Saturday, June 30, 2007

Three Tenuously Related Thoughts

Last night I cooked some beets for supper. I usually boil beets in a large pot of water. Since I was strapped for time yesterday, I tried cooking them in the microwave instead.

Perhaps I should have stuck with the tried and true...

The beets boiled over and spewed blood-red juice everywhere. My microwave was the scene of great carnage, mayhem and mass destruction. Too bad I couldn't find any yellow police tape for my kitchen.


This morning I cooked pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes are a favourite with my boys. My eldest son gobbled down seven pancakes, an apricot and a peach. (He's four. He also has two hollow legs, apparently.)

To put that in perspective, my husband only managed to eat five pancakes.


Today Ben's brother and sister-in-law leave for a tropical vacation. Our four-year-old son was very interested in the details of their trip.

"Will Uncle Patrick and Auntie Sarah fly on an airplane?" he asked.

"Yes. They're going far away."

"What the name of the place they're going to?"

"It's called the Dominican Republic."

Our preschooler thought for a moment and then asked:

"Does that republic have a lot of storm troopers?"

Friday, June 29, 2007

Book Review:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility
by Toni Weschler

For several years I have been fascinated by all things having to do with pregnancy, natural childbirth, midwifery, breastfeeding and fertility. A few weeks ago I stumbled across Taking Charge of Your Fertility on the sale table at the library and paid a whopping fifty cents for the book. It was money well spent.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a must-read for any woman interested in practicing natural birth control, achieving pregnancy, or learning about her reproductive health. Like most young women, I learned about cycles, hormones and the female reproductive system in my high school biology class. I felt I held a decent understanding of my body's inner workings. However, I learned a great deal from Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

This book is a comprehensive guide to fertility awareness. Toni Weschler teaches her readers about anatomy, menstrual cycles, how to observe and chart fertility signs, natural birth control, pregnancy achievement and gynecological health. Each chapter is detailed, yet easy to read and understand. Many pictures, charts, diagrams, and even cartoons accompany the text. As well, Taking Charge includes extensive appendixes.

In a nutshell, Toni Weschler teaches women the basics of the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Fertility awareness involves observing and charting three primary signs: basal body temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position. A woman who charts her cycles can gain valuable information about her fertility and reproductive health.

I devoured this book from cover to cover, and even read through all the appendixes. I learned a great deal about my own body and hormonal cycles. Taking Charge of Your Fertility is engaging and informative. This book is an invaluable resource and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Does anyone know what wax cut yellow beans are? I'd love to try them some time.

(Um, yeah. That would be cut yellow wax beans. Right.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


It's going to be a short post tonight. Ben bought me flowers and Haagen Dazs ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Random Cooking Tip #47

Powdered milk works surprisingly well with pudding mixes.

I buy organic milk for our family to drink. Since organic milk is fairly expensive I try to use the powdered kind for cooking and baking. Every so often I'll make a quick batch of instant pudding for a dessert treat, and I've started adding powdered milk and water to the mix. The pudding turns out very well --- thick and creamy.

I use 1/2 cup of powdered skim milk and add enough cold water to make 2 cups. Pudding powder, two minutes with a hand mixer, and voila! Our family can enjoy a yummy, nutritious treat.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
June 25, 2007

I've been out of the Menu Plan Monday loop for the past few weeks (much to my own detriment, I might add). It's time to hop back on the bandwagon! I am looking forward to the upcoming week as it is shaping up to be routine, boring and uneventful. I need a week of mediocrity, I think. Our family is especially looking forward to the holiday long weekend!

Here is my proposed meal plan. Special thanks to Laura for the first recipe. (It looked so easy and delicious on her menu, I decided to scoop it for my own.) Please visit the Mr. Linky on Laura's site, Org Junkie, to find many great meal plans and recipes.

