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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Our family Sabbath song

So here is our family gathering just after sundown to sing our "Sabbath song."  This is a song I made up for each of us to have the opportunity to share what we are most grateful for that week (or day).  This week, Sivana was grateful for good milk, Ethan was thankful for movies, Anika was thankful for castles, Isabel was thankful for pictures, Melina was thankful for 2nd semesters, I was thankful for family and friends and Papa Bear was thankful for finally being at home after a week of constant driving around and feeling a part from his family.

The words are as simple as can be!  Some of you have joined us on Sabbath and have added your own "thankful for..." comments for us to sing to.

Hope you enjoy being a part of our "singing" that happened last night (which also happened to be my birthday).  

Much love to all of you out there and may you find yourself singing this tune with your own little things to be grateful for!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Confessions, birthdays, magical tears and some upchuck

You might be asking yourself, "how can all of these things come together?"  Well, it begins with two confessions I need to make:

1)  I am finally updating my blog because I am avoiding doing the dishes right now, and
2)  I have not updated our family picture on this blog (pretty sad given we've added a child in the meantime!) because I am embarrassed about my weight gain.

Phew.  There... I feel much better confessing these things!  Oh by no means do I feel better about DOING these things but I am relieved to not hide behind them anymore.  Seriously, every time I log into my blog, I smile looking at our family picture, then I do a sad sigh longingly as I look at the fact that I was FINALLY just fitting back into my size 9/10 clothing (had finally lost the double chin), then I chuckle realizing that I would unknowingly become pregnant within a month of taking that picture, and then I nearly shed a tear at the fact that our dear Sivana needs to be included in our family picture!

Yes, these are the joys of being a woman and running through a full gamut of emotions within a nano-second!


Hmmm, I am realizing I sigh an awful lot in my posts!

Next we have a birthday adventure.  Anika turned four on the 18th and we headed out for supper at Boston Pizza followed by the whole brood heading off to watch Tangled at the "big, big movie" as my little ones call it.  Thankfully we invited Grandma Jacquie to join us at the movie because as it turns out, we definitely needed an extra set of hands!

Our tickets came with complimentary popcorn and drinks which we kept at the opposite end from where Ethan was sitting.  Thankfully he could have the iced tea.  It is rather amazing to watch a two-year-old boy consume his weight in iced tea within thirty minutes!!  He sat happily on Melina's lap watching and slurping away at his drink.  Anika sat next to me dazzled by the big screen movie and the story unfolding before her eyes.  Sivana nursed happily in my arms and even sat watching the movie, too, until she got fussy and needed to be taken out by Grandma Jacquie for a quick stroll in the lobby before falling asleep and returning to the dark room where the rest of us sat mesmerized.

I thought to myself "hey, this is actually working out" only to have that thought interrupted by Melina whispering traumatically "EW MOM, GET HIM OFF!!"  Apparently iced tea goes right through two year old boys who consume their weight in fluid!... and down Melina's lap onto the nice comfy theatre chairs!  And apparently fifteen year old girls do NOT appreciate the lack of "coolness" factor being at the movies with their toddler siblings AND looking like they just peed their own pants, too.  In all honesty, she probably would have been happier if it was her OWN urine rather than her little brother's!

In the dark I began digging around in the plethora of diaper bags we have to bring with us everywhere we go (change of clothes for each of the kids, epipens, diapers for Ethan, diapers for Sivana, wipes, drinks, Ethan-kosher-snacks, etc...).  Would you believe that in this particular diaper bag, I was out of Ethan's diapers???  Off Duane goes to get Ethan a diaper (thankfully my mother had returned with Sivana at this point) and Melina was off to the bathroom to use one of those hand-dryers to eliminate the impression that she just peed herself.  Anika was happily oblivious to all that was unfolding before her and thankfully no one in the theatre was yelling at us (yet).

Finally, Ethan is changed, Sivana is sleeping, Melina seems less upset and we are all enjoying the movie as it builds up to a highly intensive part.  You can feel the whole theatre holding its breath in anticipation of the next moment only to have the big screen suddenly go pitch black as the theatre lights come back on.

Everyone was stunned and looking around like "is this a joke?"  Anika (who is NOT a fan of any movies being interrupted) turned around to look at where the movie had been projected and yelled in her sweet voice "Um, excuse me?  Can you turn it up a little bit, please?"

