Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Waiting and Blogging

A sweet friend suggested that I try using the blogger app so that I might be able to get more little moments in life captured. 
So here I am waiting in the parking lot at church to pick up Morgan from youth. 

It's senior youth now- is that what  they call it? Wondering things like that makes me feel a little old. They probably have some cool name for it like Turbulence and I just haven't picked up on it yet. 

But no matter how old I feel, I keep pictures like this as the background on my phone to remember how great the next stage of life is going to be. 

My lovely children, Who long-ago figured out my password and know that I can't be bothered to change it, thought they would update my phone to iOS 7 and include a bunch of other photographs you know, in case I was ever lonely. Bless it.  

So now I try not to get motion sick from the new update on my phone because you know- old.  And then I smile, because there's nothing that says I love you like a goofy photographs stuck to the phone of a mom who doesn't really know how to, or want to get rid of it.

Life is changing. 

Life is good. 

Happy October everyone!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Anthems for $500 Alex

This song.

Powerful words.  Incredible imagery and story telling, my favourite kind of song.  I love it, and it fits the bill for Anthem of This Season. You have anthems too, right? I can't remember not having one.  My anthems are usually songs that grow courage and conviction; songs that I could listen to, or play on the piano and belt them out endlessly because they so perfectly describe life, where I want to go, and how I want to get there.  

I'm pretty sure the idea for this song comes from Matthew 14:22-33- where Jesus and then Peter walk on the water.  Often the story is used as a call for greater faith - we focus on the part where Peter starts to sink. "Have more faith folks - don't be like Peter". 

I wonder if we miss the point, or at least a point there - Peter was, after all, the only one who got out of the boat.  

What is certain is that if you do jump out of the boat  the other people left behind might think you're nuts -because after all, they aren't even sure if you're following Jesus onto the water.  It might just be a ghost.  Or you might be crazy.

But won't we do more for the kingdom of God if we get out of our safe little boats and walk where Jesus calls us?

I think for any of us with faith in Christ there is a place we've been asked to go, something we've been asked to do that requires incredible faith, trust and courage. 

I'm really good at those things when I'm kind of able to see or know how things are moving or where things are going. 

I realized, however, (for the 500th time in my life) this past week, that faith - because I can understand, courage- because there is no risk that I can see, and trust- because I can see where I'm going to land, is control wearing a cute dress and that's about it.

Where have you been called out onto the water?

Faith begins when we're willing to say "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come out onto the water".

Trust builds when we recognize the voice that simply says:  "Come."

Courage grows when we leave everything that we understand to be keeping us safe and we step out of the boat; where we begin to do the things that can not be done in our own strength, but only in the name of Jesus.

It's almost certain that we will mess up.  But I think I would rather fail in the water than stay safe on the boat. Out on the water is closer to Jesus.  That's where I want to be. 

You call me out upon the water - the great unknown where feet me fail
And there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.

No water wings.  No flippers.   No boat.

Just faith, trust, courage and Jesus in the middle of the ocean. 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters where you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could even wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.


Monday, August 26, 2013

That Time When I Took Pictures...

I've talked before about what a horrid photo documentation skills I have.  But there are times when I really do try.  And I know I can and should blame getting older/having too many children/ car accident/ being distracted/ being me/ shall I continue???  for forgetting a lot of things, but I just know that I have taken pictures at certain events for the express purpose of I don't want to forget because, oh look, brownies!

Well, what do you call it when you know.  YOU. KNOW.  you took a bunch of pictures of an event worth documenting and now you can't find them?

What do you call it when you write the post with said I would bet my life I'm so sure I took them photos in mind and then you can not CAN. NOT. find those pictures anywhere? ANWHERE!! on  your computers and backup files and you think maybe you should pay 24.95 to do an apple backup extractor thing but you did after all marry a guy who magics computers for a living and maybe he could find them but you kind of don't want to wait till he gets home because, well, do I really need to say why because?

What do you call it?????   (Aside from poor grammar and sentence structure?)

You call it welcome to my world,  that's what.

This was, afterall, going to be part of the great blogging about nothing and everything comeback that my 30 loyal followers, plus my Mom have been waiting for.  But maybe my life is meant to be like those deep thinkers at www.despair.com have been saying for years:

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

And if that's true, I might need to rethink everything.  Or at least have some chocolate.

What's thrown you for a loop today?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Any Given Thursday aka for Kelly

My friend Kelly asked for a post.  Not a specific post - just a please write something, anything because apparently you still have a blog kind of request.

So I thought for a while and I wondered, what would happen if I just started to write?

It has been a while. But she may regret asking me to write - because I'm just gonna let it fly and see where we end up.

So far two paragraphs and two deletes.  Letting it fly isn't really working either.

Help me Kelly!

Let's see.

Right now.

Right now my house is quiet.  The one thing we do around here with unflinching consistency is quiet time. After lunch.  Whenever we are home.  We all settle into our own separate spaces and we practice, some of us better than others, being still.  Resting.  Away-ness from one another so we can better enjoy all the togetherness that makes life awesome. It is one of my favourite times.  Not just because I get an hour and half "off the clock" but because it feels so, I don't know, counter-culture maybe.   Sometimes my greatest goal in it is to be completely frivolous and to have nothing to account for, not even sleep when it is all over.  It  would be a great time for me to write more purposefully.  Hmm.  Something to think about.

