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!