Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Costume Carnival

This evening our family went to church. However, the church looked...a little different. Bouncy houses and mini golf stations filled the sanctuary. Video game consoles dominated the foyer. Miniature jeeps and rocking horses roamed the Sunday school hallways. A heady mixture of popcorn and cotton candy perfumed the air.

The building was overrun with tiny, rambunctious, costumed people. Lions and tigers, dinosaurs, pirates, doctors and super heroes. I think every little girl was dressed as a princess. I even saw Dorothy and her three companions from Oz.

Our family chose to dress as Star Wars characters. (Shocking, I know.) Our preschooler was a Jedi. He wore a fashionable green bathrobe and wielded a toy light sabre. Our toddler dressed as an Ewok (or reasonable facsimile). He wore a fuzzy panda bear costume, my brown fleece vest, and had a belt cinched around his waist. He also carried a light sabre. (I don't think Ewoks use light sabres, but no matter.) My husband looked stylin' in his gray bathrobe and a beige fleece vest. I used brown yarn to make a "Jedi braid" for his hair.

Baby Girl was the cutest Jedi of all. She dressed as none other than...Master Yoda. This afternoon my friend, Lacey, brought over a Yoda costume. Lacey did not realize we were planning to dress as Star Wars characters for our party, but her gift was perfect! Baby Girl looked adorable sporting pointy, green ears.

Our family chooses not to celebrate Halloween, so we are thankful our church provides a fun alternative to trick-or-treating. The kids had a blast at the party. They were candy-powered for most of the night.

(You know the irony? We all have dentist appointments first thing tomorrow morning!)

Monday, October 30, 2006

"Get It Right, Dad!"

We were in a rush --- late for supper with the grandparents. Baby Girl cried inconsolably, the boys ran around the house like maniacs, Ben tried to brush his teeth and change clothes, and I vainly attempted to rein in the chaos.

In the midst of it all, the phone rang.

The caller was one of my husband's long-time business clients, a chatty and personable woman. Ben cradled the phone to his ear while he fended off snuggle attacks from the boys. Our eldest son hung off his daddy's back like a crazed monkey.

"Yes, you caught us at a busy moment," I heard my husband say, "Mmm-hmm. We have a house full of kids these days."

He paused in the conversation. "No, actually, there are three of them," Ben explained, "Two little boys and a baby girl."

At this point, our three-year-old could not contain himself. A little boy? Certainly not! He felt compelled to interject, "Daddy!! One BIG boy, one little boy and one baby girl!"

You can be sure Daddy won't be making that mistake again any time soon!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A New Look

Welcome to my new site! I've made the switch to Blogger's beta version and I chose a new template. (Thank you, Benjie, for cleaning up my code. My HTML skills are more than a little shaky...)

New features of Blogger Beta include instant publishing, simple template changes, and categorical post labels. My task for the coming week will be to assign labels to my archived posts. I love sorting and organizing, so in a geeky way I am looking forward to this chore.

I also joined the Christian Women Online webring. (See sidebar.) I'm looking forward to connecting with other Christian women who love to blog!
Honey Mustard Chicken

You know, I love the recipes on the back of Campbell's soup cans. They are often simple and tasty. I found this recipe on a can of cream of chicken soup. Our family enjoyed it for supper tonight and it was delicious! I served the chicken with brown rice, green peas and steamed cauliflower.

Honey Mustard Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can 1/2 fat cream of chicken soup
1/2 C. water
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. dijon mustard

Heat oil in a large skillet. Brown chicken breasts at medium heat, about 8 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a clean plate. Cook onion in skillet until softened, about 3 minutes. Return chicken to the pan. Combine soup, water, garlic powder, honey and mustard, and pour over chicken breasts. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serves 4.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It Doesn't Have to Make Sense ...

My preschool-aged son was, shall we say, a wee bit emotional today. I don't know what it was, but he cried and whined through most of the afternoon.

