Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Favorite Moments

... of this Christmas. 

1.  I was once again {and as always} the first one up but Joshua and Arianna followed soon after.  And as always, we woke Doug and Andrea up to get the day started.

2.  I bought Sarah a homemade doll.  Beautifully done by my dear friend Danyel.  I had carefully wrapped the doll in tissue paper, put her in a box and wrapped the box up as well.  Sarah tore into the gift flung out the tissue (and doll) only to be disappointed that the box of Fruit Loops was empty of her "pink cheerios"!  We did redirect her to the doll, she was delighted with it and was able to forget about the empty cereal box. 

3.  We stuck with four gifts.  It sure made things simpler for buying and even opening.  Still seemed like a lot of presents but a few good practical things were gifted as well.

4.  Andrea was part of the worship team for the Christmas Eve service.  She was the youngest vocalist in a group of adults and I was so proud of her as she sang her solo, "Silent Night". 

5.  Both evenings were pretty low key.  We spent them at home, in our pajamas, eating snacks and watching fun movies together.  Just the way I like it. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

From me and my family to yours, Merry Christmas! I hope this is a wonderful season for you and I wish God's richest blessings on you!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday's Quick Takes

1.  I am as ready for Christmas as I'm going to be.  I have a couple small things to pick up yet but I'll get those out of the way this morning.  Then I'll lock myself in my bedroom and finish off the wrapping and begin setting gifts under the tree.

2.  I am appreciating the simpler way we are doing things this year.  I read on a blog recently of how another mom and dad gave their kids presents.  "One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear and one thing to read."  So I went with it.  By keeping it narrowed down to those four specific items, I didn't feel completely overwhelmed and in the end, that's all that they really need to get anyhow.  The house's decorating is also very low key.  The tree is up and adorned with ornaments, the stockings are hung and Arianna is very good at keeping the two countdown decorations up to date.  Other than that, it's not too fancy here.  I think I like it that way.

3.  I have to brag on Sarah now.  This morning now marks the fifth consecutive night that she has slept in her own bed all night without any waking.  It just happened.  No fights, no stress on either of our parts... it is wonderful.  She receives a small packet of Rocket candies first thing in the morning and it is exciting for me to know that she can understand consequences.  This is a huge developmental step for her!

4.  Doug bought me an early Christmas present.  Fleece lined bed sheets.  How. Divine.  They are so warm and cozy and I am finally not cold at night.  He must love me an awful lot if he did something like that!!

5.  Christmas is just around the corner my friends.  I am ashamed to admit that I have occasionally let the true meaning of the season slip away as I am running kids around, buying gifts, baking and even crafting.  I hope that as the next few days approach us, my family and I will remember to sit back, relax and take time to really think about why we celebrate the season. 

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 
 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. 
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, 
because there was no guest room available for them.” 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Change....

A few weeks ago now, I had a coffee date with a dear friend from high school.  We caught up quickly and enjoyed a nice visit.  Something that was unexpected though, was the way she fell in love with the dog.  I have never seen anyone "oooh" and "ahhh" over him the way she did and of course he basked in the attention from her. 

Last week I planned a visit to my sister's place and thought, rather than bring the dog along, I'd see if Amanda could watch him for a few days.  She was ecstatic and her kids were delighted.  As we were heading home, I began to really think about the extra stress and responsibility that a dog is.  It seems like we are just in a busy phase of life and although I don't regret getting him, I began to wonder if he'd be happier elsewhere.  We asked Amanda if she would like to have the dog and after her initial shock of being offered a pet, she eagerly agreed. 

We had hoped that Joshua's allergies wouldn't bother him too much with an animal but the tests showed that he was severely allergic to dogs.  His face would break out in hives after petting him and he was frequently fighting a stuffed up nose. 

So, a few factors played into the decision.  The kids are not overly upset and I think that is because they know how much he will continue to be loved.  We also know that if we wanted, we'd be more than welcome to visit.  I feel at peace with it as well and it was the right decision.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Just a Bit of Comfort

I'm Spending Christmas with 

Jesus Christ this Year

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven's stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I'm spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can't compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.

I can't tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I'll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As I lift you eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I'm Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I'm walking with the King.

~© Wanda Bencke ~

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Daybook {12.09.12}

For today: December 9, 2012

Out my window: 
Looks like winter has settled in for the next few months.  Last night, as we drove home for a little Christmas gathering, the thermostat on the van read -28* or -18*F for my friends south of the border.  Yes.  That is cold.  REALLY cold.  Kind of makes me want to hunker down in my fleece pajamas, grab a coffee and read a book. 

From the kitchen: 
I brought up my slow cooker last week and put it to good use a few times.  It's really nice to know that supper will be ready and I don't have to think about it all day.  I've seen a couple breakfast recipes for the crock pot.  I think that may be the next thing I try. 

Around the house: 
Christmas has arrived on the main floor.  And that's all that I think I'll do this year.  This is the floor that our guests hang out on as well as the family most of the time.  I don't really see a need to do much more than that.

Jane Eyre, The Purpose Driven Life and Goodnight Little Pookie.  The last one is Sarah's current bedtime favorite.  In fact I have completely memorized it. 

Looking forward to: 
I'm heading down to Calgary to visit my sister this week.  A few years ago, we had baking days where we would bake all our family favorites and even dabbled in a few new recipes.  It was a day of visiting, sampling and enjoying being together.  It's been a year or two since we've done it and we are both looking forward to doing it again!

“Trusting God completely means having faith that He knows what is best for your life. You expect Him to keep His promises, help you with problems, and do the impossible when necessary.”
“God intentionally allows you to go through painful experiences to equip you for ministry to others.”
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here for?

For family peace within our home.  That the Christmas season would be more meaningful that wondering what is under the tree.

Pictures to share:

 The quilt I made for my father in law

 This is *just* the beginning

My tree

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday's Four Quick Takes

1. We are going out to Christmas Party number one of the season.  I'm not overly excited about it mainly because I'm not a night person and I'd rather just hang out in my jammies.  I will do my best to enjoy our time out.  Also because the older two are also going out, Doug's mom is coming to watch the little girls.  It's been YEARS since I've needed someone to come over in the evening!

2.  Sarah has caught nasty cold bug.  She's really stuffed up and feeling pretty miserable.  Her appetite has not diminished though and she is eating like crazy. 

3.  I love our Early Intervention Coordinator.  Today she just listened to me talk and I appreciated sharing a part of Sarah's baby days with her.  I needed that.

4.  Christmas has arrived at our house.  The tree is up, stockings are hung and the numbers on the countdown calendars are getting smaller.  Working hard at it but the spirit is here.  Joshua and Andrea are off to their youth banquet this evening as well.  They should have a great time!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Daybook {12.05.12}

For Today: December 5, 2012

Outside my window... snow.  Enough said.

I am thinking...of new and different ways to celebrate Christmas this year. 

I am thankful... for Doug's job.  For our marriage, our children, our family, our friends. 

In the kitchen...breakfast messy.  I'll get to it soon.

I am reading... Jane Eyre (more-so plodding through it).  It's a true classic and not quite like the modern day books that I'm used to reading.  I'm hoping to be done it by Christmas.

I am wearing... leggings, a tank top and oversized sweatshirt.

I am going... to do laundry, house work and research family devotion ideas.

I am wondering... if I'll manage to get Christmas cards done on time.

I am hoping... to get some baking done today.  Shortbread perhaps.

I am looking forward to... a little road trip next week!  

I am learning... that I need to trust in and rely on God more. 

Around the house... actually fairly tidy. 

A favorite quote for today..."I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

A few of my favorite things... the lone hour I have before my family wakes up, a hot coffee, my Christmas tree and freshly folded laundry.

A few plans for the rest of the week...some light school for the kids, Doug's work Christmas party and... that's about it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy December!

I can't believe how quickly November flew by.  I had inwardly made a goal of blogging at least once every two days but I'm not sure I did it.  So here we are into another month and almost the end of another year.  A quick recap of the past week or so:

Andrea did an amazing job at her Aladdin production and the six sold out shows were a great reward for the 80+ kids who rehearsed for so many months!  I was so very proud of her!

