Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mister Messy

I think my little man enjoyed his supper this evening. He even managed to get pasta sauce in his ears.

After much scrubbing and rinsing I did manage to get him cleaned up.

When my back was turned as I washed the dishes, he then scribbled all over himself with blue marker.


I treated my little guy to an incredibly thorough bath tonight!
Baby Quilt

I have finally finished piecing together the top of my quilt. Tonight as I sewed, I learned a couple of things:

1. I am not a skilled seamstress as the end of a "pregnancy brain-drain" day.

2. I am even less skilled when I am trying to ignore increasingly strong Braxton Hicks contractions.

However, I have persevered! Here is the fruit of my labour:

(Pun intended. Forgive me, it's late).

Monday, May 29, 2006

Wonderful Waterbirth

My first two children were born in the hospital into the hands of an obstetrician. I had a satisfactory hospital experience both times, but for this baby I wanted something different. God willing, my third child will be born at home with the assistance of a midwife.

Not only am I planning for a homebirth, but I hope to labour and deliver my baby in a pool of warm water. I have long been interested in waterbirth. However, I never really believed it was something I would try myself. It is only in the past couple of weeks that I finally decided I would attempt a waterbirth.

My preschooler is absolutely fascinated by the fact that his baby sister will be born in an inflatable "fishy pool" in the middle of the kitchen. He is terribly excited. Every day he asks, "Can the baby be born today, Mommy? Pleeeeeese?"

I am pretty excited myself! I have gathered all of my homebirth supplies. They are neatly stored away in a large laundry basket in the nursery room closet. I have towels, plastic sheets, a flashlight, bowls, bags, a kitty litter scoop (I leave its purpose to your imagination), and many other supplies ready and waiting.

I have run into one snag, though. I am having a terrible time figuring out how to attach a garden hose to our kitchen faucet. Go figure. I bought a hose and faucet adapter at Canadian Tire. The hose fit on the adapter, but the adapter would not screw on to the tap. So I bought a new adapter at the Home Depot. Now the adapter fits perfectly on my faucet, but the hose is the wrong size.


It is too much for my pregnant brain to deal with. I believe it is my husband's turn to make the trek, once again, to Home Depot. And if worse comes to worse, duct tape is always an option.

Ahhh, the joys of preparing for a waterbirth!

Sunday, May 28, 2006


A few months ago a missionary visited our church. He made the following comment about wealth and prosperity:

"You may not think you are rich. You may feel that you do not have enough money. But if you have a simple jar with loose change sitting on top of your fridge, you are more wealthy than the vast majority of people in the world."

Thank you, Lord, that my family is blessed. Please help me to remember my responsibilty to help others who are hurting and in need. May I be a good steward of the resources you have blessed me with. And may I never take Your provision for granted.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Book Review:

Ten Minutes from Normal
Karen Hughes

I confess a lack of knowledge about American political figures. Before reading this book I had not heard of Karen Hughes, nor knew of her leadership position within the White House. I was drawn to read her autobiography because of its tag line:

"Counselor to the President. Wife and Mother. The woman who left the White House to put family first, and moved back home to Texas."

My first thoughts as I read the cover of the book were, "Here is a woman who seems to have her priorities straight. I would like to learn more."

As her story progresses, Mrs. Hughes values and beliefs become increasingly clear. She is a talented woman of faith, trying to humbly serve as a Christian in the high-pressure world of American politics. Her priorities are molded by her love of God, her family, and her country. She is not held captive by a quest for power or prestige.

"Work is what you do; it is not who you are. My identity is not based on any title or position or proximity to power. I may have those things for a while, but they are no more or less important than my other roles as wife, mother, friend, Bible-study partner." (p. 324)

Mrs. Hughes is a woman who stewards great influence and power within the White House. She is a confidant of the President of the United States. Yet, she does not use her autobiography as a vehicle to boast of her own accomplishments. Instead, Mrs. Hughes acknowledges God as the source of her strength.

She closes the book with the following inspirational thought:

"I'm certain I'm going to heaven, not because I am faithful, but because God is. Jesus promised, and I believe: no one can snatch me from His hand. I am confident that by the time I get there, Jesus will have nurtured in me a longing for peace, a liking for harmony, a sense of contentment that I can only dream of in this earthly life." (p. 335)

Ten Minutes from Normal is an enlightening read. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the men and women serving as America's leaders.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Simple Pleasures

Ben and I affectionately refer to the first few years of our marriage as the "Early Poverty Days".

