Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Humble Semi-Colon

In continuing with the theme of life-long learning...

I have another educational goal to share. This year I would like to improve my grammar. In particular, I want to learn to use semi-colons properly.

It's a lofty goal, I know; but until now I hadn't figured out what semi-colons were for. I found them somewhat intimidating, to tell the truth.

A quick Wikipedia search reveals the following helpful information:

In English, the semicolon has two main purposes:

1. It binds two sentences more closely than they would be if separated by a full stop/period. It often replaces a conjunction such as and or but. Writers might consider this appropriate where they are trying to indicate a close relationship between two sentences, or a 'run-on' in meaning from one to the next; they do not want the connection to be broken by the abrupt use of a full stop.

2. It is used as a stronger division than a comma, or a "super comma" to make meaning clear in a sentence where commas are already being used for other purposes. A common example of this use is to separate the items of a list when some of the items themselves contain commas.

There are several rules that govern semicolon placement:

1. Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction: "I went to the pool; it was closed."

2. Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional phrase or conjunctive adverb: "I like to ride horses; however, they don't like to be ridden by me."

3. Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation: "There are several Waffle Houses in Atlanta, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; Pensacola, Florida; and Mobile, Alabama."

I suppose semi-colons aren't so intimidating after all. They are really quite useful. Hooray for grammar.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

If at First You Don't Succeed ...

"Well, I wouldn't say that is the best choice," my music teacher diplomatically stated.

I sat on the wooden piano bench, shoulders haunched. I had been on my feet all day, cooking food, cleaning the house and chasing after three active children. It was nearly 10pm and I was in no mood to analyse fugues or write introvertible counterpoint.

"What would you suggest?" I quietly asked as I reached for my well-loved eraser.

My teacher paused. "You know," she said, "In Russia my teachers often used the following phrase..." She rattled off a sentence in Russian, "It means something like this: 'You must learn from your mistakes'."

I sighed and stared at my music homework. The page was a mess of scribbles, eraser smudges and chicken scratch. For someone who claimed to be a piano teacher, my understanding of harmony and counterpoint was depressingly meager. I removed my glasses and rubbed the bridge of my nose.

"Okay," I said, "Let's start again at the beginning..."


My music lessons this year have been a humbling experience, to say the least. Every Tuesday night I steel myself for an onslaught of (honest) criticism. I can't remember the last time I have felt so academically inept. Has bearing children caused my brain to turn to jello? Some days I wonder.

This year God has been teaching me an important truth: A wise woman learns from her mistakes. As well, a humble woman can admit she doesn't know everything and is willing to learn and grow. God is working on my pride. Ouch!

In the past, I was often afraid to try new things because I was scared to fail. I am now learning that I don't need to be perfect. I can try and fail, learn from my mistakes, and try again. Learning is a process. Whether I am making a pie or writing a fugue, I must swallow my pride and be willing to mess up a few times. What's the worst that could happen?

I sit here tonight nursing my bruised pride once again. Why do I even bother taking music lessons? God is molding and stretching me. I'll likely not use seventeenth century counterpoint for any practical purposes. The life-lessons I am learning, however, are priceless.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Silly Kids

Life with three small children is anything but boring...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Book Series Review

Annie's People
by Beverly Lewis

For a number of years I have enjoyed reading Beverly Lewis' novels. Her stories generally focus on Amish characters and are set in Pennsylvania. Lewis' latest series, Annie's People, consists of three volumes: The Preacher's Daughter, The Englisher and The Brethren.

Annie Zook is an Amish preacher's daughter caught between two worlds. God has gifted her with a talent for drawing and painting. However, her Old Order church forbids its members from creating fine art. She is torn between her love for art and loyalty to her family and community.

Beverly Lewis' novels are genuine and believable. Her attention to realistic detail makes the stories come alive. I especially like her vivid descriptions of authentic Amish cuisine. In fact, Beverly has also compiled a cookbook of Amish recipes. I was curious, so last week I also borrowed Beverly Lewis' Amish Heritage Cookbook from the library. Now I can make my own shoofly pie, if I'm ever so motivated.

