Sunday, December 31, 2006

Recommended Reading:
A Lithgow Palooza: 101 Ways to Entertain and Inspire Your Kids

Who knew that buying a box of Cheerios could be so educational?

We received A Lithgow Palooza through the mail this week. The book was a free "cereal box prize" from General Mills, and what a treat it is! A Lithgow Palooza is crammed full of fun and funny ideas for kids. John Lithgow offers suggestions for dozens of creative activities (paloozas). Each palooza explores one of five artistic disciplines --- music, drama, dance, art and literature. I especially like the "extrapapalooza" sections, where John invites kids to stretch their imaginations even further. This is a great book for rainy days, birthday parties, weekends, vacations ... for just about any occassion.

Our family has come to enjoy John Lithgow's picture books as well. We own several titles (hooray for cereal box prizes!) including: Marsupial Sue, I'm a Manatee, and Micawber. You may take a look at John Lithgow's website here.

With another week of winter vacation remaining before kids head back to class, why not check out A Lithgow Palooza? This books is a fantastic boredom-buster.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Like Chocolate in a Pocket

Cold water splashed across my face as I wiped a wayward strand of hair from my eyes. I grimaced and grabbed a bar of soap. As much as I scrubbed, I couldn't remove the ugly brown splotch. I groaned in frustration and shut off the tap.

I am tired. Exhausted, really. Emotionally and physically drained. Totally over-stimulated.

I have to admit, the Christmas season is difficult for me. I'm an introverted, stick-to-the-routine type of gal. A solid week of parties, socializing, rich meals, and embarrassing overindulgence have worn me out. Several days of skipped naps and too many sweets have left our kids shell-shocked as well.

I feel like I'm a sticky, yucky, mess of melted chocolate. Chocolate is a tasty treat --- something to be savoured once in a while. God created chocolate, and it is good! However, too much chocolate leaves me with a sore tummy and a chocoholic-hangover in the morning.

This holiday season I am feeling overwhelmed. I feel spent and worn out. This is the first Christmas I've been a mom of three little children. Keeping up with the kids is a marathon at the best of times, but this week it feels downright impossible. Like the gob of gooey chocolate I found hiding in my two-year-old's pocket this evening, I feel melted, wasted, and destined for the trash pail.

This evening I carefully rinsed my toddler's clothes. I sprayed his shirt and pants with stain remover and draped them over the side of the laundry hamper. Absentmindedly, I grabbed the newest Focus on the Family magazine and stretched out on the bed for a short rest. Near the end of the magazine, a Bible verse touched my weary heart:

...He gently helps those who have young. (Isaiah 40:11)

During this busy season of life (and harried week on the calendar) I must remember to keep my eyes fixed on God. I quickly feel tired and overwhelmed when I try to do everything on my own. I need to allow my Savior to lead me and guide me. God will help me to be a good wife, a patient mommy, and a godly woman. I need to find my strength and solace in Him.

God's promises are sweet --- better than the finest chocolate. They are like delicious food for my weary soul. I plan to tuck His Word away in my pocket, ready to comfort me on exhausting days. God's words are trustworthy and true...

...and they aren't likely to melt if I forget to eat them. ;-)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Kill a Watt"

I borrowed a neat gizmo from the library yesterday. It's called a "Kill a Watt" device, and it tracks the energy consumption of small and large appliances. Enmax has partnered with the Calgary Public Library to provide these devices to the public free of charge. Anyone with a library card can check out a "Kill A Watt" meter on a one-week loan.

The "Kill A Watt" seems easy to use. You simply plug an appliance into the socket on the device, and then plug the meter into an electrical outlet. It's best to leave the appliance plugged in for 24 hours in order to get an accurate reading. The "Kill A Watt" records the KWH usage of the appliance. You can use your readings to calculate the cost to run your appliance.

Tonight I plan to plug our fridge into the "Kill A Watt". I'm curious to see how much energy it uses. One of my New Year's resolutions is to make more earth-friendly decisions at home, one baby step at a time. I plan to do small things like shut off lights and unused appliances, switch to energy-efficient bulbs, and turn down the thermostat. I figure a bunch of little steps can eventually add up to a big change.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hip to be Square

I have a not-so-secret obsession I need to confess ... I love grids.

It may be weird, but I think squares, cubes and checkerboards are wonderful. I enjoy simple lines and regular patterns. The sense of order and serenity inherent in grids make me feel secure and organized. When I was in art school nearly all my paintings incorporated grid-like patterns. Even today, my home's decor is influenced by my obsession with squares.

I received an interesting board game for Christmas this year. It is called Blokus. We cracked it open for the first time this evening. I love inviting friends over to play board games. (I also think games make terrific gifts.) Tonight was fun because we combined three great factors --- an interesting game, a long-time friend, and a grid!

I've heard that Blokus has won many awards. It is a game of strategy, and reminds me a bit of Tetris. You may play the game online or on a board, and it's easy to learn. Check out the official Blokus website here.

This is what Christmas holidays are all about. Sitting in the middle of the living room rug while snow is falling outside the window, sipping hot tea, enjoying good conversation, and playing an engaging game.

And if grids are involved ... well, all the better!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Highlights

Christmas season celebrations are still in full swing for the Inkster Clan. We lovingly refer to this week as "the marathon". With most of our family living right here in Calgary, the party shifts from house to house for days and days! This week we will celebrate (or already have celebrated) Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, our wedding anniversary on Dec. 29th, "Christmas" with my family on Dec. 30th, New Year's Eve, and our son's birthday on New Year's Day.

Some highlights of this holiday season:
  • The children slept in past eight o'clock Christmas morning. The boys snuggled in our bed for another half-hour before they finally wandered downstairs.
  • Our two-year-old unknowingly sported a wrapping paper "tail" for most of Christmas morning.
  • Our (almost) four-year-old shouted "STAR WARS LEGO!! This is soooo cool!" when he opened our gift to him.
  • My dear husband gave me a subscription to Craft magazine. I gave him a subscription to Make. Both gifts were a surprise!
  • Grandpa Merv built our boys new bunk beds for Christmas. Grandma Marilou sewed our toddler a Bob the Builder quilt for his "big boy bed". (Big brother already has a matching quilt for his top bunk.) Our two-year-old could hardly wait to go to bed last night. He sat on his bottom bunk singing and talking for almost an hour after we turned off the lights.
  • Baby Girl giggled and smiled at her fluffy new puppy puppet.
  • Ben and I had a Veggie Tales: Dance! Dance! Dance! competition far into the night yesterday. We looked like goofs, but it was so much fun we just couldn't stop.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I found this picture on the Craftzine blog and thought it was amazing. The artist, Pete Goldlust, carved wax crayons to create these intricate sculptures. I enjoy art that transforms everyday objects into extra-ordinary works of imagination.

You can take a look at Pete Goldlust's web site here.

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! I pray that you enjoy a restful day tomorrow, and that the reality of Christ's love will touch your heart this year.

Much love,
Lindsay and the Inkster Clan :-)
Men O' War

"Daddy, Daddy! Let's watch a movie on your computer!" exclaimed our excited preschooler.

"Sure, Buddy. What would you like to see?" asked Ben.

"Let's watch that Lego movie. You know --- the one with the pirates!" our giddy son suggested.