I will never forget one year in particular. We were both students, started our own business, and travelled across the country for two months. Needless to say, we survived on an extremely limited budget.

Our motto during that time was:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:34

We tried to be thankful for everything --- we had enough milk in the fridge to last one more day, we had just enough money to pay the bills that were due, and even though we'd run out of toothpaste we had plenty of baking soda!

Sure, it was a stressful time of life. We are thankful to have survived it together, though. Ben and I agree that our "Early Poverty Days" strengthened our marriage and taught us to manage finances.

We also learned to take pleasure in simple things.

A habit I developed during that time involves a mundane task --- washing the dishes. One day I was over at my friend's house and was impressed by her "fresh green apple" scented dish soap. It was a small thing, but I decided that I would enjoy washing dishes so much more if I also had a lovely detergent to use. I went to the grocery store and splurged on a $1.50 bottle of name-brand dish soap.

I have bought yummy-smelling dish detergent ever since.

This morning I took my boys to Superstore for our weekly shopping trip. I paused in the "cleaning supplies" aisle and chose a bottle of lavender dish soap. I took a moment to open the cap and inhale its sweet aroma. As I placed the dish detergent into my overflowing shopping cart, I thanked God for blessing us abundantly.

Yes, He's been good. And every time I do the dishes I am reminded of God's faithful provision for our family.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Almighty List

I confess ... I am a compulsive list-maker.

I keep lists of many things: shopping items, daily chores, phone messages, fix-it projects --- you name it. I find, especially these days, I must diligently record items on my lists before the fleeting thoughts jump out of my sleep-deprived brain. I don't know how I could function without a pen and paper.

I have one extra-special list at the moment. I call it The Almighty List of Jobs that Must Be Finished Before the Baby Arrives. It is basically a list of odd jobs --- things such as "hem bedroom curtains" and "wash car seat cover". You know, really vital stuff.

As I approach my 37th week of pregnancy, I have been taken over by an increasing sense of urgency. I need to get my Almighty List done! Therefore, this week I made it my goal to complete one or two items each day.

But I am running into a couple of problems.

It seems my Almighty List is taking on a life of its own. Rather than growing shorter, every day it mysteriously seems to get longer. I will cross one item off and, somehow, two more will take its place. I find it a most puzzling phenomenon.

As well, I have come to believe that my energy levels are inversely proportional to the length of my list. These days I spend an embarrassing amount of time languishing on the couch like a beached whale. I think the atmosphere in my house must be growing thicker, or something. What else could explain the feeling that my feet are trudging through sticky mud all day?

So I have now resigned myself to a difficult conclusion --- My Almighty List may never be finished.

Yes, it is good to chip away at it a bit every day. At the same time, our precious babe will arrive whenever she is ready --- whether or not my list is completed. The final weeks of pregnancy are not a time to be stressing over odd jobs!

I think I am okay with that.

But maybe I have time to squeeze in just one more tiny job before bed. It would sure feel good to cross off another item from my list.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Special Delivery

On Saturday night I decided to get a jump start on my Father's Day shopping. I figured I should plan ahead --- we may be having a new baby in the next couple of weeks.

I surfed online to one of my husband's favourite sites and selected my purchases. With a few clicks of the mouse I was done. I love internet shopping!

On Monday morning I received an e-mail verifying my order had been shipped from the States.

On Tuesday afternoon the doorbell rang.

"Somebody's here!!! Mommy, Mommy!" my preschooler shouted as he ran down the hall. Any visitor at our door is a big event.

A delivery man in a yellow uniform handed me a rectangular box. My boys watched, transfixed, as I signed the touch screen and received my parcel.

"What is that, Mommy?" asked my three-year-old.

"It's Daddy's Father's Day present," I replied vaguely. (I have learned that my young man is not trustworthy secret-keeper.) I walked upstairs with the intention of hiding the box away, unopened.

"But, Mommeeeee," my son complained when I saw I didn't intend to open the package, "you need to open it!"

"Why?" I asked, "it's a surprise."

"No it's not," he countered, "it's a pizza!!"