Joshua and I completed another session of Daybreak at our church and as much as I love snuggling babies for people, it is nice to have a bit of a break.

Arianna has been busy practicing for her solo and dance part of the church's Christmas production.

Sarah is keeping herself busy doing Sarah "things".  Baking with Grandma, playing with her siblings and just hanging out!

This morning I read a Facebook post from The Busy Homeschool Mom and today her message spoke deep to my heart.  Here's what she had to say:
"The best Christmas presents will never be found in a store. Do you want to make the holidays meaningful for your children? Creating memories that will last a lifetime is really a matter of intentional planning. It has very little to do with money. :) Here are few tips to get you started:

Look at your calendar. WRITE IN t
hings you want to do and then take the time off to actually do them. You only get 2012 Christmas once. :) Here are a few things you might want to consider:

—Make Christmas cut-out cookies
—google "slow cooker hot chocolate" ... and make it
—find Christmas crafts you can do with just paper and glue. You're on the computer already. :)
—Go for a drive to look at Christmas lights. Take your hot chocolate for a special treat
—Make chex mix. 'nuff said.
—Ask your children to DRAW their version of the nativity. Frame it or take a picture of it so you don't forget what their drawings looked like.
—Watch your favorite Christmas movie
—Read Advent stories by the Christmas tree
—Scatter Christmas books throughout your house. I started our Christmas collection from thrift stores years ago; now we have books in every room. The kids, even the grown ones, love it.
—Focus on just the basics for school. Enjoy December.
—Remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Love your kids. Kiss your husband under the mistletoe. Try to appreciate the bickering, spilled hot chocolate, crazy calendar and family gatherings. And when you can't appreciate it, forgive yourself. And start again.

Merry Christmas!"
I really enjoy homeschooling my kids.  I love it MOST of the time, despite the frustrating moments that I think we all have.  I think I often get too worked up in the focus on math, reading, grammar, social and science.  I truly appreciate this reminder for me and everyone else, regardless of how we school our kids.  Deep breath.  Relax.  Enjoy.
I'm hoping and planning for a relaxed December with emphasis on family, friends and simply enjoying the season.  
Happy Tuesday!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dr. Appointment {11.28.12}

Well, Sarah has certainly been incredibly busy the past three months!  She has grown an entire inch, gained two pounds and her head grew an entire centimeter.  Now, being the chart loving, fact searching person I am, it looks like this:

Height: 13th percentile (39 inches)
Weight: 7th percentile (31 pounds)
Head circumference: -4 Standard Deviation (45 cm; normal is 50 cm)

So she is still, and probably always will be, really little. And that's ok.  The doctor was very pleased with her language.  The difference between speech and language is how it comes out.  He couldn't understand much of what she *said* (speech) but her determination to express herself vocally (language) was impressive.  We were praised for our efforts in how we have been working with her. 

Doug and I began to wonder if her balance issues (or lack of them) has had to do with this crazy amount of growing.  This also could contribute to her poor sleeping habits lately.  Maybe I'll just blame it on that so I feel better about it!

Otherwise, everything else checked out just fine and she's healthy as can be! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

One Year Ago

It was this day last year that we received Sarah's diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.  You can re-read about it at this LINK if you wish.

I think this past year has brought me to a few different places.  One has been acceptance.  I have accepted the diagnosis and I can not change it.  I can take the information that has been given to me, learn as much as I can about it and do everything in my power to support Sarah.  I have become stronger as the year has gone by.  I have dealt with looks of disapproval from strangers as I change her, curious glances as to why her speech isn't what it "should" be and my own personal struggle when I see how far from other four year olds she is.  I often feel mixed between offering people an explanation and a part of me thinks it's none of their business and I shouldn't worry about it. 

I am thankful for her laid back personality.  She's easy to please, is naturally sweet and has a huge amount of love for everyone!  She is innocent and naive.  If she is upset or crying, then something is genuinely wrong, whether she is sick, over tired or hurt.  She doesn't argue, fight or put up a fuss for anything.  She has such a wonderful little personality and I love who she is.



We have seen so much progress in Sarah over the past year.  Her speech has improved by leaps and bounds and although it's far from where other kids her age are, I know that she's gaining at her own pace. Our EI coordinator is encouraging and supportive and I really can't imagine what we would have done without her.  She is amazing with Sarah and I am so thankful for her knowledge and dedication to our family. 

I am truly appreciative of all my family who loves and supports us.  I am blessed by their words, visits and encouraging hugs.  Sarah's siblings adore her.  They are her biggest advocates and cheer team.  Even a bite of *real* supper brings on applause and praises for her!  I also am thankful for my friends.  The weekly coffee dates, sharing my fears, frustrations, joys and victories are one of the many things that has gotten me through some of the harder days.

I do think my biggest weakness at this time is that I really need to lean on God more when I'm down.  I have a tendency to want to figure it out on my own and sort my problems out by myself.  I need to have a bigger faith and listen harder to what He has to say about these kinds of things. Maybe I'm scared of the answer?  Or possibly exposing my heart...?  I don't know.  I'm interested to see what this next year has in store for us.

*mug is from CafePress*

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Family Dynamics

When we bought this house three years ago, we just assumed that the older two would sleep in the basement and the littler two upstairs.  Now over the years, we have done MANY room changes and switches.  Our basement is unfinished and it's simply not in the budget to do it at this time.  But, now that the weather has turned to winter, it's quite cool down there.  So for the past few weeks, Andrea has been bunking in the bonus room and Joshua has had the basement to himself.  Just a couple days ago as I sent him down to bed, he burst out "I don't really LIKE being down there alone."  And he headed down for the night.  I spent the evening wonder what we could do about it.

Hmm... so despite his outward toughie look, he really would prefer to sleep upstairs.  The only feasible option was for him to move into Sarah's room.  And he eagerly complied.  He quickly moved just his bed into her room.  We figured since Sarah doesn't spend any time in there, other than sleeping, it wouldn't be a big deal.  It's now the room where Joshua and Sarah sleep.  He still has all his clothes and Lego downstairs in his "room". 

I find it warming to my heart that my 13 ½ year old would rather sleep upstairs with his youngest sister than on his own in the basement.  I love how our family has come together and that the choice to be WITH someone is better than being alone. 

Who knows... maybe Sarah will sleep better now.  Or, maybe she won't...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Daybook {11.16.12}

FOR TODAY: November 16, 2012

Outside my window... The snow has blanketed my yard but it melting with the mild temperatures.  I'm hoping to get the patio table inside for the winter yet...

I am thinking... that I would love another cup of coffee this afternoon.

I am thankful...yes, I am.

In the kitchen... messy.  I got home from piano and had to squeeze in some lunch before our homeschool facilitator visit. 

I am wearing... leggings, a tank top and hoodie.

I am going... to try my best to get creative again.  Soon.  I miss making cards and scrapbooking.

I am wondering... what to make for supper tonight.  I'm thinking pancakes would be a nice treat.

I am hoping...that Sarah will sleep through the night again. 

I am looking forward to... Doug coming home after his road trip.

I am learning... that God is in control, He has a plan and His way is.

Around the house... tidy but lived in.

A favorite quote for today... "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley (read below)

A few of my favorite things... coffee, my feather duvet, a hot bath, fuzzy-sleeper clad toddlers, sleeping kids.

A few plans for the rest of the weekend... celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday, my sister's 34th birthday, maybe a photoshoot and hopefully fit in some family time!

Happy Friday!

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Copied from HERE

Image taken from this site

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tired Tonight

To say that Sarah hasn't been sleeping well would be an understatement.  It seems that she is being troubled by night terrors and nightmares which, are developmentally appropriate for her now.  Arianna used to suffer from them regularly and still, on occasion, has bad dreams.  So in addition to the (annoying) time change, I am now waking up sometimes 2-4 times at night.  I feel like a brand new mom with a newborn again. 