Needless to say, the whole place burst out laughing and thankfully the movie came back on, the lights went out and without further a do, we were all pulled back into the story.  Another minute in, (and still intense) the main character sheds a tear and it lands on the face of someone dying in her arms... very intense moment and you could cut through the silence with a knife... the tear fell onto the character's face and something magical began to happen... but before anyone could really "soak it in", Ethan yelled "She just made that guy all wet!"

Once again, despite the moment, chuckles filled the room.  (I am really lucky no once chucked popcorn at us).

It was late when we finally got back home and the kids were swiftly tucked into bed as we tried to wind down from the day.  At 11:00 pm, after everyone had gone to bed, Duane and I chose to relax in a hot shower... I know, I know... too many details for some of you (sorry mom and dad) but you have to understand that Duane and I almost NEVER take time to just relax together.  For whatever reason (maybe because we felt like heroes tackling all that we just had that night) we chose to just savour some much needed relaxation.  Afterall, everyone was in bed.  Well, someone begins banging on the door!  It's Melina!  Apparently it is not much fun for a fifteen year old to "interrupt" her mom and step-dad taking a shower... and apparently it's no fun for mom and step-dad, either!!


"Anika just threw up in her bed!"

You have got to be kidding me!  Up we go to tackle that one... Ethan is crying because he has been woken up, Anika decided to place her sopping wet pajamas on the carpeted floor instead of the bathroom floor.  Melina starts her bath and I (lucky me) grab the bedding and clothing wonderfully covered in Anika's vomit.  I am trying not to laugh as I hear Melina dry heaving from the smell as she tries to say "Mom, I can't handle the stench!"

Down I go to the big ol' shower (which seemed so relaxing a place only moments ago) to hose down the bedding and clothes before putting them in the washer.  I look at the HUGE amount of upchuck and once again cannot believe that my children do NOT chew their food!  There was a completely whole pumpkin seed!!  How do you swallow an entire pumpkin seed?  And why is she vomiting stuff she had at lunch??

The cat is still living in the bathroom and it is trying to climb onto the comforter as I am trying to hose it down.  I nearly start losing my supper when the cat starts lapping up the big chunks I am trying to hose down the drain!  I am yelling at the cat and now stepping into all this lovely mess running off the bedding!

Finally, finally, finally... the bedding is cleaned enough to be put in the washing machine.  I proceed to clean the shower.  By the time Duane and I crawled into bed, it was past midnight and Sivana was starting to fuss for her night feeding...

Understand now why a relaxing shower is a RARITY in our home??  Why "quality time" together just does not happen??

And that, my friends, is how confessions, birthdays, magical tears and some upchuck can all come together in one blog post!  Only in the life of a mother... only, only, only.

On that note, I bid you all adieu as it is clearly too late for me to do the dishes (evil laugh) and perhaps some magical cleaning elves will take care of them while I sleep!  But more realistically, I will get up in the morning, walk into the kitchen, groan at my own laziness hitting me in the face saying "wash me!  wash me!" as I say "looks like it's going to be another coffee morning".

Here's hoping you are all doing great out there and preferably tackling your own responsibilities with more self-discipline than I am!  And if any of you are out there wishing there was someone whose dishes you could clean, come on over!  Or at the very least, send some of that energy my way!!  God bless you all out there, stay warm on this cold winter's night, and enjoy a relaxing shower on my behalf... please!

And hopefully I will mustre up some courage and enough self-love and respect to post an updated family picture so as to honour our darling little Sivana.  Lovingly, respectfully and gratefully yours... amen!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Linda's Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

My darling sister, Linda, has been taking her health and wellness into her own hands for the last few months which has meant being gluten-free and dairy-free.  She knew that one of Ethan's favourite "treats" was the Ian's Chicken Balls that we would buy for him which ended up costing part of his education fund... okay, okay, more like $1 per chicken ball!!  My sister (who is the queen of living frugally) went on a mission to find a way to make these ourselves.  Not only did she find something that far surpasses the taste of Ian's chicken balls, she also made it a priority that the recipe be quick and easy... bless your heart, dear sista... and thank you for your diligence in finding recipes for our dear Ethan!!

So without further a due, I share with you Linda's amazing recipe.  We like it more than any other chicken nuggets you can buy from the store!  And we are now cutting down our grocery bill considerably!

Linda's Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

1 cup gluten-free corn flakes 
1 cup Kettle Plain Krinkle-cut chips (ingredients: potatoes, oil, salt)
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 Tbsp oil (we use sunflower)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder or granules
dash of pepper
3/4 lbs ground chicken

In a blender or food processor, mix corn flakes & chips until it becomes crumb mixture (not too coarse).  This should leave you with approximately 2/3 cup crumb mixture.