I then realized that the only delivery men my son had ever met at our door came bearing pizza. He (reasonably) assumed that the cardboard box I held in my hand contained only one thing --- a tasty pizza pie.

I could see my little man was rapidly heading towards a meltdown. How could his mommy hide a pizza from him?!

I did the first thing I could think of ... I let him sniff the box. For a long time.

He took in long draughts of cardboard and ink, and was finally satisfied that the package indeed did not conceal deep dish goodness.

Crisis averted.

And now a terrific Father's Day present is safely hidden away until June 18th. I wonder if I can find a pizza box to wrap it in ....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Verbal Prowess

Every mommy believes her child is a genius, right?

Today as I strapped my 18-month-old into his car seat he spotted a doggie walking down the sidewalk. He then said his first intelligible sentence:

"I see a puppy!"

Yup. My child is brilliant :-).

Monday, May 22, 2006

My Nickname

This morning I sat at the breakfast table with my two little boys. They consumed vast quantities of toast slathered with strawberry jam and sliced cheese. Between bites, my preschooler proclaimed:

"I love you Mommy! You are yummy. You are Yummy Mommy!"

It made my day.

And my charming little boy received a big kiss on his sweet, sticky face.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Perfect Parents Don't Exist

I'm sure it was a conspiracy.

Can you see it? A group of young boys huddle together in the preschool Sunday School class. They quietly whisper, concocting a devious plan ...

"Burger King! Burger King!" Their chant soon becomes a roar. The hapless parents are inexplicably drawn into the plot. Three innocent families convoy by minivan from the "House of the Lord" to the "House of the King".

The moms sit and chat at the table, nibbling french fries and sipping iced tea. Their husbands corral rowdy young men in the Play Place. A persistent, grating scream echoes from within the play area. Its source is an over-tired little girl.

"What a horrible sound," the moms whisper among themselves, "Why doesn't her mother take her home for a nap?"

"That kid is driving us nuts!" the men complain, "We can hardly hear ourselves think." The dads congratulate themselves on how well-behaved their children are.

To the relief of everyone, the mom and the tired toddler eventually exit the restaurant.

One of the men comes out to check on the ladies and steal french fries. He relates the Saga of the Screaming Toddler in the Play Place, finishing his tale with the following statement:

"And we guys decided to call ourselves The Perfect Parents, because our kids are being so good."


"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)


A young boy exits the Play Place to check on the ladies and steal french fries. He spends ten minutes chatting with his mom, entertaining the table with preschool antics. Finally he announces, "I want to go back and play now."

His mom escorts him to the play area. At the sight of the boy, his father's cheeks blanch.

"Ummm ... was he out there with you guys?" the dad asks.

"Well sure," his mom replies, "Didn't you notice?"

"Well, we just thought he was playing at the top of the slide for a while. We hadn't seen him for a few minutes ... "

"Ahhh. I can certainly see how you earned your status of Perfect Parent," the mom says as she gently closes Play Place door.

Sweet, sweet revenge.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Feeling Hedgie

I would like to introduce one of the smallest members of our family. Her name is Percival, and she lives a quiet life in our basement. Percival is an African Pygmy hedgehog.

Our hedgehog is almost five years old. We bought her for Christmas a couple of years into our marriage. That year I gave my husband an ultimatum: "I would like a baby or a puppy"... Ben came home with a prickly hedgehog.

Interestingly enough, our first son was born about a year later.

Percival has proven to be an interesting pet. Hedgehogs tend to be very quiet. On occasion, our hedgie will emit cute squeaks and whistles. They are also quite timid. When a hedgehog feels threatened it will roll into a tight ball and bare its quills. It will also hiss and make a throaty "rrrrrrr" sound. However, when Percival feels safe her quills lay flat and soft, and it she will expose her curious, furry face.

In some ways I feel a kinship to my prickly pet. Sometimes I face situations where I wish I could roll into a tight ball and hiss, "Go away!". I have struggled with being timid most of my life. As an adult I have learned some coping mechanisms to deal with my shyness. At the same time, it is a daily struggle to reach out and engage with other people.

I have come to realize that God, in His wisdom, has made my nature quiet and introspective. There is nothing wrong with being introverted. At the same time, God has not given me a spirit of fear. The Bible says that "... perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18).