I was out of the house for a good chunk of the day. Ben stayed home with the children, and by four in the afternoon my dear husband had reached his limit. I offered to take the boys out for a drive to give Ben a break.

I wrestled my preschooler into the van and tried to buckle his seat belt. He looked at me with sorrowful eyes and moaned, "I don't liiiike the word zip!"

I wasn't comprehending the problem. "What's wrong with zip?" I asked.

"It's a baaaaaaad word!" he wailed.

"Okay," I shrugged, and shut the van door.

I hope I successfully muffled my laughter. Who ever said three-year-old logic had to make sense?
Pride and Prejudice

I went out to "girl's night" at my friend's house this evening. (Got to take advantage of the extra hour of sleep tonight!) We watched the ever-wonderful Pride and Prejudice. (It was the new version starring Kiera Knightley). This is another DVD I would like to add to my Christmas wish list ...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Expanding My Little Universe

I am learning that I have a lot to learn about blogging. This evening I have been surfing the web, trying to figure out how to get my blog onto a Christian blog ring. I've found a few promising places, including Christian Women Online. We'll see what I can figure out...

I did discover a cute little tool for my blog --- Scripture Tags!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Book Review:

I Love You More
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

This evening I stopped to pick up a few groceries on my way to the Y. When I returned home, Ben helped me carry my shopping bags from the van to the house. He snooped through my purchases and groaned when he saw flavoured rice cakes instead of potato chips.

"Why can't you ever buy junk food?" he complained.

"Because I love you, honey," I replied.

This afternoon I finished reading I Love You More, and I learned that married people tend to live longer and are generally healthier than their unmarried counterparts. This is true partly because spouses encourage one another to adopt healthy habits. When I nag Ben about eating too many greasy hamburgers, I am actually fulfilling my duty as his wife!

I Love You More is an interesting and enlightening read. Ben is halfway through the book himself. I did not buy this book expecting him to read it too, but our reading has already sparked some interesting conversations. Ben and I feel we have a great relationship on many levels. However, we've already begun identifying areas of our marriage that could use some work. We think it's healthy to evaluate and talk about our relationship. I'm pretty blessed to have a husband who actually enjoys talking about marriage!

Because of my reading, I have also been pondering how my views of marriage have been affected by my upbringing. I'm learning that every person (often unknowingly) brings biases to the marriage relationship. My family of origin is very different from my husband's. Where his parents are high-energy and gregarious, my parents are quiet and like to hang out at home. Wouldn't you know, Ben and I are reflections of our parents. Ben tends to be more outgoing, and I am quite a home-body.

When we got married and I moved out of my parent's home, I learned that some people do things differently than my family did. (Shocking, I know. It was a revelation to me, anyway.) Here's a small sampling of the things I discovered as a young bride:

- Canned soup comes in more varieties than mushroom and tomato.
- The dishes will not self-destruct if they aren't washed immediately after supper.
- Most people are allowed to eat their dessert without having a piece of fruit first.
- Some families do more than just eat at the dinner table --- they have loooong conversations too.

All in all, Ben and I are very much enjoying I Love You More. At the book's suggestion, we've made one new goal for our marriage. We would like to start a new hobby together. In the early years of our relationship, Ben and I played music together on the church worship team. We stopped playing music when we had children. (Funny how that happens). Ben and I would like to start a shared activity again. It might not be musical, but it will be something we can do as a couple without our kids. We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Family Photos


Magnificent Hair Food for the follicly challenged...

Totally cool biker dude.

Baby Girl with Great-Grandpa George.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm Too Lazy

They say confession is good for the soul. That being the case, I have something I would like to confess.

I have fallen off the bandwagon. I've lost my discipline. I have become l-a-z-y.

I haven't worked out at the gym for three whole weeks, and I can't say I have a good excuse for it.

I could give lots of reasons for my absence --- we went out of town, Ben was sick, I've had several meetings, I've been doing my music homework, we've had lots of company, I fell down some stairs and have a sore back ... blah, blah, blah. The ugly truth is, I've just gotten out of the routine.