"You mean Men O' War?" Ben clarified.

"Oh yeah. It's sooo cool, Daddy! It has bad guys and good guys and a battle and that sea captain ... What's his name? Oh, I know. I think it's Log. You know, Captain Log?"

Ben stifled a laugh. "Captain Log? I think you mean 'captain's log'."

"That's what I said, Daddy. Captain Log." Our son gave an exasperated sigh and rolled his eyes.

"No, Buddy. His name isn't Log! Every captain keeps a log, like a journal, on a voyage. The log is a diary of everything that happens."

"Ooooooh," said our three-year-old, as understanding slowly dawned. "Well ... the captain is still a cool guy, you know."

"Yup, he sure is."


Men O' War is a very cool animated short. It was created by a Christian family from Australia. The quality of the CG modelling and animation is incredible. Check out their web page here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

True Love

"You are neurotic, you know," my husband complained. He crouched on his hands and knees, wiping the floor with a wet rag. "Do you have any idea what time it is?"

"Umm, I think it's around eleven thirty," I mumbled. I wiped a stray piece of hair from my eyes and scrubbed a sticky spot behind the fridge.

"Why do we have to do this tonight?" he continued, "What's the big emergency?"

"Ben," I said quietly, "You said you would help me do this. I want to get it done before Christmas. If we don't wash the floor tonight, when else will we have a chance?"

"Why does it have to happen before Christmas? Just so you can check one more item off your almighty list?"

"No," I said. I paused from my work and sat back on my haunches, "I just want to have a clean floor because people will be coming to visit this week. Is that really so weird?"

(Three separate families had dropped by our house unexpectedly that very night. Sure, it was nice to feel popular. It was less nice that my house was in total disarray because I was preparing to wash the floor.)

"Don't you think it's more than a little odd that we're moving the piano and inhaling floor polish fumes at a quarter-to-twelve on a Thursday night?! I can think of much better things we could be doing at a quarter-to-twelve!" Ben paused, "You're neurotic!"

I sighed dramatically and turned back to my work. I hid my smile and dipped my rag in the mop bucket. Peeking out from behind the fridge, I caught Ben giggling to himself across the room.


Ben and I have a very good marriage. In most areas our personalities balance beautifully. Ben is spontaneous. I prefer to plan. Ben sees the big picture. I zoom in on the details. Ben is easy-going. I can be (a tiny bit) neurotic. Ben teaches me to relax. I teach Ben to be disciplined. God knew what He was doing when He matched us up as husband and wife!

I know I have a caring husband because every now and then he indulges my quirks. He didn't have to spend an evening helping me scrub the floor. He sacrificed his time (and the knees of his jeans) to complete a boring, tiresome task. Ben knew that a bright, shiny floor would bring me pleasure, so he was willing to help. That's true love!


This morning I woke up to the sweet scent of floor polish and sun streaming through the bedroom window. My husband groaned and pulled the covers over his head.

"Uggg, what time is it?" he moaned. (Ben is decidedly not a morning person.) He rolled over and within seconds was softly snoring. For a few seconds I quietly admired my husband's mussed hair and stubbly chin. I leaned over and gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead.

"I love you too, honey," I softly whispered, "I love you too."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Cookie Extravaganza!

I am feeling so much better about Christmas. I feel pretty much on top of things (finally!) as the big day is fast approaching. I have mostly "fun stuff" left on my to-do list, things like baking and wrapping presents. The only daunting chore looming on the horizon is washing and polishing the floor. (Yuck! At least my dear husband has committed to help me with that one.)

Have I mentioned that I love baking Christmas cookies? This afternoon my son and I made a classic recipe --- snickerdoodles! They turned out great. My son declared our cookies, "Very, very yummy."

We still have four days to go until Christmas. I figure we can get in a few more recipes before then!

Penny Snickerdoodles

1 1/3 C. all- purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 C. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400C. In a medium-size bowl, sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and 3/4 C. sugar. Stir in the egg until thoroughly blended. One third at a time, stir in the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed.

Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into balls the size of marbles (a fun job for kids). On a plate or in a shallow bowl, mix the cinnamon and 2 tbsp. of sugar. Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookies with the bottom of a glass or jar (dip it into the cinnamon-sugar mixture to keep it from sticking).

Bake the cookies for 6 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned along the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack. When they're thoroughly cool, store in an airtight jar. Makes 10 to 12 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Festive Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday I caught my son leafing through the December issue of Canadian Living Magazine. A page filled with colourful illustrations captured his attention.

"Mommy! I want to make these!" he exclaimed.

The magazine article was titled Kids in the Kitchen, and its cookie recipe was very easy for little guys to follow. We mixed up a double batch of dough and baked our cookies yesterday. This morning the boys and I had a blast decorating our creations with chocolate and candy sprinkles.

These cookies look so pretty. I have hidden them away to ensure they last until Christmas!

3/4 C. all purpose flour
1/4 C. cornstarch
1/2 C. butter, softened
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

1/2 C. milk or semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. vegetable oil
Candy-coated chocolate pieces, coloured sprinkles or stars

1. Get ready
  • Wash hands.
  • Measure out ingredients.
  • Get out equipment.
  • Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Place oven rack in centre of oven. Heat to 300F (150C).
2. Make dough
  • In mixing bowl, whisk flour with cornstarch.
  • In large mixing bowl and using wooden spoon, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, half at a time, to make smooth dough with no streaks.
3. Roll into balls
  • On lightly floured work surface and using hands, roll dough into two 9-inch (23cm) logs; cut each log into 9 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
  • Place, 2 inches (5cm) apart, on prepared baking sheets.
4. Bake cookies
  • Bake, one sheet at a time, in centre of oven until bottoms are golden brown, 30-35 minutes.
  • Wearing oven mitts, transfer baking sheets to rack. Let cool for 2 minutes. Using metal spatual, transfer cookies to rack and let cool completely.
5. Decorate cookies
  • Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  • Pour enough water into small saucepan to come 1 inch (2.5cm) up side. Heat on stove over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.
  • Place chocolate chips and oil in heatproof bowl. Weating oven mitts, place bowl over hot water; stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. (Be careful not to get any water in chocolate or it will clump.) Move bowl to work surface.
  • Dip cookies, one at a time, halfway into chocolate, shaking gently over bowl to remove excess. Dip into desired decorations. Set on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm and shiny, about 30 minutes. Makes 18 cookies.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Baby Bliss

During this Christmas season I am reminded again and again that my children are an awesome blessing from the Lord. They are healthy, happy and beautiful. God is so good!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lazy Day

I love Sunday afternoons. Sunday is a "day of rest" in the Inkster household. We slow down, relax and spend time together as a family. All of the kids take naps on Sunday. Usually, Ben and I lay down for a nap as well.

This afternoon I dozed in my bed, cozy and comfy. I heard my two-year-old cry out from his room. He had just woken up and was feeling snuggly. I carried him back to my room and we burrowed under the covers together.

My little guy loves to cuddle. He also loves to talk. (He is his father's son!) We lay on our backs in the bed, admiring the late-afternoon sunlight streaming through our west-facing window. My son kept me well entertained with a steady stream of conversation.

"Look Mommy! Bugs!" he said, pointing toward the ceiling. Tiny dust particles danced through the air, caught in a sun beam.