Well, like I do every night, I'll go and tuck her in with the hope that she will sleep long again.  I can hope right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making Things Better

From the day we brought her home from the hospital, Sarah has fought being in her carseat.  I don't know if it's the position, the straps, the confinement... not a clue.  She will push her legs on the seat and resist for all it's worth.  Recently we found out that a gentle pressure on her legs would settle her down and she'd relax.  I am positive it has to do with her SPD (sensory processing disorder). Doug had the idea for me to talk to my dad who is in the medical industry, selling x-ray machines, chemicals and lead aprons to hospitals.  I asked Dad if he had anything lying around that might work for the van.  About a week later, he dropped off a lead apron for us to try.  It just so happened that we were able to test drive the apron on a trip to Calgary.  Like anything, Sarah was miserable with it on.  After persisting, she finally accepted it and now loves it.  There are two loops that hook on to the arm rests of the seat she's in and it was great.  This weekend, Dad said we could keep it and I was able to make a cover for it.  One of the problems we were having was it kept slipping off and medical "green" isn't the nicest of colors.  So on Sunday, I spent just over an hour designing a custom-fit lead apron cover!  I was so proud of myself and it looks SO much better!!
Cute hey?  So now it's softer, warmer and not as slippery as before.  The space between the two black straps has a strip of velcro so it can come off for washing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Home Visit {11.09.12}

Sarah had a home visit from her EI coordinator this morning.  It's been about six weeks since we had one and Sarah was delighted to see her friend Wendy again!  We talked about all the great improvements that Sarah has made and I was able to ask some questions that have been on my mind. As a way to have a general idea of where Sarah is developmentally, Wendy asks me a series of questions about Sarah and I answer them to the best of my ability.  Based on my answers and some discussion, Sarah's developmental age is scored on a series of skills and we are then able to go from there.  Now, I'm a visual kind of person so with my tools I have at my finger tips, I prepared a graph to show me (and now you) where she is *at*.

You can see three colors.  Each color has two lines.  The thick straight line is when the assessment was done and the thinner, jagged line places her age at each developmental stage.  Because she grows slower than other kids, the gaps between her current age and her skill level are growing.  That's going to be expected.

It also looks like this:
Fine Motor: 39-40 months (13-14 months behind)
Gross Motor: 38-39 months (13-14 months behind)
Receptive Language: 38-39 months (13-14 months behind) 
Expressive Language: 38-39 months (13-14 months behind) 
Auditory Memory: 33-34 months (19-20 months behind)
Visual Memory: 27-28 months (25-26 months behind)
Self Help: 37-38 months (15-16 months behind)
Social: 51-52 months (1-2 months behind)

You can see how that in most areas of development, aside from her social skills, she is considerably behind the majority of most kids her age.  To Wendy and I, this explains why many people think Sarah should be with other four year olds... her social skills are right where they should be and that's the outward appearance that *you* see.  What isn't seen, are the inside things, like what's going on in her head.  The words she says and understands, what she sees and remembers, hears and remembers and her ability to self help are the skills that aren't quite where her peers are at.  In fact, her visual memory ability is just over where a two year old is at.  This is why (in my opinion), that a school setting isn't where she needs to be or where I want her to be.  I was assured that her arm flapping is most likely just a reaction to excitement or frustration because she doesn't have the vocabulary to express herself in words. 

Overall, Wendy's visit was wonderful.  I love having someone who supports me in all my decisions and understands me.  She has become a great source of information for me and has always been able to answer my questions.  She also supports my decisions and encourages me, including (and especially) the area of homeschooling. 

For tonight, I tuck my precious little girl into bed and thank God for the blessing she is to me.  I wouldn't trade her for the world.  I will fight for her, ensure that she is happy, safe and feels confident in the places she's in.  I will protect her to the end and I can see the same protectiveness from her daddy, big brother and older sisters.  Her grandparents, aunts and uncles adore her.  She will be encouraged, challenged and loved every day. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday {11.8.12}

1.  I am thankful for my husband.  He works crazy hard to ensure that I continue to fulfill my dream of being a stay at home mom and be with our kids during the day.  He is my friend and my lifelong support system.  We were truly made for each other. 

2.  I am thankful for each of our kids.  Joshua who is growing more and more each day.  Andrea who is less and less of a little girl, and more of a young woman.  For Arianna, who although is growing up, is still so young and carefree.  For Sarah who delights me on a daily basis.

3.  Alicia.  My sister, my best friend.  Their recent move to Calgary has been exceptionally hard on us as we are so close and tight-knit.  Talking on the phone is alright but nothing quite beats a face to face, cup of coffee in the midst of our kid-chaos.  We miss seeing each other weekly and I keep praying for a peace to surround us both as the miles are keeping us apart.  Love her SO much.  I am thankful that my parents encouraged strong sibling relationships.  Although we don't see each other as often as we'd like, when we do get together, we have a great time.

4.  I am blessed with amazing in-laws.  They are encouraging, supportive and loving.  I feel like one of their kids and that I belong in their family.  I am so grateful to have them in my life. 

5.  I like my church.  I appreciate (more than words can say) all the fantastic children's workers.  I know that they love the kids they work with and I am thankful that on Sundays, Sarah is able to be in a safe (age appropriate for her) place.  (Debbie, Karen, Corine & Janet)

6.  I appreciate the free services available to Sarah.  Access to an AMAZING early intervention coordinator who makes me feel like Sarah is really special to her and not "just another client".  She has supported my decisions and done everything she can to help me on this journey.  Sarah's pediatrician is wonderful.  Maybe not fantastic bedside manners but he is good at what he does and he has paved the way for most of Sarah's diagnoses

7.  I have a few of the greatest friends in the world.  They listen to me vent about anything and they support and love me in what I do.  They share a love for coffee and homeschooling and they are a very important part of my life.  I am thankful for the friends who may not educate in the same manner as me but are still supportive and encouraging.

8.  My freedom to educate my kids as I wish.  I love being with them and being the primary educator is very important to Doug and I.

9.  I am thankful for my country and the men and women who faithfully serve us overseas.  May they all be remembered; past, present and future.  I am fortunate that I can worship freely. 

10.  For today.  No sounds of war in the back ground, no fear of natural disasters, and no illness to make me wonder about my future. 

I'm exceptionally blessed and I am remembering to be thankful today.

*Picture at the top taken from HERE

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Day In My Life - Monday

If someone were to ask me what I do in a day, I'd have to invite them over for a coffee because it would take so long to get through.  So just for the sake of it, I decided to write down everything I do to see what it looks like. 

5:00 - A gentle whisper from my four year old (who was sleeping in my bed) "I need eat Mommy."  Ummm.... no Honey,  go back to sleep.  I spend the next 20-30 minutes pretending to sleep in hopes that she'll doze off.  She's laying still so I slip out and head to my treadmill. 

5:50 - Hop on the 'mill and beat my previous distance in 30 minutes and feel good about that.

6:25 - Make my way back to the room to shower and find TWO girls in my bed, watching TV.  I take a quick shower and bring the girls downstairs for breakfast.  On my hip is mine and Doug's laundry which I will begin.  Sit down with coffee #1 and catch up on my Facebook, Blogs and such. 

7:45 - After making something for Sarah to eat and resume tidying from the night before, I head down to rouse the older two kids.  They get to wake up early because they kept ME up till 11:15. 

8:30 - Three kids at the table ready to do school.  I get them started and I continue to clean the kitchen, after I've switched laundry loads.

9:00 - Refocus the distracted children and begin to vacuum all the stairs and carpet upstairs.  Find that Sarah's room is messy so I clean that up, then vacuum it too.

9:30 - Bring the vacuum down and switch the laundry loads and fold some quickly.

9:40 - Grab coffee #2 and sit with Joshua to spend some focused one on one with his math.  After about 30 (long) minutes and many problems, he begins to see the light.  One really great thing about homeschooling is celebrating his victories together.  We stop for a break. 