After a busy day, Beverly Lewis' novels are a welcome diversion. Her characters are interesting and the stories take place in beautiful settings. The Annie's People series is a satisfying, relaxing read.

Word of the Day (Part 2)

I think my son may be reading the dictionary on the sly (thought I'm not sure when he learned to read...). This morning he used the following word:

Duplicitous: (adj.) given to or marked by deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech.

Granted, he didn't use the word in the correct context, but we're amazed he even knew how to pronounce it.

"Daddy, did you know taxes are duplicitous?"

Friday, January 26, 2007

Word of the Day

My four-year-old son has a new favourite word: sleek.

"Look at my sleek spaceship, Mommy!"

"Isn't this robot sleek?"

I'm not sure where he picked it up. That boy has ears like sponges.

Sleek: (adj.) trim and graceful; finely contoured; streamlined

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Little Boys

I love how my boys are young and innocent. They've been sheltered and protected, I think even more so than most kids their ages. As they should be! My oldest boy is only four years old. He has plenty of time ahead of him for growing up. I think he should spend his days playing, being silly, and enjoying his boyhood.

Every day at lunch time I put on a DVD for the kids. For the past two weeks my boys have begged to watch the same video --- Elmo's World. I must say, I am getting pretty sick of that furry, red monster. But I'll keep playing Elmo's World as long as my boys request it for two reasons:

1. The boys agree on the movie and they enjoy watching it.

2. Elmo's World is not cool for most four-year-olds, but my oldest son doesn't care. Last week a five-year-old buddy came over to play. My boys asked to watch Elmo's World. The friend proclaimed, "That video is for babies!" but my sons didn't care one bit. In fact, my oldest boy gave his friend a look that said, "What are you talking about? Elmo is totally cool!"

Children stay little for such a short time. I don't plan to rush my boys' preschool years. They will grow up soon enough!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I signed up for my own (free) BookCrossing account and bought a (not-so free) "Book Release Kit". Check out my bookshelf here. (My BookCrossing secret identity is ink-spot79.)

Some BookCrossing quick facts:

  • More than 35,000 BookCrossing members live in Canada
  • Alberta boasts over 4,000 members
  • About 1,500 BookCrossing members live in Calgary!
  • Hunting for "released" books can become a serious hobby. The BookCrossing website is updated with new releases every 20 minutes.
Freed any good books lately?
Commit random acts of literacy!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This Book's Got Legs!

I found a great idea for bibliophiles (like me!). I'm going to give BookCrossing a try. What's is all about?

1. Read a good book.

2. Register the book at, and label it with an ID number and instructions.

3. Release the book "into the wild" for someone else to find. (Give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, "forget" it in a coffee shop.)

4. The book's finder can log onto and complete a journal entry on the book, then release the book again!

5. Every time someone records a journal entry on your book you will receive notification via email. You might be lucky enough to track your book around the world!

In 2004, the term BookCrossing was added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary --- n: the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

What a fun way to share terrific books!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Junior Kindergarten

Our big boy is officially a junior kindergartener! Today I secured one of the last spots for September's class. I am excited about the prospect. My son, however, is quite ambivalent about the whole thing ...
Buying Organic

I am slowly working at incorporating more organic and locally-produced foods into our diet. Buying organic food can be expensive, and I think it is probably more cost-effective to buy directly from farmers. I have been searching for a good place to buy organic meat, in particular. Last night my friend recommended a great place where I can purchase organic chicken.

Country Lane Farms is located near Strathmore. They accept orders for organic chicken, beef and fresh fish online. Country Lane brings the orders into Calgary on scheduled dates at specific times, and one of the drop-off locations is our very own church parking lot. (Why did I not learn this sooner?!). They also deliver to the Southcentre Mall parking lot.

Another good website I've found is Slow Food Calgary. This site has a list of many local producers, and many of them raise organic foods.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"More Pancakes, Mommy!"

I learned three things at breakfast time this morning:

1. Pancake batter is easier to mix in a blender than by hand. It's less messy too.

2. Silicone spatulas are not indestructible. I should have known better than to let mine touch the whirling blender blades. (I hope my husband remembers that "nothing says 'I love you' like a new spatula".)