"Bugs!" I exclaimed, "What kind of bugs?"

"Worms!" he said with a giggle, "It's yummy worms!"

"Oh, I see ... are they chocolate worms?" I asked.

"No," my son laughed, "They orange juice worms!" He pretended to catch the "worms" out of the air.

"You're a silly guy! Sing me a song," I prompted. (Nothing is cuter than a two-year-old singing.)

"Tinkle, tinkle little star ..." he sang, and made it through the entire song. He even got most of the words right! Ben quietly slipped into the room.

"Now I sing 'nother song," my son exclaimed, "It's orange juice song!"

The lyrics to the orange juice song went something like this:

"Orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song, orange juice song ..."

My son's singing trailed off. "What happened? Did you lose your place?" Ben asked.

Our two-year-old assumed a serious expression. "Oh, yes," he said, "I lose my place." He gazed toward the ceiling, trying to remember where he left off in his song.

"Oh look! Bugs!"


I feel so behind on everything this Christmas season. I am so close to finishing my Christmas shopping. (Only one gift left.) I still need to wrap all of the presents. I would like to do some more Christmas baking. (Baking is one task I really enjoy.) I also have grand plans to super-clean my house before next weekend.

We'll see how much I actually accomplish.

Last night I was pleased to cross one big item off my to-do list. I finally finished my all of my Christmas cards. They're signed, sealed and ready to go!

(Well actually ... I have a confession to make. I sort of didn't do real Christmas cards this year.)

Don't get me wrong, a few weeks ago I had lofty plans to craft homemade Christmas cards with cool stamps and stencils. I wanted to include a beautiful picture of our family and a tasteful letter in each envelope. I planned to address every card by hand in delicate calligraphy. My Christmas cards were going to be a work of art.

Then life took over, the kids all got sick, and suddenly it was the middle of December. I ditched the homemade cards idea and did what any self-respecting mother of three preschoolers would do at Christmas time:

I bought a large box of generic Christmas cards from Superstore for $3.97.

Another week slipped by and the box of cards sat abandoned on my kitchen counter. I found my Christmas mailing list from last year on the computer. (It had fifty names on it.) As much as I tried, I just couldn't bring myself to hand write a cheerful holiday message to fifty of our closest family and friends. Do you know how long it takes to address fifty cards by hand? I grew exhausted just thinking about it.

Feeling desperate, I finally moved on to Plan C. I wrote a cheeky little Christmas letter, spent $15 at Staples for snowflake paper and envelopes, and printed off a stack of mailing labels. I abandoned my pride and stuffed the letters in the envelopes without even personally signing them. I slapped on the sticky labels, and the entire chore was completed in a couple of hours.

No personal touch. No homemade decorations. Just a cheesy form letter.

Oh well. At least the people on our mailing list will know we haven't forgotten about them ... that is, if I remember to actually mail our letters before Christmas. They are sitting in a pretty stack on the top of my piano right now.

Another chore for another day.

Maybe I should get a jump start this week on my Christmas cards for next year ...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Nursery Rhyme (With a Twist)

"Hey Mommy," my three-year-old called out, "Listen to this rhyme!"

Hey diddle diddle
Three blind mice

Cut off their tails with an exacto knife!

He may have gotten his nursery rhymes a bit scrambled. ;-)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Honey Bear is Growing Up

Our Baby Girl celebrated her six-month birthday yesterday (and she generously gave Mommy the gift of sleeping thirteen hours straight through the night!) Our girl is growing up quickly. She loves to babble and squeal, and is learning to grab and hold onto toys.

This afternoon my boys "helped" me feed their baby sister her first taste of solid food. She enjoyed a delicious meal of runny, sticky rice cereal. Most of the cereal managed to get smeared on her face and hands, but no matter. Baby had a great time sitting "like a big girl" in the high chair. She definitely enjoyed the careful attention of her brothers.

Our little girl is certainly an angel baby.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Popsicle Sticks Galore"

I tickled my darling baby's toes as I changed her little diaper. She giggled and smiled up at me. Baby Girl had just woken from her afternoon nap, and was ready and eager to face the world.

As I pulled socks onto my baby's tiny feet I heard a CRASH! in the kitchen downstairs.

"Popsicle sticks galore!" my preschooler called out happily. His cry was followed by the soft tinkling of a thousand popsicles sticks raining down onto the floor. I heard my toddler giggle.

"Ahhhggg! What are you guys doing?!" I yelled. I grabbed Baby Girl and raced down the stairs. I nearly tripped on several popsicle sticks haphazardly deposited on the steps.

I rounded the corner and entered my kitchen. I nearly fainted. One thousand small, wooden popsicle sticks covered every surface of the room.

They carpeted the floor, decorated the counter and lay across the table. Popsicle sticks were strewn across the top of my piano. They were under the fridge and crammed between the couch cushions. I found wooden sticks resting in the branches of our Christmas tree. Even Baby Jesus' manger scene sported popsicle stick accents.

My boys, the co-conspirators, grinned up at me. "Fun, Mommy, fun!" the two-year-old exclaimed.

I sighed in defeat.

I suppose that's what I get for buying an economy-sized box of popsicle sticks to make giant M&M cookie pops. It also probably didn't help that I allowed my preschoolers to help me sort M&Ms as we mixed the cookie dough. (Funny how fewer M&Ms made it into the cookies than into their tummies.)

I gingerly worked around the carnage for the remainder of the afternoon. My boys had a ball depositing popsicle sticks throughout the house.

... and my dear husband cleaned it all up when he came home in the evening.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Barely Coherent

I'm tired. Very, very tired. This is the first time I've had a chance to put my feet up all day.

Grandma looked after the boys for a few hours. I shopped my brains out. Finished 80% of my Christmas list. Hooray!

Babysat two little boys tonight --- a newborn baby and 18-month-old toddler. We had five kids under the age of four in the house. Went extremely well. We got them all into jammies and asleep!

I have a million things I could be doing now. Going to bed sounds like the best idea. Tomorrow is another day ...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fancy Schmancy

Ben and I went out for a night on the town yesterday. It was a hot date (without the kids) to a fancy restaurant.

We went to my friend's engagement / wedding celebration. She reserved a private room in an upscale restaurant downtown. We enjoyed thick steaks, delicious seafood, sinful desserts and engaging conversation. Ben even indulged in a glass of red wine.

As our evening progressed, I finished my beverage and waited for our server to refill my glass. He promptly brought me a small wine carafe filled with a caramel-coloured liquid. The server reached past my shoulder and deftly poured the liquid into my empty glass.

"Mmmm, what drink is that?" one of the guests at our table asked, thinking I had ordered something exotic. Most of the other party-goers were drinking wine or cocktails.

"Oh, um, well," I blushed, "It's ... iced tea."

Everyone at the table laughed.

At that moment I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore. I suppose I should have know that such a quality establishment would serve iced tea of only the finest vintage.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Fine Wit

My almost-four-year-old son is working on the finer points of humour. He often comes up with hilarious lines, but most of the time his jokes are unintentional. Sometimes, though, my son invents his own punchline. Most of his jokes are just plain weird. His jokes are funny simply because they are so bizarre ...

"Hey, Daddy," my son called out at lunch time today, "What's the difference between an elephant with two tongues and a dead elephant with two tongues?"