There's often this funny-to-me conversation that happens at least, oh, once a week after the "How long is quiet time" question gets asked. (it's almost always an hour and a half, for the record)   And my answer is always, always, ALWAYS the same.  And yet, so is the conversation, proving the dilligence (or maybe it's lack of listening, but I'm trying to frame it positively) is something my kids don't struggle with.

The parler goes something like this:

What can we do during quiet time?

Reading or Resting.  That's it.  Same as always.

Can't we watch a movie?


Or draw?


Or paint? Play video games? Learn a new instrument?

Negatory.  Are you new here? 

And with that quiet time begins.

Why only reading or resting?  It seems arbitrary, and in many ways it is, except that it's a decision that was made in the early days of quiet time in order to cut down the number of questions and possibilities that come from their imaginations and desires... to the power of 5.  We have myriad books,  and anything else has the potential for argument, opinions, or actual mess, and quite honestly there is enough of that to deal with the other 12 hours a day that everyone is awake.

So quiet time is what's happening right now.  Except that my youngest two are half-talking and half-fighting with each other.  I guess I have to go and remind them of what quiet time actually means.  Again.


Here's a random thought for you, Kelly. (I'm guessing at this point, you might be the only one left reading, just because you're kind and this is clearly not the best writing I've ever done)

I think that "again" is an important word as a parent.  I should paint that on a canvas or stitch it on a pillow or something. To be willing to do whatever it is again.  How many times does take to teach a child kindness for life?  Maybe the answer is just once more.  Perhaps if I stopped looking for the end where there isn't one, I wouldn't find again so frustrating.  It's just part of my job as a parent.  To teach it again.  Once more.  With feeling. 

Sometimes I'm tempted to think my only job is to be my kids cheerleader and to wish I could ignore the training that needs to happen.  But what my kids really need is a coach.  Or maybe a trainer is a better word. Coaches and trainers worth their salt are also encouragers - but really, a cheerleader's only focus is what's happening now.  A trainer also must look to the future.

Again is what trainers excel at.  They keep coming up with new methods, new techniques, new strategies, all aimed at reaching a higher goal than the athlete can achieve today, because they see their athlete's potential.

Trainers become students of their athletes.  They want to know them as well as they can so they can train them as best as possible.  And let's not even go down that rabbit trail of how they don't worry about what the high jump trainers are doing if their athlete is made for swimming laps. No.  Let's not go there, but let's make the obvious connections. :)

Trainers believe in what that athlete will be capable of once they complete their training. That, at the end of the race is when the trainer will get the biggest thank-you for not letting me quit.  The biggest hugs, the biggest shouts of joy are reserved for crossing the finish line.

So that's what I thought of right now.  Sitting here in my living room, during quiet time.  It's just a regular Thursday I guess.

How'd I do Kelly?  Maybe the request should be a little more specific next time :)

What did you think of today?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Are We There Yet?

This is gonna be short and sweet - but it's something at least!

I read this hilarious post on Jen Hatmakers blog today and all on my own, in my living room, in my sassy green chair that is more comfortable to sit in than it looks, I laughed out loud.  I reposted.  I wanted to stand up and cheer and shout "Me TOO!" 

It was somehow freeing in that moment to admit that I too am a Worst End of School Year Mom.  Care to join me?

There are lots of great things about homeschooling. I highly recommend it!  But getting to the almost-end of the school year is just totally depressing. It can be downright disheartening.  Thank you Jen, for giving me permission to say so.

I know that homeschooling Mamas are a strange breed to many.   And I don't want to speak for everyone, because if there's one thing I've learned about homeschoolers is that they really really don't like to be categorized.  But I want to say this to my comrades in arms:

You do NOT have to always have it all together.  Especially in May.  It's okay to admit you can't wait for the school year to be over.  It doesn't mean you should quit homeschooling (unless it does, and that's ok too!) You don't have to prove that what you are doing is important.  It is. End of story.  Just remember we're all in this together - Sisters sending their kids to public school.  Girlfriends sending their kids to private school.  You teaching your kids at home.  You are all raising and loving your kids the best way you know how.  So be real.  When we are real we free one another to be different.  Different is good.  

Just be faithful. And remember this my homschooling sisters :

If you feel like you have wrecked your kids more this year than if they were in  a traditional school - take heart - it's probably not true.  I'm fairly certain my kids will end up wrecked no matter where I send them and I don't like packing lunches, so we homeschool. (We all have our reasons, okay?)  I'm collecting pop cans to contribute to their therapy bills.  It helps me sleep at night - especially in May.  

If you wake up every morning in May and your kids are at each other and you wish to sweet heaven that you had six field trips that someone else could take them on - you are still a good Mom and teacher.  Just maybe not today. And here's the best part Mama - that's okay.  We can't always be awesome. Seriously.  We can't. Noone can. So here's what I suggest:  Call a friend.  Tell her you need to practice socializing your kids.  Put on the telly and let your kids brains turn to mush while you and your girlfriend eat from the hidden chocolate stash and cry about how tired you are until you laugh at how funny life is and you wouldn't trade it for anything.

If you find yourself three quarters of the way through your curriculum and you just can not CAN. NOT. do one more lapbook or diorama of a tsetse fly habitat - just let it go. That report card is important, don't get me wrong - but it's NOT a report card on you.  Let that one sink in.  It will change your life if you believe it. 

Do your best.  Every day.  But remember that your best in May is very different than your best in October.  Seriously.  It's gonna be alright.