I used to go to the gym every Monday and Thursday night after the kids went to sleep. I also take a pilates class on Saturday morning, so I figured my fitness routine was decent enough for a tired mother-of-three.

Unfortunately, I started to miss a night here, skip a workout there ... and suddenly I'm not going anymore. I need to hop back on the treadmill! Step out on the track! Pump some iron!

I like going to the gym. A good workout always feels great. These days I just like to sit on the couch more, I suppose.

So by virtue of my public confession, I am now accountable. I will make an effort to go to the gym two times this week. Hey, even one workout is better than none at all.

There is a great irony to this post, however. I've stayed home from the gym tonight to sit on the couch and ... you guessed it ... work on my blog.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Special Day

Our precious baby girl is already four months old. Where has the time gone? Before we know it she will be going off to kindergarten, dating boys, getting married, and having babies of her own. (Though not all at the same time, I hope.)

In church this morning we dedicated our sweet little girl to the Lord. Our family and many friends gathered around us. Ben and I are blessed to have all our immediate family living close to us. God has also given us numerous trustworthy, Christian friends. We were so pleased to have the support of our family and friends in this morning's church service.

Ben and I pray every day that our children will grow to love the Lord, and will want to serve Him. We pray that God will help us to be good parents to the little souls He has entrusted to our care. You know, I didn't pray as much as I should have before I became a mother. Now that I have children, I need to pray all the time. Our babies are too precious for me not to lift them up to God every day.

My sweet baby girl, Daddy and I love you very much. You are so special to us ...

I love all of you!
Your eyes, your cheeks,
Your sweet little nose,
Your knees, your feet,
Your stubby pink toes.

I love all of you!
Your dimples, your grin,
Your tummy, your chin,
Your ears, your hair,
Your lips, your skin.

Now, how did we get started?
How did we begin?
Oh, yes, I love all of you --
From beginning to end.

(Poem by Annie Dougherty)

Splash, Crash and All That Jazz

Boom! Boom! Fizz. Crackle crackle, pop. Ka-pow!

Hear that sound? It's the fireworks, don't you know. I'm having a bicentennial celebration in honour of my 200th blog post.

So crack open a bottle of sparkling cider and pull up a chair. If you're reading this post, you've already joined the party!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dealing With Difficult Situations

This has been a crazy-busy day --- pilates, chores, grumpy kiddies, grocery shopping, a birthday bash, and preparing for an onslaught of guests tomorrow. In the middle of it all, I attended a volunteer training session at the YMCA this afternoon.

The session was called "Dealing With Difficult Situations". To tell the truth, I approached the training as an obligation I just had to get through. I wasn't expecting to learn much. In the midst of my hectic day, a volunteer training session was pretty much the last place I wanted to be.

Guess what? I actually did learn something in the meeting. We watched a great little video called The Difficult Guest. I also learned a handy pneumonic I can use when I deal with troublesome people:

L isten
A pologise
S olve
T hank

The goal of customer service is to make the relationship with a guest last. I should make people feel special and cared for. Isn't that the case in all relationships, though? I enjoyed my volunteer training session because I learned skills that I can apply every day. The concepts are transferable to my routine interactions.

In the end, I am glad I attended the meeting at the Y. I nearly skipped out when I learned how busy this weekend would be. Just goes to show, you never know when you'll learn something new.

Friday, October 20, 2006


You know, I've been in a truly foul mood all evening. I've been picking on Ben, nagging my son, grumbling, stewing and playing the martyr. I just feel like ripping somebody's head off.

And I don't really have a good reason for it all.

Would you like to know the irony of the situation? Tonight I put the kids to bed and went grocery shopping. (Great way to spend a Friday night, eh?) I had a long list, and a million chores waiting for me at home, but I couldn't help but get sidetracked in the cheap books aisle.

Would you like to know what book I brought home with my groceries?