So here is my secret. When I feel too shy to phone up a friend or go out to a party, I take my eyes off of myself and set my focus on other people. I call my friend and ask how she is doing, or I go to the party and make conversation centered on other people's interests. I try to think less of myself and more of others.

At times I know I still come across as "prickly", but I am working on it. Percival has been a good mentor for me. My hedgehog has taught me that I can learn to let my quills down, and I can expose myself to others.

And if nothing else, having a hedgehog for a pet is a great conversation starter!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Reading List

Curious about the pile of books on my bedside table? At the moment I have a rather large selection of library books at home. I am so tired these days, I spend most nights curled up with a good book (or flipping between two or three).

Here is a sampling of my current reading list:

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Ina May Gaskin

Birth Without Violence
Frederick Leboyer

Ten Minutes from Normal
(an autobiography)
Karen Hughs

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
Tracy Hogg

The New Experience of Childbirth
Sheila Kitzinger

Creative Correction
Lisa Welchel

A Name of Her Own
Jane Kirkpatrick

Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tender Words

This morning I stood before my bedroom mirror applying my makeup. My three-year-old son played with toys at my feet. His attention was especially fixed on a small stuffed lamb. I discreetly eavesdropped as he had an imaginary conversation with the small toy. It went something like this:

" You are such a cute baby lamb. I love you so much. You are so little and pretty. I will always take care of you and love you. And I will protect you from bad robots. If any bad robots come I will fight them with my light sabre and I will cut off their heads. I love you, little lamb."

Tender words from a three-year-old boy ... a boy who has been watching too many Star Wars movies with his daddy, methinks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Auto Pilot

Today I officially entered the "brainless" stage of late pregnancy.

I had my regularly scheduled piano lesson at nine o'clock. I have driven to the mini-mall where the music school is located countless times. This morning I backed the van out of the garage, pulled out of our condominium complex, and drove away. Only after several minutes did I realize that I was travelling in the opposite direction of the piano studio.

I sheepishly arrived a few minutes late for my lesson.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Thrill of the Hunt

Like many women, I like to shop. I enjoy the "thrill of the hunt" --- finding a great deal or a unique item. However, I don't particularly enjoy cruising the mall and spending oodles of money.

Here is my secret. One of the places I love to shop is not fancy or extravagant, but it is fun and inexpensive. My favourite store is Value Village --- "The Thrift Department Store". The store is kind of cheesy, and there is a lot of junk to sort through, but I have found many treasures at Value Village.

Last night I decided to use some of my "me time" to go browsing through Value Village. I came home with a big bag of treasure for my family. Here are some of my best finds:

- Black, silky golf shirt for Ben from Banana Republic ($7)

- Short-sleeved button-up shirt for Ben from Eddie Bauer ($6)

- Cute, girly sleeper for the baby from Gymboree ($4)

- White, western-style blouse for me from the Gap ($5)

- Red sundress with buttons down the front (for nursing) from April Cornell ($12)

I also found a few more items, and my total came to $60. Not bad! Some of the articles, such as Ben's Banana Republic shirt or my April Cornell dress, would be at least $60 new. I feel my hunt was successful, and it was definitely fun!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Gift of Solitude

My husband is wonderful.

For Mother's Day this year he has given me a unique gift. Tomorrow night I am going away, all by myself, for a night at a hotel. I can do whatever I want --- swim in the pool, watch movies, read, eat room service, have a bubble bath, or sleep for as long as I wish without interruptions.

Ahhhh. Bliss.

My dear husband is a man who knows his wife. I am the type of person who needs quiet and solitude to "recharge my batteries". When I have free time I generally prefer activities I do on my own. My Benjie has chosen the perfect Mother's day gift.

This will be hard to top next month for Father's Day ... I might be able to come up with a special delivery for him, though. Maybe my husband would like a new daughter as his Father's Day gift :-).

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Window Washing

I was standing at the bathroom sink pouring a bucket of grungy, brown water down the drain. I rinsed the scum from the bottom of the pail and turned my attention to the cleaning rag. It was a tattered piece of terry cloth. What once was a pretty pink towel was now stained a muddy, gray colour. My rag was filthy. Good for nothing. It was too dirty to even be useful for cleaning. As much as I tried, I could not rinse the stains from the cloth.