And when all else fails, just repeat to yourself over and over, the same thing Vancouver Canucks fans have been telling themselves since time began:

There's always next year.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Mercy Slide

My thoughts are incomplete.  They are a bit rambly.  They are definitely imperfect.  But writing helps, and so instead of avoiding it because I can't get it perfect, I'm just gonna let it fly and see what happens.

Lately I find myself going between extreme joy and clarity one moment to utter confusion and doubt the next.

Life is just like that sometimes, isn't it? Or maybe it's more accurate to say - that's just life.

Sometimes all you can do is throw yourself at the feet of Jesus, ya know?  And as oddly violent as that imagery sounds throwing myself down always is the right answer, even though it looks different every time.

For now,  I cannot spend enough time in prayer.  There aren't enough bible studies, devotionals and verses-of-the-day to quench my thirst. And it's not because I feel like I am praying to no one and finding nothing.  Quite the opposite.  I am finding so much life in those words, in His presence. Gods word is for me.  For today. What an awesome thing to believe that to my very center.

It's sort of freeing to embrace that you're imperfect, but still capable of change and becoming a better version of you. I'm learning to be okay with that tension.  Extremes are easy.  Living in tension is more difficult, but more rewarding.

It's comforting to find that when you go running to God  he doesn't always give you what you want, but always gives you exactly what you need. So sometimes the emotions are still all over the place, but there is sweet peace and mercy from God.  The calm inside while the storm merrily rages on.

And like a child whose been assured once again that Mom and Dad will be waiting at the bottom of the slide, I run off and begin to climb.  God is gracious enough to allow us to feel the fear that must be conquered in order to climb. Maybe the lesson is to not begrudge the climb? We often ask for the climb to be taken away, as though we would be better off if we were just plunked from slide-top to slide-top. But I wonder - if those dream seeds God has knit into our being take time and sometimes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to become reality.  If there is no struggle, no risk, if we don't have to conquer anything to get to the top of that slide we're just victims of gravity...maybe?  Can we understand the beauty of mercy and grace if we have no need of it?

This is what it feels like when you discover your calling, I suppose. When you screw up the courage to believe God has created you for a purpose, not just to breath air and take up space, but to do something - to live a life that matters.  Something changes when you speak outloud that tiny dream you have been to afraid to give oxygen to.  But let it out.  Courage, Faith and Obedience are all muscles we must exercise! Just do it! and climb one more step, even if it scares you!

Believe in your heart that God has created you to do something that will be big enough in God's kingdom that the only way it would be possible for it to happen would be that God would do it through you...in spite of you...because of you.  All three, maybe?

But even more amazing than that is to know that whatever he has called you to comes with the promise of his presence, The gifts of his love, grace and mercy to those who are faithful.  Forgiveness for when we screw up and are faithless.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

So here I am.  Climbing a new ladder.  I can't even see the top yet, but I will do my best to climb well and to learn all that I have to so that when I do arrive at the summit of this challenge, I will be thankful for the lessons I have learned as I climbed each rung.  I will stand at the top and my heart will know that God made me for this moment.  Then I'll throw my hands in air and feel the sweet thrill of racing to the bottom, my heart will hear him say "Well done, you did it!" and then...

 I'll climb again.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In the Middle

Most morning I meet a friend to walk the Discovery Trail just as the sun is rising, the rain is hopefully not falling, and the day is new.

Usually, within five minutes after the big hill is over and we have breath and words to spare, one of us will start talking.  Usually, we go back and forth sharing problems, and fixing them as women are known to do.  I think it's scriptural:

 where two or more women are gathered together 
for more than three minutes 
all of life's problems will be solved, 
if only everyone else would listen."  

I think that's what it says anyway. Except probably not in the Bible. 

Either way we usually end up finding a bright spot, something to hold on to and encourage us.  But today was weird.  We left with more problems than we started with. And truly there's nothing wrong with either of us, except that right now we are both in the middle of different things.  

That rotten, blessed middle where you aren't sure if you are actually moving forward or sliding back to where your frustration started in the first place.

And I thought about that as I drove home when we were done.  In the middle of difficulty it's easy to see nothing but problems.  The tunnel we find ourselves in is at it's darkest, and your mind starts to play tricks on you.  You begin to wonder if that glimmer of light you thought you saw was a ray of hope, or if it is in fact a train hurtling towards you ready to bring about your tragic demise. We both left discouraged.


I am discouraged.  And I hate admitting that. Lest you get worried, I'm not falling into utter despair - just frustrated and unsure of what to do in one area of my life - all is not lost :)  But as to that sorry I'm keeping it vague but it's just that way it is topic, I am totally in that middle place. I wanted to throw in the towel.  

But then, a spark. 

I found hope this morning in the middle of a word.  In the middle of discouragement is Courage

In the middle of the middle of my discouragement I choose to do the courageous thing - to not lose hope.

It doesn't make the fear and frustration go away, but it helps me take one more step, pray one more prayer

Really it's those unanswered prayers that grow our faith, isn't it?  If we only ever had to pray for something once and our answer for everything came clear as day, it wouldn't require faith.  It requires faith to ask again. 

Praying lead me to thankfulness.  Thankfulness is like killex on the weeds of discouragement.

Thank you God that you are growing my faith. It takes courage to get your praise on when what you want to do is give in to the hopelessness. Thank you God that you are teaching me to be an extravagant worshiper through unanswered prayers.  I will worship because God is good, even in the middle of the middle.

And maybe in the middle of the middle that is enough.  I will do what feels courageous today and not lose hope. 

Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; 
will never leave you nor forsake you. 
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

What do you do to grow courage in your life?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Snail Bait

If there's one regret that I have in blogging so far - aside from the tired I don't do this enough excuse, it's that I've never really talked much about homeschooling.  I kind of steered clear of it because I was concerned I would offend people if I wrote about it because they (whoever they are) might think that because I love it and it works for our family that I deep down feel like everyone else doing every other kind of school doesn't really love their kids, God, or both.  That's just silly.

The thing is: I'm forgetful and sometimes funny things happen that I might want to remember.   So maybe I'll write a bit more about some of this part of our life. Or maybe I'll forget to write about it.  That's possible too.

There is no denying that being pregnant five times did some permanent damage to my memory.  At least, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

What were we talking about?


I realized I had reached a new level in homeschooling nirvana when it became quite clear that we hit that strange animals living in your home that you did science experiments on/with stage.

We, as in - someone who wasn't me, but another Mom who is an overachiever when it comes to science did a bang-up job on the biomes/ecosystems science unit  for our co-op in January.  This included a lovely notebook they created full of information, definitions, experiments and also fantastic hands-on activity where the kids created biomes for aquatic snails in 2L pop bottles.  They were lovely little habitats and they included live plants and sticks and algae and some super cute snails.  Two in each.  Six biomes all..

The kids achieved stasis in the biomes and then they altered the environments to observe and demonstrate how one small change in a habitat might affect the biotic and abiotic elements in it.  I'm pretty sure this is homeschool talk for we tried to see if the snails would die or not.  I didn't conduct the experiment - it was my turn to gallivant that co-op module, so I can't say for sure.  But I'm pretty sure that's what that fancy science talk means.  I'm just a musician, man.

At any rate, many of the snails survived.  My 13 year old decided it was her destiny to become a den mother to the snails.  Over the six weeks they observed/ played mad scientist with them she got attached.  She and her lab partner NAMED them.  And now, 3 months later Ferguson and Bubbles are still alive.  They WILL NOT DIE.

They got a better home - an enormous vase. This is mostly because decorating is something I'm really good at. (Snort!) It takes up an unreasonable amount of space by the sink - cause they need sunlight y'all, and where else can you put a 2 gallon vase where you aren't worried about water damage or 4 year old inflicted snail damage? It's a mystery to me why more people don't want to homeschool. Snail home tutorials coming to a pinterest page near you!

 Ferguson keeps playing dead, but it turns out he's just extremely lethargic. Bubbles keeps climbing to the top and threatening to leave the lovely home I have created for him/her/it. Good times.

Just when you think it couldn't get sillier, said overachieving friend who practically encouraged this irrational snail love in my daughter and quite literally forced me to take them home at the end of January came over last week and told me my kitchen stank...stinked...stunk.  It turns out this is the litmus test of your friendship.  If you are truly good, lifelong, soulmate friends, you will be told in no uncertain terms if you or your kitchen stinks.  And they will start sniffing your entire premises and perhaps even your person trying to find the source of the stink.  If you're friends, this makes you laugh hysterically.

Confession: I had been looking for the source of stink previously.  I even showered thrice that week, just in case it was me.

Update: I have started changing the snail water. My kitchen smells better.

Have a died and gone to not-heaven?

We have pet snails, people.  This is a problem.

Mostly because it poses that larger question that looms in the heart of every woman who homeschools.

If the snails won't die, and I can't bring myself to do them in -

Does this mean I have to buy a denim jumper?

What's crazy things has having kids made you do? Or is it just me?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Easter that Was

This past weekend I had the privilege of planning and leading the worship/music at our church.  There were alot of exciting events that happened in the last week of planning of such. Mostly it was a lot of re-learning life lesson 147: no matter how well you plan things you can't control everything.

The good thing about that was that it was very easy to attribute any and all good things that came out of that weekend to the grace and mercy of God.  And I'm proud to say that the team wasn't just good - they were amazing.  It's quite something to see that level of service and dedication rise to the surface when you have to humbly ask your team to embrace plan...g, or h - I can't even remember what plan we were on by the time practice rolled around on Thursday.  So it was good.

Weeks ago, when I started planning and praying about the set I was looking over things and asking God to help me put together something that would lead to true worship and encourage people wherever they were at in their lives that Easter morning.   I have yet to receive a direct message from the Lord when I'm planning but I did get a real peace over a theme that emerged:

It's Friday night for a lot of people - but take heart, Sunday is coming!

That is good news, isn't it?

I tried something different this week and actually wrote out and rehearsed my "call to worship". While I often have an idea of what I want to say or a scripture I want to share I haven't planned it like that before. I was worried that it would seem fake or lacking authenticity, as though awkward pauses, saying "um, like...you know?" and wandering down rabbit trails that don't matter is helpful to leading well.

It actually helped me be more clear and I think I communicated better with our congregation, and that's always a good thing. Turns out those worship leaders who recommend the practice know what they're talking about.  There's a difference between winging it and letting the Holy Spirit lead :)

Here is the call to worship I shared with our congregation at the beginning of the service and the songs that we sang together. And I might have added a few more Amen?'s and left the page a few times, cause I just can't help myself, but this is basically it  It still encourages me today when I read it - truth is like that I think.  It always leads to hope when spoken in love.

He is Risen!

And that is why we are celebrating this morning.  Resurrection Sunday is what makes Good Friday good.  We serve a risen Savior.  And it’s right to remind one another of that because even today, many of us know people, or perhaps we are personally in the middle of  Friday night – life has just not turned out as planned and it’s hard.