"Umm, I don't know," my husband replied, "Could it be that one of them is dead?"

My son grinned at his daddy and winked over the rim of his juice cup.

And that was the joke.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Man Stuff

A stern expression covered my three-year-old's face this morning at the breakfast table. He screwed up his eyes, clenched his fists and groaned.

"What in the world are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm trying to grow a mustache," he grunted.

"I see. And how's that going for you?" I asked.

"No mustache yet!" he replied.

"Well, buddy," I said, "It's pretty hard to grow a mustache unless you are a man."

"Yeah, I guess so," he conceded.

My son thought for a moment before he added, "You know, Mommy, growing a mustache requires a lot of flatulence."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

An Evening at the Inksters

Here's a sample of a typical evening in our household. Hope you enjoy a glimpse into our family life!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Big Boy

The children and I had some excitement this morning. We volunteered at preschool drop-in gym at the YMCA, as we usually do on Wednesday mornings. Whenever I volunteer my boys play in the gym with me and Baby Girl spends a couple of hours in the babysitting room. This was the arrangement we had today.

At the end of our shift we put the play equipment away and cleaned the gym. I took my boys into the foyer and started putting on their coats and boots. Suddenly, we were startled by a sharp, clanging alarm bell. Red lights began to flash. My boys looked at me with round, frightened eyes.

The building fell into a flurry of activity. Every person needed to leave as quickly as possible. I rushed to pull on the boys' boots and coats, and attempted to herd my frightened children out the door.

"Mommy, Mommy!" my three-year-old cried, "We can't leave!!! We forgot to get our baby girl!"

I was worried about my little girl. She was not with me, and my first instinct was to run to the babysitting room and gather her into my arms. However, I also knew that the YMCA staff are well-trained and would take good care of my precious girl.

"The babysitting ladies are taking the babies to a safe place," I told my big boy, "Don't worry. Our Baby Girl is safe."

"NO! Mommy! We have to save her!" My young man burst into sobs. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

My heart melted. My boy loves his baby sister very much. Though he was frightened by the loud alarm bells and pandemonium, his greatest concern was for his sister. He would have charged straight through the building and into the babysitting room to rescue her if he could have.

In the end, it was all a false alarm. We found our Baby Girl in the caring arms of a staff member as we re-entered the building. Baby was smiling, cooing, and enjoying a great adventure. My boys calmed down, and my son smothered his sister in a million kisses.

I was proud of my little boy this morning. He showed that he is a caring, protective big brother. Clearly, he loves his baby sister a great deal. He may be only three years old, but my son is already learning what it means to be a man.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Classic Christmas Cookies

I feel so behind this Christmas season. I've made my list (and checked it twice), but now I need to get to work!

Yesterday I made yummy cookies with my boys. Christmas baking is hardly a chore, in my opinion. I love filling my freezer with tasty sweets, and giving them away as gifts or serving them to guests. Baking is one of my favourite parts of the holidays.

We made two recipes yesterday. I always enjoy making classic, comforting recipes. Both of these turned out perfectly. I found them in FamilyFun's Cookies for Christmas.

Molasses Cookies

14 tbsp. butter
2 C. sugar, divided
1/3 C. molasses
2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the sugar along with the molasses. Cool for 15 minutes, or until tepid.

Meanwhile, mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Beat the egg into the butter mixture in the saucepan, then gradually add the flour mixture and stir until well combined (the dough will be soft).

Pour the remaining sugar into a small bowl. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball in the sugar. Place the balls on the foil-covered baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies have flattened. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Sealed with a Kiss

1/2 C. creamy peanut butter
1/2 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/2 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 C. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1, 9 oz. package chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the peanut butter, butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together. Combine with peanut butter mixture.

Shape the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and roll them in the extra white sugar. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes, remove from the oven, and press a chocolate kiss into the centre of each cookie. Return to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 40 to 50 cookies.

Monday, December 04, 2006

True contentment is ...

  • Waking up early and sharing a bowl of cheerios with my boys
  • Laughing at my two-year-old's knock-knock jokes
  • Making Christmas cookies with my excited preschooler
  • Nursing my sleepy baby
  • Listening to worship music and dancing around the living room with my kids
  • Snuggling my cranky toddler on the couch
  • Reading Eye Spy books over and over again with my boys
  • Making my baby girl giggle
  • Explaining the legend of St. Nicholas to my children
  • Helping my preschooler build intricate Lego spaceships

I enjoyed doing all these things with my children this morning. I am so grateful to have a beautiful home, loving husband, and three healthy children. I am a very blessed woman, indeed.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Decisive Young Man

We were running late for church (again). I rushed around the kitchen, wiping sticky hands and scraping soggy cereal into the garbage. Our family needed to leave the house within five minutes. My three-year-old son busily played Lego in the living room. He was still wearing his pajamas.

"Quick buddy!" I said, "Take off your jammies and go pee. You need to get your clothes on."

My preschooler looked at me with a stern expression. "No, Mommy," he said decisively, "I do not plan to pee today."

Hmmm. He did not plan to pee? Funny how my son's plan changed when I threatened to take his Lego away unless he used the bathroom ...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Book Review:

Karen Kingsbu

I always enjoy escaping into the pages of a Karen Kingsbury novel. Lucky for me, she is a prolific author. Karen Kingsbury's novels often challenge me to re-examine my faith in God. Her stories encourage me to look into my heart, to test my convictions. I find Kingsbury's books to be gripping and well-written. Divine is no exception.

I like Karen Kingsbury's novels because her characters are real. I think that many Christian authors fall into the trap of idealizing their characters --- they write about perfect Christians who have no faults. Kingsbury creates flawed characters. She writes about real people, with real struggles. She allows her characters to fall (sometimes with tragic consequences). Her characters doubt, sin, and get hurt.

The main character in Divine is Mary Madison, a woman who is used and abused. Her life is marred by horrors no woman should be forced to endure. Mary's story is based on the Biblical account of Mary Magdalene. Though Mary's life is filled with pain and sorrow, her story does not end in tragedy. Instead, Mary is redeemed by the mighty hand of the Savior. Jesus transforms Mary's life through through his divine power and unconditional love.

Divine is a difficult book to read. The account of Mary's childhood is especially hard. However, Divine is ultimately a book hope. Through Jesus saving grace, Mary overcomes her horrible past. Her sins are washed away by the blood of Christ and she becomes a new creation. Mary learns to love and to trust. She overcomes her troubled past in order to bring glory to an awesome God.

Friday, December 01, 2006


The kids and I have spent a lot of time cooped up inside the house this week. I think we are all going a bit stir-crazy. By supper time this evening I was ready to do anything to get out of the house, so our entire family went with Daddy on an errand to the bank.

Our three-year-old kept up a steady stream of conversation as we drove in our van. When we pulled into the bank's parking lot he made the following comment:

"You know, I am starting to feel a bit housebound. I think I need to get out of the house ... and move into a tent."

It's well below zero and several inches of snow cover the ground, but I suppose those are minor considerations!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas Cookie Countdown

I love baking Christmas cookies. A couple weeks ago the boys and I surfed the Calgary Public Library website and we placed holds on all the cookbooks with yummy-looking cookies on their covers. One of the best books I found is titled FamilyFun's Cookies for Christmas. Between its pages I discovered a great kids' craft idea --- an advent calender made of cookies!