I Love You More by Les and Leslie Parrott. The Parrotts are Christian marriage counselors. Their book purports to help couples "turn (their) marriage's prickly issues into opportunities to love each other more..."

(Arrg! I think Ben is intentionally pushing my buttons now. He knows I'm trying to get my blog finished before bed time, so he's decided to watch annoying podcasts right beside me.)

I need to go to sleep. And read my Bible. At least the Apostle Paul understands my struggle. Oh yeah, and I suppose God does too.

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing."
(Romans 7:18-19)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Meal Planning (4)
Breakfast, Lunch and Snacktime

Supper is definitely the most labour-intensive meal of the day. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are easy to plan and prepare.

In our home, I usually serve cold cereal and fruit for breakfast. My kids love Honey Nut Cheerios at the moment. The also enjoy Fibre 1 cereal, surprisingly enough. I try to avoid overly sugary cereals. Too much sugar for breakfast practically guarantees a meltdown before lunch!

My boys also like toast with jam or peanutbutter, scrambled eggs, "toads in the hole", pancakes, cream of wheat porridge, and Red River hot cereal. Most of the time I serve calcium-enriched orange juice to drink, along with fresh fruit such as bananas or grapes.

We often have sandwiches for lunch. My kids favourites include peanutbutter and honey, tuna fish, or ham with cheese and cucumber on brown bread. I like to make homemade bread in my bread machine, but I mostly cave in to buying whole wheat Wonderbread at the supermarket. We also frequently eat leftovers from the previous day's supper for lunch.

Snacktime hits at four o'clock every afternoon. If I don't get a snack into my kids they are usually grumpy and ill-mannered by five o'clock. I always try to feed my children some fruit at snacktime. We avoid sugary, empty foods. Here's a selection of my favourite snack choices:

Apple slices with peanutbutter
Orange wedges
Canned peaches or pears
Melon chunks
Homemade muffins
Homemade banana bread
Fruit strips
Dried cranberries or raisins
Arrowroot biscuits
Teddy graham cookies
Crackers and cheese

My mom recently gave me a very handy gadget from The Pampered Chef. It is an apple corer and slicer. This little tool cuts up an apple in two seconds flat. I love it! My boys and I have been eating plenty of apples this week.
Meal Planning (3)

I tend to plan four or five supper menus each week. We usually have leftovers for a couple of nights, and will eat at our parents' or out at a restaurant.

I used to feel guilty if I did not cook a delicious meal "from scratch" every evening for supper. I've learned that it is okay to have convenience foods every now and then. I keep frozen pizza and chicken nuggets in the freezer for nights when it is difficult to cook. Convenience food are more expensive, but they still cost less than eating out. In fact, it is easier to pop a frozen pizza in the oven than to load up all the kids and go somewhere like Wendy's.

When I plan menus I also try to "reinvent" the leftovers from one meal as something else. For example, when we have roasted chicken I can use the bones and leftover meat to make yummy homemade soup for later in the week. If I'm really on the ball, I could cook two chickens and freeze the extra meat or use it in casseroles.

Here's a sample of my menus for the coming week:

1. Pot roast
Mashed potatoes
Peas and carrots
Green beans

2. Shepherd's pie
Steamed cauliflower

3. Cheesy tuna casserole

4. Chili with beans
Cornmeal muffins
Mixed green salad

5. Pork chops in mushroom sauce
Brown rice
Mixed green salad

Meal Planning (2)

French bean casserole was an unexpected hit when I served it to my family last week. It is incredibly easy to prepare. I like this casserole because it reminds me of homey 1950s comfort food.

French Beans Amandine

2, 398mL cans french beans
1, 284mL can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 tbsp. slivered almonds

Put drained beans in a 1.5L casserole dish. Spoon soup over top. Lift lightly with a fork to mix. Smooth top. Sprinkle almonds over top. Cover. Heat in 350F oven for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Use more almonds throughout if you like. Serves 6 to 8.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Meal Planning

I've been working on building up my repertoire of easy meals. My goal is to have several weeks worth of menus planned out. This makes my grocery shopping much easier. It also helps to know in advance what we are having for supper every evening. It makes the "crazy hour" of five o'clock more manageable!