We come together today to share our burdens with one another and remind each other of the Hope we have in Jesus because of this truth:  WE know the ending – because HE is Risen.

On the cross when He said “It is Finished” Jesus put everything that would try and exalt itself above God on notice.  Sin, Death and Brokenness do not get the last word.  

It. Is. Finished.  

Lets encourage one another as we sing and rejoice together through our worship service this Resurrection Sunday.

Let’s pray together:

God we thank you for the sacrifice of your son and for the eternal freedom it bought for us.  I pray our hearts will sense that victory and know that even in our darkest moments, you are with us, you are holding us up and that you have the last word.  You are worthy of all praise.  Thank you Jesus that because of your love you willingly paid for our sin with your very life.  We give you all that we are in return.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen.

He is Risen!

If you happen to listen to all of these songs - imagine a really great acoustic version of each one - that's what we pulled off this weekend :) We rocked the djembe and acoustic guitar like nobody's business, because that's what you do with plan j..k...lmnop :)

Joyful/ The One Who Saves by Brenton Brown

Call to Worship

Up From the Grave He Arose by Robert Lowry
Alive in Us by Reuben Morgan & Jason Ingram
Jesus Our Redeemer by Chad Langerud (our worship pastor!, such a great guy and an even greater song)
Hosanna by Brooke Fraser
Cornerstone by Edward Mote, Eric Liljero, Jonas Myrin, & Reuben Morgan

Special Music:
Victor's Crown.  This song took my breath away the moment I heard it and it took an incredible amount of practice and listening to be able to get through it - such a powerful song!

How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townsend

And that was Easter 2013.  God was there, like he always is. More than ever it was apparent that in our weakness He is strong.

Thanks to my friends who prayed like never before when everything seemed to be falling apart!  Thanks to God for choosing to take away the brutal cold that hit me on Friday - everyone else in the house had had it, so I know how it was "supposed" to go, but thanks to my lovely, faithful prayer warriors and God's grace I woke up on Saturday absolutely healed so that I could pour everything I had into serving at church on Sunday.

If anyone from our team last weekend or the worship choir happens to read this.  Thank you!  You were amazing, I was absolutely blessed by your sacrifice, service and talent this weekend.  It is such an amazing privilege to serve God alongside you!

It was a great Easter weekend! How was yours?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What's in a Name

Totally random.

I just sent off a recipe to a friend, and I'm never sure what to call it.

I have the fancy title of Indian-ish Chopped Salad.  And it never sounds right.

Indian Chopped Salad sounds like its been chopped by people from India

Chopped Indian Salad, well, that just sounds terrible.

Chopped Salad Indian Style...not right.

What's a girl to do?

Here's the recipe.  It is fabulous and perfect with the red lentil curry, tandoori chicken and roti!

Sorry there are no pictures, I just post as the spirit moves!

This recipe would make enough to feed 12 as a side – because it’s a chopped salad it doesn’t look as big, but it’s compact.  I usually make a half recipe for our family.

½ c lemon juice (or 1-2 fresh lemons, squeezed)
¼ c white sugar
¼ c oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
1 T dried cilantro, or ¼ cup fresh, chopped fine.
1 T chili powder

Mix, shake, chill

1 head romaine
1 cucumber, seeded - or should this be un-seeded, de-seeded? Inquiring minds want to know!  Or was it enquiring?  Make it stop!!!
1 large sweet red pepper, seeded
2 green onion
1 mango, de-un-post-pitted and all that

Take all the ingredients and chop them all very finely.  You want all the pieces in the salad to be roughly the same size, including the lettuce – that’s what makes it fantastic.  Put dressing on it just before serving.

Friday, March 22, 2013

When Testosterone Reigns Supreme

We have a very boy-heavy household.  Which is exactly and extremely the opposite of how I grew up.  Not that I was ever a girly-girl, but it was just different.  So every once in a while I have a "I am in uncharted territory" moments where I can't help but smile and shake my head.

Take for example last week when I came across a clipped news article one of my boys brought home the other day. 

Mom, am I really doing a blog post about farts?  I'm sorry Mom.  I'm sure you raised me better. 

Maybe I should just blame homeschooling.  Except I know plenty of homeschoolers who wouldn't find farts nearly so interesting - at least not interesting enough to clip and save an article about said topic. Remember:  homeschooling doesn't make kids weird.  Weird parents make kids weird. 

So here I am writing about farts and feeling fairly confident that the weird ship has already sailed.  Dang. 

Part of the problem is that my finely tuned sense of humour that didn't make it much past "grade four boy" level.  So maybe God knew what he was doing when he blessed with only one girl and then four wonderful boys.

I have considered embracing the "if you can't beat them join them" mentality, but I'm not sure it would up my coolness factor, and we all know that good parenting is a result of your kids knowing you are cool. 

Deep thoughts to ponder. Or as Keanu Reeves would say:  "Whoa."

May your Friday be fantastic and smell like...cupcakes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Deathly Dearth

So - another month between posts.

This dearth of posting might lead one to believe that I have perhaps a) run out of things to say or b) that I don't think about this blog much anymore. or perhaps c) I am suffering from a terrible case of writer's block

My response to this would be a) Ha!   b) Nope.  Think about blogging every. single. day. If there was a way to access and complete all of the partial blogs I write in my head each day - I'd be off the charts  c) I think I have the opposite problem of writers block.  I think of too many things to write, and then I don't know where to start. Cooking?  Homeschooling?  Worship?  Parenting?  Life? Marriage?  I am suffering from a lack of focus.