3. Small, hungry boys are capable of eating their own body weight in pancakes, if given the chance. My two-year-old consumed five. The four-year-old ate six.

Mom's Buttermilk Pancakes
(from Dining On a Dime, p. 48)

2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. sugar
2 C. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 C. flour

In a bowl, mix first three ingredients. Stir soda into buttermilk in a measuring cup. Add to bowl. Lightly stir in baking powder and flour, just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Mixture will be thick and lumpy. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat and lightly grease. Cook on a hot greased griddle. Flip when bubbles break on surface and the edges begin to dry. Makes 18-20 medium pancakes.

(Notes: I substitute whole wheat flour for white. Instead of real buttermilk I mixed 8 tbsp. powdered milk, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and enough water to make 2 cups.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Our Big Girl

Baby Girl is already seven months old. She can nearly sit up on her own and likes to eat many different types of food. She enjoys rice cereal, barley cereal, bananas, apple sauce, apricots, sweet potatoes and carrots. This morning our girl even tried to eat a few (soggy) cheerios. Before we know it she will be toddling around, chasing after her big brothers!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gobble, Gobble

"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"
(Ebenzer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol)


A hush fell over the crowded auditorium. The house lights dimmed and the stage was illuminated by dazzling spotlights. A small, Oriental man strode across the platform. He was greeted by a warm round of applause.

"And now we bring you the highlight of our evening!" the man announced, "A new sport for your viewing pleasure!" With a sweeping gesture, the man pulled aside a heavy red curtain.

A tall, geeky man wearing shin pads and a helmet ran across the stage. The audience clapped and cheered. The man paused and assumed a ready position, preparing to kick what appeared to be a large, round, white ball.

No, wait. The audience gasped in surprise. The object rolling across the stage was not like any ball they had ever seen before.

It had a beak. Two orange feet ... And feathers.

In fact, the "ball" looked suspiciously like a turkey. (Perhaps a turkey that had swallowed a beach ball.)

The athlete ran towards the ball, drew back his foot, and gave the turkey a mighty kick.

"Squawk!!" bellowed the bird ball as it sailed through the air.

"Wait!" screamed an angry member of the audience, "Can't you see this is wrong?! This is animal cruelty! You can't just genetically engineer animals to suit your fancy. Turkeys were not meant to look like beach balls!"

The crowd murmured its agreement as the scene faded to black ...


(Note to self: Just say no to pb&j sandwiches before bed.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Quick Tip

I gleaned this tidbit from my Dining On a Dime cookbook. It works very well!

Wrap your celery securely in aluminum foil before you put it in the crisper of the fridge. The celery will last a long time without becoming pale and limp.

My School Kid

Yesterday morning my son and I paid an impromptu visit to his new preschool I wanted to pick up a registration form, and I had hoped we might take a look around. My big boy was terribly excited to visit the school.

Ben and I would like to register our son for junior kindergarten this September. The junior kindergarten program runs five afternoons per week, from 1:30pm to 3:30pm. The class is geared towards four-year-olds ---- kids who are a bit too big for preschool, but not yet ready for kindergarten. The program focuses on pre-reading skills, an introduction to phonics, listening skills, play time, story time, and lots of crafts. The kids also spend some time working on computers.

The junior kindergarten class is very small. There are 20 children to two teachers. Early registration has already started, but we will not be allowed to register our son until Jan. 22. Three spots are still open in the class. On the registration day I plan to arrive at least half an hour early, and hopefully we will secure one of those last three seats! If not, we'll register our son in the three-day-per-week preschool program and put his name on the waiting list for junior kindergarten.

I was very impressed with the school when we toured it yesterday. The director was a kind, caring woman. She made a point of showing my son every classroom, and even let him play with some of the toys. The school has four large, bright classrooms, offices, and a computer lab for the children. We even toured the washrooms and the storage closet!

After reading all the resource material, browsing the web site, touring the school, and meeting the director and several teachers, I feel confident that our son will do well at this preschool. Our family will embark on a new season this September. I can hardly believe my little man will soon be a school kid!

