Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Post of 2009

The "Free Dictionary" defines resolution as:

1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action determined or decided on.

Around this time every year, people start thinking about New Year's Resolutions.  Promising themselves and others that they will change how they do something, bad habits, lose weight, that sort of thing.  I tend to avoid making them simply to fail at committing to my own promises.  This year is no different and yet I know there are things I would like to change about myself and family that would certainly be for the better.  I am going to set some goals that hopefully in a year, I can re-read this blog post and say to myself "I have succeeded".

So, my goal list includes:

- reading daily to my children 
- saving all my receipts so I can return things to a store if necessary
- growing closer to God through personal prayer time and digging more into HIS Word
- committing to a healthier lifestyle that includes better food choices and a more active lifestyle
    I think these are reasonable goals.  Nothing too outrageous or impossible... just small changes that can make a big difference.

    Daddy's Little Helper

    Doug was doing some rewiring with our stereo system and Sarah was watching him carefully.

    Checking out Dad's work!

    Final check up...

     "I think it's good Daddy!"

    Wednesday, December 30, 2009


    I had bought Joshua a pair of jeans for Christmas.  I saw that the ones he was wearing had holes in them so I gave him the new pair early so he could wear them on Christmas Eve.  Fast forward three days and I notice that that the knees have holes in them.  THREE DAYS!!  I understand that they were on clearance but they WERE from the Gap and I really expected them to last at least a few weeks.  Looking through Joshua's clothing drawers, I saw that all of his jeans had holes in the knees!  I mentioned this to him and asked what he is doing that would cause such harm to his clothing.  "Oh that's easy", he responds.  And then proceeds to show me the run and slide on his knees move that would certainly be the culprit.  Denim is no match for concrete I suppose!

    Anyhow, Joshua had plans to go to a friend's house this afternoon and I didn't feel right about the 'holey' pants so we headed to Edmonton and bought [more] jeans for him.  I really hope these ones last a little longer than three days.

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Why I love Alberta

    I know we suffer through long winters with snow that seems to linger for 7 months of the year, there is a true beauty that shines when the conditions are "just right".


    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Aunty Fancy

    You have to admit that "Aunty Stephanie" is a mouthful for any two year old.  Quite a few months ago now, my sister was telling her son, Benjamin that they were going to Aunty Stephanie's house.  His interpretation came out as "Aunty Fancy-Car".  Now, we have no idea where the "car" part came from but it stuck.  That meant each time I saw him, he'd say "Hi Aunty Fancy-Car" and of course I'd reply with "Hi Benjamin-Car".  We've tried to encourage him to call me Aunty Tess (which is my nickname) but Fancy is sticking for now.  I love how my nephew and I have added a personal touch to each other's name- makes us seem extra close!

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Joshua and Me

    I love building with Lego.  I think I'm fascinated that all those little pieces can build cars, bikes, houses, spaceships and anything else that people (much more creative than me) can design.  For as long as I can remember, Joshua has been a huge fan of Lego sets.  And for just as long, I have been the one who has built the sets with him.  In the beginning it was because the sets were a bit too advanced for him and he needed my help and now we do it because we are Lego buddies.  It is great to sit at the table with my oldest and shoot the breeze while we search for the RIGHT piece to finish the project.  I look forward to his birthday and Christmas time when I can count on the one on one time that we'll have!

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    The Last Day

    of school before Christmas vacation.  I know the kids will be wiggling in their seats this morning as they wait for the traditional craft afternoon that their school does.  As a treat, I'll probably pick them up after school so we can be home early today.  I look forward to two weeks of sleeping in, pyjama days, and baking with my four kiddos!

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    I wish...

    I could talk to my mom right about now.  I'm missing her lots and would really like her insight on some things.

    She's Now Walking!