Oh look. A Squirrel!

I guess what I'm trying to say without saying it is this:  I want to write more, but I'm a bit nervous about doing so.

Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi.  You're my only hope.

The End.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Royal Sour Cherry Scones

Do you like the title?  I thought of it all by myself.  However, nice as it sounds, it's not terribly descriptive.  If I wanted it to be a descriptive the title it should have read :  Earl Grey Orange Sour Cherry White Chocolate Scones. Or maybe it Sour Cherry White Chocolate Earl Grey Orange Scones is better? Either way it's so long it almost seems pretentious.  Why Royal ?  Partly because I didn't think anyone would want to make something called Pretentious Scones and also  Earl = royalty, royalty = complicated titles, complicated title = scones.

It's math, really.

Call them what you want, they are fantastic and worth every flamboyant little step.

I got the idea for these scones by combining a few recipes I found here on the interwebs.  I would be content to just completely copy someone else's recipe, except I have this need to make a recipe work with whatever I've got in the house at the moment. When I decide to make something it must be accomplished immediately...post-haste if you will.  I'm sorry to be redundant, but that phrase completes me right now.  

The recipe was a combo of this, this and this, and what I came up with is below.

They were marvelous. They smelled marvelous.  They tasted marvelous.  Come to think of it, marvelous is also a word that completes me.  Especially when said like this. The 80s were good, weren't they?

 I say the were marvelous because I ate a shocking number of them once they were done, as did my children. But I have saved just enough to accompany breakfast on Valentines day.  It's just that I'm so loving I can't help myself but serve heart shaped food all day long.

The Earl Grey adds a certain je ne sais quoi.  Although I haven't made them without it to see if it is in fact more je ne sais than quoi.  The orange also adds a bit of je ne sais quoi as well.

I'm going to stop talking about phrases that complete me now.

Here is the recipe - with pictures from my phone!  My next post will be titled Blogging with Excellence and Without Redundancies. 

Royal Sour Cherry Scones
aka Pretentious Scones
Oven Temp:  400 ° F
Yield:  36  (2 ½” –ish)
Prep time:  15-20 minutes (how fast can you chop cherries?)
Bake Time:  15 – 20 minutes                                                                                                                
1 ½ cups buttermilk.   Sub with heavy cream if you have it, or soured milk
4 earl grey tea bags
1 ¼ cups white flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Zest of 1 – 2 oranges – about 1 tbsp-ish.  Be exact.
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups whole, pitted sour cherries (fresh or frozen or 1 ¼  cups of dried sour cherries would work too)
4 eggs – 1 separated
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups icing sugar
Milk or heavy cream to thin (I start with 2 tbsp)

On low heat warm buttermilk – do not leave the room to check your email or update your status on twitter.  If you do the buttermilk will overheat and separate and look all nasty. You just want to warm it up, not boil it, or even make it hot – just warm.  It probably would work fine in the recipe, but it might look so gross you throw it out and start over and pay better attention the second time.  I say might.  You can also substitute the word will.

This might be the second picture of warmed buttermilk
Remove from heat and toss in the tea bags. Now you can ignore it while you get every thing else ready.

Mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt

Add cubed butter and pulse in mixer/food processer/by hand with pastry blender till the butter looks pea-sized in your shrivelled and wrinkly hands.  Or maybe that’s just my hands.

I prefer to do the rest of the scone recipe by hand because I’m quite convinced that over-mixing them makes them tough and dry and very un-marvellous.  If you too want marvellous scones, please do the same.  Also, remember I don’t know anything.

Chop cherries cheerfully.  Set aside.

Stop ignoring your tea soaked buttermilk.  Give it a good stir, and then squeeze the tea bags to bring the infusion to its full je ne sais quoi.   Discard tea bags.  As if you needed me to tell you that.

Separate one egg.  Add the yolk to your buttermilk and reserve the egg white for later.

Crack three eggs into your buttermilk mixture.

Whisk eggs into earl grey infused buttermilk until it looks lovely.
This counts as lovely in my books
Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Add the pretentious buttermilk mixture.

Fold into dry ingredients.  

When almost mixed, add chopped cherries and orange zest (I would show you a picture of zesting an orange except I pulled my zest from the freezer, ergo there are no pictures). I will add, whenever you do zest,  be careful to NOT get to the pith (white stuff under the zest ) that's bitter and won't help these Royal Lovelies) 

Fold in until perfectly combined. The dough will be a bit sticky – somewhere between thick pancake batter and bread dough.

Roll or pat out onto floured surface, adding flour as needed to de-stick your hands or rolling pin. Dough should be about ½ inch thick.  

I felt like making them heart shaped because a girl can decide to do that if she wants.  The cookie cutter I used is about 2 ½“ across at the widest point.

This picture is not upside down, I promise.  I bake better than I take pictures.

Place on baking sheet.  I only have one rimless baking sheet so I just turned my bar pan over and baked these on the bottom – you can do that too if you want!

The Canadian in me wants to apologize for every out of focus picture.  Sorry.  It's part of my heritage.

Beat the remaining egg white with a fork or small whisk till frothy. Use a pastry brush to cover the scones with the reserved egg white.

Bake till done and not a minute less.  Edges will be brown and the centre will be springy to the touch. Mine took about 17 minutes. Your house now smells fabulous.  You’re welcome.

Let rest on pan for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack

Melt chocolate chips on double boiler.  Make sure water isn’t touching the double boiler.  Also make sure you don’t add the milk at this point or you might have trouble and have to add stuff like shortening and oil to your chocolate to save it.  I say might…

Whisk in icing sugar once chocolate is melted.  