Monday: No cooking! (Supper at my parents')
Tuesday: Slow cooker savoury pot roast, green peas, wax cut yellow beans
Wednesday: Soft shell tacos with all the fixin's, refried beans, apple slices
Thursday: Encore performance.
Friday: Grilled fish, brown rice, steamed cauliflower, honey glazed carrots

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Miss Toothy McGee

My Pumpkin Pie sprouted her second tooth within a week's time. That brings her grand total up to four. This tooth caught me by surprise because it came in on the bottom. My sweet girl now has three on the bottom, and one lonely tooth poking through on top. I imagine we can expect two more pearly whites within the next week or two.

A Slice of Recent History

Here's a little-known fact about me. I had my nose pierced for about a year in my early twenties. Just a small stud. The piercing did not heal properly so I finally removed it. I now have a teeny, tiny, barely noticeable scar.

I would pierce my nose again. (And maybe will some day when I'm feeling brave). I like most nose piercings on girls, and think dainty eyebrow rings look very cute. Ben and I would allow our daughter to get a pretty nose stud when she's older. Even Isaac's beloved Rebekah had a nose ring, and I believe some facial piercings can be quite tasteful and beautiful.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Basement is (Very Nearly Almost) Finished

Hooray! Our basement is basically finished. Last night we moved the kids' toys into their new playroom! The boys spent most of today going nuts in their new space.

The basement looks terrific. I can hardly believe it is actually part of our house. We were incredibly blessed to have a good renovation experience. Our contractor was absolutely excellent and I would recommend him in an instant. We had no major disasters (and barely any little glitches).

What's left to complete? The bathroom mirror still needs to go up. (The contractor accidentally broke the corner and had to buy a new one.) The banister needs some sanding and a final coat of polyurethane. One little corner of the wall requires some touch-up paint. That's it!

So far we have only moved the toys downstairs. We also have some furniture to move in, and are planning to buy bookshelves for our library. Then, we will face the daunting task of re-organizing the storage room and clearing the junk out of the garage (and our parents' houses).

I am incredibly pleased with our new basement. Our house feels so much larger --- and it is. We have gained about 30% more usable space. I will post some pictures once we have organized the furniture and such :-).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Spring Reading Thing Wrap Up

Yesterday was the first official day of Summer. I am glad to see the return of sunshine and warm weather! Sadly, yesterday also marked the end of the Spring Reading Thing. I have enjoyed participating in my first online reading challenge, and I'm looking forward to Callipider Days' next challenge in September.

My Spring reading list named thirteen books. The selections included a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles. Unfortunately, I bit off more than I could chew; my list was too long! I managed to finish five out of eight fiction books, and three out of the five non-fiction. (I also cheated and read a few books outside of my list.)

Here are my thoughts on the Spring Reading Thing ...

What was the best book you read this spring?

I very much enjoyed Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman. My husband read it as well, and we passed it along to several family members. (Be aware, the content of the book is quite explicit.) I think Sheet Music is an excellent resource for Christian married couples.

What book could you have done without?

I was extremely disappointed with I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris. This book was totally not what I expected.

Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again?

In the realm of fiction, I gave Jan Karon's Mitford series a go. I very much like her whimsical style and dry sense of humour. In terms of non-fiction, I read Dr. Kevin Leman for the first time. I have already placed several more of his books on hold at the library.

If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it?

I did leave several books unfinished. I did not read each book for one of three reasons: My name is still in the hold queue at the library (two titles); I have the book waiting on my shelf, but ran out of time (two titles); I decided I wasn't interested in the book (one title).

Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones?

I saw Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer on several other participants' lists. I added it to my own list and read it early on in the Spring. Highly recommended.

What did you learn -- about
anything -- through this challenge?

I learned that my reading list was overly ambitious. I wish I had more time to read! For the next reading challenge I will chose half as many books.

As well, I learned that I don't like being tied to a list. I generally have three or four books on the go at any given time. I like variety.

What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing?

Reading is a very individualistic pursuit, but the Spring Reading Thing helped turn it into a social activity. I've enjoyed reading other participants' lists and reviews. I have also enjoyed posting my own book reviews. I like analyzing and critiquing the books I've read.

Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall?

Count me in!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bumps and Bruises

Tonight at bath time my preschooler informed me that he had a digestion sore on his foot.