I was reminded of the following verse:

All of us are like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags...
Isaiah 64:6

I could scrub forever, but my dirty cleaning rag would never become the rosy pink towel it once was. In the same way, nothing I can do in my own power can make me clean before God. My attempts at righteousness are like grungy, disgusting rags. As much as I try, my mucky attempts at earning God's favour are totally worthless.

If I were to continue using my yucky cloth to wash windows, the glass would come out streaked and cloudy. Window washing requires a clean cloth and clear water. If I want to truly reflect God's grace in my life, I cannot continue to rely on my own righteousness. I must let God wash me by the power of His grace.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior
Titus 3: 5-6

This is what is so amazing: God knows that I am gross, dirty and disgusting. He sees my every blemish and fault. He knows every sin I've ever committed. My feeble attempts at righteousness are like limp, smelly rags before Him. But He loves me anyway. Extravagantly. Abundantly. Through Jesus my sins are washed away.

Though I don't deserve it, Christ has washed me whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7). As I daily submit to God, I pray that I will become a tool He can use. I pray that the window of my life will clearly reflect His love and mercy. And I thank God every day for the wonderful gift of grace He has given me.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tiny Hiccups

I believe the little one in my womb is a thumb-sucker. She has the hiccups three or four times most days. Right now she is jump, jump, jumping in my belly like a little rhythmic drum.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Joy of Work

The other day I brought home a library book for my children entitled Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco. I was drawn to the book because it is about an Amish family. I have long been fascinated by the Amish way of life (but no, I do not secretly yearn to be Amish). I also very much enjoy reading Beverley Lewis' Lancaster County novels.

Let me share the opening lines of Just Plain Fancy:

Kaleb and his two daughters hurried along Lancaster County Road in their buggy. Cars whizzed by them, but they paid no mind. Clop, clop, clop went the horse's hooves on the pavement.

"Papa," Naomi asked, "why don't we have a car like the English?"

"It is not our way, child. We are in no hurry," he said as he drew up the reins and slowly directed the horse into their farmyard.

... "We are in no hurry." When was the last time I heard someone say that? Our modern society is always in a rush. People have places to go and things to accomplish. We have so much work to do, and so little time to cram it all in.

Or so the lie goes.

How often do people talk about slowing down, about finding joy in work? I would think that the Amish are some of the hardest working people in the world. Yet, their society does not operate at the frenzied pace of ours. What is their secret?

I would venture to say that our society has a warped view of work. I think many people see work as an unpleasant part of life --- work must be endured until it is time to play. However, I do not think this is a Biblical view. I believe God has given us work as a gift, and that He expects us to find joy and satisfaction in the very act of working.

God even assigned work to Adam in the Garden of Eden:

The Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:15

Yes, we enjoy the rewards of our hard work. I am not negating the satisfaction of a job well done. At the same time, I believe God would want us to be full of joy as we perform every task throughout the day --- whether or not we expect to see a "reward" for our efforts.

It has been almost a year since I brought home a pay cheque for my family. Even though I am not reimbursed monetarily, my days are filled with work. Most of the time my work goes unnoticed. And I will admit, I often crave recognition for the things I accomplish. At the same time, I have committed to becoming a more grace-full woman, as described in Proverbs 31.

Therefore, I try to take joy in everything I do during the day --- whether it is washing the dishes, changing diapers, balancing the books, or reading to my boys. I choose to slow down and enjoy my work.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3: 23-24

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Slowing Down

Wednesday night is my "sacred gym night". I always go to the gym on Wednesday night, unless I am prevented by life-threatening illness or a natural disaster. Lately my workouts have not been terribly taxing --- floating in the pool, walking around the track, or pedalling the recumbent bike --- but I still make the effort to go.

I have a confession to make.

I didn't go to the gym tonight.

I feel a little guilty.

I have six weeks to go until Baby arrives, and my body is telling me it is time to slow down. I am tired all the time, and exhausted when I am not tired. This pregnancy has mostly been a breeze. However, any normal woman is tired by this point in the third trimester.

To pacify my guilt, this evening I took my 18-month-old on a slooooow walk to the mailbox. We stopped to look at every bug and blade of grass, and to pet a friendly puppy. I held his chubby little hand in mine as he carefully toddled along beside me.