Add milk to smooth out and make a perfect glaze. I wanted it to be quite thick because I was going to pipe loving heart shapes on the scones.  You could add a bit more milk if you felt like make a "dunkable" glaze.  Whatever, spell-check, dunkable is totally a word.

Pour thick glaze into leftover honey container that you save for just such an occasion.  A ziplock bag, or an icing bag, or drizzling with a spoon would also work. if you use a honey container there will be a lot the doesn't quite make it out onto the scones and you will be forced to scrape it out when you are done and eat it.  Sometimes life is about sacrifices.

Drizzle.  Let it set.  Or eat right away, your choice.


Monday, January 14, 2013

A Date with Dad

It was Keaton's turn to go to the Heat game with Josh last weekend.  Sometimes pictures tell a better story than words. So I will dispense with the pleasantries post-haste.

Bonus marks if you use post-haste  in a sentence this week.

 It would probably be annoying if I was to start complaining about how fast he is growing up, and how it makes me sad that there's so little little left in his chubby cheeks.

It would likely be too much if I thtarted to talk about how much I love hith toothleth grin and sthweet little lithp.

It would be weird to go on about how I sort of tear up every time I see him sleeping, right? 

I thought so. 


Good Night Sweet Prince, Mama loves you.

Friday, January 4, 2013

When Spontaneity Comes to Play

We are trying something different this year - we are planning vacations well in advance.  We are throwing my fun-loving friend Spontaneity out the window, or at least showing her the door,  and replacing her with her calm and predictable cousin, Scripted Living to see how we like hanging out with her. 

This means that since November I've known that Josh and I are going on vacation together again ...in a few more months. This has beat our last planned vacation by at least 5 months.  

Unless you count the trip we tried to book with friends last summer. When Sponaneity heard we'd consulted Scripted Living 9 months before the planned departure, she got all huffy and decided that those friends would instead go on a trip with her to Jakarta - for two years, and that they would need to leave a week before the planned trip and then to show me who was boss she also added that Tyson should rather suddenly, if not spontaneously, have to have his gall bladder removed right when Scripted Living had planned the camping trip. It seems she got all scrunty when we didn't notify her that we weren't going to be planning  a vacation with enough short notice...go figure.

All of that to say, I think I might like planning things with Scripted Living every now and then. I certainly love a lot of people who live in her neighbourhood.  I will admit it's very strange to not have the excitement that comes with having an idea and getting all those details: babysitting, schedules changed, flights, hotels, passports thrown together in as short of a time as possible.  

So I feel pretty snazzy that I found a way to let Spontaneity come and play whilst Scripted Living was busy planning...I don't know, something.  Truthfully, although I value the strength and stability that she brings I don't really understand Scripted Living, and Spontaneity and I were thinking about the vacation today and she looked over at me with that mischevious glimmer in her eye and said "You need to do something fun for your vacation - right NOW!"  I hesitated...was this okay? I mean, it seemed so sudden. Scripted Living won't even mind, Spontaneity said,  she'll be proud of you for making a decision like this all on your own, so WELL IN ADVANCE of your vacation. She loves that kind of thing...trust me. So Spontaneity took me to my favourite vacation website: www.popinaswimwear.com and we ordered this - the swimsuit, not the person:

And Spontaneity and I said "It was good".  

Her sweet reliable cousin Scripted Living rolled her eyes, knowing there was nothing she could have done to have stopped Spontaneity from being who she was meant to be and just was thankful she had a budget for clothing done in advance.

The End.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Good News-Bad News 2013 edition

It's been a while since we've played this game of good news-bad news - let's have a go shall we?  It was just one of those days where by the late afternoon the misadventures were so abundant every new mishap became comical - so here we go...

Good News: it was a relaxing morning
Bad News: I was still in my pjs, with no makeup and violently wild hair when the doorbell rang at 10

Good News: I lost 7 pounds before Christmas
Bad News: that was Before Christmas

Good News: The van was cleaned out by the kids after the Christmas marathon
Bad news: This included my purse, which I always (rightly or wrongly) leave in the van

Good News:  I went to Ikea yesterday
Bad News: I found out about the missing purse at this point

Good News: The new Port Mann toll bridge is lovely and reduces driving time to Ikea
Bad News: I still haven't received my TREO decal with the free trips to cross it.

Good News: Keaton loves his Momma so much that he came along for the trip to Ikea
More Good News: this meant we could take the HOV lane in
Bad News:  Keaton gets car sick easily

Good News: He loved me enough to stay for our attempted return trip to Ikea
Bad News: he was car sick enough that he started barfing.  A lot.  Really.  Really. ALOT.

Good News: Keaton likes homemade mac 'n cheese for lunch
Bad News: There is some gastrointestinal miracle of multiplication that happens with mac n cheese when it is barfed up.  In the van. On a four year old.

Good News:  I had a plastic bag to use as a barf bag
Bad news:  Four year olds do a lot more barfing ON barf bags than IN them

Good News: It was only car sick, not flu sick.
Bad News:  No barf is good barf.  Especially when you have to clean it up.

Good News:  I'm done talking about barf.
Bad News:  It's not the end of the bad news.

Good News: Josh brought home pizza for supper
Bad News:  Remember the whole weight loss thing?  Yeah.  

Good News:  He gave me a big kiss and told me he loved me when he got home
Bad News: He told me I forgot to put on deodorant.