Over the past couple of days my boys and I made our own Christmas cookie calendar. We rolled dough, cut out stars, baked, and liberally decorated our cookies with colourful candies. I wrapped the star cookies in plastic and tied them with ribbons. We've displayed the cookies in tidy rows on a bulletin board.

My boys are very excited by the prospect of eating one cookie every day until Christmas. (I am slightly less excited about the potential sugar crashes, but it's the Christmas season so I'm willing to bend ;-).

As we decorated our cookies yesterday, I had the following conversation with my nearly-four-year-old son:

"Our advent calendar will help us count down the days until Jesus' birthday," I explained, "We will eat one cookie every day. When all the cookies are gone we know it is time for Christmas to come!"

My son's face fell and his bottom lip began to quiver. I was momentarily confused by his reaction. "But Mommy," he cried, "It won't be time for Christmas ... It will be time to make more cookies!"

Here is a copy of the recipe I used to make our advent cookie calendar. This dough is wonderful to work with. Enjoy!

Best Ever Sugar Cookies

3 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C. sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, stir in the egg, then the corn syrup and vanilla extract. One third at a time, add the flour mixture until thoroughly mixed. Pat the dough into two disks, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm enough to roll. If the dough is too firm, soften at room temperature for about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and cut out the cookies with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer the shapes to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between the cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies start to brown lightly around the edges.

Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month and for up to 3 days at room temperature before you frost them. Makes 12 to 50 cookies, depending on their size.
Hungry Man

"Would you like some more orange juice?" I asked my preschooler this morning.

"Sure!" he said.

"You've gotta wash down all those eggs you ate," I commented.

"Yup," he replied.

My son smiled, "I've got to wash them right down ... into my leg!"

(My son is tall, thin and hungry all the time. We often tease him about his "hollow leg".)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Continuing Saga ...

Our kiddies are all still sick. :-(

I took my two-year-old to the walk-in clinic last night. The doctor looked in my little guy's ears and winced. He had a bad infection in each one. The banana medicine seems to be working today, though. He has been more lively and happy. Hopefully. my little sunshine will be back to normal tomorrow.

My preschooler started out happy in the morning, but he got progressively grumpier as the day progressed. He needed a nap! He had a wicked cough this evening.

Baby Girl is doing pretty well. She still has a runny nose and cough, but she's perky and cute. She was very smiley and snuggly today.

The kids and I usually volunteer at preschool drop-in gym at the YMCA on Wednesdays. We skipped out today. We missed last week as well, and I am starting to feel a bit out of the loop. I sure hope everyone is healthy by this time next week!

At least tomorrow the cold snap will end. The temperature might even go above zero. It would love to take the kids outside.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Update On the Sickies

Our family has been battling a pesky virus for eight days now. I am feeling much better after my painful bout of mouth sores. Unfortunately, all three of our kids are still sick with wicked colds.

Our preschooler is the healthiest of the bunch. He has a runny nose and "barky" cough, but is basically fine. He's been running through the house and building spaceships all day. Nothing unusual there!

Baby Girl has been sick for a whole week already. She also has a runny nose and stubborn cough. She has not been running a fever, and is sleeping and eating normally. She continues to be smiley and happy through it all.

Our two-year-old seems to have a weaker immune system than his siblings. He always seems to get the worst of the germs in our family. He's got a horrible cold, his face is pale, he's coughing, and he's had a fever the past couple of days. He is not sleeping well at night. Last night he threw up in his bed twice, poor guy. Our little toddler is usually a bright and sunny boy, and he's trying so hard to have a good attitude. He will be singing and dancing one minute, and then start crying and need "suggles" the next.

I've been reluctant to take our two-year-old to the doctor. I don't like to give my kids unnecessary antibiotics. However, I think my little guy might be fighting a secondary infection because he's developed a fever and is uncharacteristically listless. I think it's time to have him checked out.

All in all, this has been a difficult week. We've been housebound by germs and frigid weather. Ben and I are getting sleep deprived. I'm ready for some sunshine in my life, Lord!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Winter Getaway

It is -30C outside tonight. Tahiti sounds nice right about now...

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I had a revelation, of sorts, this afternoon. It happened as I sat on my son's bed, reading Curious George and the Puppies aloud to my two-year-old.

I realized that George has no tail.

Curious George is always described as a "very curious little monkey". If George is sans tail, he cannot be a monkey. Technically, he must be classified as an ape. Curious George is probably a young chimpanzee.

A profound thought for a frosty Sunday night ...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Why We Don't Own a TV

I am glad our family doesn't have a TV. We have two computers and a WiFi network instead. Our kids watch their fair share of DVDs, but we have never owned a television.

Today I realized one big bonus of not owning a TV: Our kids do not watch commercials. We stay out of the malls at this time of year, and our children are quite sheltered from Christmas consumer panic. They don't have a clue about which toys are "cool". I don't think they realize that Christmas could involve getting lots of expensive presents.

My's son's innocence was reinforced today when someone asked what he would like to receive for Christmas.

"I'd like this game," he said, "You know what it is? It's called trekkers."

"Trekkers? I don't think I've heard of that game."

"Oh, " my three-year-old explained, "It's a game you play with black circles and red circles, and they jump over each other."

"You mean checkers?"

"Yeah! That's what I want for Christmas."

Ben and I had decided to start a tradition at Christmas this year. We want to buy one new board game as a group gift for our family each year. For this Christmas I bought a nice set of dominoes. I love classic games that have stood the test of time.

If my little boy would like a set of checkers too, I think I might have to make another trip to the store. :-)

Friday, November 24, 2006

DVD Review:

Over the Hedge

Looking for an entertaining, family-focused show? Need a good belly laugh? Into lovable, fuzzy, cute and cuddly critters? You might enjoy Over the Hedge as much as I did.

I'll admit, I've become a bit jaded towards Dreamworks' films. Shrek was hilarious, but the humour was too rude for my impressionable little guys. I thought Shark Tale was too adult, and some scenes in Madagascar were too intense.

I believe Over the Hedge strikes the perfect balance between kid-friendly fun and clever humour aimed at adults. The casting is terrific. I especially liked Vern the turtle and Hammy the manic squirrel.

Over the Hedge's story centres around the meaning of family. Courageous critters repeatedly put themselves in danger to rescue other family members. The movie also explores themes of forgiveness, teamwork, leadership and contentment.

I actually viewed this DVD twice in one day, I liked it so much. I watched the movie with my kids in the afternoon, and again in the evening with Ben. I love the way Over the Hedge lampoons our consumeristic suburban lifestyle. R.J. the Racoon's "food" sequence is particularly hilarious.

This film does earn its PG rating, with several scenes of intense (cartoonish) action and a few strong words such as "stupid". It is not suitable for very young children, but my three-year-old loved the show.

With so few good children's movies available, Over the Hedge is a DVD I may consider buying for our own home library.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Last Legs

I thought I might have to plan a funeral this afternoon.

No, no. Not for me! (I'm feeling much better, by the way.) The funeral would be for my computer.

Alas, my trusty little notebook appears to be nearing the end of its life. Ben, geeky hero, has backed up and reinstalled its operating system countless times. He's opened it up, removed faulty RAM, unclogged goobers from the fan, and installed a new OS called Ubuntu.