Pour 1/3 of crumb mixture onto a plate, add baking powder and mix well.

Mix remaining 2/3 crumb mixture with salt, onion powder & pepper.  Blend well.  Add ground chicken and oil and mix (either by cutting motion or with hands) until everything is well blended.

Shape into either balls or patties (we prefer the patties) using approximately 1 heaping Tbsp of chicken mixture at a time.  Coat them in the crumb mixture and place on a lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, turning over once after fifteen minutes.


Thursday, 13 January 2011

Because life is never dull over here...

Good grief, where do I start?  I am starting to think that if my life was not so chaotic, I would not be terribly interesting... but I would be perfectly okay with less interesting these days!!

First of all, we lost our PC just prior to the holiday season thanks to a lovely virus my husband received via facebook.  Argh.  So all of our personal books, our farm books, our pictures, my writings, our home videos... gone.  Just like that. 

You are likely asking yourselves the classic question that has been sprinkling this life lesson... "didn't you back things up?"  Nope.  Because just like taking a shower, spending time doing administrative stuff such as backing up hardrives, etc... would always get put on the backburner.  The rare occasion that a spare moment would come up, the questions were usually "hmmm, do i take a shower, do I try to make a 'backup' meal, do I try to catchup on the books, etc... "  As you can imagine, backing up the computers was seldom the winner of the many, many options.

And now I hit my head against the wall (while still smelling not-of-flowers) for delaying taking care of that.

So one blow... fine.  We can learn to live with that.  Thankfully we have our handy (and wonderful) iMac to fall back on.  Or should I say "had"?

Yesterday was no walk in the park.  We had an emergency doctor's appointment for Anika as we were suspicious of another bladder infection, could not get any of her pee in a cup for further testing because I stupidly forgot to tell her to "hold it in" while we were at the bank just prior to the appointment!  So we go for lunch, give her water, cut Ethan's meal I had to make before we could even leave the house to drive Izzy to school, nurse Sivana... then back to the doctor's office to try to collect more urine from Anika.  (Seriously, if I get my hand peed one more time, I am going to chuck that blasted specimen sample bottle at someone's head!  Okay, okay I won't but suffice it to say I am truly tired of trying to catch urine from a stream that is going in every which direction!)  Anyways, still did not collect enough urine.  Have to come back tomorrow as doctor has left for the day.  All of this BEFORE 1:00 pm.  I won't bother telling you about the rest of the day except for this phone conversation with Duane at about 4:30 pm as I am leaving the bank with Melina off to pick up Isabel before heading back home.  "Hey Hon... where is the programs CD that the Mac came with?"

Moment of silence as a sinking feeling begins to squeeze around my chest... "Why?"

"Because I've got tech support on hold while I look for it.  Where is it?"

Squeezing feeling getting stronger... "but WHY?"

"Because the Mac isn't working or even booting anymore."

Please, dear God, not another blow today.  Maybe tomorrow or next week but please no more crap today... please?

Nope.  God has far too much faith in me and I will certainly be speaking with Him about this at those pearly gates someday.  And hopefully He'll still let me in!

Anyways, I finally get home after a full day of running around only to chow food down and send Duane off to the other end of the city with our Mac hoping beyond all hope we did not just lose everything on there, too. 

Oh, what is that?  Did I learn from my PC incident and back up our Mac? 

Nope.  Not yet! 

I know, I know... you would think I would have learned!!  If it's of any consolation, I HAD ordered a 1 TB external hardrive for exactly that purpose... I just haven't received it yet. 

I really, really think God is laughing at me up there. 

So how am I able to update this blog, you might wonder?  Oh that is a fun aspect to this story, too.  We have an ancient laptop (and by ancient, I mean there are tiny people working inside of it driving Flinstone cars to make it work).  I managed to hook it up; however, I am currently watching the mouse cursor moving across the screen randomly as I type this, and it will likely take me about five minutes to get it to finally click on "publish post".  In fact, it will be my luck that I will finish typing this, try to coordinate clicking on "publish post" as the cursor goes zooming by only to accidentally hit "delete". 

So if you are reading this, I was successful in my physics skills.  But suffice it to say, I cannot check emails (at least not without spending twenty minutes just trying to log in).  The security settings on this thing are so ridiculous, I cannot open a single web browser window without five different alarms going off... DO YOU KNOW THIS WEBSITE?  DO YOU WISH TO PROCEED?  ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO SEE ITS CONTENT?  WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS SITE!  Seriously?  You don't recommend my own blog?  Sheesh!  And I thought cookies were supposed to be delicious naughty treats!  I have never disliked anything so much given that these supposed cookies are the source of my web problems!  Not only that, but I am positive I have gained five pounds just LOOKING at the word "cookie" so many times!  So for those of you who email me directly, I am afraid I will not be able to respond until we can get our Mac back.  Its hardrive is apparently toast and not even a tablespoon of butter can make that any more appealing... sigh.