Monday, January 15, 2007

What's in a Name?

I received a package in the mail today. It was my free "Bite Into Books" selection. (Another cereal box prize!)

Do you know what the return address was on the envelope?

1655 Inkster Boulevard
Winnipeg, MB
R2X 2W7

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Everyday Wisdom

Perhaps my son should start a career writing fortune cookie messages. This evening my four-year-old imparted the following sage words:

"Wet or dry, any soap is ordinary."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Girly" Toys

"I want my Lego!!" our preschooler wailed from the backseat, "You forgot my Lego at home!"

"Whoa, calm down, dude," my husband called over his shoulder. He kept his eyes on the road as he carefully pulled our van into traffic.

"But you said I could bring my Lego to Grammy and Grandpa's," our son sobbed.

"Nooooo. I don't remember agreeing to that," Ben replied, "I think you said you were bringing your Lego, Buddy."

I turned slightly in my seat and joined the conversation. "Besides," I added, "Auntie V. has Lego you could play with. She has that girl Lego."

"I can't play with girl Lego!" our son protested, "It's too girly!!" He burst into a fresh flood of tears.

Ben and I glanced at one another, sighed, and continued the short trip to grandma and grandpa's.

As we pulled into the driveway, our son sniffled and dried his tears. He bounded out of the van and ran to the front door. Once inside, he threw off his coat and boots. Our boy scurried downstairs and quickly immersed himself in his grandma and grandpa's play room. Surrounded by cool toys, he rapidly forgot his Lego-induced tantrum.

A few minutes later our son emerged from the play room, smiling and content. Apparently, he had found an interesting new toy to occupy his attention...

Our little boy clutched a dainty baby doll in one hand and a small pink brush in the other. He lovingly brushed the doll's long, blonde hair.

My husband cleared his throat, "Glad to see you found a toy that wasn't too girly, Son."

Our preschooler laughed, hugged his doll, and happily ran downstairs to play.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Best Deal

I think most women like to go shopping, and many ladies enjoy snagging great deals. I have several friends who love searching for sales. They spend hours leafing through flyers, driving from one store to another, comparing and contrasting various products. I like shopping, too, but I don't have the time and energy to search through many stores. Instead, I have decided to try an idea I read about.

I am going to start a master spreadsheet. It will have columns for entries such as: product, brand name, size, price, unit price, store, and date. Every time I find a great deal on an item I use often (like laundry soap or mushroom soup) I will enter it into my spreadsheet. My theory is this --- some products are cheaper in some stores, but no one store sells every product I need at the best price. I'll save money in the long run if I buy large quantities of items when they are on sale, even if I must drive to two or three stores to find them.

For example, this week Sobeys had a great sale advertised in their flyer. They were selling frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4kg) for $27.95. That is about 25% off the regular price. I would not choose to buy all my groceries at Sobeys because their prices are usually quite high, but I made a special trip to the store simply to pick up some chicken breasts. They were all sold out, but I asked for a rain cheque at the customer service desk. Now, I can keep the chicken in my deep freeze, and I'll enter all the sale information into my spreadsheet.

Most stores advertise terrific deals in their flyers. These are called "loss leaders" because the stores don't make much (if any) profit on them. If I'm smart and disciplined, I can stock up on only the sale items. Of course, the stores try to lure me in with the loss leaders, hoping I will spend money on other things too. As I build my spreadsheet, I can compare the best prices for products I use all the time and buy larger quantities when they are on sale.

I figure now is a good time to hone my shopping skills, when our family is young. Ben and I are hoping God blesses us with many children, and we know He has called us to be good stewards of our resources. I am learning to find good deals for my family. That's partly what becoming a "Proverbs 31" woman is all about.

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.
She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: "Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!

(Proverbs 31: 10-31, The Message)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mmmm ... Pie!

I have made a New Year's resolution --- I want to learn to make pie. This past weekend my mother-in-law sent me home with six freezer bags full of sliced apples. (She is a woman renowned for her subtlety...) Today I finally gathered my courage and decided to take the plunge.

I found an online pie-making tutorial on a website called Future Christian Homemakers. (Scroll down the page to find the Nov/Dec letter.) The instructions are incredibly detailed and easy for a newbie pie-maker to follow.