Here is my menu for the last week. Most meals will stretch for two days in our family, or will make enough if we have unexpected guests for supper.

1. Roasted chicken
Mashed potatoes
French bean casserole

2. Chicken and rice soup
Homemade bread

3. Beef stew
Cucumber and tomato salad

4. Chicken and Broccoli Divan
Brown rice
Mixed green salad

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Automatic Millionaire

Ben likes to read books about business and financial planning. I prefer to read about homemaking and family management. Our marriage is good because we each have different areas of expertise and responsibility, and we are learning to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses.

In terms of finances, this year Ben and I have made it a goal to build up our savings accounts. We would like to have a comfortable buffer of savings. Our financial planner suggests we save enough to cover three months of living expenses. Because Ben is self-employed, this makes a great deal of sense. His business has been doing very well lately, but if our savings account is healthy we do not have to worry when a slow month comes along. (And they always do.)

Ben and I have discovered a (well-known) secret for achieving our financial goals: we set up automatic withdrawals from our chequing account into savings. We opened a high-interest savings account and every week we transfer some funds. We pay ourselves, just like we would pay any other bill. It is amazing how quickly the savings can add up!

We like the automatic withdrawals because we don't have to think about them. The money comes out and we hardly miss it. If money is sitting in our chequing account we will spend it. The automatic withdrawals force us to be disciplined.

We also have started the habit of depositing any "extra" money into our savings account --- money we receive for gifts or unexpected tax credits. We figure those "extra" funds were never included in our budget anyway, so we won't miss them if they go into savings.

It's kind of fun to watch our small nest egg grow. A little bit here, a little bit there. Now that we have some momentum going, it is easier to envision our financial goals becoming a reality. Maybe some day our tiny nest egg hatch a giant dinosaur!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Last week we bought Larryboy and the Bad Apple for our children. The movie teaches kids about fleeing temptation. At one point, Larryboy overindulges in chocolate and suffers from a "sugar crash and a bellyache". His faithful butler, Alfred, offers Larryboy these sage words: "With great chocolate comes great responsibility."

Our kids must have watched Larryboy and the Bad Apple about eight times in the van on our trip to Saskatchewan last weekend.

On Wednesday night last week I served a special treat for dessert ... chocolate pudding. My preschooler dug into his bowl of pudding with great relish. He suddenly paused, his spoon poised in mid-air, and looked at me with solemn eyes.

"Mommy," he said, "This is a big bowl of responsibility."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Soft and Cozy

I love soft and cozy quilts and blankets. Nothing is better than snuggling down under a warm blanket on a cold winter night. And homemade quilts and blankets are even more special.

I'm continuing to work on my first major knitting project --- a textured afghan for our couch. The going is slow, but I believe that's kind of the point of knitting. I very much enjoy sitting down for an hour in the evening work with the yarn. So far I have completed one and a half squares of my afghan. I figure I'll do well to finish the project by spring!

On a related note, tonight I bought a very cute quilt for my daughter's bed. (Yes, she is just a baby and still sleeps in her crib. My sons will be getting bunk beds for Christmas, so my eldest's twin bed will reside in Baby Girl's room. She'll stay in her crib until she's big enough for the bed.) I had in mind to find a homey-looking quilt to match her Noah's Ark wallpaper border. I wasn't intentionally looking, but today I spotted the perfect quilt on sale at Quilts Etc. I am so pleased!

The quilt is a log cabin pattern with flowers around the border. Its colours are dusty pinks, blues, purples and greens. It came with a matching pillow sham as well. The comforter and sham were on sale for $39, and the store had about a dozen other designs to choose from. I am tempted to go back and buy another quilt for our own bed. (The queen-sized quilts were also only $39.) We are planning to decorate our master bedroom in a "contemporary urban cowboy" type of look, and a new quilt would suit it wonderfully.