I am trying to chalk this up to a lesson in detachment but when your brain is barely able to manage the chaos going on around you, it is such a blessing to jot down thoughts, calendar events, personal notes and to-do items in a central location (such as a computer) to then allow your brain to forget those things to make room for the attempts at managing the chaos around you.  I think that was a serious run-on sentence... (this is where I apologize to my highschool English teacher who likely cringes when he reads some of these hasty posts... thanks for loving me anyways, Mr. Kroeker!!).

Let us hope this finds you all doing well (and clearly with working computers if you can read this... hooray for you) and may this be your reminder to BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!  Doing so is even more important than personal hygiene, apparently!  So before you brush your teeth tonight, do yourself a favour and backup whatever is most precious to you on your computer!


Hope this finds you all doing well... and now to see if I can win at this game of "try to click on the 'publish post' button."  Wish me luck!!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Adventures of a New Year's Eve

Another year come and gone...  I am beginning to think I am on some sort of ride called "Life" that just goes faster and faster and faster!  And I am noticing as I age that my stomach is becoming weaker and weaker and weaker.  (I made the mistake of trying to swing with the kids this past summer and nearly lost my lunch from the motion... gone are the days of spinning endlessly on a tire swing.  Hey, I have not even seen a tire swing in ages!).

Once again, my mind is offering you your own ride down "anywhere and everywhere" lane.

In all seriousness, New Years is often a time to look back over the past year at lessons learned, memories cherished and the occasional "holy moly... did all of that happen in just ONE year?"  (Said my husband once when he realized he went from being a single thirty-one year old man who worked non-stop to having a family with three kids in less than a year and gone are the days when he felt productive!).

And who said God doesn't have a sense of humour?

We are not too big on holidays over here (Duane made it known from the getgo that he would likely never buy me cards, flowers, valentines gifts, etc... but that he would try to live each day of his life cherishing me... I thought that was a more than okay deal), so last night was in some way exciting as it marked the turn of another year in the Gregorian Calendar but in another way... just another day.  One that included Duane heading off to a night shift at the firehall.

Hmmmm, well if the love of my life is not with us for supper and it is just me, the littlest three and Melina, then maybe it would be fun to order some Chinese food...

After a few phone calls, it dawned on me that EVERYONE had that same idea.  Given that I was NOT willing to wait until nine or ten at night to feed my family AND Sabbath would have long begun by then, we opted for another option.  Hmm, maybe Chicken Chef nearby?  Nope... memory served me well in reminding me that the two times we had Chicken Chef this past year led to chest pains and feelings of self-loathing!  No problem, we'll just whip up some noodles and falafels... there's an easy fix!

And New Year's Eve is off to a great start!

The evening progressed and I asked Melina to run to the basement fridge to grab a new jug of milk.  (I usually make her do this as all basements are creepy and cold and dark and ours is no exception... I know, I'm such a nice mom!).  Hee hee hee!  Melina is also freaked out about the basement, particularly given that you have to walk up to each lightbulb individually (in the dark) to turn them on!  Do you have any idea what an active imagination can conjure up in those split seconds??  Well, Melina and I do.  So the agreement is whoever goes to the basement has to sing really loud.  (Is this the part that I remind you that I am ironically a mother of five children?).  Anyways, Melina is down there and she starts yelling "MOM!!  MOM!!"  Now keep in mind that Duane is gone, it is dark, the basement creeps me out, it is dark, and now my daughter is freaking out about something... and now I must run down to save her from whatever four eyed beast she has undoubtedly uncovered!

I race down to the basement (surprisingly more courageous than I thought I would be) only to see her big eyes as she says "there's a cat down here!"

Great, I think to myself... maybe it can catch the mouse that has taken up residence, here, too!  What is this?  Noah's ark's residence??  So I listen... and listen... and hear nothing.

"Melina, are you sure it's not just your well-inherited over active imagination?"

"No, Mom!  I'm telling you... I heard a kitten meowing!"

"Are you sure it's not because you wanted someone down here with you... cuz that's what I would do."

She rolled her eyes at me.  A common occurrence since reaching her teenage years!