(Incidentally, he also got a nasty shiner yesterday when he fell off the bed. That kid is in rough shape!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Learn to Crochet Lesson #5

Check it out. Heather has posted her newest crochet lesson on the Crafty Daisies site.

(I may or may not be a week behind on my homework ... I'm working on it!)

Also take a look at NexStitch for some excellent tutorial videos.
"Don't You Spray for Jungle Animals Each Spring?"

This evening our family sat around the dinner table enjoying our supper. Every window on the main level stood wide open. A gentle breeze stirred through the house.

"Caw! Caw! Caw!" A noisy crow called outside the back window.

"What was that?" asked our curious two-year-old.

"Oh, don't worry," said his four-year-old brother, "It's just a lost monkey."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Book Review:

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
by Amy Sedaris

I'm not sure what I expected when I chose this book for my Spring reading list. Perhaps a quirky, funny, tongue-in-cheek book about parties and entertaining? I'd read good reviews, and the book's cover art was cutesy and appealing.

Lesson learned: Don't judge a book by it's cover.

Second lesson learned: Check behind the cover (for, um, pin-up pictures).

I suppose I should have clued in to the whole Hospitality Under the Influence thing. Who knew it was meant to be taken literally? Unfortunately, I Like You crosses way over the boundary of quirky irreverence. This book enters the territory of cruel, offensive, vulgar and mean. Some of the sections are downright disturbing.

To be brutally honest, I couldn't bring myself to read I Like You through to the end. (Though the book's coffee table format is better suited to browsing anyway.) I became thoroughly disgusted after the first couple of chapters.

In fact, I felt embarrassed to even have the book within my possession. I hid it upstairs in my room. I could just imagine my mother-in-law spotting I Like You on my bookshelf, casually leafing through the pages, and finding illustrated instructions for a F*** It Bucket.


This is one book that will quickly find its way out of my home and back to the library.

And in Other News ...

I am feeling guilty about missing three days worth of posts last week.

I know, I know. Flogging at dawn and all that.

But in other news ... our basement is now in a functionally livable state! The flooring is finished, and it looks great. The carpet installer commented on how good our "nice green carpet" looked. (Hmm. I thought it was gray. I can't seem to escape living in a green house.)

Ben and I ran errands yesterday and bought a few more necessary items --- bathroom counter, mirror, towel racks. We chose wood spindles for the staircase, but our contractor found some nice wrought iron ones instead! Now our spindles will match the ones along the banister upstairs.

Tomorrow our contractor will build the banister and finish the baseboards. Then, he will have only the bathroom left to finish. Barring disaster, our basement could be completely finished by the end of the week. (Fingers crossed!)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pumpkin Pie, Baby Love

My little girl has had a big week. She celebrated her first birthday, got a new tooth, and finally learned how to crawl. It's enough to make anyone exhausted!

Here are a few pictures of my sweet Pumpkin Pie at her birthday party. I especially love the cupcake carnage shot.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Brotherly Love

For the most part, our sons get along swimmingly. They play together all the time and rarely fight. Every once in a while, however, they get on each others' nerves.

This afternoon my two-year-old was bugging his older brother. I'm not even sure what they were fighting about. Just as I stepped in to break up the argument, my little guy (usually a very easy-going type) hauled off and slapped his brother on the back.

"What was that!" I exclaimed, "Did you just hit your brother?"

My toddler put on his most contrite expression. He calmly replied, "No Mommy ... I just squished him."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Special Girl

I can hardly believe my Baby Girl is one year old today. Where did the time go? She's grown and changed a great deal over the past twelve months. My little girl is beautiful.

Today during lunch I made the following comment to my eldest son: "Your sister is so special because today is her birthday."

He melted my heart with the following reply: "No, Mommy. Little girls are special every day, even when it's not their birthday."

Well spoken, young man. Your Daddy has taught you well. :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Quick Basement Update

The renovations continue.

I had hoped our basement would be finished by Baby Girl's first birthday. Seeing as her birthday is tomorrow, I seriously doubt it's going to happen! Nevertheless, the basement is coming along great. We have another week (or so) of work left.