This is the afghan I'm making...

Friday, October 13, 2006


Our family made it through the week. Neither I nor the children have been felled by Ben's vicious stomach flu. For this I am supremely grateful. I've been walking on eggshells for the past four days, waiting and praying, hoping that the kids and I would stay well. I've scoured the bathroom several times, and washed all the sheets and towels in bleach. I (hope) I can safely say that we are now in the clear.

This week I've often asked myself, "Am I worrying too much about this? Am I being germaphobic?" I would like to think that all my praying and cleaning is simply prudent. After all, I am a mom of three young children. It is the beginning of cold / flu season, and I would like my kids to be as healthy as possible. I understand that some germs are practically unavoidable. However, I aim to protect my family from as many nasties as humanly possible.

I bought a handy little product called Purell Hand Sanitizer Moisture Therapy. I like it because it smells nice and is packaged in a spill-proof tube. I keep a tube in my diaper bag. This lotion is great for times when I'm out with the children and can't wash hands with soap and water.

This evening I was glad to have my little bottle of hand sanitizer with me. Our family went to a birthday at a "hampster land" play place. It was pure preschooler pandemonium, let me tell you. One little girl peed her pants at the top of the slide. A toddler made a game of putting gooey half-eaten nacho chips back in the bowl. The birthday boy threw up all over the floor.

My boys were gleefully oblivious to these disgusting occurrences. They had a blast and played in the hampster tubes non-stop for two hours. Occasionally, one of the boys would stop to grab a few bites of pizza or cake. I cringed every time their grubby hands came near their mouths. Ugg.

My kids were forced to endure several trips to the bathroom to wash their hands. I was forced to endure the scorn of my dear husband. "Don't you think your overreacting, just a little, honey?" he gently scolded. Nope. I scrubbed the boys' hands with sanitizing lotion once we were safely back at our van.

And you can bet our kids had a thorough bath when we got home. I sure won't let those nasty germs get the upper hand in our family!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Book Shelf

With the return of cool fall weather, I find myself longing to curl up under a warm blanket with a thick novel every evening. (I think my husband is jealous.) Okay, okay. If I am honest, I like to get into a good book any day of the year. Sadly, I don't have nearly as much time to read as I would like. I suppose I must settle for stolen moments here and there...

Today I finally finished Grace in Thine Eyes by Liz Curtis Higgs. It was a thoroughly satisfying read, as all her books are. Be sure to read the first three books in her Scottish historical series before tackling this one. Grace in Thine Eyes is based on the Biblical account of Dinah and the Shechemites (Genesis 34).

I'm now torn between starting two novels: Yann Martel's The Life of Pi and Angela Hunt's Magdalene. I'll likely end up reading both at the same time, depending on my mood. (I must confess that I am already taken with Pi, and I've only just read the author's notes).

I have several other titles on hold at the library. They all must be popular reads. I am number 268 in the queue for one of the books! Here's a list of the novels I am anxiously waiting for:

Found, Karen Kingsbury
Divine, Karen Kingsbury
Even Now, Karen Kingsbury
The Birth House, Ami McKay
Baby Proof, Emily Griffin

(You know, I really must be a geek. I have the bar code on the back of my library card memorized because I log onto the CPL website so often.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pumpkin Crunch

I received this recipe through the "Living on a Dime" e-newsletter. I thought it looked yummy and saved it on my computer. Coincidentally, my aunt made the same pumpkin cake for dessert this past weekend. Her version of the recipe turned out great.

This recipe seems easy to make, and it tastes delicious. It is a terrific substitute for traditional pumpkin pie.

1 package yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) solid pack pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup nuts
1 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 350°F. Mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 9"x13" pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Then sprinkle with nuts. Drizzle with butter. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, served chilled.