10:30 - Vacuum entire main floor.  I like to vacuum.  I love hearing the stuff rattle up the hose and I have such a satisfactory feeling when I can see a difference.  Weird?  Maybe.

11:00 - Wash the floors in the front of the house and then begin lunch while the floors dry.

11:30 - Feed the kids, switch the laundry and realize I should have vacuumed AFTER lunch.  Good thing I didn't put it away yet. 

12:00 - Hang some laundry to dry, start another load and then think I should get my undershirt-clad daughter dressed.  She fights it, I give up.  The house is warm anyhow.  Start the dishwasher. 

12:30 - Wash the kitchen and dining room floors.  I threaten my daughters with washing the now clean floors with a toothbrush if they even THINK about walking in the house with their boots on. 

1:00 - Sit down for coffee #3.  Remember, I have now been up for EIGHT hours.

1:15 - Hang wet laundry.  Start. Last. Load.

1:30 - Enjoy the slushie that my sweet Arianna brought me from the 7/11.

2:00 - Sit. Down.

3:00 - Change another diaper, fold more clothes, tidy up the kitchen (again).

4:30 - Doug comes home and we start supper prep.  Steaks, sweet potato fries and snap peas. 

6:00 - Kitchen and dining room are clean, counters are cleared and floors are swept once more.  

6:45 - Chase Arianna into the shower.

7:00 - Doug brings Andrea to her Bible study and I tuck the sweet toddler who woke me up at 5:00 this morning into bed, praying that she sleeps a few more hours longer than today.

8:00 - After some time visiting with Doug on the couch, Arianna gets tucked into bed. 

8:15 - Doug heads off to hang out with his friends for the evening.  Now, I would like to think that after being up and constantly busy for 15 hours, I could think about going to bed but since Andrea won't be home till 9:00, I will wait till then.  

9:15 - My oldest daughter will come home and I'll lovingly and patiently listen to her tell me all about her evening. 

9:30 - I will send the last two of my children to bed.  I am always hopeful that she won't wake up crying but I'm sure Sarah will need me to get her at some point in the night.  She won't leave her bed and so I will get up... once more.  And maybe, just maybe tomorrow won't start quite as early. 

Now, to our credit, most days, we do more school than we did today... it was simply one of those *off* days.  Yes, I am busy and often tired but I do love what I do.  And like I told my in-laws this weekend, I firmly believe I was put on this earth to be a wife and mom.  Life for me, began the day I got married and I am so happy doing what I do!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday's Thoughts

1.  With Daylight Savings time occurring last night, I noticed that the sun was up earlier than yesterday.  So much nicer for a morning person like me!  Sarah did not get the notice about sleeping an extra hour though and was still up at her normal time, except that the clock read 5:15.  Good thing she's just so crazy cute.

2.  I was honored this weekend when my nephew Ben wanted to call me about his accident on the treadmill.  Poor little guy has quite the injuries on his face but I know he's a toughie.  He makes me proud and I love him lots!  I also got to say hi to my beautiful nieces at the same time... I miss and love those Calgary babies.  xoxoxo

3.  We bought the game Risk this weekend.  Quite the steal as it was only $6 at the checkout!  We are now onto day THREE of playing and no real winner in sight.  I was sure I was toast but I made a bit of a comeback.  It's exciting that the kids want to keep playing it too!

4.  As we were driving to Doug's parents for a coffee this weekend, I was just checking some old photos of the kids on my iPhone (love technology) and came across one of Arianna at 4.5 years old.  The same age that Sarah is now.

Two, very beautiful girls, one just looks so much younger.  I was taken aback when I realize how baby-like Sarah is yet, especially when two photos are placed side by side.  I KNOW Sarah is who she is and is supposed to be and I wouldn't trade her preciousness for anything but every so often I have little twinges of sadness.  I watch her peer bypass her and now kids are even beginning to talk down to her as if she IS younger.  I can understand their child-like thinking but it still hurts inside.    I remember when Doug and I decided our family was complete and that Sarah would be our last.  I also remember thinking how badly I wanted to hang on to the sweet baby-days.  I always wished I could hold on to their little-ness just a bit longer.  And now I can.  For today, I have a daughter who looks, acts, behaves and is so very much like a two year old.  Almost like we are stuck in time.  Now, don't get me wrong, she is growing and changing day by day.  She talks so much more than she did a year ago and her thinking is becoming more and more complex (for her).  She delights and challenges me on a daily basis and she is all that I could have ever wanted in her.

 5.  It's Sunday.  The beginning of a new week.  Now, time for another cup of coffee and we'll get this day started.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five on Friday

1.  The snow started to fall two days ago and it really doesn't look like it will be going away anytime soon.  It seems our winter is here to stay... for the next few months anyhow.

2.  I am reading The Purpose Driven Life.  I've been a Christian for pretty much all my life and yet I love finding something that is so spiritually refreshing.  I can learn so much from this book and I'm looking forward to applying it to my life and seeing what God has in store for me.

3.  As I fought off flu-like symptoms, I was very thankful for my older kids.  They kind of ran the house, made sure everyone ate meals and kept things running. Arianna was the biggest help by watching my friend's son while I was supposed to be.  What an amazing blessing they are to me.

4.  Tonight, we are having a gadget free night.  The kids, Doug and I are putting our devices away for a few hours while we reconnect with games and hanging out. 

5.  I love my family.  God has blessed me with so many wonderful people in my life and I am thankful. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We Do Things Differently

When my siblings and I were growing up, Halloween was never a big event for us.  We didn't go trick or treating but rather, watched movies and had treats during the night.  As Doug and I had kids, we didn't take them out either.  For the first few years, we visited his parents with the kids costumed up but we never made a huge deal of it.  Four years ago, our church began to put on a Fall Festival on the 31st.  This is a chance for the kids to have fun, dress up, all in a warm and safe place.  This year, we didn't go.  Sarah's SPD is a little tricky yet and she wouldn't dress up and she'd just sit in her stroller with the canopy down so she wouldn't have to see anything.  So, the kids and I went to Superstore, stocked up on HUGE amounts of treats and hung out.  At home.  Afterwards, Arianna thanked me for not taking her out because being at home was way more fun. 

This morning, we woke up to lots of snow on the ground and freezing rain.  Our day consisted of pajamas, school, some house work and staying warm.  It was just a nice way to spend the first snowy day.  Soon I'll get brave and go outside with the kids!!

Happy November 1st!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Morning

Well, after a long night taking care of an 8 year old who was sick, and then dreaming of Sarah being kidnapped, we decided that we'd spend the morning at home.  We found a sermon series on You Tube which will be our church service.  It's cold outside today and so staying in, cuddled under blankets and being together just sounds like a good idea. 

Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

In no particular order...

- fleece, sleeper clad toddlers
- hugs from a teenager nearly taller than me
- freedom to homeschool
- a preteen daughter who helps in the kitchen
- an eight year old who confides in me
- unconditional love from my husband
- supportive and loving friends
- long phone calls with my sister
- encouraging in-laws
- coffee with white mocha creamer
- cool covers on my bed at the end if the day

I'm feeling exceptionally blessed this evening... Goodnight!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Mind of a 13 Year Old

Today Joshua had to tidy the yard before the snow flies. I left him to do as I asked while I ran out for a coffee. I began to receive some texts saying he needed help fast. So I called him at home, to find out he attempted to clean the yard with my vacuum. Yes, my friends, the vacuum. Complete with beater bar. He told me that the vacuum was making a funny noise. No kidding. So he shut it off until I came home.
I made a few calls to my father in law and brother in law in search of a "snake" to unclog my vacuum tunnel. Doug then suggested that I first empty the canister to see if the blockage was there. And I'm so glad I did. Joshua and I cleaned about 40 pounds from the canister and found a big bunch of leaves and grass in the filter! We cleaned it out and thankfully my vacuum is back in business!
Next time, I hope Joshua just starts up the lawn mower and does it the way I asked in the first place! I love how boys think!

It's Getting Colder...