But the video card on the machine is flaky and one of the hinges is broken. Worst of all, today I received a distressing hard disk error when I tried to boot up.

My little friend is showing it's age. It's almost ready to be put out to pasture is that great, big, grassy technological wasteland known as ... my furnace room. It's a good thing we all aren't forced into retirement at the ripe old age of four. (I know I don't like to spend extended periods of time keeping company with my furnace. I'd rather be working on interesting stuff --- like my blog.)

Which brings me to my next dilemma: I will require a new computer soon. I have my eye on a few models, but I think I might splurge. I'd love to get my hands on an iFruit.

Ben's notebook needs a delicious girlfriend ...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Techno Kid

He is his father's son ...

I'd like to know when my three-year-old learned to drag and drop using the track pad on my notebook. Are all the children of this generation born with innate technical knowledge?

For the past couple of days I have allowed my son to play games on the CBC Kids site. He especially loves "The Art Machine". He probably spent thirty minutes painting rainbow turkeys today. My child is developing computer skills.


Our two-year-old, however, is not so ready to explore the wonders of computer technology.

I left him alone with my notebook for three minutes this afternoon while I changed Baby Girl's diaper. He quietly played downstairs for a short time and then wandered up to find me.

"Mommy, Mommy. I got a button," he called out.

My sweet boy found me in the bedroom. He reached out his chubby, little hand and dropped a small piece of black plastic into my outstretched palm.

It was the letter G.

From my keyboard.

Good thing I've gained a little technical savvy along the way. Long ago I learned to communicate in the language of love --- geek-speak. I choose to own my family's geekiness. (Hey, it's in the genes.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Woe is Me

I've had a tough go of it the past few days. My body has a weird flu bug or something. I've had a fever for the past three nights and the crazy part is, my mouth is full of sores.

I went to see the doctor this morning. He couldn't pinpoint anything, but at least he doesn't think I'm contagious. He prescribed some medicine for my mouth. Hopefully the sores will start to heal soon.

I've been communicating a lot through gestures today, as it hurts too much to talk or smile. My poor tummy is growling away because it's hard to eat. (Moan, moan, complain, complain.)

It took me a looong time to eat my sandwich for lunch, so I've put on a big pot of soup for supper.

I don't think I'll be up for eating a piano any time soon ;-).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Babies, Babies

Yesterday I hostessed a baby shower for my friend. I must be in the "baby" stage of life --- most of my friends are either pregnant or have young babies. Three cute little babies attended yesterday's party.

Growing up, I was never very interested in babies. I was not much of a "girly" girl. I liked dolls, but my sister and I mostly played Barbies. I did some babysitting as a teenager, but I didn't babysit any small babies. I could count on one hand the number of times I'd held a baby before my own first son was born.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I love babies. I love being pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, snuggling and loving little babies. Of course, I think my own babies are the cutest in the world. I'm happy to cuddle any baby, though.

When my children are older and I am able to work again, I think I'd like to do something with mothers and babies. I'd be interested in teaching childbirth education classes or becoming a lactation consultant. I'm very interested in midwifery, but I know myself too well. I couldn't keep the hours required of a midwife!

My own baby girl is growing by leaps and bounds. She turned five months old last week, and she weighs 16 1/2 lbs. now. I wish I could keep her small forever. This stage of babyhood is my favourite of all. Babies are wonderful. Lord willing, our family will be blessed with at least one or two more.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I wish Craft magazine had existed when I was in art school. It makes creative crafting hip, cool and modern. These are not your grandma's knitting projects!

Check out the Craftzine blog here.

Last night I accompanied my two-year-old during his swimming lesson. Usually Ben takes the kids in the pool, but I was feeling a bit left out yesterday. I donned my bathing suit and we had great fun dunking and splashing.

The thing is, my eyesight is poor. I am pretty helpless without my glasses. Whenever I swim I am faced with one of two choices:

1. Go without my glasses and use echolocation to feel my way around.

2. Wear my glasses in the water and endure splashes and speckles on my lenses.

Last night I chose to wear my glasses. (It wouldn't be prudent to loose sight of my active toddler in an enormous pool of water!)

When I went to bed late in the evening, I was dismayed to find the arms of my glasses were faded and discoloured. I've worn various styles of funky plastic frames for a few years. Over time, the plastic tends to scratch and fade a bit. Unfortunately, I think the pool chemicals hastened the aging process. My trendy glasses looked gross.

I went to bed feeling disgruntled. My glasses are a necessary wardrobe accessory. I wear them all day, every day.

I woke up this morning with a brilliant plan. My plastic frames looked dry and gray. I decided to try rubbing Blistex lip balm into the plastic. Hey, it moistens my lips. Why not use it on my glasses?

Eureka! Success! My experiment actually worked. My frames look decent once again. Who knew lip balm had so many uses?

Next time I venture into the pool I definitely plan to wear my old, already-worn-out glasses.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What's in a Name?

My husband downloaded a silly song from iTunes this week. It's called Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by the group They Might Be Giants.

The song has a line that goes: "Even Old New York was once New Amsterdam..."

My three-year-old son sang this song to me as he ate his lunch this afternoon. I was impressed that he knew most of the lyrics. I did chuckle, though, when he sang:

"Even Old New York was once New Hamsterland..."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Organic Panic

I made pot roast for supper tonight. When I put the meat in the oven this afternoon, I realized that I had no potatoes for our meal. "No worries," I thought, "My grocery order from Spuds is due to arrive today. Surely it'll be here before supper time."

Five o'clock rolled around. No groceries. I called Ben and asked him to pick up a few potatoes on his way home from work. (His office is only five minutes away.)

At a quarter past six my dear husband came waltzing through the door, potatoes in hand and a sheepish look on his face.

Our groceries finally arrived at seven.


I do like getting our fruits and vegetables delivered by Spuds. Over the past week we have eaten considerably more produce than usual. This can only be a good thing. We've been eating fresh, organic fruits and veggies. Our bodies are loving it!

I see at least two added advantages to buying my groceries through Spuds:

1. I only need to shop at Superstore once every two weeks, rather than every week. This gives me an extra night to work out at the gym (or do other stuff I enjoy).

2. One of my sons has some serious bowel issues. We removed dairy from his diet several months ago. The Spuds website has an entire section devoted to dairy-free products. (We have discovered that almond milk is quite tasty.) With the combination of his dairy-free diet and lots of fresh fruits and veggies, my little guy's bowels are at their best ever!

I just may become an organic-evangelist. (Orvangelist?) Nothing beats fresh and delicious, real food.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Hiding Place

This morning I was in a rush. I planned to take the kids on the bus to preschool gym at the Y.

We left the house in a flurry of coats, toques, mitts, boots, bags and kids ... all crammed into my faithful double stroller. We ran out the door and arrived at the bus stop just in the nick of time. My boys kept up a steady stream of dialogue throughout the entire trip. Who knew taking the bus could be such a fascinating experience?

After a quick dash to the library, a snack for Baby Girl and a trip to the babysitting room, the boys and I finally arrived at the gym doors. We were late. (Story of my life these days.) I volunteer to run preschool gym on Wednesday mornings, so I felt hot and flustered.