It was a lovely way to get my exercise.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Yesterday morning dawned bright and sunny. I loaded my boys into their red Radio Flyer wagon and we embarked on the epic journey to the park. (Maybe less than epic ... it is only one block away).

As we crossed the street and the playground came into view, my toddler loudly exclaimed, "Side! Side!" (Translation: "Slide! Slide!") He is a man who knows what he likes.

We pulled up to the park bench. I released the boys from their seat belts. My preschooler dumped out his bag of shovels and began industriously digging in the gravel. He tends to be a fairly cautious boy, and enjoys playing in the sand more than climbing on the jungle gym. I was momentarily distracted watching my young man dig dirt.

I looked up. In the span of approximately three seconds, my 18-month-old had already monkeyed his way to the top level of the playground. He was preparing to hurl himself head-first down the twisty, yellow slide.

I ran as fast as my bulky body would carry me shouting, "No, no, no! Wait!". But it was too late. I stood helplessly as "Mr. Fearless" leaped from the platform. His little body careened down the slide at a crazy angle. I thought I heard a thump as he slid to the bottom.

I gasped.

He giggled.

"Side!" he exclaimed.

I may have to buy that boy a leash.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mission Accomplished (Almost)

Last weekend Ben and I shipped our young ones off to Grandma and Grandpas' for a night. We intended to use our kid-free time to redecorate the boys' bedroom. We figured it was a two-day project, tops.


Why do home renovation projects always take longer than you plan for them to?

We finally moved the boys into their newly decorated bedroom last night (as in nine days after we started). They temporarily shared the baby's bedroom last week, and we had random toys and books stored all over the hallway. To tell the truth, it was not as chaotic as it sounds. All the same, I am very glad to have our everything back to normal today.

Here is what I have learned from our little home improvement project:

Yellow is a very transparent paint colour. When the instructions say tinted primer recommended, use the tinted primer!

Paint needs to cure for at least three days before you can paste wallpaper over it.

Don't let a toddler help you to pull the masking tape off of the base boards.

Finally, buy more wallpaper border than you think you will need. I bought two rolls of border that should have just covered the perimeter of the room. I overlooked one tiny detail, though. We needed to match the pattern going around the corners. Needless to say, I've ordered a third roll of wallpaper. It will arrive in a couple of weeks, and until then I will have to ignore the 20" gap in the border beside the window.

Live and learn, live and learn.

(Otherwise, the room looks very cute).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dream Land

This morning we drove home from church in our minivan. As we travelled down the road, enjoying the sunshine, our three-year-old entertained us with the following tale:

"Four years ago I had a dream. I was singing the Bob the Builder song. There was a cephalopod ... no ... a jelly fish with me. He was singing Bob the Builder too. I was standing on top of the jelly fish. The tops don't sting you, only the tentacles do. It was not a bad dream. It was a good dream."


I'm fairly certain he got the jelly fish part from Finding Nemo. Bob the Builder is my preschooler's favourite cartoon character. He can sing the theme song by heart. But to relate the two together? ... The mind of a three-year-old works in mysterious ways!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Prenatal Supplements

This is my third pregnancy. I believe it has been the best of all three. Unfortunately, in the first trimester I was quite nauseous and sick. Since eleven weeks, though, I have been feeling mostly healthy and energetic.

I suspect there are several reasons why this pregnancy is going so well. All three of my pregnancies have been fairly easy and complication-free. However, I have done a few things differently this time around.

From the beginning of this pregnancy I have been taking three new supplements. One I decided to take after researching it myself, and two were suggested by my midwife:

Alfalfa -- 2, 650mg tablets, 3x a day (breakfast, lunch and supper)

I can't say enough about the difference alfalfa has made in this pregnancy. In my past pregnancies I suffered from severe heart burn. I would take up to 12 extra-strength Tums per day. The problem with taking so many antacids was that my body could not absorb iron properly. I became very tired and anemic. Alfalfa has cut down my heart burn tremendously. I sometimes still suffer from heart burn, but now I only might take one Tums before bed.

As well, alfalfa is very good at promoting regularity. I had some trouble in this area with my first two pregnancies, but have had no problems this time.

Further, alfalfa is full of Vitamin K. This vitamin is important for blood clotting. I have noticed that I have fewer bruises lately than I usually do. (Being the mother of small boys can be hazardous!) My midwife also tells me that I will likely experience less postpartum blood loss because my Vitamin K levels will be high.