There's a certain chill in the air that makes me think that winter is slowly coming upon us.  Sarah asked me this morning at about 7:00 "where sun go?"  Unfortunately,  the sun no longer rises before us... in fact, today is overcast with a feeling of possible snow.  Andrea is off babysitting for the day (benefit of being homeschooled) while Joshua and Arianna have been outside since 8:30 this morning.  Sarah isn't even out of her fuzzy sleeper but if I could chose, I'd stay in my pajamas all day too!

Have a good day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's Five Thoughts

  1. I am continuing to be amazed at how much Sarah is talking these days.
  2. The other day Joshua answered me when I called and I was really caught off guard at how his little boy voice isn't so "little" any more.
  3. The weather is getting cooler very quickly.  I'm really not ready for winter.
  4. I'm looking forward to a family supper this weekend with my sister, brother, their spouses and the kids.
  5. I'm so very thankful for all the wonderful people in my life.  My husband, our children, my sister, my in laws, all my family, friends... the list goes on.
One of the places we stopped when we took a day-trip to Canmore.

Dental Work

I don't know what it is with me and my teeth but it seems like I have never ending issues with them.  For as long as I can remember, going to the dentist has been a dreaded time and I think I know why.  Not once have I ever gone, only to come home with a clean bill of health.  I would always have to go back for fillings.  Every.  Single.  Time.  That gets kind of old and discouraging.  I have good oral hygiene,  I mean I even carry dental floss in my purse!  I don't drink any carbonated beverages, I have a cup of coffee (or two) a day and I take good care of them.  It just doesn't seem to matter what I do, I will always have problems with teeth. 
I had been putting off going again until Doug received his benefits.  Yesterday when I was eating lunch and cracked one of my back molars, I couldn't stall any longer.  Thankfully they were able to get me in right away and it'll get fixed.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Daybook {10.10.12}

FOR TODAY: October 10, 2012

Outside my window... the snow has stopped falling for now.  I'm hoping it isn't here to stay but I know that it won't be long.

I am thinking... that I would love another cup of coffee this afternoon.

I am thankful... for more than I can say.  My sister, my husband, his job, our children, my in-laws, our home, my life.  I am blessed beyond words.

In the kitchen... cluttered.  It gets that way sometimes.  Lots of stuff on the counter that needs to be put away.

I am wearing... long yoga pants and a baggy teal colored shirt.

I am see what else I can sell or purge as I reduce the amount of *stuff* in our house.

I am wondering... if I can somehow use my outdoor clothes line inside somehow...

I am hoping... to get the house tidied up this afternoon.  It seems like a never ending project today.

I am looking forward to... Doug coming home after two nights away.

I am learning...that I need to dig deeper into my spiritual self.  Doing some soul searching...

Around the house... tidy but lived in.

I am pondering... what to make for supper tonight.  I'm thinking pancakes would be a nice treat.

A favorite quote for today..."the sun'll come out, tomorrow!"

A few of my favorite things... coffee, my feather duvet, a hot bath, fuzzy-sleeper clad toddlers, sleeping kids.

A few plans for the rest of the week...just school and hopefully a coffee date or two

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sunday Thoughts

I never really had considered myself to be a writer. While that is true in the sense that I will never write a fictional novel, I do find that sitting in front of a screen with a keyboard at my finger tips allows me to express myself in a coherent manner. I can erase what I don't mean (or like), rewrite, edit or change what I want to say. Often when I'm on the phone, I get all mixed up with my thoughts and have a hard time thinking straight. When I'm put on the spot, I can't answer questions and if I do, I usually forget to say all that I wanted to.

This post is going to say what I feel about a topic that I know some people will disagree with me on. And I have to believe that it's ok. I can't please everyone and in the end, I am responsible for my actions and choices. I hope that this will give you a greater understanding about what I believe in.

I homeschool mine and Doug's children. This was a decision that we reached as a couple and then as a family. It's what we do. I also have not ever sent my kids to preschool. I just liked having them around all the time. This was probably what led us to homeschool. Even when Joshua and Andrea each had their one year in kindergarten, I missed them for the entire day and couldn't wait for them to come home again. I guess I'm just like that. I'm a homebody and I like to have my people near me. The past 18 months have been quite a learning experience for all of us as we've been given a diagnosis for Sarah which has been Cerebral Palsy, Microcephaly and Global Developmental Delays. The belief of many people has been that Sarah would do much better in a school/preschool setting. Is that because I don't have a degree in special needs, and perhaps I can't provide the best care and learning environment for my child? I guess that's where we will disagree (and that's ok). I do think that Sarah will learn best at home. She isn't labelled here and is surrounded by her family who loves her unconditionally. Together we will help her learn to count, print and one day even read. She will always be behind her peers and I don't want her placed in a classroom (mainstream or otherwise) where she'll just be *another kid*. I want to see her learn and I want to be the one to celebrate each little victory, even if it's as simple as counting to five.

On the other side of the fence, I can see the benefits and promise of preschool and school for those who chose it. I know of a few kids personally that are thriving in a preschool and kindergarten classroom and love every minute of it. They are outgoing, energetic and clearly enjoy going. And that's GREAT! Whether you chose to send your kids to school or keep them at home for their education, we are all in it for the best interest of our children. God gave us the honour of raising these young people and we have the privilege of choosing how to educate them.

A piece I read from another mom's perspective says:
(I had forgotten to snag where I got the quote from.  These aren't my words.)

"What about the children who don’t catch up? Some are home educating children who are truly never going to achieve a high level of literacy or ability. There are those who know from early childhood that there are barriers that won’t be overcome. If a child has Down’s Syndrome or other intellectual handicaps, or has fetal alcohol syndrome, or deals with the consequences of severe early deprivations, then there may be limits that will not go away. How much better for that child to be at home, surrounded by love and acceptance and gentle ongoing help and encouragement to learn what he can.
I truly feel that the first lesson a child learns in institutional special needs programs is that he has been judged as flawed and that that flaw is the most important thing about him. When that child remains at home to be educated, in the security of his family, he can be himself, a person with strengths and weaknesses valued for his unique worth."

Those words ring so true in my heart tonight as the love I have for my "special" daughter nearly brought me to tears as I tucked her in to bed. She belongs close to me, her daddy and her siblings in this crucial time of learning for her.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Daybook {09.24.12}

FOR TODAY: September 24, 2012

Outside my window... at 8:30 in the eveing, there is no longer the sunshine pouring onto my backyard.  It's dark out and I can't see a whole lot.

I am thinking...that a little bit more sleep will be nice.  I hope Sarah sleeps without nightmares tonight.

I am thankful... for much.

In the kitchen... tidy.  Good enough.

I am wearing...capri leggings and a green tank top.

I am creating...not much of anything.  I'm not really in a creative mood as of late.

I am survive this stage of our lives.  We are in a bit of a tough time right now but we'll pull through.

I am wondering... about too much to write about. 

I am reading...  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Twilight Children by Torey Hayden

I am hoping... that when my kids are grown up and older that they thank me for the education route we chose.  I hope they are pleased with the outcome and so I feel I did a good job.  I never take their schooling lightly and I have made many sacrifices by keeping them home.  Yes, some days are harder than others but in the big picture, I still believe that home is best for them. We as parents get the honor and privilege of choosing what WE think is in their best interest. 

I am looking forward to... the weekend.  Seems like a long ways off yet.

I am learning... a lot more about certain things than I ever thought I would.

Around the house... tidy but lived in.

I am pondering... how busy life quickly gets in the fall.  Daybreak, piano, drama, Bible study, coffee dates, appointments.  I have had to work at saying *no* to some things because I don't think I could put one more even on our calendar!