    As Sarah was nearing 18 months, I began to wonder if she was EVER going to walk.  Sure enough, this past weekend, she began to take more than the two steps that she was before.  Here's a look:
    Watch it HERE

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    The Wheels on the Bus....

    are coming around to pick up Joshua and Andrea for school now. I was finding that having to pick them up after school was interfering with Sarah's nap time and consequently, she was miserable, I was miserable and it wasn't good for anyone. So I applied and was approved for bus transportation for them. It was a big step to let them go on their own... I feel as though I had to let go of control of them. After a few days, it became easier for them and myself. I do drive them to the stop in the mornings as it is so cold yet but by springtime, they will be walking there on their own. So being the good mom that I am, I made a special cake for them on their first day of using the bus!

    Every Year...

    I promise myself and my family that THIS will be the Christmas where we do minimal visiting, stay home lots and just regroup and connect with the six of us.  Alas, we get notices for dance recitals, family functions, last minute haircuts, and before I know it, the calendar is full of events and appointments.

    This year was the first time I didn't feeling doing more than setting up the Christmas tree.  My heart just wasn't into the holiday spirit.  I was reminded that we were going to be hosting at least two Christmas functions and that it would be a good idea to ensure the house was all decked out for the season.  And so I did.  I put on Boney M Christmas and began to pull out all the decorations that stay hidden for 11 months of the year.  The next day, Arianna and I whipped up a batch of shortbread... the cookie that is reserved for Christmas.  It IS beginning to look like Christmas here and slowly my heart is getting into it as well. 

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Christmas Lights

    Last year, Doug's work was really busy and so by the time Christmas rolled around, the snow had fallen, temperatures had dropped and our house was not lit up with the usual strings of lights.  In my desperation to have at least SOME lights up, I set our icicle lights up on the hedge which didn't require a staple gun or ladder.  Shortly after he had seen them, Doug promised me that he would always put lights up every year.  Since we moved only two weeks ago, I wasn't sure that we'd get lights up this year but true to his word, Doug endured the biting wind and incredible heights as he attached the festive lights to our two story house.  They make me happy.  I have had such a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit and so maybe this will be the magic that gets my fire going. 

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Officially moved in

    Well, after six weeks of packing, purging and preparing, we are finally in our new home.  Monday was the big day and we were surrounded by the love and help of Doug's family and my sister and brother in law.  We were able to borrow a car trailer owned by a friend of my father in law and had been filling and loading it for weeks.  This meant that when we received the keys to the new house, it was simply a matter of driving over and unpacking the first load.  By mid afternoon, the guys left for the old house again to load up the big stuff.  While they were gone, Alicia and I managed to clean up the living room and set up the kitchen.  I felt like if nothing else was ready, except the kitchen, I could function fairly well.  I think it was around 5:30 when the second trailer-load showed up.  Round two of utter chaos.  Shortly after the trailer arrived, five friends from Doug's 'BoB' group showed up,  What a true blessing to have eight men helping move and unload with us.  The evening flew by.  What a flurry of people running in and out, me directing traffic, kids and kids everywhere getting underfoot... Once the last item was taken from the trailer (I had lost track of time by that point), our help then began to set up beds for my kids so they'd have a place to sleep.  I think it was close to 9:30 when everyone headed home.  The kids were finally in bed by 10:30, and I was under the covers at 11:00.  Unfortunately, the adrenaline was still running through me and I had a tough time settling down.  Sleep finally took over my body and I fell into a restless sleep. 
    I love my new place.  I'm not sure it's "home" yet but it is getting better.  Lots of work yet ahead of me but it will be alright.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    The Best Mom in the World

    were the sweet words spoken to me first thing this morning.  I had gently woken up to a little arm around me that belonged to my little five year old.  Sometime during the night, Arianna had snuck into our bed.  She's been having bad dreams lately and we've always maintained an "open door" to our room during the night.  Anyhow, as I tried to roll over, realizing that my space was limited, I heard her whispering precious words to me (she thought I was still sleeping).

    I love you mommy.
    It's morning time.
    Are you waking up yet?
    I'm hungry.

    So I hugged her and told her to meet me upstairs for breakfast and as she began to head up, she says to me "you are the best mom in the world". 