Soy Lecithin --- 2, 1200mg capsules, 2x a day (breakfast and supper)

My midwife suggested I take these capsules to help with sciatic pain in my hip. In my last pregnancy I found the sciatic pain to be quite debilitating, and even resorted to taking Tylenol at times. This pregnancy I am considerably more comfortable. Sometimes my hip is sore, but for the most part I am pain-free. I believe the combination of soy lecithin and gentle stretching in the swimming pool have made a difference.

Omega-3 --- 1, 720mg capsule, once a day (breakfast)

My midwife also suggested I take fish oil capsules. Omega-3 fatty acids are needed for the baby's neurological development. As well, my midwife believes omega-3 helps to stabilize mood swings and crazy pregnancy emotions. I suspect the fish oil promotes bowel regularity. Omega-3 fatty acids seem to be a popular supplement these days.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea --- 2 cups a day

This is a supplement I have used in the past. Raspberry leaf tea is a good uterine tonic. With all my pregnancies I have had strong pre-labour Braxton Hicks contractions. I wonder if the raspberry tea has strengthened the contractions, so I have decided this time not to drink it until after 36 weeks.

I believe no supplement can replace proper nutrition and exercise. However, in combination with a healthy diet, supplements can be useful. I believe alfalfa, soy lecithin and omega-3s have made a difference in my third pregnancy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fast and Easy Supper Recipe

Here's an easy recipe for those nights you are in a hurry. The ingredients are all things you are likely to keep in your pantry. My kids love any recipe that involves pasta. Add a green salad and you can serve your family a nutritious, economical meal!

Creamy Salmon Pasta with Vegetables
(from Canadian Living Magazine, February 2005)

4 C. fusilli (about 12 oz. uncooked)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (7.5 oz each) salmon, drained
1/2 C. chicken stock
1/4 C. light mayonnaise
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 C. minced fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 C. frozen mixed vegetables

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook fusilli until tender but firm, about 10 minutes. Reserving 1 C. of the cooking liquid, drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; saute onion and garlic until softened, about 4 minutes. Add to pasta.

Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, pulse 1 can of the salmon. Add stock, mayonnaise, lemon rind and juice, mustard, half of the parsley, the salt and pepper; pulse until smooth. Scrape over pasta mixture.

Add remaining can of salmon, frozen vegetables and reserved cooking liquid to pasta mixture; heat through, gently tossing to combine. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Grumpy Bumpy Days

Some days are harder than others.

My toddler celebrated his 18-month birthday on Monday. On Tuesday we took him to the public health clinic for his immunizations. Unfortunately, my little boy has not been his usual sunny self since then. His arms are red and swollen at the injection sites, he has been sleeping poorly, and he's been running a slight fever. All of this is normal after receiving immunizations, but that doesn't make it any less fun.

Add an increasingly tired and enormous mommy, a needy preschooler, an insanely busy husband, and a weekend renovation project that has stretched all week into the mix. Now things are getting interesting!

I lift my eyes to the hills ---
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121: 1)

I am far from perfect. I lose my cool just like anyone else. In fact, I seem to have more "grumpy bumpy" days the bigger my belly grows! However, I am attempting to learn from my experiences and to check my attitude. Every time I feel like losing my temper I take a deep breath and ask, "What is God asking me to learn from this?"

To quote Dr. James Dobson, "Parenting is not for cowards!" Each day I pray that God can use my time in the "parenting trenches" to mold me into a stronger, wiser woman of God. When I am feeling low and beaten, I cling to the following scripture:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Why Pudding is Perfect!

Pudding is an almost perfect dessert. It is fast and easy to prepare, I can make it for my whole family for less than $1, and it comes in lots of yummy flavours. Pudding is even nutritious! When I make it with skim milk, our pudding is low in fat and high in calcium. (Aha! I can be sneaky about feeding my kids healthy foods!)

Who wouldn't love such a perfect dessert?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Grocery Shopping With Little Ones

It's every parent's nightmare.

You are in the middle of a gargantuan shopping trip with Junior riding in the front of the grocery cart. Your little passenger decides he is bored (or tired or hungry or angry or whatever). He proceeds to throw a monumental "wobbly" in the middle of the cereal aisle. You still have half of your list left! What do you do? What if you have more than one cranky "Junior" along for the ride? Should you abandon your half-full grocery cart in the middle of the store and make a run for it? Should you smile sweetly, ignore your little barbarian, and continue shopping?