A favorite quote for today... "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." - Heather Cortez

One of my favorite things...a cool breeze blowing in my bedroom window so that I can snuggle deep under the covers and stay warm!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Daybreak, a park date with friends, a consultation with Wendy... and that might be it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

'Cungles' and Other Things

I nee' a cungle (I need a cuddle)
You a best ever (You're the best ever)
Too pa (thank you)
Peese a come? (Can I come?)
Yay yo (Here it/he/she is)
Toy dowy (Toy Story)
Peese a van buckle (I want to go in the van)
Sobeys cookie (I want to go to Sobeys for a cookie)
Pink Cheerios (Fruit Loops)

These are some of Sarah's most popular phrases. I love how her speech is starting to develop and become her own.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Daybook {09.03.12}

FOR TODAY: September 3, 2012

Outside my window... I can see the sunshine making it's presence known along our fence.  Trying to hard to warm up the earth, now that the days are getting shorter and we have less daylight.

I am nice it was to have a nap only one hour after getting up!

I am thankful... for much.

In the kitchen... tidy but busy looking.  A few dishes left on the counter from last night but not as bad as it has been before.

I am wearing... long yoga pants and a baggy teal colored shirt.

I am creating...ways to simplify our home.

I am see what else I can sell or purge as I reduce the amount of *stuff* in our house.

I am wondering... what to do today.  It's the Monday of a long weekend and the day before our school starts.  Maybe some school prep...

I am reading... The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (I just finished it this morning).  Today I'll start Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I am hoping... for a few more nice days of summer.  I'm not quite ready for fall yet!

I am looking forward to... getting the kids' school started soon.  Not sure what day we'll get going but hopefully soon.  We did take the whole summer off, in fact, we've been "off" since early May.

I am learning... that I can't bubble wrap my children and protect them from all the hurts that the world and other people will bring them.  I can teach them how to deal with it, encourage them and promise to be on their side no matter what.  Parenting junior high kids is a whole new ball game and I am praying for wisdom as I venture into this adventure.

Around the house... tidy but lived in.

I am pondering...

Foods I won't eat... onions, eggs and nuts. 

A favorite quote for today... "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." - Heather Cortez

One of my favorite things...sleeping kids. *love*

A few plans for the rest of the week...just school and maybe a coffee date or two

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Minute Friday {08.31.12}

*August 30, 2012*

1.  I am plugging away at The Hobbit.  It's not my favorite style but it's on my "to read" list. 
2.  I meal planned for the second time this month.  A little pricey initially at the checkout but hopefully we will save by not going out and taking petty little trips to the store.
3.  Arianna started school today.  On her own.  I love her sweetness.
4.  I am committing to walking with my husband on the nights that he's in town.
5.  I'm currently in a purging/selling mood.  I'm tired of all the stuff that is lingering in our house and we simply have too much.  Pretty much anything is fair game!
6.  New rule in our house: If it isn't put away and I have to do it, the only way to get the item back is to work it back.
7.  I'm glad it's Friday... the beginning of a long weekend.  

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Doctor Appointment {08.30.12}

So this morning dawned bright and early as I had to make the 35 minute drive to Sarah's pediatrician for our 9:00 appointment.  This was a much dreaded event as in the past, Sarah spends the entire time crying to go home.  So with heart filled trepidation, Joshua, Sarah and I headed out.  After the short wait, we were ushered to the little examining room and I promised her a visit to Sobeys for a cookie if she didn't cry.

The doctor walked in and Sarah greeted him with a "Hi, how - you?"  He responded with "I'm fine, and you?"  She then whispered "good."  He loved that she began a conversation with him!  She has lost some weight in three months and tips the scale at 28.5 pounds, putting her in the 3rd percentile for weight.  She is 38 inches tall, which is in the 15th percentile.  Her head is 44 centimeters.  I have posted up a picture of a head circumference chart to show you (and me) where her teeny head is.
(Click to Enlarge)
 I tried to get the Microcephaley chart up but it wasn't working for me.  If Sarah's head size is plotted on a Micro chart, she is between -4 & -5 Standard Deviation.  That means the *average* four year old has a head size of 50cm.  Her's is the size of an average 8 month old. 

So overall, the appointment went smoothly.  Sarah didn't flip out like she usually does and I have current measurements for her again. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reading List {08.22.12}

I love to read.  Anyone who knows me at all, knows that reading is probably my favorite pastime.  I was thinking of my book list and thought I'd write down the books I want to read, even if it takes me a few years.
In no particular order:

  • The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

  • The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)  Completed September 2, 2012
  • The Secret World of Og (Pierre Berton)
  • The Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren)
  • The Story of the World (Susan Wise Bauer)
  • Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  • Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
  • Emma (Jane Austen)
  • Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) 
These are the ones that I have read in addition to and in between my original list
  • Still Alice (Lisa Genova) Completed September 24, 2012
  • Room (Emma Donoghue) Completed September 29, 2012
Some of these are some pretty serious books and most of them are classics.  I think as time goes by, I'll add to the list, simply so I'll have an idea of what I'm doing.  

*Sept. 29/12 edit

Monday, August 13, 2012

Daybook {08.13.12}

For today... August 13, 2012

Outside my window... the sun isn't as high a it was even a few weeks ago.  That means the days are getting longer and my precious summer is coming to an end. 

I am thinking... about my faith.  Where it was, where it is and where I want it to go. 

I am thankful... for my friends.  The ability to talk about ideas, thoughts and dreams for homeschooling, express our opinions on books or movies, share laughter and tears and always a coffee.

In the kitchen... it's messy.  One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is to wake up to an untidy kitchen and living room.  It isn't a good way to start the day by having to clean.  My goal this week: ensure the house is CLEAN before going to bed.

I am wearing... black sweat pants and a long sleeved grey tee shirt.  Must be getting cooler in the mornings.

I am creating... a craft space.  My sweet husband has sectioned off a corner of our bonus room so I can still have my own area to create.  I haven't scrapbooked in ages but I do love to make cards still.

I am going... to have a busy week.  The older three kids have VBS all week and I'm babysitting for a couple afternoons. 

I am wondering...

I am reading... The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, Twilight Children by Torey L. Hayden

I am hoping... to get to bed early tonight.  We'll see.

I am looking forward to... starting a book/Bible study with my sister this week.  Just one more way we'll be able to connect.

I am learning... to find the greater joy in things.  Amidst the struggles that Sarah has physically, emotionally and mentally, she is a ray of sunshine that pours into my every day.  Very little

Around the house... again, the usual clutter and chaos that clearly says that six people (and a dog) live here.  It's homey but untidy.  The coffee is always on and if someone pops in unexpectedly, I will offer them a fresh cup surrounded by the *stuff* that makes the house look lived in.

I am pondering... this fall's curriculum.  I'm not 100% sure what we're doing yet but it's going to be fun and memorable.  I think I'd rather be late starting knowing that we are going to have a fantastic year than get something I regret and make us all miserable.

A favorite quote for today...

"We will fly! We will soar!
Nothing is impossible......
We will rise through the storm.
Trust in God and leaving your fears behind..
We will fly!"
(Song from the kids' VBS)

A few of my favorite things... A cup of coffee, first thing in the morning.  Bike rides.  Long visits with my sister.  Homeschooling.  Friends.  Covered porches in Alabama.  My nieces and nephews. 

A few plans for the rest of the week... the three older kids are at VBS this week so the mornings are just me and Sarah.  Not sure what we'll do together.  She'd be happy if we simply went to Sobey's for a cookie.

Have a great week.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Minute Friday {08.10.12}

Ok, so this might take me longer than five minutes to write and more than five minutes to read but we'll see how I do.

Today was a day full of mixed up feelings.  I woke up early for a bike ride with Danyel.  Even though I had kind of hoped it was raining, I was glad to have gotten out and spent some time with her.  I brought my older two kids to the doctor and when I went to pick up the little girls from Karen's, she invited me in and we had a good chat over a coffee.  I am so blessed by their friendship and am truly thankful for both of them. 