"Quick guys!" I said, "Take off your coats and boots so we can go in. We have to hurry!"

I unzipped my two-year-old's coat and tugged at his left boot. The boot was stuck. I gave his foot a good yank. A small, white piece of plastic went sailing through the air. It skidded along the polished tile floor and came to rest in front of the gym doors.

It was a Lego man.

My toddler had kept a Lego storm trooper carefully concealed in the bottom of his boot for the better part of an hour.

You know the lyrics to the old song "these boots were made for walkin'"? I suppose my son had a different purpose for his boots this morning. That little boy didn't do much walkin'. He sat back and enjoyed the scenery from his comfy, cozy stroller seat.

While the Lego man stayed toasty warm in his secret hiding place.

I've Been Chastised

I received a stern lecture from my mother over the phone this evening.

"I was worried about you. Have you been sick?" she asked, "You didn't post anything on your blog yesterday."

"Gee, Mom. Cut me some slack! I only missed one day!"

"Have you decided to cut back on your writing or something, dear?"

No, I still plan to post on my blog at least once a day. I wish I had an imaginative excuse for missing yesterday's post --- something like this:

My kids ate too much blue food colouring yesterday and went berserk, pulled the chandelier off the ceiling, fell and bumped their heads, so we spent seventeen hours in emergency getting their noggins sutured, and Baby Girl received the most stitches of the lot because she's such a little monkey, and we had a rotten night because we didn't get home until after two in the morning ...

Here's the truth: My piano lesson went longer than normal last night I and got home late. I was too tired to boot up my computer before I fell into bed.

I'm sorry my life is not more exciting.

To make up for my lazy blogging habits, I spent a few minutes editing my previous post on Life of Pi. The writing felt too self-important and rough around the edges. I hope the new version sounds a little better.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Book Review:

Life of Pi
Yann Martel

I finished reading Life of Pi this weekend. For several days I have struggled with whether I should post a review on my blog. In good conscience, this is not a book I can freely recommend to Christian readers. At the same time, it is an absolutely brilliant work of fiction and fully deserving of the critical acclaim it has received.

Life of Pi chronicles the journey of a young castaway, Picine Molitor Patel. Pi is marooned in the middle of the Pacific --- stranded on a lifeboat in the company of a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra and a Bengal tiger. Against all odds, Pi survives his ordeal. Though the premise of the book seems completely unbelievable, the story is amazing because of its plausibility. Through intelligent narrative and attentive description Yann Martel skillfully weaves the details of the plot (but not necessarily in sequence).

Life of Pi is constructed of many layers. It is a book that begs to be discussed. This novel is perfect fodder for a book club or university class. I was grateful that Ben finished reading Pi a few days before I did. The book provided fuel for several engaging conversations (and debates) this weekend.

Unfortunately, Yann Martel's masterful story is tainted by several truly gruesome scenes. The first of these disturbing sections occurs about a third of the way into the story, shortly after Pi becomes shipwrecked. I had greatly enjoyed the novel up to this point, but I very nearly put the book away unfinished.
I am not accustomed to exposing myself to such terrible imagery and it was a shock to my system. The most horrific scene comes at the end of the novel.

Savagery is one of the central threads of Pi. Can Pi Patel survive and yet resist becoming a savage? Does Pi retain his humanity? Is he any less an animal than Richard Parker? As much a I hate to admit, Life of Pi would not be as believable without its accounts of extreme depravity. Pi must journey to the outer limits of savagery in order to test his own humanity.

Life of Pi also explores themes of religion and a belief in God. Pi Patel longs for relationship with God, so much so that he resorts to worshiping multiple gods. Christ, Allah, Vishnu ... all are worthy of respect and adoration according to Pi. He hungers for redemption and divine connection. Where my Christian beliefs cause me to fill my spiritual hunger with faith in Christ, Pi turns to multiple religions and expressions of faith. Because he survives his horrific ordeal, it appears that Pi had exceptional divine protection. He believed in many gods and therefore kept all his bases covered. I do not agree with this presumption.

I am glad I read Life of Pi. I do believe that, as a Christian, I should not be afraid to engage popular culture. Pi is a brilliant piece of Canadian fiction, without question. When I choose to read such a book, I pray for discernment and the mind of Christ, guarding my heart and emotions. Life of Pi is not what I would consider "entertainment reading". It is not the type of novel I feel safe escaping into. However, it is an engaging story and worthy of careful thought and discussion.
Lego Kid

My son has been building space ships with Lego all morning. This is nothing unusual --- he loves Lego. He builds things all day long. Do you know what he's working on right now?

An original creation called THE BATTLE SNAIL.

Lego is awesome! It's not hard to guess what our imaginative son will be receiving from Daddy and Mommy this Christmas.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Big Brother

I have uploaded some photos of our oldest son. I can hardly believe he is nearing his fourth birthday. As he often reminds me, our son is becoming a very "big boy"!

Master Yoda displays his great skills of concentration.

The spiky hair dude.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Movie Review:
Flushed Away

This evening my husband and I (attempted) to go out on a date. We made it about halfway through the movie before our babysitter called us home. To be honest, I wasn't terribly disappointed to leave the theatre. Flushed Away was not as good as I had expected. (The theatre manager was also kind enough to refund our tickets, so the night was not a total loss.)

I very much enjoy movies by Aardman Entertainment. I think Wallace and Gromit films are brilliant. The Curse of the Ware-Rabbit was a terrific movie. I enjoy British humour, and appreciate the artistic skill and dedication to detail displayed in Aardman's claymation pictures.

Flushed Away did not meet my expectations. Admittedly, I was not able to view the entire movie, and perhaps this fact coloured my perception of the film. At the same time, I believe Flushed Away had several factors working against it.

Flushed Away was jointly produced by Aardman Entertainment and Dreamworks Studios. I hate to say it, but I think the involvement of an American studio was not beneficial to the project. The humour of the movie held none of Aardman's characteristic British charm. The jokes were often crude and obvious. (Perhaps potty humour is unavoidable in a film titled Flushed Away?).

As well, Flushed Away is a CGI film. I believe Wallace and Gromit movies are appealing because of the human touch evident in claymation productions. The animation in Flushed Away is too polished, too American. Yes, the characters still possess round "Aardman eyes" and wide, expressive mouths. However, they lack the soft touchability of plasticine models. They are artificially generated, and therefore less believable.

All in all, Flushed Away was nothing special. It was not a movie I would like my children to see. I am glad the theatre refunded our money. At least we did not lose $20 in viewing a lack-lustre film.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mmmmm ... Bacon

"When's Daddy coming home?" my son asked late this afternoon.

"Soon, Buddy," I replied, "He'll be home at supper time."

"What's he doing?" he asked.

"Well, he's working. Daddy's bringing home the bacon," I explained, "That's what Daddies do. They work hard to provide for their families."

"Oh ..." my son said as the light of understanding dawned, "So, are we having eggs for supper too?"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Going Organic

I think I may have caught "organic fever". It seems that organics and natural products are the latest consumer fad. My local Superstore has even been redesigned to include an entirely new section for organic products.

I've been experimenting a bit over the past few weeks and our family has tried some new foods. Last week I bought organic chocolate animal cookies and shredded wheat cereal. (My boys thought both were very yummy!) I also purchased organic broccoli, grapes and tomatoes from the grocery store.

