asked me why I was squishing the bread. I said we need to squish the bread to make it strong. The more we squish the bread the stronger it gets. She thought that was funny, but it started me thinking. I think it's true not just for bread. The more we get squished, the stronger we get. This seems to be true in my own life.
When I go through hard things at first I feel sad, scared and lonely. I feel like I'm getting squished and I can't see why it's happening. It often seems pointless but after some time, after some rest, I see that I'm stronger. I'm better, more who I want to be. I've seen this in friends of mine who faced tragedies and have come out the other side or are in the process of coming out the other side to be stronger and better people. Even in the midst of our pain we are growing stronger. Unfortunately, I can't always see it in the moment.
When I think of those times that have been hard for me sometimes I felt like God trying punish me or make my life horrible. Even though I knew it was not true I still felt like God must be punishing me if life was hard or that I must be doing something wrong if life was not perfect. If it's hard to get the baby to sleep I must have done something wrong. If my kids aren't perfect then obviously I am a bad parent. But if I stop to think a little I realize that it's the squashing the makes us stronger. It's the hard parts that make us better. If life was always easy, my kids were always well behaved, or the baby always acted like the books said he should I would never learn how to be strong. It seems backwards but it is when I am my most weak and hopeless that I learn strength and hope. If life was always a Hollywood movie then I would never be who I was meant to be. I would never know how tough I can be. So even when it is scary I need to let the squishing come. It is the only way to get strong. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter

Nothing says "Christ is Risen " like chocolate for breakfast. New life out of death, the triumph of good over evil, the gift of eternal life and tooth decay. Alleluia!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Boil, boil, toil and trouble

As you know I like to make things on my own. Things that most people would rather buy because it costs more to make it, takes lots of time or is of better quality bought from a store. Things like bread, mittens, cheese and jam. I could say that I love the process and that home-made is so much better then store bought. That I can put love into these things as I make them. And sometimes this is true. I think that we have lost something by separating our selves from the process of creation. I feel closer to the Creator while I am creating. But sometimes the process is fraught with mistakes, the end product is spotty at best and I am putting in more swear words than love.

Well, now I have a new way to explore the world of do-your-self. My brother in law bought me a beer making kit for Christmas. And you can imagine how excited I was. Of course I was 2 days post-partum, so it took me a while to get working.

But once started this project had all the highlights of my other at home projects. Plus a few surprises. The first day involved a trip to the hospital!
Little did I know that cutting a hole in the top of the fermentation bucket could be such a sacrificial gift on the part of my long suffering husband.


I learned a lot, had a lot of fun and laughs. But I also got very wet, spilt beer all over the carpet, used some words I should not have and got very confused.

But last night was the moment of truth.  And you know, it was worth it. (Well, maybe if we forget the hospital visit).

We gave the human sacrifice the first glass!

I am already researching my next brew. Any requests?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We are all a little bit Irish

I love St Patrick's day. We all need a little fun half way through lent. While maybe you have more fortitude then I do, but I sure like an excuse to let loose a bit.


But St. Patty's day has more for us then Guinness stew and green beer. With St. Valentine and St. Nick, he is one of the last widely recognized saints. And I think that saints still matter. I believe that when our loved ones die they are not gone, separated form us forever. Nor do I believe that their spirit comes back in another form. I believe that they live on, closer to us then they ever could be while on earth. That is what the saints are. 

I like knowing that I have a whole bunch of people who care about me and are there to back me up even if I can't see them. Just like my grandparents had a lot to teach me in how they lived, so does St Patrick. Here is a little of his wisdom.

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.

So while you savour your Kilkenny today say a little hello to St. Pat, and ask him to look out for you, because today we are all a little bit Irish.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Spring is On It's Way

I am ready for spring.
Last year I had more fun in the winter then I did this year. We went out snowshoeing and for family walks. We went sledding tons. And I am sure you remember our rink!  But this year I'm ready for spring. I'm tired of mittens and hats and coats. Tired of the wind slapping me in the face. Luckily the weather is cooperating. This week most of our snow is starting to melt. Of course this means the whole town is in a giant mud puddle. But it has got me excited about my garden. So in a leap of hope and faith I have started my seeds. I think starting spring seeds is the ultimate show of hope. Hope that the winter really will be over one day. One day the ground in my backyard will be soft enough to actually dig. So little seeds, I have great hope for you.

Here's to spring on the prairies!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gratitude

I am doing something different for lent this year.  I figured that with a new baby I needed something simple and easy. I also needed something easy to remember. I don't have much room in my brain these days.
I got this idea from my moms group so don't think that I am creative or anything.
All you have to do is get a recipe box and some index cards. Now every day you take one card, write the month and day in one corner and on the top line write one word or phrase that you are thankful for.  That is it. Put the card at the back of the box and repeat tomorrow.
You can make your box pretty or add nice dividers for the months. But it is really that simple. And it can keep going for years. 
I love it. Now every day I force myself to be thankful and it has sort of infected my whole day. I keep seeing more and more good things in my life. It is hard to be grumpy when all you see around you is blessings.