The walls are painted. The knock down ceiling is finished. The doors are framed and hung. The bathroom vanity is in place. As far as I can tell, we have the following items left to complete: carpet and lino, light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, light switch and electrical outlet face plates, base boards, and a cabinet for the fuse box.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm sure of it ...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Pod from God

(Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

In a few weeks we plan to load our family (and most of our worldly possessions, so it seems) into our minivan and set off on an adventure. An adventure to Saskatchewan, the flat land to the east. (I actually love Saskatchewan. I'm allowed to make fun because I was born there.)

Our poor minivan can barely contain our growing family, let alone all the stuff that comes along with said family. (Why do children need so much stuff?) Ben and I weren't sure where we would cram it all in. We decided that the only alternative was to buy a pod for our roof rack.

The thing is, brand new pods can be awfully expensive. At least $200. I was reluctant to spend that much money. However, this afternoon God chose to bless us with a new (to us) pod for our minivan! I spotted it at a garage sale down the street. We paid a mere $30 for the pod! I was totally pumped.

Sometimes I feel silly about bringing my needs to God. He has much bigger things to worry about than my vacation plans. Tonight I am thankful to serve a God who even cares about the little things in my life.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Learn to Crochet Lesson #3

This week I'm working on Crafty Daisies' third crochet tutorial. I must confess, I've been hiking up a steep learning curve with these lessons. So far I've been able to muddle my way through every pattern and have finished six blocks. This week's lesson includes patterns for six new blocks, so I have a lot of homework to catch up on!

What have I learned so far?

  1. I really like crochet. (Maybe even more than knitting. Gasp.) I find crochet less intimidating, perhaps because I only have one stitch to worry about on my hook instead of dozens. If I miss a stitch it's easy to fix my mistake.

  2. It's really important to use the correct weight of wool. In my inexperience, I crocheted my first five squares with the wrong type of wool. I couldn't figure out why all my squares were turning out too small. I thought my tension was way off. I finally figured out my problem, and the sixth square turned out great.

  3. Go slowly and read the instructions thoroughly. (It's the old "measure twice and cut once" rule.)

  4. It doesn't have to be perfect --- that's what learning is all about. I love crafting because human imperfection, the hand of the maker, is an integral element of the creative process. Most of my crochet squares are a wee bit wonky, but that's okay. I've only been learning for a couple of weeks!
I have a pile of "homework" to catch up on tonight. Here's to an evening of happy hooking ;-).

Boys with Hollow Legs (Part 2)

Where do they put it all???

This afternoon at snack time my boys polished off two kiwis, two apples with peanut butter, and a peach. Not a crumb was left over.

I offered my oldest son some funshine (arrowroot) cookies as well. My mommy heart swelled with pride when he replied, "No thanks Mommy. I want more apple instead."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Boys with Hollow Legs

I'm a little worried about the day my sons become teenagers. I don't know how we will be able to keep them fed! Those boys can pack away astonishing volumes of food, and they aren't even school-aged yet. Several times I have caught my four-year-old son standing in front of the open fridge, perusing its contents. He will usually sigh and loudly proclaim, "Mom, I'm huuuuungry!"

The rule in our house is this: We have meals and snacks at regular times throughout the day. If, however, the kids are hungry at other times of the day, they are allowed to eat fresh fruit. My oldest son is capable to choosing and washing his fruit all by himself. He helps himself to the fruit bowl from time to time, but he usually asks first.

This morning I scrubbed the upstairs bathroom while the boys played quietly downstairs. "They're being so good!" I thought to myself as I worked, and I patted myself on the back. (Instead of gloating in my superior parenting abilities I should have run downstairs to check on my children...) As I finished up my chore the boys trudged up the stairs to see me.

"Mommy, I just ate a banana," my son informed me. The evidence of his snack was smeared across his face.

"Oh, well, did you share it with your brother?" I asked.

"No ... but he ate a peach!"

"I see." I then spotted the sticky hand prints trailing up the stairs and across my wall.

"I had a peach too, Mommy."