My first apple pie turned out great! I finished this pie with a crumb topping, but I think next time I will try to make a double crust. My husband is very pleased with my latest culinary venture. As he finished his dessert tonight he declared:

"This pie heralds a new era for our marriage!"

Indeed ... I think I'll be needing to bake more pies.

(The boys seem to have enjoyed the pie as well.)
Preschool Antics

My four-year-old is going through a "sensitive" stage this week. He needs lots of love, hugs, snuggles and affirmation. He has been testing his boundaries, but he's been so cute about it! I find it hard to get angry with him. I try to be lovingly firm with my son but inside I am often suppressing gales of laughter. Who needs TV? Children provide much better entertainment!


As I buckled my preschooler into his car seat yesterday he rattled off the following rhyme. (I assume he made it up himself. I take no credit for teaching him the language.)

"Winter is cold, summer is hot ... and d**n is a bad word, Mommy."


Today I spent several hours working in the kitchen. With my little boy's help I put supper in the crock pot, started a loaf of bread, and baked an apple pie. Midway through the afternoon I heard Baby Girl wake from her nap, so I hurried upstairs and left my son in the kitchen alone. (He often plays downstairs on his own.)

When I returned to the kitchen my boy was nowhere in sight. I looked in the bathroom and behind the couch. I finally found him hidden under our small table in the living room ... clutching an open bag of chocolate chips. He had stolen the chocolate from my baking cupboard while I was busy upstairs! My son was so embarrassed when I discovered his misdeed, he hid under his blankie and wouldn't come out.


How else do I know my son is going through a sensitive stage?

Yesterday he borrowed the DVD Toy Story 2 from the library. We viewed part of the video today at lunch time. My little boy watched most of the movie out of the corner of his eye as he peeked around the edge of his sandwich. Who knew Woody and Buzz could be so fearsome? (My son also thinks Franklin the turtle, one of the most innocuous cartoons out there, is too scary right now.)


My little boy is precious. He is growing so fast, I sometimes wish I could keep him four years old forever. Who knows how much longer I will enjoy snuggling him on my lap, reading Eye Spy and Curious George? His preschool years will be over in a wink.

And every mom needs a good laugh now and then!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Thought for the Day...

I read the following quote today:

"Trying to take back a rumour is like trying to unbutter a slice of bread."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Snuggle Time

Today my four-year-old was feeling cuddly. This morning he wandered upstairs with his tattered, blue "nank" (blankie) tucked under his arm, searching for snuggles. I was busy cleaning the bathroom but I paused to pull him onto my lap for a short hug. (I suspect my little guy will soon grow "too big" to snuggle with his Mommy.)

"I sure love you, Buddy," I whispered into my son's ear.

"I sure love you too, Mommy," he mumbled around the thumb in his mouth. He rested his head against my shoulder.

Suddenly, my boy perked up. "Know what, Mommy?" he proclaimed, "I like to play with Mickey when we go to Grandma's and Grandpa's house!" (Mickey is my parents' cocker spaniel.)

"Oh, really?" I asked.

"Yeah," my preschooler continued, "Except for when he sniffs my nank. Mickey's breath is stinky!"

My son then hopped down and ran off to play, leaving me to ponder his insightful comment.

... I suppose when it comes to sharing tender moments with preschooler, a mom must be willing to take whatever she can get!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Preschool vs. Kindergarten

This topic has been weighing on my mind all week, and I think my son's fourth birthday sparked it all. Our boy is a "January baby". Because of the way the school system is structured in Calgary, we have a choice as to whether he starts kindergarten this fall (2007) or next (2008).

Originally, Ben and I had decided to send our son to kindergarten this year. We submitted an application to a local Christian private school (within walking distance of our house). The school has limited enrollment, and we've been patiently waiting to hear if our little guy has been accepted.