We opened the door from the basement that leads up an old set of concrete stairs to another door on the main level to see if a kitten has found shelter there.  Instead, Keeshka the dog suddenly pokes her nose through the upper door (which can no longer close given the shifting of the house over the last 100+ years) which makes me jump scaring the beejebers out of me (did I mention this stairwell is cold and DARK?).  I could not detect a cat but I did suddenly notice that I had to go pee!

Now let's go back to the 26th when my whole family was over.  My nieces headed out late at night clad in 80's snowsuits buried in our "treasure box" of excess snow gear and found a kitten.  A very wild kitten.  Another thing I should mention about my husband is his golden rule... NO ANIMALS IN THE HOUSE.  This has gone over well the many times Melina and I have found litters of kittens and sneak them into the entrance to play (and tame them) when Duane is working... only to be busted by the pictures I take of them while still in the entrance!  At which point my darling husband says "So glad to see that my rules are respected when I am not around" while shaking his head with a slight smirk on his face.  Anyways, the nieces asked if they could come in with this kitten so I looked over at Duane and he nodded but said with a stern voice... "but stay down in the basement."

Well that lasted about five minutes before curiosity got the best of me and I told them to come up quickly to show us the kitten and then go back downstairs.  Even though the little thing was frightened to death, it dug its little head into the crook of my brother's elbow (who could not resist holding it) and answered my sister's meow... brrr... brrr. meow!  For those of you who don't speak "cat" that means "Welcome New One... do not be frightened... we are your friend."  Or something along those lines.  But a rule is a rule and the kitten was let loose outside after it had warmed up (not sure if that is better or more cruel) and I sent out a little hope that Keeshka would NOT find this kitten as I couldn't help feel like there was something special about her.  Being so wild, that was likely  the last time we would see her.

All of this rambling to say after I shut that basement door last night, I actually DID hear a tiny meowing sound.  I flung the door open again and saw a little tail poking behind a hanging mat in the stairwell just as Keeshka stuck her nose through the door again!  (Poor dog must have thought it was some kind of game).  I creeked up the stairs and grabbed the kitten who did not panic but rather nuzzled into my arms safely.

My little brother has such a big heart when it comes to animals and I thought maybe we could nurture this little one until my brother could take her in and find a home for her.  This would be tricky given Ethan's allergies but we would do our best to nurture this little one without harming our little one!

Another bit of background info (man o man do I ever need to update my blog more regularly!) is that the past two weeks, I have tucked Ethan and Anika into their beds and have made up a story on the spot... one was about a little old tractor who was picked on by the big newer ones because they figured God had made them bigger and stronger but in the end, it is only the little tractor who can get into the flooded fields to save the day therefore God had made him little for a purpose!  Another one was about a tiny seed that asked the big oak tree when he would finally be big and the lesson of patience to trust that God would provide sun and rain when needed for the seed to grow.  But more recently was the story of Burgers the grumpy cat (aptly named after Burgers the grumpy cat on Youtube!) who asked God to help him make friends.  During these impromptu stories, the kids laugh as I exaggerate gestures such as, "and the seed grew... and grew and GREW and GREW!!"  They especially laughed at my story about poor Burgers the grumpy cat.  This story must have stuck because when I asked the kids what we should call this cat while we cared for her, the unanimous answer was "BURGERS!"

When Duane called at his usual 10:00 pm to say goodnight, I asked him to guess who was sleeping in our shower.  (We had setup up a little box & blanket with a few bowls with bone broth and leftover turkey there).  "Who is sleeping in our shower??  Should I be concerned?"

"Nope... it's Burgers!"


"That kitten from the other night!"

And to my surprise, Duane admitted that having a tame cat around the farm might not be such a bad idea.  Rather than ask me why it is being kept in our home, he said "Maybe we can set her up in the basement until it warms up a bit so Keeshka doesn't get to her."

Who are you and what have you done with my husband??  But a smile spread across my face as I imagined the love of my life thinking to himself "look at what my wife has me doing now!  Animals in the house... good grief!"

So for those of you who follow the Gregorian Calendar, may this find you reflecting over the adventures of this past year as you welcome the promise of the new year.  For those of you who do not follow the Gregorian Calendar... may this find you enjoying just another day in your own life!  May you be living every day for the gift that it is and trust that your purpose is being lived out whether you see it or not and that this scared-of-the-dark-basement mama loves you very much.  God made you and that makes you so precious... that His very breath of life is what makes you present here reading these very words!  Thank you for being His creation!  Thank you for letting me love you!  Thank you, blessed Father, for all that is good in this world!  In Jesus name, Amen.