I take my two little boys grocery shopping at Superstore every week. We've certainly had our share of dicey shopping expeditions. However, these days grocery shopping is more of a pleasure than a chore. My boys actually behave most days in the store! Here are my hints for a successful shopping expedition:

1. Prepare a detailed, organized list the night before you shop.
I keep a running list of things I need. Throughout the week I add to my list. I also plan menus for all the next week's upcoming meals. The night before our shopping trip I write up a master list -- it has categories for items according to where they are located in Superstore. I find it only takes 5-10 minutes to organize my list, but it saves me a great deal of time in the long run.

2. Choose a weekly "shopping day".
I go grocery shopping once every seven days. Lately, my shopping day has been Thursday. (I find the store is less busy and the shelves are well-stocked on Thursdays). When I go shopping regularly I can get everything I need in one trip, it does not take too long, it is easier to track our weekly budget, and I do not run out of staple items between trips.

3. Choose a favourable, consistent time of day to shop.
I always take my boys grocery shopping in the morning. We leave right after breakfast dishes are cleaned up and arrive at the store by about 10am. My children are usually at their best in the mornings and the store is the least busy.

4. Keep the trip as short as possible.
My goal is to be in and out of the grocery store in less than an hour. If I have well-organized list, I can often be done in 45 minutes.

5. Feed your children before you go!
I always feed my boys a substantial, protein-laden breakfast on grocery shopping day (something like scrambled eggs or toast with peanut butter). My kids will burn off the energy from a quick bowl of cereal long before we are finished our shopping! As well, Mommy needs to eat a big breakfast too!

6. Make the trip "special" in some way.
When we go grocery shopping I allow my children to bring their "nanks" into the store. This is the only time they are allowed to have their blankies in a public place. They snuggle their "nanks" and are quiet and calm while I shop.

7. Set out your rules and expectations before you enter the store.
Before we get out of the van in the store parking lot, I talk to my children about how "good boys" behave in Superstore. I lay out my expectations for their behavior. They know what the rules are before we ever step foot into the store.

8. Reward good behavior.
My boys know that if they are good throughout the entire shopping trip, Mommy will buy a box of Smarties or Glossette Raisins at the checkout. They are allowed to share some of the candies as a special treat at lunch time. (I personally think they have more fun shaking the candies in the box than eating them, though!) The treat is not automatic every trip. If they do not behave, I will not buy them a box of candies.

9. Dress for success!
It may sound cheesy, but I think grocery shopping is easier when I feel good about how I look. I always dress nicely, do my makeup and hair, and try to walk with confidence. I make sure my boys look neat and tidy too.

10. Don't expect perfection.
Sometimes, despite the best preparation, my children still lose control in the grocery store. If they are being truly awful, I may leave the half-full cart at customer service and take them to the van for a time-out. This is very inconvenient, but it teaches my boys that Mommy is in charge and poor behavior is not tolerable. And I check my attitude on good days, too. I do not want to become prideful when my boys are behaving like angels! I could easily be the mom pushing a cart full of screaming children!

Grocery shopping with little children need not be a dreadful experience. When I am organized and prepared, my children are fueled-up and well-rested, and I consistently shop on the same morning of the week, grocery shopping is often a pleasure!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Homemaking 101

About three years ago I set a personal goal for myself. I decided that I would "go into training" to become the best homemaker I could be. I figured that if I spent five years in university earning my degree, then I had the research skills and smarts to now pursue my MHM (Masters in Home Management).

So I started studying. I've read thousands of articles in magazines and online. I've borrowed many books from the library. I have intentionally formed friendships with women who I admire. I also started having babies! There is nothing more motivating than being forced to learn on the job!

How am I doing? I am learning that I have a lot more to learn.

Every day I am presented with new challenges, but I'm enjoying my journey. I truly feel that I am where God would have me to be. I'm very content. I have a beautiful home, a loving husband, wonderful kids, good friends and family, and a bright future. I praise God for the life He has blessed me with!

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways.
You will eat the fruit of your labour;

blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots round your table.
Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.
(Psalm 128:1-4)