Serve with whipped topping.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Thankful to Be Home

We arrived home from Assiniboia last night. Our family had a great trip. The kids were terrific, we had a nice time visiting my relatives, and we enjoyed lots of good food. I was somewhat apprehensive about the seven-hour drive to Saskatchewan, but our kids were amazing in the car ---- until the last hour of the drive home yesterday.

Unfortunately, we brought home some unwelcome guests ---- stomach bugs. My cousins came down with the flu while we were visiting with them. My husband started feeling sick on the way home last night. Normally, Ben will always drive on long road trips. You have to know he was feeling rotten when he asked me to drive from Medicine Hat to Calgary.

I don't mind driving, but I have awful night vision. (To tell the truth, my vision is not stellar at the best of times.) I drove west, straight into the setting sun, through dusk and into the night.

Our children had been angels the entire trip, but they finally decided they were tired and bored when we hit Brooks. Baby Girl started screaming, my toddler cried, and our preschooler began to whine. My husband was curled up in the passenger seat, valiantly trying to hold out for the bathroom.

I gripped the steering wheel and prayed all the while. I could barely see the road. I was terrified of a deer jumping out of the ditch. (We'd seen dozens on our drive out.) I have never been so thankful to pull safely into our driveway!

Ben was sick all through the night. Poor guy. He hardly ever gets stomach bugs. Thankfully, the children all seem fine at this point. I've been scrubbing the bathroom with bleach, and have done endless loads of laundry all day. I'm hyper-vigilant about washing hands with soap. I figure that if no one else gets sick tonight, we should be in the clear.

But I have to admit ... over the last hour I've grown increasingly nauseous. I pray that I'm not getting sick. It's not so much that I dread throwing up (a night of vomiting kind of pales in comparison to three months of morning sickness). But if I get sick then the germs will continue to live in our house. There will be a greater chance of the kids getting sick too. I really don't want that to happen.

We'll wait and see, I guess. It's silly, but this evening I've been hurrying to finish all my jobs --- folding the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, watering my plants. If I'm to be out of commission for a couple of days, at least the house will be in order. This evening I even ran out to Sobeys and bought a big tub of Clorox wipes (for me), and Imodium and soda crackers (for Ben).

I'm praying that we'll all be fine. At least Ben is feeling much better now. And you know, I am thankful that our family is healthy (for the most part!). If the occasional stomach bug is all we have to deal with, we're doing okay.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Tomorrow morning our family is off to Saskatchewan for the Thanksgiving long weekend. We'll be visiting my extended family --- grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles.

I will be away from an internet connection for the next four days. I always feel a bit naked without easy access to the web. Ten years ago I didn't even know how to use e-mail. Isn't it amazing how technology infiltrates our daily lives?

I hope you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving :-).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What Would You Do?

This evening I made a quick trip to Superstore. Because Ben has moved his office out of the house, I can't use our van to go shopping during the day. I've decided to try shopping in the evening after the kids are in bed. It is easier to get groceries without three little ones in tow.

Tonight I only had a few items to pick up at the store. I found a fleecy snowsuit for my baby, some milk, cereal, juice and crackers. I was looking for celery in the produce section when a young man approached me.

He was probably about twenty and, I have to admit, pretty cute. My first thought was, "He must be one of Matt's friends." (Matt is my brother-in-law). Why else would a cute young guy want to talk to me in Superstore?

(Then things got really awkward.)

"Hi!" he said, "Me and my buddy have a little bet going ..."

"Ummm, yes," I stammered, grasping the true situation. I'm sure I turned a million shades of red.

"Yeah, well, we need a female opinion. Who do you think lies more, men or women?"

I was totally tongue-tied. I frantically searched for a witty comeback, but all I could think was, "Do you know who you're talking to? I have a husband and THREE children waiting for me at home. I can't believe this is happening!"

I'm afraid the best response I could muster was, "I suppose I would choose men."

"Ah, come on," he egged me, "Men can't be that bad. We're not all liars."

"True enough," I thought, "But here you are feeding me cheesy lines. How much can I trust you?"