Over the past few weeks I started to doubt my son's readiness for kindergarten, though. He's a very bright boy and has a terrific vocabulary. He communicates clearly. He's great at building things, especially with Lego. Our son makes friends easily and plays well with other kids. However, I do not think he is emotionally mature enough for school. He still throws tantrums and occasionally has trouble following instructions. His drawing and writing skills are behind most four-year-olds. (His pictures are still basically scribbles). I suspect our son is an auditory learner, which might put him at a disadvantage in a traditional classroom.

Ben and I decided to look into alternatives to kindergarten for our little guy. I learned about a "junior kindergarten" program offered at a nearby preschool. (The school is only a few blocks away from our house.) The program runs five afternoons a week, and is geared towards four-year-olds. They work on skills like colouring, printing, learning letters and numbers, and listening to instructions. The classes are small (20 preschoolers to 2 teachers). I think our son could have lots of fun at this school!

I guess enrollment for the junior kindergarten program is quite competitive. The school director warned me that the class could be full before our scheduled registration date (January 22). If the class does fill up, we will try to enroll in the 3-afternoons-a-week program instead. Hopefully we will find a spot in one of the two classes.

I had a long talk with our son today, and he is quite excited about the prospect of attending preschool. He has several friends in preschool this year, and they often tell him how fun it is. He can't wait to go to a "big boy school". Our son seems quite content to delay his kindergarten education for another year. I am glad he is so agreeable to it all!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bed Time Ritual

My husband and I believe in regular household rituals and routines. We think predictable daily patterns help children to feel confident and secure. For example, the bed time routine never changes for our little guys. We always clean up toys, brush teeth, bathe, put on jammies, read a Bible story, pray as a family, and tuck all the kids into bed. Our nightly ritual is always the same.

Well ... almost always the same.

Tonight our eldest son reminded us why we never change the routine. Our four-year-old is a boy who hates change. He loves to eat the same kind of sandwich every day for lunch, to play with the same toys, and to read the same books. Small variations to our son's neatly ordered world tend to throw him off.

Every evening our little boy says exactly the same prayer at bed time. I can quote it verbatim, as I have heard him say it roughly a million times:

"Thank you for God thank you for today thank you for my family too amen."

Tonight, however, our four-year-old decided to be creative. Good for him! His unprompted prayer went something like this:

"Thank you, God, for today. Thank you for my wonderful family ... and thank you for that lamp. Amen."

Prayer time ended and the boys hustled off to bed. Our eldest son climbed the ladder up to his new bunk bed and peeled back the covers.

"Mommy!" he cried, "Where are my sheets!" He burst into tears.

A few days ago I bought two new sheet sets for the boys' bunk beds. Earlier this afternoon I changed their old blue-coloured sheets for fresh, clean beige ones. Apparently, my son was not impressed with his newly laundered bedding.

"I want my old sheets!" he wailed, "You need to change them back! You need to change them right now!"

Change! Ahhhh! I should have known better than to mess with the bed time ritual. Attempting to reason with an over-tired preschooler at bed time is a losing battle. After several frustrating minutes I finally decided to take a sneaky approach.

"I'm sorry buddy," I said in a soothing voice, "I didn't know you wouldn't like your new sheets. I'll make a deal with you ..."

"What is it?" my son asked between sobs.

"Well, your blue sheets are in the washing machine right now. They're all wet and soapy. Why don't you lay your head on your pillow while you wait, and if you're still awake when your sheets are washed and dried, I'll change them for you."

"Okay, Mommy," my son reluctantly agreed. He crawled under his covers and snuggled his blankie.

Weird ... my conversation with our four-year-old happened over an hour ago. I haven't heard a peep from his room since :-).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Precious Hands

The evidence surrounds me: rows of small shoes greet guests at the door, tiny fingerprints adorn the walls, a sticky sippy cup sits abandoned on the table. My house is inhabited by little people, and I am abundantly blessed.

God has entrusted these dear ones to my care for only a short season. Soon, my babies will be grown and gone from under the protection of my wings. I can pray and hold them tight for now, but God is patiently teaching me to let my little ones go ... one small baby step at a time.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Book Review:

Dining on a Dime
by Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper

For the past few months I have received a weekly e-newsletter from Living on a Dime. Tawra and Jills' newsletter is packed with interesting recipes and money-saving tips. Most of them are taken from their book, Dining on a Dime. Just before Christmas I was tempted to place an order online for Dining on a Dime, but I decided to wait until after the holidays.