I had been eagerly anticipating a visit from my sister this afternoon.  It had been over a week since I saw her in Calgary and was really looking forward to seeing her.  We spent hours pouring over old family photo albums and reminisced about our matching outfits, beautiful dresses that our Oma made, the furniture in the old house and even the toys we played with.  It was fun to *find* our children in us when we were little and I think we both agreed that Lucy and Alicia resemble each other the most.  We shared a yummy dinner and it seemed that all too soon, she had to head out. I hate saying good bye, knowing that this time, it will be a few weeks (at least) before we hang out again.  I work really hard at being the in-control, grown up big sister but in the quiet of my house, I tend to fall apart. It's just been a big adjustment from seeing each other weekly, to visiting only once (maybe twice) a month.  I am so thankful that our parents encouraged us to be best friends, in addition to sisters.  What a blessing that has been in our adult life.

What a couple of cuties we were!

Today I read a beautiful blog from The Unplugged Family.  She talks about a lovely visit with her mom and it made me miss mine.  A lot.  All the things that I haven't had the opportunity to share with her.  My friends, my kids, my problems, my tears, my joys. Today I found this:

She Is Gone 
You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left 
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared 
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday 
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

~David Harkins~

So this day was kind of like a roller coaster.  Lots of ups and downs.  I love people.  I love being with those I love.  Family & friends.  I thank God for each and every one of those that He has place in my life.  You all have a special place in my heart.

Workout {08.10.12}

I biked 12.32 km in just over an hour.  The first and last segments are the ones I push the hardest.  The middle one is when I gently cruise while my friend does a walk/jog combo.

You can view my route HERE.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Working Out

I am making a goal to ride my bike at least four times this week.

Monday: 11.22 km in 58 minutes

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Trip To Calgary {July 30-31}

I had been anticipating this trip for quite some time... a few weeks anyhow.  It would be the first time ever that I drove that far on my own.  On Monday morning Joshua, Arianna, Sarah and myself got up and were almost ready to leave when Andrea decided she wanted to come as well.  So, being the flexible person I am, rearranged the van to add another seat, grabbed a little extra food and by 10:00 we were on the road.  The whole trip went very smoothly, including one short stop for lunch.  The GPS is a great tool to have! 

Soon after we arrived at my sister's place, we re-packed, this time to head downtown to a huge wading pool.  It was a great time.  The kids hardly got out of the pools, Sarah kept at a nice safe distance from me, Rosie was content and Lucy had a nap (she was on the end of a flu bug).  I got a nice sunburn on the left side of my leg which was the only part not sitting under the tent we brought! 

After some homemade pizzas for supper, Alicia, Rosie, my kids and I went for a long walk.  Alicia lives at the top of a hill.  Getting to the Starbucks was easy as we pretty much coasted down the hill.  Coming back was quite different.  I recorded the walk with an app on my iPhone and the average grade was 3.19%.  It was steady up though... not a whole lot of recovery in coming home.  At least there was no guilt about the drinks we had!  After some Olympics, we all headed to bed for the night. 

I started out Tuesday morning spending quality time with my sweet nephew building with Lego.  It was a very good way to begin my day. We made plans to spend Tuesday out at Heritage Park.  It's the same idea as Fort Edmonton Park but bigger and of course different things to do and see.  I have to say, it was great to have the older three kids with us.  They were able to take the littler ones on the rides and it was a little less stressful knowing we had a few extra pairs of eyes watching out for everyone. The first thing the kids wanted to do was the mid-way which was a good idea while it wasn't too busy.  Sarah had no interest in the rides at all.  She seemed a bit off but I really didn't know what she would think of them. *Note to self: next time, don't buy her the rides pass*  Since I didn't have a ride pass myself, it was fine for me to just watch the kids go.  While my sister and all the others were on the carousel, Sarah and I found some boat swings which were right up her alley.  This is when her day started to go down hill.  The steam train had rolled in and blew the whistle which {of course} startled her.  She's not good at surprises like that so she cried.  After that, every little thing seemed to set her off.  A bump in the road, the sun in her eyes... whatever.  Once we had some cinnamon buns (they were huge!), we meandered to the paddle boat.  We figured a nice smooth ride would be good for everyone.  It was completely shaded and the cool breeze was refreshing after walking in the sun for a couple hours.  Just minutes into the water, Sarah began to cry and proceeded to be sick.  Thankfully, all she ate was some Ritz crackers and a bit of water so the clean up was easy.  Again, very glad Alicia had her diaper bag with wipes along. 

 The steam engine that first scared Sarah.

One of the last pictures I took before I was consumed with caring for a sick baby.

After the boat ride, we decided to keep walking to see how Sarah would do.  She did get sick again (thankfully I ran her out of the house we were in!) and I was thinking our time out was going to come to an early end.  We ate lunch on a boardwalk next to a General Store and then headed down a ways for an ice cream treat for the other kids.  We finally decided that we had better go.  It was tough to make a decision that affected all nine of us but Alicia and I agreed that we'd do the same thing for any of the other kids in that situation.  As we were driving back, Sarah proceeded to empty the very last bit of what could have possibly been left in her stomach (not much).  When we arrived at Alicia's I grudgingly made the tough choice to head home early.  It was only 2:00 in the afternoon and we certainly were not going to be doing anything else that day.  With some disappointed children and two sad moms, we packed up and headed out.  :(  Saying good-bye was not easy.  It was one of those "stuck between a rock and a hard place" situations.  My littlest one wasn't feeling good at all and needed to go home but my sister-heart wanted to stay and visit some more.  *sigh* 

I'd like to end with saying the trip home was uneventful but the weather was incredible!  As we approached Olds, the sky was dark... almost black. 

 UNREAL!  And a bit scary I must say!

The piles of hail were 2 or more inches deep!  The water in the ditch in the median was 
almost level with the highway!

I didn't get pictures of the torrential DOWNPOURS that we drove through!  I was glad to finally get home and out of the crazy weather.  

Despite the unexpected changes that happened this week, I am so glad I went and I can't wait to go again and spend even more time there!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Daybook {08.05.12}

FOR TODAY: August 5, 2012

Outside my window... the grass is freshly cut, thanks to my son who is looking less like a little boy and more like a young man.  The deck is cluttered and the yard is clean.  I can see the sun peeking over the neighbor's fence warming up the dewy grass. 

I am thinking... I love being up first thing in the morning.  Whether I hop on my bike and meet my friend or just have a cup of coffee.  There is something so peaceful about watching the world wake up.  I do miss my coffee on the balcony in Orange Beach... actually, I miss the person I drank it with more.

I am thankful... for coffee and my friends.  And the time we share together.  I am sure that a cup tastes so much better when in the presence of those you love.

In the kitchen... the counters are messy because I went to bed early and no one else cares about the cleanliness quite the same as me.

I am wearing... capri leggings and a fuzzy hoodie.

I am creating...meal plans. I currently have 10 meals in the freezer ready to be warmed up for suppers!

I am going... to aim for 4-5 bike rides this week.

I am praying... about the choices I will make for the kids' school this fall. Such a big decision...

I am looking forward to...seeing my sweet sister this week.

Around the looks like six people live here.  That's all.

I am pondering...Sarah.  I may (or may not) get into that later.  Just lots of thinking.

A favorite quote for today... 'Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.' Matthew 19:14-15

One of my favorite things... the one hour I'm up before everyone else and have this time to myself.

A few plans for next week...clean and organize more of the house!

Have a great week.

Little Bear

Earlier this winter, we had to make the difficult decision to put our dog Sadie to sleep.   I had then promised myself that our family was going to wait a year until we considered another one.  I didn't want the heartache of another sick dog, I didn't want to house break again, I didn't want the inconvenience that can occasionally come with having a pet such as trips and stuff.  Then as I was perusing Facebook, I came across an ad where someone was looking for a new home for their Shih Tzu (pronounced sheet-zoo).  Little Bear is a two year old, neutered, trained, purebred.  I quickly passed by it and moved on with my day.  The ad lingered in my mind constantly and I let it be for about a week.  Somehow, I came upon the ad again.  I messaged Doug with the picture and Bear's bio and he was hooked.  We decided not to tell the kids until we met the dog, and the looks on the girls' faces when I told them we were taking him home was priceless. The kids were (and are) elated.  I think having three much older kids (and no baby) will make having a pet much easier. 