I finally gave up on playing the game and said, "Look, I don't know what the answer is. Maybe you will just have to ask my husband."

Now it was the guy's turn to feel flustered.

"Well, gee, it was only a question, " he huffed, and he beat a hasty retreat.

I breathed out a HUGE sigh of relief and turned back to my celery. When was the last time I had a guy hit on me? It's been a very, very looooooong time.

(I have to admit, it kind of gave my post-pregnancy, sleep-deprived, preschooler-chasing, wiping-spit-up-off-the-floor ego a nice little boost!)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Feelin' Crafty

Last night I had the opportunity to spend an hour browsing through Michaels. My baby daughter came with me and we had "girl time" together. I slowly pushed her stroller up and down every single aisle in the store, ooohing and aaahing over the cool crafting supplies. (Yes, I know I'm a geek. I'm okay with that.)

I bought yarn for my newest knitting project --- an afghan for our couch. The afghan is quite simple, and I love the design because it is a grid. I can't wait to get started on it.

I also found a neat product called Royal E-Z Rub-On Transfers. They are basically stickers, but more permanent. I have a white ceramic jug in my kitchen that I use to store cooking utensils. I bought a sheet of flower transfers, and I used some of them to decorate the jug. It turned out great! The rub-on transfers look quite professional, and I think they would be wonderful for scrapbooking.

Baby Girl and I had a fantastic time browsing through Michaels yesterday. (My husband calls Michaels the Home Depot for girls.) It felt good to get out of the house and enjoy some "me time". I think Baby Girl enjoyed herself too. She cooed and smiled the entire time we were in the store. That's my girl!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Point / Counterpoint

I have been taking counterpoint classes in music for a month now. These classes are a requirement for my ARCT diploma in piano. My goal is to take my Grade 4 Counterpoint exam in May (if I can be ready in time).

The thing is, I'm learning that I have a lot to learn. It has been ten years since I took my last music theory class. Though I have a solid foundational knowledge of theory, I have forgotten the more advanced principals of music harmony. This is a problem! I understand intuitively how to complete my counterpoint exercises (I know what sounds and looks right) but I don't comprehend why I should do things a certain way. I need to review the basics.

My teacher is a real mover --- she likes to press forward and cover a ton of material each class. I need to slow her down! I understand what she is teaching, but she's going too fast! This week I decided not to do the exercises she assigned to me. Instead, I am reviewing music harmony. It makes no sense for me to learn new material if I don't remember the foundational theory on which it is based.

So for the rest of tonight I will be slogging through my harmony workbook. Hopefully, my rusty brain will remember some of this stuff!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Run, Run, Run!
(All for a Good Cause)

A couple months ago a catchy pink brochure caught my eye at the gym. It boldly asked "Who are you running for?". The leaflet contained a registration form for the CIBC Run for the Cure. I took one of the brochures, put it in my pocket, and called my mom and sister the next day.

Today we participated in the 5km run / walk, along with an estimated 5,000 other runners and walkers. Baby Girl came too, snuggly swaddled in her stroller. It was a neat way for the women (and future women) of our family to support a worthy cause.

The weather was horrible --- rain and cold wind. Everyone was soaked to the skin, except for Baby safely sheltered under her plastic rain cover. Many of the race participants wore crazy pink costumes and wigs. Several houses along the route were decorated to display their support.

Highlights included the "Pink Teddy Bear's Picnic" house, and the evergreen trees sporting gigantic pink brassieres. The men's team with t-shirts proclaiming "We Love Breasts" was also hilarious. Maybe the best part of all was the female bonding time with my mom, sister and daughter. :-)

So, who was I running for? I walked for the memory of my Grandma Cristo, who lost her battle with cancer five years ago. Also, for my Auntie Lorna who bravely fought and is winning.

Several times every day I sit down and breastfeed my baby girl. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to lose my breasts to cancer, and the thought almost reduces me to tears. I pray that I, and the women in my family, will never have to live through such a tragedy.