I'm glad I held off. My sister gave me a copy of the book for Christmas! Lori knows my tastes quite well, so it seems. She wasn't aware I received the Living on a Dime newsletter. She found Dining on a Dime in a bookstore and simply thought I would enjoy it!

I certainly do like my gift. I skimmed through the entire book this week. (Dining on a Dime is a sturdy, coil-bound volume, about two inches thick.) Tawra and Jills' book is filled with practical, economical recipes and advice. They includes classic recipes for family-friendly foods like apple pie, baked beans, pancakes, and chicken casserole. The book also has recipes for unusual things like homemade shake and bake (for chicken), taco seasoning, and homemade graham crackers.

Dining on a Dime is unique, however, because it includes many recipes for "non-food" items. The book has chapters titled "Kids", "Cleaning Cents" and "Pretty for Pennies". I am interested in trying some of the recipes for homemade cleaning products. (I believe they will be much healthier and cheaper than store-bought solutions.) I am also intrigued by the recipes for beauty products such as bath bombs and lip balm.

One of my favourite sections in Dining on a Dime is called "Mixes, Gift Baskets and Jars". I prefer giving homemade gifts, and this chapter has inspired me with dozens of new ideas. Tawra and Jill even include recipes for specialty coffee powder and gourmet hot chocolate!

Dining on a Dime has earned a place on the top of my cookbook pile. I believe it is an excellent, practical resource. I am looking forward to cooking up a storm in the new year, and I intend to use Dining on a Dime as my not-so-secret weapon.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Eleven Years

Today Ben and I celebrated our "other" anniversary. Eleven years ago, on a cold and snowy Wednesday afternoon, Ben asked me to be his girlfriend.

My sweet future husband packed a picnic lunch for us --- heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and juice boxes. We met at the train station and took public transit downtown to the Devonian gardens. Two silly teenagers, we ate our lunch on a quiet bench in the garden and traded nervous smiles.

I thought Ben was the cutest boy in the whole world.

I'll never forget what Ben said that afternoon: "Lindsay, I'm a little scared to ask you this question. The way I see it, our relationship will end up one of two ways --- either it won't work out and we'll break up, or we will eventually end up getting married. Both options make me feel pretty nervous! ... So, will you please be my girlfriend?"

The rest, they say, is history ...

Three years later Ben took me back to the same bench in the Devonian gardens. He knelt down on one knee and gave me a beautiful diamond ring. After another endless year we finally celebrated our wedding. (And three short years later we welcomed our first baby boy!)

Where has the time gone? In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago that we were two silly sixteen-year-olds, falling madly in love with one another. However, it also feels like the years have passed by in a flash. Sitting on that wooden bench, sharing pb&j sandwiches with a cute boy eleven years ago, I could not have imagined the rich life we would share together today.

Ben and I were young when we started dating. In many ways, we grew into adulthood together. We've been a pair for a long time, through some of the most formative years of life. Neither one of us could imagine life without the other. I am blessed to have such a caring, godly, funny, sweet husband. Ben is my best friend in the entire world, and I love him more than I can ever say.

Happy anniversary, Honey. :-)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Big Boy

Yesterday morning I opened the door to my boys' bedroom and tiptoed up to their bunk bed.

"Good morning, Birthday Boy!" I called to my son.

He tunnelled out from under a mound of blankets and sat up in his bed, a big smile on his sleepy face. "Am I a four-year-old now?" he asked.

"Yup! You're such a big boy," I replied.

My son sat up a little straighter. I saw his feet wiggle beneath the bed spread. "Hmmm," he said, "My legs are a bit longer today, don't you think, Mommy?"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Our big boy turned four years old today. Those years flew past. Here's a little walk down memory lane, celebrating our son's very first birthday on Jan. 1, 2003.

Here's a lovely shot of our big boy now. If there's one thing he loves, it is Lego. As you can see, he won't even put down his Lego magazine while answering the call of nature .... Hmmm, I wonder which parent he inherited that habit from?