    What a nice way to wake up.

    I love you Arianna!

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Four More Sleeps

    Well, we're down to crunch time.  Today I washed cupboards and packed much of the food that we won't use in the next few days.  The pictures are off the walls and things are getting bare.  I glanced at our "measuring wall" and realized that the new owner likely doesn't need reminders of us like that.  So I transferred all the heights for each kid into a book and began to erase and wash away the growing years.  I did remember to capture the wall with my camera and although it doesn't do it much justice, I like having the reminder of how much the kids have grown over the years.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Gain a Little, Lose a Little....

    So I was looking at pictures of our new house and was getting excited at some of the newer, bigger things we'll be gaining but then I also realized that I will be losing some very important and special things from this house.  I thought I'd list them so I'd have an idea of what I was actually gaining and losing.

    We will gain:
    - more living space
    - a beautiful ensuite with a jacuzzi tub
    - an additional bathroom
    - larger kitchen
    - attached garage
    - mostly maintenance free home
    - separate living spaces and a playroom (no more toys on my main floor)
    - space for each kid to have their own room (in time)

    We will lose:
    - our very large yard
    - my huge laundry room
    - the hard earned appliances
    - a room specifically for my crafting (until it's built)
    - for the time being, neighbors that we know and love

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Just a touch of freedom

    Joshua is now 10.5 years old. Just a month or so ago, Doug and I began to leave him home alone. First it was with just Andrea and they did school for the 10 minutes I took at the grocery store. After a few weeks, I left the three oldest at home while Sarah and I ran to pick something up at Wal Mart. This past week, Sarah has been quite sick and has been sleeping at times that I'd have to run out and bring kids somewhere. Since Joshua was still sick on a day that Andrea had to go to ballet, and Sarah was sleeping, I left him in the care of the two little girls for 30 minutes. Driving home after leaving Andrea, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the quiet ride home... alone. When I arrived back at the house, Joshua and Arianna were still in the same spots watching cartoons and Sarah was still sound asleep. It is nice knowing that he can hold down the fort for a short time while I run out and I don't have to pack up all four kids just to run 10 minutes out for milk. I know for sure that by the time I was 10 years old, I was watching my three younger siblings while my parents went to Bible study once a week. Now, I'm not ready to head to Edmonton alone yet, but it's nice knowing my oldest kiddo is getting responsible enough for me to leave.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Hope Chest

    Last night I thought I'd dig into my hope chest and begin packing up the items that are in it. As I lifted the lid, the aroma of the cedar wood drifted up and took me away to a world of memories.

    I found calendars all the way from 1998... dates marked of when I took my first pregnancy test, when my 9 week old baby was booked for surgery, play dates, doctor appointments, my sister's wedding, miscarriages, the births of my daughters, when we first brought the dog home, road trips, new jobs, funerals... the list is endless.

    I had a moment of wondering why I even bothered keeping these things but then thought "because it's my history". These are the events that shaped who I am, what I've become as a wife and mom, how my faith has risen and fallen. These are the events that have been such an important and intricate part of my life and more specifically, the past 12 years. So I will keep the bulky calendars.

    In the bottom of my hope chest was a shoe box. Not remembering what was in it, I opened it and it took my breath away. I set the box that contained items from my Mom's funeral on the bed and began to explore the contents of it... all the cards, newspaper announcement, church bulletin, eulogy written by my uncle, tribute written by my sister and I, a letter from my brother, notes, words of encouragement from family and friends. I was taken back more than 10 years to the day that God brought her Home. I was saddened and even let some anger slip in as to why I had to experience such pain and loss at only 21 years old. I thought of all the joys that she's missed... another grandson, four granddaughters, new children in law... makes my heart hurt.

    I also found many remnants from my wedding. A truly joyous day of my life. The day I united with my best friend and hero. The young man who has become my tower to lean on, my supporter, lover, my knight in shining armor, the one who knows me better than anyone else. With him we've created four wonderful children who are (for the most part) the delights of my day. They bring me joy and laughter like I've never known. They made me the person I've wanted to be since I was a little girl... a mom.