Good News: When someone tells you you need deodorant.
Bad News: When someone tells you you need deodorant.

Good News: I left again, solo this time, for Ikea
Bad News:  It was now dark, and I was alone.

Good News: I got everything I needed at Ikea and it was super un-busy there. As much as I love people, I hate crowds, so this was awesome.
Bad News: I crossed the toll bridge twice each way today.  What kind of idiot doesn't check for her purse when she gets in the van?  I'll tell you what kind - the kind of person who also is terrified of stinking like b.o., but still manages to forget deodorant.

Good News: I picked up a bookshelf from Ikea
Bad News:  I smushed the packaging putting it in the car and that included scraping up the flimsy backing board.  

Good News:  I made it through till bedtime without crying, and found the day, even the barf, somewhat amusing.
Bad News: Van barf, stinky armpits and violently messy hair are still bad news.

So there you have it.  Good News - Bad News for 2013.  

Don't worry, I'm still smiling.  

And wearing deodorant.  

Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How Much?

This Christmas season - the one that technically happened last year - I think I did something right.

Actually, I think we did a lot right things, or we did things well...at least I'm pretty sure we done some things real good-like  - but I'm specifically talking about a parenting moment I had.  It's kind of funny because I wrote last month on the Family Matters blog that the moments where you decide to do something for/to your kids and you get to see a good thing happen in the short term rarely, if ever happens, and then I had one of those "yay, me" moments...go figure.  Maybe I should blog for FM about how baking and cooking tasty food rarely leads to weight loss just so I can try and prove myself wrong again. 

We are in a Science Co-op.  Basically it means that a bunch of  my homeschooling family Moms/teachers get together, take all the science topics we would like to cover for all of our students/children for the year, divide by the number of Moms/teachers we have, multiply by the number of children/students, add some snacks, subtract some sanity and hope we have learned something scientifical at the end of it all. 

So what I am trying to say is, my kids and I benefit immensely from it and we really enjoy it.

In the late fall, I had a useful thought in regards to our little group.  (They are so few and far between I keep track of them for posterity) I proposed to these kids - most of whom have paper routes/babysitting jobs - that we join forces and purchase something from the Food for the Hungry gift catalogue.  I thought it would be great for these 10 or so kids to part with some of their own cash and see what coming together to make a difference would do. This was the good idea I'm referring to - I highly recommend it!

Initially I was going to suggest maybe they work towards giving $5 or $10 dollars each, but for reasons I can only attribute to God, I felt really strongly that I shouldn't be such a control freak and instead suggested that they just pray about it. I also keep track of these moments when I listen to that still small voice whispering to my heart- it's a short list, but I'm working on it.  

Remarkably, I stopped short of telling them what they should give, and instead said something like:  

It doesn't matter what you decide to work towards,  but I think it would be awesome if you take whatever you give from your own money, not the bank of Mom and Dad, and that you consider asking God  not how little you should give, but how much."

And then I kind of put the whole thing out of my mind.  I reminded the kids once or twice over the next weeks we were together that the collection date was coming up - but really, that was it.  Ideas are my thing, administration, not so much.

So the big day came.  And quietly the money was collected and each child gave in such a way that noone else - including myself- would know how much each one gave.  I counted the money and I started to cry - for many reasons.

First of all - these 10 amazing kids gave $230 dollars - of their own money. I would guess the average "salary" for these kids is somewhere between $30-$50 dollars a month.  So it was significant to them. They happily said no to bigger and better lego sets, t-shirts, and saving Disneyland money because they just thought it was a great idea to help someone else.  And then to see them take such joy in choosing just the right gifts was a delight. It was their money, so it mattered a great deal to them. "Let's try and do something for health, and education AND family life... do we have enough to make a difference in all three categories?" "We do?  Awesome!!" "Let's choose things that will make a big difference to one child"- say the detail lovers of the crowd, "What if we also chose some things that could help a LOT of people of once?" say the big picture people...and they came to an agreement, some big and some small things: a pair of pigs, a pair of chickens, a clean water faucet, school fees, a chalkboard - and then lots of cheering and excitement because they had done a small thing, but a good thing.

I was so proud of them all.  I have no idea what everyone gave, aside from my own kids, who all  happened to give different amounts - but I know that everyone contributed and that all of the Moms were surprised by the amounts their kids were willing to give up.

And then the words I had said initially came back and smacked me in the face: Don't ask God how little, instead ask how much- because I realized that although I had believed I was saying the right things, I didn't really believe that 1) these kids would pray about it 2) that the Holy Spirit would speak to them or 3) that they would follow through and give. 

Oh ye of little faith.

I forgot a few things about God:  he doesn't have a kid-sized Holy Spirit that he hands out.  It is the same  power and presence for everyone who believes. I want to believe bigger - God help me with my unbelief!

How much? instead of how little? 

Those have become life-changing words for me this past year.  I began to ask them part way through 2012 and truly can say God is doing a new thing. How amazing that he chose to show me my own small faith through the generosity of a group of fantastic kids. These are the world changers of tomorrow,and God is stirring in their hearts and making them who they will become this very day! What an incredible blessing and burden as a parent to believe this!

I know my theology is imperfect and incomplete,  but I know this:  Jesus didn't ask God how little it would take to rescue humanity and restore and redeem our brokenness. He asked "how much?"  and it cost him his very life.
So I will continue to ask myself this question.  And I pray  that when this next year comes to close I will have loved better, given more, and believed bigger than I ever thought possible.