"You ate a peach and a banana?" I clarified.

"No, Mommy. I ate two peaches and a banana."

"Two peaches and a banana! But we ate breakfast less than an hour ago!"

Growing suspicious, I marched downstairs to investigate. Sure enough, the remains of a foot-long banana and three peaches lay scattered across the kitchen table. Two sticky and satisfied boys grinned up at me.

I think those boys should get some jobs soon. They need to start helping out with our family's grocery bill!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

A couple days ago, when the weather was cool and rainy, I decided to bake some cookies. I found the following recipe on the side of a package of oatmeal. The cookies turned out terrific. (I made the "crispy" version.) I think these cookies would also be good without raisins, or with chocolate chips instead.

3/4 C. butter, softened
3/4 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar (I used 1/4 C.)
1 egg
2 tbsp. water
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 C. quick cook oats
1 1/2 C. raisins (I only used 1 C.)

Cream butter, sugars, egg, water and vanilla together on medium speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, soda and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture, beating on low speed until blended. Stir in oats and raisins.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. (I lined my baking sheets with parchment paper instead.)

Press flat for crisp cookies; leave mounded for chewy cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Do not overbake. (9 1/2 minutes was perfect in my oven.) Makes about 30 cookies.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Carnage, Mayhem and Mass Destruction (of the Underwear Variety)

This evening I stumbled upon the following scene in my front hall:

Never trust quiet children! Ben and I enjoyed a nice after-dinner conversation while our sons played together upstairs. Little did we know, the boys had raided our dresser drawers. Those two monkeys threw socks, underwear and swimming suits all over the staircase and front hall. They thought it was a great game. (Ben and I finally came to investigate when we were tipped off by the giggles.)

My favourite quote from this evening (spoken by my husband): "No you may not play on the stairs. You might trip on a brassiere."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


This evening I received a kiss. A kiss on my knee from a handsome frog wearing a lime green t-shirt. Sadly, I did not magically transform into a fairy tale princess.

And when I returned the kiss, my charming young prince decided it was more fun to be a frog.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quote of the Week

"No Mommy, that is not a reasonable compromise!"

(This has become my four-year-old son's favourite phrase.)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A to Z Bible Verses

I found a terrific resource in the May issue of Focus on the Family Canada magazine. It is a list of twenty-six Bible verses. The verses are especially easy for young children to memorize because the passages are short and correspond with each letter of the alphabet. Here are a few examples of the chosen scriptures:

A: All we like sheep have gone astray. (Isiah 53:6)

B: Be kind to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

C: Children obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. (Ephesians 6:1)

D: Don't fret or worry; it only leads to harm. (Psalm 37:8)

You can find the complete list here.

Scripture memorization is such an important spiritual discipline. I hate to confess, but I am not as diligent in this area as I should be. I need to sharpen my sword! I'm planning to learn these twenty-six verses right alongside my young kids. My hope is that scripture memorization will become an integral part of our family culture.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I Could Save Your Life

Today I spent the day at a CPR certification course at the Y. I met some new people, enjoyed the adventure that is driving in downtown Calgary, and learned a few neat things.

Can you guess what the most common food item is that people choke on in Canada and the U.S.? Hotdogs? Peanuts? Twinkies or Ding-Dongs? (Just for the record, I have never consumed a Twinkie or a Ding-Dong.) If you guessed lettuce you win the prize for knowing more random trivia than I do. (Or did before today, ha ha.)

Other delightful tidbits I gleaned from my course:
  • You should not use an AED (automated external defibrillator) on a victim who is lying in a puddle.
  • Apparently most CPR victims lack both arms and legs.
  • We Albertans choke on beef more than any other food item. (Not a terribly surprising statistic. I may think twice before I order my next rib eye with a side caesar salad.)
Ben watched the children while I was gone. I came home to three tired, happy kids and a reasonably tidy house. How did my husband keep three preschoolers entertained for an entire day? He strung an empty plastic pop bottle from the ceiling. The kids spent (longer than my husband was willing to admit) hitting the pop bottle with toy hammers. Whatever works, eh?