    My hope chest holds so much that is close to me. It is full of memories that made me laugh, cry, and reminisce through the years. Doug lovingly built the cedar box for me for my birthday many years ago, which I now place small things that mean so much to me and need to be treasured.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Fighting the Flu

    Last Friday, Andrea came home from dance not feeling well. By bedtime, she was running a temperature, coughing and was all stuffed up. We skipped out on church this weekend since by Sunday afternoon, Joshua was coming down with the same symptoms. Meanwhile, Sarah had been fighting a slight runny nose as well but didn't get really sick until today. She slept 15 hours during the night and had a three hour nap in the afternoon. Arianna also woke up today coughing and feeling yucky.
    Now, the older two are getting better and hopefully, the little girls are on the mend too. A few nights of early to bed, pyjama days and relaxing with a cup of tea will likely do the trick. I didn't capture the older kids' pictures during this time but this picture of Arianna just captures her feeling of "yuck". The mussed up hair, glazed eyes, and the nightgown say it all.


    Just yesterday, this hallway and the china cabinet were adorned with family pictures and china. Feeling like I had to do something productive today, I carefully wrapped each wine glass and gold trimmed dish and set them in boxes graciously labeled "FRAGILE". The walls are getting bare, we've taken down some window valences and I've packed away all my crafting supplies. Today was also a day for taking older but usable small appliances to goodwill, hoping that someone else will be able to use them as well. There's only 26 more "sleeps" in this house and then we'll be sleeping in a new place. Time is flying by and there's so much to do yet...

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Trusting Your Instincts

    One Fierce Mama's blogging account of how her instincts to wear her crying baby for the first year of her life saved her young life. While many people including those in the medical profession told her to let her baby cry it out, this momma never gave way to those opinions. Take a moment to read her journey.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    I love being her favorite!

    I had to help at the school this morning from 8:30 to 1:00. Add 15 minutes on to each side of that and that was 5 hours that I left Sarah in the care of her Grandma. I know that the two of them had a great morning together and I have no worries when I'm gone although I do miss my baby terribly. As I walked in the house, Sarah could hardly crawl fast enough to get to me. And as I picked her up, she assumed the position for a nursing session. Yes, water with Grandma is ok but momma is much better! It is so great to know I'm loved unconditionally!

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Playing with Photoshop


    My heart is sad

    And I can't even get into it. Just something I need to figure out with the person. I don't know the how, when or even IF but today at church, my heart just hurt when I saw this person. This one so close to me has hurt me and they probably don't even know and won't until I bring it up. I shed a few tears this afternoon and even that release felt a little better. I don't think there will be peace until it's brought into the open....

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    They're Growing Up

    I dropped Joshua and Andrea off at school this morning and as they waved good-bye and I drove off, leaving them in the hands of their very wonderful and competent teachers, I wondered how it happened that they've become so independent. Doug has often told me that our job with the kids is to make them fully independent adults when the time is right. I've allowed them many freedoms. I'm sure many parents would think I'm crazy but if I don't let them do certain things on their own, I feel I will miss the small window of their lives that will allow them to feel grown up. If I coddle, protect, and hover for too long, they may be wary or frightened of the big world. Or, even worse, they may rebel and express their feelings through other worldly dangers. As I continued to drive home with my two little girls, I wondered a few things:

    - Do they really walk their bikes across the street like I've instructed? I saw a boy about 10 or 11 years old ride his bike across the road on a red light. Will mine do that?
    - Do they really stay in their boundaries of the "forest" so I know where they are?
    - Do they have a true sense of God being with them in their day, allowing them to make a choice of right or wrong?
    - Will my wondering and questioning change anything?

    I know that in these quiet moments of questioning my parenting, I need to lift these precious people to God and trust that He will take care of them. That the funny feeling in the pit of their stomach, telling them that something is not ok to do, is the One who is watching them when I can't. I pray for physical, emotional and spiritual protection on them and that as I allow them freedoms and responsibilities, they in turn will respect me as their mom.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    My plan for tonight....