I will admit that even a week ago, I said I didn't want another dog and part of me thinks I'm crazy to do it again.  I have had a dog in my life for as long as I can remember and so it does seem fitting that we are continuing with it.  I'm still working through some logistics as to how I make trips to Calgary work out.  He loves my kids, they love him and {maybe} if for no other reason, I got this pup to fill that void in their hearts that Sadie left behind.  And admittedly, as I was playing with Little Bear this morning, I could feel myself starting to really like having a pet again. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alabama 2012 (The Coles' Notes Version)

I was trying to think of how in the world was I going to summarize a full two week vacation into a blog entry that wouldn't be too long and yet provide enough information to let people know what fun we had. 
I figured I better get a start on documenting our trip before the events of our time away were forgotten. Even though I updated Facebook quite regularly, I wanted this written down in my blog as a story that we will remember for many years.

Part I

It began on June 29 as the kids and I spent the day packing up our motor home in eager preparation for the adventure that was awaiting us. Shortly after Doug arrived home from work, we ordered a pizza, said good bye to his parents and hit the road. We made it as far as Estevan, Saskatchewan... sometime in the early hours of Saturday morning. Crossing the border was quick and smooth despite my {usual} uneasiness when traveling to the US. Since we had a destination goal in mind, the captain of our ship put on some serious miles and only slept in short spurts. Our second night {Saturday} was spent in Iowa where again, Doug snagged a mere four hours of sleep. Eager to arrive, we booked it down to Mt. Olive, Alabama... we rolled into Scott & Lelia's driveway at 8:15pm. It was so wonderful to be there again with our friends. The kids quickly found the trampoline outside and Lelia and I bathed the two little ones. We settled the kids down for bed and enjoyed a nice long (in person) visit.
Unfortunately, they still had to work that first week, but their daughter stayed home with us and we did some shopping and hanging out. It kind of felt like a summer vacation home!  We brought food in from the motorhome and soon our stuff simply mixed in with theirs.  We quickly settled into a bit of a routine and started to feel like we were on vacation.
Wednesday was July 4th and we were quite excited to be spending the holiday in the States!  Lelia and I did some kid-free shopping at the outlets and then hung out at the house.  We had dinner at Dreamland BBQ with Scott's parents.  Our first plan was to head home and then back to downtown for the fireworks but that would have been an extra hour of driving so we decided to buy our own and set them off ourselves.  What a lot of fun that was!  So much so, that Scott and Doug hopped in the truck to buy a second batch!  As it turned out, Sarah was terrified of the noise that they made so she spent the next little bit in the house watching TV with the equally scared 92 pound golden retriever!
On Thursday, two more of my online friends drove from Georgia for an afternoon visit. This was the second time I've met them in person which was really neat. The day was hot and humid and the kids spent the entire afternoon outside in the pool and on the trampoline. Thankfully, Lelia was able to be home early from work that day and could join in the company.
Saturday morning finally rolled around... we were headed to Orange Beach! The house was honestly like the opening scene from the movie Home Alone. The kids were crazy wound up and buzzing like bees, us moms were trying to ensure everything was packed and ready to go while the dads started to load the vehicles. Now I have to back up a little bit... on Thursday, Lelia wasn't feeling good. Without getting into details, she was progressively feeling worse as time went on. So, as we were just about to head out, she took a pain killer and we hit the road. We were off!  Doug, Scott, Joshua, Andrea and James were in the truck while Lelia, the middle girls, Sarah and I were in the car. We began the road trip and I noticed that Lelia was not looking well. I mean, I was beginning to REALLY worry about her.  After about 20 minutes, she pulled off the interstate and asked Doug to drive. That seemed like an ok plan... except Lelia was not doing well. At all. Scott eventually decided that Lelia needed to go the emergency room. So, the 10 of us booked it to St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham to get her checked out. Lelia was quickly admitted and Doug and I found ourselves with six slightly disappointed kids aged 3, 4, 8, 8, 11 & 13. Without going into much more detail, after 4+ hours in a hospital, Lelia finally came out having had a kidney stone. Since she was under the influence of some serious pain killers, Doug and I drove her car and she slept in the truck while Scott drove.

Part II

Orange Beach, Alabama. We had finally arrived at the condo. It was a beautiful suite. A large master bedroom, another large bedroom and then a smaller one. Each room had it's own bathroom. There was a large balcony overlooking the pool, lazy river and water slide. Just past the pool, we could see the bay full of boats. Sunday was spent at pool side. Doug and Sarah came in a little early and the rest of us swam and played until 3:00pm. It wasn't long that we found despite numerous applications of sunscreen, we were all a little sunburned. We all showered up and headed out for dinner to Lulu's. The next morning, we got up on time and headed to the beach. Just as we nicely set up, the sky darkened, the thunder began to rumble and the rain fell. Thankfully, Scott was watching the weather closely and we decided to wait the storm out. We made some lunch on the tailgate of the truck while waiting and before long, we headed back to the sand. The sun never really came back out but that actually made the temperatures bearable and not too hot. Supper that night was at The Oyster House. Once again, wonderful tasting food! All too soon, Tuesday rolled around... time to check out of our fantasy world and back to reality. The kids spent an hour in the pool that morning while Lelia and I cleaned and packed up. We enjoyed lunch together at Lambert's Cafe and the thing that they are known for is throwing rolls. Quite fun to have part of your meal tossed at you! We then continued the journey back north to the McCloud's home. There was a little sense of sadness as Doug and I and the kids planned to head home that evening. Once we arrived at their house, it was a flurry of activity as we unpacked suitcases, bags and bins, all the while sorting out whose stuff belonged to who. Pizzas were ordered in for a late supper, babies were bathed, kids showered and all too soon, we knew we had to say good bye. It was a teary farewell as we pulled out of their driveway just after 10:00 pm to begin the trek home. Let me just add that Scott and Lelia are amazing people.  They opened their home to us, treated us to many delicious meals and were the perfect hosts.  I love that we can maintain such good friendships even while living over 3,000km apart.

Part III

Because it's easier to put on the miles while the kids are sleeping, we agreed to push through the nights. Doug stopped first in Kentucky to grab a few hours of shut eye. On Thursday, we stopped in De Smet, South Dakota to visit the Ingall's homestead. The kids and I are avid Little House fans so to see some of what we've watched and read come to life was very exciting. Although the buildings are replicas, it doesn't take much to imagine what it would have been like over 100 years ago. Our second stop of the day was in Wall, SD. We walked through the shops of Wall Drug and if you have the time, you should check out
The last stop of our trip was Calgary, Alberta where my sister moved to.  We spent the evening and next day with Paul, Alicia and the kids.  That afternoon, we drove downtown to let the kids wade in the pools and visit a large playground.  Once again, we knew that an unavoidable good-bye was drawing closer.  We packed up the motor home. One. Last. Time.  The last leg of our trip was a mere 3.5 hours and we parked our home on wheels shortly before 10:00 pm. 

And that, in a nutshell, was our holiday!

Other tidbits:

  • I had promised myself I would never drive to Alabama again. I lied. There must be something pretty special down there for me to do it again.
  • This was our second trip in the motor home to visit Scott and Lelia.
  • It was neat to teach them how to say certain things without their southern accent and fun to try to repeat some words with their southern accent. I didn't do so good at that and they all laughed at me when I tried.
  • I avoided being bit by fire ants. Until 9:45, the night we left and I still have a bump on my toe from it.
  • One of my favorite times of the day was sitting on the balcony of the condo, first thing in the morning, drinking a coffee with Lelia. The days were full and busy so grabbing an early morning hour to ourselves was a wonderful way to begin our day. 
  • We have logged nearly 95 driving hours, including the trip to the beach and back.
  • Including the beach trip, we drove about 5,684 miles or 9,147 kilometers.
  • I took over 500 pictures. 
  • I lost my sunglasses to a wave in the ocean.
  • I can't promise never to do the trip again, but I'd sure like to fly next time.
  • We're already talking about when we'll visit again.


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