My greatest foray into the organic jungle arrived on my doorstep this afternoon. I placed an order with (S.P.U.D. stands for Small Potatoes Urban Delivery). I purchased a bin filled with fresh organic fruits and veggies. I also bought some special non-dairy products for my son and a tin of sinfully delicious organic dark hot chocolate. My entire order came to about $50. (Delivery is free on orders over $35).

The prices at are slightly higher than at the grocery store for most things. However, you can't beat the convenience of having groceries delivered right to your door. I also like shopping from the comfort of my living room couch! I plan to give a try for a few weeks. If I can have items like produce and milk delivered to my door, I might reduce my trips to Superstore to once every two or three weeks. I'm likely to save money by staying out of the store! I won't be tempted by impulse purchases.

I also like the idea of buying organic products --- especially fresh produce. I would like our kids to eat wholesome, nutritious, real food. I don't mind paying a bit more for quality, chemical-free produce. Maybe I'm biased, but the organic foods we've tried so far really do taste better!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Mommy and Daddy were feeling silly at the supper table --- lots of teasing, giggling and stolen kisses. Their young sons quietly ate and were entertained by their parents' antics. At one point, Daddy created a shield with his hands and gave Mommy a long kiss.

"Hey you guys!" the three-year-old exclaimed, "I know what you're doing. You're kissin' ... like mammals!"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Sponge

My three-year-old son has a memory like an elephant. He loves reading books, "hacking" things (i.e. taking things apart to see how they work), and building space ships with Lego. This evening he had quite an extraordinary conversation with my husband ...

Preschooler: Daddy, you know Mars?

Daddy: You mean the planet?

Preschooler: Yes. It's a dead planet, you know.

Daddy: Yes it is. Nothing lives on Mars.

Preschooler: Yeah. And when a planet dies, is explodes into a tiny ball and becomes a dwarf star.

Daddy: Well, no, not exactly. When a star is dying it becomes a dwarf star.

Preschooler: But Daddy, Pluto is a dwarf planet.

Daddy: Oh, yes. That is true.

Preschooler: So, will Mars come back to life again?

Daddy: No, I don't think so.

Preschooler: Well, you know, Jesus came back to life again!

Daddy: Yes, but Jesus is not a planet ...

Monday, November 06, 2006


I enjoy being pregnant. I've been blessed with three normal, easy pregnancies. (I also have three beautiful kids as a result!) One great benefit of being pregnant is that my hair grows strong, healthy and thick. I shed far less hair than usual.

Here's the problem ... a few months after Baby is born my long, lustrous hair starts to fall out. Heaps of it. Great big gobs of it. I find long, brown hairs everywhere --- clinging to my sweater, tangled in my zipper, wrapped around my baby's fingers, on my pillow, in my cereal. I don't even want to talk about my disgusting, hairy bathroom.

Last night my sister helped me give Baby Girl a bath. I stepped into the bathroom and reached for the faucet, intending to start the water. A scummy, cold puddle greeted me from the bottom of the tub. It was the water from my morning shower. The drain was completely clogged.

Ben pried the drain cover off with a screw driver, and I boldly reached inside the hole. My fingers met a slimy, tangled mass. Hair. Long, brown, soapy hair. I pulled more hair out from my drain than Ben has on his entire head. Small wonder the drain was clogged!

This morning I diligently cleaned the upper level of our home. As I vacuumed the hallway carpet I caught a whiff of something burning. It smelled hot, like electrical fire. I vacuumed for a few more seconds before I realized my vacuum was overheating.

I quickly flicked the off switch and pulled the plug from the wall. I flipped the vacuum over and examined its rotating brushes. I wondered if something had become tangled in the mechanism. I was shocked to discover hair --- great, long gobs of the stuff --- tangled all through the vacuum brushes.

At the rate my hair is falling out, I may be bald within a couple more weeks! I don't know if I can handle many more disgusting hair encounters. Oh well ... at least if I am balding, my husband will have some company.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Birthday Boy

This evening we celebrated our son's second birthday. We invited about a dozen family members over for a wild party! Our little guy was so excited about the festivities. He danced, played, ate lots of food, and was all-around adorable. I believe his favourite part of the party was blowing out the candles on his Bob the Builder birthday cake!

The birthday boy received an awesome concrete mixer from his godfather.

The boys look handsome in their party hats.

Baby Girl snuggles with her uncle.

Our two-year-old reads a birthday card with Daddy.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Party Pics

It seems this is the weekend for parties. Our family is looking forward to our two-year-old son's birthday party tomorrow. Yesterday we also enjoyed a low-key kiddie party for one of our son's friends. Here are some cute photos from yesterday's birthday bash...

Friday, November 03, 2006


Guess I wasn't paying close enough attention...

As I waxed eloquent and worked on my previous post, my preschool-aged son quietly played with his craft supplies.

"Look Mommy, look!" he exclaimed, "My glue stick sticks to the fridge!"

Sure enough, it did.

"Soul Mates"

I have a decidedly unromantic statement to share: My husband and I are not soul mates. Fate did not decide that we were "meant to be". Our lives were not preordained to intertwine.

Don't get me wrong, Ben and I share a terrific marriage. We love one another fully and plan to stay married for a very long time. ('Til death do us part.) However, we talk about our relationship quite often and have concluded that we would each be equally satisfied being married to other people. Do you know why? It's because we've decided to make love a choice.

If Ben had gone to a different high school, or we had been different ages, or I had not moved to Calgary, chances are Ben and I would have not formed a relationship. We would have met other people, may have married different partners, had children and formed different families. Our lives could have taken divergent paths.

I am truly glad we did meet and were attracted to one another. But do you know what I am even more thankful for? I am grateful that Ben comes from a good family, he serves God, he's loving and caring, he enjoys being with children, and he takes the responsibility of providing for us seriously.

The thing is ... if I had met someone with the same character qualities as Ben, I think I could have been equally happy being married to that man. Why? Because I would choose to love him.

Yes, when Ben and I started dating as teenagers I was totally infatuated with him. We were "madly in love". The sight of him made my heart flip flop and turned my knees to jello. I though he was the cutest boy in the school. (And I know I wasn't the only one!) I could hardly wait to become his wife.

But the rush of first love does fade over time. Daily life begins to take over. A truly strong marriage isn't built upon the foundation of intense emotions. "Falling in love" is fun and pleasurable, but the feelings don't last forever. Hollywood would like us to believe that "love conquers all when two hearts are meant to be joined as one". (But we all know how long Hollywood marriages last...)

Ben and I have a solid, loving marriage because we try to put God first, we have compatible personalities, and we share common values and beliefs. Sure, it doesn't hurt that we are physically attracted to one another. Let's be honest, though --- I weigh twenty pounds more than I did on my wedding day, and Ben has a lot less hair! We choose to love one another despite our shortcomings.

Yes, I believe it was God's will that Ben and I marry. But God's will is not a mysterious thing. I believe the Lord presents us with many choices in life. It's just a matter of following the guidelines He's given us through in the Bible. It could have easily been God's will for me to marry another man instead.

But you know, I'm glad that the man I did marry is named Benjamin Inkster.

... and the sight of him still gives me butterflies in my stomach. :-)