    To load up some much missed programs onto my new laptop that Doug bought me. He says it has enough power and memory to do whatever I want it to!

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Just me and my coffee

    Sarah's been fussing off and on since about 5:30... not really a good time to get up BUT I wasn't able to fall back to sleep. So I brewed a delicious pot of coffee, turned on the laptop and am taking advantage of this quiet morning.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    It's Official

    The house we are in now is sold and we signed the final papers on the new one last night. I can't believe we are actually moving. Today we have 45 "sleeps" left in this one. We have lived here for 11 years. Each of my four kids was brought to this house from the hospital when they were born. Each of them learned to walk on these floors. We've marked a short wall with their heights every six months. The memories come flooding back to me when I think that the next six weeks will just fly by for us. I am excited at the thought of a new and much larger kitchen. And we will make many new memories in the new house. What fun awaits us!

    The front of the house

    The kitchen with a wraparound counter

    Master bedroom ensuite

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    Baby Steps

    are the sweetest things. Sarah took her first solo steps this week. So far, it's only been two at a time but I know her days of crawling everywhere will be over before I know it. I can't believe she's growing up so fast!

    Changes to come

    Well, our house is officially sold pending just a few more conditions that will be lifted by October 2. Once our house plus the one we are moving into have their inspections passed, then all we have to do is pack, pack, pack. I've already begun so as not to be totally swamped in the middle of November. So in the midst of preparing to move us, I will continue to school the kids, change diapers, drive people to various extra curricular activities, stay in touch with my sister, prepare meals, and take care of the family. I think we are in for a big adventure!

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Moving On

    I am not one for change. In fact, if most of my life stayed the same, I would be perfectly content. About a year ago, we had a real estate agent come and talk to us about selling our house. The market wasn't great, Sarah was newborn and we didn't feel led to do anything. On Saturday, September 12, our agent come to the door asking if we want to show our house to a couple. Um... I'm wrapped in a towel because I just came out of the shower and she pops over to discuss a showing? She wanted to show the house in an hour. Panic mode set in. One hour to get dressed, get the kids to clean their rooms, vacuum, clean bathrooms, clean the kitchen and make the house look good. I mean it WAS Saturday... the house was lived in. We managed to get out of the house for a potential buyer's impromptu showing. That night our realtor calls us with an offer. Suddenly, this seems more real... we counter offered and they accepted. That's it. Five days after the walk through, our house (which wasn't actually FOR sale) is sold. Hmmm. I've never moved before. I've never packed to move before and frankly, I find the thought of it very daunting. I've always been happy where I am. This poses as a grand and hopefully fun adventure for my family. We shall see... updates to follow.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    "It's a GIRL!"

    And what a joy she's turned out to be. On September 10, 2000, God blessed me with my daughter. We named her Andrea Shirley after my mom.

    She is beautiful.
    She is loving.
    She is sweet.
    She loves to read.
    She loves to dance.
    She's eagar to please.
    She's as girly as can be.
    She can keep up with the boys.
    She's always up for a challenge.
    She's full of life.
    She's quiet.
    She loves Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Praire.
    She's ours.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009


    Today I had to be a parent helper at school. As a general rule, younger siblings are welcome to come as long as they aren't too disruptive. My 15 month old disruptive? Oh yes. So I called on my mother in law to watch the two little girls for the four hours I was gone. Sarah managed fine. She will only drink from me yet so she was very thirsty when I got back home and I was more than happy to be relieved! Her face filled with glee as she nearly fell into my arms and her eyes closed in sweet contentment as she began nurse. I'm glad I only have to do it every 5-6 weeks since we were meant to be together!

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Close Enough to Kiss

    The International Babywearing Week is scheduled for September 21-28, 2009 with the theme "Close Enough to Kiss." I have loved wearing my babies and have become more and more educated with each one. I love the closeness I feel with them and how their little body nearly melts into mine.


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